We Should Pay Attention to Innovative Entrepreneurs Like Rocketship Education

For the real Independence Institute groupies out there (like those who watched my friends Ben and Marya DeGrow this past Friday on Mike Zinna’s Tough Love TV show… Thanks for the plug, guys!), you know that Ben is a frequent writer and contributing editor to the national publication School Reform News.

On this Monday morning back from spring break and Easter holiday, wouldn’t you just rather read Ben’s latest School Reform News article? Yeah, I thought so. This one is really good. It profiles a successful “hybrid” — and I ain’t talkin’ about a green Toyota Prius — charter school network that effectively reaches poor students through a mixture of individualized learning technology and intensive teacher intervention. Go on, read it:

One of the greatest advantages of the successful hybrid approach is the productivity gained for the same dollar value.

“Rocketship has used technology to reduce the school’s labor costs and allowed the school to reinvest,” said [director of education and child welfare for the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation Lisa] Snell.

The money saved by hiring fewer teachers is invested not only in higher salaries (including merit-based bonuses) but also in student intervention programs, curriculum upgrades, and a four-year, intensive training program for school leaders.

“The hybrid school model saves so much money that it’s like receiving a half-million dollar check each year,” [Rocketship Education CEO John] Danner said.

Educators and policy makers would be foolish not to pay attention to the successful work of innovative entrepreneurs like Rocketship Education. (It’s better than giving too much attention to — and feeding the egos of — my big Education Policy Center friends.)