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Wednesday, February 15, 2006
THE HEDGEHOG DIGEST
GOOD TO GREAT: GOOD SLOGAN or GREAT FRAMEWORK?
It is well documented that educrats (educational bureaucrats) love programs with catchy acronyms (i.e. CAHSEE, STAR, and NCLB) and newly coined words that go beyond traditional meanings (i.e. rigor). Unlike the organized classification system behind the academic language of the academic sciences, the purpose behind the ever-evolving “educational language” appears to be to create an educational elitist mysticism that has helped created a multi-billion dollar industry of educational consultants that siphon off educational tax dollars for the next big thing in educational boondoggles paid for by taxpayers. The taxpayers only line of defense is elected school district trustees, but they too often just rubberstamp the spending requests without researching the programs.
This state of educational economics mirrors a current popular TV reality show phrase “one day you're in, the next day you're out”. The revolving door of what is fashionably “in” has given way to widespread disillusionment to many seasoned educators as they watch a parade of “in” words, programs, and phases first march in, then march out of educratic favor. These seasoned educators also watch the parade of countless in-service presenters, consultants, administrators, and educrats rush to try to be the first one to utter the next “in” word, phrase, or acronym to establish their educational elitist credentials. Classroom teachers watch this parade while, like in the children’s fable The Emperors New Clothes, the educational courtiers, advisors, and hangers-on tell district administrators, school board members, or principals how wonderful those new clothes look. Meanwhile, the taxpayers continue to pay their educational taxes to the traveling tailors for the magical cloth with the mystical name, until their leaders realize they have been stripped naked and the tailors have long gone to the next unsuspecting kingdom. Then the cycle begins again as the next consultants or in-service presenter arrive with a new magic cloth, with a mystical elitist name, as the educrats demand, the trustees vote to approve, and the taxpayers pay.
Writer and consultant Eileen Shapiro coined the phrase fad-surfing in her book Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Reclaiming the Courage to Manage in the Age of Instant Answers to describe a similar phenomena in the business world of the relentless pursuit of taking up and discarding trends in private business based on best selling management books. Recently, educratic fad-surfers have begun to add business models to help them meet their goal to free public education from its agrarian roots. The business model approach (not to be confused with the free market approach of vouchers) has manifested itself in a variety of ways, from creating a “central services” district office, to most commonly just adopting the language of business (students and parents become “shareholders” or “stakeholders” and teachers “curriculum managers”) . Like other past reform fads, the business model approach tries to adapt the round-peg-language of the reform model and pound it into the square-hole of public education, typically changing little in the everyday delivery of classroom instruction.
A few schooled in the business model approach to education have turned to recent fad management guru Jim Collins and his management research laboratory by trying to apply the concepts of Collins’ 2001 best selling business model book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and others Don’t . In various degrees whole school districts like Clifton Public Schools in New Jersey, and individuals like Patrick F. Bassett (President of the National Association of Independent Schools), and former Conejo Valley Unified School District Superintendent Robert Fraisse have all used the round-peg-language of the Collins catchy phrase, Good to Great . Joining the Good to Great Club is Orange Unified School District under the leadership of Superintendent and Secretary to the Board of Education, Thomas A. Godley in his third appointment as a district superintendent.
OUSD’s Godley has embraced the language of Collins Good to Great framework for the Orange Unified School District. OUSD district staff have “jig sawed” (a different administrator studies and summarizes different chapters) the Collins book by chapters to present in district staff meetings. Some OUSD high school principals are doing the same with their staff, and the district has bought pens and distributed them to administrators with the slogan “Taking OUSD From Good to Great”.
THE HEDGEHOG DIGEST
In this exclusive Orange Net News investigative news series The Hedgehog Digest, ONN will examine the Jim Collins Good to Great framework for both business and the social sector with a focus on how OUSD fits into the model. Is Good to Great a formula to once again making OUSD the premier district in Orange County as it once was in the 1950’s and 1960’s? Or is Good to Great just another slogan on a pen in the education “fad”- industry were “one day you're in, the next day you're out”. Will Good to Great be a feasible educational framework, or another distraction that will side-track OUSD administrators from the very real work at hand?
Orange Net News’ special series The Hedgehog Digest will explore slogan to framework of Godley’s attempt of “Taking OUSD from Good to Great”.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE FOLLOWING CLICK ON THE BLUE LINK:
Orange Net News investigative news analysis continues with:
PART II- THE GREATEST FRAMEWORK ON EARTH
HEDGEHOG DIGEST PART 3
COMMUNITY UPDATE:FROM GOOD TO GREAT (to failure)
Fad- surfing : http://www.wordspy.com/words/fadsurfing.asp
Eileen Shapiro: http://www.writersreps.com/book.cfm?BookID=318
Fad Surfing in the Boardroom:
Reclaiming the Courage to Manage in the Age of Instant Answers
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap,
and others Don’t.