Monday, October 13, 2008

Get Government Out of Our Schools and Into Entrepreneurship Support

We don't have to have federal government intrusion into our schools with No Child Left Behind.

However, we do have a sort of education crisis today with soaring dropout rates and very small numbers of students choosing a future in science or engineering. Most ideas for fixing our education system involve lots of time and really lots of money. We have too little of both.

Yet, we have a strong and innovative citizenry who are able to participate in entrepreneurship. Our federal government should be working in this area rather than trying to create its own bureaucracy to fix education. They can't do it. Since around 1980, the government has spent billions of dollars fixing science education; it's still poor.

It has been my joy and my pain to have built an exciting new way to deliver excellent science over the Internet. I have a patent. My associates and I have built 150 integrated instructional lab units based on our technology that cover all of the major sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, earth). We have many prestigious customers now and may actually be able to pay ourselves a very small salary soon.

I have learned that funding for education entrepreneurs is very hard to find. Consider the usual sources.

1. Venture Capital: These people are positively allergic to education business plans.

2. Angel Investors: These are hard to find and especially so with respect to education investment.

3. Foundations: Unless you're non-profit, forget it.

4. Government Grants: These have become more scarce lately. If you're not grouped with a university your chances decline. Not having a professional grant writer also lessens your chances. They require lots of bookkeeping when you get them. Finally, there's a long wait. If you fail, then it's usually another year before you can try again.

Government grants for education entrepreneurs should take priority over studies and other non-productive activities. If you have a prototype, you should be evaluated quickly and funded or not. Prototypes should be strongly encouraged.

There should be a way for government investment in education companies so that grants aren't the only option. They're doing it with banks now.

Although I like charter schools, giving them money makes little sense because the impact is so local. Our federal funds should be spent on ideas that will be quickly and broadly applicable.

I just happen to believe that my own Smart Science(R) core learning system is one such idea. I've spent ten years building this system that now is being used by such notable organizations as Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Apex Learning,, and eight state online schools. (More details another time.) Yet, I cannot find funding anywhere. The government says it supports improving education but won't fund anything except studies and committees.

It's time for our government to become the venture capitalists for businesses that we absolutely must have such as science education entrepreneurs. Why not? Taxpayer investments might even make money!

© 2015 by Smart Science Education Inc., U.S.A.
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