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Leading to Reform: February 3

This Week’s letter highlights that Leadership is about getting results, The Otis Redding School of Management, how reform and progress in education reform being driven by the executive branch. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform. Most now forwarded by readers.

7 Reasons a Positive Leader Gets Results
If you were given four things you could do right now to be a better leader, what would they be? You could work on them all year where you work, with your family, friends and co-workers. No seminar, no courses, just activities that drive results. You have free reign. No permission needed. All you have to do is start and finish. You can’t just say you are going to do it, start and then quit halfway through. You have to finish.

John Bossong writes in his blog seven reasons why positive leaders get results. More so, he shows that you have to “do the work”. You have to make an investment. You have to invest enough in yourself to finish and believe in yourself.

Or, you can be like the people who are trying to be leaders and flit from project to project. Each of us dread when we have to work with them. They aren’t committed to finishing. They don’t want to do the work.

Commit to these four things:
  • Don’t let anything hold you back
  • Lead and make a difference
  • What’s on the other side is worth it
  • The finish line is great
Learn more at John Bossong blog...

The Otis Redding School of Management
Leadership is about moving the needle on student learning in schools. Leadership is about what gets attended to or measured is what gets done. What's happening today is the flip side of that. Measurement can become a tyranny that makes sure that nothing gets done.

Recently, I came across the Otis Redding Theory of Measurement, which is named for his song "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." In that song, Redding sings, "I can't do what 10 people tell me to do, so I guess I'll remain the same." That line sounds as if it could be about school’s misconceptions about measurement and what leaders are paying attention to.
Learn more about leadership at Fast Money…

American Education Being Reshaped by the Federal and State Executive Branch
The American education system is being reshaped before our very own eyes in a truly fundamental way―and with little debate. National and state policymakers behave as if both levels of government have much the same roles in education: to set goals and standards, for example, and to create accountability systems, define teacher quality, determine strategies for producing quality teachers and improve the performance of low-performing schools. Left unresolved, the conflicts this creates are likely to deepen and worsen over time.

It has not always been this way. Historically, the federal government’s role had been to aid, assist, prod and push the schools, districts and states. Local boards have more authority and responsibility than ever, but they are dealing with incoming changes in education policy and programs because, at the end of the day, local boards and even state agencies bend to pressure where Governors and President Obama push reform forward relentless.

Is that how we want these decisions made? Do we really want the executive branch of government to decide, pretty much by itself, what the aims of American education should be and how they should be achieved?

The solutions as to how the American education system should be governed are not obvious. But we ought to have a conversation about it before we wake up one day to find that the executive branch of the government has become our state or national school board.
Learn more at the Hechinger Report...

Education Reform in Wisconsin Gains More Attention
Supporters of public education and compensation reform won a significant battle recently as a federal appeals court upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 reforms against union challenges to their constitutionality.

The reform effort sparked nearly two years of pitched political battles at the Capitol in Madison, which in the end resulted in Governor Walker prevailing by a greater margin in the recall election and the Republican control of the State Legislature.

Act 10 had two basic elements, financial and structural. First, the law mandated that most state employees pay half the cost of their retirement benefits and to significantly increase their contributions to an underfunded medical system. Second, the law outlawed the use of collective bargaining on all issues except for those related to wage increases. It also required unions to submit to an annual certification vote and halted the use of mandatory union-dues payroll deductions.

Ultimately, the centerpiece of the union counterattack – a recall of Gov. Walker – failed to win support from the same Wisconsin electorate that later last year voted by large margins to re-elect Democratic President Barack Obama.

But union officials went to court, arguing a weak case that the exclusion of public-safety workers from the reforms violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Using that logic, then the entire pension system is unconstitutional, given that it offers widely unequal benefits – between taxpayers, who pay for the system and are on hook for the unfunded liabilities and the public employees who retire earlier and generally with greater benefits than the general public.

Articles for the Week:

“20th century metrics and thinking drive the wrong discussions, products, and services. Most boards are looking backwards, still trying to make sense of what they didn’t understand the first time let alone the new wave of metrics and thinking coming in.” --Deb Mills-Scofield

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