Code Red Education: Altruistic Edupreneurs
August 23, 2013 • Arch Grant News •
By: Michael Palmer
To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., when schools flourish then everything flourishes. After being an educator for the past decade, my colleagues and I have seen a narrowing of the mission of schools in general. When America’s public education system was established, it was originally a two tract system. By the end of high school, you were either destined to go on to the collegiate world and pursue an advance degree or be employed in America’s quickly growing manufacturing system. Through the 1970s, this was the system that allowed my relatives to move into careers that provided for them with either a white-collar desk job or a highly skilled blue collar job, both which allowed entry into the middle class. This is the system that provided that human capital necessary to propel regions like Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and St. Louis as manufacturing centers that began to grow.
However, as the century progressed, the economic system changed and moved towards highly technological forms of labor and those in the old manufacturing system were left behind. Concurrently, education began to push for students to only pursue college after high school graduation. We are now in an economic system where the highest paying careers are based in STEM education. However, students are told that they will gain the majority of this knowledge once they finish high school and move onto a good college. From anyone that is aware of how our brains work, they would realize there is a fallacy in that way of thinking.
The reason certain people and groups are allowed to succeed is mainly due to the variable of time and exposure. The earlier someone is exposed and allowed to practice a skill, the greater their proficiency is later in life. It is common sense. If little Billy is allowed to play the piano one hour a week but little Betty is allowed to play it one hour a day, Betty is going to be playing Mozart while Billy is trying to master “Chopsticks”. If we can expose students to a rigorous technical education that focuses on deep computer science skills and computer coding fluency, we can cultivate a generation of highly capable developers that don’t just understand technology, but are masters of it.
Code Red Education has aimed to solve this problem. How can we provide tech companies with skilled developers as well as give students access to a viable career option after high school graduation? Computer coding. There are roughly 50,000 unfilled computer science jobs every year and that deficit continues to grow. If we train students how to code at an early age and cultivate these skills, we can provide an excellent source of human capital for companies to draw on.
We have developed a fully integratable curriculum that can be fit into any STEM class that teaches computer science skills and computer coding. Our curriculum is easily accessible to teaches which allows them to teach it without being experienced coders themselves. We provide a “curriculum in the box” model which does not leave a student to their own devices on a web portal that “creates coders”. Our system actively engages the classroom environment and allows students to be guided through their coding education instead of being thrown to the wolves.
Other education technology companies focus purely on a technological solution to this problem. We focus on finding a way that works in our education system. We are changing the system while being a part of it. Plugging students into a computer screen and letting them sit there with minimal guidance for a hour doesn’t work. Doesn’t work. Not a bit. Good for getting kids to mindless click their way through till they get the right answer but they learn absolutely nothing. Trust me, I’ve run online credit recovery programs and the software is great but it’s not a way that kids learn. They require some motivation and someone there to focus them. We provide the solution to this problem by providing teachers with lessons that allow them to be experts without coding experience as well as deliver a curriculum that is held to incredibly high standards and is developed by educators. We also keep schools in as clients by offering an annual renewal subscription which allows new lessons to be implemented in each of our four modules three times a year. This allows us to continually teach highly demanded skills and languages.
We are a company of education fanatics. We are the ones that look to shift the paradigm of education and bring beneficial, long term change to our education system. Code Red aims to make an adaptable education system in place for as Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that prospers but the most adaptable.” We are forced to be adaptable in a system that resists change and are fortunate enough to have champions that realize that schools are a business. Our customers are our students and we have not been giving them the best product that we can.
Our advice to other entrepreneurs is to understand what your company’s culture is. We call ourselves an altruistic for-profit. Think Tom’s Shoes, Ethos Water, or the Feed campaign at Target. We are trying to change the world but making money while doing it. It allows us to focus on our passion while solving our need as human beings to generate profit. As Aristolte says, “Every man must fill his belly.” If we are able to profit and do good for our community in the world, then we are able to redouble our efforts and realizing that allows us to know who we are and move from that base.
Michael Palmer, Founder/Chief Instigator of Code Red Education
Code Red Education is the recipient of the Education Reform Arch Grant, made possible by our generous sponsors at the Regional Business Council and the John C. and Mary Kaye Fort Family Fund.