Tag Archives: K-12 Education

Lumina Foundation study: U.S. not producing enough college grads for projected jobs

18 Jun


Moi wrote in Many NOT ready for higher education:


Whether or not students choose college or vocational training at the end of their high school career, our goal as a society should be that children should be “college ready.” David T. Conley writes in the ASCD article, What Makes a Student College Ready?


The Big Four


A comprehensive college preparation program must address four distinct dimensions of college readiness: cognitive strategies, content knowledge, self-management skills, and knowledge about postsecondary education.


Key Cognitive Strategies


Colleges expect their students to think about what they learn. Students entering college are more likely to succeed if they can formulate, investigate, and propose solutions to nonroutine problems; understand and analyze conflicting explanations of phenomena or events; evaluate the credibility and utility of source material and then integrate sources into a paper or project appropriately; think analytically and logically, comparing and contrasting differing philosophies, methods, and positions to understand an issue or concept; and exercise precision and accuracy as they apply their methods and develop their products.


Key Content Knowledge


Several independently conducted research and development efforts help us identify the key knowledge and skills students should master to take full advantage of college. Standards for Success (Conley, 2003) systematically polled university faculty members and analyzed their course documents to determine what these teachers expected of students in entry-level courses. The American Diploma Project (2004) consulted representatives of the business community and postsecondary faculty to define standards in math and English. More recently, both ACT (2008) and the College Board (2006) have released college readiness standards in English and math. Finally, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2008), under mandate of state law, developed one of the first and most comprehensive sets of state-level college readiness standards….


Key Self-Management Skills


In college, students must keep track of massive amounts of information and organize themselves to meet competing deadlines and priorities. They must plan their time carefully to complete these tasks. They must be able to study independently and in informal and formal study groups. They must know when to seek help from academic support services and when to cut their losses and drop a course. These tasks require self-management, a skill that individuals must develop over time, with considerable practice and trial-and-error.


Key Knowledge About Postsecondary Education


Choosing a college, applying, securing financial aid, and then adjusting to college life require a tremendous amount of specialized knowledge. This knowledge includes matching personal interests with college majors and programs; understanding federal and individual college financial aid programs and how and when to complete appropriate forms; registering for, preparing for, and taking required admissions exams; applying to college on time and submitting all necessary information; and, perhaps most important, understanding how the culture of college is different from that of high school….


Students who would be the first in their family to attend college, students from immigrant families, students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups traditionally underrepresented in college, and students from low-income families are much more easily thrown off the path to college if they have deficiencies in any of the four dimensions. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct08/vol66/num02/What-Makes-a-Student-College-Ready%C2%A2.aspx


The difficult question is whether current testing accurately measures whether students are prepared for college. https://drwilda.com/2012/10/06/many-not-ready-for-higher-education/


The Lumina Founation has released the report A Stronger Nation through Higher Education which is skeptical that the U.S. is producing the number of college graduates for future economic success.


Here is the press release from the Lumina Foundation about


New report shows improved pace of college attainment is still not enough to meet future workforce needs; massive racial achievement gaps continue


June 13, 2013

Lumina Foundation Announces 10 New Targets for Moving America Closer to Goal 2025

WASHINGTON, DC, June 13, 2013—As the demand for skilled workers continues to grow, a new report released today by Lumina Foundation shows that the rate of college attainment is steadily improving across America. Unfortunately, the pace of progress is far too modest to meet future workforce needs. The report also finds massive and ongoing gaps in educational achievement—gaps tied to race, income and other socioeconomic factors—that must be addressed.

According to the report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, 38.7 percent of working-age Americans (ages 25-64) held a two- or four-year college degree in 2011—the most recent year for which data are available. That figure is up from 2010, when the rate was 38.3 percent and from 2009, when the rate was 38.1 percent. The Stronger Nation report measures progress toward Goal 2025 which is a national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.

