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The Future of the Education Industry Looks Bright! October 12, 2012

The Future of the Education Industry Looks Bright!

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the EdNET conference, in Baltimore, MD,  sponsored by MDR.  The theme this year was Chart, Navigate, Deliver.  And boy did it ever live up to it's theme!

At one point I heard that over 300 companies had sent representatives to the meeting.  With over 500 folks in attendance, some sent more.  One of the many interesting things about EdNET is the opening session;  The Business Networking Forum.  During this session, one representative from each company is able to have their "30 second" commercial in front of those attending the conference.  Some of the memorable introductions for me were from Jane Radenhausen, Publishing Director at Today's Catholic Teacher and Scott Hines, President, World Education University.  Jane used a prop and Scott emphasized his University's commitment to free education.  Even at a industry conference the challenge is to cut through the noise.   

This was my fourth EdNET and the challenge is always mixing business with networking.  There are just not enough hours in the day.  I'm fortunate to have been in the education business for twenty years.  I have many friends who truly want my business to succeed and I want their organizations to succeed.  So there is this constant dynamic of introducing folks to each other who might need the other's services or solution.  It is amazing to watch, I would venture to say that few other industries have this kind of collaboration.  Most folks want to make a living, but ultimately everyone wants to lift the education industry up to the next level.  We all want to see kids educated to the best of their abilities.  So thanks to the team at MDR for making this event possible each year. 

During the next few days you can read my overview of the conference.  Highlights include:

  • Doing business globally in the education sector

  • Sales and marketing in the digital age

  • Doing good and making money:  Do they go together?

  • Wall Street is paying attention to the education industry.  

  • The impact of the Common Core

  • Is gaming good for K12?

  • Education of the future.


Education Should Not Divide Us

Labor day is the traditional start of school.  However, many of our children have already begun the new academic year.  Our daughter started first grade a week ago, and next week her Dad and I will attend the Fall Parent’s night where we will have the obligatory sit down with her teacher.  I’m sure that we are not the typical parents, for a number of obvious reasons, but also because we are knowledgeable in the issues of education, technology, parental involvement, the Common Core, assessments, STEM,  even teacher evaluations.  We believe there is power in all of these initiatives.

 Why?  Because we have been a part of the process.  We have witnessed—through our work as partners in developing curriculum and technology solutions or actually teaching in the classroom (as is the case of my partner)—that education matters, teachers matter, administrators matter, publishers, educational technology providers matter, and that parents matter.  In order for education to be successful, we must put aside what divides us and work toward a pragmatic approach to educating our children to compete in a world that is very different from our own upbringing. 

Last week the 44th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitude Towards the Public Schools was released.  The report clearly showed that we are divided on illegal immigration, vouchers, teacher evaluations, and even whether high school kids should be career and college ready. The study also revealed that while we are divided on how we view the education system as a whole in the U.S., we are still supportive of our local schools. In our world of blue and red states, surprisingly we do agree on a lot when it comes to education:

  • Support for the profession of teaching (should be equal to that of doctors, engineers, lawyers).

  • The Common Core initiative will have a positive impact on education.

  • Urban youth need attention and increased support in the learning process.

  • Neither high school drop-outs or graduates are ready for the real world.

Abraham Lincoln’s quote of “A house divided against its self cannot stand” is very appropriate.  With so much at stake we need to focus on a pragmatic approach to bringing parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians together. 

It is time to stop the rhetoric and work toward a solution.  We must, if we are to raise a generation who can compete with the economies of China and India.  Charles Blow of the New York Times recently wrote an op-ed piece titledStarving the Future.  His article states that by 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates—that is more than the entire U.S. workforce.  By 2020, 95% of children will have graduated from nine years of compulsory education (165 million students, again, more than the US workforce).   China will provide 70% of children with three years of pre-school.  A few other comparisons:  the U.S. graduated almost 500,000 students in the STEM areas between 2000 and 2008 – China graduated 1.18 million.  So while we are debating vouchers, teacher evaluations, and whether technology really works in the classroom, our competition is building economies that will eclipse the U.S. in a few short years. 

These emerging economies improved and are improving upon the U.S. model of education to gain the competitive edge in the world economy.  America has always risen to the challenge.  Our challenge is to insure that our children are prepared to compete effectively in a world where science, technology, engineering, and math help drive economies.  We all have the responsibility to support our educators, to participate by having your voice heard, and to make sure our education system is preparing our children for future success.

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