Friday, March 26, 2010

Urban Conservatives Must Create a Knowledge-Based Economy Through Educational Entrepreneurship

I guess my mantra of education being the #1 issue in Michigan is starting to come into fruition.

Highlights of educational movements going on:

(a) $540 million academic plan Robert Bobb to change the academic face of the Detroit Public Schools.

(b) A coalition of education leaders and foundations will unveil today a sweeping academic reform agenda that targets failing schools, calls for 70 new programs and launches a national effort to recruit principals. This includes a $200 million plan also aims to build community support this year to eliminate the Detroit Board of Education and make the mayor accountable for Detroit Public Schools.

(c) Opening 70 school programs by 2020, 40 of which will be open within five years.

(d) Pushing for 90 percent of students to graduate high school, 90 percent to enroll in college or post-secondary training and 90 percent to succeed without remedial education in college by 2020.

(e) DPS Reading Corps is in full effect.

(f) The advent of University YES Prep in the fall in Detroit and the opening of the ninth grade academy at University Prep Science and Math Academy.

Even at the national level we are seeing the following.

(g) Underperforming school districts that fail to show improvement would have to cede control of critical Title I funds to state-level officials under a reauthorization plan for the "No Child Left Behind" outlined by Department of Education officials today.

(h) A group of 107 graduating seniors from the Urban Academy for Young Men in Englewood, Chicago is celebrating a great success. That success is every young man in the school’s first graduating class has been accepted into a four-year-college.

While we celebrate these accomplishments we are still a long way to go from our goal of helping our students compete in a 21st century global setting. We are still fighting and debating over why we should not abolish the Detroit Public School Board. This is a very simple process. The Board is past their prime and its time to move on.

I would love to take a poll or survey of Detroiters who have actually traveled and lived in other countries to see how the education works in those countries. We are still stuck on a civil rights approach to education when our students should be learning metric and preparing to study abroad in Tokyo and London.

Educational proponents may not agree on what educational design we need to turn around urban education. But what we can agree on is that the relevance of educational design to the multitude of issues humankind faces is now widely accepted: few continue to view education as a relatively minor step in the process of bringing a product to market, and one that lies far downstream in the value chain. Rather, redesigning education in the urban community is increasingly seen as an integral part of innovation, and a very potent tool in realizing change.

Our mission should not be just building new facilities to make a community feel good. We need to both reinvent and redesign education in our communities. In order to do this we must engage in educational entrepreneurship. From educational entrepreneurship we rebuild our curriculum framework and reinvent our students in the classroom.

Urban conservatives must begin to place a heavy emphasis on educational entrepreneurship because it is essential for developing the human capital necessary for the society of the future. It is not enough to add entrepreneurship on the perimeter – it needs to be central to the way education operates. Educational institutions, at all levels (primary, secondary and higher education) need to adopt 21st century methods and tools to develop the appropriate learning environment for encouraging creativity, innovation and the ability to “think out of the box” to solve problems. This requires a fundamental rethinking of educational systems, both formal and informal. Also in need of rethinking are the way teachers or educators are trained, how examination systems function and the way rewards, recognition and incentives are given.

I often teach urban conservatives to focus on educational entrepreneurship ideas in areas where we can make an immediate impact. Areas like Ecorse, Flint and Benton Harbor are prime examples of building a strong educational entrepreneurship platform. Urban conservatives must embrace charter schools and other educational options as a form of educational entrepreneurship opportunities to create change.

Educational Entrepreneurship is about developing attitudes, behaviors and capacities at the individual level. Inherently, it is about leadership. It is also about skills and attitudes that can take many forms during an individual’s career, creating a range of long-term benefits to society and the economy.

First and foremost, educational entrepreneurship requires close cooperation between academia and business. Past barriers to academic collaboration with business need to be broken down and outreach both encouraged and supported. As demonstrated later in the report through the case studies, companies and entrepreneurs play instrumental roles in promoting entrepreneurial education by providing knowledge, expertise, mentoring, social capital and financial support. In addition, businesses with an entrepreneurial culture contribute directly to the entrepreneurial education process by providing employees with the opportunity to cultivate entrepreneurial skills and aptitudes at work.

The educational "capitalist" who is engaged in educational entrepreneurship should build capabilities of leadership and social responsibility in students and academics. This is mandatory precisely because societal demands based on established social and ethical norms will influence the acceptability and economic viability of innovations and novel entrepreneurial opportunities based on them. Some stress how the dynamic environment of the innovation-driven new industries requires entrepreneurial learning and leadership for understanding and actively shaping what kind of entrepreneurial business concepts will gain societal legitimacy.

Lawmakers at the international, national, regional and local levels all have important roles to play in setting the appropriate legal and fiscal frameworks to encourage educational entrepreneurship and in filling market gaps as necessary. This is why we must stop voting by name recognition and start voting for people who will support educational reforms to help our children become competitive. This includes promoting legislation for a Grade 13 for failing schools and supporting a county ran school model for failing schools to eliminate waste and duplication. I have yet to hear anyone who is running for office support and discuss this openly.