Read the full report

A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education 2013

218 pgs. | 8.8M | PDF

Research tells us that 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2020, yet fewer than 40 percent of Americans are educated beyond high school today,” said Jamie P. Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina. “Our pace of attainment has been too slow and America is now facing a troubling talent gap. If we intend to address this problem, new strategies are required and a heightened sense of urgency is needed among policymakers, business leaders and higher education institutions across our nation.”

Achievement Gaps by Race Continue

Educational success has historically been uneven across America, particularly among, low-income, first-generation students, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and adults who are underrepresented among college students and graduates. The Stronger Nation report shows that degree attainment rates among adults (ages 25-64) in the U.S. continue to be woefully unbalanced, with 59.1 percent of Asians having a degree versus 43.3 percent of whites, 27.1 percent of blacks, 23.0 of Native Americans and 19.3 of Hispanics.

As worrisome as those differentials are, there is an even more troubling trend in the data regarding young adults (ages 25-29) who serve as a leading indicator of where the nation’s higher education attainment rates are headed overall. The highest attainment rate for 25- to 29-year old Americans is among Asians at 65.6 percent, followed by non-Hispanic whites at 44.9 percent. Then, the bottom drops out with an attainment rate for young African-Americans at 24.7 percent, for Hispanics at 17.9 percent and for Native Americans at 16.9 percent.

This is an intolerable situation,” said Merisotis. “We certainly must close these gaps to meet the attainment levels that our nation needs. But the fact that these racial achievement differentials even exist must be rejected on both moral and economic grounds, given the increasingly severe consequences that come with not having a degree beyond high school. Our democracy and our economy are ill-served by a system that fails to effectively tap all of our available talent.”

New Strategies for Reaching Goal 2025

Earlier this year, Lumina released a new Strategic Plan that outlines how the Foundation will work over the next four years to help move the country closer to reaching Goal 2025. The plan includes strategies to: 1) design and build a higher education system for the 21st century, and 2) mobilize employers, policymakers, institutions, state and metro leaders and others to better position America for success in the knowledge economy.

The strategies for designing and building a 21st century higher education system focus on: creating new models of student financial support; developing new higher education business and finance models, and creating new systems of quality credentials and credits defined by learning and competencies rather than time.

The mobilization strategies focus on: building a social movement to support increased attainment in America; working with employers, metro areas and regions to encourage broader adoption of Goal 2025; advancing state and federal policy for increased attainment, and mobilizing higher education institutions and systems to increase the adoption of data- and evidence-based policies, partnerships and practices.

The strength of our nation—or any nation—is its people, the sum total of talents, skills and abilities inherent in its citizenry,” said Merisotis. “America needs a bigger and more talented workforce to succeed, but we cannot expect our citizens to meet the demands of the 21st century without a 21st century education. That’s why we are working to mobilize more stakeholders to commit to achieving this 60 percent college-attainment goal. And it’s why we are working to design and build a new system of higher education that is grounded in quality and is flexible and affordable enough to properly serve the needs of students, employers and society at large.”

We cannot expect our citizens to meet the demands of the 21st century without a 21st century educationtweet this

To measure progress toward Goal 2025 in the near term, Lumina has established 10 specific achievement targets for 2016 that will guide the Foundation’s work. They include:

  • 55 percent of Americans will believe that increasing higher education attainment is necessary to the nation. (2012 baseline = 43 percent)

  • 67.8 percent of students will pursue postsecondary education directly from high school. (2012 baseline = 62.5 percent)

  • 1.3 percent of older adults will be first-time participants in higher education. (2012 baseline = 1.1 percent)

  • 3.3 million Hispanic students will be enrolled in college. (2012 baseline = 2.5 million)

  • 3.25 million African-American students will be enrolled in college. (2012 baseline = 2.7 million)

  • 22 million students will be enrolled in college across America. (2012 baseline = 18.1 million)

