Minneapolis: Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles

The Twin Cities’ Venture Academy is already raising expectations—not to mention a boatload of cash—despite the fact that the school hasn’t opened yet.

‘Tis the season for miracles and today I give you a miraculous one indeed. Imagine a school so excellent, so innovative that it has succeeded in raising expectations and boosting achievement before its doors have even opened. Where is this miracle occurring? Reader: it’s time to squeeze into your ski pants and slip the insulator over your wine box. We’re headed to Minneapolis, or as I like to call it, the Land of 10,000 Rephorm Miracles.

2 Cool 4 School
Today the Rephorm Express is making but a single stop: the Twin Cities’ Venture Academy. Alas we can’t go inside to see the excellence as the school won’t officially open its doors until August 2013, but breathe in the frosty air, reader, and the scent is unmistakable: audaciousness. Now hater, I know what you’re thinking: how can a school be handed a gold star before it admits a single student? Meet my edu-visionary friend Bill Gates, who just named named Venture one of 20 winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges award, which identifies breakthrough school models, because next generation learning knows no boundaries.™

Jon Bacal is the Chief Entrepreneurship Officer at Venture Academy where cool new titles rule.

Also, we know that Venture is different because of its totally cool job titles. Whereas old school union-stifled public schools are filled with space occupiers with titles like “LIFO lifer” and “clock watcher,” Venture Academy has a Chief Learning Officer AND a Chief Entrepreneurship Officer. And the stuff they do at the school is way cooler and more innovative than the achievement gap widening that happens at a failing public school—or at least it will be when Venture actually opens. They don’t “teach,” reader, they “transfer” and “coach.” And forget about old school educating—Venture is about Growing Good People™ and Try-Measure-Learn-Iterate-ing™. And how cool is this? During all-school assemblies, students will be encouraged to celebrate “marvelous mistakes” by sharing weekly failures and what they’ve learned.

Wanted: MacGyvers
Did I mention that Venture Academy is hiring? Old, union-stifled teachers need not apply though. Venture is only interested in what Chief Learning Officer Kerry Muse describes on his blog, Blend My Learning, as the “MacGyvers” of education: mission-driven, able to think on his feet and solve complex problems in resourceful and creative ways, and as a scientist he also has in-depth content knowledge. If you’re baffled by this particular pop culture reference allow me to translate: using his Swiss Army Knife and knowledge of a few common scientific principles, the innovative educator at Venture Academy “MacGyvered” a solution to what had long seemed like an intractable problem: poverty, which, by the way, is not an excuse.

The Next Big Thing
But will tricked out job titles and a mad entrepreneurial ethic really be enough to ensure that Venture Academy is able to prepare poor minority students for college? Absolutely, reader. You see Venture embodies the Next Big Thing: blended learning, which will FINALLY reverse our schools’ long slide into suckage by filling them with cool new hand-held devices. And we already know that this approach is guaranteed to succeed because the people peddling the hand-held devices keep telling us this. The only thing holding Operation Big Blender back is that it costs so much to employ living, breathing, teachers that there isn’t enough dough left over to purchase the miracle blenders. Note to LIFO lifers: this is a different kind of blender then the one you fire up at 3:07 PM and, on very special occasions, in the teachers’ lounge.

Miracle.com
That’s why Venture Academy is guaranteed to be a success—it’s the model of the very School of the Future™, one where edu-stuff, helpfully provided by an endless and evolving parade of edu-vendors, is the real star of the show. Best of all, before it even opens its doors, Venture Academy has already joined the ranks of Minneapolis’ growing roster of miracle schools: institutions that teach the EXACT SAME STUDENTS as the city’s union-stifled public schools but with EXTRAORDINARY, OUTSTANDING and AUDACIOUS results. Venture Academy will soon be working miracles with these exact same students—as long as they meet a few simple requirements.

Are you a MacGyver of education? Send comments to tips@edushyster.com.

21 Comments

  1. Your blog is so Awsome I want to take it to see Argo. Keep up the great work. A little story from my neck of the woods. The local Kipp school which has since improved was at first the lowest rated school in NorthEast Florida, so what does my school board do? The voted to let them start two more.

  2. Nice. Must be why the Foundation is going after London cash, to stock up on new blenders.

    1. Blenders don’t buy themselves!

  3. […] whatever you are doing, and read this. EduShyster serves up a delightful portrait of an award-winning school in Minneapolis that embodies […]

  4. Your blog got be so rigored up I’m strapping my wine box on top of the mini-cooper and applying for the open position of “Lead Edupreneur”. How awesome is that?

    1. You will make a great Lead Edupreneur! Let me know if you are in need of a reference. I will beam 1 in from my handheld device…

  5. joe from baltimore December 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    They are so audacious, they are fearless about grammar. Who needs verbs anyway?

    “In order to be a part of Venture Academy, students must: Willingness to work hard and show dedication…”.

    1. Evidently they are too busy to proofread. One would think their extra special devices would self-edit.

  6. Unreal. Was hoping this was a “The Onion” piece. But it’s real. This really spells the demise of public education.

    The Venture Academy website is ridiculous. My fave page tells so much – What we’re reading – http://ventureacademies.org/news/reading/

    All the usual suspects are represented.

  7. ‘Tis truly a season of miracles! I have heard that this new school has already outperformed Finland! Yes, FINLAND!

  8. OK, you got my attention with the MacGyver reference. My daughter (now thirty) and I were great fans back in the day. Loved that fictional character. Will enjoy seeing how duct tape can improve educational outcomes!

    In 1992, I predicted this swing to privatization; never guessing how accurate and frightening it might become. If the marketing dept can convince Americans their public schools are a system wide failure (despite Sandia Laboratgories report to the contrary), they can surely convince citizens that a given school is an exemplar, even before it opens.

    Merciful Molly McGuire! Is this really happening to the most uniquely designed universal, free, public education system in the world? What will America look like in 50 years, if this trend continues? That questions is only partly rhetorical and cries out for responses!

  9. Notice that the website is plural: http://www.ventureacademies.org? Chief Entrepreneur dude Bacal plans to launch a nation-wide “network” based on his Minneapolis “model”.

    1. I noticed that too. This isn’t a school so much as a business model…

      1. Exactly. And what a model. Financing for his future empire comes courtesy of the bank o’ you and me. Zero % down, zero % interest, zero to pay back. He gets 100% profits. Every dollar in profit is a dollar that should have gone to kids. Lord, I need a drink.

  10. Oops, that should read:

    Looks like the good liberals of Minneapolis have not really done their homework on Ed Rephorm!

  11. It’s easy to mock, but if you Blend My Learning with some banana and strawberry, yogurt, honey, and protein powder, you can get a delicious, protein-packed Learning Smoothie!

    Seriously, this (EduShyster, not the blender thing) is the best education blog ever.

  12. “And how cool is this? During all-school assemblies, students will be encouraged to celebrate “marvelous mistakes” by sharing weekly failures and what they’ve learned.” ??? I was under the impression that this new endeavor would be taking place in the US. Apparently, I was wrong. The Chinese Cultural Revolution is still going strong. Confession is good for the soul.

  13. Students must:
    “Be willing to be courageous in their learning”
    WTF eduspeak is this?

    Students must be willing to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation? Sounds like public education to me!

  14. […] scaled up—and the sooner the better. That’s why I take my ski hat off to the miracle makers at Venture Academy in Minneapolis. When we last checked in, the edupreneurs at Venture were already closing the achievement gap and […]

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