Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

00426Economy_Workforce_Education

May 3, 2010

Arizona for the past couple of decades can be modeled by a unique propeller driven airplane. The thrust that propels this aircraft is a counter rotating duo of three bladed propellers. As the head winds increase this thrust remains fairly constant but the aircraft slows.

The three propeller blades are the economy, education, and workforce which are tightly coupled.

The front propeller has the:

economy which depends on a high quality workforce;

which in turn depends on a high performance education system;

which in turn  depends on funding from a robust economy.

The rear propeller has the:

workforce that needs quality jobs delivered by a globally competitive economy;

which in turn , requires a top ranked education system to support enterprise attraction,   creation, growth and retention

which in turn requires a world class  workforce of educators.

Economic research credits technological  innovation for 85% of economic advances over the past 200 years.

Workforces in almost all industries have been trained and educated to adopt and use these emerging technologies with their unique process changes over the past 200 years.

Education industry has adopt  technologies and processes invented prior to 200 years ago,  only in the recent couple of decades has emerging technology initiated its innovation process to transform education.

Arizona is positioned to seize the global lead in transforming education with eLearning adoption. But since the leading player in Arizona education is our legislature, the members must be strongly support the long range plan.

We have major coalitions that are committed to transformation in general.

ABEC is business-education and is focusing on school finance.

Expect More Arizona (rolling out this week) is business-foundation and is focused on election of candidates the support education and workforce.

AZ eLearning Task Force has a 10 year policy mission.

The two missing pieces are the:

eLearning enterprises that lead in the understanding of educational technology and process that deliver effective eLearning across K-12 and higher education, workforce, and military simulation.

The rest of the technology enterprises that leading in the understanding of how to engage and develop technology savvy workforces and how apply innovative technologies in the workplace.

GAZEL is the organization for Arizona’s eLearning enterprises with one of the largest clusters of companies in the nation with revenues over $4 billion.

ATC has over 500 members statewide and has had great track record on educating legislators on technology issues and getting bills passed. Their reputation is outstanding, from the legislature to national level.

There is a significant opportunity for Arizona and both organizations if GAZEL and ATC are able to work mutually support each other and work together as the driving force in a statewide quest to make eLearning the means to simultaneously create a world class economy, workforce and education system.

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00419 Educators and Employers Two Different Worlds

May 3, 2010

So goes Arizona’s economy, so goes education, so goes the economy, so goes ed…

In the early 1990’s, Arizona had a thriving high-tech manufacturing sector with quality jobs paying twice the average wage of other sectors. Four of the top ten employers were high-tech, with 45,000 employees. By 2000 Honeywell had merged with Allied Signal Aerospace and Intel moved into the top ten with Motorola and Raytheon, with total of 52,000 employees. Today Walmart, and other retailers dominate the top 10 employers with only Honeywell and Raytheon with 23,000 high tech employees remaining.

Educators have striven over the past two decades to improve reading, math and science education and focus on learning 21st century skills. There has also been an effort to adopt high-tech learning support systems to improve effectiveness of student achievement. The small academic gains based on test scores may be statistically significant, but their effect factor is far off the mark of what is needed. High school graduation rates, and graduate career and college readiness have not begun to close Arizona’s widening demand gap.

From the 1940’s through the 1970’s, our major high-tech manufacturing firms were established as divisions of California, Chicago and New York based corporations. Since then, no divisions or corporations of this type have been successfully attracted or grown from scratch in Arizona. Current non-manufacturing successes such as Avnet (electronic components distributor) and Apollo (online learning) have combined 75,000 employees — but only a fraction are in Arizona.

Arizona’s population has almost doubled in the past couple of decades, but the high-tech quality jobs have not. Lower paying retail and service jobs continue their explosive growth.

What is the cause – effect relationship?

According to the Arizona Technology Council, there continues to be high demand in the high-tech community for high quality engineering, manufacturing and service employees, yet they are hard to find in Arizona even though our college level education system is working hard to meet the need.

