Zuckerberg’s gift: Where are the entrepreneurs?

This blog post originally appeared on the Education Innovating blog run by Education Evolving from 2010 to 2011. It has now been merged into our main blog.

After Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would create and endow Startup: Education (challenging other successful startup entrepreneurs to match his $100 million donation), Gadfly and others argued that more money is not going to make a difference since Newark already spends 25 percent more than the state average.

But Zuckerberg wrote on his blog that while many efforts at improvement are attempted nationwide, New Jersey can concentrate efforts: "School districts need more autonomy and clearer leadership so they can be managed more like start ups than like government bureaucracies."

Either way Zuckerberg’s argument for a staging-strategy is a reminder that despite the attention on Washington, K-12 is fundamentally a local system—created in state law, and managed at the school or district levels.

Some of the greatest innovations, including School of One, are driven by the users of education—the teachers, students, partners and collaborators—something Zuckerberg understands well.

As Zuckerberg points at a particular state and calls for start ups, the question raises: Where are the entrepreneurs? There will be people that can come in from the outside, surely. But as with technological innovation, may we assume improvement in schooling can also be driven by the ‘users’?

Image: Mark Zuckerberg

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