Cassidy: Former Sun chief Scott McNealy s better idea for school te...
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#1 Aug 29, 2010
Regarding the "hidebound" educational establishment: McNealy and Curriki might try helping private schools and home-schoolers become more effective (and, in the case of private schools, more cost-effective and streamlined), as sort of a "pilot project" to demonstrate the value of the Curriki enterprise.
Right now, private schools are at a severe disadvantage, relative to the public system. The biggest handicap is that the money for the public system is extracted from households before they can even consider placing their students in private school. Many families have no option -- after all the taxes are paid and other necessities of life are obtained, they can afford only to send their children to public school. But in many other cases, families that might be able to afford public education at $10,000 per pupil per year must walk away when tuition rises to $15,000 or $20,000, even if the private school education could provide a better fit and yield better results for their children. What is needed are tools -- curricula, methods (including training), and, as necessary, hardware of various kinds -- that enable a motivated, talented teacher to provide high-quality, measurably effective educational services to between 10 or 20 students throughout the day. Each such group could represent between $100K and $200K in revenue, and several of those groups, combined into a "school," could create a critical mass of revenue that allowed leasing of an excellent campus space and "capital equipment," in addition to providing good salaries to the faculty.
Although private schools suffer under financial handicaps, they do have one big advantage, which might interest McNealy and associates: They can move quickly to introduce new curriculum or adapt/improve old curriculum. The responsiveness is not quite that of "internet time," but it's a lot faster than traditional schools or school districts can boast. Perhaps, if Curriki can make hundreds of private schools more affordable and cost-effective -- if it can allow the establishment and survival of more private schools that simply weren't feasible before!-- then McNealy can better succeed in making the case that he and his colleagues can have a similarly positive effect on thousands of public schools.
I'm sorry that Curriki is non-profit. There are a lot of restrictions on non-profit enterprises, but I do understand that being a non-profit is currently a good way to "fit in" to the education industry we have. I just hope that its non-profit status doesn't keep Curriki from working with private schools and making them more competitive in the lopsided contest against the failing and intrinsically flawed government public school system.
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