Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Please Help Me !!! I'm Powerless !!!

I'll make this one short.  I thought it was odd that the President of America asked for TV airtime to plead his case to raise taxes and somewhat villify the GOP folks...  What did you think of the plea to the public? And the comments made by Obama and Boehner?

Another thing I thought was odd that Obama tried to imply that raising the debt ceiling has historically been no big deal.  And that the GOP blocking it is somehow inappropriate...

My thought is that maybe if others had blocked it more often, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Parents United Liberal Editorial

I know I should not have expected any different, yet I had hope.  However as is often the case, PU is taking shots at the GOP.

Parents United 22Jul11: The Liberal Editorial...
Parents United Home

From our Finland discussions, I find it interesting that the USA has one of the most expensive educational systems and yet lack luster results.  Yet the Liberal folk that praise the Fins, would say that the USA's poor academic performance is because we are providing inadequate funding...

MAKE UP YOUR MINDS !!!!   If our funding is high and our results are not, then the Educational System is broken !!!  Not our funding of it !!!

With this in mind, if Finland spends less and gets more...  What is our Educational System doing wrong and how are they going to change to fix it?  Other than asking for MORE MONEY? (ie apparently we are already number ONE in spending...)

Who is paid too much?  Who is not productive or effective?  Do we have too many ineffective personnel?  Too good of benefits?  Are we teaching too many subjects?  Is are curriculum totally ineffective? Too many or too nice of buildings?  Too many buses?

If we are spending more the the Fins and getting less, where is it going?

Star Trib: Big Changes

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finland and Education

Annie posted this link and comment recently:

Salon: How Finland became an Educational Leader
"A new documentary is being released on how Finland has achieved educational success in the past 30 years or so. I'm looking forward to the film; here's an interview with the director about the high level of accountability required of the teachers, and the virtual absence of tests.
Basically, they put a vast responsibility on the teachers' shoulders, but they then afford them respect, prestige, compensation, and autonomy.

No, you can't compare Finland to the US. But you CAN compare it to Minnesota. And you CAN find important reforms that will work here."
I read the article and I was curious:
  • How they made the transition to only 1 out of 10 applicants were deemed qualified to be hired as a Teacher?
  • What did they do with all the "existing Teachers" that did not meet the new criteria?
  • How do they attract these very qualified to this "high prestige", yet not necessarily "high compensation" career? 
Because if we were to adopt this model in Minnesota, these are some of the Change Resistance issues we would need to address.
Other Links:
BBC Finland's School Results
History of Finland's Reform
Ecoles: Limitations of Finnish Ed
Wiki Finland Demographics
Note: looks like Finland just started to allow immigration in last ~10 yrs.  Not sure what that means.
Wiki Minnesota Demographics

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Kitchen Table Economics and Natl Debt

This sounded kind of familiar...  Any thoughts where this potential train wreck is headed?

MSNBC Kitchen Table

I always enjoy leading teams when they run into significant hurdles, people are fixed in their view of reality, and the end of the train track comes into view.  It is at these times when the team members usually pull their heads out their lower extremities and some "Creative Conflict" takes place...

Remember that it is hard for teams to truly "Perform" until they have successfully passed through "Form", "Storm", and "Norm".   Wiki Team Dev 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Compromise Reached in Minnesota

Well, it looks like compromise was finally achieved in Minnesota.  I may get to see those MCA II and AYP results sooner than later...

Now based on the 15Jul11 ParentsUnited update, it looks like the Liberals will be viewing this as a loss for their side.  In fact the quote by Sen Tom Bakk is priceless...
"But let’s be very clear about what this budget deal means for Minnesota: rather than asking the richest 0.3% of Minnesotans to pay their fair share, Republicans instead chose to solve the state’s budget crisis with a borrow-and-spend proposal that does nothing to solve the long-term financial challenges."
As we have discussed before, it seems to me the "rich" are paying their share and that of about another 40+% of the MN population...  As we know of course, someone has to be paying the fair share of those that pay little or no taxes. (since those individuals certainly are not)

I of course see it as a true compromise, in maybe the worst way...  The LEFT and RIGHT are again agreeing to SPEND MONEY THEY DO NOT HAVE !!!  And since they can not take out an operating loan or create a true "State Operating Debt", they make the school districts and others do it for them.  They force the schools to do this by increasing the payment shift to a WHOPPING 60% upfront and 40% at the end, vs the historical 90/10 split !!!.

