Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Profession - My Passion

This post is from Surabhi Dewra, our correspondent in India. Please enjoy.

"Harry works at the airport's ticket counter. It has been years since Harry has been checking the tickets of the passengers who wait in long queues for their turn. On one side, most of these travelers are tired or just too impatient to stand in the long queue. On the other side Harry too is always tired and bored of his work, and doesn’t bother to exchange a 'Hi' with them - each time he has to repeat the same process. As a result, Harry is slow at work, which in turn makes the travelers wait a little longer.

On the other counter is Harry's colleague, George. There is a long queue too here, but many travelers in this queue are wearing a smile. Because they don't have to wait for long- their queue moves pretty fast. And once they reach the counter where George is checking their ticket, they are happy and exchange a couple of words with George. George is really quick at his work. In fact he is the fastest among the staff.

Why is the difference between Harry's work speed and George’s? And why are travelers not unhappy when they are standing in queue at George's counter?

Because George does not see his work as mere work. George enjoys his work - checking the traveler's tickets, conversing with them, and making them feel happy about the travel. Yes, George is passionate about his work."

How relevant the above story is in our lives! Contentment in a profession comes only with passion for that work. Else a profession turns into a forced job, where there is only stress and tension of meeting deadly deadlines, torturing targets and running in the rat race to get to a bigger cubicle. But bigger cubicles don't happen without passion for one's work. All that can happen is the death of a career or profession trapped within in the lifeless walls of cubicle.

To drive the above mentioned point among Indian Students we at MeraCareerGuide.Com have created few assessments which talks about interest based career selection and personality based career selection. These career assessments helps in understanding the fact that personality is also helpful in career planning. For example, an introverted person is unlikely to be successful in sales!!

These tests give personality profiles, which will give insight to identify the work environments that suits best.

Whatever work you are in, pause for a moment. Ponder over if you’re doing justice to work. Be George who is passionate towards what he is doing. Who doesn’t crib when he sees a long line of travelers standing at his counter. Nor is he bored. He has found the fun of seeing every traveler’s ticket and striking a conversation with them. He waits for his work to begin every morning, and not look for excuses to avoid work.

Make your work your life. And not your life your work. Be another George. It’s worth it.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some more of those Stephen Tave Comments

It was a pretty compelling interview, so I've dug back through stuff to pull out the fun comments that might mean something to education investors and entrepreneurs. Here's just a little bit more Tave love.

Question from EIIFOperators of schools have complained in the past about the costs of marketing and it's a true that marketing is not easy. It can be expensive and it can be cumbersome, and not to mention completely ineffective if the right media are not leveraged. What out there is compelling to you as a marketing solution and how do you think it will be managed, purchased, or built?

Tave responds

The whole marketing thing has to be looked at. Google has to look at the way they are doing business too. It's bait and switch the way Google does business. Nobody brings this up. It used to be a nickel a click. Today, if they [a content reader] clicks on culinary school it's probably 25 to 35 dollars a click. This happened in ten years.

Why has it done that? It's done that because people have created companies that bid on that, but they are not in the industry. They collect the leads. I sell that lead that I paid 20 dollars for for 20 dollars to a hundred schools. Those leads are not focused leads. They are getting a huge amount of them and they are working their admissions people at levels that are very frustrating to them.

So, then EIIF asked if using students to leverage a different marketing strategy is a more compelling business idea.

If you have a good school, it sells itself. They talk about their results
and they talk to their friends, and it's word of mouth, and it's huge. At the culinary school, more than half of the students came by referrals. Getting that message out there is important. If your operation is not right for that area you are training in, then you will have a tough time no matter what. You will pay a lot to get the wrong students, and your results are not going to be acceptable to the accreditation bodies. We have to do a lot of self-monitoring.

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Stephen Tave Interview: The Fast Economy and Career Colleges

Interview with Stephen Tave, one of the speakers at the 2010 Education Industry Investment Forum.

Practitioners in for-profit higher education administration tend to be off on the side, compared to how education in this country is viewed generally. Focused on growing companies and creating value for students, it's quite often that you get a good deal of skepticism about the role of for-profit education. That's because of the relative newness of the for-profit school in a hundreds of years tradition of socially-driven education.

These are some of the most interesting points that I have found in Tave's interview with me in New York City last week. I had come to his offices at 2 Penn Plaza to ask him about the future of education. His focus: structure and offering students what they need to survive in the marketplace.

What can a school do to prepare itself and its students for the future?

Schools should have think tanks that focus on what to offer students for the future.

What's going to be popular five or ten years from now? You have to have a certain part of your organization that just focuses on that. You have to have a think tank working on the green opportunities coming on down the line.

Tave points out that the Wind Energy Association just made an agreement with some career colleges to provide education support and job training. Taking a risk like that, without proven return, is a necessary risk and could help your organization in the long run.

You are jumping curves, but it shouldn't stop you from putting the infrastructure in place and constantly testing if that is going to be the case.

Taht constant testing, if accreditation limits didn't stand too much in the way, would enable a career college to do more than be competitive against traditional four-year institutions. In fact, that is not so much the point as it is to just be as flexible as the real marketplace. The marketplace is filled with people who are testing limits, creating new ideas, and immediately putting them out there in the market to test and to generate a return on investment.

The career college vertical is synonymous with that marketplace rigor. In the past, we have talked on this blog about the Ivory Tower mentality of education. Tave went a little further and said that he saw that kind of flexibility in place already, even though it needed to be tweaked and assisted to perform faster and more rigorously:

Our schools are very precise in what they train for, and the rate of return on what you invest in is measured every day. The way we have the ability to efficiently to bring new curriculum is that we have to be able to do the "here-and-now" when it occurs, and not have it in some committee for ten years, and then its all antiquated and isn't necessary for the actual job market that is out there. It's exciting to work in that type of environment.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stephen Tave, American Higher Education Development Corporation

This interview was conducted in New York City. This is a brief end-of-interview exit video giving Stephen the chance to give us his assessment of the future of higher education. Stay tuned for the longer interview write-up, to come out later today.

Make sure you follow me and the Education Industry Investment Forum team on Twitter.

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You can also join us at LinkedIn. See what nearly 600 for-profit professionals are talking about in dozens of live discussions.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

New York City Business Breakfast January 20, 2010

I will fly to China for some research and relaxation in early and mid-January, but when I return the team at the Education Industry Investment Forum will New York City Business Breakfast for education professionals.

It's at the Omni Hotel, January 20, 2010. It only costs Us$95 to attend. I have already quite a few registered delegates and they are people you are certain to want to speak to. Here are the signed up speakers:


John Bailey, formerly Special Assistant for Education, George Bush Administration

Daniel Pianko, Founder & CEO, The Noah Fund

Josh Schwartz, Managing Director, East Wind Advisors

Doug Mesecar, Vice President, Scholastic Publishing

Ron Packard, CEO, K12, Inc.

You can register to attend the breakfast, for only $95.

Or you can connect with me directly through email.

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CIBT Education to Buy KGIC Assets

December 18, 2009 CNW: CIBT Education Group Inc. (NYSE Amex & TSXV symbol: MBA) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a Letter of Intent with KGIC Education Group (“KGIC”) of Vancouver, British Columbia to acquire all of the assets of KGIC. The parties will conduct legal and accounting due diligence reviews while the formal purchase agreement is being prepared. The acquisition is slated for closing in early 2010. Details of the transaction will be announced upon closing.

KGIC Education Group is one of the largest private English language training schools and business colleges in Canada with 7 campuses in Canada and KGIC training centers and branch offices in China, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Mexico. In 2008 and 2009, KGIC enrolled over 6,200 students and 6,400 respectively and generated nearly $15 million revenue per year.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Over the Cloud

We're having lunch and Elliot Levine, who works in the Personal Systems Group for Hewlett-Packard, makes a good point. The way to help educators in their mission to produce great results with students is to "make technology truly immersive."

Levine is Education Strategist at HP, and drives strategy and is the voice of the customers in K-12, higher education and student segments here in the U.S. and overall for the Americas region.

Cost to extend the school year, introduce new curriculum, provide professional development and so on keep increasing. That money comes from taxes and grants. Once a grant is used, the information and the technology are bought, that technology can become obsolete and the information needs to be re-evaluated and re-done.

