The Silicon Bayou: Where Education Innovation is Brewing

While Silicon Valley is the traditional hub for entrepreneurs to try to make it big and Silicon Alley is building a growing tech scene in New York, there is a new lesser-known center of innovation emerging: the Silicon Bayou.

Anya Kamenetz at Fast Company recently suggested that we can expect that some of the next big ideas to transform education will come from New Orleans. Over 70% of students in New Orleans are enrolled in charter schools, majorly due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where teachers are able to try new ideas in the classrooms. Anya went on to share how one New Orleans-based incubator called 4.0 Schools is bringing the best and brightest community leaders and innovators together to rethink schools and test new education reform ideas in labs.

Teachers are generating new methods and creative ideas in charter schools and through forward-thinking programs like Teach for America. This past year over 480 TFA teachers completed the school year in the Greater New Orleans region and KIPP and Gates Foundation also have a strong presence in the region as well. While some question whether the area is too overrun by under-trained, uncertified young teachers, on the flip side they are generating new and untapped ways to improve education. In fact, as Anya noted in her story, at  Startup Weekend – Edu in New York City, New Orleans-based entrepreneurs from 4.0 Schools took first, second, and third place with Classroom Blueprint, Dash, and Kinobi beating out the competition. As a former Tulane student and New Orleans resident myself, it’s wonderful to see the Big Easy stepping up to the forefront of innovation in education. We’ll continue to follow the edtech scene here closely so stay tuned…