Articles Posted in Economy & Education

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Gas Shut Off SignWe’ve all heard the voices of DOOM about the looming budget cuts from the sequester. I call BS, at least as it affects K12 education.

Laziness often drives how we talk about education funding. Because it is easy to track federal spending we focus our energy there. But this willfully ignores the plain fact that 90% of funding for education comes from state and local government, the Feds only account for 10%.

Do the math. A 10% sequester driven cut in Federal spending means a 1% cut to total education spending.

Where the hell were all these crepehangers when education went over the cliff last year? “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” No doubt a 1% cut will cause real pain, but relative to what has already been done to education it is a coda, not the main event.

A Little History Lesson

In the fall of 2011 there was no political will left to tackle the ongoing gap in resources at the state level for education and the stimulus was allowed to lapse with no more support from the Feds. State budgets were still in crisis, in fact many had not bottomed out yet. As a result, at least one estimate I’ve seen said that overall spending for K12 declined over 15% in 2012.

To the educators, local policy makers, and companies that serve this market it was and remains a genuine crisis. Speaking only for the companies, It was particularly brutal because on average we saw year over year declines between 20% and 50%. Schools protected people first and delayed or cancelled materials purchases. That isn’t a criticism, they made the best decision in a tight corner.

So when I hear people associated with the Military moaning about the impact of 10% cuts (while we are winding down the wars of the last decade) my uncharitable reaction is that they need to man up and get on with it. Education already did their part.

If we are going to jam kids into larger and larger classes, cancel teacher training, cancel physical education, and close libraries then maybe we don’t need more F-35s (which don’t work anyway).

There will be a few places where the new education cuts will be further insult to injury – notably Special Education and high poverty Title 1 schools. Federal programs generally make up a much larger percentage of these particular services – in Special Ed Federal spending is somewhere between 15%-20% of the total. That means sequester cuts of about 2% of the total.

I don’t mean to minimize the pain even a 1%-2% cut will inflict on school systems where they have already squeezed any slack out of the system. It will cause cut backs in essential services. But this will be an extension of the much deeper cuts from last year, not something new, and the scale will be significantly smaller than what we have already lived through.

A Look Ahead

The bright side of this story is that state budgets are finally recovering as the housing market stumbles out of its funk. This will be a slow grind over the next three years – there is no miracle in sight. This turn will have a far bigger impact on education and the companies that serve it than any failure to legislate in DC. I suggest you direct your attention there as you look to the future.

Unless of course the deficit hawks throw the whole freaking economy back into recession. Frankly I’m with Charlie Pierce on this one “Fk the deficit. People got no jobs. People got no money.” But that argument doesn’t seem to be carrying the day. So I suppose we’ll have to jam this fork into the electrical socket and learn what cutting an additional 1 million jobs means when the overall economy and state budgets are fragile.

fork in socket dog

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Foot on nailsLast December I penned (keyed?) a relatively optimistic piece about education spending, with the conclusion that the textbook adoption market was in a crash but supplemental materials were in a short-term stall. I had it right on the first point and wrong on the second – we have seen a full blown market crash across the board this year. There are still sound reasons for long term optimism, but the near term remains grim.

After the election I decided to read Nate Silver’s book “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t”. I was hoping to find insights on why I’d gotten it wrong, and so far I’ve not been disappointed.

Early on he outlines the distinction between risk and uncertainty in a way that is highly relevant to how we understand where we are in education publishing.

“Risk…is something you can put a price on. Say that you’ll win a poker hand unless your opponent draws to an inside straight: the chances of that happening are exactly 1 chance in 11. This is risk. It is not pleasant when you take a “bad beat” in poker, but at least you know the odds of it and can account for it ahead of time. In the long run, you’ll make a profit from your opponents making desperate draws with insufficient odds.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, is risk that is hard to measure. You might have some vague awareness of the demons lurking out there. You might even be acutely concerned about them. But you have no real idea how many of them there are or when they might strike. Your back-of-the-envelope estimate might be off by a factor of 100 or by a factor of 1,000. There is no good way to know. This is uncertainty. Risk greases the wheels of a free-market economy; uncertainty grinds them to a halt.” [emphasis added]

Looking back I actually used the word “uncertainty” in my post to describe the situation, and I even outlined all the major sources of uncertainty that I was aware of; the end of the stimulus, state budget crises, technology shifts, etc. etc. But even so I don’t think I appreciated what that implied for management options for addressing a climate of uncertainty.

