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Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.


In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled its Investing in Innovation (i3) initiative to fuel greater innovation in public education – and to sustain it. In this paper, education entrepreneur Kim Smith and innovation writer Julie Petersen assess the initial effect of the program’s first round on specific elements of the innovation ecosystem in education, including innovators, philanthropic donors, and the federal education agency itself. While the program increased public and philanthropic attention to the need for innovation and to measuring and scaling up what works, factors like its narrow eligibility requirements, limited definition of acceptable evidence, and over-simplified process have kept the program from achieving its full potential.

Publication -- Whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere else for a summer break, you can rest assured that the education wars will continue unabated while you’re gone. Looking for some education reading to tide you over? Here are seven new education books to check out and get a taste of where the debate about our schools is headed.

Publication -- Newspapers and broadcast networks are sitting on a trove of material that can be converted into curriculum and sold — yes, sold — for use in our nation’s schools and universities.

Publication -- Critics of tenure contend it has outlived its usefulness and is a poor fit for the modern university. Supporters counter that the intellectual independence it confers is essential to a culture of inquiry.

Publication -- Is it finally the beginning of the end for No Child Left Behind?

Publication -- Is it the best of times or end times for public charter schools?

Publication -- Here are five things to know about this particularly mysterious aspect of college admissions.

Publication -- Lately it’s become fashionable — especially among the highly credentialed — to question whether it’s really “worth it” to go to college.


Although public education sorely needs innovation, the funding that accompanies it – whether through public agencies, philanthropic sources or private investors – rarely encourages such innovation to flourish. In this paper, education entrepreneur Kim Smith and innovation writer Julie Petersen explore the ways in which the public, private, and nonprofit sectors might steer their capital toward products, services, and approaches that improve educators’ productivity and students’ learning outcomes. By analyzing the way capital markets operate and drawing inspiration from social change efforts in other fields and countries, Smith and Petersen illustrate what a more “innovation-friendly” capital market would feature, such as agreed-upon goals and metrics for success, effective use of research and development (R&D), an emphasis on evidence-based decision making, and diverse sources of investment capital.