Joel Greenblatt is a hedge fund guy from NYC who, like many hedge fund guys, has it All Figured Out and occasionally writes books to share his insights with rest of us.
Of course, that includes education. It was Greenblatt and fellow Rich Guy John Petry who recruited Eva Moskowitz to take their little charter school, Harlem Success Academy, and turn it into the Success Academy juggernaut. They even came up with some creative means of paying her huge compensation.
Greenblatt's new book of wisdominess resulted in an interview with Michael Cannivet, a "markets" contributor at Forbes.com in which he explains the various topics he writes about ("I thought I could bring a fresh perspective to certain issues I care about"), and one, of course, is education.
In discussing his book of "common sense," Greenblatt includes some standard bromides, like "The biggest factor that unleashes upward mobility is education" which is a good example of conventional wisdom that isn't actually rooted in facts (I'm no Raj Chetty fan, but he has tackled the issue of mobility pretty effectively). Also, college grads earn more than high school diploma folks "so we've got to do better," and while the interview doesn't get into details, I'm guessing he doesn't mean "we need to unrig the system so that people on the bottom are better paid."
But when it comes to education, there are lots of things that Greenblatt doesn't know. His idea is workaround solutions. He illustrates this with a riddle-- How do you beat Tiger Woods? Don't play him at golf.-- which is a pretty clever idea unless your whole point is to become a better golfer. I mean, this is a glib answer to the question "why is educational reform difficult," but I'm not entirely sure what it's supposed to mean. Education is hard, so do something other than educate students?
But his idea is to do a "roundabout" when encountering certain roadblocks.For instance, we know certain things do improve educational standards, like some of the best charter schools. I was one of the co-founders of Success Academy run by Eva Moskowitz. The results for the 20,000 kids in that program are phenomenal. As a group, their test scores exceed even the wealthiest districts. That’s a really good sign, because it says that with the right kind of supports, these kids can compete at the highest levels.
The best way to kickstart alternative certification would be getting top companies onboard. Major firms like JPMorgan, Amazon, and Google could help create more opportunities for high paying jobs by simply making public new hiring criteria they will use in lieu of a college degree to screen candidates for high paying jobs. They can come up with whatever certificates, courses or tests make the most sense for them and the positions they aim to fill.