Education needs to constantly improve to keep students eligible for careers and better schooling in higher ed later in their lives.

"The basic premise hasn't changed, but the costs to do it have steadily increased," says Levine, who used to be a school administrator in Long Island. Now he goes around offering tech solutions to school districts.

"Could we give a student access to technology, files, data and curriculum 24 /7?" he asks.

He pulls out a little grey brick of a box. This mock-up is part of HP's MultiSeat Computing Solution, which allows up to 10 students to share a PC in the classroom.

It's basically a conduit device that would go into school classrooms, allow students to hook up to it via keyboard, and then tap into "the cloud."

Now, the cloud is something separate, and not necessarily a part of the grey box situation. It's an other offering by HP.

That solution is called SchoolCloud, and that's will put all applications and content to be delivered via a datacenter, and enable students to access their information 24/7 from virtually any computing device. These were among three solutions in the client virtualization market that HP introduced globally in November.

Your basic school district would buy these devices, and if they used SchoolCloud they would store the data on a cloud in a central Blade server somewhere remote. Gone are all the tech issues of trying to keep hundreds of machines up and running. The boxes are easily replaceable if they have a flaw. All you need is ethernet, a keyboard, mouse or track pad and monitors.

Levine believes that technology is not the only solution. We had several interesting exchanges where he whole-heartedly defended the use of classrooms and bricks-and-mortar. He supports the true "academic experience." He defends the social setting of school. He strongly defended teachers. I loosely tried to connect the use of cloud computing with a need to no longer have classrooms and he just couldn't get there. He shook his head.

"What's going to remain [after the introduction and cycling of technology] is only what the teachers know. That's it. The greatest resource they have is their innovation."

This was eye-opening to me. If you take too much of a bird's eye view, you could easily overstep reason and think that excellent technology and its implementation would dissolve the school setting, much like it has dissolved the traditional office setting and methodology. Millions of people telecommute by desire or by necessity. Shouldn't a kid be allowed to stay home to learn?

But what Levine was saying makes sense. Hewlett-Packard apparently spends a lot of time in schools asking teachers adn students what they need. They don't seem to pitch devices at them to solve general problems. The thinking, Levine says, is that you use the technology to provide a student with a chance to reach a deeper and deeper involvement with what he's learning. Making him a teacher to other students, so to speak.

That's much easier to do with training on technology and it's much more interesting than just holding up a book and reading from it to your classmates. he used a figure that I am reciting from memory. Levine said that a student's ability to grasp and use information he learns in a classroom goes up to 70% when he is given technological tools, like tablets and mobile phones, to assist him in collaborating with other students. Make a student a teacher, and he and the other students will learn.

Makes you think what happens after school, like much later after school, when a student is no longer "studying" at an institution and is building his or her life in a career. Growing up with technology, I would bet it's that much easier for him or her to collaborate easily and to almost look forward to collaboration as a way of doing business.

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Early Admissions Tally by the New York Times

The New York Times keeps a daily tally of colleges' early admissions figures.

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Elliot Levine, Education Strategist at Hewlett-Packard

I'm about to head across town to meet with Elliot Levine, who works at Hewlett-Packard to develop strategies for transforming the way technology is used in K12 and in higher ed.

Stand by for some notes from the meeting, and an appraisal, I hope, of what it means to use technology in education these days.

If you have any questions, you should email me at doug dot crets @ gmail, and I will try to ask them during our meeting.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Part II: Mark Kantrowitz Supplies Data on Cohort Default Rates

Little over a week after he sent out emails to people telling them about the upcoming cohort default rates being released, Mark Kantrowitz of fastweb has released them. I am a little late in getting these up, since I was out of the office when he sent them out. Here's the email message:

The US Department of Education published preliminary 3-year cohort default rates (CDRs) for FY2007, FY2006 and FY2005 this morning at the Federal Student Aid Site.

My analysis of these default rates can be found at
Cohort Default Rates.

Some of the highlights include:

3-year CDRs in FY2007 are 64% higher than 2-year CDRs
at public colleges, 71% higher at private colleges and
93% higher at proprietary colleges. These figures
correspond to absolute increases of 3.8%, 2.7% and 10.2%,
respectively. The percentage increases are lower but the
absolute increases are higher than in FY2006 and FY2005,
presumably due to the economy.

14 public colleges (3.1%), 15 private colleges (1.5%)
and 185 proprietary colleges (13.5%) have preliminary
3-year cohort default rates that are above the 30%
threshold, a total of 214 colleges. (This data is
restricted to colleges with more than 30 students
entering repayment.)

Proprietary colleges above the 30% threshold tend to be
smaller colleges. Most of the publicly-traded for-profit
colleges have 3-year CDRs below the threshold.

One public college (0.1%), 2 private colleges (0.1%) and
37 proprietary colleges (2.8%) have preliminary 3-year
cohort default rates that are above the 40% threshold.

Cohort default rates calculate the percentage of borrowers
entering repayment who have defaulted within a given time
period. If one calculates the percentage of total enrollment
that defaults within the 3-year window, in FY2007 0.9% of
students enrolled at public colleges, 1.2% of students
enrolled at private colleges and 10.2% of students enrolled
at proprietary colleges defaulted on their federal education

Of the 215,212 students who attended colleges with preliminary
3-year cohort default rates above the 30% threshold (and with
more than 30 students in repayment) in FY2007, 148,760 (69.1%)
were enrolled at for-profit colleges, 53,575 (24.9%) at public
colleges and 12,877 (6.0%) at private colleges.

Of the 23,498 students who attended colleges with preliminary
3-year cohort default rates above the 40% threshold (and with
more than 30 students in repayment) in FY2007, 21,503 (91.5%)
were enrolled at for-profit colleges, 161 (0.7%) at public
colleges and 1,834 (7.8%) at private colleges.

I believe that these figures represent a high water mark for the following reasons:

1. Income-based repayment became available on July 1, 2009.
Borrowers in income-based repayment count in the denominator
but not the numerator in calculating the cohort default rate,
just like deferments and forbearances. I believe there will be
a significant number of borrowers using income-based repayment,
which will tend to decrease the default rates. This is partly
because income-based repayment is more available and better
marketed than income-contingent repayment and partly because of
the added incentive of public service loan forgiveness.

2. Colleges have enough time before the 3-year default rates are
used to enforce eligibility for federal student aid to reduce
their default rates through aggressive counseling of borrowers
who are at risk of default (e.g., low income borrowers, borrowers
who do not finish their education), adjusting admission eligibility
standards and through "averaging down" of high default rate programs.

3. New unemployment filings and overall unemployment rates have started
decreasing and job creation will gain momentum in 2010. Job placement
rates are one of the three primary drivers of defaults. The other
drivers are interest rates and graduation rates. (Average borrower
interest rates increased in FY2007 as compared with FY2006 and
because of the switch to fixed rates on July 1, 2006 increased the
Stafford loan from 4.5% to 6.8%, a big jump. Likewise the introduction
of the Grad PLUS loan increased the average borrower interest rate on
federal loans. The cuts in subsidized Stafford interest rates for
undergraduate students will start yielding a decrease in average rates
with the FY2008 cohort.)

Mark Kantrowitz
Publisher of and

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"Will-Work-For-Free" Professors Denied

Budget problems are so bad, colleges aren't even taking up retirees with their offers for free work.

I know this feeling. You have experience and you are even willing to help someone out for free, but something about the system just keeps the idea from taking shape.

These retired professors told their old colleges that they would help out and lend their expertise but for many motnhs their requests went unanswered. Turned out that the colleges didn't know what to do with them. Their offers of assistance went against the mainframe thinking that a teacher retires and then goes out to pasture, never to teach or help again.

Such places, however, are still the exception and not the rule. "Many academic institutions have not thought seriously enough about the great resources that emeritus faculty can be to the institution," says Ronald G. Ehrenberg, an economics professor at Cornell who is an expert on higher-education retirement. Retired faculty members—who bring years of institutional knowledge to the table—are willing to work gratis on tasks that would free pressed-for-time professors to focus on teaching, research, and other activities.

There's another advantage for colleges in finding important roles for retired faculty members: It gives professors an incentive to retire. An attractively packaged option can prompt a longtime faculty member to step back and make way for institutions to hire the next generation of (younger and cheaper) scholars.

