A New School System

Dexter was founded in 2017 by a group of scientists, engineers, and educators who wanted to make a more intelligent world.

intelligence (noun): the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

The future of our species ultimately comes down to our collective intelligence. It's get smart, or die.

The most logical path towards a more intelligent world is to create a new K-12 school system. A school system that empowers students with powerful ideas in engineering, science, art, humanities, and entrepreneurship. A school system that empowers the builders of tomorrow. A school system that's guided by cognitive neuroscience and a clear directive: measurably increase intelligence.

Despite the cosmic necessity of its existence, this new school system was not being built. As is often the case, entrenched interests fight systemic improvements. In the case of education, a total and complete government monopoly has been in place for decades. A monopoly so entrenched that members of the most advanced capitalist economy in the history of the planet fail to see the irony of a socialist education system powering its economy. This monopoly serves not the end-user, but the administrator.

In its current form, it's a jobs program for adults and not an education system for kids. This system is maintained through immense political and economic power. Short term focused politicians kiss the ring of massive labor unions in order to maintain the status quo in the interest of their own personal self-interest. The system is myopic. Its mental framework is incapable of thinking in terms of decades or centuries. It's not taking us to the future.

The proponents of the monopoly will say that education is not a business and that anyone that says such must be scorned. Profit is evil. Students and families aren't customers. This is the rhetoric of the Soviet Union. In the United States of America, we recognize that voluntary exchange is a mechanism for social progress. Profit is not evil, profit is financial sustainability. To profit in a free society is to provide value to society. To treat individuals as customers is to be accountable. A forced relationship is abhorrent in a free society.

Conceding on economic grounds, the adults benefiting from the monopoly will wrap themselves in moralistic arguments of social justice. Countless decades of propaganda have equated the monopoly with students. If you don't support the monopoly, you don't support students. Specifically students of disadvantaged backgrounds and minority groups. The inconvenient truth is that the government monopoly is the great enemy of social justice. It reinforces the existing class structure and eliminates social mobility. The achievement gap is not a problem to be solved by the government monopoly, it's a problem caused by the government monopoly.

This government monopoly of schooling has reached a breaking point. Despite rapid progress and societal improvement, we are fractured. The nation does not have a shared mental framework or language. The hyper centralized government monopoly leads to intense fragmentation. There exist over 10,000 individual school districts across the country. Each school district is administered by an elected school board and an administrative team that includes a superintendent.

Within each school district, individual teachers align instruction and curriculum with the given state standards. These state standards are mostly general skills-based and lack specific content to be taught. Within any given school district, 7th-grade history students might be learning completely different material depending on the teacher. The common trope is to paint the government monopoly as a factory model, this couldn't be further from the truth. It's more like an artisan jewelry maker model that's highly dependent on the individual teacher a student happens to be assigned to. Individual teachers within each school are burdened with the requirement to develop curriculum, deliver instruction, tutor individual students, grade assignments, and interface with parents.

The lack of coherence across grades, schools, school districts, states, and the broader nation have societal level consequences. As a nation, we are talking past each other and don't have a shared mental framework. We're essentially speaking different languages. In a market economy, several large school systems would emerge. These large school systems would create a civic unity not seen since Webster's Blue-backed Speller.

What is to be done about the government monopoly? The French philosopher Jacques Ellul indicates the path forward: 

"There are no political solutions only technological ones, the rest is propaganda."

The government monopoly is built and maintained through political power. That is not our leverage point. Our collective leverage point is intelligence. Knowledge is power. In particular, the powerful ideas found in engineering, science, and entrepreneurship. Code. Systems thinking. User interface design. Feedback loops. Cognitive neuroscience. Machine learning.

We've spent the past three years building a new school system leveraging these power ideas. A school system made out of code that exists in the real world. A school system that transforms the economics of schooling by decoupling the role of the educator. A school system built in partnership with educators, parents, and students.

Our students receive direct instruction from a small team of the best teachers on the planet, tutoring from well trained learning coaches, and feedback from an army of graders. All through a digital platform that introduces a level of transparency, flexibility, and rigor that redefines parent expectations.

Dexter is our technological solution. It's the Model T in an era of horse-drawn carriages. It makes the government monopoly obsolete. It makes transformative private schooling affordable and accessible to all. School choice already exists to those who can afford it. Dexter brings school choice to the average American family.

We currently run a physical campus in Texas, have full-time remote students across the country, and provide free live instruction to thousands of students in dozens of countries. We're just getting started. Our vision is to build the largest school system on the planet with millions of students and hundreds of campuses across the globe.

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