Monday, November 17, 2008

Framing for the Proposed Legislation (Previous Post)

Stephen Dill proposes a 21st Century system based on these objectives:
  1. Extend education throughout life. Make it a part of our daily lives and have it begin with birth and end soon after death.
  2. Take education out of centralized buildings (schools) and make it the responsibility of the family, community, nation, and the world.
  3. Leverage technology to enable everyone to have access to the same resources.


Let’s look at this from the perspective of the individual and step it out to the world.


  • Youth education is seen as a family function, augmented by a volunteer force of seniors, retirees, and experts available in the immediate and adjacent communities performing the roles of teacher, coach and mentor.
  • Youth education begins in the home using modules with lessons for parent, child and siblings.
  • Individual education is an individual’s obligation to society, advocated by federal law, supported by employers, communities and families.
  • Course topics cross all philosophies, languages, religions and beliefs for the old and the young they are teaching.
  • Team teaching is carried out in playgroups in neighborhoods in homes, community centers, parks and businesses. Groups of adults of all ages with similar interests meet in public and corporate settings as well as virtually within collaborative Web environments. Parents and children gather in homes and community centers, sharing interests and research and reporting progress among peers.
  • When the individual exhibits enough maturity, progress is self-determined, self-monitored and presented to the relevant communities for input and use by others.
  • Learning happens in life: in the workplace, the libraries, on the farms, in the factories of the immediate and adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Scheduling, networking and cross leveling of resources is supported online.
  • Education is not seen as a formal stage of life, instead a life-long habit of reading, reflecting, exchanging and growing.

US education system

  • Facilitates discussions about learning, living and life.
  • Teaches self esteem, self-confidence and the value of improving one’s self, community, nation, world and legacy.
  • Gradually returns school buildings to alternative uses.

US culture

  • Gradually encourages lifelong learning
  • Respect for generations, races and all differences is built into every person’s thinking as they learn to rely on more and more people in order to learn, to carry out their obligation.

World culture

  • Understanding and respect for nationalities, beliefs, generations, races and all differences is built into every person’s thinking as they learn to rely on more and more people in order to learn, to carry out their obligation.
Provided: By Don Carli

NSF ITEST Grant Advisory Board Member's Proposed Legislation FITS!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Disruption Seeks/Creates Cracks in the SILO!

Published Online: October 28, 2008
Published in Print: November 5, 2008

Scholars Discuss 'Disruptive Innovation' in K-12 Education

A latecomer to a panel discussion this week on “disruptive innovation” in K-12 education and health care may have suspected that he or she had entered the wrong room.

The main speaker, Clayton M. Christensen, was talking about the steel industry, not education or health. Then he discussed the automobile, radio, microchip, and software industries.

To Mr. Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, those industries offer profound lessons for K-12 schooling. In every case, the introduction of a new technology led to the upending of the established leaders by upstart entrants, he explained at an Oct. 27 panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute.

See Also
What technological innovations have changed the way you teach and the way your students learn? Share your experiences in our forum.

Mr. Christensen, the lead author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, said similar changes will soon happen to public school districts, as providers of virtual schooling gradually claim more and more students, starting with those who are poorly served by their current schools.

'No Stupidity'

The book, published last spring and co-authored by Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, predicts that those changes will accelerate until, by 2019, roughly half of all high school courses will be taken online. ("Online Education Cast as 'Disruptive Innovation'," May 7, 2008.)

To the roomful of policy experts and educators at the think tank’s luncheon meeting, Mr. Christensen explained that the leading companies did not lose their primacy through their managers’ incompetence. Instead, it was because they obeyed two hallowed principles of business: First, listen to your best customers and give them what they want; and second, invest where the profit margin is most attractive.

Rather, businesses need to be willing to act in ways that may be opposed to their short-term interests, and that lower their costs and simplify their products or services, making them more attractive to a larger pool of potential customers.

“It’s a story with no villains and no stupidity,” noted Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the AEI and the moderator of the discussion.

Mr. Horn, who runs Innosight Institute, a think tank in Watertown, Mass., devoted to Mr. Christensen’s theories, was on a panel at the event. Outlining the application to education, he cited Harvard education professor Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and said “children’s need for customization collides with schools’ imperative for standardization.”

The billions of dollars that have been invested to put computers into schools have failed to make a difference because “we have crammed them into conventional classrooms,” said Mr. Horn.

Schools and students have not been able to reap the benefits of technology, he said, because of the web of constraints—called “interdependencies”—that schools have not been able to escape, including the organization of the school day, the division of learning in academic disciplines, the architecture of school buildings, and the federal, state, and local mandates that educators must obey.