All right, I'm waiting for the first entrepreneur to come up with a web application for social media that puts these retired profs to work. First one who does wins a prize!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Governor Paterson Delays School Aid for NY State

Since many believe that it doesn't matter to Governor David Paterson what human toll assertive acts on preserving the budget takes on his political career, he today made good on a threat to impound or delay US$750 million in scheduled payments set to go to state agencies and school districts.

New York state is suffering from a budget crisis created in part by the global financial crisis that seems to be easing. the other reason is, well, it's New York state.

The cuts in school payments drew the strongest resistance. Though Mr. Paterson said that most school districts had reserve funds that would allow them to absorb the reductions, he acknowledged that poorer school districts were “going to be a problem.”

But Stephen Allinger, legislative director of the New York State United Teachers union, said many districts had already used up their reserves for the year. Mr. Paterson’s reductions could affect after-school and sports programs, and result in staff reductions, Mr. Allinger said.

And he asked a question about the cuts that seemed to be on many people’s minds: “What does this mean? Is it just late, or are they going to cut it altogether?”

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Misaligned market assessment and cost management : Case of U21Global

A recent story on U21Global highlights the challenges of executing a vision which has arrived ahead of its time.

U21 had a very unique positioning of leveraging the power of university consortium and technology to build a global online university. However, it seems to have missed on two important aspects--market readiness and cost management. For example, its biggest target markets like India and China are still not ready for online programs which are expensive, although they are ready for cheaper programs that add "credentialing" aspect to their profile.

As pointed out in this article, price of brick-and-mortar courses in China was US$2,000 as compared to US$7,000 for U21.

Likewise, in India, Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning (SCDL), started right around the same time as U21, claims to enroll more than 200,000 students and charges around US$500 for similar programs. Thus, while on the revenue side, U21 has limitations on the tuition pricing. On the cost side, U21 has heavy expenses associated with international administrators and faculty members. This has resulted in inefficient administration of the venture.

Online education model works on scalability and not selectivity. And the scalability in markets like India exists with the price conscious mass segment. With the transfer of controlling stake to Manipal Education, cost structures could be better balanced with the market needs in China and India.

At other level, U21 needs to expand its outreach by partnering with institutions in different segments. For example, U21's partnership with IGNOU to offer joint Postgraduate Programme in Information Technology Management would enable it to leverage IGNOU's large student base (total enrollment of 2million students) and established credentials in a price-sensitive mass segment. The program is priced at $3,750 and accepted 112 students for its first intake in Sept'09. For global online universities considering to enter Indian market this reaffirms the pricing challenges in Indian market.

posted by:
Rahul Choudaha, PhD
New York

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Regina Ip Faces Down Hong Kong Chief Executive over Education

The only thing of interest that I got out of Hong Kong Legislative Council member Regina Ip's memorandum on education policy for Hong Kong was the apparent numerous opportunities for American and other for-profit programs to team up with partners in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s educational services, from primary to college level, are largely publicly funded. With a price tag of over $60 billions, it is the largest consumer of taxpayers’ money. With the community crying out for more publicly funded educational services to meet the burgeoning needs of a knowledge economy, more tax dollars are needed to pay for all manner of services, ranging from pre-primary school vouchers to school places for students with intellectual disability, university places for associate degree holders and bridging programs for those who failed to meet the minimum requirements of Secondary Six admission. Can a big spender like education be made to generate profits in the same way that private enterprises are supposed to?

I can't imagine that many Hong Kong people would be excited about using more of their tax dollars to make universities more competitive, or more prevalent. They are more inclined, I would think, in bringing in world-class partners who actually are more business-savvy, more flexible, and better at achieving scale and quality than those in the Pearl River Delta Region.

Hong Kong's taxes largely come from property sales. and there is usually always a surplus of government money. But they seem to be less inclined to pour that money into education. They are likely to pour that money into large-scale infrastructure projects, or team ups with China development companies building roads and other things like property developments or shipping ports, or bridges.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Seriously Promote a Day Camp

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ABC News Installs News Bureau at Chinese University

How's this for a foreign exchange program? Coming to a Chinese university campus near you: an official ABC News bureau.

No kidding. Seems that the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, China just inked the world's first deal to have an ABC News broadcasting bureau installed on the campus, so that J-school students can pitch stories directly to editors in the United States. The deal will allow "roving" Asia reporters to pitch stories directly to a commissioning editor at the ABC News bureau in New York. The deal is similar to six others already in place at US universities.

Received this story in an email from Ying Chan at University of Hong Kong:

The American Broadcasting Company cooperates with six US universities already to provide online and on-air news. HKU’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre is the first international branch of the venture.

Director of the Broadcasting Programme at the JMSC, Jim Laurie, who worked at ABC for more than twenty years, has compiled a team of thirteen students to take part. MJ student Zela Chin and BJ student Liyi Chen will coordinate the project here in Hong Kong and are in charge of pitching ideas to the commissioning editor in New York, Christina Caron.

Thirteen students take part in this project led by Laurie, and they have already pitched their first stories.

They are pitching stories about Hong Kong and also across Asia. The first idea up for grabs is about white collar workers in Hong Kong who are bankers by day and boxers by night. Liyi [Chen, a first year Bachelors in Journalism major] was pleased with the team’s first pitch.

“Lorea’s White Collar Fight Night story went quite well. ABC accepted it pretty much immediately, so it was really encouraging. I think we have a lot of interesting stories to tell from Asia, and we’ve had a good start, so I’m hopeful!”

Pretty soon, American students are going to want to go to China to learn how to do journalism here.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

When Will 3-Year Cohort Default Rates Be Released?

Email message from a source:

I have confirmation from the US Department of Education that the 3-year Cohort Default Rates for FY2007 will be released in a little over a week, and that this data will be released before the 2-year Cohort Default Rates for FY2008. Some people were curious as to whether the 3-year data would be released before the 2-year data, and the answer is yes. (Normally the preliminary 2-year CDRs are released in February.)

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Jamaica High Closing in Queens

The article in today's city room gives facts, but no conclusive reporting on the causes behind Jamaica High closing in Queens.

Enrollment at Jamaica High School has been falling — it was 2,500 a decade ago — and its graduation rate has remained below 50 percent for years, education officials said. Under the city’s proposal, the school will stop accepting ninth graders in 2010 and slowly shrink.

Here's what I find curious about New York City Public Schools facing these issues. It appears to me that they are treated like businesses, without any of the functionality of a business. They are not run as businesses, yet when the students "fail" to perform, and "fail" to graduate, the entire school is told to shut down.

Who judges the performance of teachers? Why are teachers not fired?

Are systems not evaluated, put in place, or are not different management brought in to use inventive ways to manage teachers, grade teachers on performance and encourage changes to the system that improve the educational lives of students? I really don't know. I have never been inside a New York City public school.

In 2000, I was in a relationship with a woman who studied at Columbia Teacher's College and taught in a public elementary school in Harlem. My memory of her comments on teaching there is that the place was a bureaucratic morass.

Can anyone out there point me to people who study education policy for New York? Can anyone guide me to conclusive studies about the issues involving poor performance of city schools, parallels with teaching and student behavior, programs offered, and issues relevant to the rising or falling of a school's ranking in whatever system that New York City uses to rank these schools?

It seems shocking to me that, based on what I know, we can shut down schools here, but not offer much in the way of for-profit educational alternatives for students who might be well on their way to success but allegedly suffering from inattention or failure to be placed in the right courses, programs or schools in New York.

I say that as an assumption, open to being wrong, but I also have a background as a teacher, and I firmly believe that there are no bad students, there are only methods we have not tried yet.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leading American Universities for Sending Students Abroad

The Institute of International Education released some figures of overseas education recently.

Here's their top ten list of the leading US universities that send students overseas, ranked in order of numbers of students sent each year.

New York University remained the leading sending institution, reporting that it gave academic credit for study abroad to 3,395 of its students, followed by Michigan State University (2,969), University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (2,521), University of Texas – Austin (2,342), University of California – Los Angeles (2,330), University of Wisconsin – Madison (2,216), University of Washington (2,124), Penn State – University Park (2,101), University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (2,086), and University of Georgia (2,058). Open Doors 2009 reports that 53 U.S. campuses, primarily large research institutions, awarded academic credit for study abroad last year to more than 1,000 of their students.

