State Policy Network
Education Innovation in the Heartland: A Summit for Policymakers and Entrepreneurs

By Kerry McDonald, State Policy Network’s Velinda Jonson Family Education Fellow

As back-to-school time nears, more parents are considering alternatives to an assigned district school. The education disruption caused by the pandemic response prompted parents to look more discerningly at their children’s learning environments and be open to new educational options, including low-cost private schools, microschools, learning pods, hybrid schools, and homeschooling collaboratives.

These options are becoming abundant, as everyday entrepreneurs recognize parent demand for a wider variety of education choices and create what parents want.

One Network partner is helping to shine a light on the innovative educational models that are now emerging. Kansas Policy Institute (KPI), in collaboration with a grassroots group of education entrepreneurs, is hosting the Heartland Hybrid and Microschools Summit on Saturday, September 23rd in Overland Park, Kansas.

Sponsored by the VELA Education Fund and the National Hybrid Schools Project, two organizations that elevate entrepreneurial parents and teachers who are creating unconventional, out-of-system education options, the Summit is an opportunity for practitioners and policymakers to come together and learn more about today’s exciting educational trends.

“It’s important to highlight emerging trends in any policy area,” said James Franko, president of KPI. “At the state level, that is only more important when it comes to half the state budget with K-12 policy. Educational choice advocates have long discussed the idea of innovation and growth that will meet the needs of different families. The entrepreneurs, and the kids they serve, are living proof that markets do actually serve the most important needs of families.”

The Summit is open to anyone who is interested in education policy and innovation, and will include keynote presentations from educational thought leaders as well as panel discussions featuring local and regional education entrepreneurs.

“I am excited to play a part in organizing this summit as it will help to raise awareness of the incredible diversity in educational models that already exist, and also inspire education entrepreneurs who are dreaming of creating innovative schools in their own communities,” said Dalena Wallace, a homeschooling mom and president of AIM Educational Collaborative that is helping to activate local founders.

Other Network partners have also been making strides this year in encouraging education entrepreneurship in their states, including the Libertas Institute in Utah and Empower Mississippi. They have each hosted mini-conferences to bring together local education entrepreneurs, while supporting new founders in getting their programs launched. 

By working with local education entrepreneurs to identify and remove entrepreneurial barriers and promote school choice policies, Network partners can help to expand the variety and accessibility of education options.

“I’m so encouraged by KPI’s willingness to support innovative educators,” said Wallace, who believes we are just at the beginning of a rapid expansion in low-cost, high-quality learning models built by entrepreneurial parents and teachers.

To learn more about the Heartland Summit, and to register, click here.

Categories: News
Organization: State Policy Network