I was at the NewSchools Venture Fund annual summit again this year -- in Pasadena, CA this time around -- and as usual there were lots of CPS folks and CPS-related issues flying around. Folks I spotted or heard were there include Huberman, BEW, Adelman, Lach, and Huberman's new chief of staff or whatever Sarah __________. Other Chicago types I glimpsed included John Ayers and Brian Sims, Cindy Brunswick, as well as Todd Kern.
The principal of Sherman wasn't there - he did a panel a year or two ago when Sherman was newer. But Sims was on a panel about high school turnarounds with folks from Mastery (Philly) and Green Dot (LA). More about that later.
My takeaway from the event was that the innovation and entrepreneurship folks -- the Republican wing of the Democratic party -- feel really warm and fuzzy about all that's going on in Washington these days. Obama with his charter cap-lifting talk, Arne Duncan, who they consider one of theirs, and many of Duncan's hires, who come from the Gates/Broad/NewSchools world. And they're REALLY excited about the "Race To The Top" funding that is accompanying the stimulus -- it's like the federal government just dumped cash on top of all the Broad and Gates money that they already had.
Of course, there were relatively few real-world district and state administrators or union leaders or elected officials there, the folks who will actually have to receive and implement these changes (and whose political and budgetary resources are still much larger than Gates and RTTT combined). This has always been a weakness of NSVF, and seemed even more apparent this year. Michelle Rhee, the darling of last year, was in attendance but not featured. Too aggressive and fate uncertain, I guess. Ditto for Joel Klein, who used to be these folks' best friend, or Cory Booker or Adrian Fenty.
What do you think happens next with the innovations wing of the school reform movement? I know some folks fear that they and their MBA ways take over the world. But does that really happen at the same time folks are battening down the hatches?
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