Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Laying the Foundation for U.S. Success

I am extremely honored and humbled to be asked to lead the United States back to being a leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The U.S. ranked 23rd in Science and 31st in Math for the 2009 PISA results which is just wrong.  We will not be an economic leader if our students lag so far behind all other countries in STEM knowledge and performance.

The answer is simple but difficult;

  1. Provide the resources to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers who teach STEM subjects
  2. Provide better classroom resources for students
  3. Start in Middle School
That is exactly what Laying the Foundation does - it is a non-profit that focuses on helping middle and high school STEM teachers improve their practice and results and it provides classroom resources to help students get excited about mastering STEM subjects.  The goal is to provide a solid foundation so that these students will eventually take and pass STEM AP exams.

Next Monday I will officially become the CEO of Laying the Foundation.  My modest goal is to bring the United States back to at least a top 5 ranking on the PISA results and ensure our country can remain an economic super-power for years to come.  

We have our work cut out for us.  Our team is amazing, our programs are outstanding and we are ready to help your state or district take a giant leap forward.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blended Learning

Great article by Jonathan Schorr and Deborah McGriff in EdNext called Future Schools, Blending face-to-face and online learning.  They give you a great taste of the success that Rocketship Schools, School of One, Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST), Carpe Diem Collegiate High School and High Tech High. 

This is some great information on the fastest growing and successful part of K-12 learning and deserves a read.  Bottom line - when schools must do more with less, they have to use technology and blended learning can help accelerate learning at a much lower cost.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Military families get a boost from White House

If children of servicemembers are more likely to go into the military, you should make sure they are trained in science, math, engineering and technology so they can become the next generation of soldier, sailor, airman or marine. 

And when an initiative helps achieve multiple goals, it usually gets done in a big way.

Such is the case with the National Math and Science Initiative's new military program - Initiative for Military families that you can read about at the EduMilitary blog!  With White House and DoD backing this will be a great thing for military families!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Education Unsustainable

The impact of the budget woes in this country are going to seriously impact higher education funding and we keep hearing the word unsustainable.  First as it relates to military funding for education and now from the Chronicle on Pell Grants:

"As Congress grapples with a $10.7-billion shortfall in the Pell Grant program, some lawmakers are beginning to ask whether the program, which has been the cornerstone of the federal system of student financial aid for almost 40 years, has become unsustainable.

The cost of Pell Grants has doubled over the past three years, largely because of increases in the number of recipients and growth in the maximum award. This year some 9.4 million students are expected to receive the grants"

Cuts can come in two ways - reduce the maximum award and/or reduce the number of students.  More to come as our unsustainable budget woes increase.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Khan Academy - serious disruptive

Finally watched the TED video of Salman Khan: Let's use to video to reinvent education. Great idea to turn education its head - do homework in school and watch lectures at home.  His thought is that having the lectures on video makes it easier for students to start, stop, rewind, go back to content they have forgotten and just go at their own pace.  Then the teachers and other students can help coach through the problems.  Radical and fascinating education ideas.

The other fundamental difference - getting 10 in a row right in order to move on.  True mastery - for those who are behind, they actually have to master the content before moving on.  And he has data.  The "slow kids" suddenly become advanced about 5 weeks in. 

Technology in education is moving so fast that companies once thought to be leading edge could also be left hind.  It is going to be a wild ride.

Brookline College - great experience

Had a great opportunity to tour Brookline College in Phoenix last Friday and came away very impressed.  There is so much bad publicity surrounding for-profit colleges and universities it is nice to see one that is truly focused on students.  Their belief that growth comes from serving the student and helping them achieve their goals is refreshing in an industry where CPL and CPE dominate the conversation (cost per lead and cost per enrollment).

There will be fallout in the industry.  Areial Sokol just sent an update where he talks about how hard that will be when there is a barrier to exit in this industry because accreditors have made it so difficult for organizations to buy out another player. 

This will be a fascinating time in higher education.  But as long as there are schools like Brookline, for-profits have a chance.

Friday, March 18, 2011

VirtualEDU - taking off!

Game-changer is an overused description lately except as it applies to the NCAA's.  But when VirtualEDU started offering all 300 accredited online middle and high school courses for $49.95, that truly is a game-changer.  In the first 2 weeks of March they had over 150 new students enroll in their online courses from all over the world. 

But that is not all.  We had yet another education leader start their own virtual school through VirtualEDU's turnkey virtual school solutions. This allows our content to be customized to meet truly meet the needs of their students. 

Exciting times in virtual education!  More to come

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gov Martinez - education reforms progress!

Final week for the New Mexico's legislature to help students move out of 49th place in education performance.  Here is an update on the reforms - a lot happens today!

