I have come to agree. The pockets of innovation nurtured by non-profit foundations in traditional schools will be erased shortly after the funding stops. The money that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending on grants, for example, will likely have no real effect on education in fifteen years.
However, giving up on schools does not mean giving up on education. I believe that foundations will shortly realize that they can better drive permanent education innovation by focusing instead on homeschoolers. Here are some things they could consider doing:
- Develop certification programs to demonstrate levels of competency outside of school to replace high school and college diplomas. And they can create repositories for verifiable portfolios.
- Work to get town and state governments to provides supplies, including workbooks and art materials, even tutors, for homeschooled students that correspond to those given to enrolled students.
- Create web sites with detailed and diverse curricula for every grade. This can include topics, or the content itself. Nurture online communities to capture alternative approaches and user generated content.
- Track sample sets of homeschooled students over time to compare success against industrial schooled students.
- Identify and publish best practices in home- and unschooling.
- Provide a single clearing house, with ratings, around free and for-cost resources. One area that would especially be valuable is tutors. This would also have the effect of encouraging vendors to create innovative educational services and products that otherwise would view the market as too fragmented.
- Negotiate for bulk rates of technology.
It is my deepest belief that any true innovation that is developed in home- and unschooling communities will eventually make its way back into industrial schools. And I also believe there is probably no other way of nurturing lasting innovation in education today.