Monday, March 21, 2005

Business Roundtable Issues National Apology

PRESS RELEASE: March 21, 2035

In a shocking departure from past practice, The Business Roundtable has released a national apology to all American's for it's role in toppling America from it's century long position as the world's leading creator of technologies, products and services that made Americans the envy of the world.

In the 1980's a group of CEO's, calling themselves the Roundtable, created an agenda based on increasing academic standards in America. In later years they supported NCLB legislation at the national level and determined that NCLB would be the vehicle for driving up academic standards. At that time they reported, "There still is a long way to go before we see U.S. education performance that meets or exceeds the best in the world."

However, 30 plus years later, The Business Roundtable has finally admitted that while America is now ranked number one in the world on standardized tests, they may have been playing the wrong game.

In a press conference on March 21, 2035, a Business Roundtable member, said, "It was so deceptive to think that all we needed to do was to hold students and schools accountable with high stakes testing. We had no idea at the time there was a downside to excessive testing. We just wanted to be the best in the world. Who would have known that one reason America led the world in the creation of new ideas, was that schools taught an eclectic combination of content with surprising creativity and hands-on-instruction. It evidently developed students into creative, yet productive citizens that developed products and services that the entire world sought after. Or a least it used to."

"Compared to other countries, we had one of the most comprehensive curriculums in the world. We had no idea that the Art, Music, PE, Health, Social Studies and Athletics all contributed to the rich, comprehensive broad-based backgrounds that actually promoted creativity and independent thought. The simple, but deceptive idea that most of what is important in school can be measured by a one-shot standardized test was too much for us to pass up."

"We now regret the fact that educators took us seriously and actually limited their curriculum and instruction to help students pass these tests we held them accountable to. In the meantime, at our insistence, they quit teaching all the creative things that developed such entrepreneurs in the past."

"Now, that we are number one in the world on these tests, we find ourselves well below number one in the most important category, creating new ideas and technologies."

A CEO from Florida, Al A. Gator, stated, "We thought we were on firm ground with NCLB but it turned out to be swamp." A CEO from Arizona, stated, "NCLB led America into a box canyon." The CEO from Bath and Body Works stated, "We threw the baby out with the bathwater!"

A chief spokesperson for the Business Roundtable noted wryly, "While we were preoccupied with being number one, no one questioned if we were playing the right game. We used to just outsource manufacturing to get cheap labor. We knew we didn't lead the world in manufacturing, but now we no longer lead the world in creation of new ideas either. Thirty-five straight years of trying to bubble in little circles have left American students a little short on the things that really matter. We got our wish. We are number one, but now we are lagging behind."


At Monday, March 21, 2005, Anonymous old retired businessman said...

USA TODAY -- May 2025 – Entrepreneurs & Education: Two Decades of Revolutionary Change

Initiated by President George Bush and accelerated by Presidents Jeb Bush and Jenna Bush, changes in U.S. education in the past 20 years have been transformative. A veteran teacher from 2005 would hardly recognize the education system of 2025.

Today, over 200 independent companies educate nearly one-half of U.S. students. These private sector entrepreneurs have generated a surge of innovation and creativity in the delivery and evaluation of education and have spurred the public school system to copy their major improvements.

They have taken imaginative, technologically sophisticated approaches to imparting knowledge and critical thinking skills to American children. Not only has the level of achievement increased, but entrepreneurial ingenuity has actually reduced the per student cost of education (adjusted for inflation) while increasing the number of classroom teachers.

Some of the educational innovations these entrepreneurs have delivered include:

Master Educators – 20% of US teachers are now highly paid, highly respected Master Educators. Not only are they experts in their subject area, they are highly capable presenters – witty, engaging and inspiring.

These skillful teachers convey a broad array of knowledge – math, science, languages, art, music, social studies. They teach in rotations in the class and are beamed virtually into hundreds of other classrooms on wall-size hi-definition screens throughout the day over Internet 3 networks.

Their greatest lessons are recorded, segmented, searchable and available to students, parents or other teachers 24/7. These teachers also provide video-linked tutoring sessions to large groups of I-3 connected students. Master Educators are regularly tested for subject matter currency and frequently reviewed for instructional performance.

Education Managers – 50% of US teachers are college educated and certified after a 3 year apprenticeship to coordinate the classroom work of students. Building on the expert teaching of the Master Educators, Education Managers provide classroom interaction, instruction and discipline. Guided by expert systems-based analysis of each student’s work, they ensure every student receives extra subject matter coaching where necessary – either provided electronically or delivered by Master Educators through the I-3 ED network. Education Managers generally do not view teaching as a long term career – most expect to spend about 6-8 years in the classroom and then move on to other careers.

Educator Apprentices – 30% are entry-level educators and work under the supervision and mentoring of Education Managers. They assist with daily classroom activities and aspire to be Education Managers. A few go on to be Master Educators.

Homework Multi-Media Hot Link – everyone in education knew that students learn more and better retain their knowledge when parents are actively engaged in helping with homework. The education entrepreneurs quickly concluded that after 3rd grade, however, very few parents were much help with homework.

As they gained operational scale around 2015, the education entrepreneurs – with their business success at stake – figured out how to ensure students were learning and retaining information.

They built sophisticated information systems where, using expert systems, every student did their work online and were continuously evaluated. Testing was virtually eliminated, because areas where a student may be struggling were quickly identified and extra instruction delivered.

