Corporate Education Reform? Where?

School of Thought column at TIME this week takes a look at this morning’s big GE announcement – and it is big, $18 million is a lot – and why it’s significant.  For all the talk about “corporate education reform,” it’s actually pretty rare. Can GE bring Common Core to Life?

This morning the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the multinational General Electric Company, announced a landmark $18 million investment to support state implementation of the new Common Core standards and train teachers how to use them. It is sure to set off alarm bells among critics of education reform who worry that too many companies are trying to treat school productivity like a business problem. But the truth is the GE gift is a reminder of how rare meaningful corporate involvement actually is.

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5 Replies to “Corporate Education Reform? Where?”

  1. About GE. Sorry, I’m not biting on that one. Once again, a big corporation is providing money not to teachers but to a non-profit organization who will, by magic, make their wisdom known to 6,000,000+ teachers. Right.

  2. “Venture capital transaction values in the K-12 field, which include both public and private schools, increased from roughly $130 million in 2010 to $334 million last year, according to data from the Chicago-based GSV Advisors.

    “Precollegiate education historically has not been an easy market for venture capitalists to break into, analysts say, but certain factors are contributing to a higher awareness of this market for investors.

    “Venture capitalists generally look for ‘high-growth opportunities’ and rely on the ability to scale up new enterprises quickly, said Mr. Newman. So the common standards in English/language arts and math, for instance, which have been adopted by all but four states, are contributing to companies’ perception of a potential for fast growth in standards-related ventures across a larger market, he said.

    ” ‘[The common core] is breaking down some of those state-level barriers that made it challenging for folks [to achieve scale],’ said Mr. Newman. “

  3. A couple of months ago, the owner of announced that he was making a large donation ($1 million)to Teach for America to help “improve” the quality of teaching here in Vegas. While this “seems” as noble as the GE contribution, I do question the sincerity of such contributions. I think it is done for publicity purposes (and the subsequent tax write off) more so than to actually improve the quality of education. As both a small business owner as well as a teacher, it is impossible to treat the two the same.

  4. Thanks Phillip–I’ve been looking for just that kind of evidence for weeks now! It’s so frustrating knowing what’s going on all around us but having trouble finding the actual data. Now, what do we do with this evidence? Oh, and I can’t tell you the ‘big boys’ in my state have told me either it’s nothing to worry about or it’s not really happening.

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