Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eulogies, Awareness, Improvement

Well, I attended a funeral for one of my Father's best friends on Monday. Jim was a great guy who seemed to have things figured out. He will be missed by many. It got me thinking about this previous post. Eulogy and Self Awareness

Definitely an exercise worth doing. I'll probably reread mine to ensure my beliefs, thoughts, actions, behaviors, etc still support the comments I hope to hear as I listen in from the great beyond... Thoughts?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tenure: Golden Handcuffs

As you know, I believe that tenure is wrong. Simply said: Why should any employee be assured a job? Worse yet, all you have to do to earn it is behave well during a ~3 year probationary period. I just don't understand how employees stay motivated, highly effective and focused on the School's/Company's goals without both carrots and sticks to guide behavior. This relies too much on intrinsic rewards and people just happening to have "common goals" for my taste.

Now for an interesting spin, as usual... Tenure does have a huge benefit.

For the school districts !!!

Over the past 20 yrs I have often heard teachers say that they are unhappy with their current district or situation. Me being me, I ask them if they will start looking for a new position in a different district. To date, not one teacher has been willing to give up tenure in search of a better environment. Therefore it seems that good teachers are trapped in questionable districts.

I am not sure if this is good or bad... I am guessing the teacher's intrinsic motivation suffers in this case of "feeling trapped". However, maybe the job security offsets it.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

God Works in Mysterious Ways?

I posted this previously as a comment. Maybe Christmas is a good time for this crazy idea to get its own focus. (previous link) Make sure you are sitting down for this one...

"God (choose yours) tried for thousands of years to nudge wealthy humans to share their good fortune and help those that were not so lucky. He/she did this through the words of Prophets, Pastors, Rabbis, Wisemen, Priests, Nuns, etc. Repeatedly they spoke of charity, self sacrifice, giving, tithing, respect, peace, etc. Instead of listening to and living by these scared words, people actually turned their back on the words and stopped going to their places of worship. This way they had more time to build their portfolio, and did not need to hear the words that made them feel guilty for their hoarding ways.

God, being wise and all powerful became weary with the foolish and self centered ways of many humans. He/she nudged people to create democracies that could serve as an equalizer to force the rich to practice charity, self sacrifice, giving, tithing, etc. They would also work to protect human dignity around the world.

Though it was a bit inefficient, it did create a lot of jobs and support the goal. God was very happy at last..."

Now, I know it is a bit of a stretch. However, it makes sense to a strange mind like mine... Especially with the progressive tax rates. The Lord works in mysterious ways...

Thoughts encouraged and Merry Christmas !!!! God Bless Us, Every One....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

96% or 4% ? My choice

Well folks, I have nearly the perfect life !!! In fact, I would say it is 96+% perfect !!! I mean I don't live in a mansion, vacation in Greece or have my choice of exotic sports cars. Then again what do they have to do with perfection and happiness???

Sometimes things happen or people frustrate me, and I get in a bad mood. At these times I often start focusing on the bad thing that happened, or the 4% that I don't have. (ie that I should have, by God...) Well, the reality is that negative thoughts beget negative thoughts, actions and behavior. Besides they make you feel miserable.

At these times I have learned to play a very simple game that I call the "Gratitude Game". The rules and process are simple, however playing the game well takes some practice because it requires controlling your thoughts and focus. All you need is a pen, a piece of paper and 10+ minutes of alone time. At which time you write as many people, things, experiences, etc that you truly appreciate in your life. Now this is not a good/bad list... Only the good things go on it.

Now your problems may not go away, however I guarantee you will be in a better state of mind to handle them. And for extra credit and even more positive energy, act quickly and tell those on your list how much you truly appreciate them or their actions !!!

John's Gratitude List: Wife, Daughters, Parents, Siblings/Families, Friends, Good Health of All, Career, Employed, Co-Workers, Good Schools, My Toys, Nice Home, Downhill Skiing, Pheasant Hunting, Dog, Cats, 2 wks off during the Holidays, Beer, Holiday Parties, Presents, Giving, Snow Storms, Snowmobiling, American Freedoms, Books, Blogging, Learning, Different Opinions, etc, etc, etc....

What are you thankful for? Will you remember to tell those that make a difference in your life, just how much you appreciate them or their actions? Remember: Do It NOW !!!

Excellent Link

Speed's on to something here, definitely worth a read...

Speed's Leave Your Dreams at the Door

Sunday, December 20, 2009

RAS Musical Chairs or Something More?

Well folks, I need your help here. After many years of reading company reorganization announcements that are not worth the paper they were written on... Mostly just a way to show the new leader is doing "something". What do you know and think of this one? Will this really:
"help us to be more responsive to the needs of students, staff and the community by spreading out the decision making structure,”

Kind of looks like similar titles with slightly different roles to me, not sure how it spreads the decision making. Please reply with your thoughts regarding the upcoming change and what I am missing !!!

I for one will miss Gary, he was open and willing to answer questions whenever I needed clarification. I wish him luck in his future endeavors !!! And hope the new Business Manager is equally transparent and helpful.

RAS Reorg Note 2
RAS Reorg Note 1

Not sure if "similar to other districts our size" is a good rationale. Some of Supt Sicoli's other district ideas seem pretty "Public School" protectionistic and limiting... I would prefer a little more solid and forward thinking rational. Only time will tell.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Now for Something Totally Different

To much seriousness makes John a dull boy... So here is one of the latest chain emails I received, in case you have not seen it before.

"Well, there is good news and bad news about my Christmas decorations this year ...

Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.

Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder & almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that.

My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.

Kind of feel like I gave in to the man by taking him down, but my neighbor did confirm 2 near miss accidents on the busy street next to my house. I think I made him too real this time.

So it was fun while it lasted! Merry Christmas! "


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why High Educational Stds are NOT OPTIONAL !!!

I was going to write something along these lines, however the last 3 paragraphs of this Newsweek article say it all. If this doesn't scare you into supporting NCLB/AYP, high educational standards and significantly improving the Public Education system, then spend some time reading the "World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman.

If you still don't understand, look around your home and garage. How many products do you have where the design, testing, research, marketing, development, profits, etc went to American companies and workers? First went the electronics, next the cars, now the appliances, what's next??? If the USA can not compete while being paid more, then our incomes and standard of living will lower over time. Are we ready for that, or will we keep accepting "OK"?