  •    HB 21, legislation to end social promotion in the third grade, is up first on the agenda in the Senate Education Committee tomorrow morning. The committee meeting begins at 9:00 a.m., in the Capitol Room 311. This is the bill’s last stop before hitting the Senate floor.
  •        SB 427 (companion to HB 355), an initiative to grade schools on an A-F scale, is up on the Senate floor tomorrow morning.
  •     HB 355 (companion to SB 427), an initiative to grade schools on an A-F scale, is up in the House Education Committee. The meeting is slated to begin at 8:00 am in the Capitol Room 317.

Governor Martinez’s initiative to reform outstanding New Mexican teachers (SB 502) is slated to be heard in the House Labor and Human Resources Committee on Thursday.

Congrats to all - but especially Secretary Hanna Skandera for keeping things moving.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Incredible Results for Middle School Math

Had a great talk today with Scott Laidlaw of Imagine Education which developed Ko's Journey - an innovative online interactive middle school math game and curriculum supplement.  It is designed to  increase student achievement through game experiences and a once a week tutoring session. 

The results:  those participating were 82% more likely to score in the proficient category compared to their peers.

This is very cool.  Scott and his team focused on making math less scary and reduced increase critical thinking through the scenarios presented. The program can be purchased by schools or for home use. 

More to come as I really believe in using new tools to teach math! 

Friday, March 11, 2011

In Utah: Money follows the student online

Way to go UTAH!!  The easiest way to grow online learning in a state is to allow the funding to follow the student on a per class basis.  This is why Florida has so many students studying online and Utah just passed SB65 which wil allow funding to follwo the students.


One limit is that the school has to Utah based or from a district which is a little limiting.  However it allows students to study when they want and how they want.  It passed 27 - 0 and will pay $700 per class. 

More to come - but this was a huge push for Parents for Choice in Education and good friend, Robyn Bagley.  Congrats to all who work so hard for students.

Senate Hearing on Bridgepoint

Ariel Sokol from UBS covereed the Senate hearin gon Bridgepoint education and I was very glad to see that the hearing really ended up looking at accrediting bodies.  As I pointed out in my Edumilitary blog, we don't need new regulations or new groups to resolve problems in higher education, we need regional accreditation to mean something. 

The hearing really focused on how Ashford maintains regional accreditation with such a low graduation rate (ignoring that public schools graduate less than 50% as well).  To me, this is good news.  The House will not allow any legislation against for-profit schools to pass which is good.  But the industry needs some quality improvements and beefing up the metrics that regionally accrediting groups use would help. 

Sure to be more to come - but let's make sure that regional accreditation means something!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Great resource for in need of online classes

Great article on VritualEDU - take a read.  It is amazing what you can do when you leverage technology to lower the cost of online learning!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Virtual Learning for ALL students

Great press release from VirtualEDU creating a new program to help more students study online - ALL 200 full accredited online high school and middle school courses are available to students for a subscription rate of less than $50 per month. 

If you look at the numbers it is pretty incredible.  The up front cost of a $1,000 per course was keeping students out of online programs.  But bringing the price down to just $49.95 per month is creating a flood of new students to VirtualEDU.

Price was preventing students from enrolling!

I got involved with VirtualEDU because I firmly believe that online learning should leverage technology to lower costs and provide quality education for ALL students.  This press release clearly shows that VirtualEDU is doing just that.

They have also created turnkey virtual schools for charter schools, independent schools, school districts and education entrepreneurs can use to open their own school in months.  This is a great idea for Catholic schools who are hurting in this economy - they can open their own virtual school and attract students from all over the state.

Virtual school is coming  - and opening access to all will increase the speed of adoption.

3 States Push for Virtual Learning

Idaho, Utah and Florida all are pushing hard to increase virtual learning opportunities for all students.

First in Idaho - Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna is pushing to require every student to take an online course before they graduate  - but Senate Bill 1113 stalled in committee which is just sad.

Then Utah - SB65 passed the Senate but need help to move forward and pass in the house (so if you know of someone there, get them to get loud!)  Clayton Christensen, author of Disrupting Class, has an op ed in the Salt Lake Paper: "With the legislation now moving through the Utah House of Representatives — Utah has a significant opportunity to drive this innovation forward by leaps and bounds."

Now Senator Wise in Florida just launched  a bill  which will require all students to take at least one online class.  Florida leads the nation in online learning and they are about to easily double that!!  GO Florida!!  But let's make sure there is more than one provider - such as my friends over at VirtualEDU - because Florida Virtual admits in the article that they are having trouble handling the growth.

