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Leading to Reform: January 27

This week’s letter highlights that leadership is more about collective action, a policy wish list, and Wisconsin moving forward in ed reform and leadership possibilities in Apple. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform, most of those are now forwarded by readers.

Don’t Go it Alone: The Need for Collective Action
How many school districts do you know that are recycling past initiatives into “reform” in state of the district speeches right now?

Discerning school watchers call this, "the same old blah-blah”. Typically, it results in the kids being put behind the needs of adults and places the job security of the leaders first. For some, it is an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of people who are trusting school leaders are focused on kids and education.

In his 2013 Inaugural Address, President Obama issued a call for “collective action,” arguing forcefully that we cannot “meet the demands of today’s world” by acting alone.

“Now, more than ever,” he said, “we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.” 

Recent reform around education is more about leaders working on their own rather than collaboration, competitive collaboration where people push one another to be better while learning together. That is the philosophy we need to guide education policy today.

Bill Clinton nailed the policy choice starkly in his speech at the Democratic National Convention last August saying, “You see, we believe that we’re all in this together is a far better philosophy than you’re on your own."

Could Clinton’s framing -- "you’re not on your own, we’re in this together" -- be the clarion call for a different, inclusive education agenda?

Arthur Camins captures how the current education debate happening nationally, at the state and even local level. School leaders need to appeal to a different strategy, that we’re in this together, interdependent, and need each other to be successful.

Too many board school leaders pride themselves on going it alone; sailing against the wind, ignoring what the best know that they are here for kids first working together is the answer in just about every situation.
Learn More...

Top Ten Wish List: Education Policy
Here’s a top ten list that really nails the high priority items on almost any educator’s wish list. Greg Kaufmann, who writes on poverty for The Nation and Elaine Weiss, the national coordinator for the
Broader Bolder Approach to Education give us a list virtually all of us can agree with. The top three items on their list are:
  • National policies that enable parents, families, and communities to provide children with what they need to thrive educationally.
  • An enriching, holistic curriculum.
  • Fully resourced schools.
If you are thinking about reform priorities for 2013, this article is a great place to start. Learn more at The Washington Post...

Wisconsin’s Education Reform Moves On Up
The eyes of the nation may be elsewhere, but education policy moves on in Wisconsin. It is important to note that although state courts invalidated parts of Governor Scott Walker’s controversial collective bargaining law, federal courts have upheld it.

Informed observers expect it will ultimately be upheld, much to the dismay of a few still looking backwards. The truth is most Wisconsinites appear ready to move with the Wisconsin motto: FORWARD.

Walker received a standing ovation on January 25 at a statewide meeting of school board members and district administrators when he discussed education reforms. While some still roll their eyes or wish it weren't so, it is time for school leaders responsible for young people's education to "get over it" and put the needs of kids first, making the decisions necessary to support education programing and reform rather than the now obsolete school district programs from the turn of the century. I suggest you stay tuned. Meanwhile, Alan Borsuk takes a look at some of the outstanding issues…

Apple's Leadership Possibilities
Is Apple, known for thinking big and deep in danger of becoming the new Microsoft? Despite the pummeling Apple stock took at the hands of Wall Street last week, you would still want to be Tim Cook way more than you’d want to be Steve Ballmer.

The fact of Apple’s position is that its growth potential remains huge. Current circumstances offer a leadership opportunity for the company. Apple has advantages and has huge scale ahead of it. What it really needs to do is believe in and convey its extraordinary leadership potential. Apple’s recenet problems come down to three key points:
  • Scale. Analysts, including perhaps Apple themselves, do not grasp the scale of opportunity. Mobile is bigger than anything that preceded it. Apple could embed into any number of domestic devices. With its customer loyalty it should surely be challenging Google data-gathering products like Glasses and cars. With its global logistics experience it should be a challenger to Amazon.
  • Management. Apple introduced a new form of management that Nick Vitalari and I called The Elastic Enterprise. It has the capacity to scale at low relative cost because other companies are keen to work with it. The challenge is to frame that co-creation capacity in a field other than mobile phones.
  • Leadership. We also said that in order to be an Elastic Enterprise, companies needed a new form of leadership. These leaders would be peers, first among equals, accessible yet slightly aloof. They would be multidisciplinary, and traverse technology and culture with ease, without losing their appeal to either side of the equation. More than anything they would be able to attract resources like developer communities and bring the right people to the work.
Learn More at Forbes...

Articles for the Week:

“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed.” --Joshua

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