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Educational Equity and Social Entrepreneurship

October 22, 2012

I’m recovering from a rather busy week. Pres Adams and I successfully (I think) piloted SocEnt Breakfast; I spoke at Ignite; and I did a ‘one big idea’ for Technical.ly Baltimore. It was a busy, yet enjoyable and informative week.

I capped my week off by attending Teach for America‘s Baltimore Educational Equity Summit. It was an impressive event and I participated as a guest speaker at the session “Making Dreams A Reality: Ventures in Social Entrepreneurship.” TFA is perhaps the most well-known, lauded and simultaneously criticized social venture, so it makes sense that they would dedicate a session to social entrepreneurship.

I met many educators full of brights ideas and energy; sadly, I spoke with many exhausted young teachers, burnt out by the daily rigors of working in Baltimore City public schools. I find this dichotomy fascinating, particularly from the perspective of social entrepreneurship–how do we prevent such burn out from our educators?

I don’t think we spend enough time addressing this question. Too often, education-based social ventures are predicated on Herculean efforts of teachers, which I find to be an incredible mistake, as mediocrity is a human condition that manifests itself in every profession. I’m not an educator, but I was a student once, and teachers are plagued by unresponsive bureaucracy and lack of resources as much as they are by instructional “ineptitude” and “deficient” classroom management skills.

Perhaps it’s blasphemous to suggest, but it seems that many education-based social ventures are too concerned about what happens inside the classroom, including recruiting teaching talent from prestigious universities and coaching teachers to become proficient instructors. These are certainly noble and necessary missions.

But couldn’t we use more social ventures that educate parents on how to be more integral to the academic success of their children? Or more social ventures concerned with the dietary and nutritional needs of students? How many teachers would welcome a Health Leads-esque organization that trains college volunteers to help mitigate the shortage of social workers and child psychologists working in schools?

Or better yet, what about a social venture that addresses the widespread divestment of middle-class families from urban public school systems and the resulting socioeconomic segregation this creates? Admittedly, this all seems like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it could lead to fewer burnt out teachers and greater educational equity.

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One Comment
  1. Gary L. Williams Jr permalink

    Or we could get rid of private schools if we care about educational equity.

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