By the way, if you think that "YOUR" job can not be outsourced overseas... Therefore you do not care. (ie Doctor, Teacher, Butcher, etc) Just a reminder, the above mentioned "wealth creators" provide your "service industry" income. If that "wealth creation" disappears, so does your income...

The next time someone tells you the standards are too high, tell them to move to some other country that does not want to have the most capable employees in the world. I personally like the USA's high standard of living and pray we find a way to maintain it for the good of my children. Thoughts?

Newsweek "When will the Jobs Come Back?"
World is Flat Summary 1
World is Flat Summary Wiki
G2A Link to Zimmerman's Writings

Monday, December 14, 2009

RAS: To Build or not to Build

The Agenda from tonight's work session includes what to do with the Northport/Lakeview opportunity. Would a possible $39,000,000 to $48,000,000 bill get your attention and motivate you to read them ??? (14Dec09 Work Session Documents) (Meeting Notes)Thoughts or notes?

As usual, please send the link to your friends and neighbors....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Obituary of an Old Friend

I got this from a family member via a "please forward" email. It seems in alignment with my concerns that citizens seem too interested in "Me", and not enough in "We"/USA. Thoughts? (source?)

We are mourning the loss of a beloved old friend who recently passed away. His name was Common Sense. Common Sense lived a long life but died in the United States from a vicious contagious disease.

He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes and factories, helping folks get the jobs done without fanfare and foolishness. For decades, petty rules, frivolous lawsuits, and ludicrous verdicts held no power over Common Sense.

He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in from the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn't always fair. Common Sense lived by a simple and sound financial policy. Don't spend more than you earn. Common Sense also lived by other time-tested strategies like: The adults are in charge and not the kids, and it's okay to come in second or third.

A veteran of the Great Depression and the Technological Revoluion, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends such as body piercing, 'whole language' and 'new math'. But his health declined when he became infected with the I'm not responsible for my own actions and It's alright if it feels good viruses.

He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition.

It declined further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student, but could not inform the parents and get their permission when their children were given mind-altering drugs or birth control pills; and when universities turned into cesspools of debauchery and socialist propaganda.

Common Sense lost his will to live when criminals received better treatment than their victims, the Ten Commandments became
contraband, and priests molested young boys. When a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee is hot, and was awarded a huge settlement; and when the president sold security related technology to a hostile nation, Common Sense fell into a coma.

As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of consciousness, but was kept informed of new questionable regulations, such as thought control and partial birth abortion. Finally, when another president, claiming to staunchly protect the country from terrorist atrocities, yet allowing the same villains to invade the country through borders that are strangely very penetrable; being fully aware of what the grave consequences of such deliberate and ominous neglect can be, Common Sense died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Love; his daughter, Responsibility; and his sons, Diligence and Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers, Deception, Greed and Ignorance. Not many attended his funeral, because so few noticed he was gone.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Performance Reviews

Well, yesterday I experienced the culmination of another year of hard work. The annual performance review....

Since I was on the other side of the desk for ~5 years, I definitely appreciate the challenges of both the Supervisor and the Employee in this yearly ritual. Assuming that both are really trying to improve and motivate via the process that starts with a performance plan at the start of the year, proceeds with quarterly updates and culminates in a year end review. I am one of those believers.

My rationale is that unknown, misunderstood or miscommunicated expectations are often the root cause of Supervisor and Employee conflict and dissatisfaction. The reality is that humans can not read each others minds, so enforcing the dialogue and documentation can help a great deal. If people actually know what they want accomplished...

Overall, it went well and both of us did work hard to make it a good learning experience. I got a couple of things to think about, and he learned some additional details regarding the feedback he had received and the projects I led.

Still, I think I would prefer getting getting a cavity filled... Let the excitement start again for next year !!!!

Anyone have an interesting performance review story or thoughts regarding the process?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reader Update & Usual Pleading

G2A's unique readers per mth history is Jul~100, Sep~150, Nov~250, Dec~190. G2A's unique comment participants per month is ~10. Therefore the 2 usual requests:
  • Start commenting - it takes almost no time, does not hurt a bit and it may help others understand a topic better. (and send me ideas / info would like covered)
  • Tell your friends, neighbors, enemies, co-workers, bosses, employees, politicians, opinionated friends, etc to google give2attain. Or send them a link to an interesting post.
My goal is to inform, and challenge people to really think and see different perspectives. Let's increase the number of people doing this !!! I need your help !!! Please tell 10 people right now !!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Steps and Lanes

I didn't know this site existed: RAS Compensation

This may help you speak schoolese: Steps and Lanes

Per DJ's question: Should the Teachers get their Step and Lane adjustments in these hard times? My belief is that the pay matrix should be held fixed, however the Teachers should get the Step and Lane increases they have earned. I don't think most folks would consider them over paid... Besides, what is good for the Supt is good for the employees??? (~2%/yr...)

Now if only the Union would give up that frustrating and limiting tenure thing...

Monday, December 7, 2009

The KMA Card

Another attempt at a light hearted post... So I am at training a year or so ago, and one of my co-workers from another facility told the following story. (we'll call him Bob...)

Apparently when Bob turned 60, a friend asked him to stop by his office to discuss some important business. The friend said that the topic was critical to improving Bob's enjoyment, creativity and productivity at work. Bob was skeptical of course, however he was interested.

Later that afternoon, Bob stopped in and his friend had him sit down. At which time the friend made a grand gesture of presenting Bob with a small business card. The friend said that the card held the secret to Bob's happiness. He explained that now that Bob was fully vested for the company's retirement benefits and an incredibly capable employee, he deserved the CARD.

He then explained that whenever a younger "know it all" Manager or Supervisor told him to do something stupid. Or if he had an excellent idea that he typically would not share because the Mgr or Spvr would not like it. He was to pull out the card and read the 3 simple words that would give him the courage to act with honor and self respect. Thereby being happier and more fulfilled.

After this Bob was very interested in this magic card. The friend finally handed it to him and all it said was:






Kiss My Ass

Now I it may not be appropriate in the workplace in most situations. However imagine how powerful it would be if all employees could speak their best creative ideas or question "strange" Managerial ideas without worrying about reprisal.

