Monday, February 8, 2010

UFT Sues City over School Closings

Right after the posting of all the Race to the Top applications, United Federated Teachers' Union and NAACP sue city schools in New York.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Race to the Top Funds Applications By State

All of the applications submitted by states are online so get your Race to the Top Funds applications right here.

I am reading through New York State's application right now. That's 348 pages of pitchwork and data, and qualifying statements and analysis. I'll get back to you soon.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Remember the Education Industry Investment Forum

Remember as we move on to the March 1-3, 2010 conference, this is what Education Industry Investment Forum brought you this year:

Remember also that if you want to be there, you need to visit Education Industry Investment Forum before the most beneficial rate expires.

A Discussion About Your Inner Monkey

Ron Packard Speaking Truth About What Learning Will Mean in the Next Five Years

Judith Murray with a Canadian Perspective on For-Profit Education

Gene Hayes Explaining the International Imperative for Education

The Future of For-Profit Education with EIIF Speaker Dr. Clinton Gardner

Rob Crawford Explaining the Alternative Education Model for Able People

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Yes, We Have Discounts for Schools, Administrators at Schools, and District Superintendents

I get asked sometimes whether we have discounts for educators, superintendents, board members of non-profit schools or school systems. And the answer is yes, we do.

You can call us about this at any time. +1 646 616 7627.

Robert Scoble asks for a great idea, and he will award the greatest idea his Kindle, which he is giving away.

My great idea is to pass it on down. I would take the Kindle, buy a book for it, give it to someone else, and he would buy a new book for it and so on, down the line. When the Kindle is filled with new books, we would gift the Kindle to a third world school or a school in the US in need of books.

We could do this with tons of Kindles. It would be the new kind of donation scheme. Set up Kindles all over the country and just donate books for it. Who would buy all the Kindles? Can't we get the good folks at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to do it?

I'm looking into it, and I will get back to you.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

State of New York Has Not Posted its RttT Application

New York State has not made public its Race to the Top application.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Cuts for Education in New Federal Budget

Inside notes from school-focused meetings with the government on education initiatives, regulations and changes to funding, all over the past week and prior to the president's State of the Union Address on Thursday. Posted without much comment but with some contextual layers to enhance the conversation. Let me know if you think any of this is off or anything missing.

Be sure to register for the the Education Industry Investment Forum on March 1-3, 2010. Use discount code XU2175BLOG to receive 10% off the standard rate.

The Budget, due out February 1, has a few kernels of interest that for-profits and school administrators need to take into account. For one, this aggressive budget limiting and budget freezing going on in the Obama administration will have a direct impact on SES, and native systems in school districts.

The Administration's budget will also request additional funding for I3. Finally, we can expect to see an effort to consolidate programs into thematic funding streams and being less prescriptive. Expect lots of "fiscal restraint" and "funding fewer programs, but doing them better" in the budget which most likely means termination of smaller programs and a small overall increase in total education funding.

Then more of what we already kind of knew. New system in the works. A need for common understanding on standards.

Accountability Systems: The proposal will most likely replace AYP with another accountability framework focused on student academic growth toward every student graduating from high school ready for college and career. This framework will include a growth model as well as assessments related to "common standards." No sense of if there will be a new timeline, but 2014 will almost certainly go away.

And then this was most interesting, considering that one common complaint arising from teachers is that they are not paid enough money. There's also this view that capitalist intervention in school systems is like the sign of the devil. So, it's good to see that someone is looking in an evolutionary way at the role that incentives, rewards, payments and budgeting windfalls can lessen the grievances and improve performance.

One thing to point out, though, is that it seems this administration is either not warmly fond of SES, or it just doesn't know what to do with them, so the issues are not raised with them in mind as much as they could be.

