Unleashing Knowledge and Innovation

There is little R&D in education—not enough public or private investment, limited research into the great challenges of our time, and limited innovation in a sector bound by local, state, and federal regulation.

Larry Stupski wants to change this. His foundation is sponsoring a conference—Unleashing Knowledge and Innovation for the Next Generation of Learning—to explore solutions.

Three influences led Larry to host this conference. Larry lived through a revolution in finance. It was an environment where support systems developed quickly—consultants, tools, vendors—to mobilize around the deregulation opportunity.

After leaving finance, Larry launched an education foundation working in depth in 17 school districts. Larry observed that running an urban district is “deceptively complex—at least as difficult as running a big corporation.” In contrast to his experience in finance, Larry noted that support systems for transformation simply did not exist.

Larry observed in both sectors the tension between “exploitation and exploration.” Districts are typically not good or well supported in either execution or innovation. Larry observed that innovation is a skill and a set of tools. He set out to reinvent his foundation to build the knowledge and tools to reinvent education. He’s been hanging out with some smart folks that have been helping to shape the Stupski agenda.

Team Stupski will launch a new generation of work in five states with a focus on new platforms for learning. I still worry that they’re playing an ‘inside baseball’ game trying to fix districts and will miss the innovation potential of virtual and blended charters. But I appreciate Larry’s commitment, his willingness to abandon what’s not working, and his focus on innovation.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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