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Microblogging The NSVF Summit

Let's see how long I can keep up with these mini-updates:

4:50:  Some of the things I've overheard today:  *There's not as much talent in this room as the people in the room think there is.  *People like me are a dime a dozen -- there are hundreds of people who could do what I'm doing (a paraphrase from Michelle Rhee).  *That's way over the top (Newark mayor Cory Booker about Ted Mitchell's over the top introduction). *Let's be honest.  This is a grand experiment, a very high risk proposition (Tom Toch about venture philanthropy).  *I got mine -- you shut up (one wag in response to the NSVF admonition against solicitations at the summit).  *You're the one who turned me onto The Wire (NYC DOE deputy chancellor Joel Rose to me about my blog).

4:30:  Just got out of an interesting media session where edupreneurs from DC took questions from reporters (many of whom like the Times' Sam Dillon and the Post's Dion Haynes I had not met before).  Some reporters like Greg Toppo seemed to wonder where the edupreneurial strategy is on the political front -- that is, how to create more Adrien Fenties rather than just waiting for lightning to strike.  Me, I'm stuck wondering just how tough these venture philanthropists are compared to regular ones.

11:30:  I'm bored and agitated at the same time -- not sure why.  Everyone's all aflutter about Rhee and Weingarten going at it.  Ooh, conflict!  Now Rhee's up there as a panelist (vs. playing the loyal defender of TNTP from the audience), and she's still riled up and in battle mode.  Or, as she says, "terrified."  Indeed, she should be.  The situation in DC is a perfect storm for outside reform types and if it doesn't work out well, then, everyone should probably just pack it up and go home.  In a fight between Rhee and Weingarten, I gotta say my bet would be on...Weingarten.  And it may come to that in a few months.

10:20 AM:  Two straight hours of talk in the AM is a little much, according to those of us loitering in the hall and getting an early start on the cookies and Diet Coke.  When does an introduction turn into a mini-speech?  I don't know, but there were too many introductions.  Now finally into question and answer.  

As for the substance, well, it's an anti-district anti-union crowd by and large, even though there's all this lip service given to the Michelle Rhees and Adrien Fenties of the world.  A strange dichotomy.  Good to have Randi Weingarten up there pushing back on current fetishes for charters and choice.  And how fun that Rhee and Weingarten get into it about the contract in New York.  Mike is here, paying much more attention than I am:   Liveblogging the NewSchools Summit.

What else?  Lots of friends here, lots of frenemies.  Nobody likes my idea for a new blog about k12 education giving, or its proposed name ("The Magic [Bill Gates] Spray Can").  Some folks have laughed at my new cards, whose tagline is "It's not about the kids."  It's not.  You know it's not.  Maybe it should be.  But it usually isn't.  Look hard at anyone who tells you that it is. I love that the NSVF folks have been prepped not to talk to me. 

8:44 AM:  Rainy cold Tuesday morning in DC at the Capitol Hilton.  Not nearly as spectacular a setting as last year in New Orleans, and not nearly enough breakfast either.  (Let the complaining begin.)  Apparently there was something of a drunken melee at last night's NSVF "rehearsal dinner" at steakhouse Smith and Wollensky.  Gates education honcho Vicki Phillips gives a few remarks, proving that she really exists.  DC Mayor Fenty opens and calls for mayoral control not just of school systems but also of water boards and everything else.  Amazing to see so many familiar faces in one place.  It's all bold-face names, all the time.  At least for education.  (It's also a lot like speed dating, quipped Chicago's Josh Adelman about the hyper-socializing going on.)

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Alexander,
It was good to see you (well groomed with your shrub properly trimmed) roaming the hallways of the conference earlier this morning. Lots of action in the hallways to be sure...and not bad action inside the conference hall either. I keep hearing folks on the podium say things about the importance of R&D in entrenpeuring and innovating. Time to re-invent R&D in education so that it is a leading edge catalyst for sustainable change and transformation, yes?

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