On hand at the Oct. 27 event as the official “responder and raconteur” was education expert Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington.

Perhaps to the surprise of some in the audience, Mr. Finn generally agreed with Mr. Christensen’s and Mr. Horn’s arguments.

Mr. Finn, who served in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan administration, had two main points of contention. First, he disliked the authors’ reliance on Mr. Gardner’s theories, which, he asserted, are dismissed by “respectable cognitive psychologists.”

On that point, the authors are “wrong, but it doesn’t matter,” he concluded. “Gardner or no, I’m still in favor of greater individualization and customization of education.”

Second, Mr. Finn said, he thinks the authors have underestimated the power of politics to stymie the change in education, because in most cases it is the schools, not the students, that are the purchasers of the new technology-driven forms of education.

That means virtual schools will face “resistance and pushback and hubris, and a sort of smugness” from public education, Mr. Finn said.

As a result, he said, he did not expect regular public schools to become the “main route” for new technologies to be applied to K-12 education.

Mr. Finn added that a more likely route was for charter schools and families to purchase the technology directly, possibly in the form of supplemental private education, perhaps subsidized by philanthropies.

"Field Trip?" (Pontiac Northern High School)

Committee seeks input from community on Pontiac schools

Monday, November 3, 2008 5:38 PM EST

Of The Oakland Press

The day after voters decide who they want for president of the United States, a new community advisory committee is asking residents in the Pontiac district to help redesign schools.

This is the first of four forums planned before the advisory committee makes its recommendations and the board makes its decisions for the next school year.

Merging Pontiac Central and Northern into one high school and closing middle and elementary schools are possibilities as school officials reel from another major decline in enrollment and loss of state funds. The district is operating schools for 20,000 students when enrollment this year is down to only about 7,100.

At the same time, school officials want to improve academic programs, with such possibilities as creating magnet middle schools and smaller themed academies within the high school.

The district could have a deficit as high as $6.5 million by June 30, and even more by next school year if major restructuring is not accomplished. The district may lose as much as $8 million in state aid due to an enrollment decline of around 1,000 students. In addition, budgeted revenue from property sales and contract negotiations has not been realized.

The audit for the 2007-08 school year was recently completed by Plante and Moran accountants and will be made public Nov. 10. It should give the district and taxpayers a more clear idea of where the district stands financially.

Acting Superintendent Linda Paramore said two weeks ago that she has initiated an executive order that will cut some costs immediately.

Paramore and the school board also called together the advisory committee for the “Redesign of Pontiac Schools for Instructional Effectiveness and Financial Efficiency” to help ensure the community has a say in the major, and likely controversial, changes that will be made. The committee includes City Council members, business people, representatives of various ethnic groups and various parts of the community, clergy, school administrators and three board members.

Chairman of the advisory committee is board President Damon Dorkins. Chairman of the instructional subcommittee is board Vice President Gill Garrett and the finance subcommittee chairwoman is board Treasurer Karen Cain.

Merging Pontiac Northern and Pontiac Central high schools and closing one of the buildings is a controversial possibility, as is closing one or more neighborhood schools. Therefore, the board wants the decision to be made based on input from the community forums.

School officials hope that closing schools will free up money for improving the educational programs to retain or bring back some students who have left for other districts or charter schools.

This school year the board voted against closing Lincoln Middle School as proposed, and to keep sixth graders in elementary school instead of moving them on to middle school. Data showed test scores indicate sixth graders do better on their MEAP tests in the elementary school environment.

The district also created a district-wide preschool academy to prepare children for kindergarten and a more successful school career with its special programs.

In addition, the board approved a new police authority corps under Security Chief Darryl Cosby, with the goal of creating a safe school environment for learning. The new corps have arrest powers for misdemeanor cases, unlike previous security officers. The specially trained school police authority officers work with two Pontiac police officers who handle felony arrests while school officers handle misdemeanors.

Dorkins and Garrett said the people they have talked to in the community say they understand something has to be done — that buildings have to be closed.

But the Oakland Press readers who commented on the proposal to merge high schools to save money and have improved academic programs are adamantly against the idea.

Contact staff writer Diana Dillaber Murray at (248) 745-4638 or

Sunday, November 02, 2008



It’s No Time to Forget About Innovation

James Yang

Published: November 1, 2008

BY its very nature, innovation is inefficient. While blockbusters do emerge, few of the new products or processes that evolve from innovative thinking ultimately survive the test of time. During periods of economic growth, such inefficiencies are chalked up as part of the price of forging into the future.

