Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bullets versus Lasers

Too often we're searching for silver bullets to solve the problems in education. 
  • Let's buy this program and it will fix our math scores.
  • Let's do this initiative, or maybe that one.
  • PLC is the answer.
  • School choice is the answer.
  • Merit pay is the answer.
  • Teacher evaluation is the answer.
  • Data teams are the way to go.
The problem is that we too often try one thing and another and another without giving adequate time to gauge the results.  Folks are running here and there looking for that silver bullet.

Perhaps we need to stop searching for the silver bullets and instead build lasers.  Through comprehensive needs analysis we must determine a focus around which to build our improvement model.  We call this establishing our rocks.  By focusing everything through the lens of our rocks we establish a laser focus that drives us forward.

In this era of heightened talk of gun safety, let's put away the bullets and start building those lasers.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Performance Excellence

Our principals and other key leaders received training on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence over two days recently in preparation for the Show-Me Challenge self-assessment.  We followed it up with a introductory session for our patrons.  Our belief is that this process will put us on a path of sustained improvement in all areas of performance. 

Over the next three weeks our Baldrige leadership team will be interviewed on how we are doing over the six performance areas.  Once those are complete we'll get training to do walk-around interviews.  We're looking forward to getting a better gauge on our strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There is a profit there somewhere

Today I saw a Tweet from one Students First's state groups.  It was something to the effect that all kids deserve a great teacher.

That's hard to argue against.  When I look at their actions, there seems to be a misalignment. 

Students First seems to be for school choice and privatization of public schools.  At least that's my impression.

A simple numeric exercise illustrates that school choice just moves the deck chairs.  Let's assume a school district of 50,000 students with an average class size of 25 for simplicity.  So we have 2,000 teachers.  School choice legislation is passed, charters rush in, and 5,000 students choose other schools.  The charters need 200 teachers to keep our simplistic class size of 25.  Guess who just had to lay off 200 teachers due to enrollment decline.

The charters might be able to pick up a few new teachers here and there, but the job market is full of teachers just laid off from the local public school.  The same kids and many of the same teachers are now under a different governance model.  A model that appears to lower labor costs because the teachers are looking for any work and the charters aren't in the teacher pension system.

Sure seems like there is a profit to be made by charter providers. 

The education sector as a private equity market is a significant strategic challenge.  Our goal is student learning, not profits.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January Paddle

I've not posted anything in a while, but thought I would get back in the groove with a post about paddling today.

Couldn't get Zack to come today.  He said it was winter and he doesn't paddle when it's cold.  Never mind that he has had a great time when we've had to break ice or that it was unseasonably warm today.  Regardless, it was just two of us today.

We took a short trip on the Meramec River.  It was nice and peaceful.  The sun was a bear early due to the angle.  Several geese and ducks greeted us shortly after the put-in.

Not the best of places to take out, but we got ashore and hauled the boats up the hill.  Someone else was backing in with a long racing boat.  Asked if we were training for the MR340.  The race seems interesting, but I don't think I want to be in a boat that much.  I like to enjoy paddling.

It was a great day to be on the river.