But there are actually schools that send the largest percentage of their entire student body to study overseas during some point in their educational career.

Open Doors 2009 data on study abroad participation rates show 23 institutions that reported sending more than 80% of their students abroad at some point during their undergraduate careers. These institutions are (in alphabetical order): Antioch College, Arcadia University, Austin College, Berea College, Carleton College, Centre College, DePauw University, Earlham College, Elon University, Goucher College, Hamline University, Hartwick College, Kalamazoo College, Lee University, Lewis and Clark College, Oberlin College, Pepperdine University, Saint Olaf College, Taylor University, Transylvania University, University of Dallas, Warren Wilson College, and Wofford College.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Town Hall, A Wall, Opportunity for All

There is a saying in Cantonese, that when you cross the ocean you will be kings. [ed. note: I have looked all over the internet and not found the Cantonese phrase, so any help would be appreciated]

President Barack Obama was either a puppet or a truly naive country mouse making his way through China and East Asia for the first time earlier this month, when he held a staged town hall, visited the Great Wall and seemed disoriented, and claimed that he never touched Twitter, even though he apparently has his own twitter feed.

For America's first "Pacific" president, he didn't seem to know a whole lot about China, America's certainly largest, and relatively speaking nearest neighbor, if you don't count the Philippines, Russia or Taiwan.

Much has already been written about what a fool's game the whole diplomatic trip to East Asia appeared to the rest of the world. I won't hash over it. Read through the link if you like.

However, Obama presented one gleaming and golden opportunity for America's youth, for-profit education and the future of China - U.S. bilateral relations and the possible creation of a new multilateral regulatory and financial system.

China and the United States agreed that they would renew efforts to bring at least 100,000 students from the United States to China. Currently, there are only 20,000 American students studying in China while there are nearly 100,000 Chinese students in the United States, and nearly 100,000 students from India studying in the United States.

I'm sure the effort was started in the hopes that these students would bring all the democracy and hope and glory back with them to their countries of origin. So why don't we send more students to China?

Do they just not want to go? Are they unable to go, because of finances? How is the government going to pay for these expected 80,000 students to go to China? Does the federal loans program enable that right now? I don't think it does.

Efforts have been made to extend this cross-cultural partnership before. I am a by-product of one of those efforts. So is 27 - year old Cornelius Rahn, a journalism student at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

The vision there is simple: train foreign students to be journalists in China. Introduce them to China, spread the word about China, help China at the same time enrich and develop its burgeoning media.

Ying Chan, a celebrated investigative journalist, who has won many awards for her reporting, especially on the snakeheads that traffic humans into the United States from China, laid out this vision several years ago and has been steadily building on it. She not only directs the program in Hong Kong, she also, with backing from Li Ka-shing, helps run his journalism school at Shantou University in mainland China.

Ying always says, "Learn Chinese. The future is in China." I never doubt her. "Understand China," she also says. And she is right. Obama's trip to China shows the perils of not knowing the people you should and could be doing business and politics with.

Why did people pay Chinese snakeheads thousands of dollars to travel illegally and covertly to America? There was opportunity there. For some it was to be forever. For others, as China began to open up, it was temporary. Take what is best in America and bring it back. They call these people Sea Turtles, in Chinese.

But now, the future is going to be shaped by a strong China and US relationship, which could produce a much stronger multilateral global financial system.

As I always say, it's already tomorrow in China. And it started out as a joke.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

George Soros On China: U.S. Can Help Score a Win for China

If you read this through and like it, email me, or leave a comment if you want the whole pdf. I can email it to you. dcrets [at] iirusa [dot] com

It's too bad that none of the major "western" news organizations wrote about some of the great comments George Soros made recently about China's new power in the global economy. Maybe President Barack Obama would not have appeared so passive in front of the Chinese delegation who welcomed him on his first visit to the Middle Kingdom.

Under reported -- to the detriment of financial executives everywhere -- is a series of lectures George Soros has been giving around the world about what he considers to be the true implications and opportunities created by the economic collapse and the seizing up of the credit markets after the Lehman Brothers collapse.

The only good story that I have seen so far on the issue is by a former student colleague I worked with at the University of Hong Kong, Vivian Kwok, who now works at Forbes.

She points out that Soros, a billionaire, worth something like US$11 billion, who escaped the Nazi death squads in Budapest, Hungary during World War II, just made a spent a combined US$126 million on subscriptions for new shares of China Minsheng Bank and Longfor Properties in their initial public offerings in Hong Kong.

But his real achievement to date is a series of lectures where Soros is calling out the G20 countries, but especially the United States, for not only precipitating the failure of the economy, but not doing enough to embrace new partners in re-establishing a global economic order. Partners like China, for example.

Despite doing what almost all of the Bretton Woods Agreement and Washington Consensus countries have done, propping up the financial system by offering massive loans to banks with balance sheets saturated with questionable assets and liabilities, the United States and other G20 nations stand to lose ground significantly during the economic recovery if they do not make partnerships and reformulate the IMF and World Bank strategies to foster new power positions for emerging economies. Why? As of September 2009, China owns US$789 billion of U.S. Debt

On Oct. 30 Soros gave a lecture called "The Way Ahead, Comments On China" at Central European University that clearly delineates a new policy agenda for the United States and the Bretton Woods countries.

Soros claims that "the Washington Consensus [of keeping global capital moving around the world] has failed". New potential leaders of the global economy stand to benefit from a failure of this fundamentalist strategy of globalization, and:

The United States stands to lose the most, and China is poised to emerge as the greatest winner[...]China has discovered a remarkably efficient system of unleashing the creative, inquisitive and entrepreneurial activity of the people who are allowed to pursue their self-interests, while the state can cream off a significant portion of the surplus value of their labor by maintaining an undervalued currency and accumulating a trade surplus.

China can either spread the use of state capitalism to the detriment of the global economy, or they could work in a multilateral system to further a kind of hybrid internationalist system of economic and financial markets regulation.

China could help re-write the rules on financial regulation, introducing a new role for emerging market countries, who have until now suffered the brunt of, ironically, the speculation against currency led by people like Soros, causing massive loans given out by the World Bank and IMF, offering sometimes impossible terms of agreement, and further troubles.


That is what a new Bretton Woods conference could accomplish in one fell swoop. It would reconstitute the IMF to better reflect the prevailing pecking order among states and revise its methods of operation. It would decide how to treat financial institutions that are too big to fail and it would consider new rules to control capital movements. The total freedom of financial capital to move around internationally has proved to be a source of instability and needs to be curbed.

The process needs to be initiated by the United States, but China and other developing countries ought to participate in it as equals. They are reluctant members of the Bretton Woods institutions which are dominated by countries that are no longer dominant. The rising powers need to be present at the creation of the new order to ensure that they will be active supporters of it.

BIG PROBLEM, though, credibility and relationship trust-wise: China has engaged in somewhat unsavory behavior by getting into relationships with countries isolated form the world community of nation-states that formerly led the now defunct Washington Consensus -- countries like Burma, North Korea, and now Guinea, whose leader Moussa Dadis Camara is accused of directing soldiers to shoot into a crowd of opposition supporters during recent elections.

There is hope:

Why should China submit to a new multilateral system in view of the fact that it is set to emerge as the winner from the current turmoil? The answer is equally simple. In order to continue rising it must make itself acceptable to the rest of the world. That means that it must move towards a more open society, combining an increased measure of individual freedom with the rule of law. Given the current military power relations, China can continue rising only in a peaceful environment where the rest of the world willing accepts the rise of China.

That last bold statement for emphasis? Well, I don't see that happening. Soon. Even though, as Soros admits earlier in the lecture, keeping things in their current state is in itself still a threat to the stability of the Communist Party's rule.

At the same time, an international system based on state capitalism would inevitably lead to conflicts between states. The first signs of conflict are already beginning to surface because, ironically, China is repeating the mistakes of the colonial powers in dealing with the countries that are rich in natural resources just at a time when the colonial powers have learned from their past mistakes and are trying to rectify them. In order to gain access to natural resources, China is dealing with the rulers and neglecting the people. This helps oppressive and corrupt regimes to stay in power. This is an undesirable outcome but China is not the only one to be blamed for it. When a Chinese company tried to buy Unocal, it was rebuffed. And more recently, Rio Tinto reneged on a deal to sell an interest to a Chinese company. This has pushed China into dealing with those countries that the international financial institutions have shunned—Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo and Angola stand out.

