Report Cards

Posted on April 29th, 2016 in 21st Century, college, standardized tests

Every two years, the U.S. education system goes through its own version of “Groundhog Day.” Our kids take the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, tests, and we get back a set of scores that just repeat the last cycle — mediocre scores with no improvement. We then get these results framed by top policymakers, with their all-too-predictable quotes: “While the results show a modest decline, we are in the process of transforming and modernizing our curriculum, and look forward to progress in coming years. Make no mistake, these scores continue to show a significant achievement gap between our affluent and low-income students, and we have work Read more »

week 21 of my fifty-state tour: WV, KY, and TN

Posted on March 19th, 2016 in Uncategorized

This week marks a milestone of sorts. I’ve now been at least once to all lower 48 states since I started this campaign last September. If you look at my schedule, I should be exhausted. But if you read what I have to say about my time in West Virginia, you’ll see why I’m not. States remaining in what some call this “No State Left Behind” campaign — Alaska (in April) and Hawaii (in May).

Two meetings stood out for me in West Virginia. I started the day in its capital, Charleston, and headed to a school in a town called Dunbar. I had planned to spend an hour at Dunbar Intermediate School, but canceled a different meeting to spend the morning there. It was Read more »

week 20 of my fifty-state tour: CO, NM, and MD

Posted on March 15th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

Well, I’m officially down the home stretch after week 20, with just West Virginia, Tennessee, Alaska, and Hawaii left to go. By the end of next week, I’ll have been to all states in the lower 48, many two to three times. And instead of finding myself, and this trip, running out of steam, the exact opposite is happening. This week was remarkable in many ways, including a visit to Martin O’Malley (two-time Governor of Maryland and Presidential candidate) to Freeman Hrabowski’s remarkable University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a visit to the U.S. Naval Academy.

I started the week in Denver, where I had a full day that included an evening screening at the Holiday Event Center to a crowd of 300. The day in Denver started with a meeting with Tony Lewis and Amy Anderson of the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Again and again, I find the uber-large foundations to be lost in the weeds when it comes to doing things that make sense, but the small state-focused groups are often doing really interesting Read more »

week 19 of my fifty-state tour — LA and FL

Posted on March 9th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

I spent this week in Louisiana and Florida, two states with their share of education challenge. In this school-year “No State Left Behind” tour, I’m down to seven more states to visit — NM, CO, MD, WV, TN, HI, AK.

After a leisurely 30 hours at home for the weekend (arriving late Friday night after a three-hour plane delay, and leaving early Sunday morning), I headed to Louisiana, not quite sure what to expect. New Orleans in March is fabulous, and I had time to go for a long walk on Sunday. Up early on Monday, though, for the 90 minute drive to state capital Baton Rouge. I started the day with back-to-back meetings with the key state legislators on eduction — Blade Morrish, the Senate chair of the ed committee, and Nancy Landry, the House chair.

Blade told the most interesting Read more »

week 18-ish of my fifty-state tour — BC, CA, IN, KY, IL, IA, and NY

Posted on March 2nd, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

In this nine-month “No State Left Behind” tour, I’m down to nine more states to visit — FL, NM, CO, MD, WV, TN, PA, HI, AK. And, for good measure, I’m tossing in a province of Canada this update, since I had a chance to meet with the chair of the school board for Vancouver, British Columbia, this week. Or actually two weeks, since I’m combining a week mostly off from the tour with a week visting five different states.

Aaarrrgghhh! The TED Conference. I went with the highest of hopes and expectations. But within two days, I was pretty checked out. Not entirely, but pretty. The start for me was really great – a one-hour workshop with The Future Project. They went all out, and gave a briefing to a standing room only crowd. We covered all of the great progress TFP has made, MLTS, and a new platform they’re working on to connect those seeking resources to turbo-charge the futures of young kids with proven initiatives that should be considered. Sir Ken Robinson kindly recorded an intro, and it gives a preview of something important, and helps explain the logic for my collaborating with them.

