ON-Lion Letter
During a day-long, late-October conference at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) in Washington, D.C., "The Supply Side of School Reform and the Future of Educational Entrepreneurship," scholars, education practitioners, and business analysts presented papers and discussed how entrepreneurial reformers are creating and delivering educational services in more-effective ways all across America.

"Such reformers have traditionally been stifled by a morass of regulations, contracts, and a compliance-driven education culture," observe AEI director of education policy studies Frederick M. Hess and research assistant Thomas Gift.  "But some have found ways to break through, and the results are encouraging."

An estimated 26,000 educational ventures are operating in the U.S.  Many fill established niches such as tutoring or textbook sales.  The high-profile Knowledge Is Power Program and an increasing number of others run schools.  The much-vaunted Teach For America recruits teachers, as do an also-increasing number of other groups.  Yet other emerging organizations are tackling issues of instructional literacy, professional development, and information technology, as well.

The papers and discussions addressed how the entrepreneurialism can help invigorate, complement, or replace the work of traditional schools and districts.  All of the papers are available online and will be gathered for publication in a volume to be released next year.

"While obvious uncertainties remain," according to Hess and Gift, "preliminary successes suggest that entrepreneurship may have the power to fundamentally retool 21st-century American education."

The conference was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee has supported some of Hess's related work in the past and supports Education Next magazine, of which he is executive editor.  Bradley supports Teach for America, too, along with many other entrepreneurial education ventures.
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