The critical factor is that our K-12 system does not connect to this demand. K-12’s time horizon to address this demand is a decade or two while human resources departments need educated workers this year. K-12 boards and leaders live in a non-profit public service world while employers are mostly in the for-profit private sector. School funding comes from an array of property, income and other taxes. Employers pay their taxes with little influence on how schools are funded.

eSATS’ team has striven provide a solution that can transform education to be highly responsive to every student’s needs. Our intent is to home-grow an educated and skilled adult population that itself attracts and grows a huge number of quality jobs within Arizona.

But frankly I believe we are at a time similar to the Lincoln – Douglas debates and Lincoln’s Coopers Union address. Lincoln had so finely clarified the true situation between the South and the North that the nation had finally realized there was no political solution, and their only alternative was war.

Since war is not now an alternative, and the current reform process is not meeting the demand for greatly increase academic performance we must find a better way. There is a single critical linkage between educators and employers. Over the past 200 years, employers have become very effective in adopting emerging technologies of all kinds. If Arizona employers could transfer both the knowledge and the culture of technology driven innovation to our schools it might be just tip the scales toward transformation.

00412 Green Energy and Turqs

May 3, 2010

During the 1960’s, the “green revolution” bible was Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog”. Last year Mr. Brand published his “Whole Earth Discipline” again with a picture of Earth from space on the cover. This time he asks us to “question convenient fables.”

There are many fables from the 1960’s that turned out to not be true or caused significant harm to the environment. Overpopulation driven apocalypses did not happen, but climate change was ignored for decades. New technologies like nuclear energy were thwarted, resulting in massive carbon releases from burning coal. Anti-genetically engineered foods and focus on organic food is fine, as a lifestyle choice, for affluent folks but when this notion is exported to third world counties, malnutrition and starvation surges while the natural environment is harmed.

Mr. Brand has now “rebranded” nuclear power as green energy because of low carbon emissions and foot print.

Yesterday I was having a luncheon discussion with one of Arizona’s legislators who is a strong supporter of green energy. Fourth generation Arizonan, her grandfather’s ranch was run on “green” wind power, wood burning and thick walls to insulate from the heat and cold. I suggested that she consider another green source of renewable energy on the ranch that of muscle power of both animals and people and particularly the mental energy of people.

Our overarching conversation yesterday at the capital was how Arizona could transform itself into a technology driven economy. The common vision of the day focused on energy, biotech and education. By integrating these three together the solution for Arizona’s transformation emerges. By enabling the mental energy of Arizona’s people with technology to learn; the knowledge and skills needed for the greenest of green economic transformation of Arizona will be in hand.

Mr. Brand has renamed green activists as Turgs. This is short for turquoise which is green combined with blue. The blue sky vision of the future is needed to guide green action and mitigate unintended consequences, and to be guided by facts and research, not nostalgia or technophobia. He has also modified his mantra from the 1960’s from:

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

To

We are as gods and have to get good at it.

Ref. John Tierney article, New York Times.

00329 History of Education – 5 Act Play

April 1, 2010

Economic History => Future

A recent Op-Ed by David Brooks* NY Times lamented the lack of a comprehensive history of modern economics, based on the stunning consequences of the recent events. His framework for this history is in five Acts.

Act I. Economic man was a crude representation of individual human nature who was totally rational and only interested in maximizing his personal benefit. During my late 1970’s MBA I took several economic courses, ran econometric models, and was always one variable away from solutions that matched the data. We actually used humans with quantified util’s as part of the utility functions and had grand arguments.

Act II. During the past several decades, Herbert Simon addressed not-perfectly rational people, and Gary Becker saw behaviors that were not just self interest, like having children. Others saw that people have biases, and many make non-objective decisions.

Act III. Is a discontinuity with the economic crisis of 2008-2009. The incredibly sophisticated econometric/financial models built over the decades failed to predict the wiping out of $50 trillion in global wealth and the huge human suffering that followed.

Act IV. is starting with soul searching that is far from a consensus on why the economic intellectual agenda-setters failed to see the oncoming train wreck. In the physical sciences, real problems are solved and stay solved. In economics, thinkers cycle in and out of fashion. Economists are now talking about the individual, love, virtue, social relationships and imagination!

Act V. David Brooks predicts that the current field of rational economics will be blown-up. Human beings cannot be addressed with universal laws like physics. It will become a subsection of history and moral philosophy focusing on individuals within contexts. The lessons learned will be one by one, like art, not science.

