Ted Dintersmith is a successful venture capitalist and father of two who has spent years devoting most of his time, energy and millions of dollars of his personal fortune to learning about — and advocating for — public education and how it can be made better for all children.
Dintersmith has taken a dramatically different path from other wealthy Americans who have become involved in education issues, departing from the approach of people such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who was a prime mover behind the Common Core State Standards and initiatives to assess teachers by student standardized test scores.
Dintersmith traveled to every state to visit schools and see what works and what doesn’t — and his prescription for the future of American education has very little to do with what Gates and others with that same data-driven mind-set have advocated.
He thinks the U.S. education system needs to be reimagined into cross-disciplinary programs that allow kids the freedom to develop core competencies through project-based learning.
He discussed his vision in a book he co-authored, “Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Age,” and he funded and produced a compelling documentary called “Most Likely to Succeed,” which goes into High Tech High school in San Diego, where the project-based educational future he wants is already there.
He has a new book being published in April, “What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration From Teachers Across America,” about what he learned during his travels and school visits.
How can choice and competition improve schools? From a capitalistic perspective one needs to be much more mobile or have a tremendous number of nearby schools for this to happen. Much like the lack of true competition in local hospitals, most American families don’t have any real choice in schools as their local school may be the only option. To have the greatest opportunity, one must be willing to move significant distances, and this causes issues with job availability for the parents as well as other potential social issues.
When it’s the case that there is some amount of local selection, it’s typically not much and then the disparity of people attending one school over another typically leads to much larger disparities in socio-economic attendance and thus leading to the worsening of the have and the have-nots.
Even schools in large cities like the Los Angeles area hare limited in capacity and often rely on either lottery systems or hefty tuition to cut down on demand. In the latter case, again, the haves and have-nots become a bigger problem than a solution.
I’ll have to circle back around on these to add some statistics and expand the ideas…
h/t Eric Mazur