Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Ed Reformers Learn From Netflix? Blogger Russo Gets It Right

Like many education reporters, I’m a longtime fan of Alexander Russo’s blog, This Week in Education. His news roundups are always more than just a rehash of headlines, his tidbits salted with just the right degree of snark.

Russo also has a knack for connecting dots in unusual, and effective, ways. A perfect example is his take on what education reformers could learn from Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix.

As Russo wrote Monday, Hastings — responding to missteps by the company in reshaping its business model — “deserves credit for doing two things that almost no education reform leaders seem willing to do,” which is apologize for past mistakes and demonstrate a willingness to change.

(Russo also pointed out that there’s been little media attention focused on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s online learning initiative, Digital Promise, a public-private partnership which Hastings has been involved in developing and promoting. You can read about it here in Duncan’s and Hastings’ Wall Street Journal op-ed.)

How much progress by schools is held back by a lack of flexibility among reformers? Given that most experts agree it can take upward of three years for a new program to take root, when is the right time to admit defeat and start over?

I agree that an apology can go a long way. I’m also fairly certain some high-price branding agency owes one to Hastings for selling him on the name “Qwikster.”