Interventions/Rewards: In keeping with the mantra of "tight
on goals, loose on means, "the Administration's plan will include financial
rewards for high-performing schools, aggressive interventions for the bottom 5%
performing schools (similar to what is prescribed in Race to the Top and School
Improvement Grants), and more flexibility for the middle 80% or so to select the
interventions they feel will help them improve student growth. School districts
and States will also be subject to accountability for student performance. No sense yet of what will be expected of schools in terms of performance targets (or who sets them) and what failing to meet a target means in terms of interventions (e.g. public school choice, SES).

In terms of timing, and what dominates the President's's not education. It's obviously going to be healthcare. Oh, and there is a war going on with talk of negotiating with the Taliban. Still, here is what ESEA potential looks like: not likely going to be a talking point this year.

The sense that NCLB was not going well was obvious. I slice out here some comments from a source that show a new possible direction for accountability in schools. These things are important, considering the state budget downfalls, and the fact that during every major recessionary valley, there has been a struggle to keep states in the black after the downward trend reverses.

NCLB was criticized for being underfunded, which could become a criticism of the new accountability framework and goal of having all students ready for college. The growth models alone will require additional testing in high school beyond the one assessment required under current law.

Make sure you look into attending the the Education Industry Investment Forum in Phoenix, Arizona March 1-3, 2010.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Active Book and America's Education Future: The Trust Factor

The textbook becomes increasingly outmoded. TExtbooks delivered content centuries after historical events had occurred, through the misperceptions of committees, and scholars that had a lock on how the information was delivered to the masses.

Committees even now decide what our students read, and they still rely on old texts, though they may be updated continually by, of course, committee. Big publishers have a sranglehold on the budgeting process and the delivery model. What we need is a device to send into the classroom that can deliver real time content, interactive content, and serve as a communication device.

But we have computers and the internet. Yes, but how many schools really let children build something with those devices? And do they really replace the textbook?

Amazon has come out with a support system for building active content on the Kindle. Before the much rumored Apple tablet comes out, here is your game-changer for now.

It's interesting that an online bookseller may be able to take the first steps towards bringing education a mix of active content, learning material and communications on an interactive hand-held device. Weren't the mobile phones supposed to do this years ago?

An active, real-time connected book appears, and education will again be challenged with the capitalist-market idea that it's not so much about learning the three Rs. It's about understanding that the world is global, interactive and not about what happens in a bricks and mortar classroom.

Traditional textbooks used to be about this, too, but they delivered content centuries after historical events happened, and, as I said before, scholars and experts, editors and gatekeepers delivered what looked right, true and sincere in the eyes of history's witnesses. That is true for every kind of content from mathematics and literature, to psychology to recipes.

But they are outdated and this kind of editing and delivery has become outdated. Now we can actually talk and engage with the legacies and the people those textbooks talk about, as they make those events that centuries ago would be considered important historical events, insights, eureka moments, etc.

At stake with the advent of real-time interactive devices is a breakdown of institutions that were built to support the creation of the systems that support these insights. We are beginning to see that everyone can have these insights, or start history, or create new models.

All we have to do is open the doors.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Do You Need to Know About NYC High Schools?

Clara Hemphill is answering questions at the New York Times about New York City high schools.

Clara Hemphill, whose book series New York City’s Best Schools is regarded as the bible for navigating school choices, responds to readers.

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NY State Governor Slashes School Aid by US$1 bln

Wait. Paterson is not a Republican. And he's a fan of Obama, last I checked. So, at first blush, this is not as scary as it seems. Read on.

Governor David Paterson, who has been in a scrappy battle with legislators in Albany ever since he took over for ousted Eliot Spitzer, now may have a new group of people on his heels. People who fear a loss of school funds.

In addition to raising taxes for New York State, the governor has slashed US$1 bln from school budgets in the next year.

It's probably not as dire as we think. There are states in the South that are already doing this to prepare people for the fact that federal money is going to be pouring in. Slash the spending for education, and then people are more than willing to accept federal funds to the tune of billions pouring into state coffers after Obama said he would expand Race to the Top funds.

