Reader Laura Chapman has done some research on the education entrepreneurs  now meeting in Scottsdale to learn more about how to profit from the public education industry. Note that tickets for the event ranged from $1,000-2,000. In addition, there were many sponsors. Whatever comes from this conference, it is a gold mine for its organizers:


I was also doing research on this. My direct quotes come from press releases and one extended interview with Michael Moe.


The sell-out crowd of about 2000 ed tech promoters meeting in Scottsdale, AZ have been promised this event is their “Davos” for understanding how big profits be made in the education business— K-12 and higher education—where investors put $650 million last year. This market is expected to grow rapidly around the CCSS, and with spillover effects from the federal “college and career” mantra. The pace of innovation in tech tools for some profitable “educational use” is said to be breathtaking.


Over 230 “disruptive education companies” will present their wares to “industry leaders and visionaries – educators, investors, philanthropists… with “some of the world’s most passionate and energetic players in the education innovation space…” The purpose is “to stimulate opinions, debate, fundraising, strategic alliances and overall community activism toward global enrichment.” (We know what counts as “enrichment” and who wants to gets rich).


The summit theme is the “American Dream” — “a global aspiration rooted in the conviction that opportunity is limitless and that education makes possible social mobility and prosperity.” For the participants, limitless prosperity means scaling ”education innovation globally” thereby driving “a higher return on education.”


The annual Summit is the brainchild of two people: Michael Moe, serial investor in ed-tech startups and Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University since 2002. Moe is a champion of charter and for-profit schools and CEO of a big pot of money for tech industry projects. Michael M. Crow is known as a ”transformational” leader in higher education eager to have the university be a model of savvy (and cash-producing) liaisons with business.


President Crow’s view of the Summit is clear: “Universities must become effective partners for global development. Only through the proliferation of networks —such as those the Summit helps to build—can transformation occur at the scale that is immediately needed in order to advance our global knowledge economy.”


Both Michaels, Moe and Crow, think that “immediate scaling up” means disrupting public education. According to one press release, the most “disruptive organizations” in education will be presenting at the Summit, including DonorsChoose, edX,, Minerva, Inkling along with five of Moe’s investments: Coursera,, DreamBox Learning, General Assembly, and Knewton


The event is part of Arizona State University’s Education Innovation Network described as an “open innovation platform where entrepreneurs can find the resources to validate concepts, accelerate growth, and reach transformative scale” working with “the intellectual assets of ASU, the greater Phoenix public and private educational K-20 systems and investors of all types….”


In a 2011 interview, Moe (who seems to be connected at the hip to ASU’s president Crow) said that he hopes ASU will serve as a model for other universities, and as a hub of innovative activity. Moe heaps praise on Crow’s “bold leadership” of ASU and its “unique initiatives such as its partnership with Teach For America, which aspires to have a scale impact.” Not mentioned by Moe, and apparently ignored by ASU’s president, are the frauds perpetuated by Teach for America. See


Moe praises ASU’s president as a skilled and visionary manager of intellectual talent working in and on behalf of education. Crow’s bio shows that he lauded by free-marketers who want to see many more public universities function as service-providers for full-spectrum entrepreneurial activity and economic development. This agenda is not entirely new, but the trend is clearly against a tradition of academic freedom in scholarship, with the university nurturing a mental environment for basic research and many studies not tied to economic values.


Moe was also impressed with Crow’s recent success in recruiting faculty in education, specifically “a highly regarded head of research from Vanderbilt.” I have not been able to determine who that person is, but since 2006 Vanderbilt’s research in education has been devoted to teacher pay-for-performance, aided by a $10 million USDE grant in addition to a relationship with Mathematica on a five-year, $7.9 million study on the same topic. Well-designed experimental studies, including some by Vanderbilt researchers, have shown that such schemes have no significant and uniform influence on student test scores, even if the bonus is up to $15,000 !! USDE poured $600 million into similar grants to market this idea through “research.”
see also
The study with the $15,000 bonus is at


In addition, Moe sees the state of Arizona leading the way, not only as an early adopter of charter schools but as home state of the University of Phoenix, the world’s largest for-profit, along with Grand Canyon University, and Universal Technical Institute. All three are widely known centers of fraud in recruiting and “educating” students. Moe ignores that inconvenient truth. See:


Finally, in praising ASU, Arizona, and the Phoenix area as the milieu for the Summit, Moe notes the presence of corporate giants such as INTEL and Honeywell and innovators such as First Solar. Again, no mention of the multi-year class action lawsuit filed by investors in First Solar. See


Here are some hints from Moe on where education innovations will go in the near term. 1. Investors will be drawn to the iphone, apps, and related networks as a learning platform for K-12 with adaptive technology for individualized learning similar to recommendation systems of Amazon and Netflix. 2. Teacher training and tools for the CCSS are “a sweet spot.” 3. In higher education, more “partnerships” of universities with online corporations offering courseware and social learning. More at