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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