"Innovation" Grants in Education

Posted by: Damian Joseph on August 26, 2009

The U.S. Dept. of Education is getting ready to launch its $650 million i3 “Investing in Innovation” contest. The money will be carved up and grants will go to school districts and nonprofits. Some of the criteria on which schools will compete recently came out…

Money will be doled out in three areas:

Pure Innovation - $5 million grants to try out new or interesting ideas
Strategic Investment - $30 million for programs that need more research or organization to scale up
Grow What Works - $50 million grants for programs that have already proven successful and are ready to expand

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has given Teach for America and charter schools as examples for innovative approaches to education.

So I'm curious:
As students are the future workforce, what improvements would business leaders like to see in education?
Is this an effective approach to making that happen?

Reader Comments

pedagoguish

August 29, 2009 8:31 PM

The last thing we need in American public education is more innovation. Over the past fifty years we've tried new math, forced busing, magnet schools, open plan schools, whole language reading, and, most recently,"high stakes" testing. It's enough experimentation.

The fundamental mistake we make is thinking that education is a science. It is not. It is art. We classify, and quantify, and analyze, and we get no closer to improving student learning.

What we lack is historical and cross cultural awareness. We never ask ourselves what made it possible for a John C. Calhoun to gain a superior education while attending a Carolina frontier log cabin academy or how our great grandparents learned to read effectively using a McGuffey eclectic reader. We don't look at schools in Singapore or India to learn how they manage to take the top off standardized test scores. My guess is that these successes have more to do with rigor and discipline than with educational innovation, but how would I really know? No one ever earned a doctorate in education by advocating for the status quo. As long as the American system continues to reward innovation over proven success,we will never change what is fundamentally wrong with our public school system.

Nichelle Grant

August 31, 2009 4:49 PM

2) Business leaders would like to see more collaboration among educational entities in which companies work with school facilities to offer classes that provide early introductions to the workforce. A greater focus in schools on applying innovative concepts is a notable step in the right direction. It is the drive for innovation that is positively accelerated by programs such as these. When funding is available to support future opportunities for students, it’s often ideal for school districts to take advantage. Realistically, students at any level will have to get involved in their career interests so that they’re more confident and better prepared as they come out of college. Ideal innovation means aiming for improvement with the opportunity to hold onto what works.

Alena

January 4, 2010 8:35 AM

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

http://grantsforeducation.info

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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