By the way, "Bob" said the card actually worked. Once he felt free of the concerns that had encumbered him at times earlier in his career, he said he was happier, more creative and more productive!!!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Incredible RAS Agenda

Okay, you have to see this.... We have the LAC platform detailed under "Special Reports", a Values presentation in "Teaching and Learning", Levy talk in "Operations" and a Top Level Admin Reorganization plan in "Consent agenda". I may have to find a way to get there for some of this !!! Remember the board mtg starts after the Truth in Taxation meeting.

RAS Board Agenda

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RAS Truth in Taxation

Make some time Monday at 7 PM to learn where your tax dollars are going and why. Then again it is only ~$53,000,000 in local taxes and ~$177,000,000 overall, maybe it is not worth an hour of your time....

RAS Dec 7th Mtgs
Truth in Taxation Documents 2009
281 Exposed Back Pg Referendum
Community Solutions Consequences

Ironically I found I am already double booked with a BB game and Choir concert. So take good notes. By the way, I support the taxes but sometimes wonder about the spending choices. As you already know.

Sir, The Class Is Too Hard

Recently I sat in at the ZLE PTA meeting to listen to Supt Sicoli present his thoughts regarding RAS and its community. I was hoping to better understand his perspective and plan for the district.

He started by praising the district results/offerings, and mentioning the improved Action Plans that were pending. He then went on to discuss the need to delay selling the excess buildings until RAS was sure they were actually not needed... Some interesting details/comments:
  • New Hope Elementary is needed for CHS parking and Early Childhood programs.
  • Sandberg can not fit all the programs.
  • Northport and Lakeview must be remodeled or rebuilt (will need temp housing for the kids)
  • Some organizations that would not compete with RAS have expressed interest in a small portion of property / land.
  • He is interested in options to draw students and families back.. (ie possible magnet school or other)
  • A past district he worked for surveyed families that left that district to see "what would get them back?" Possible here...
  • Maybe student population loss will slow or reverse as neighborhoods turn over? Wouldn't being short space be embarrassing?
  • The $2 mil in operating savings was achieved.
  • Real estate market may get better in the future, hold property until then?
  • Due to these reasons, the process must be slowed or stopped until more info is known.
During most of the meeting he made sense and tried hard to market RAS in a positive light. In fact, he mentioned "positive RAS fact sheets" that the district is passing to some city and real estate personnel to help them see the positives. Also, he promoted that we should all spread the positive word of mouth. This makes sense, since this is a key part of his job.

Now for the things that frustrated me....

First, he avoided answering one simple question that was of particular interest to this audience. How many students/families left the district due to the school closures and boundary changes? This seemed appropriate and worthy of an answer, given all the PLE folks in the audience.

Secondly, he spent a significant amount of time bashing NCLB/AYP. And from my perspective, somewhat misleading the audience. Some key concepts he covered:
  • Minnesota's standards are way too high.
  • He said Proof is that Alabama's are much lower. (personal note: Nothing against Alabama, but is this the state you really want to be on par with? )
  • Lg and diverse schools less likely to pass AYP MAP better than MCA II.
  • "No one in their right mind would design such a system."
My biggest frustration is that given the chance to motivate Parents toward helping all students achieve excellence. He spent time complaining about the test and grading criteria, and making excuses.

I agree he should work with the State educational experts that selected the criteria if he disagrees with them, however to confuse and rile parents seems irresponsible. Below are links to State Proficiency comparison information. Minnesota did set their expectations high, however others set theirs higher. What are your thoughts regarding Supt Sicoli's methods and my perspective?

I keep thinking... What I would tell my daughters if they came home complaining that teacher's course was too difficult? Roll up your sleeves and get to work, or stand their and complain to me and your friends...

NCES Proficiency Comparison (Pg 17 and 20)
NCES Nation's Report Card
ZLE PTA Minutes Nov09

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Star Tribune Bashes Charter Schools

Side Note: Cannibals string fired up again
I have to make this quick since I am using my PFT time. By the way, it is real quiet in the office. One more advantage of working during off hours.

The Star Tribune is thoroughly bashing Charters today in the name of Investigative Journalism and exciting headlines. Here is one of many articles in the Sunday paper.

By the way, I have no doubt that there were some questionable behaviors involved and that some oversight may need revision. What I find incredible frustrating is ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION of the fact that Charters have become so creative in part because the Publics are refusing to give Charters access to the empty buildings we have already paid for !!!! Maybe the Teacher's Union does have a lot of pull at the Strib.

Thoughts encouraged as always !!!

Star Tribune Charters "Out of Control"
Star Tribune Charter School Fails...
Star Tribune Want junk bonds...
Star Tribune Two Projects...
Star Tribune Low Enrollment...
G2A Public Buildings

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Paid Flex Time

A few years ago I started using the acronym PFT to described my work / vacation schedule at this time of year. Now we are all familiar with Paid Time Off, Vacation, Personal Time, Nights, Weekends, etc. They describe time that is usually "non-work" time.

Well, at this time of year I usually end up with a few Vacation or Personal days left to use. However, my projects and responsibilities at work seem to often heat up excessively at this time of year. Therefore I can either:
  • Not use all my days (ie give them up)
  • Take days, and let projects slide / consequences occur
  • Make full use of my unofficial "Paid Flex Time" option
Here's how PFT works for me. I schedule all of my days off until year end with full intention of using them. This ensures that I technically don't "give them up" and I have permission to be gone "when" I want to. And I usually use them as planned. (sort of)

Here is where the "sort of" comes in. I took Wednesday off to work around my family's travel plans. Now that I am back, today or tomorrow I will need to work 4 to 6 hours to ensure everything runs well next week. (ie variations on this include days or late nights before)

So due to plant shutdowns and vacation time, I only have 13.5 working days until year end. However I have about 20+ days of work. Therefore it looks like I will be making full use of my "Paid Flex Time" option again this year. Maybe next year I'll use my days up earlier...

Thank heavens for a job that allows flexibility!!! This may sound odd to the clock watchers out there, however I have always been salaried and project/team/results focused. Therefore this is strangely normal.

Thoughts encouraged

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Managment Perspective

Sorry for the delay in posting, I wanted to give the Empathy post and Speed's Health post some extra visibility. Besides my web editor is acting a bit funny and I can't get the next "serious" RAS post to look just right...(I'll keep working on it)

So I'm going to leave you with the following amusing texts from my "funny documents" file. They are definitely worth the read. Now, remember that I am an engineer that believes that Servant/Democratic Leadership is much better than Directive/Autocratic Leadership in almost all organizations. (link) Maybe that's why I love these and Dilbert comics....

