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Stanford Report, April 5, 2000

Charter schools advocate Reed Hastings to speak April 12

BY THOURAYA RAISS

Reed Hastings, a prominent advocate of charter schools and a software entrepreneur, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in CERAS 112. The lecture, sponsored by the School of Education and the Peninsula Community Foundation, is free and open to the public.

Hastings, currently chief executive officer of NetFlix.com, previously founded Pure Software. In February he was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to the State Board of Education. He is an active member of the Technology Network, which is made up of high-tech CEOs seeking to improve the education system.

"If public schools don't adopt the same principles of competition and accountability as exist in the private and nonprofit sectors, they will continue to deteriorate," Hastings says in a statement posted on the website of the New Schools Venture Fund. "More and more parents with means will send their children to private schools, and the institution will become like Medicare, an alternative for only the most disadvantaged."

Hastings says there is no overarching strategy to improve public schools and that education reform is "littered" with business people who seriously want to help schools. "One way to permanently impact the system would be to have 10 to 20 percent of California schoolchildren enrolled in charter schools. That would be critical mass, and enough of a force to induce a competitive dynamic in the system."

Hastings holds a bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College and a master's degree in computer science from Stanford. SR