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  • I'm a little nervous, because my wife Yvonne said to me,

  • she said, "Geoff, you watch the TED Talks."

  • I said, "Yes, honey, I love TED Talks."

  • She said, "You know, they're like, really smart, talented -- "

  • I said, "I know, I know." (Laughter)

  • She said, "They don't want, like, the angry black man."

  • (Laughter)

  • So I said, "No, I'm gonna be good, Honey,

  • I'm gonna be good. I am."

  • But I am angry. (Laughter)

  • And the last time I looked, I'm --

  • (Applause)

  • So this is why I'm excited but I'm angry.

  • This year, there are going to be millions of our children

  • that we're going to needlessly lose,

  • that we could -- right now, we could save them all.

  • You saw the quality of the educators who were here.

  • Do not tell me they could not reach those kids

  • and save them. I know they could.

  • It is absolutely possible.

  • Why haven't we fixed this?

  • Those of us in education have held on to a business plan

  • that we don't care how many millions of young people fail,

  • we're going to continue to do the same thing that didn't work,

  • and nobody is getting crazy about it -- right? --

  • enough to say, "Enough is enough."

  • So here's a business plan that simply does not make any sense.

  • You know, I grew up in the inner city,

  • and there were kids who were failing

  • in schools 56 years ago when I first went to school,

  • and those schools are still lousy today, 56 years later.

  • And you know something about a lousy school?

  • It's not like a bottle of wine.

  • Right? (Laughter)

  • Where you say, like, '87 was like a good year, right?

  • That's now how this thing -- I mean, every single year,

  • it's still the same approach, right?

  • One size fits all, if you get it, fine, and if you don't,

  • tough luck. Just tough luck.

  • Why haven't we allowed innovation to happen?

  • Do not tell me we can't do better than this.

  • Look, you go into a place that's failed kids for 50 years,

  • and you say, "So what's the plan?"

  • And they say, "We'll, we're going to do

  • what we did last year this year."

  • What kind of business model is that?

  • Banks used to open and operate between 10 and 3.

  • They operated 10 to 3. They were closed for lunch hour.

  • Now, who can bank between 10 and 3? The unemployed.

  • They don't need banks. They got no money in the banks.

  • Who created that business model? Right?

  • And it went on for decades.

  • You know why? Because they didn't care.

  • It wasn't about the customers.

  • It was about bankers. They created something that worked for them.

  • How could you go to the bank

  • when you were at work? It didn't matter.

  • And they don't care whether or not Geoff is upset

  • he can't go to the bank. Go find another bank.

  • They all operate the same way. Right?

  • Now, one day, some crazy banker had an idea.

  • Maybe we should keep the bank open when people come home from work.

  • They might like that. What about a Saturday?

  • What about introducing technology?

  • Now look, I'm a technology fan, but I have to admit

  • to you all I'm a little old.

  • So I was a little slow, and I did not trust technology,

  • and when they first came out with those new contraptions,

  • these tellers that you put in a card and they give you money,

  • I was like, "There's no way that machine is going to count that money right.

  • I am never using that, right?"

  • So technology has changed. Things have changed.

  • Yet not in education. Why?

  • Why is it that when we had rotary phones,

  • when we were having folks being crippled by polio,

  • that we were teaching

  • the same way then that we're doing right now?

  • And if you come up with a plan to change things,

  • people consider you radical.

  • They will say the worst things about you.

  • I said one day, well, look, if the science says --

  • this is science, not me -- that our poorest children

  • lose ground in the summertime --

  • You see where they are in June and say, okay, they're there.

  • You look at them in September, they've gone down.

  • You say, whoo! So I heard about that in '75

  • when I was at the Ed School at Harvard.

  • I said, "Oh, wow, this is an important study."

  • Because it suggests we should do something.

  • (Laughter)

  • Every 10 years they reproduce the same study.

  • It says exactly the same thing:

  • Poor kids lose ground in the summertime.

  • The system decides you can't run schools in the summer.

  • You know, I always wonder, who makes up those rules?

  • For years I went to -- Look, I went the Harvard Ed School.

  • I thought I knew something.

  • They said it was the agrarian calendar, and people had

  • but let me tell you why that doesn't make sense.

  • I never got that. I never got that,

  • because anyone knows if you farm,

  • you don't plant crops in July and August.

  • You plant them in the spring.

  • So who came up with this idea? Who owns it?

  • Why did we ever do it?

  • Well it just turns out in the 1840s we did have,

  • schools were open all year. They were open all year,

  • because we had a lot of folks who had to work all day.

  • They didn't have any place for their kids to go.

  • It was a perfect place to have schools.

  • So this is not something that is ordained

  • from the education gods.

  • So why don't we? Why don't we?

  • Because our business has refused to use science.

  • Science. You have Bill Gates coming out and saying,

  • "Look, this works, right? We can do this."

  • How many places in America are going to change? None.

  • None. Okay, yeah, there are two. All right?

  • Yes, there'll be some place, because some folks will do the right thing.

  • As a profession, we have to stop this. The science is clear.

  • Here's what we know.

