I’m thinking of you, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as I write this. Not actually you, more like the mental image I have based on reading Mr. Levy’s book “In The PLEX.”
So what’s the point of this letter? I want Google to transform education in the most fundamental way. Former Googler Katie Stanton is quoted as having said “working in government, is like running a marathon. Blindfolded. Wearing sandbags,” after having served in the Obama administration. I believe we can deliver a free tool for union members which unites them as a network of professionals, fostering innovation and collaboration and reinvigorating collective bargaining from the bottom up. This would go a long way to reduce the burden on educators, allowing them to run without much of the political baggage described by Ms. Stanton.
Of course, when you read this, the obvious next step would be to leave this inquiry in the hands of staff like the esteemed Jonathan Rochelle. What I am envisioning here is not so much at the level of Google Classroom or even G Suite for Education, it’s more about creating a tool to redefine unions as decentralized networks of professionals, using educator unions as a first use case and subsequently applying to independent contractor unions, adjunct university processors, and so on. The recent Janus case, while supported by interests intending to kill public sector unions, could instead re-launch a new generation of decentralized unions, built on Google technology. The Janus ruling provides an opportunity to empower the previously inaccessible union space. I don’t intend to disrupt unions, rather, I hope to provide a tool that attracts union members and empowers them in their professional pursuits. But I need engineering talent and an organization willing to think big to make this a reality.
To be honest, I’m not even sure that I should be involved at all. I see a huge opportunity to support educators and offer an authentic education to public school students and I can’t ignore what I see. My hope is that someone who can think big will read this and will run with it. My role should be limited to my areas of experience in producing actual results. There is no way I could develop this tool myself. My skills are grossly deficient in some required areas. I have seen significant success in education reform, so let me digress and share a bit about where I come from.
I was born in Israel, grew up in inner city Chicago, attended a public International Baccalaureate (IB) program in high school after nine years at the nascent Chicago Waldorf School. I worked for DEC for their dual-core 64-bit Alpha architecture in 1997, after earning my BA in physics from Brandeis. I worked at Great Place to Work(r) Institute, Inc. and then Quigo (“AdSonar”) in the age of AdSense, and then I went into education where I brought an obsession with data to improve student (and staff) experience. Burning Man and similar intentional communities have had an ongoing influence in my life. Just last year I took my eight-year-old daughter to Burning Man for the first time.
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