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Educational Entrepreneurship Today

reviewed by Shetay N. Ashford - July 31, 2017

coverTitle: Educational Entrepreneurship Today
Author(s): Frederick M. Hess & Michael Q. McShane (Eds.)
Publisher: Harvard Education Press, Boston
ISBN: 1612509274, Pages: 256, Year: 2016
Search for book at Amazon.com

Amid globalization challenges like the decline in H1-B visa allocations and workforce shortages, many claim the U.S. educational system needs reform to not only produce highly qualified talent, but also to maintain U.S. global leadership and competitiveness (Schwartz, 2016). As such, an overhaul of the U.S. educational system is needed to produce an innovative and robust workforce. Since major effort is required to overhaul the U.S. educational system, most agree educational entrepreneurship introduces viable solutions (e.g., innovative school models, new modes of delivery). Unlike public school administrators, teachers, and college/university professors and administrators, educational entrepreneurs have autonomy to drive rapid, transformative changes in traditional status quo organizations. As highlighted in the edited book Educational Entrepreneurship Today (Hess & McShane, 2016), educational entrepreneurs serve as visionary leaders who spur for-profit and nonprofit ventures to facilitate this much needed transformation of U.S. education. This book review highlights the significance of educational entrepreneurship and its various contributions to the fields of education and entrepreneurship.


Although educational entrepreneurship is not embraced by all, its premise is that American education is in need of transformative improvement, and its easier to promote that kind of change by launching new ventures than by wrestling with the constraints and conventions of established systems (Hess & McShane, 2016, p. 4). The editors compiled this book to present the realities of entrepreneurship in the obstacles, bottlenecks, policy context, lessons learned, and how to think about the value and impact of this kind of behavior (Hess & McShane, 2016, p. 3). Furthermore, they seek to delve further into questions of how to assess the impact of entrepreneurship on schooling, how politics like the Common Core, charter schooling, Race to the Top, and No Child Left Behind changed the landscape of entrepreneurship, what role technology plays in fostering entrepreneurship, and how venture capital and other financial considerations shape educational entrepreneurship. Ultimately, they provide historical information that is useful for both supporters and non-supporters of educational entrepreneurship.


Co-editors Frederick M. Hess and Michael Q. McShane both have extensive experience in educational policy and serve at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Hess is a political scientist, educator, former social studies teacher and director of education policy studies at AEI. His research agenda focuses on K-12 and higher education. He has authored several books and has produced numerous scholarly publications. Furthermore, he has experience reviewing educational policy, teaching entrepreneurship, and serving on nonprofit charter school authorization and governance boards. McShane is a former school teacher who serves as adjunct fellow in education policy studies at the AEI and director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute. Similar to Hess, he has published in popular and academic outlets. Based on Hess and McShanes broad experiences, they were more than qualified to serve as co-editors of this book.

This book contains 12 chapters authored by prominent educational entrepreneurs, including CEOs, executive directors, college professors, and educational technology (Ed-Tech) professionals, who have succeeded and failed in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Collectively, they provide a comprehensive overview of educational entrepreneurship and its influence on the U.S. educational system. Although empirical research is not prominent in the book, the authors provide anecdotal and substantive information based on their perspectives and experiences. Specifically, they explore the value of educational entrepreneurship and its contributions to U.S. education (Chapter One), the role of educational policy (Chapter Two), innovative Ed-Tech products and services (Chapter Three), the role of venture capital funding in K-12 education (Chapter Four), its innovation from a global perspective (Chapter Five), its effectiveness and measures of success (Chapter Six), its application by teachers and students in K-12 education (Chapter Seven), and lessons learned from educational entrepreneurs (Chapters Eight through Nine) as well as transformative changes in the next decade (Chapter Ten). In summary, the authors describe the strength and weaknesses of K-12 educational entrepreneurship, provide challenging lessons learned, and offer advice on how K-12 education may sustain the benefits of entrepreneurial ventures.


Since educational entrepreneurship is a relatively new field, few academic or scholarly books are available. While numerous books on entrepreneurship exist, fewer books focus on the intersection of entrepreneurship and education. Since the authors have diverse experiences in academia, K-12 education, and entrepreneurial ventures, the language is easy to follow and interpret. Most notably, this book counters the notion that educational entrepreneurship is dominated by for-profit ventures. It also sheds light on educational practices that are often overlooked or misunderstood. For example, U.S. government organizations procure the largest share of educational services including "schools, professional development, curriculum and assessments" (p. 35). Also, nonprofit organizations manage far more charter schools than for-profit corporations. Therefore, government organizations and nonprofits play a major role in educational entrepreneurship, contrary to popular belief. Based on this premise, the book may be improved with more research and background information on the contributions of nonprofits and government organizations to the field of educational entrepreneurship.


In summary, this book uniquely serves as a value added resource for educators, researchers, and entrepreneurs alike. It stands as a seminal work in the field of educational entrepreneurship that may be utilized as a textbook reference in colleges of business and education in the U.S. and abroad. As a collation of historical information and anecdotal stories from educational entrepreneurs in the private and public sectors, it provides insight into the influence of educational entrepreneurship on the U.S. educational system. While further empirical research is needed to substantiate its effectiveness, this book highlights the contributions of educational entrepreneurship for both supportive and non-supportive audiences. In particular, this book achieves the goals of its co-editors and produces a gem for the field of educational entrepreneurship.



Schwartz, K. (2016). The Global Competitiveness Report 20162017. Geneva: World Economic Forum. Retrieved from www.weforum.org/gcr

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 31, 2017
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22112, Date Accessed: 10/22/2021 12:34:49 AM

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About the Author
  • Shetay N. Ashford
    Texas State University
    E-mail Author
    SHETAY ASHFORD, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational, Workforce, and Leadership Studies at Texas State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Career and Workforce Education, and graduate certificates in Evaluation and Project Management. She has 13 years of high tech industry experience as a Global Training Program Manager, Consultant, and Technical Trainer with Fortune 500 companies. Her research agenda focuses on equity in schools and the workplace, and broadening the participation of women of color and African Americans in science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics (STEAM) through university-community partnerships, STEAM intervention models, and entrepreneurship. She is also the Founder of Technology 4 Life Institute, an educational technology solution that equips youth and adults to thrive in today's global economy.
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