  • 800,000 fewer working-age adults (ages 25-64) will have some college and no degree (2012 baseline = 36.3 million; 2016 target = 35.5 million)

  • 60 percent of first-time, full-time students will complete college within six years. (2012 baseline = 54 percent)

  • 48 percent of adult learners (ages 25-64) will complete higher education. (2012 baseline = 45 percent)

  • 3 million will be the number of associate and bachelor’s degrees awarded annually. (An increase of 500,000 per year based on 2012 baseline of 2.5 million)

Key Tables from A Stronger Nation through Higher Education Report:

Top 10 states by degree attainment in 2011:

  • MA—50.8%

  • CO—47.0%

  • MN—46.6%

  • CT—46.4%

  • VT—46.2%

  • NH—45.8%

  • MD—45.4%

  • NJ—45.1%

  • VA—45.0%

  • ND—44.7%

Top 10 MSAs by degree attainment in 2011 (among the 100 most-populated MSAs):

Madison, WI 54.81%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 54.73%
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 54.25%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 54.15%
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 52.86%
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 52.76%
Raleigh-Cary, NC 52.64%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 50.65%
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY 49.27%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 48.28%

Facts about postsecondary attainment in America

Bottom 10 states by degree attainment in 2011: State

41. IN—33.8%

42. OK—33.0%

43. TN—32.1%

44. AL—31.9%

45. KY—30.8%

46. MS—30.3%

47. NV—30.0%

48. AR—28.2%

49. LA—27.9%

50. WV—27.8%

Bottom 10 MSAs by degree attainment in 2011 (among the 100 most-populated MSAs):

Lancaster, PA 31.74%
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 29.59%
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 29.38%
El Paso, TX 28.97%
Fresno, CA 27.90%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 27.20%
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 27.02%
Stockton, CA 26.75%
Bakersfield-Delano, CA 21.35%
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 21.21%

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.

Media contacts:

Lucia Anderson
Lumina Foundation

Michael Marker
VOX Global


– See more at: http://www.luminafoundation.org/newsroom/news_releases/2013-06-13.html#sthash.sE33uxCj.dpuf



K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”





Helping community college students to graduate                    https://drwilda.com/2012/02/08/helping-community-college-students-to-graduate/


The digital divide affects the college application process https://drwilda.com/2012/12/08/the-digital-divide-affects-the-college-application-process/


College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’                               https://drwilda.com/2012/11/14/college-readiness-what-are-soft-skills/


Colleges rethinking who may need remedial education https://drwilda.com/2012/10/24/colleges-rethinking-who-may-need-remedial-education/


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Translating digital learning into K-12 education

18 Nov

Moi wrote in The digital divide in classrooms:

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has agood bibliography, go toPoverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense.


Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/the-digital-divide-in-classrooms/

Huffington Post reports in the article, Education Technology, Digital Learning Not As Easy As It Seems: Alliance For Excellent Education Report:

A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education identifies four key challenges that public school district leaders must address in the next two years in order to successfully bring digital learning and education technology into K-12 classrooms.

The driving force behind the nationwide effort to adopt a comprehensive digital learning strategy is the move by all states to raise academic expectations by requiring students to graduate from high school college- and career-ready. Additionally, the Common Core State Standards adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia necessitates using technology to prepare students for computer-administered assessments in the 2014-15 school year.

If you’re a school or district leader who is considering using education technology and digital learning in your schools, STOP — and go no further — until you have a comprehensive plan that addresses your district’s specific challenges and learning goals for all students,” Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, said in a statement.

One challenge facing district leaders is ensuring that all students are adequately prepared for college and career following graduation. The report states that schools must adapt accordingly and provide students with learning opportunities that are more hands on, experiential, project-based and aligned with their interests. Doing so will enable students to produce content, analyze information and develop a deeper knowledge of complex topics.

Districts must also manage shrinking budgets and rethink how resources are allocated in support of teachers. The report recommends streamlining expenses, offering online professional development, elevating media specialists as instructional leaders and analyzing budget expenses.