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Hot Air Balloons - "The Engr and the Mgr" (author inknown to me)
A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man below says: "Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees N. latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees W. longitude."

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost.

"The man below says, "You must be a manager."

"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."

Appendix F - Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle by R. P. Feynman (link)
Introduction It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask "What is the cause of management's fantastic faith in the machinery?"

Comments encouraged !!!

Additional Richard Feynman links:
Feynman online
Feynman Quotes

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healthcare, Ethics and Cannibals

Usually I avoid the healthcare topic, but this is interesting and could have potential to get lively. Please join in here or there... Speed and the Cannibals

Friday, November 20, 2009

Learning, Giving, Empathy, Rewards

As I have implied before, I have learned a lot in the last ~5 years. Mostly because I actually started "questioning what I knew was true". And really taking the time to weigh it against the "principles" I have chosen to live by. (see graphic to the right)

Before my renaissance, I was taking an Adult Psychology course during my MBA. Being self centered, my motive was to learn why older workers did not seem as driven in the work place and what I could do about it? (ie this frustrated me as a young workaholic Spvr) Ironically this was probably one of the events that started turning on the light. The Professor explained a couple of very memorable concepts:

  • "Older employees often get smart, and figure out that life is a lot more than working." They want to do a good job, however they want a full life. (Remember: time is growing shorter by the year...)

  • "Not all Old people are Wise." Many spend their lives "knowing" that what they have been taught/experienced in their "singular life experience" is the truth. (ie birth led to country, church, school, culture, friends, etc) By not questioning this randomly selected life and learning, they stay the same and do not grow wiser.

Now where is all this build up going... One of the most important lessons I have learned is the power of empathy. To truly make a difference, we must strive to see and feel the world from the perspective of those we disagree with, strive to help, or are buying gifts for.

I used to buy gifts for people using "my frame", which of course was my view of what was a good present. Now I strive to see the world from the recipient's perspective, therefore I buy a gift that makes them happier. Which therefore makes me happier and more fulfilled...

Here is a comment I left on Speed's post. What do you all think about this topic? And remember if you like this, have a your friends google give2attain. (ie more the merrier)

Though I understand the importance of intrinsic reward while volunteering. Shouldn't giving be about the recipient?

The question then is "Does reading "My Pet Goat" do it for the 6 yr old that has no one else reading with or listening to them?" Then if it does it for the 6 yr old, will it make a difference in their life? Therefore making a real difference.

My Favorite Quote from Successories:

"Priorities-A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

One last note: Having true empathy does not mean you need to blindly give in or do things that violate your principles. It just helps you understand why others resist, and hopefully helps the both of you find a better common ground than each would find on their own. If something does not work for you, don't do it. Just work to understand the ramifications for the other party since they are humans just like us. (ie not "them", "they", "that type", etc.)

Deep Thoughts by G2A.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Strange Character

A brief story to give you some additional incite as to how I see the world. Not sure how I got wired this way, however I am pretty consistent.
When I was in College there was a $250 scholarship that I could apply for. I chose to not apply because I was in pretty good shape financially, and felt the money could better help a student that was struggling financially. This was and is my definition of right, acting responsibly and showing good character.
Now is this good, bad, stupid, smart?

The ironic twist to the story is: One of my best friends who was better off than me financially ended up with the scholarship. Do I regret the choice ? Not one bit....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RAS Campaign Finance

Here are the incomplete funding numbers. Apparently another reporting is due in 30 days. Also, they report for periods of time. So funds may have been there earlier or given later. Still this makes the point, special interests apparently fund the winning campaigns....
  • Patsy Green ~ $2,602 raised ($500:Women Winning, $500:Union, $200:DFL 45th)
  • Tom Walsh ~ $1832 raised (DFL 45th:$200, DFL 43rd: $500, Union:$500
  • Linda Johnson~ $1,054 raised (Union: $500, Private Couple: $200)
  • Mark Bomchill < $750 raised (Union: $500)
  • All others <$750 or not reported yet.
Is this good or bad? Is the conflict of interest sufficient enough to be concerned? If we did something similar in business, would it warrant further review?

Maybe I should offer my Supervisor $500 because he is so nice... Maybe I'll get a bigger raise.

Here is CARE 281's take on it. Probably worth a read. CARE 281 RAS Board Election

Yes, their site is still apparently active.

Monday, November 16, 2009

RAS Board Mtg and Action Plans

I took a quick browse regarding the agenda for tonight's School Board Meeting and found these gems....

Action Plan Presentations (fixed...)

Meeting Details

The questions to the readers are:

  • Do these appear Specific, Measureable, Action based, Realistic and Time based? (SMART goals for Schools)
  • How do you think results will be measured?
  • How will people be held accountable for meeting these?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of writing goals for several years in the future?
  • What do you agree and/or disagree with in these?

My first impression is that they are a bit vague with goals often too far in the future to be useful. With that in mind, here are the questions I have:

  • What specifically does RAS intend to accomplish before June 2010 in each of these areas?
  • What specifically does RAS intend to accomplish before June 2011 in each of these areas?
  • What longer term 2014 goals would these shorter term 2010 and 2011 SMART goals support?

I think I'll try to make it to the meeting tonight. This should be interesting to listen to first hand !!! Thoughts encouraged !!!

One more personal pet peeve: Claiming the facility planning is complete...when I just listened to Supt Sicoli say that it has to be re-examined due to the renovation logistics, and potential plans to try and lure families back... it is either not done or done... I am fine with either, however, which is it ???

Friday, November 13, 2009

RAS Climate Measurement and Management

Going with Jon's comment from the previous post:

"I think there are a lot of people out there who think the way to address climate issues is to develop more complicated thermometers. "

Being a "Plan, Do, Check, Act" guy, I really like good thermometers when it comes to changing the climate. Assuming the environment is closed and can be adjusted, as it is in companies and schools.

Now, I work for an incredibly competitive company that promotes global free trade. We actively pursue productivity and efficiency gains. We consistently work to eliminate waste and still produce results. How else will we succeed on the global stage ???

