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Lead from the Start: May 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thanks Rasmussen Nice to Meet You

I periodically get emails that look like this:
My name is
_____ from ( We wanted to let you know that we featured your blog in one of our recent articles on our own blog. (50 Best Blogs for Early Childhood Educators), is linked below and could be a fun way to share this announcement with your readers.

Thanks again for your time, and keep up the good work!

I appreciate the attention but I realized quite quickly that it is a marketing ploy and stopped following up. I am sure that believe they have found some of the best blogs in this category. Their inclusion of Teacher Tom affirms this. I just don't give these "lists" much credibility because how they describe the blog doesn' t provide much information. They could have written the description of most from what shows up in a google search.

This has caused me to be highly suspicious of "lists". Now I don't give much cred to anybody who puts me on a list and then emails to let me know they put me on the list. So when I received a similar email from Rasmussen College another online college, I didn't think much of it. But then Rasmussen came up on the Teacher Leaders Network Forum. Apparently, Rasmussen has created a hubub on TLN with their list and our organization has decided to create our own list.

I think Rasmussen had a narrow idea of what "best" would be before they made the list. My work on Pre-K Now is very easy to swallow where as some of my other writing is a little less easy. I am appalled that Nancy, Bill, and Jose aren't on the list but, none of the three of them are easy consumption material. They are all difficult and demand something of the reader.

So thanks Rasmussen for the mention. Maybe you can check out the blogs below for next year.

Nancy Flanagan writes Teacher in a Strange Land with the passion of a first year teacher and the wisdom of a 30 plus year professional. In every post Nancy challenges. She challenges teachers, policymakers, students, parents, and America to just educate better and think about why we are doing it the way we are.

Bill Ferriter is the Tempered Radical . He is definitely radical but never nonsensically so. His consistent challenging of the status quo, whether it is in how we view technology, middle school, or professional development never fails to leave me just a little changed by the end of a post. Bill has a knack for making you reconsider how you see the world even if you don't agree with him.

The Jose Vilson Jose's tag line is "Its not about a salary, its about reality." and that pretty much "sums" (wink) it up for this brilliant writer about the reality of being a middle school math teacher in NYC, Washington Heights. He tackles subjects that most teachers, including me, would never tocuh. Not even with a ten yard stick. He writes with such lyricism and passion that we can taste the chalk dust in his classroom. Does he talk about more than just education? Yes, but thats the point, teachers are more than just educators, they are human beings. Teachers are within a system that they are constantly defending with students and fighting as professional. Jose is not an easy read, and that is why he should be read.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Head Start Fraud: Yes and No

I can't say I don't believe it. That's the only way I can respond to this article in the Washington Post on Head Start enrollment fraud. I am a Head Start employee who fully supports the program but it is really easy to see how this sort of fraud might happen. Often the people who enroll Head Start families are from the community they serve. They want to help their neighbors get in on the good deal that Head Start can be for families.

I can see how something like this could happen,

One D.C. center disregarded $9,600 in reported income to enroll a fictitious family of three. An associate at the center told undercover investigators: "We don't need any extra; we need to keep you low."

The article doesn't say that there were eligible families on the wait list, it just says there could have been. There is an important dynamic not mentioned in the article. Head Start is expected to have 100% enrollment on the opening day of school. It is hard but it can be done. There is a lot of pressure to make sure enrollment is full. There seems to have been a strong enrollment push for since 2002 that directors could interpret in different ways.

Obviously this a failure but what kind?

If the eligible families are there but not enrolling then there is a different malfunction in the system. Then it becomes a recruiting issue, are finding the children, advertising on outlets the community is engaged with, are you getting the word out? If a center or program answers, "No" to any one of these questions then there is only one reason it could happen. Leadership.

If the program director is not actively discouraging these types of disingenuous enrollment practices through monitoring and oversight then there is a failure of leadership. If directors are not changing their recruitment strategies to suit their constituents lifestyles it is a failure of leadership.

It is not, however, a failure of the Head Start program, no matter how far opponents of Head Start try to carry this political football. There is a difference between a systemic failure and an individual failure. Could enrollment procedures be tighter, probably, but it is already a more stringent process than enrolling in public school. So lets place the blame but just make sure it falls on the responsible party's shoulders. This is obviously failure of leadership not the people on the ground serving children and families. Someone told that person enrolling that fictitious family, either explicitly or implicitly, make sure we have our enrollment numbers. If anything is a failure in this system, it is over reliance on numbers to determine success.


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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Anthony Cody - King of Accountability Comedy

If I didn't know how Anthony Cody felt about accountability reform efforts I might be confused by his most recent post. In fact, if 3 or more exclamation points "!" weren't a valid indicator of sarcasm in blog posts I would think that Anthony actually worked for the Obama administration.

He says we should use accountability to fix health care, crime, and social work (all those people on drugs just need higher expectations from their social workers).

He says, "This accountability idea that No Child Left Behind (and now Race to the Top) has brought us is so fantastic! It is a great way to get our students performing better and get our schools all performing above average. Clearly we have had poor performance in the past because teachers figured why put much effort into getting the kids to do well, when we get paid for showing up, and they can't fire us anyway! That is why so many of us became teachers. That and the summers off! But if you pay us a bit extra, or better yet, base half our salary on the kids' test scores, I am sure the scores will go through the roof."

Thank goodness I know he doesn't really feel this good about NCLB/Race to the Top ed reform. For a big laugh check out his blog and careful not to get your tongue stuck in your cheek.

LaLa Goes BaBye :(

This is not related to education but to creativity. The only reasonable alternative to itunes has pulled its plug. This may be old news to those in the online industry but LaLa has notified customers it is shutting down as of May 31st. Makes me sad because I relied on it find new artists through my friends using its facebook integration. On the service you could listen to a CD one time through without purchase. Here are the deets:

Remaining wallet balances and unredeemed gift cards will be converted to iTunes Store credit (or can be refunded upon request). Gift cards can be redeemed on Lala until May 31st.

Good bye to a pioneer. I hate to see an innovator that provides a worthwhile service fail becuase of a business plan that doesn't account for corporate takeover. ByeBye LaLa, it appears the Apple may have eaten you.

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