When it comes to training and supporting teachers, the Alliance for Excellent Education encourages a transition from a teacher-centric culture to learner-centered instruction, so as to combat the widely uneven and inequitably distributed access to teachers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/alliance-for-excellent-ed_n_2140129.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

The digital learning report is part of an initiative launched by the Alliance:

Alliance Launches Major Effort to Inform School District Leaders About Decisions Affecting the Future of Education

Every school, district, and state leader must make critical decisions in the next two years involving digital learning that will shape education for decades, according to a new report from the Alliance.

The report, The Nation’s Schools Are Stepping Up to Higher Standards, identifies four key challenges that public school district leaders must systemically address in the next two years and outlines the essential elements for developing a comprehensive digital strategy. (Click on the infographic to the left for a larger image).

The report, plus the Nov. 15 webinar and new digital learning web portal accompanying its release, are the first steps in a major effort by the Alliance to help district leaders make smart, far-reaching decisions about implementing education technology that support teachers and improve student outcomes in K–12 public schools.

If you’re a school or district leader who is considering using education technology and digital learning in your schools, STOP—and go no further—until you have a comprehensive plan that addresses your district’s specific challenges and learning goals for all students,” said Alliance President Bob Wise.

Read the press release , download the report, or access the digital learning portal.

All children have a right to a good basic education. See, Rural schools and the digital divide https://drwilda.com/2012/06/21/rural-schools-and-the-digital-divide/


Schools Must Bridge the Digital Divide                                          http://www.abpc21.org/digitaldivide.html

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Is the self-esteem movement just another education fad?

18 Jan

Education is prone to fads and the next “new, new thing.” Many are beginning to question the self-esteem movement which put the emphasis on children feeling good about themselves. The question is whether the emphasis should be put on acquiring skills and focusing on helping children to achieve success in areas where they have shown both an interest and some competence. One of the best definitions of self-esteem comes from the Canadian Mental Health Association and the article Children and Self-Esteem which is posted at their site.

Self-esteem is the value we place on ourselves. It is the feeling we have about all the things we see ourselves to be. It is the knowledge that we are lovable, we are capable, and we are unique. Good self-esteem means:

  • having a healthy view of yourself,
  • having a quiet sense of self-worth,
  • having a positive outlook,
  • feeling satisfied with yourself most of the time,
  • setting realistic goals.

Both adults and children benefit from good relationships, experiences and positive thinking. Many of the steps necessary for building a child’s self-esteem will also help you in developing and maintaining your own. http://www.acsm.ca/bins/content_page.asp?cid=2-29-68

Moi feels that good schools are relentless about the basics.

A 1999 Los Angeles Times article, Losing Faith in Self-Esteem Movement by Richard Lee Colvin was raising caution flags:

At Loren Miller Elementary School in Los Angeles, a school struggling to raise test scores that are barely in double digits, children last year spent part of each day working on . . . their self-esteem.

In daily “I Love Me” lessons, they completed the phrase “I am . . . ” with words such as beautiful, lovable, respectable, kind or gifted. Then they memorized the sentences to make them sink in.

No more. The daily “I Love Me” lessons will soon be replaced by rapid-fire drills and constant testing of kids’ skills.

With the pressure to raise test scores building nationally, schools are rethinking their decades-long love affair with self-esteem.

Self-esteem, which burst into the national consciousness in the late 1980s with help from a California task force, has long endured attacks from cultural conservatives. What’s new today is that the criticism is being heard from deans at such education bastions as Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and in prestigious venues such as the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

“The false belief in self-esteem as a force for social good can be not just potentially but actually harmful,” wrote Carnegie Mellon University psychology professor Robyn M. Dawes in that publication in October.

Having high self-esteem certainly feels good, psychologists say. But, contrary to intuition, it doesn’t necessarily pay off in greater academic achievement, less drug abuse, less crime or much of anything else. Or, if it does pay off, 10,000 or more research studies have yet to find proof.

