Friday, August 30, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Friess Lake and MAKERS (and MIT!?)

I posted recently that Friess Lake will be one of the few schools in the entire Midwest with a full-fledged MAKERS program!!  Yes, we are very excited.

I was just about to walk down to the library for a school board meeting, when I came across this post showing how MIT is now providing a link on their application for young MAKERS.  Looks like we've hitched our chariot to the right horse.  Did I mention that we're very excited :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Musings of Superintendents

I was recently scanning the August edition of the AASA School Administrator magazine.  They have a section called the "Best of the Blogs" featuring a few quotes from the blogs of superintendents across the country.  These two caught my eye:

When philanthropists have potentially useful ideas about education, they should by all means try them out, establish pilot programs, put their money where their mouths are.  But before government officials incorporate those ideas into policy, they must study them carefully and make sure that what sounds reasonable in theory works in practice.  by Michael Maryanski's blog: Needing Better Balance

I continue to find it interesting that state law prohibits bait and switch tactics, but some of the legislature's members endorse this illegal strategy for promoting their own proposals when their proposals won't stand the scrutiny of the facts. by Richard Zimman on his Dr Z's blog   Richard is a friend and former colleague- he just retired!

This last one is a distilled version of some points raised by another friend and recently retired superintendent:

We hear all about these "fat public employee pensions."  People say that public employees are able to retire @ 55 and never work again due to these "Cadillac retirement benefits."  The average public employee pension in the state of Wisconsin is under $25,000!

I finally finished reading the book Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath.  (Previous post)  As I read the three quotes above, I can't help but think of what the Heath brothers call the "Confirmation Bias."  The Confirmation Bias is a common trap, and also a barrier to good decision-making.  In essence, we form an opinion first- and then look for data that supports that view while ignoring or discounting data that runs counter to our belief.

A CEO is successful at running a business- therefore they must know how to run a school.

Legislators, and the political parties they represent, seem to live in a perpetual state of 'confirmation bias.'

How an argument is framed is, essentially, the argument itself.  A discussion about an appropriate pension level for someone after 30+ years of service- and how it should be funded- is perfectly legitimate.  The argument is framed differently though, if someone is convinced- before seeing any numbers- that the current pension amounts are at 'fat cat' or "Cadillac' levels.