Students who needed additional help with a concept were video-linked to a Master Educator for focused tutoring – and some encouraging words.

Outsourced Interactive Tutoring – one of the more controversial, but highly successful innovations occurred around 2012, when education entrepreneurs outsourced online interactive tutoring sessions to India and China. Students were not only able to access a live teacher/tutor 24/7, the Indian and Chinese teachers had immediate access to the students “education portfolio” and were expert in exactly the subject and grade level of the student with whom they were interacting.

While enormous strides were made over the past decade, it was an excruciatingly painful transformation. The vested interests of the educational establishment fought desperately to protect the status quo. Angry teacher strikes, militant union reaction and screams of a collapsing Democratic Party made the revolution in education a bruising, harsh experience. A few pioneering states led the way -- pressured by the President’s Bush, by Congress, by world competition and by the financial realities that education in the 21st century had to change.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Old retired business man:

This type of vision is what I was hoping to see when I posted the question, "What do you see in 20 years?" That was well put.

The business folks that read here were silent on the post and the only people that seemed to respond to the question were educators.

I was hoping the satire news release would bring additional responses.

Many superintendents are not as opposed to your vision as you may think.

But, because the current school district organization is essentially a political institution instead of a business, innovation is exceedingly difficult.

The Governor I am sure, is finding out the same thing in the state house. The solution is to take some of the politics out of the school business.

But in most communities, I fear that the political obstacles do not encourage such free thinking, and that is very unfortunate.

My superintendent colleagues have learned that moving quickly and innovatively is seldom rewarded and is usually punished. Innovation from a CEO is encouraged and rewarded. Maybe in your vision, that would become the norm. But what do you see the governance structure being in your vision?

No one has discussed the issue of school board reform. But show me one innovative business that has a political structure like a school board.

In many cases the obstacles to innovation are not just the eductation establishment, and in many cases it isn't actually the school board members either.

In many cases it is the community political environment.

Thanks for responding.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Anonymous Old retired businessman said...

Innovation in business is a whole LOT tougher than you might think, particularly in big business.

America has so many entrepreneurs because most of them quit or were thown out of large corporations because of their creative ideas.

That's why I tend to support Charter Schools -- at least the idea of them mirrors what I saw in four decades of business experience -- that creative, imaginative, pioneeering people need to operate outside of the establised system.

America's biggest business innovations have typically come from entrepreneurs starting fresh -- Apple, Microsoft, FedEx, Dell, Genentech, AOL, E-Bay, etc.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

So help us out here:

Charter schools aren't going so well at this time. Results are spotty and costs are higher than expected. Possibly because they still operate too much like us without the benefit of efficiency in size? I haven't see any charters yet that are truly innovative. Most of them look like tired versions of what we already do without as much state control.

So how do we change the board governance structure to promote true innovation?

I am sure you are correct about change in large corporations being harder than I think. But I too would be right by saying that change in a large SCHOOL corporation is even harder yet.

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Anonymous old retired businessman said...

From what I've read on this site and others, I have no doubt whatsoever that meaningful, positive change in the public school system is extraordinarily hard, if not impossible.

My sense on charter schools is this:

1- it is way too early to tell whether they will succeed -- in the entrepreneurial world it typically takes 15-20+ years from the inception of a new venture to scaled, proven success,

2- they are a long way from achieving economies of scale that would demonstrate their potential,

3- Whittle made a huge mistake going into the "lion's den" of urban public schools -- which set the charter movement back about 5 years and really spooked serious investors.

4- there's really not much money to be made in education, so the most creative entrepreneurs will apply thier imaginations elsewhere.

RE: "how do we change the board governance structure to promote true innovation?"

I honestly no longer believe that our public school system can be changed much -- for all of the reasons you and others have cited.

It is similar in my mind to General Motors -- why can't they change to be more competitve? Their corporate culture and structure prevent it. The last creative US auto innovator was DeLorean and he was vomited out of GM, and then crushed by GM's political and PR muscle.

My hope is that the "education entrepreneurs" are not crushed by the vested interests in Education -- administrators, schools, unions, political parties, colleges of education and business interests that would lose if charters are successful.

Frankly, I'm not optimistic, but them I'm old, too. Changing the education system is a young person's game. :-)

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

Old retired business man:

Maybe you can arrange the financing for me and stay on as a comptroller in my new for profit school district.

I have often daydreamed of starting my own for-profit schools on a franchise system.

My concept would be to partner with individual businesses and run schools on site following the parents' work schedules throughout the year.

It would look more like a one room school house than it would a factory assembly line school. I already know what curriculum will be implemented and why. This works best in a K-8 environment.

I could guarantee we can far exceed 9 months progress for 9 months work as measured by a variety of teacher and child-friendly assessments or the parents get their money back.

The extra class time by following the parents' work schedule will allow field trips, tennis lessons, private music and art lessons, all held on site by qualified private instructors. I truly believe that this type of system would work well for many parents.

The problem? Most children would rather be playing with their public school friends instead of following their parents' schedules. an option, in a large professional business culture there might be enough interested. It could even be viewed as a perk. Students can be off whenever the parents are off. No conflicts.

But, it would take a certain economy of scale by working in large businesses.

Sigh...meanwhile...back on the ranch....

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger EdWonk said...

Great Satire...or is it? ;)

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005, Blogger Indiana Public School Superintendent said...

As the byline says:

We do educational satire and serious educational commentary.

We'll let you sort it out. ;-)

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