The Chinese and the United States both face equally challenging choices. The United States must take on a new manner of thinking and help China become an equally powerful leader on the world stage. The Chinese, as much as they have gained by their effort to allow America to put itself into so much debt it threatens its existence, must also relent and be an equal partner, emerging as a stable and democratic culture and country.

Otherwise, not much hope of tomorrow. So, what can the G20, President Obama, the Japanese, and the UK do to make something new and positive happen?

China must be brought into situations that are multilateral, and helped to reduce the pressures internally -- the subjugation of free market forces caused by political arrangements, and the rampant corruption that instigates the clear but subtle fear that the center of the Communist Party can not enforce its will, and etc.

But the goal may be a good one. Soros, to close:

To sum up: the world is facing a choice between two fundamentally different forms of organization. We may label them international capitalism and state capitalism. The former, represented by the United States, has broken down and the latter, represented by China, is in the ascendant. The path of least resistance leads to the gradual disintegration of the international financial system as we know it. Yet a system of bilateral relations is liable to generate conflicts between states. A new multilateral system based on sounder principles needs to be invented. That would serve the best interests of both the United States and China and of course the rest of the world.

Spread it around. And email me, or leave a comment if you want the whole pdf. I can email it to you. dcrets [at] iirusa [dot] com

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chair in Space

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Good News For Canada: Overseas Spending on Education Huge

Toby Chu of CIBT Education writes in to alert us to a report about overseas spending on education, or how much money comes into an economy from education-seeking overseas students. It's skewed towards Canada, but:

The report shows the amount of spending by international students and the economic impact it has on the Canadian economy. From “China market” alone, international education services accounted for $1.31 billion to Canada’s export revenue, ranked no 1 on all other export of goods from Canada to China (table 15, Page 31). Total revenue from the Top 10 Student source countries amounted to $5.5B dollars of direct education spending (tuition). Yet, Canada is far behind from Australia, Japan or New Zealand ranked only 4th place in global market share at an annual growth rate of 8% (22% for New Zealand).

The good news is: Canada has the resources and attraction that are appealing to international students, plenty of room for growth and the competition is still light when compared to the big picture. Recent announcements by the Canadian federal and provincial government indicated their strong support on the international education which is also encouraging news for Canada’s international education sector.

At CIBT, our two core business objectives are, from our corporate mission statement:

"1) using Canada as our solid base to export western education to emerging Asia, and

2) using our growing infrastructure in Asia to attract international students to study in North America”.

I am not aware of any other for-profit education player that offers the same service and business model as CIBT, or has the same level of infrastructure ``both in Asia and North America`` that is ready to capture this growing market. Finally, among the Top 10 International Student Source Countries in the world, CIBT & Sprott Shaw has operations or student recruitment teams located on the grounds of 8 out of 10 countries.

Toby Chu will be speaking at the Education Industry Investment Forum.

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President Barack Obama Says the Internet is an Educator

During his town hall in China, President Barack Obama talks about how the internet opened up opportunities for himself and for his daughters. He says that he was able to win the presidency with help from the internet.

And he says that that his daughters Sasha and Malia are able to look up information on China and learn anything they want to learn.

Here's that video clip:

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Video of Obama Meeting with Chinese Youth in Town Hall Style Gathering

这在美国总统和中国人之间的第一个市政厅会议,被带来以一个活格式和通过问题被提供在互联网。 您能观看网上录影这里,但是您大概是,如果您讲中文。 由于it' 在中国网的s。

So, it starts out with an intro from the Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman in Mandarin and in English.

Unfortunately, I think President Barack Obama mixed up the greeting. He said, "No Ho." I think he meant to say "Nin Hao." The Chinese were too polite, or mindful of their international exposure, to correct him. So they applauded generously.

Here is the first Chinese town hall meeting format by a United States president in China.

President Barack Obama receives town hall questions and online questions from Chinese netizens.

"No global challenge can be solved without the Chinese and the United States cooperating." -- United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

Trade between United States and China: US$400 billion per year.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Will Adveritising Support the Social Network Media Model?

I have found some information that would be useful for all the start-up entrepreneurs out there, who are increasingly growing education social networks that support the building of curriculum, lesson plans and digitally-enhanced teaching methods.

Ethan Zuckerman is questioning whether advertising can support a social network media model in the long-run.

Zuckerman writes at his

Internet advertising works extremely well in the context of a search engine. Many searches are intended to lead to transactions, so matching a paid ad to a query is sometimes a good user experience. Advertising can work well in the context of niche content – a website focused on cross-country skiing is a great place to advertise to cross-country skiers, and there’s a decent chance they’re going to be interested in learning about your ski wax. Ads on sites like Facebook work much less well, and while targeting those ads based on demographics may make them more effective, that targeting doesn’t fix the core problem: people are using social network sites to communicate, not to consume content, and they don’t want to be bothered by ads when they’re communicating.

The good news – for users annoyed by ads, not for advertisers – is that we appear to learn very quickly how to ignore online advertising. comScore, a company that monitors user behavior on the web for advertisers, reported in 2007 that only 32% of internet users clicked on banner ads in a given month. By 2009, that number had fallen to 16% of internet users, and that a core 8% of all internet users – “Natural Born Clickers” (yes, that’s what they called the studies) – are responsible for 85% of all banner clicks on the web.

Read the rest. Zuckerman puts information about advertising and click-through rates into perspective.

Essentially, there are not enough new users available to come online and click on the banner ads, for instance, that advertisers use to generate interest and income / revenue.

Pay attention to Zuckerman. He's on to something: people pay attention to what they love. Other people, not advertisers, are likely to pay for the data that erupts from that community collaboration.

I'm reminded of a couple of projects I worked on in Hong Kong. They dealt with marketing, advertising, and the use of participatory media or the focus of niche channels in traditional broadcasting to drive revenue and sales of goods and services.

Some companies in Asia have figured out that you have to link reputation of the blogger or the social network participant with the reputation of the product. [ed note: I focus on Asia, because that's what I know better] This is something that Coca-Cola does quite well in China. Also, Dell was very good at it. And so was, China's largest web portal.

I wrote about this for Media Partners Asia in Hong Kong.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Internet: Two-Way Interactive Education is Both Marketing and Medium

Some interesting WES data that I found on

International student recruitment strategies are focused more on the social media and social networking space.

A little more than half of the respondents indicated that they recruit using social media because almost all (91% of those responding) believe prospects are using it. The most used social media platforms are Facebook (95%), Twitter (54%) and Youtube (43%). The main reason social media is not being used was indicated as lack of staff resources.

Two thirds of the research respondents (66%) indicated that their website was the most important channel for their outreach programs with online advertising a far second at 18%. However, the largest allocation of the marketing budget is for printed materials, accounting for 11-25% of annual budgets. Not surprisingly, the two greatest challenges for recruiters in achieving their international enrollment goals were the availability of financial aid (37%) and travel budget concerns (34%).

How do recruiters of international students link efforts with value, or cost with return in using a social media model?

It's a given that using social media is an extremely low cost way to market to students, because in most cases, the most prized audience is already using the medium you wish to use.

But do you spend money on advertising, or just recruit other students to blog and post your recruitment efforts in the right space?

My general impression of advertising is that the audience for advertising is cynical of advertising unless it is interactive. I think WES is on to something positive here with the effort it's pushing to to interactive webinars and chats online.

StraighterLine CEO Burck Smith, not affiliated with WES as far as I am aware, is delivering low-cost high-quality schooling on the internet. This generation uses almost nothing but the internet.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being Gladwellian: An Education in Not Listening to Experience

What is cliche? I believe cliche is the uttered evocative statement that has lost its evocation. It is gloss over nuance and the rivets that keep life together.

Maureen Tkacik gets a little gruff with Malcolm Gladwell over his cliches, but I'm not telling how she ends her own essay. You can read Gladwell for Dummies for yourself.

