1 - Awareness among global leaders around education and the need for dramatic improvement now has never been higher. The capstone of this for me was a debate between Wendy Kopp and Diane Ravitch. Although Ravitch made many interesting points, the crowd reaction was fascinating. It just seems to be unAmerican to be nihilistic about our ability to improve our situation. Anytime Kopp made the point that we had proof points and the key now was to scale it up and fix our education problems, the audience responded with applause. Afterwards, people could barely recall the Ravitch points about lack of progress and talked about their hope that Kopp was right. It's just great to be an American, we have such a deep optimistic belief in our ability to fix even the toughest problems. So important.
2 - The global education landscape is clearly going to be even more impacted by technology than urban parts of the US. Many countries spend 1/10 what we do per student, so technology is the only viable way to deliver a quality education. I really hope that as developing countries grow their economies, they are able to devote more and more resources to education. While technology delivered instruction is a nice short term way to bootstrap the system and learn basic skills, to be globally competitive, students have to be able to think critically, collaborate, write, communicate, build projects, etc. That is much better performed in the classroom of a sharp and caring teacher.
3 - In a couple of the panels I sat on, we discussed the point of how the type of radical disruption Rocketship represents will most affect public education. Our own view is that it is far easier to just start new great schools using our rocketship model than to change the work rules and retrofit traditional schools. The basic trade is whether external politics for charters are tougher or internal politics for changing a district culture are more difficult. I think external politics will ultimately be easier.
4 - I had several conversations that strengthened my viewpoint that the significantly higher pay and better work environment we offer teachers is something that teachers unions' will embrace and enable in districts. It is true that our model will lead to fewer members, but ultimately higher paid, longer lasting, more satisfied professional members. I'm really hoping we see this change and districts begin to be capable of consistently producing low-income high-performing schools.