What have we learned? First things first: The folks at SkySong at the University of Arizona have taken a huge step in fixing education in this country.

Their Education Innovation Summit has brought together global education leaders.

And what have I learned.

Your student’s education does not simply come in an email.

You would think from the way mainstream media reports education entrepreneurs and their mission that online, or any other kind of tech-inspired education company that assists education is solely about putting a kid in front of a box so he or she can peck at a blue or green light at the sound of a bell. Enough, already. Right?

You have to think like an entrepreneur to change the lifeblood of education in this country. There is a lot of work to be done. But we have an issue. The United States has created a public education system that encourages obsolescence and discourages — by its very fabric — innovation.

Imagine there was an industry managed solely by the government, which outsourced the performance of it standards to a group of people that, in most cases, were asked to be leaders in their field.

Only:

They weren’t paid to innovate — no huge bonuses for outstanding performance, no incentives to think, or to take risks that created options that could lead the entire industry to greatness.

They were regulated, not once, but twice — by the government (that didn’t really understand the innovation spirit) and by a group that presumed to speak for their interests but helped them nail down contracts that gave them, not power, but security. Everyone can be equal, nobody should stand out. And by the way, pay us a fee to keep you in place. Thank you.

And then lets say that it’s illegal for your customer to say no to the government-delivered product. Then add to that the fact that your customer, to whom your industry delivers its product to everyday is a highly visible, and in most cases instantly influenced, and highly communicative customer. But it doesn’t matter what your customer says about your product — even if it stinks.

It doesn’t matter what you do with him or her in response to those complaints, if you do do something. The law says that he or she learns in a way that is a century old, and if they don’t learn in that way, then there’s something wrong with the consumer, not the method.

In other words, customer service is the customer doing work for you to make you look good.

And then let’s say that when someone in the room figures out that it’s the system that is broken, not the customer, or the manufacturers of your product, you are not allowed to bring in outside partners to help you fix it. It’s actually illegal in some cases to fix the damaged product.

Well, if you are reading this, you have heard this all before. What’s the solution to this endless loop of tragedy and sustained obsolescence?

More of what ASU is doing, please. We need critical mass. And having these kinds of discussions is what is going to get us here. What next meeting needs are governors, state leaders, superintendents, and the people who can talk about practitioner experiences in an innovation-minded way.

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