She reviews his work and posits that he is not the Francisco Redihe thinks he is. In other words, he is a person who glosses over truth, and speaks pretty for industry titans. He's not the guy who has found a new way to deduce what is happening in reality.

Here's her take:

Stars! They're just like us. Which is to say, every time Gladwell begins to close in on a conclusion of real meaning or intellectual impact, he clicks his heels and returns to the mental Melrose Place of quippy clichés. What's more, he apparently has no problem espousing the whole-truthness of two antithetical clichés--the innateness of genius and "The Power of Context" (as Gladwell had christened this truism in The Tipping Point) at almost simultaneous moments in time. Reduced further, depending on Gladwell's narrative needs, genius is either nature or nurture, and he has cheerily eaten his cake, wrapped it up neatly in a take-away box and left us wondering where the crumbs disappeared to.

It may seem obvious to some that these are false dichotomies; neither half is ever true to the exclusion of the other. But that is the rub: there are a great many book buyers determined to hedge their bets in precisely this Gladwellian mode. Depending on the situation, they want to believe in the sovereign power of either nature or nurture--to convince themselves that anyone can be a success but also that should one be so unfortunate as to fail, that failure was predestined by an accident of fate. This is the contradictory "story of success" that runs through Gladwell's articles, The Tipping Point and Outliers. The "power of apparent inevitability," as The Economist termed it, is a narrative that his hungriest readers can use to explain any turn their lives might take, and it was precisely these readers who flooded Gladwell's e-mail inbox with raves about how The Tipping Point had empowered them to take control of their lives and "contexts."

And here:

By the time Gladwell produced a sequel to The Tipping Point, Blink, his preference for light vignettes featuring plucky heroes over grimmer fare was proving its own insult. In Blink's afterword, he describes the book as "a journey into the wonders of our unconscious" but one that should not "be confused with the unconscious described by Sigmund Freud, which was a dark and murky place filled with desires and memories and fantasies that were too disturbing for us to think about consciously." Instead, Blink plumbs an unconscious realm that is surprisingly hospitable. Gladwell makes the case that because human existence is entirely too rich and nuanced to be reducible to data or logic (and by extension, to arguments or allegations), reason and reflex blend over time to yield snap decisions that are often better than the best-laid plans.

Oh, but it gets better.

In that case, perhaps Gladwell's intellectual compromises are neither commercial nor unintentional but rather a necessary outgrowth of his higher calling: to explore the secret workings of the world and impart the resulting data to its self-appointed stewards, the titans of industry. This conclusion, if true, may resolve many of the most puzzling incongruities riddling Gladwell's articles: his continued defense of the pharmaceutical industry even as he advocates for single-payer healthcare; his refusal to indict the financial sector's rigged "star system" as the engine of corruption that it is; the meticulous bleaching of his own prose so that he's whitewashed out any real context, any framework in which wars and economic collapses can actually be understood as wars and economic collapses rather than simulations or malfunctions; his near total avoidance of academic thought that does not base its findings on things observed in labs (with the exception of Carl Jung, whose legacy he reduces to the popularization of personality tests); his coyness about politics; and most memorably, his irritating, unrelenting readability.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Did Arne Duncan Save Healthcare?

Arne Duncan part of last minute health care deal

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African-American Workers Laid Off in Strikingly Bleak Numbers

Fast Company, where I maintain a blog, puts up some incredible analysis of a recent New York Times infographic, and it's something that you should pay attention to, with your thinking cap situated firmly on your head.

Take for example that the unemployment rate for what Fast Company describes as "black" men and women "without a high school degree" is 42.7%. How can our economy survive with that statistic? And what is being done about helping these people maintain a high school education to receive the degree, or go back to high school and get a certification?

The other question this raises for me is this: is there proof that completing high school serves in and of itself as an incentive to go and get a higher degree?

How are degrees-to-job satisfaction or job acquisition ratios calculated? Are they tabulated anywhere? I'd like to see how often someone with a high school degree decides not to go to a higher degree course.

You can read the whole thing below:

Jobless Rate for people like you

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Tom Vander Ark: ESEA "Must Reflect the 'good school' Promise"

According to Tom Vander Ark, partner of Revolution Learning and executive keynote speaker at Education Industry Investment Forum, the Department of Education should create partnerships with the private sector to meet the enormous challenge of creating the system of education that American students deserve.

And there's more:

This ESEA should be forward leaning. It should incorporate online assessment and anticipate the continued growth of online learning. School networks that blend online and on-site learning and targeted tutoring should be harnessed in the effort to turn around thousands of struggling schools.

ESEA must reflect the ‘good school’ promise intended by NCLB—every family in America deserves access to at least one good public school. Fulfilling this promise requires strong support and strong accountability, new tools and new schools, and it will require public and private investment. The private sector is ready, willing, and able to help America meet the educational challenges of the next decade.

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Race to the Top Set for FAIL

This seemed to have a bit of the rhetorical flourish, but then, it is something that business people talk about when they talk about how they would like to nourish and invest in the American education sector.

Why Race to the Top is set to fail takes a look at how inefficiencies, improper evaluation of performance and talent, and a lack of clear thinking on curriculum and life skills in American education is setting Race to the Top to fail.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

India: Enabling Investments in Education

This post was written by Rahul Choudaha, who runs Dr. Education.

India's Human Resources Minster Mr. Kapil Sibal aims to increase Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education from current 12% to 30% by 2020.

Mr. Sibal, who is control of the country's education portfolio, says that this translates into a need for 14,000 additional general colleges, 12,775 professional institutes and 269 universities over the next 11 years. (Indian higher education system follows the model of multiple independent colleges affiliated to a common degree-awarding university). Government understands that it would not be able to achieve it without private investment. To achieve this scale of expansion with speed, Mr. Sibal is actively exploring options to streamline regulatory structure and encourage private investment.

Apart from a host of public-private partnerships the minister is also considering to allow for setting up a not-for-profit entity under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956.

Current regulatory structure only recognizes institutions which are set up as non-profit trusts or societies. While the registration under section 25 as company would still require a non-profit objective it would enable recognition from the regulatory body and help in managing in a more scalable, professional and accountable manner at a national level.

Posted by:
Rahul Choudaha (PhD, MBA, BE)
blog: Dr. Education
New York, New York

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Chris Whittle to Speak at FuturED Symposium During EIIF

We have great news for the third day of the Education Industry Investment Forum.

Chris Whittle, founder of Edison Schools, will be opening up the third day with a keynote on international schooling. We can provide more details later, so stay tuned.

For now, check out our static home site at Education Industry Investment Forum to download the brochure.

We will be adding more information about Mr. Whittle soon.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

TeamEDU Acquires Piccolo International University

It must be the magic of this Education Industry Investment Forum brand. Another speaker writes in to inform of us of good news in his company. This news is about a very recent school purchase

Steve Cooper, CEO of TeamEDU, tells us that he has just purchased the Piccolo International University division of Piccolo Education Systems, Inc., helmed by Laura Palmer-Noone. He sent along a press release.

Piccolo Education Systems announces the sale of its Piccolo International University division here.

Here's a clip from the press release:

Capstone Partners LLC, the investment banking firm that assisted Piccolo in the transaction, has also been retained by the company to secure growth capital and pursue strategic acquisition opportunities. Presently, Piccolo and Capstone are in advanced discussions with various investor groups related to a significant growth investment, a portion of which will help fund an acquisition currently under preliminary agreement.

"This transaction will allow us to focus our resources on larger scale growth initiatives. In turn, acquiring additional educational institutions, or operating as a management overlay to an existing organization, will expedite our core goal of operating an accredited institution of higher learning," said Laura Palmer Noone, president and chief executive officer of Piccolo Educational Systems. "We are seeing excellent opportunities in the post secondary education sector and believe our planned business model, supported by our deep management expertise, will represent a compelling educational offering for students worldwide."

Laura Palmer-Noone is also a speaker at the Education Industry Investment Forum.

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Rob Crawford, CEO, Life Development Institute Invited to Qatar

I received this email from Rob Crawford, CEO, Life Development Institute. Hew was selected as a finalist for the WISE awards, sponsored by the Government of Qatar. He didn't win the award, but he was selected to attend the forum in Doha. We say kudos to him. It's a great moment for him, as he explains below.