Education History => Future

Any lesson’s to learn for educational transformation from the economics’ meltdown? Probably not since Brook’s history is over a few years, and education’s a few century. But let’s walk along the path of economics anyway and lay in education at their milestones.

Act I. Early 1700’s: Prussians founded the highly structured lecture, recitation, seat-work system for the select group of aristocratic youth.

Act II. Late 1800’s: This model one-size-fits-all factory like system was applied to all children through universal education.

Act III. Middle of the 2000th century the system expanded to meet expectations that women, minorities and special needs children should also graduate. There was a significant increase in funding for all education with the major gains in special education. The education crisis emerged over 2 decades not the 2 years for the economic crisis.  Academic performance gains stagnated in the mid 1970’s. In 1980’s the system was shocked to learn that the Iron Curtain countries were out-performing American schools by a significant margin. The final blow came from a Bolivian immigrant Jaime Escalante who transformed L.A.’s tough Garfield High School. He blew away the myth that inner-city kids can not perform at the highest levels (movie: Stand and Deliver). He graduated more advanced placement Calculus students than all but four other U.S. high schools.

Act IV. The initial reactions were reforms and restructuring that moved the deck chairs but did not focus on hard issues. Innovations such as charter schools, choice, career ladders, No Child Left Behind, etc. were tried by many states but success was fleeting. Summative testing to standards is becoming a piece of the solution. But as any industrial quality expert knows the only way to have quality products out the door is heavy investment in design, training and equipment investment for all aspects of the cycle. After three decades of action academic performance and graduation rates remain flat. Society’s demands for job and college ready students, 21st century critical thinking and a globally competitive economy have soared. Fortunately ideas with broad and significant success factors such as eLearning, individualized instruction, digital content, teacher-student centered focus, mastery not seat time funding, online learning, and personal learning plans have started to emerge.

Act V. The 21st century will not see a blow-up of K-12 education like David Brooks’ forecast for the economics field. I believe the coming transformation from the factory model of the Prussians to massively-individualized education is definitely in the cards. This transformation will be shaped by the decades-old Benjamin Bloom studies of the tutor-student relationship and the individualization methods for gifted and other special education students from the 1970’s. Serving moral, social and emotional yearnings and ambitions of individual students will be the driving factor bringing renewed growth of both academic achievement and graduation rates.

The most import lesson from the economic tragedy is that the focus of education must not be on the “school” but rather on the multifaceted context of the student. Of course, this is not news to any successful teacher. Like Jaime Escalante they know how to ward off the Prussian structure to serve the needs of their individual students.

*: David Brooks, Op-Ed  The Return of History New York Times, March 25, 2009

00215 AZ Republic Ed Vision — Imperatives & How Tos

February 15, 2010

Arizona Republic’s 2020 Vision For Arizona

Over the past four Sunday’s, and on into the next two Sunday’s, the Arizona Republic has dedicated 4 to 5 pages to addressing Arizona’s future. The five weekly issues selected are elements of the vision: economic strategy, government reform, improving education, the state budget and rethinking the boarder.

Their focus is on creating a Vision for 2020 and then recommending practical steps to change our current ways to reach the vision. Craig Barrett, former Intel Chairman and CEO set the stage with 10 steps to building a smarter Arizona with Smart People, Smart Ideas and Right Environment. The 10 are: K12-benchmarked curriculum and testing, K12 good teachers, K12 dropout prevention, funding for universities, college completion, fund Science Foundation Arizona and university research, focus on alternative energy R&D, state policies to promote investment in innovation, grow economy with high paying jobs and compare Arizona with global competitors, not neighboring states.

Economy: After addressing housing woes and leadership challenges, the baton was passed, on the following Sunday, to a sustained job-growth and economic strategy with three recommendations. Florida is cited as a model for creating a strategic plan for economic development. Arizona pioneered this statewide process in 1989-1992 with 3000 participants, $500,000 and SRI International. Florida modeled their Enterprise Florida process after ours and then did something differently. They followed, funded and updated the plan yearly. We let ours die on the vine.