  • We know that the problem begins immediately.

  • Right? This idea, zero to three.

  • My wife, Yvonne, and I, we have four kids,

  • three grown ones and a 15-year-old.

  • That's a longer story.

  • (Laughter)

  • With our first kids, we did not know the science

  • about brain development.

  • We didn't know how critical those first three years were.

  • We didn't know what was happening in those young brains.

  • We didn't know the role that language,

  • a stimulus and response, call and response,

  • how important that was in developing those children.

  • We know that now. What are we doing about it? Nothing.

  • Wealthy people know. Educated people know.

  • And their kids have an advantage.

  • Poor people don't know,

  • and we're not doing anything to help them at all.

  • But we know this is critical.

  • Now, you take pre-kindergarten.

  • We know it's important for kids.

  • Poor kids need that experience.

  • Nope. Lots of places, it doesn't exist.

  • We know health services matter.

  • You know, we provide health services

  • and people are always fussing at me about, you know,

  • because I'm all into accountability and data

  • and all of that good stuff, but we do health services,

  • and I have to raise a lot of money.

  • People used to say when they'd come fund us,

  • "Geoff, why do you provide these health services?"

  • I used to make stuff up. Right?

  • I'd say, "Well, you know a child

  • who has cavities is not going to, uh,

  • be able to study as well."

  • And I had to because I had to raise the money.

  • But now I'm older, and you know what I tell them?

  • You know why I provide kids with those health benefits

  • and the sports and the recreation and the arts?

  • Because I actually like kids.

  • I actually like kids. (Laughter) (Applause)

  • But when they really get pushy, people really get pushy,

  • I say, "I do it because you do it for your kid."

  • And you've never read a study from MIT that says

  • giving your kid dance instruction

  • is going to help them do algebra better,

  • but you will give that kid dance instruction,

  • and you will be thrilled that that kid wants to do dance instruction,

  • and it will make your day. And why shouldn't poor kids

  • have the same opportunity? It's the floor for these children.

  • (Applause)

  • So here's the other thing.

  • I'm a tester guy. I believe you need data, you need information,

  • because you work at something, you think it's working,

  • and you find out it's not working.

  • I mean, you're educators. You work, you say,

  • you think you've got it, great, no? And you find out they didn't get it.

  • But here's the problem with testing.

  • The testing that we do --

  • we're going to have our test in New York next week

  • is in April.

  • You know when we're going to get the results back?

  • Maybe July, maybe June.

  • And the results have great data.

  • They'll tell you Raheem really struggled,

  • couldn't do two-digit multiplication -- so great data,

  • but you're getting it back after school is over.

  • And so, what do you do?

  • You go on vacation. (Laughter)

  • You come back from vacation.

  • Now you've got all of this test data from last year.

  • You don't look at it.

  • Why would you look at it?

  • You're going to go and teach this year.

  • So how much money did we just spend on all of that?

  • Billions and billions of dollars

  • for data that it's too late to use.

  • I need that data in September.

  • I need that data in November.

  • I need to know you're struggling, and I need to know

  • whether or not what I did corrected that.

  • I need to know that this week.

  • I don't need to know that at the end of the year when it's too late.

  • Because in my older years, I've become somewhat of a clairvoyant.

  • I can predict school scores.

  • You take me to any school.

  • I'm really good at inner city schools that are struggling.

  • And you tell me last year 48 percent of those kids

  • were on grade level.

  • And I say, "Okay, what's the plan, what did we do

  • from last year to this year?"

  • You say, "We're doing the same thing."

  • I'm going to make a prediction. (Laughter)

  • This year, somewhere between 44

  • and 52 percent of those kids will be on grade level.

  • And I will be right every single time.

  • So we're spending all of this money, but we're getting what?

  • Teachers need real information right now

  • about what's happening to their kids.

  • The high stakes is today, because you can do something about it.

  • So here's the other issue that I just think

  • we've got to be concerned about.

  • We can't stifle innovation in our business.

  • We have to innovate. And people in our business get mad about innovation.

  • They get angry if you do something different.

  • If you try something new, people are always like,

  • "Ooh, charter schools." Hey, let's try some stuff. Let's see.

  • This stuff hasn't worked for 55 years.

  • Let's try something different. And here's the rub.

  • Some of it's not going to work.

  • You know, people tell me, "Yeah, those charter schools, a lot of them don't work."

  • A lot of them don't. They should be closed.

  • I mean, I really believe they should be closed.

  • But we can't confuse figuring out the science

  • and things not working with we shouldn't therefore do anything.

  • Right? Because that's not the way the world works.

  • If you think about technology,

  • imagine if that's how we thought about technology.

  • Every time something didn't work,

  • we just threw in the towel and said, "Let's forget it." Right?

  • You know, they convinced me. I'm sure some of you were like me --

  • the latest and greatest thing, the PalmPilot.

  • They told me, "Geoff, if you get this PalmPilot

  • you'll never need another thing."

  • That thing lasted all of three weeks. It was over.

  • I was so disgusted I spent my money on this thing.

  • Did anybody stop inventing? Not a person. Not a soul.