LDI was selected as a laureate finalist in Pluralism for the WISE awards, and I say thank you again to the many of you sending expressions of support and good luck.

While not being one of the two awarded this honor, I have been asked to this "invitation only" forum representing a voice of innovation, inclusion, and change for people with disabilities for this international event. There are two breakout sessions specifically focusing on planning a global educational future for the 750 million people identified with disabilities by the World Health Organization. The program and invited participants can be found at the link in the cover letter above.

It is a great tribute to our program and collaborative community partners to be able to contribute to this international dialogue. I am but one voice calling attention to the needs of those we serve as well as to the many more without a voice who have little to look forward to or hope for change.

If you are so inclined, please send me an email or phone call with specific questions or ideas that can be shared at this event as it concerns the movement to improve the quality of life for people with learning and neuro-diveristy issues.

Congratulations, Rob. We look forward to seeing you at the Education Industry Investment ForumMarch 1-3, 2010 in Phoenix.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Education Companies for the BankNote Building

To attract education companies, the BankNote building will build a campus.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How I Work

This is an illuminating article about how the founder of 37signals Jason Fried works.

Key takeaway:

I usually get to work between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Of the 16 people at the company, eight of us live here in Chicago. Employees come to the office if and when they feel like it, or else they work from home. I don't believe in the 40-hour workweek, so we cut all that BS about being somewhere for a certain number of hours. I have no idea how many hours my employees work -- I just know they get the work done.

I spend most of my day writing. I write everything on our website. Communicating clearly is my top priority. Web writing is terrible, and corporate sites are the worst. You don't know what they do, who they are, or what they stand for. I spend a lot of time taking a sentence and reworking it until it's perfect. I love the editing process.

Our blog has more than 100,000 readers, but I don't post every day. I write when I have something specific to say. I recently wrote a scathing piece on the tech media. It really bothers me that the definition of success has changed from profits to followers, friends, and feed count. This crap doesn't mean anything. Kids are coming out of school thinking, I want to start the next YouTube or Facebook. If a restaurant served more food than everybody else but lost money on every diner, would it be successful? No. But on the Internet, for some reason, if you have more users than everyone else, you're successful. No, you're not.

Truth. Being spoken.

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PS22 Is Singing a Song from The Cure

Pictures of You

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Claude Levi Strauss Dies, Father of Modern Anthropology Study

Via BoingBoing, which pastes this glorious quote below the video on their site, which I will also post here.

"Among the more striking conclusions of his work was the idea that there is no fundamental difference between the belief systems and myths of so-called 'primitive' races and those of modern western societies."

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Lunch: Tofu Koans

You can follow us on Twitter, where during lunch I often spout off tofu-induced koans about reality, learning, education and imagination.

Seriously, something about a good Thai food dish sends me back to Thailand, and then thinking about reality in the way that Buddhists might. Questioning the assumption that what I am experiencing is actually real, and what more can be made of that, once it is understood that illusion has a way of seeming real.


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Women NOT Making Money: Addressing a Need

This entry was written by Myra Sawyers, former teacher, current founder of the EPIC Project

When it comes down to it, "doing what you love" is a wonderful motivator for career choices and entry, but this pursuit of a good quality of life issue is more than just choosing a career that is the hallmark of your passion. The most important factor is wanting a salary that is commensurate with your experience, your value and your talent. As Myra Sawyers writes in today's blog entry about women in the workforce, many women are being left out of the salary equation.

Many years ago, I left a job as an aide on Capitol Hill to go into teaching. Many people thought I was crazy, but I was doing what I really wanted to do. I knew what the challenges were going to be, but I was ready for them. Or so I thought. Finally after 4 years of teaching, I left. Sure there were personal reasons, but I knew I was ready to move on. I knew there were other things I could do that would provide me with greater flexibility and pay more.

My passion is teaching. Many choose teaching because they, too have the same passion; however, divert from it because they do not want to deal with the monumental challenges and not be compensated for it. The salaries of teachers have been and continue to be the lowest of any profession requiring the same amount of education and having a high level of responsibility.

Are deeper issues at play here? Is there a greater social truth hidden in the teaching profession that we are ignoring?

Yes, I think so and it is, women professions don't pay!

Here are some interesting tidbits:

Women in life sciences are paid 1/3 less.

A look at world levels of teaching salaries

There still seems to be a belief in this country that professions that are predominantly women, (76% of teachers are women) are not primary incomes; that most women work for "extra" money and that their husbands are the primary bread winners.

This is not true. Currently, 40% of women who work, are the primary income earners in their household. In teaching, the average salary of a teacher in $31,000, but the average salary of a principal is $75,000 (80% of principals are males). Sure, one could argue principals have to work all year (teachers have summers off) and they have more responsibility. That is the perception, but there is very little truth to it. I know. I also suspect, there is a gender "worthiness" problem. Do women in "women professions" think they deserve to make six figures? Why don't they negotiate higher salaries? Currently, there are actually efforts to change this. Teachers making $125,000 with a bonus. Why not? Why should principals make more?

With the recession, there are many "movements" to help women go back to work, and apparently, money is the number one driver for women, career-wise. Carol Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin, graduates of Harvard Business School and authors of Back on The Career Track have developed iRelaunch, which provides career re-entry programs to moms who want to enter back into the workforce. It will be interesting to see how many choose to enter teaching. Will this new wave of women challenge the system to take their work seriously?

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

That Really Is Incredible Skydiving

Here's something for your Saturday Halloween afternoon.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Productive Day, or Non-Productive Day

Here's a way you can be totally unproductive today: if you live in New York City, let's try to estimate which subway lines bring the most Halloween costumes into Manhattan. Right now, the D Line is losing, big time. I didn't see one costume the entire ride.

A friend in the office marked one: a man in a corporate suit, with a cardboard box shaped like a robot head on his head. Stunning. 5 Train wins!

Now, here's a way you can be very productive this morning. The director of the journalism school at my alma mater, University of Hong Kong, chatted with me last night and alerted me to the fact that George Soros is giving a series of lectures on his thinking about economics.

She said he is refashioning the way he thinks about even his own economics. George Soros lectures sponsored by the FT can be found at the link.

From the link:

George Soros explores the conflict between capitalism and open society, market values and social values. Focusing on the principal-agent problem, he will use contemporary economic and political examples to challenge market fundamentalism while presenting ideas for protecting the public good more effectively

He also gave a lecture that should be up on that site now at the University of Hong Kong about China. I have not seen it. But I want to. Have to get to it later in the day.

George Soros on the future of China.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chalkboard Blog

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NYC Teacher's Union Holding Out for 4% Raise?

The story in the New York Times says that the contract for New York City's unionized teachers runs out this week.

This contract, which delineates the pay and perks for New York City teachers, expires on Saturday.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Motivated but Directionless Indian Students !!

This post was written by Surabhi Dewra, founder of
Mera Career Guide.

It is a known fact that the most successful people in the world are those who listened to their heart. Yes, Steve Jobs dropped out of college and went ahead with what he wanted to do. Amitabh Bachchan risked his career by abandoning a reputed job to pursue his calling of shining out in the glamor world. This is the power of following your dream career !

You may wonder why I am talking so vehemently about this, but isn't your career the most important element of your life? Lets do some Math.

In total, the average Indian student spends 17-18 years of her life preparing for a career, and the rest of her life living that career.

Today most students in India make career choices unassisted. They are not sure how to make good career decisions, and are not clear, even just prior to graduation, what they want to do when they enter the workforce. Too many youth do not have the good fortune of enjoying ready access to good mentors in their home situations.

It would not be wrong to call Indian Youths more than ever "motivated but directionless".

Before starting the concept of career portal Mera Career Guide, I did some research on the Indian Education System and came across the fact that in the early days of nation building the focus of education policy was on educating the masses and raising the standard of literacy. This not too far off from the impulses of the early United States government.

Thus, much effort was spent on emphasizing technical education to support economic growth because the urgent task was to create jobs to support the economy and train workers to fill these posts.

Today India needs to understand its age of knowledge-based economy which demands a new approach to career development to meet the skills and labor force demands of the coming decades.

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Eliminating the Non-Compete Clause

There's an effort afoot to eliminate non-compete clauses because they are unfair and because they limit competition instead of preserve the domain of competition.