Ironically, a key aspect of this effort revolves around having incredibly good climate measurement systems. Now this doesn't come cheap, however it is still an excellent investment. Some of the benefits include:
  • Employees that are unable to perform well in a position can be trained/coached or shifted to a different role that better matches their strengths and passion. Or their employment can be terminated if a good fit can not be found. This is typically good for the employee and the company.
  • Managers and Supervisors that are unable to attain results while keeping their employees engaged and motivated receive the same options and treatment as noted above.
  • Overall, the key is that the environment is maintained to ensure that Managers, Supervisor's and Employees are treated well. Therefore we all strive to achieve the goals for the good of ourselves, the company and our stakeholders.
With this in mind, I was fascinated or horrified to learn how little climate measuring and management occurs at RAS. I mean how do you manage the environment without good thermometers? Here are typical tools used at my company that should be implemented:
  • annual performance plan creation (contains~10 SMART goals directly related to the RAS goals) (describing personal improvement and performance)
  • quarterly performance reviews / discussion (Spvr/Employee)
  • yearly 360 degree feedback surveys (ie nothing fancy... send an 8 question survey to co-workers and parents with results sent to Spvr)
  • Annual Employee Opinion Surveys (example) (Identifies Enterprise issues and Poor Managers)
  • Act on the Information !!!! Need to show results or people will not believe you are serious about improving things !!!!
From what I understand, very little of this occurs... Please correct me if I am incorrect... Thoughts encouraged !!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Perils of Rating Teachers

A very interesting link from an incredibly bright reader.

Perils of Rating Teachers The Washington Post - Jay Mathews
Class Struggle Archives The Washington Post - Jay Mathews

Any thoughts regarding what we in the RAS community should take and learn from this Washington DC based post and commentary?

Remember: They have lots of variation within their student body...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Ways to Treat People

One day I was at Lakeshore Learning Center picking up something, when I ran across one those classroom posters that are meant to guide kids in the right direction. I bought it since I am a fan of such things. Also, my household has 2 parents and 3 kids that can use a gentle reminder occasionally. Well the poster was considered too large for the fridge door, so I put it in powerpoint, tweaked the sayings slightly and posted a couple 8 1/2 X 11's around the house.

It is amazing how simple and common sense these guidelines are, however I often find that people forget them. This includes adults that should know better, and the kids that are learning by watching their adult role models.

Anything I should improve on the list???

Friday, November 6, 2009

GV gets Best Citizen Group Award

Sorry for the small type. In the boxes is the poll number, the number of citizens that voted and the percent of registered voters that amounts to. This is technically unofficial data until the RAS Board approves it next week.

The overall actual voter turnout was 7.7%. (4,777 voters/62,075 registered voters) Golden Valley polling places were near 20% and the others were significantly lower. Someone down their executed an excellent get out the vote campaign, or they had more "important" things on their ballot. (ie important being relative to the citizen...)

At first I was wondering if that overrode the other areas. However after looking at the data quickly, it appears the results would have held if GV had not been counted... So the winners apparently had pretty solid cross district support.

Thanks to the RAS folks for the excellent data !!!!

RAS Community Common Goals

Here is the summary so far:
  • Property values increase consistently over time.
  • Community is safe with low or no crime.
  • Community's children learn what they need to be successful and productive citizens. (various responsible parties: home, community, religion, schools, etc)
  • Community's children are safe while traveling to/from school, and while in school.
  • Public funds are used in an efficient manner to support the common goals.
  • ???

Any disagreements so far? Any additions?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's not me, It's them

One of the quotes I keep on the desktop of my computer is:
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." (Tolstoy)

In the RAS Campaign Funding post:
  • Jon thinks "the incumbents who had served well during a very difficult time for Robbinsdale schools, and that wasn't their fault."
  • Wants2Know thinks "We can simply blame the voters who didn't turnout or we can examine the election process orchestrated an entrenched bureaucracy that seriously disenfranchised voters. "

My questions are:

  • Whose fault are the current RAS challenges?
  • Were some of them aggravated by action or inaction of the current board?
  • How is the "entrenched bureaucracy" keeping people from voting?
  • What is the "State" thinking by not funding education?

Thank you for humoring me so far. My final questions are:

  • How do we stop looking at "them" as the problem and start taking responsibility for our own beliefs, actions and community?
  • How do we then start turning our community around?

Or will we fight over the fire hose as the home burns to the ground...

You can probably come up with a better analogy. The point is taking responsibility, not looking for the "problem". (Collusion)(Resolution)(Heart)


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Crucial Conversations

After covering school issues for several weeks, let's try something new.

Have you ever had a conversation when you felt you were losing it and getting angry with the other participant(s)? Or have you ever felt that someone was attacking you or your beliefs, and you wanted to run from the other participant(s)? Or you were seriously wondering if the other participant(s) was crazy or living in an alternate universe? (ie teenagers...) If you haven't, you must be a rare individual or a hermit...

Being somewhat normal and human, I used to encounter some of these situations on a regular basis. Then a coach/mentor turned me onto a book entitled "Crucial Conversations" (Patterson, etal). To save me the time of summarizing, below are some links to different summaries.

By the way, the uncomfortable situations still arise at times, however I can now handle them much better than in the past. Definitely worth the read. Comments encouraged !!!

CC Training (big bucks...)

RAS Campaign Funding?

Since it was a land slide victory for the candidates that were endorsed by the Teacher's Union, I was wondering how much campaign funding came with the endorsement?

I am fine with the Teacher's Union funding people and referendums that that they believe in. This is what I did, do and will do. I would just like to know how much this entity is influencing our community's choices.

Does anyone know if funding info similar to this article is available for the Candidate's campaign funding? (Vote YES funding) I'd love to have a link for the readers.

Also, what do you think about the Teacher's Union being a key advertiser during these community votes?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day Coverage

What a difference a year makes... Last year I had to wait in line at 7:15 AM, this time I was alone in the polling place with the polling volunteers/officials. You might want to remind like minded friends and neighbors to vote. (ie every vote may count...)

After Christine's compelling endorsement, I ended up voting for Sue Stavenau instead of Jim Oathout. I liked Sue's energy in the candidate forum and if she could pass Christine's District knowledge filter/test, she'll make a great board member.