Progress is always painful -but it is great to see so many states goin virtual in a big way.

Technorati: U6GX6NE95MYX

Sunday, March 6, 2011

School Spending: not helping

This is a VERY powerful piece written by a teacher.  We continue to hear from Teacher unions that the issues is money.  This opinion piece from the Dallas Morning News says otherwise - it originally appeared in the City Journal.

Gerry Garibaldi: Schools where kids have kids and learning dies

In my short time as a teacher in Connecticut, I have muddled through President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, which tied federal funding of schools to various reforms, and through President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which does much the same thing, though with different benchmarks.
Thanks to the feds, urban schools like mine — already entitled to substantial federal largesse under Title I, which provides funds to public schools with large low-income populations — are swimming in money. At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don’t want for books — or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non-Title I schools can’t afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library.
Here’s my prediction: The money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children — all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Launch your Virtual High School

Great new group out there called VirtualEDU which is offering turnkey virtual schools to school districts, charter schools, private schools and education organizations/entrepreneurs.  For larger organizations, they will work on a profit share with NO up front costs.

Think about this.......
  1. School Districts can open their own virtual school with zero initial investment and keep most of the per student dollars in the district instead of going to other schools.  They can also help home school students and get more per student revenue what
  2. Independent schools, like Catholic Schools, can provide their service state-wide helping out rural areas and increase their revenue to ensure they can continue to serve well into the future - instead of losing students to their virtual competition
  3. Charter Schools can offer online summer school, credit recovery, blended learning without a huge upfront investment
  4. Education organizations and entrepreneurs could have their own private school up and running in a matter of weeks.
This is pretty 'disruptive' stuff - more to come but looking forward to hearing about the first to figure out that their brick & mortar can now compete in the virtual world without spending a ton to get there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For-Profit: Whipping Boys of Congress

Congress was at it again yesterday - taking shots at the for-profit industry and they did not hear from those that deliver the service or those that use the service.

Harkin testified and Harkin hates growth and can't come to grips with the fact that this is an online world - people want online programs and most public universities do a horrible job of getting into this market.  Therefore, consumers gravitate to the best available programs - the for-profits. You can't legislate or regulate what military students want to take!

The worse part is that no one offered any real problems - only some issues that some people in the field raised like one marketer who went through a wounded Marine barracks to get students.  Now - that is horrible but hardly worth indicting an entire industry on some interviews.  How about we gather actual complaint data and then offer it as fact. 

From Harkins actual facts:
  • DoD educational programs at 18 for profit education companies increased from $40 million in 2006 to an unexpected $175.1 million in 2010, a 337 percent increase.
  • Revenue from VA educational programs for the same 18 for-profit education companies increased from $26.3 million in 2006 to an unexpected $285.8 million for 2010, including a fivefold increase between 2009 and 2010.
  • Revenues from military education benefits at 20 for-profit education companies increased more rapidly than overall revenues in every year between 2006 and 2010. 
  • In the first year of Post-9/11 GI Bill implementation, the VA spent comparable amounts on tuition for students attending public schools and students attending for profit schools, but the VA funded 200,000 students at public schools compared to just 75,000 at for-profits
The funny part to me is the "unexpected" increase - let's see.....you put hundreds of millions out there to educate our troops and it is unexpected that economics in a capitalist system work?  It would be unexpected if the for-profits didn't go after these students.

Military students are great students and any good school would want to have them in their student body!  They are decisive, respectful, conscientious and focused on getting results and they have the money to pay for college.  The real indictment should be of the public schools that have done a poor job of attracting these great students by ignoring their need for great online programs and solid outreach.

We have a system that can work in the accreditation process.  The military does not need to set up new systems.  Put some teeth in the accreditation process and only pay out to those who are regionally accredited and you can solve the problem.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

GAO Investigates: DoD Education Funds

Full scoop on the GAO Investigation of DoD Education Funding is over at the EduMilitary Blog - not really as interesting or as scathing as the investigation of for-profit schools - but should still concern some. 

The key, once again, is that for-profit schools do follow the money.  If there are $515 million and over 300,000 students and 71% demand online classes - - for-profit schools are going to be there.  Putting some quality controls in the hands of DoD is probably OK, but do we really need to have another system and more people monitoring?  Can't the Ed department take care of it and report to DoD? 

Seems like they are going to build more rules and make it harder on the small schools to participate while the large ones quickly use their vast financial resources to conquer the new process.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Higher Ed Predators BEWARE

Congress is coming after you - first from the GAO report and now they are going after those that prey on military members who are using tuition assistance to get their education.  Not cool to prey on the military my friends.

See it all here: http://bit.ly/hACXxs