With researchers growing increasingly negative about being positive, a switch from tenderness to tough love is in vogue now among social commentators, politicians and educators.

Fretting about students’ feelings has become an unhealthy classroom obsession, researchers declare in academic journals and elsewhere. Better, they say, to spend more time on something children can justly be proud of–acing algebra or becoming a super speller.

“There’s nothing that boosts self-concept more than being able to do something–it doesn’t matter if it’s reading or something on the monkey bars your brother can’t do,” said Robert J. Stevens, a professor of educational psychology at Penn State University.

That is the lesson teachers at Bessemer School in Pueblo, Colo., learned this year. Teachers there were stunned a year ago when only 12% of their fourth-graders were reading at grade level.

Out went the three hours they spent weekly on counseling and self-esteem classes. In came more attention to the basics. Up went test scores. Last fall, 64% of the students passed. And self-esteem soared.


Moi would posit that true self-esteem comes from the accomplishment of acquiring a skill or successfully performing a task.

Michael Alison Chandler reports in the Washington Post article, In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise:

For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.

Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments. Consider teacher Shar Hellie’s new approach in Montgomery County….

A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence — “You’re so clever!” — also backfires. In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

But children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/in-schools-self-esteem-boosting-is-losing-favor-to-rigor-finer-tuned-praise/2012/01/11/gIQAXFnF1P_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

There were critics of the self-esteem concept in education at the beginning of the movement.

Alfie Kohn wrote the 1994 article, The Truth About Self-Esteem for PHI DELTA KAPPAN which critiqued the concept. Among Kohn’s many concerns were:

Putting aside for a moment the questions of what statements are included and how they are scored, the point to be emphasized here is that self-esteem ratings are almost always based on what subjects say about themselves, and self- report measures are rather problematic. They may tell us more about how someone wishes to appear than about his or her “true” state (assuming this can ever be known). In fact, some of the most respected researchers in the area have argued that people designated as having high self-esteem are simply those who demonstrate a “willingness to endorse favorable statements about the self” as a result of “an ambitious, aggressive, self-aggrandizing style of presenting themselves.(2)

As if this fact were not disturbing enough, something on the order of 200 instruments for measuring self-esteem are now in use. Many of them haven’t been properly validated (to use a popular self-esteem term in a different way) and are of questionable value. More important, even if every single test was top- notch, there is no reason to think that any two of them are comparable. It’s difficult to generalize about research findings if self-esteem has been measured — and, indeed, conceptualized — differently in the various studies that have been cited.(3)

One result common to almost all measures, though, is that very few people who fill out self-esteem surveys wind up with scores near the bottom of the scale. When a researcher talks about subjects with “low” self-esteem, he or she means this only relative to other subjects; in absolute terms, the responses of these individuals put them somewhere in the middle range of possible scores. In other words, people classified as having low self-esteem are typically not so much down on themselves as simply “neutral in their self-descriptions.”(4) This suggests that it may be necessary to reconsider all those sweeping conclusions about what distinguishes people who love themselves from people who hate themselves. Moreover, the very fact of defining low self-esteem in relative terms means that no intervention can ever make any headway; half the population will, of course, always fall below the median on any scale.

But let us assume for the sake of the argument that we find none of these facts — or any other methodological criticisms that have been offered of the field(5) — particularly troubling. Let us assume that all the self-esteem studies to date, all 10,000 of them, can be taken at face value. Even so, the findings that emerge from this literature are not especially encouraging for those who would like to believe that feeling good about oneself brings about a variety of benefits. (I am ignoring here the vast number of studies that have treated self-esteem as a dependent rather than an independent variable — that is, those that have tried to figure out what causes self-esteem to go up or down rather than investigating whether such fluctuation affects other things….)


