AUSTIN, TEXAS–Every year, the education and technology communities converge in Austin for the SXSWedu conference. It is a four day series of speakers and seminars that their website calls “the platform for education’s most energetic and innovative leaders from all backgrounds of the learning landscape including teachers, administrators, university professors, business and policy leaders.”
Breitbart Texas was at this year’s conference, March 3-6 to report back on some of the technocrats and education reformers. We went into sessions where the achievement gap, equity/educational equality/equalization, social and emotional learning, accountability, big data, advocacy, policy, and STEM were among the revolving themes of the day.
Leading the pack of prominent progressives were education historian Diane Ravitch; architect of the Common Core ELA standards and College Board president David Coleman; and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. PBS, Teach for America, and CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning) sent their people.
Former Superintendent of Indiana and Florida schools Tony Bennett was also on hand to address the pros and cons of the Common Core with former Texas Education Commissioner Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA). Other highlighted Texans included Thomas Ratliff (Vice Chairman of the State Board of Education); Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, and Senator Wendy Davis, the Democratic challenger to Republican favorite Greg Abbott, currently the Texas Attorney General. Local educrats featured were UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, UT Austin Ph.D. David Yeager, Austin Community College president Richard Rhodes and Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen.
SXSWedu 2014 sponsors included all the familiar names of Fed Led Ed — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Dell, Pearson and the Pearson Foundation, the College Board, Scholastic, Amplify, inBloom, Samsung, McGraw Hill Education, Cengage Learning, connectedu, Lumina Foundation, Xerox, among others. Local sponsors included Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas; University of Texas at Austin; and the Texas Tribune. TASA (Texas Association of School Administrators) and the Austin Chamber of Commerce were listed as event supporters.
SXSW, which is short for South by Southwest is a series of events held in Austin’s downtown. It kicked off with SXSWedu 2014, March 3-6, and then continues through March 16 with music, film and interactive festivals.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom