Smart is the new Green

It’s officially a trend.  It’s early, but investing in learning is taking off:

  • The big guys (e.g., Pearson & K12) are in acquisition mode
  • Increased deal flow of web 2 platforms and tools
  • More venture and private equity investors reviewing deals and making investments
  • At least $100 billion will be invested in private sector education in India and China in the next 4-5 years

To be really ‘green’ we’d need to see the feds providing R&D subsidies and investments like those that heated up clean-tech sector.   Instead, the feds (and states) continue to ban or limit private sector participation in K-12.  Most of the $650m i3 fund went to school districts—its like the military sending their $75b R&D budget to military bases and asking them to innovate and then share. is actively trying to kill off private sector participation in higher education despite the fact that many public colleges and universities have much worse graduation rates (e.g., Parthenon report shows better results for two year private sector schools compared to public colleges while serving a higher need group).  Nearly every state creates perverse incentives for public institutions to enroll unprepared undergrads in big classes to pay for elite upper division programs.  The public university churn-n-burn is an accepted part of US higher education, but for some reason congress is fixated on for-profits.
While private investors understands that smart is the new green, the feds pretend we can fix up the obsolete system we’ve got by sending more money.  Higher graduation and college completion rates will take a major remodel, including some new tools and new schools, and that will involve some private partners—researchers, software and school developers, and investors.
The US will soon begin importing learning technology because the investment and adoption climate is better in India and China—they get that smart is the new green.

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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