Base industries concept, adopted by Florida and many other states, was also invented and modeled for Arizona’s use during our 1989-1992 planning process as industry clusters. Several clusters flourished since the early 1990’s including the Optics cluster in Tucson and the statewide Biotech cluster. The software cluster organization integrated several other clusters and renamed itself the Arizona Technology Council. The cluster organization superstructure from the Arizona Department of Commerce was disbanded about 6 years ago. Compared to other states, the ADC and other Arizona economic development organizations have few tools to attract and growth base companies.

Enterprise zones for companies to open in, or move into, empty commercial real estate will not only increase the quality of these facilities and provide employment but stop bleeding of high tech, hi paying jobs to other places.

Government: I could not find quality education => quality workforce => quality jobs => globally competitive economy in the Sunday sections. Let’s see how K12 fares in the Sunday focused on government. Right off, our 46th place in education is mentioned. The polls show that a high majority of Arizona folks want better education and only 10% polled felt their elected officials served them well. Other states such as Utah have a high level of collaboration and public meetings to shape public policy. Arizona’s population is highly involved in civic entrepreneurship compared to many states but the endgame of legislation and governance fails to implement their advocacy. The three changes recommended are: “abolish term limits and restore wisdom and experience to the statehouse (like Oregon), tune up the initiative process so it is not easily abused (like Utah), and give the governor authority over the largest part of state government” – education (like Florida).

Education: All three government fixes would greatly benefit the transformation of K-12 education. This Sunday’s paper started with Massachusetts is the model where the great need for research, academia, technology and medicine drove their K12 in the #1 performing state in the country. Arizona’s needs for construction, retail, sales and trades is much less demanding and allows us to coast at 43rd with low paying jobs, and not enough tax base to afford the Massachusetts funding for education. What to do??? The plan is to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. Parents (2 million), schools (2000) and policy makers (200) are admonished to change their ways: motivate their kids, transform their teaching, and create a new education system.

We have some assets for the job. Innovation delivers leadership in charter schools and every school can now be a virtual school. Teacher education: ASU has the largest education college in the nation and is transforming from legacy education to more current and future focused learning and technology. Improved graduation rates and student scores are slowly rising. Advocate organizations are many, highly capable, inclusive and working together. The Arizona Education Association advocates transitioning from compliance to professionalism so teachers can create the future leaders. Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) is working on transforming school finance to bring financial decisions from the state level to the local level and reward leaders and teachers for performance. Florida grades their school from A to F and failure is not acceptable. “Beat the Odds” research specifies what principals need to know and do to become effective school leaders and use continuous student academic performance assessments to manage their schools.

Next two Sundays: Lets see what transpires in Budget and the Board.

Observations: So far I am very disappointed. This work of 2020 Vision has not produced a vision for 2020. For the Phoenix Futures Forum (PFF) circa 1990, Francine Hardaway created four clear visions full of imagery. They portray what greater Phoenix would look like if we took four different paths to the future. All four had their bright and shining future combined with dark and foreboding aspects from unintended consequences. It was grand graphic illustration of what would happen if the PFF plan resulted from just a sum of the parts proposed by community experts with narrow perspectives. What has been yet to be seen is the overall systems analysis for Vision 2020 that is required for any strategic plan that generates an implementation plan.

What I see is a general and specific flaw in this report. The general flaw is the mishmash of situation assessments, imperatives, and ideas supported by historical best practices instead of a systems approach. The specific flaw is the use of a blind eye that refuses to see the dramatic changes underway in a number of ecosystems including education. Just doing more, fixing the obvious, and rearranging the deck chairs may keep Arizona from falling behind. But to move up, in the state and global competitive arenas, will require a full understanding of the disruptive innovations underway and exploiting them. One is eLearning which is never mentioned except for a couple of passing comments of online learning.  Go figure.

00208 Crisis and Opportunity

February 8, 2010

There is some myth floating out there that the Chinese word for crisis also means opportunity. Maybe its true. With selective recognition of winners in the enterprise arena we have the following start up years and follow-on analysis*:

Proctor and Gamble: Panic of 1837

General Electric and IBM: Long Depression of 1873

Hyatt Hotels: Eisenhower Recession

Fed EX:  Oil Crisis

Microsoft and Apple: Bear Market 1974-75

We all know the saying, “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” Entrepreneurs view problems as business opportunities. As civic entrepreneurs we need to address the current economic situation with a burst of optimism and redouble our efforts.

