Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Joel and Michelle Have Fun in the Sun (Valley)

Leonie Haimson Reports:

At the big media event held every year at Sun Valley, Joel Klein will be on a panel with Michelle Rhee, the super in DC, Deborah Kenny, the head of a network of Harlem charter schools, and Andre Cowling , identified as the principal of the John Harvard school of excellence, a “turnaround” public school in Chicago, started in the fall of 2007.

What all these people clearly excel in is getting great PR. Their schools also brag about all the homework and the longer day. Wonder what the attrition rates are.

Here is a news story about Kenny, which says she “developed a business plan devoid of bureaucracy and heavily influenced by Jack Welch's notions of leadership analysis and accountability.”

Here is a news story about Cowling, who is described as “a former captain in the Army, a Desert Storm veteran – [who] left the corporate world to become a principal. “ Here is another, which reports that he fired all the teachers at the school and then rehired only three.

Yet strangely, the school’s website finds that Cowling is already gone and they have a new interim principal, someone named David L. Hannsberry.

Sun Valley Diary: A Peek at the Agenda

July 9, 2008, 7:48 am

For devotees of Allen & Company’s annual confab who like to keep up with the official doings here in Sun Valley, we’ve procured an official schedule — against the wishes of the event’s organizers — for your information and
perhaps even your amusement.

The action starts early Wednesday with breakfast at 6:30 a.m. — much earlier than breakfast at Michael’s in New York.

At 7:30 a.m. is a presentation by Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of He’s likely to trot out his Kindle e-book device and talk about the future of publishing and electronic commerce.

After than, Ken Auletta of The New Yorker leads a conversation called “Looking Around the Corner to the Future” with Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Ning, the hot new social networking site; Barry Diller, chief executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp; and Larry Page, a co-Founder of Google.

That’s all for the panels today. Then the fun, and closed-door meetings, begin. If you’re not hatching a project or calling your office, the whitewater rafting trip leaves at 10:30 a.m. Golf is at 11 a.m.; there’s biking, fly-fishing, hiking trail rides, yoga and bridge (paging Bill Gates and Warren Buffett!) in the afternoon.

On Thursday, Joel I. Klein, New York City’s schools chancellor, tries to open everyone’s mind with a conversation entitled “The Education Crisis” with Andre Cowling, principal of the John Harvard Elementary School of Excellence; Deborah Kenny, founder and chief executive of the Village Academies; and Michelle Rhee, the schools chancellor in Washington, D.C.

After that, Donald R. Keough of Allen & Company, the former No. 2 at Coca-Cola, leads a conversation called “Global Perspectives” with Muhtar Kent, chief executive of Coca-Cola; Niall FitzGerald, deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters; and Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony. The last act for the day is Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation. The afternoon is filled with a tennis tournament, a trap-shooting tournament and yes, even knitting.

Friday begins with a panel of conference newbies: Gary Marino, chief executive of Bill Me Later; Max Levchin, chief executive of; and David Friedberg, chief executive of WeatherBill. (Expect lots of people to wake up early to check out their next potential acquisition targets.) Then things get serious with a panel Charlie Rose is moderating called “Where We Are – Where We Should Be” with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sam Nunn, a former senator from Georgia and co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

After that comes the surprise guest. It says “TBA” on the schedule, but we’ll announce it here: The mystery speaker is His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. Then an afternoon of more activities — and for some of the crowd, a ride back to airport to catch a private jet home.

For those who stick it out until Saturday, Allen & Company, the event’s organizers, have left what may be the best for last. Bill Gates is on the hot-seat with Tom Friedman of The New York Times in a conversation entitled “Creative Capitalism.” And that’s just a warm-up act for Warren Buffett, who is being interviewed by Donald Graham of The Washington Post. (Mr. Buffett is a big shareholder and board member of the Washington Post Company.)

A blowout dinner ends the week before everyone packs up.

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