Another article which is critical of the self-esteem movement is Can Your Teen Have Too Much Self-Esteem? from Aspen Education Group:

Back in the 1970s, many school districts became enamored with the idea that if you raised children’s self-esteem they would do better in school. Although this so-called “self-esteem movement” proved to be ill conceived, many people still believe the canard that high self-esteem is the root of all achievement. Since that time many researchers have studied the topic of self-esteem, and the findings have been pretty consistent: high self-esteem for the sake of personal validation, meaning self-esteem that is not based on actual personal achievement or positive behavior, is not necessarily a healthy thing.

Dr. Jean Twenge recently published the book “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – And More Miserable than Ever Before,” in which she documents the failures of the self-esteem movement in schools. Her research makes clear that phony self-esteem can be a very self-destructive thing. Her conclusion is that self-control is a much more accurate predictor of success than self-esteem.

A recent article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter (June 2007) also suggests that encouraging self-esteem as a primary goal is not healthy and could in fact remove any incentives to improve behavior. If you are supposed to feel good about yourself just because you exist, why study hard, work hard, treat others well, or take any actions to earn these feelings? While it is certainly beneficial to encourage young people to feel good about real accomplishments, encouraging self-esteem for its own sake is not healthy. http://www.aspeneducation.com/Article-too-much-self-esteem.html#.TxOAfgDkqkE.email

It is crucial for low-income children and children of color to be firmly grounded in acquiring reading, math, and writing skills. They will feel better about themselves when they know that they can compete and yes, moi did use the word compete with other children.

Good schools are relentless about the basics.

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Online K-12 education as a cash cow for ‘Wall Street’

21 Nov

There should be a variety of options and approaches in education. Still, School choice does not mean education on the cheap! K-12 education should not be the next sub-prime mortgage or derivative gambit for large for-profit companies. Lee Fang has written the alarming Nation article, How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools.

While most education reform advocates cloak their goals in the rhetoric of “putting children first,” the conceit was less evident at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, earlier this year.

Standing at the lectern of Arizona State University’s SkySong conference center in April, investment banker Michael Moe exuded confidence as he kicked off his second annual confab of education startup companies and venture capitalists. A press packet cited reports that rapid changes in education could unlock “immense potential for entrepreneurs.” “This education issue,” Moe declared, “there’s not a bigger problem or bigger opportunity in my estimation.”

Moe has worked for almost fifteen years at converting the K-12 education system into a cash cow for Wall Street. A veteran of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, he now leads an investment group that specializes in raising money for businesses looking to tap into more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent annually on primary education. His consortium of wealth management and consulting firms, called Global Silicon Valley Partners, helped K12 Inc. go public and has advised a number of other education companies in finding capital.

Moe’s conference marked a watershed moment in school privatization. His first “Education Innovation Summit,” held last year, attracted about 370 people and fifty-five presenting companies. This year, his conference hosted more than 560 people and 100 companies, and featured luminaries like former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, now an education executive at News Corporation, a recent high-powered entrant into the for-profit education field. Klein is just one of many former school officials to cash out. Fenty now consults for Rosetta Stone, a language company seeking to expand into the growing K-12 market.

As Moe ticked through the various reasons education is the next big “undercapitalized” sector of the economy, like healthcare in the 1990s, he also read through a list of notable venture investment firms that recently completed deals relating to the education-technology sector, including Sequoia and Benchmark Capital. Kleiner Perkins, a major venture capital firm and one of the first to back Amazon.com and Google, is now investing in education technology, Moe noted.


Henry M. Levin of Columbia University had some cautionary notes about for-profit K-12 education in 2001.

In the 2001 paper, Thoughts on For-profit Schools, Levin wrote:

The fact is that we know little about how for-profit schools will operate and how they will affect students and other schools. At least three major questions have yet to be answered satisfyingly:

If schools are a potentially profitable endeavor, then why did entrepreneurs wait so long to enter the market? Is there something unique about schooling that makes it difficult to earn a profit?

