Why Invest in Innovation for Education?

According to the Pew Center on the States, investments in research and development can spur not only new ideas, new products and new technologies, but can increase a state’s talent pool, economic bottom line and its success in national and global markets. They also state that innovation can’t be left to chance — every state needs a clear strategy for success that applies lessons learned from their peers and from abroad.

 This is true not only of the states, but of education. We need a quality education system in order to grow the students who will become the talented scientists and engineers needed to keep us ahead of the curve. But in order to improve education, we too must invest in innovation. I always loved Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sometimes I think that is where we are with education — doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results.

The good news is that new programs in 2010 are bringing a new hope. Twelve foundations — The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, Robertson Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation — have made a $500 million commitment to innovation. These monies, combined with U.S. Department of Education's $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund is making more than $1 billion available to help expand promising innovations in education that support teachers, administrators, technology tools and school design across all K-12 schools.

Innovation may not come easy, but it should always be top-of-mind for anyone seeking to improve. It streamlines processes, provides solutions and most importantly allows us to explore the possibilities. Providing funds for innovation in education will go a long way — not only in improving student learning, but in fostering a climate where great things can happen now and in the future.