Orrick's 'Crossroads' Session Brings Together Educators, Entrepreneurs

CROSSING LINES: Too many edtech meetings are gatherings where the entrepreneurs outnumber the educators, (sometimes the other way around) or where investors rule supreme.  On Wednesday evening, the San Francisco law firm Orrick found a sweet balance, bringing together more than 100 entrepreneurs and educators for an evening session on technology and K-12 education. There was an impressive turnout from the San Francisco Unified School District, led by Matt Kinzie, chief technology officer for SFUSD, with strong support from the SF School Alliance, led by Terry Bergeson (who served as state superintendent in Washington state for a dozen years) and a handful of charter school leaders.  Memorable snippets from the panel chaired by Milton Chen of the George Lucas Foundation

  • Matt Kinzie (SFUSD): "You shouldn't be able to look a student's demographics and predict how they're going to do...Our mission is to help every student achieve a high level of success by 'breaking the elasticity of the status quo.'"  
  • Gloria Lee (NewSchools Venture Fund): Like Harry Potter's mythical hybrid beasts, NSVF is both financier and philanthropist. "But we're aren't a myth!"
  • Adam Miller (Edtec): On experimentation: Entrepreneurs may make mistakes but "failure" (when working with students) isn't an option.
    Rob Mancabelli (BrightBytes):
    "Selling into school districts has been like traveling in the Bermuda Triangle," because entrepreneurs don't know what happens inside or when they'll emerge. "We think of it as a treasure hunt--connecting the person with a need with the right tools."
  • Milton Chen (George Lucas Foundation): "We are finally getting to the point where we can use technology to help us all make better decisions about the ways we educate students." 
  • Jan Zawadski (Hapara): "We've charged (education customers) from day one....Charging customers is 'focusing.'" Otherwise the formula for success is simple: "Solve a real problem."  

Good advice!
 

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