The federal government is making it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to move to the US. The change in visa rules signals a shift in national priorities. The US today – more than ever – embraces entrepreneurship. Having a good idea and the wherewithal to make it a reality is quintessentially American and increasingly universal. Good ideas can change the world, promote economic growth and increase everyone's quality of life. The education sector is no exception.
Elsewhere in this resource, we have discussed the need to ease credentialing rules for teachers and educational leaders. The unintended consequence of complicated credentialing hurdles is that people who think differently – creative people who see possibilities – feel less welcome in the education sector. Put candidly, the education sector is not where aspiring entrepreneurs go as a first stop.
How does a highly regulated, slow-to-change industry like education engage with the call for system-wide transformation? An increasing number of forward-thinking school boards are hiring leaders with cross-industry, international and even entrepreneurial experience. "Innovative" is an increasingly important word employers look for in job applications.
Innovating in the education space is no small undertaking. Low turnover rates for public school employees suggests public schools and universities are good places to work. People who have a good deal want to keep it. Innovators craving transformation receive warmer welcomes in start ups or incubators. If education is to change from within and adapt to its increasingly frequent challenges – technological disruption, decreasing budgets, increasing social demands, widespread disagreement on the goals of education – educational leaders need to release themselves from their histories, their credentials, even their careers and begin to see themselves as entrepreneurs.
Cultural transformation comes first. Institutions follow. Culture in the US today embraces those who undertake projects hoping to change the world. Undertaking transformation in education may be the greatest benefit of this cultural shift embracing innovation. Schools, universities and other learning institutions will respond to culture when (a) elected board members and trustees demand leaders with cross-industry, cross-discipline and cross-geography experience and (b) existing educators and leaders stop defending the old ways of working, seek continuous improvement and embrace innovation.
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