While people fight over Detroit Public Schools and prepare to tear down Robert Bobb and the DPS School Board charter schools must begin to have a critical role as intellectual hubs in entrepreneurial ecosystems by serving as incubators for innovation and research, and focal points for collaboration among researchers, students, professors, companies and entrepreneurs. Foundations, Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) and other organizations can play important facilitation or intermediary roles within the charter school, often helping to link various stakeholders. Most important are the champions (often serial entrepreneurs but also educators, staff or students) who leverage their social capital and serve as catalysts for building the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

When introducing educational entrepreneurship into the academic community, one major challenge is to develop contents and methods that encourage entrepreneurial learning. Entrepreneurial learning is characterized by cooperative learning (creating teams) ; taking entrepreneurs as models (exchange, feedback, networks) ; doing and experience (trial and error) ; developing entrepreneurial ideas ; working out problem solutions, and recognizing that mistakes can be learning opportunities.

As we are redesigning our charter school market to a 21st century model we need to understand how entrepreneurial learning develops problem-solving competences through self-learning processes.

It also develops opportunity recognition and acting competences through a change in perception, action and interaction. In the entrepreneurial learning process, the students are confronted with concrete problem situations, e.g., in case studies. The solutions must be worked out either independently or in a team. Often only heuristics are available for the generation of a solution. This also means that in most cases not one solution, but several solutions are possible for a specific problem.

Moreover, solutions are often linked to a specific time and situation and cannot always be applied to another problem in the same way.

Where suitable for fostering team-based, participant centered and interactive learning this may be supported by IT infrastructure, for example, for individually tailored e-learning modules, business simulations or virtual project communities with participants from different countries or disciplinary backgrounds. Inter-disciplinary collaboration is an essential element in developing enterprising abilities.


The importance of interdisciplinary work in creating entrepreneurial opportunities has been widely recognized. As regards the specific content, programs and courses should be adapted to the different target groups in our community.

But there is more about utilizing educational entrepreneurship as it pertains to social entrepreneurship. Utilizing these tools of innovation at the grass roots level is to find sustainable solutions to overcoming poverty. The upcoming generation of charter school developers must take this into account that they are not just servicing the immediate community in which the school is housed but understanding that with the educational model we implement we can also duplicate this model in other urban places globally.


In order to enable a wider participation of those who are socially excluded, such as women, underemployed youth, those with poor health and people distant from modern markets
or with low levels of literacy, we need to create markets and opportunities for innovation and social improvements. These communities are described as being at the “bottom of the pyramid” and the case is being made to draw them into the income generating capability of the modern world through appropriate and targeted educational entrepreneurship.

The missing piece in the promise of urban education seems to be the ability of people to apply their education for self improvement and a solution to this part of the puzzle also needs to be addressed.

Stakeholders, such as not-for-profit organizations, large local and multinational companies, well-established educational entrepreneurs and others need to come together in networks to create an ecosystem in which up-start educational entrepreneurship stakeholders can flourish.


So keep in mind while everyone focus on Detroit and its school system true social entrepreneurs, educational capitalists and stakeholders will focus on urban communities in Michigan and abroad. Academia needs to work with ministries, the private sector and other stakeholders to rethink the educational systems in their countries to develop entrepreneurial societies. Embedding entrepreneurship and innovation, cross disciplinary approaches and interactive teaching methods all require new models, frameworks and paradigms. It is time to rethink the old systems and have a fundamental “rebooting” of the urban educational process. Incremental change in urban education is not adequate in today’s rapidly changing society. We need schools, colleges and universities that are entrepreneurial in their approach to preparing individuals for the future.

Michigan needs to leverage the resources it has by using its universities and colleges to help create a knowledge-based economy. Most educational entrepreneurs are 100% in the dark in terms of negotiating with universities to open K-12 program right on the university campus to promote a theme-based charter school. In other words, an university can open their own charter school WITHOUT going through the authorization process because they are already authorizing the program. Plus the Board of Regents can be the Board for that charter program. However, no university in the State of Michigan are making this effort to join in the innovation process to help our students compete.

But on the flip side how many educational entrepreneurs who are investing in charter schools are thinking out the box and partnering with Everest Institute, Walsh College and other smaller colleges to create fast-track programs for job training in medical and accounting? We can no longer just rely on the traditional universities for assistance. Use our community college system like Wayne County Community College and Schoolcraft College to partner with to engage in homeland security and information technology training to put people back to work. We cannot wait for a broken government to save us. We have to save ourselves. Educational entrepreneurship is the key to transforming urban communities.

Join in the effort for educational reform. We do not need a band-aid approach to education we need a radical and revolutionary approach to change.

1 comment:

tracie said...

"We cannot wait for a broken government to save us."

1. Can you explain how the government is broken in terms of how this has affected DPS?

"We do not need a band-aid approach to education we need a radical and revolutionary approach to change."

2. How come DPS and urban school districts need to change, but districts such as Bloomfield, Birmingham, and Troy...are succeeding and do not need to change?

"This requires a fundamental rethinking of educational systems, both formal and informal. Also in need of rethinking are the way teachers or educators are trained, how examination systems function and the way rewards, recognition and incentives are given."

3. Really, the suburbs are not having this problem.

Urban conservatives must embrace charter schools and other educational options as a form of educational entrepreneurship opportunities to create change.

Firstly, you mentioned the words:
entrepreneurship-19 times
Charter-10
business-5
economy-4
parent-0

There is a reason why you mentioned community-8 times, because ultimately this is the underlying reason for failure and all of its components should be on the same accord. Similarly, I am deeply saddened and disturbed why the word "parent" was mentioned only once.

When people like yourself stop viewing education as a business, and parents stop viewing it as a separate entity in the constructs of raising a child, but understand it as a fundamental, ethical, and necessary "right"-change will come.

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children."~Dietrich Bonhoeffer