But these aren’t such times. Wild market gyrations, frozen credit markets and an overall sour economy herald a new round of corporate belt-tightening. Foremost on the target list is anything inefficient. That’s bad news for corporate innovation, and it could spell trouble for years to come, even after the economy turns around.

“To be honest, we had a problem with innovation even before the economic crisis. That’s the reason I wrote my book,” says Judy Estrin, former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems and author of “Closing the Innovation Gap.” “We’re focusing on the short term and we’re not planting the seeds for the future.”

In tough times, of course, many companies have to scale back. But, she says: “To quote Obama, you don’t use a hatchet. You use a scalpel. Leaders need to pick and choose with great care.”

There are important things managers can do to ensure that creative forward-thinking doesn’t go out the door with each round of layoffs. Fostering a companywide atmosphere of innovation — encouraging everyone to take risks and to think about novel solutions, from receptionists to corner-suite executives — helps ensure that the loss of any particular set of minds needn’t spell trouble for the entire company.

She suggests instilling five core values to entrench innovation in the corporate mind-set: questioning, risk-taking, openness, patience and trust. All five must be used together — risk-taking without questioning leads to recklessness, she says, while patience without trust sets up an every-man-for-himself mentality.

In an era of Six Sigma black belts and brown belts, Ms. Estrin urges setting aside certain efficiency measures in favor of what she calls “green-thumb leadership” — a future-oriented management style that understands, and even encourages, taking risks. Let efficiency measures govern the existing “factory farm,” she says, but create greenhouses and experimental gardens along the sides of the farm to nurture the risky investments that likely will take a number of years to bear fruit.

“I’m not suggesting you only cut from today’s stuff and keep the future part untouched,” she says. “You have to balance it.”

Yet even that approach has its drawbacks. Companies that create silos of innovation by designating one group as the “big thinkers” while making others handle day-to-day concerns risk losing their innovative edge if any of the big thinkers leave the company or ultimately must be laid off.

“Innovation has to be embedded in the daily operation, in the entire work force,” says Jon Fisher, a business professor, serial entrepreneur, and author of “Strategic Entrepreneurism,” which advocates building a start-up’s business from the beginning with an eye toward selling the company. “A large acquirer’s interest in a start-up or smaller company is binary in nature: They either want you or they don’t, based on the innovation you have to offer. The best way to foster innovation is to create something, put it to the test, build a good company and then get it under the umbrella of a world-renowned company to move it forward.”

David Thompson, chief executive and co-founder of Inc., based in San Mateo, Calif., says that innovation “has a bad name in down times” but that “bad times focus the mind and the best-focused minds in the down times are looking for the opportunities.”

“You do have to batten down the hatches and reduce expenses, but you can’t do it at the expense of the big picture,” Mr. Thompson adds. “You always have to keep in mind the bigger picture that’s coming down the road in two or three years.

“The last thing you want to do with innovation is just throw money at it. It’s a very tricky balance.”

In fact, hard times can be the source of innovative inspiration, says Chris Shipley, a technology analyst and executive producer of the DEMO conferences, where new ideas make their debuts. “Some of the best products and services come out of some of the worst times,” she says. In the early 1990s, tens of millions of dollars had gone down the drain in a futile effort to develop “pen computing” — an early phase of mobile computing — and a recession was shriveling the economic outlook.

Yet the tiny Palm Computing managed to revitalize the entire industry in a matter of months by transforming itself overnight from a software maker into a hardware company.

“Our biggest challenge right now is fear,” she says. “The worst thing that a company can do right now is go into hibernation, into duck-and-cover. If you just sit on your backside and wait for things to get better, they’re not going to. They’re going to get better for somebody, but not necessarily for you.”

HOWARD LIEBERMAN, also a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute, says innovation breeds effectiveness. It’s not about efficiency, he argues. “Efficiency is for bean counters,” he says. “It’s not for C.E.O.’s or inventors or founders.”

The current economic downturn comes as no surprise to him, he says, because it mirrors the downturn at the time of the dot-com bust. Then and now, the companies that survive are those that keep creativity and innovation foremost.

“Creativity doesn’t care about economic downturns,” Mr. Lieberman says. “In the middle of the 1970s, when we were having a big economic downturn, both Apple and Microsoft were founded. Creative people don’t care about the time or the season or the state of the economy; they just go out and do their thing.”

Janet Rae-Dupree writes about science and emerging technology in Silicon Valley.