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Glimpsing a K-12 Future: Pension Transparency and Education Entrepreneurs

It’s the middle of July. It’s hot outside. If they’re not swimming in the pool, people are more interested in political scandals than education stories. That’s too bad.

Whether we realize it or not, I’m beginning to believe I am lucky enough to be coming of age during a truly transformational time in public schooling and education reform. I mean now. On that note, here are a couple of items I stumbled across today that may not seem to go together. Maybe it’s kind of a hodgepodge, but so what?

First, in the Wall Street Journal (H/T Matt Ladner), John Fund’s Political Diary highlights a speech made by mega-billionaire Bill Gates right here in Colorado at the Aspen Ideas Festival:

Undermining public education, he said, is a system that channels too much money to pensions for retired teachers. He predicts that state and local governments will have to lay off 100,000 active teachers in the next couple of years.

Gates then went on to call out state lawmakers for “fraudulent” budgeting systems that hide the true cost of these massive pension promises — promises my parents, and ultimately I, have to pay for. It’s almost like Gates was channeling Independence Institute senior fellow Dr. Barry Poulson and his PERA Transparency Project.

Shadowy accounting tricks are the past. Transparency and intelligent, cost-saving pension reform are the future.

Speaking of the future, thanks to Eduwonk for pointing out a fabulous opportunity for education entrepreneurs. A group called Kauffman Labs in Kansas City is seeking to support “passionate, disruptive, driven” people with revolutionary ideas to put into action in the area of education. Sounds like a great opportunity for someone (or someones) in Colorado!

For one, I’m sure my Education Policy Center friends would love the opportunity some day to share more stories of entrepreneurial success, as they have with John Danner and Rocketship Education, for example.

In the end, Colorado and other states need policies that are friendly to education entrepreneurs, that provide opportunity for success and space to expand tested and proven innovation without unreasonable regulation — and, of course, with greater parental choice. If we keep working at it with a smile on our faces, I believe it will happen.

All part of a bright future changing before our eyes.