Finally, I drove by Pilgrim Lane Elementary to confirm a rumor I had heard. Cruel irony is playing out there as PLE is the polling place for the PLE community !!! I am guessing that will definitely affect their vote as they are physically reminded that the incumbents closed their school. I wonder if it is the same for Sunny Hollow???

Any news during the day or last minute endorsements are welcome !!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

District 281 Robbinsdale Questions

Ironic Fact: G2A recently published its 200th post and yesterday finally broke the 200+ “unique readers with a month” statistic.

Now, before I lose the interest of my transient new found readers. There are many challenges still facing the Robbinsdale Area Schools and its communities:
  • 80% of the district expenses are personnel related, expenses will continue to rise. (ie pay and benefit costs increase)
  • 2 Elementary school buildings need significant renovation, and should probably be demolished and replaced with one larger and more efficient building.
  • Minnesota has frozen school funding for another year and a half, therefore cuts will need to be made somewhere.
  • RAS citizens pay one of the highest school tax rates on a percentage basis. This is because operating/renovating schools in a diverse challenging district with older buildings costs more, and the community property is worth less. (ie higher percentage)
  • The percentage of free and reduced lunch students within RAS continues to steadily and rapidly increase, due to the addition of these families and the flight of more affluent families. Though poverty is not a cause of poor academic performance or challenging students , there is a positive correlation between them. How do we keep the more affluent students while closing the academic performance gap?
Now the questions are:
  • Are you going to stay involved and informed after the election tomorrow?
  • Are you going to think beyond your own personal concerns, schedules, children, etc?
  • Are you going to roll up your sleeves and help our community work through these challenges?
  • Or not?
I’ll work to keep you informed, you just need to take the time to read my comments and some of the RAS links. And hopefully join in the dialogue !!!

Tell your friends and neighbors to google Give2Attain and get involved. Then get out and VOTE tomorrow !!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Board Candidate Preferences?

Well, Speed/R-Five and Christine have gone public with their preferences.

Speed/R-Five: Patsy Green, Linda Johnson, Tom Walsh, Richard Brynteson
Christine: Mark Bomchill, Richard Bryteson, Tom Walsh, Sue Stavenau

Here are my current choices...
G2A: Tom Walsh, Linda Johnson, Richard Brynteson, Jim Oathout(?) (Changed to Sue Stavenau when filling in the oval... See Election Day Coverage for more info)

Rationale: Tom and Linda are solid, experienced and listen to all views. Patsy is just too liberal for my tastes. (Her efforts and experience would be great if focused exclusively on the LAC. ) Other than his aversion to tests, Richard and I seem to agree on taking a pragmatic balanced view.(and he takes a position, which is refreshing...) Jim would provide a somewhat contrarian viewpoint on the board and hopefully limit "group think" from just happening. (ie devil's advocate) Besides he gives the NE area a voice and may increase the district's credibility with those citizens.

So who do you support and why? Let's get over the 10 contributor mark this time !!!!

Candidates name and Info Link
Darlene Baker, Mark Bomchill, Richard Brynteson, Patsy Green, Linda Johnson, Jim Oathout, Andrew Richter, Beth Sharpe, Sue Stavenau, Tom Walsh, Brian Zirbes

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RAS Useful Links

If you have not read yet, Speed needed to find a new service provider. Therefore the historical cross links in G2A to his site will not function once Power Blogs stops hosting his site. I plan to re-map the links when and if he is able to import his historical content to the new Typepad service.

Next question: Does anyone know who maintains 281 Exposed? Drop me an email if you do. I won't turn them in or anything... Just curious. I have met most of the people that participate in the blogs and most active school folk know who I am. The perspective makes it easier for me to communicate with them.

Also, I updated the candidate links with new endorsement letters, etc.

Speed - Final Endorsement
Speed -Third Endorsement
Speed - Meet the Candidates
Speed - Two More Endorsements to Go
Speed - Endorsement 2
Speed - Forum / Endorsement 1
Speed - Debate Question 2 (power blog)
Speed - Debate Question 1 (power blog)

DJ - Stat
DJ - The Divide
DJ - Charters

CS - Thank You (Though I missed it, Thanks for setting it up !!!)
CS - Speed Campaigning Scenes
CS - Speed Campaigning Rules

Sun - Debate Coach honored (Congrats DJ !!!!)
Sun - Voters decide...
Sun - RAS Enrollment Drops
Sun - RAS Insurance Premiums Drop
Sun - RAS Grant for Outdoor Athletics
Sun - RSI Policy
Sun - $53 million levy

TUE - Protecting Bad Teachers
281 Exposed - Meet the Contenders
281 Exposed - Charters
281 Exposed - Forum
281 Exposed - Union Label
281 Exposed -Seeking Accountability
281 Exposed - Vote Richter-Oathout

Monday, October 26, 2009

RAS Candidate Forum - Round 2

Mark your calendars and attend to learn more about the views of your candidates...

Wednesday Night - Link with Details

Only ~1 week left to make up your mind...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RAS Demographics and Class Sizes

I wanted to spend some serious time reviewing these, in order to generate some deep and meaningful thoughts. Unfortunately time is tight and my yard needs raking.... So:

I would like at least 10 of the 160 of you to give us your thoughts...
(Please share your thoughts....)
Remember joining in the conversation does not hurt nearly as bad as getting a flu shot... And it is absolutely free and anonymous... And everyone is welcome, inside the district or out... All you need are opinions and thoughts !!!

RAS Demographics and Class Sizes
(Watch the "Y" axis scale... It does not always start at zero... So trends may look more alarming than they may be... However the demographics are definitely changing significantly)

RAS School Improvement Plan

I'll leave you with only one thought for the conspiracy theorists. If the district is hiding anything, I am not sure what it is ??? After a year of digging into the District, I have never hit a closed door or a lack of data.

I think you probably need to spend more time with the District officials learning about the details... I don't agree with them occasionally, however I am not sure what needs to exposed that is not readily available to those who make the time to ask...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stress Mgmt and Funny

I ran across the following on a co-workers wall. I loved it, so I had to find and post it.

Apple Seeds: Stress Management

Apple Seeds

Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Get Ready To Rumble !!!

Don't forget !!!!

The League of Women Voters of Crystal-New Hope-East Plymouth will host a public forum for District 281 School Board candidates at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Education Service Center, 4148 Winnetka Ave. N., New Hope.