But let's extrapolate a little further. This is a great ploy on Paterson's part. He'll increase taxes and then receive federal funds thereby, what? Will more dollars go into education from those taxes, or no? Will the federal funds be enough?

Weigh in.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Education Industry Investment Business Breakfast: An Afterwards

Call it three hours of intense discussion and you might have the expectation that people would walk away from this kind of thing exhausted.

It was anything but that.

Josh Schwartz, East Wind Advisors
Daniel Pianko, The Noah Fund
Stephen Gilfus, Gilfus Education Group

These gentleman led us through a pretty charged up three and a half hours or so of ramped up discussions on for-profit operations in K12 and Higher Ed that was pretty much future-focused and hopeful.

I'm going to do a quick rundown of the topics that came up, but I retweeted them @Educationinvest on Twitter and I broadcast the general themes @Douglascrets

I've cut and pasted some of the themes, and I will continue to do this throughout the week:

The thing in higher ed is to be greenfield oriented in what you can offer the market in technology. Interesting take. ed that boosts tech.

Towards the end of the morning, this flared up as a kind of important and provocative idea: that basically there are great platforms, and there are great distribution models, but where are the offerings that blend the content that is really hidden from outside view (the teaching that goes on in the classroom, the curriculum created by teachers, etc.) and when is the mash-up of the two going to happen? The company that solves this and makes it compelling, long-distance and monetized is the golden egg company. Then we can sit down and talk about a US$100 mln spin out.

Is there a blurring between Ivy League brands and the for-profit vocational brands?

There was disagreement on this point. The point here being some in the audience and on the panel thought that tech leads the lower-run higher ed institutions in the land grant space to lose their brand value, because there are free models out there and students are paying less attention to brand. There was also the defense that, actually, no lower-rung land grant or online offering can come close to the job placement value that higher order institutions provide, regardless of the attractiveness and accessibility created by low cost and scale.

One panelist made a great point by saying that there is no way a small, liberal arts college in the Midwest, that is not in the top 50 stratosphere, can maintain charging US$40,000 a year in tuition. It can't be sustained in the online courses industry.

And then there was this compelling interlude:

Is there a viable business model around educating teachers? But 20% of Ivy Leagues apply to Teach for America. Talking about this now.

Some people pinpointed that of all the professions, teaching seems to be this land-locked industry, where a teacher that enters at age 25 will pretty much be doing the same job when he or she is 45 years old. That rarely happens in any other industry, save maybe in blue-collar jobs. A person can enter into JP Morgan, for instance as a broker or a sell-side analyst, and in ten years achieve such insight into the financial markets that she can launch her own firm. Why can't that happen in teaching?

Yet, 20% of Ivy League graduates enter apply to Teach for America? Guilt of the privileged? What is going on here? I think that is actually a social issue. People look down on teaching and when they do, they think, "Ah, gee, I should do something good for society, maybe do my part to help society, before I make it big in business." Well, you do good for society by working in business, in finance, insurance, right? So why this disorder rising up in the teaching profession?

Seems like it was all about lack of any meaningful social development for teachers. The teaching model is irrelevant. There's no way to improve a teacher, and "get more out of their performance." This seems utterly sad and devoid of hope.

Teachers should be paid more, but there is this socialist attitude around teaching. One panelist said that he could foresee that the teacher's union is the last great union that needs to be broken. It's limiting attitudes on what is viable in teaching and what can enrich the society.

I even jumped in and circled back to this point about a JP Morgan analyst. Why can't a teacher build herself up as a brand? Why can't she sell her brand? Why can't she be paid for things like being a consultant, or be a speaker at a business conference because she has figured out how to run her school classroom like a business, using a John Dewey model of taking the student out of the isolated icebox of a classroom and allowing the free world to come in and the student to go out in it.

School, I alluded, has always been about control, as if there is this social mindset that what happens in school is only about training, when it can indeed be about fixing social problems, making money from fixing them, and being the incubator for the world's greatest entrepreneurs.