Now that we do have for-profit schools, how will they achieve cost savings? Will they bring fundamentally different approaches to education through curricular and technological innovations that will “break the mold”?

Even if they are more effective or less costly, or both, will they earn profits that are comparable to the returns on other investments?


Levin mused about some of the other issues that for-profit operators of K-12:

In short, even the most expensive private schools with the most elite clientele fail to cover their costs with tuition. This goes far in explaining why entrepreneurs have shied away from the K–12 market. This is not to say that an individual, for-profit, family-owned school can’t survive. I know of a few for-profit schools at the K–12 level and more at the preschool level that appear to be marginally profitable. But much of what appears as profit is due to the family members’ hard work for little pay. The salaries they draw on the school understate the value of their time, leaving the impression that the enterprise is profitable.

Whether this can be replicated on a large scale by corporate entities is doubtful. Historically, economic studies have not identified substantial economies of scale in education at school sites or in multi-school endeavors. Perhaps this is for the reason suggested by John Chubb and Terry Moe in Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools (1990): that the best results are obtained when schools are given great autonomy.2 A corporate competitor in schooling must establish brand and product identity, which necessitates relatively uniform operations and services from site-to-site. This puts the need for quality control and similarity from site to site in direct competition with the need to be responsive to differences among particular clients and settings.


One business plan about how the big corporations plan to turn a buck in K-12 education is the move toward online education. Laura Herrerra’s New York Times article, In Florida, Virtual Classrooms Without Teachers describes what may actually happen in practice.

 MIAMI — On the first day of her senior year at North Miami Beach Senior High School, Naomi Baptiste expected to be greeted by a teacher when she walked into her precalculus class.

All there were were computers in the class,” said Naomi, who walked into a room of confused students. “We found out that over the summer they signed us up for these courses.”

Naomi is one of over 7,000 students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools enrolled in a program in which core subjects are taken using computers in a classroom with no teacher. A “facilitator” is in the room to make sure students progress. That person also deals with any technical problems.

These virtual classrooms, called e-learning labs, were put in place last August as a result of Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment, passed in 2002. The amendment limits the number of students allowed in classrooms, but not in virtual labs….

Under the state’s class-reduction amendment, high school classrooms cannot surpass a 25-student limit in core subjects, like English or math. Fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms can have no more than 22 students, and prekindergarten through third grade can have no more than 18.

Alix Braun, 15, a sophomore at Miami Beach High, takes Advanced Placement macroeconomics in an e-learning lab with 35 to 40 other students. There are 445 students enrolled in the online courses at her school, and while Alix chose to be placed in the lab, she said most of her lab mates did not.

None of them want to be there,” Alix said, “and for virtual education you have to be really self-motivated. This was not something they chose to do, and it’s a really bad situation to be put in because it is not your choice…”

Some teachers are skeptical of how well the program can help students learn.

The Illinois Online Network has a good synopsis of the pros and cons of online education at Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning Technology can be a useful tool and education aid, BUT it is not a cheap way to move the masses through the education system without the guidance and mentoring that a quality human and humane teacher can provide.

Many critics put the emphasis on “for-profit” and will adamantly argue that any entity which is for-profit is inherently bad for education. Moi would put the emphasis on neighborhood choice and argue that entities without strong ties to the neighborhood they intend to operate in, do not have the loyalty to succeeding in that particular neighborhood and will probably not be successful. Let’s be honest, corporations intend to generate a profit from their education activities as their primary goal. The secondary goal is probably the education of children. Moi is skeptical that a for-profit entity really has the commitment to a neighborhood and thus to a neighborhood’s schools. Still, moi is not like some so called “anti-reform” types who foam at the mouth at the words charter and for-profit. There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.

Children are not the new sub-prime mortgage business or the new derivative gambit. People must be afraid, very afraid of the vultures who are now hovering around the education sector. If folks don’t watch them, the results will not be pretty.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©