Now, onto the famous TED Conference. Here’s what the event is like. It’s held in a huge conference center on the waterfront of downtown Vancouver. Most of the day is consumed by talks, organized into sessions with 5-7 talks per session. Some were quite good — Tim Urban, Al Gore, Ken Lacovara. And there were probably more really great talks, but I stopped going. Just getting talked to, hour upon hour, wasn’t appealing to me. Oddly, there were no – and I mean no — opportunities to talk about what we just heard. So it was broadcast only and I just didn’t see the urgency Read more »

week 17 of fifty-state tour: NE, MO, KS, OK

Posted on February 14th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

In this “No State Left Behind” tour, I’m down to eleven more states to visit — LA, IA, FL, NM, CO, MD, WV, TN, PA, HI, AK.

After Austin, I was able to spend the weekend with my brother in San Antonio. He’s spent his career in chemical engineering, with a M.S. from a top school. But he often tells me how his company’s entry level hires know almost nothing, and it takes considerable time on the job before they can make real contributions. Yet, some of the most talented chemical engineers he’s worked with are blocked from supervisory positions for lack of a college degree. Anyway, it was great to catch up with him, his wife, and their dog Cooper. On Sunday, though, it was on to Omaha, Nebraska. Arrived during Super Bore 50, to watch an entire football game that had a grand total of about four good plays in it. Ugh. At least I met up again with my wife on this trip, and she’ll be keeping me company for the next few weeks.

Early morning to Boys Town, meeting with its Executive Director Father Boes. Actually, it’s now Boys and Girls Read more »

week 16 of the fifty-state tour: MT, AZ, TX

Posted on February 6th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour, Uncategorized

I think I’m going to start calling this fifty-state tour during the 2015/2016 school year the “No State Left Behind” tour. As of today, here’s where things stand:

States covered since September, 2015 — KY, OH, ND, SD, UT, TX, ID, IL, WI, NY, MA, RI, SC, CA, NV, MI, MN, VA, DC, NJ, PA, VT, NH, WY, AR, NC, MS, AL, GA, ME, CT, DE, OR, WA, MT, AZ (36)

Started the week in Helena, Montana. At one point, Helena had more per capita millionaires than any other Read more »

week 15 (more or less) of the fifty-state tour: WA, UT, CA

Posted on February 1st, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

States covered since September, 2015 — KY, OH, ND, SD, UT, TX, ID, IL, WI, NY, MA, RI, SC, CA, NV, MI, MN, VA, DC, NJ, PA, VT, NH, WY, AR, NC, MS, AL, GA, ME, CT, DE, OR, WA (34)

OK, I’m cheating a bit on this “weekly” update. I spent a big chunk of this past week at Sundance Film Festival, and the week before in Washington State. And I ducked out of Sundance for two days to go to a California event for lots of district superintendents there. So it’s a bit of a mish-mash, and I’ll hope you let me just condense this into one effective week’s worth Read more »

week 14 of fifty-state tour: NY, DE, and OR

Posted on January 26th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

States covered since September, 2015 — KY, OH, ND, SD, UT, TX, ID, IL, WI, NY, MA, RI, SC, CA, NV, MI, MN, VA, DC, NJ, PA, VT, NH, WY, AR, NC, MS, AL, GA, ME, CT, DE, and OR (33)

All weeks seem busy these days, but one with a mid-week cross-country flight is especially hectic. This week I started in New York, headed south to criss-cross Delaware, and then flew across the county to Oregon. Lots and lots of Read more »

week 13 of fifty-state tour: ME, NH, and CT

Posted on January 10th, 2016 in Fifty-State Tour

States covered since September, 2015 — KY, OH, ND, SD, UT, TX, ID, IL, WI, NY, MA, RI, SC, CA, NV, MI, MN, VA, DC, NJ, PA, VT, NH, WY, AR, NC, MS, AL, GA, ME, CT (31)

Well, after a bit of rest over the holidays, 2016 started off with a big driving week — crisscrossing New England. The good — no, make that great — news is that the weather was outstanding. This time last year, the area was bracing itself for snowfall after snowfall. But this first full week of January was sunny, with unseasonably mild temperatures. This is a bit of good Read more »