India and China can do this. I have sat in a classroom in China that created a brand new open source software model for school curriculum. Three people did this, with a group of students who, Great Firewall permitting, can log onto google, look out into the world, and in once case, sell stuff on China's version of E-bay, a site called Taobao.

What is going on here?

More of this later. Shout outs and comments welcomed. Follow me on Twitter.

And do not forget to attend our Education Industry Investment Forum on March 1-3, 2010. Leave me comments.

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Dr. Sabrina Kay, CEO, Fremont College

Dr Sabrina Kay's Background and the Beginning of Fremont College - Dr. Kay is one of the many for-profit operators visiting the forum to talk about operational strategies, funding do's and don'ts, and to present firsthand case studies on how to build scale in for-profit higher education.

We have a series of three videos from Dr. Kay, and we start with this one today.

The beginning of Sabrina Kay's education mission

Please visit visit the registration page for the Education Industry Investment Forum. Use code XU2175SK to achieve a 15% discount on the current registration rate.

You'll have a chance to meet Sabrina Kay and several other for-profit operators at the forum, including:

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New York City Education Investment Business Breakfast

We are going to be running a live Twitter feed at the Education Industry Investment Forum in New York City this morning. If you are investing in education and you have questions, you can ask them here, or on Twitter.

I am @Douglascrets on Twitter.

The agenda for the business breakfast can be found here at the Education Industry Investment Forum page.

Listen to these individuals speak about Education Investment

Daniel Pianko, Founder & CEO, The Noah Fund
Stephen Gilfus, Founder of Blackboard, President and CEO, Gilfus Education Group
Josh Schwartz, Managing Director, East Wind Advisors

Here are the questions I am going to ask:

Here are the questions that I want to ask:

1. Teacher development -- many people talk about creating better initiatives that benefit teachers by teaching them new models to enhance the value of their teaching and to improve the completion rates of public schools. In K12, are there any scalable models for teacher development? What can be done to make teacher development a profitable business and how is that done?

2. With all things being equal, and if anything is possible, at what point does K12 education become a feasible investment for a private investor or a public or private company? In other words, can each of you give your model for a highly profitable education system with all your favorite bells and whistles?

3. Are there any areas that are not exactly directly education-focused that seem like viable investment areas during Race to the Top fund allocation?

4. In Higher Ed, where should private investors put their money in the next one year to 18 months?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You can receive US$100 Off Your Phoenix Registration

If you attend the January 20, 2010 New York City Education Investment Business Breakfast, you are eligible for US$100 off the March 1-3, 2010 Education Industry Investment Forum.

The business breakfast information is found at the Education Investment Business Breakfast website.

Speaker faculty
Daniel Pianko, Founder & CEO, The Noah Fund
Stephen Gilfus, Founder of Blackboard, President and CEO, Gilfus Education Group
Josh Schwartz, Managing Director, East Wind Advisors

Schedule for January 20, 2010
8.00 am – Gather and Breakfast, Networking
8.45 am – Introductory Remarks, Education Industry Investment Forum Director Doug Crets and Moderator
9.00 am – Panel discussion begins
11.00 am – Questions & Answers
11.30 am – Business Networking and Card Exchange
12:00 pm – Business Breakfast Ends

Omni Berkshire Place
21 East 52nd Street at Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212) 753-5800

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Security Checks and Empty Planes

Up until today, the security I experienced at airports rarely reached the level of uncomfortable. There was the flight out of China where I had my keys questioned and my body patted down, and my belt buckle examined, but that was easy breezy.

Today in Narita, I am waiting for the New York flight and the flight next to our gate is getting the full kahuna. They are going from passenger to passenger in the lobby area and giving them pat downs, going through bags, and then sealing off the entire gate, so nobody can leave or enter.

It's very interesting. Probably will do the same to this gate. Flights have been really sparsely filled. I am hoping for a long row of empty seats on this flight, so i can lay down and try to sleep, something I rarely do on airplanes.

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