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Do for-profit providers in US public education prioritize student achievement or financial gains? AEI's Rick Hess and a panel of prominent practitioners aimed to address this question at an event on Monday.
Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute defended the need for for-profits in public education because for-profit organizations attract more capital, scale at faster rates, and are better equipped to offer innovative solutions to the growing student achievement gaps.
When asked about the accountability of for-profits in the public space, Stacey Childress of the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation offered a philanthropic perspective, calling for the private and for-profit education industry to take initiative, measure its outcomes, and make its findings transparent to the public.
Jim Shelton of the US Department of Education agreed with Childress, expressing his fear that if the for-profit education industry is not proactive in measuring its influence on student achievement, one "bad actor" could cast a shadow over the whole industry. He claimed that all other for-profit public-education providers could be penalized by the government, media, and traditional education establishment if the industry does not hold itself accountable.
While the panelists had varying views about the role of for-profits in education, they agreed that more data and transparency could drastically reshape the current culture and policies surrounding the for-profit education industry.
-Lauren Aronson and Chelsea Straus
November's US presidential election results will impact much in K–12 and higher education — including the role of private enterprise in public education. Many Democratic policymakers, including those in Obama administration, have supported "gainful employment" regulations and competitive grant restrictions rooted in concerns about the motives and behavior of for-profit operators.
Other policymakers contend that for-profit operators are especially agile, equipped to pioneer new services, and inclined to pursue crucial cost efficiencies. As federal policymakers look to 2013, what kinds of policies, rules, metrics, and regulations will enable private enterprise to serve students while policing against malfeasance? Join AEI’s Frederick Hess and prominent for-profit practitioners as they address this and other pressing questions about the intersection of federal policy and for-profits in education.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Stacey Childress, Gates Foundation
Michael B. Horn, Innosight Institute
Jim Shelton, US Department of Education
Raquel Whiting Gilmer, Learn It Systems
Eric Westendorf, LearnZillion
Frederick M. Hess, AEI
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For media inquiries, please contact MediaServices@aei.org, 202.862.5829.
Stacey Childress serves as deputy director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She leads the Next Generation Models team, which supports the creation and growth of technology-enabled content, tools, and school models that support personalized paths to success for middle- and high-school students in the US. Before joining the foundation, Childress was on the faculty of Harvard Business School, where she wrote and taught about entrepreneurial activity in American public education. Her work encompassed the behavior and strategies of leadership teams in urban public-school districts, charter schools, and nonprofit and for-profit enterprises with missions to improve the public system. Before working in academia, Childress was a co-founder of an enterprise software company and spent 10 years in a Fortune 500 company in sales and general management. Early in her career, Childress taught in a Texas public high school.
Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and the director of education policy studies at AEI. He has authored several influential books on education including “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up. Hess’s work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, US News & World Report, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, stretching the education dollar, the impact of educational research, education entrepreneurship, and the No Child Left Behind Act. Hess serves as the executive editor of Education Next, as a lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 Schools, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.
Michael B. Horn is the co-founder and executive director of the education division of the Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank devoted to applying the theories of disruptive innovation to problems in the social sector. He is the co-author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns” (McGraw-Hill, June 2008) with Harvard Business School professor and bestselling author Clayton M. Christensen and Curtis W. Johnson, president of the Citistates Group. BusinessWeek named the book one of the “10 Best Innovation & Design Books of 2008,” Newsweek named it the 14th book on its list of “Fifty Books for Our Times,” and the National Chamber Foundation named it first among its 10 “Books that Drive the Debate 2009.” Tech&Learning magazine named Horn one of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education.
Jim Shelton is the assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the US Department of Education, managing a portfolio that includes most of the department’s competitive programs including i3, Promise Neighborhoods, and others focused on teacher and leader quality, school choice, and learning technology. Previously, he served as a program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, managing portfolios ranging from $2 to $3 billion in nonprofit investments targeting increased high-school and college graduation rates. Shelton has also been the East Coast lead for the NewSchools Venture Fund and co-founded LearnNow, a school management company that was later acquired by Edison Schools. He spent four years as a senior management consultant with Mckinsey & Company in Atlanta, where he advised CEOs and other executives on issues related to corporate strategy, business development, organizational design, and operational effectiveness. Upon leaving McKinsey, he joined Knowledge Universe Inc., where he launched, acquired, and operated education-related businesses.
Raquel Whiting Gilmer has worked in education management for the past eight years. She currently serves as the chief operating officer for Learn It Systems. Before joining Learn It, Raquel served as senior director of community and business development for Educate Online, a division of Sylvan Learning. Before working for Educate Online, Raquel managed several Democratic, statewide campaigns in pivotal swing states and served as a senior fundraiser on Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 2000. Gilmer also practiced law for several years at Arent Fox in their regulatory and public policy department, where she provided regulatory counseling to several Fortune 500 companies and represented them in matters before the US Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, US Department of Agriculture, and US Customs.
Eric Westendorf is the co-founder and CEO of LearnZillion, a learning platform that helps teachers and parents make the transition to the Common Core State Standards. Eric incubated LearnZillion at the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, one of the highest-performing schools in Washington, DC, where he was chief academic officer and principal. While he was principal, E.L. Haynes posted three-year student achievement gains of 50 percentage points in math and 26 percentage points in reading. Over each of these years, the school was named a national Silver Award-winning school through the federal Effective Practice grant program. Before leading E.L. Haynes, Eric founded a nonprofit focused on teacher leadership development; was the assistant principal of St. Joseph’s School in Harlem, New York, where he raised over $1 million for technology and other programs; and taught for seven years in North Carolina, New York, and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.