Papa's Got a Brand New Gig

library.jpgAfter 27 years in the national security business, more or less, I have accepted a position to work something far more tractable: the U.S. education system. My new business card says I am the Director for Knowledge and Innovation at the Stupski Foundation: a private, operating foundation in San Francisco whose mission is to improve life options for children of color and poverty. The foundation does so by helping education leaders accelerate academic achievement so that all students graduate with the knowledge, skills, and aspirations that will enable them to thrive in college, career and life.

What follows is my personal observation following an extremely short time with the Foundation - and is certainly subject to change as I learn more about this exciting new challenge (I was kidding, this problem is quite a few postal zones away from tractable). When I write on behalf of the Foundation, I will be doing it somewhere other than on this blog site. These musings here will always represent the addled mind of yours truly.

Specifically, we take the following approach: Until we address the systemic breakdown in the educational "system," we cannot have enduring change for the children that are our focus. Core to these systemic issues is the failure to innovate. Good ideas are not transferred across the system to other districts or other states. Districts forget core understandings about "what works" when the leadership changes. Innovation helps an industry adapt to change and survive (right, Detroit?). Where is the innovation in education? Where is the research and development (and distribution) that characterizes the innovation engines in other sectors?

At this early date, this is how I understand my new job. Help an extraordinarily talented team by bringing KM principles to bear in building out the R&D capacity for U.S. education. Partner with states, school districts, research firms, technology companies, philanthropic institutions, and an increasingly vital federal Department - developing ways to conduct multi-disciplinary investigations in order to spread "what works" to the most under-served in our educational system. There are great opportunities in methods and technologies, a willingness to invest in meaningful change, and an unprecedented need to develop a ready workforce suited to the emerging global economy.

This is an exceptional and humbling opportunity, I am most fortunate to be presented this chance to serve. It should be quite a ride, and I'm hopeful my friends and casual readers will be there to enjoy it with me. Oh, and if you have any ideas in this area, this is no time to be shy.