Just after the last crisis peaked the most successful businesses had 3 times the growth during 2000-2003 as their slowest counterparts. During our current crisis from 2006-2009 there was little differentiation. But during 2009 the gap is starting to widen again. I know of no data to show that private sector models can apply to the public sector. But I do know that entrepreneurship works in both, with startup enterprises and the Peace Corps being prime illustrations of entrepreneurial success.

Assuming that governance of K-12 education might just fit this cycle, now is the time to push for innovation. Apple thinks so. With its blizzard of hype and fawning over the iPad, it has tapped a huge opportunity to lead businesses and consumers out of the crisis. Why and how? Because Apple has a system of applications, content and solution devices that can be readily adopted.

Microsoft has dominance in the legacy market. Apple is the disruptive innovation poised for rapid growth. Ed Tech is like the Microsoft partial solution and eLearning is like the Apple system solution.

The timing is right for the elearning approach to make the next great leap forward within K-12 education. Let’s assume the private sector models are right, and we can swing for the fences with our public sector challenge of eLearning transformation.

Note: With the Super Bowl behind us, I can switch to baseball analogies.

*Michael Moe, NeXt Up

00201 Teachers As Technology Workforce

February 1, 2010

“It’s all about the teachers and the students.” This has been the mantra of eSATS and eLearning since the beginning (early 1990’s). We  found a host of sources that stated the obvious, delivered strident imperatives and wound up with wishful thinking, but said nothing about strategy and implementation of systemic and systematic changes needed to make the system effective. We decided to do our own information gathering. We kicked off this learning process by holding our first focus group with Arizona Education Association. Over then next few years, we attended workshops and conferences, and had scores of discussions with learned folks, educators in the trenches and multiple Arizona leaders.

Five years ago we released our comprehensive K-12 education system redesign with a ten year pathway. Its core included all that is needed for the transformation of the legacy teaching profession with significant new skills and ongoing support to become the leading intellectually based profession of the 21st Century. Who would want to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer when they could seek the most richly enhanced and challenging profession of teacher.

One-to-one teaching time will dramatically increase the rewarding human relationships by automating teachers’ repetitive deskwork tasks and transforming from lecture to coaching/mentoring. With real time formative assessments and modern eLearning teaching systems, the highest levels of thinking and problem solving skills will be in continuous practice. Immersed in broadband-internet, the isolated classroom will be a globally connected classroom with ongoing peer interaction, peer-to-peer mentoring and expert support.

The past decade of consistent advocacy by a legion of eLearning aficionados and technological evolution, following Moore’s Law, has produced progress in broadband-Internet, digital curriculum and computer interfaces. But the progress in the teaching profession has been difficult to measure. We have thought long and hard on this issue, but as is usually the case, a creative reason and concept has only emerged in the heat of challenge.

Arizona Technology Council has a very effective Work Force and Education Committee that addresses issues for our technology industries: optics, aerospace, biotech, semiconductor, telecommunications, and many others. As a whole, these industries have thrived and are globally competitive because they are early adopters of the most innovative technology and have science and engineering colleges turning out industry savvy graduates. They also invest from $1000 to $3000 a year per person in maintaining the skills and knowledge of their information workforce.

In their 2010 planning committee meeting in December the leadership requested input on two types of initiatives for the coming year. One was for the most important ongoing programs that would move the ball forward on new but smaller opportunities to address. The other was for Grand Challenges that one was passionate about and would have a high effect factor for the benefit of the technology enterprise community. That’s when it hit me. We have been conceptualizing the guild of K-12 teachers as legacy teachers who would learn how to use technology to improve their craft. We needed to turn that 180 degrees for the 21st century.

The Grand Challenge is to envision teaching as the educated workforce within a technology industry. The State needs to recast its definition of critical workforces to include the teaching workforce. Our high tech industries need to recognize teachers, and their education, training and professional development needs as equivalent to the needs of the workforces of Boeing, Intel, Microsoft IBM, and Raytheon. Studies and forecasts from The Departments of Commerce and Labor need to include one more technology based industry – public K-12 education.

Let’s invest in this workforce because teachers are the foundation workforce of Arizona’s hope to be a competitive player in the 21st century’s high-tech economy.