The GSV Big 10: Best of Times...Worst of Times
A mastery-based future, extreme chronic absenteeism, Chinese youth unemployment...
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Coursera continues its strong growth as a public company, with 2023 revenue at $635 million and learners on the platform hitting 142 million. CEO Jeff Maggioncalda is about to teach his first class – Navigating Generative AI: A CEO Playbook – which we believe will be a blockbuster.
Disclosure: GSV is an investor in Coursera.
Mastery-based education is the future. Two titans of the education industry (and friends of mine), Michael Horn and Scott Pulsipher talk about scale innovation and impact in this must-listen episode of “The Future of Education” podcast.
Anti-Semitism on college campuses has been hiding in plain sight for a while, but the Israel-Hamas conflict has made it impossible to say it doesn’t exist. Free speech is the foundation of the United States and a cornerstone of universities, however, when it's used to terrorize and threaten to destroy a specific group, a bright light must be drawn. This topic has received lots of attention recently, but this 20-minute documentary is well worth the watch.
The percentage of districts with extreme chronic absenteeism jumped from 11% pre-pandemic to 39% in 2021-22. COVID may have been the story of 2020-2021, but its pain will be felt into the 2030s and beyond. Covid catalyzed some habits that will be tough to break. Chief among them is chronic absenteeism for students. Other behaviors that are cousins of this include “quiet quitting”, “overemployment” (having multiple full-time jobs as a remote worker), and working in your pajamas.
The article references the Broken Windows theory, telling teachers and administrators to “sweat the small stuff”. Teachers are dealing with disruptive and violent student behavior, causing dissatisfaction and some to quit midyear. According to author Daniel Buck, potential solutions include minimizing federal involvement, addressing small behavioral issues, strengthening school conduct codes, promoting transparency, empowering teachers, and engaging local unions.
Unbeknownst to the casual observer, Chinese youth employment has gone from essentially zero to 20% in the past 3-4 years. This trend flies in the face of the CCP's playbook for stability and influence. When an organization stops reporting data, it's rarely a positive sign - the same goes for a country. China has now stopped publicizing this once-touted figure, a telling omission. The youth employment spike is at odds with the CCP's goals of winning hearts and minds.
$140M of funding makes you think this must be the Magic School Bus. When I think “school bus”, I think of the color yellow – not a brand. Zum is riding the shift toward EVs, and investors are betting on a future where more kids get to school in a climate-friendly fashion. While school buses don’t end up on most peoples’ list of hot categories, investors in Zum include Sequoia, GIC, and Softbank.
“If any business owner saw 450% growth in one of the company’s products or programs during a 15-month period, they would be ecstatic” – not so with Arizona’s chief executive. Despite Arizona's ESA school choice program’s immense popularity, Governor Katie Hobbs is pushing regulations to effectively dismantle it by forcing students into public schools and imposing price controls only on private schools. Head’s up, Gov, – the Phoenix version of the Virginia “Moms for school choice” is waking up and will be ready to rumble.
40% of self-made millionaires are dyslexic. However, in a time when greater swaths of our students face learning disabilities such as ADHD, the one-size-fits-all approach to teaching fails spectacularly. Personalized instruction benefits every student, but it's most critical for those with learning differences.
This family feud is unlikely to be reconciled any time soon. Complications include the company’s name being that of the founder, allegations of misappropriation of funds, over $5 billion of capital raised with a current rights offering at a valuation of $25 million, and an Indian headquarters with the majority of investors being American-based. Note to self, when a young business takes out a major advertisement for the World Cup or the Super Bowl, alarm bells should go off. Naivete at best, criminality at worst, this will be a challenging situation but there might be a pony in there somewhere.