November's Message from the President and CEO
And the candidates? Each of them was well informed, focused on policy, and respectful of one another, while still being strong in their opinions. You may not agree with all of them, but each brought their A game, and each has something to offer children and families across Newark. The combination of a wonderful audience and an array of professional and informed candidates, moderated by Rutgers Professor of Law and Associate Dean, the irrepressible Marcia Brown, combined to make the evening a stellar example of what civic discourse at its highest level looks and sounds like in practice.
October's Message from the President and CEO
Just last week I had the privilege of visiting five "pilot" schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. My two big takeaways?
Parents and students are demanding small, theme- based high schools and considered the five that I toured to be "wins" for young people and their families and the education budget in California is much worse than I thought.
I did not expect to visit schools where the average class size is between 45 and 48 students, with many teachers serving the dual role of guidance counselor in assisting students with college essays and applications. One teacher explained that this year they were getting some additional funds to support class size reduction in grades 9 and 10 to between 35 and 38 per class. Even if you only teach four classes a day, I can't imagine what it must be like for an English teacher reading and responding to that many writing assignments!
July's Message from the President and CEO
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Experts in assessment are aware of the "McNamara Fallacy." The thinking behind it dates back to America's involvement in Vietnam and then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's daily assessment of how the war effort was going. Those of us old enough to remember know that day after day, month after month, year after year, we heard news about how our young men and women were doing fighting communists in places far, far away from home. CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite might say "Four American soldiers killed, 15 enemy combatants killed, 27 wounded, and 12 captured in a firefight in a village outside of Hanoi today," The next day new numbers would be recited. "Twenty-two enemies dead, 36 insured, 14 captured. Eight Allied soldiers killed in action, of them 6 Americans, and 12 wounded, of them nine were Americans and three French. None were captured." Cronkite would then sign off the broadcast with his signature "And so it goes."
At home, a very different narrative had emerged. The war was not going well. Americans increasingly did not believe our young men and women should be in Vietnam. It seemed like there was no end in sight, no ground captured, or surrender papers to be signed on a battleship. Many Americans began to feel that whatever reasons we had for sending troops initially was no longer worth dying for, and that our military lacked an end game beyond capturing the same hills over and over.
Herein lies the root of what became known as the McNamara Fallacy. By measuring success with number of enemy vs. Americans killed, wounded, and captured, while the public was applying an entirely different set of metrics to assess the success or failure of the war, McNamara made important those things that were measurable rather than measure what mattered.
Too many educators do the same thing.
June's Message from the President and CEO
"Aren't we all sharing a campus?"
This is the question I raised while serving on a panel organized to focus on what it takes to successfully operate two, sometimes three separate schools sharing one facility. My distinguished panelists were terrific at providing concrete examples of the realities of sharing space and learning from one another. I saw my job—as it frequently is—to frame or re-frame this issue. While I never referenced the Tragedy of the Commons, I choose to introduce the concept with my opening question.
The Tragedy of the Commons is the depletion of shared resources by individuals, governments, or corporations acting independently according to their own self interest, despite their understanding that depleting a common resource will hurt everyone's individual interests in the long run.