December 2007 Archives

I needed to provide more services with fewer resources, and I needed to do it quickly,” Dr. Van Handel said.... So he sought help from a surprising source -- teachers with postgraduate degrees, half a world away in India.

Industry access to Washington policy is predominately through Republican and conservative doors. Until that changes, we are subject to “material” political risk.... Our trade groups need to attract Democrats, while maintaining ties to Republicans. The industry must create a political base pegged on the vital center.

The demand for third party school improvement program evaluation services will only grow over the next decade.

The new version of the DC law strikes me as an awkward attempt to split the difference between the pure "at will" employment status the Mayor and and Chancellor want for the Central Office staff, and the constitutional entitlement they have to their jobs today. (Is that another way of saying it combines northern charm with southern efficiency?)

I never intended to get into the District of Columbia Public Schools reorganization mess to the extent I have. The more I learned, the more I thought that Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s strategy, and Mayor Adrian Fenty’s support, offered a great opportunity to explore school district management. There’s something important to be learned out on the bleeding edge.

When the stakes are perhaps several decades of expenses associated with the education of every Texas preschooler, prudent decision makers should establish a timetable of and conditions for “go/no go” decisions.

There are many routes to competitive advantage in a fragmented market but, if fragmentation is structural, consolidation is not one. Providers will need to develop coping strategies, accept sub-par returns, or exit.

Each school may apply for up to $1,000 per classroom teacher and one principal or assistant principal per school for physical education professional development not to exceed $30,000 per school....

Apparently the purchasing office decided the work could not be justified as a sole source contract, and so constructed this erstaz competition.

An in-depth response to reader comments on my December 13 posting.

Both Edison and K12 opened at $18 per share, but investors were more enthusiastic in 1999. Edison raised $122.5 million to K12’s $108 million. Edison went from an $18 IPO to a penny stock in less than five years. While Edison founder Chris Whittle moved on, small investors lost their equity when the firm went private in 2003. Caveat emptor!

The strategy pursued by Fenty and Rhee is not in the best interests of the school improvement industry because centralization with a corporate face will favor firms with the scale required to support large one-size-fits-all district-wide school contracts and a few people with ties to the Chancellor.

Last week‘s letter concluded that the school improvement industry is fragmented for most of the reasons identified by Prof. Porter in Competitive Strategy (1980); not merely the “newness” that goes with emergence. This week's reviews the prospects for industry consolidation.

For the school improvement provider seeking international work, this RFP seems like an ideal first step.

Were I managing a small to medium sized for- or nonprofit school improvement provider, I’d be looking for multi-year funding opportunities, in areas the large publishers avoid, where local connections work to my advantage.

Yesterday, I provided provisions of the District of Columbia Code relevant to the present debate over the status of employees in the DC Public Schools central office. Today, my analysis. It maybe somewhat unexpected.

Media interest in District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty's proposal to make the public school system's central office staff "at will" employees, with job security subject to the sole discretion of Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has focused on politics rather than content. Let's compare current law with what the Mayor and Chancellor request.

While the Education Industry Association and its Supplementary Educational Services (SES) subcommittee are actively representing and often defending the interests of the SES provider industry, we are keenly aware that we must also defend high ethical standards.

After five years of failing to make AYP put a school into restructuring, another three to four years of failure should leave no reasonable doubt that the school is educationally bankrupt. As a practical matter the school needs to go out of business as an institution.

The school improvement industry’s current fragmentation follows from several factors besides "newness." Is the condition permanent or amenable to change?

Other things being equal, the RFP favors contractors with local staff. However, the prospect of selling additional school improvement products and services argues for thinking about this - and costing it - in comparison with traditional customer acquisition strategies. In a way, RFP winners will be paid to market their other offerings.

Work for Native American children that doesn’t look like it will be subject to the competition most likely to get those kids the best service at the best price.

Does evaluation prove out the idea that older teachers add more value to student performance in inner city settings? in any setting? in general?

It is because I agree with the objectives of Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee so strongly that I disagree with them on strategy so vehemently . I can't think of an approach less likely to achieve our shared ends. And their failure is bound to set back reform efforts across the nation for years to come.


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