The 11 School Board candidates will introduce themselves and respond to
questions from the audience. (LINK)

The Legion was probably more fun last week, however this is pretty important and I hope you make time to attend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Supt Sicoli's Strategic Plan Thoughts

Here is an excerpt from Armstrong Parents Association's Minutes regarding Supt Sicoli's thoughts regarding the district's strategic plan. (minutes)

When asked about his thoughts on the Strategic Plan, Mr. Sicoli thought that the 24 goals were too many and the school board should focus on five priority areas. They will be presenting this at Monday’s school board work session. He felt they should talk more about implementation of plans. First would be comprehensive—telling everything they do. Second would be the changes/direction we are heading.

He thought the strengths in the district are the rigorous courses and choices that are available. The Fine Arts are something to be very proud of. He thinks the diversity is a strength. He finds the strong teaching and learning department and technology department appealing.

He feels the weaknesses in the district would be the shoring up of the science curriculum, finances and communication. He would like to see the staff included more in decisions. Mr. Sicoli feels the communication is more transparent than any other district. He thinks we need to work on the marketing of the district. He would like to change the way they do business and make decisions by having agendas and materials available in a more timely manner. He thought some decisions should be speeded up while others should be slowed down and not rushed in to.

I agree with him on most of these comments. (Priorities) However I am a fan of keeping all 24 goals visible with relative priorities. I am always concerned that only having 5 visible will lead to lower priority goals being compromised unintentionally without trade off discussions. With this in mind, sounds good !!!!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Updated Candidate Links

I updated the "Candidate Links" page with Sun Sailor:
- Candidate Statements
- Reference Letters

Access via "Candidate Links" link to the right

Saturday, October 17, 2009

District 281 School Priorties ?

Seems reviewing and discussing priorities again may be appropriate given the fast approaching election. Here are the priorities I have proposed in the past. (Criteria, Measures, see below) What priorities do you want the new school board members to support?

I believe the current board adopted the "everything to everyone" list. Which is what we asked for in the community meetings. At least during the meetings I attended, no one brought up "how to live within a budget?" or "what is more important, academic gap closure or orchestra/sports?". No, folks just described the things that were memorable from their childhood and therefore important to them. And when you add together the wish lists of ~1,000 "school focused" citizens who are willing to make time to attend strategy meetings, we get the "everything to everyone" list.

This is great if you do not have any fiscal constraints and you are succeeding at all of the items on the list. However, it does not work well in our current situation when trade offs are required. Where is the guidance to the administration when cuts need to be made? When push comes to shove, what really is important in our communities and our schools?

G2A's Proposal on School Priorities:

  1. All students graduate with the core knowledge necessary to pursue further education or begin employment at a typical American institution/company. (ie English reading, English writing, math, science, history, social studies, ~2 yrs foreign language, etc) (ie basic values, work ethic, citizenship, personal health, personal finance, etc)
  2. Student's are challenged in these subjects per their physical and mental capability. (ie special education limitations, standard, pre-college, etc)
  3. Basic broadening and appreciation experiences are provided. (ie basic art, basic music, typical sports, early language/culture awareness, etc.)
  4. Special skills and knowledge training is offered if all of the above are being met or exceeded. (ie 2nd language fluency, atypical sports, artistic expertise, etc.)In summary: We pay for schools to provide smart, balanced, productive, etc citizens in order to continue or improve the American way of life.

Now, remember that financial and management transparency are base expectations. These can not be traded off and should be relatively inexpensive, therefore I do not list them.

Thoughts encouraged !!! What do you want the school district to look like in 3 years? If funding stays flat, what should go first, second, third, etc? What needs to be maintained and delivered no matter what?

Remember: have your friends google give2attain !!! The more the merrier, the better the ideas/discussion and everyone is welcome!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Poor Disappointed Dog

Well, the family and I are taking advantage of the MEA long weekend to visit Grandma and Grandpa just South of Canby, MN. The kids will get to play with the cousins and breathe some fresh country air... So why is this post called "My Poor Disappointed Dog".

Well, I typically take Cassie out pheasant hunting at this time of year. I love walking with her and watching her work. The only problem is that I am a very poor shot. Therefore she works very hard, scares up birds and I typically miss. Then she comes back to me with that look...

The upside is that she is very forgiving, and still seems to love me. Even if I can't hit the broad side of a barn. Thank heavens for dogs...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to Fix District 281?

Here are some useful links that are worth watching.

I am weary of folks being critical and not offering actionable ideas. So I have posed a challenge on both Speed and 281 Exposed. Let's see where the comments go.

Speed - Achievement Gap
281 Exposed - Tyrrell quote

Please feel free to leave improvement ideas here if you have some. Remember the goal is to close the achievement gap without increasing the budget.... This is a brainstorming exercise, all ideas are welcome. Thanks

One correction: leaving things as they are isn't an option, it just isn't working...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Working Knowledge of MN School Funding

Last week I attended the following, and I whole heartedly agree that the LAC Education Forum was very successful and informative !!!!!

At first I thought Tim was talking too fast and that we would be done in no time. Amazingly he had enough content to fill up over an hour with interesting information. Approximately 40 people attended including 4 State politicians and quite a few board members / board member candidates from several school districts. Along with yours truly and many other interested citizens. Thanks again to the LAC members for setting it up !!!

"The Robbinsdale Area Schools' Legislative Action Coalition (LAC) hosted an event entitled, "A Working Knowledge of Education Funding is Possible!" Tim Strom, from the nonpartisan Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department and one of the most knowledgeable K-12 education finance experts in the state of Minnesota, was the presenter."

Presentation Powerpoint
Presentation Video

District 281 LAC Page
School Finance - Legislator's Guide
Last Years School Funding 101
Last Years MN Miracle Presentation

Any thoughts or questions ????

Thursday, October 8, 2009

RAS Useful Blog Links

Enjoy and comments encouraged

Speed - Unions No?
Speed - Death By Committee
Speed - Seven come Eleven

Sun: 11 File
Sun: Levy
Sun: RSIS Policy
The Voter Sept/Oct

281 Exposed - Candidate Events
281 Exposed - 11 file to run for school board
281 Exposed - 281 Officials Scramble

DJ's Tests, Tests, Tests
DJ's Financial Responsibility
DJ's Issues, Issues, Issues
DJ's No Endorsement

RAS School Board Candidate Links

Well no one asked to post, however here are the links. I'll correct and add as I find more.