Well let's just pray that the MN economy booms in a good way soon so that the State revenues start increasing sooner than later.  This reliance on debt by our Federal and State governments is REALLY BAD and CONCERNING...

Thoughts regarding this "compromising" agreement to take out loans and keep spending like drunken sailors?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parents United Wants to Revise NCLB ?

What Timing...  I post regarding the Gold Std yesterday (ie MCA, AYP, NCLB, etc) and some folks from Parents United drop me an email asking me to lobby for significant changes to NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND today.  Of course being a huge advocate of NCLB and PDCA I will be deleting this, or lobbying folks to reauthorize NCLB with few or no changes.

Or maybe we should go back to the 1990's where we just trusted the Educational Establishment to take care of the kids...  Oh yeah, I forgot that that led to a very large group of students being passed through the system that were not capable of Reading, Writing or doing Math !!!!  While Educational Spending just continued to increase and Productivity was stagnant at BEST !!!  The Lucky students got more and the Unlucky students were forgotten ...

If you are not measuring something and taking aggressive action based on that result, you will probably NOT attain the GOAL.  PDCA is not OPTIONAL, it is REQUIRED to drive System Improvements.  NCLB and AYP are NECESSARY to hold the Educational Establishment ACCOUNTABLE and to force them to PRIORITIZE around the NATION's needs !!! (ie responsible young adults that can read, write, do math, know science, communicate, solve problems, etc)

Schools can not do this without good Parenting and Community Support, but the Schools must meet their obligations and focus appropriately.  Below are the letter and some related links...  What are your thoughts regarding NCLB and its reauthorization?

"Dear friends of public schools,

Congress is discussing reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. We have been in contact with members of the Minnesota delegation encouraging them to replace the current law with policies and resources that will better serve our children and their schools.

Minnesota’s leaders are positioned to play a significant role in writing the legislation.

Congressman John Kline (R-MN 2nd District) chairs the Education Committee and Senator Al Franken is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

We invite you to contact Congressman Kline and Senator Franken as well as your own Congressional representative.

To assist you, we have crafted a letter you may tailor, sign and send. Please help us encourage others to take action by sending a copy to Parents United for Public Schools at parentsunitedmn@gmail.com or 1667 Snelling Avenue North, St. Paul MN 55108.

Thank you."

Parents United NCLB Lobby Letter
Parents United: NCLB in MN Pg

Dept of Ed: Strengthening NCLB
G2A No More NCLB ?
G2A NCLB and Teaching to the Test?
G2A Sir, The Class is Too HARD
G2A Why High Educational Stds are NOT OPTIONAL !!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Reason to End the Shutdown...

RAS MAP Results: Promising

Now I am anxious for the end of the shutdown...  I mean MAP testing is beneficial in some ways...  But the gold standard in MN are the MCA's, and usually they are published by the MN Dept of Educ about this time.  I assume we will just have to wait patiently to see how the local Districts performed this year !!!

While we wait, here are the links to some of last years posts on the topic.

Poor Kids: Stupid or Unlucky?
Just One More
A Comparison
One More Try
Data Manipulation
MCA Reporting OOPs

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Minnesota Critical Services ?

Like the Energizer Bunny, the gridlock keeps going.  I find the discussions regarding "Critical Services" and "Self Funded Entities" most interesting.  Some questions that come to mind....
  • Why shut down State Parks on the one week/weekend when User Fees probably exceed actual cost?
  • Why the delay in keeping the Zoo open?  You are continuing to feed the animals anyway...
  • Do more things become Critical the longer the State is shutdown?
  • Why are Politicians given the choice regarding turning down their salary?  Shouldn't that have been one of the first things cut? 

Star Tribune Same gulf divides
Star Tribune What's Open/Closed?
Star Tribune MN Zoo Open
Star Tribune More Things Critical
MinnPost Impact on Non-Profits
Forbes MN Gov't Shutdown
MinnPost Soving Shutdown
CBS News MN Shutdown Commentary