Why some in education are able to transform learning for kids and others are stuck

The Discovery Center of Springfield, launched in 1992, continues to add innovative, educational hands-on exhibits for groups of students in a 50,000-square-foot interactive space in Springfield, Missouri.

Editor’s note: This commentary from Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, appeared last week on forbes.com.

While thousands of the nation’s school systems were paralyzed by the pandemic, and some even bullied by teachers unions in the midst of it, in many communities, innovative schools, parent groups and other community organizations jumped in to serve students wherever they could.

They did not wait to be told they could, or that it was allowed. They just did it.

It was permissionless education at its best. But don’t take my word for it. Look at the semi-finalists of the STOP Award, the quest for those who have provided Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless education for students against all odds.

At the Discovery Center of Springfield (Missouri), 1,500 under-resourced children whose parents were largely COVID-19 ICU nurses were given a safe place to go, and a STEM schooling experience. Greenville, South Carolina’s New Way Global set up ten pandemic pods through historically African-American churches that will be the basis for a new private school.

Within days of the pandemic, the Colegia dashboard was set up to serve all 100,000 Academica students, consolidating education programming in one place, enabling remote and in-person students to interact with each other, while the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, Minn., provided augmented reality kits for projects and core content learning.

Rock by Rock gave families in low-income communities tools to support rigorous real-world learning at home, while the Dallas Education Foundation ISD created the technology to develop Dallas Hybrid Prep, the district’s first permanent hybrid school.

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