Sun Sailor RAS Board Candidate Statements
District Candidate Link Document
District Election Site

Darlene Baker, Plymouth

Mark Bomchill, Plymouth – Endorsed by RFT
- Letter by Denise Loidolt
- Letter by Teacher's Union

Richard J. Brytnteson, Crystal

Patsy Green, New Hope – Incumbent, Endorsed by RFT
- Letter by Kami Aho
- Letter by Leesa Avila
- Letter by Tarnowski's
- Letter by Teacher's Union

Linda Johnson, Golden Valley – Incumbent, Endorsed by RFT
- Letter by Blonigan's
- Letter by Gail Vold Greco
- Letter by George Abide
- Letter by Teacher's Union

Jim Oathout, Crystal
- Letter by Chris Grace
- Letter by Dale Bartholomew

Andrew Richter, Crystal
- Letter by Chris Grace

Beth Sharpe, Brooklyn Center

Sue Stavenau, Plymouth

Tom Walsh, Plymouth – Incumbent, Endorsed by RFT
- Letter by Tom Ross
- Letter by Bruce Rader
- Letter by George Abide
- Letter by Teacher's Union

Brian Zirbes, Crystal.

General Links
- Letter by Todd McIntyre

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life and the 8th Habit

Here are some useful graphics from an excellent book. "The 8th Habit" by Stephen Covey.

Hopefully these teasers will generate some comments and get folks to read more of Covey's work.

I hope my next post will be on RAS stuff, however work has been pretty chaotic of late !!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Leaders: Serving vs Self Serving

Time for another book report. This book is called "The Secret - What Great Leaders Know and Do" by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. I bought the book because I love pretty much anything I have ever read by Ken Blanchard, not knowing that this was regarding a topic near and dear to my heart. That topic being Servant Leadership.

Ken almost always partners with someone new for each book. Then they collaborate and write an incredible, and short, fiction book that teaches powerful messages in a enjoyable and memorable way.

If you are unfamiliar with the terms, I have no doubt you are familiar with the concepts. There are 2 primary ways to lead and manage people, and most of us have a history with both. The first is often known as Directive, Top down, Authoritative, "my way or the highway", "I am the boss so I make the decisions", etc. Often this method is used by people that think they are smarter than their subordinates or are busy "self serving" their own interests. Typically the subordinates do as they are told to keep their jobs (provide their hands), however they often withdraw their creativity, passion, energy, head and heart to the minimal acceptable level.

The alternative is known as Supportive, Collaborative, Servant Leadership, etc. In this paradigm the Mgr, Spvr, Leader, etc's primary role is to set SMART expectations, guide and enable. They understand that the only way to maximize success and truly get 100+% out of the followers / partners is to win their hearts, and then their heads and hands. This is especially critical in our current knowledge based economy.

Ken and Mark propose the following:
  • See the Future
  • Engage and Develop Others
  • Reinvent Continuously
  • Value Results and Relationships
  • Embody the Values
First, you must be willing and able to see the destination. How effective would a trail guide be that did not know where the group was ultimately going during the trip, or where the camp sites were along the way???

Second, you need to recruit and select the right people for the right job. Then you need to do whatever it takes to engage their hearts, heads and hands.

Third, you must be willing to continuously ask how am I learning and growing as a leader? What am I doing to promote the same in others? Are we working to reinvent the systems and processes? Are we reinventing the organizational structure when it is necessary?

Fourth, you need to focus on both getting results and developing excellent relationships. Both are critical to be successful over the long term.

Fifth, you must walk the talk if you want people to trust and follow you !!!!

As always, read the book because they explain it much better. Second, do you think my belief "that Servant Leadership is super" is mistaken because it is too soft and impractical !!! Or is it the only way to compete effectively in our rapidly changing business, social and political environment !!! Thoughts and comments encouraged !!! (Ref Type X, Y, Z)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

To: RAS 281 School Board Candidates

Free Advertising Space for ALL Candidates
If you have a message regarding why citizens should vote for you and what you want to accomplish as a Board Member, I am happy to work with you to post it on Give2Attain.
Or if you have a web page, facebook site, etc. I will happily provide a link.
Get your message out there NOW!!!
Only 33 days Left of the Campaign!!!
The advantage: Easy access to 140+ of the most active RAS citizens/administrators, they can post comments/questions and you can post comments/answers !!!!
The disadvantage: Your positions and views will be clearly documented for ever... (for better or worse)
Write to me at give2get@live.com if you are interested. I am open to all political, religious, etc affiliations and am maintaining my neutrality during the campaign. (at least til I know more...)
By the way, no negative campaigning will be allowed. (ie see G2A Rules)

Monday, September 28, 2009

RDale 281: Chickens or Eggs

After reading about "Why Pay More?", Christine and I worked ourselves into an uncomfortable question. Which came first the chicken or the egg?
  • Egg: District 281 has failed to provide adequate programs, performance, results, stability, etc. Therefore middle and upper middle class families and students are fleeing their community schools by moving, open enrolling, intradistrict transfers, private schools, charter schools, home schooling, etc.
  • Chicken: Middle and upper middle class families and students are fleeing their community schools for many good and poor reasons, leaving the community schools with a higher percentage of children that are harder and more expensive to instruct. Therefore the district has less funding to provide adequate programs, performance, results, stability, etc for the rest of the students.

A point to remember when considering this puzzle. For the previous period of economic growth, many young middle and upper middle class families were thinking of that "dream home". There are few new home developments in the RAS borders, therefore many families moved to greener developments... With this in mind, who in our modern time wanted to move into a small old ranch home with a one car or detached garage?

Also, it seems most folks think diversity is good, unless that diversity could maybe possibly cause some disruption in their child's classroom, development, school, etc.

Finally, has RAS and the local communities kept their heads buried in the sand as the diversity and poverty rate kept increasing? I don't know, however this was, is and will be a huge challenge that needs to be faced.... Probably through the schools, community programs and housing redevelopment.

Being one of those middle to upper middle income households, I can quite honestly say that the dream house and referendum woes almost had us moving several times. However I kept wondering what the "fighting for your community" meant with regard to the choice??? Still here and pondering... Thoughts welcome !!!