The other thing that companies can do to help their employees become more productive is to actually lower the firewalls around social networking and other online sites. There is actually tons of information out there that a productive, progressive and innovative employee can use. For some reason, many companies try to enforce this mentality that all work happens within the walls of the organization and that anything outside of those walls is a distraction.

I don't agree with this mentality, because it assumes that points of contact outside of a company don't accentuate the company's mission.

In a web 2.0 world, your business is not just here, it's also over there.

We should be communicating in more ways and more often with others.

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Aviary Gets US$7 Million for Artist Web Start-Up

Spark Capital and other investors, including a Jeff Bezo-linked firm, have given Avi Muchnick, Aviary’s founder and chief executive, about US$7 million to get the online start-up running.

The top-up of capital is meant to help the company, which provides a service for online art creation, break into two roaring themes in online:

Aviary taps into two big trends. The first is virtual goods, which some have estimated could be a $1 billion industry this year. Facebook and Ning recently announced new virtual gift shops that let more people create and sell virtual goods. Aviary lets other Web sites plug its technology into their sites for users to create virtual goods.

The second trend is the way the Internet has transformed its users into creators. People come online not just to read or look or listen or buy, but also to create their own written material or music or virtual goods.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cantonese Loses Ground to Putonghua in Chinatown

This article about the new dominance of Mandarin learning in New York City's China Town took me back briefly to a previous life.

I don't exactly agree with its premise, that Cantonese is being "swept away". Hong Kong has for it entire history has dealt with the seemingly always looming threat that the Cantonese culture and language is going to be eradicated by mainland Chinese influence, or some other global trend.

Three years ago, I moved into my first solo apartment in Hong Kong, and it was right across the school. I absorbed A LOT of Cantonese because in Hong Kong the teaching method is basically call and response learning -- you yell Cantonese words into a megaphone and wait for the children to shout them back to you.

Cute. But not at 8.15 am, long before I want to roll out of bed and go to work.

Having lived in Hong Kong, I can tell you that Hong Kong is a neighborhood language, spoken by a HUGE diaspora of Chinese immigrants who fled China or moved to the United States, Canada or other "western" countries in order to find a new life. No matter how many years these people will live away from Hong Kong or Guangzhou, it's my understanding that speaking Cantonese is a way of life.

So is the debate about the dialect's sustainability. Hong Kongers come from a place that is always rapidly changing -- the dialect itself is immensely fluid and flexible. There are young speakers of Cantonese today who speak a version of Cantonese that their grandparents don't even understand, and vice versa.

I think that the speakers of Cantonese in New York must be behaving pragmatically. It makes total sense to know Mandarin if you do business with China. And every country on earth does business with China.

Here's the link again: Learning Chinese in New York

Cantonese, a dialect from southern China that has dominated the Chinatowns of North America for decades, is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.

The change can be heard in the neighborhood’s lively restaurants and solemn church services, in parks, street markets and language schools. It has been accelerated by Chinese-American parents, including many who speak Cantonese at home, as they press their children to learn Mandarin for the advantages it may bring as China’s influence grows in the world.

When I was in China Town, I also heard Shanghaiese, Yunnan dialects, Taiwanese mandarin. But you also hear this in China, and in Hong Kong.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beauty Schools in Florida To Receive Funding Makeover

Can someone with an informed opinion about cosmetology schools and the Pell Grant system explain to me the importance of the stimulus package directing about US$2.3 million to beauty schools in Florida?

There is this bit in the article I link to:

The stimulus money is being paid to beauty schools in the form of Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income students. The grants don't have to be repaid.

The government doesn't allocate the money based on an assessment of what kinds of job skills are in demand. Rather, students apply to the government for the grants and if eligible can put the money toward the vocational school, college or university to which they've been accepted.

The government sends the grant money directly to schools.

The stimulus bill includes $17 billion to boost the Pell Grant program and raise the maximum annual award from $4,731 to $5,350.

Does this rise in Pell Grant allocation occur all over the country, or is it happening only in select states, like Florida?

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Harvard University's Interest Rate Bet Ends in Loss

Harvard University hedged that interest rates would rise. When they didn't, the financial team at Harvard had to pay US$500million to get out of US$1.1 billion in derivatives contracts.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Responsibility and Teachers

This post comes from Myra Sawyers, a former teacher and founding member of the Epic Project:

There are people who want to help build better education systems in America. In order to do that, you have to really know what is going on, and it's not pretty. It's actually kind of revolting.

Fewer and fewer qualified talented people are going to leave the profession, because the pay is sometimes not very good, and there are intractable problems.

Teachers take a lot of hits. I know, I have taken a few myself. We endure quite a bit in and out of the classroom. Most people know all about the challenges teachers face and talk about it but that is usually as far as it gets. This indifference has had its impact. Good or bad? The latter, I would argue.

I know there are teachers who are not doing a great job; just like there are doctors, lawyers, corporate executives (did I mention corporate executives?! phew, just checking...) who aren't and need to be fired. BUT (and I must emphasize this), there are far more great teachers then there are bad ones! (I will save that discussion for another time..)

In my many years of teaching in the classroom and on the college level, I have only come across one person who I would consider a "bad" teacher. However, bad publicity is having an impact on attitudes and perceptions. No one I know would disagree that teaching is not a respected profession; which it should be. Many parents and students have done very terrible things to teachers, and teachers have paid dearly(public humiliation, job loss, financial ruin, etc.).

I attached a link to a documentary film that a friend of mine is working on that is exposing "holding centers" for teachers in New York City. These centers are for teachers who have had allegations (true or false) made against them. Someone once called this place "Teachers Git-Mo". Funny? Not really...

Does this shock you? Why is this happening? Should these rooms exist? If a teacher is guilty, shouldn't they be fired? If a teacher is innocent, shouldn't they be put back in the classroom?

If we are going to change the school system and develop models that are really going to have an impact, then we have to pay attention and know what we are dealing with. There are monumental forces that are having a severe (and it's not all good!) impact on our children's lives. If we do not meet these forces head-on and challenge them, they will continue to maintain the status quo and our children and nation will pay the high price.

Oh, and did I mention the drop-out rate in New York is 52%...

What do you think happens to these kids?

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For-profit education: US Trends and Lessons for India

This post is from Rahul Choudaha, who writes for Dr.

I have posted an entry on the trends in the US for-profit higher education and its implications for the Indian higher education market at my other blog.

The biggest constraint for India remains the regulatory environment, even though there is significant interest and energy from investors and entrepreneurs. Apart from changes required in the investment and regulatory environment, one key lesson for investors and entrepreneurs interested in the Indian higher education market is the ability to create a sustainable and competitive business model. Prof. Vance H. Fried in his recent article on the future of for-profit higher education comes to this conclusion: "Higher education is a large, mature industry that is being reshaped by innovation. While some of the innovation is in technology, the primary innovation is in business models."

Detailed posting is available at DrEducation.

Rahul Choudaha, PhD
New York

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Michelle Obama: "Teachers Important to Strength of Economy"

This morning, I realized that Michelle Obama wrote a column yesterday about the role that teachers play in improving the economy. From a business perspective, there's not much in here that's new. We all know that better education in the form of training students to contribute to global needs is important.

I think this article is important because it shows that the Obamas, as a family, seem to be heading this push to fund education as much as they can. So, here's basically the "nut graf," as they say in the news business. The rest is kind of purple prose. Here you go:

We need universities to double down on their efforts to prepare teachers and to improve and expand effective alternative routes to certify teachers. We need to encourage more experienced professionals to consider teaching as the next chapter in their careers. And we need to treat teachers like the professionals they are by providing good salaries and high-quality professional development opportunities. We need parents to do their part as well to match that leadership in the classroom with leadership at home. We need to set limits and turn off the TV. We need to put away those video games and make sure that homework gets done. We need to reinforce the example that's being set and the lessons being taught at school and make sure that learning continues at home.

And we need government to support significant efforts to recruit and retain teachers and to reward high-performing teachers. Along those lines, President Obama is already investing more than $3 billion to turn around struggling schools. And he has proposed a nationwide Teacher Recruitment Program to attract more people to the profession, especially in high-need schools. I look forward to being involved with this program and encouraging people across America to put their leadership skills to work in our nation's schools.

Michelle Obama writes about the importance of teachers in economics

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