Profound moment of the evening: eChalk founder and President Torrance Robinson spoke about his company and then answered a seemingly innocuous question by me. I asked him what would happen to his business model when RTTT or i3 grants changed the way people channeled money into education.
He basically let loose with an “oh ho ho” and called me on the mat for it. He said it’s not about how the funding model changes, or what Secretary for Education Arne Duncan is saying about funding, but how student choice and family choice of learning options changes everything. Dig the logic:
“I love your district, but your math department sucks. You move that funding to the end user,” says Robinson. Meaning, parents, in an open model, where learning is happening in communities and being channeled across state lines on the Internet, might be able to say, you sir, are not teaching my child. So, sir, I shall move my child, not physically, but to a new portal, or a new service, and my budget in my district will have to follow my child.
He said that nobody is talking about the education offerings and jobs in New York disappearing, for example, when it becomes clear in this model that some districts are not teaching well enough to standards. People can vote with their feet, and assign new learning strategies for their children based on what has proven effective. If students are now longer being channeled to that district, the money goes with them, and then the jobs have no juice.
Everything else he said? Pointless, and fades in comparison, so I won’t even go into it.
Oh, but he did say that four states are looking at eChalk as a state wide platform, and some partner companies want to take them internationally. He was not too keen on spending time in a plane, but he likes the idea of doing things internationally because the centralization of data in foreign climes is “killing us” in terms of our education progress.