The reason has to do with another point that Silver makes repeatedly, every bit of data we use comes with bias embedded in it. Sometimes this bias is overt, sometimes it is subtle. But it is always there.

scalpel

In this case my bias arose from the long term nature of the education materials market – historically it has been fairly predictable and wavered within a fairly narrow band of 5-10%. Put into Silver’s terms, the risk in the market was well known and could be managed with some finesse.

The convergence of trends in education publishing however created an unprecedented situation – none of us has ever seen this market deal with this level of uncertainty on so many fronts at the same time. There has never been anything remotely close to our current situation. So all our experience was getting in the way of addressing the current climate because our bias was to assume we could manage the risks involved.

Sledge_hammer

But in an era of uncertainty the scalpel of finesse is the wrong tool. You have to use a sledge hammer to clear things away and give your company room to maneuver in unpredictable ways as you learn from the market where things are headed. All bets are off.

The current climate is going to continue for at least a couple more years. As you look at where your business is today challenge your biases about what is likely to happen and don’t take half measures in getting yourself on a footing to address uncertainty. Then pay very close attention to where the trends are taking us.

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hope streetThese are grim days for the world of education. Funding cuts past, present, and future loom over schools and districts. Class sizes are swelling, essential services are being trimmed, and any spending decision that can be delayed is sitting in limbo.

The companies that serve schools are feeling the pinch even deeper – while school budgets are down roughly 10%-15% scuttlebutt around the industry has most education companies down 20%-40% from 2011. Data systems, some technology niches, and companies with strong international presence are doing better, but those are the exceptions not the rule.

Relatively speaking schools have bad colds, we have pneumonia.

I’m here today to spread a little optimism amidst the gloom.

It may be tough to remember in the midst of the fray that what we are facing is a market crash, not individual company failure. Those who can hold on through this period will see better days ahead.

Why do I believe this? Two reasons.

1. Education lags the rest of the economy by 3 years – largely driven by property valuations. Housing prices fall one year, the next year they are reassessed, and in the third year tax receipts and budgets are adjusted (up or down). In other words we are now where the rest of the economy was in 2009. Things will get better moving forward – but slowly just as the rest of the economy has. All major housing indicators are now moving upward.

2. More importantly the population we serve is growing not shrinking. The chart below shows public K12 enrollment through 2019.

k12 enrollment trend

Source – USDOE

Note that we are just entering a period of sustained growth in enrollments after several years of plateau. Schools will see about 5% growth in the population served over the next 6-7 years.

While funding may be a challenge – the NEED to education children will always be there regardless of what is happening in the economy. For the foreseeable future it will also be growing, not declining.

As the economy recovers (with education funding lagging along behind it) there will be plenty of opportunity ahead.

There are other existential challenges we face – new technologies, different funding patterns, evolving demographics. But we do not face a market in decline, only a market in temporary crisis.

As my friend Randy Wilhelm would say – “go out and do something good for kids.”

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From a Publisher’s perspective Apple’s iPad textbook initiative is a decent 1.0 release with promise. I’ve had a few weeks to play with iBooks Author and iBooks2 and discuss them with colleagues. I’ll write about the many positives in future posts.

But there is a worm in this apple. All the sweet promises Apple is making are going to slam headfirst into the funding issue. It will cost a school 552% more to implement iPad textbooks than it does to deploy books. That ain’t happening in THIS economy. The press reports I’ve seen have completely missed this because Apple “hand waved” their way around it.

Update – A follow on post discussion of reader responses is here.

Follow me down into the details where the devil resides….

THINGS DON’T ADD UP (or they do and it is a lot of money…)

There are five components to the cost and we’ll examine each.

ipad textbook vs print textbook

Apple is targeting High Schools so this is the baseline we’ll use. The average high school has 752 students, 43 teachers, and a total budget of $7.7 million (data sourced from NCES).*1
The right way to compare the cost of a textbook and an iText is on an annualized basis per student – this provides the fairest apples to apples (ahem) evaluation. I’ve amortized the various components based on their usual lifespan. I’ve tried to stick to per student per class pricing – this is the most scalable unit of measurement for schools of all sizes.*2
This analysis looks at the economics from a school’s perspective, in the future I’ll address how this new model affects publishers’ business model.

If you want the spreadsheet so you can tweak the variables email me at info@headwaystrategies.com for a copy.

CONTENT – Advantage Print

At the heart of Apple’s messaging is the idea that at $14.99 an iText is significantly less expensive than a $60 textbook. The nicest way I can think of to characterize this promise is that it is a follicly challenged prevarication.*3 Apple should know better.

When a school buys a $60 textbook today they use it for an average of 5-7 years for a per student cost of about $10. When a school buys an Apple iText it costs them $14.99 per student – per year.

You also have to factor in the teacher edition – I used $200 for a print version and $49.99 for a digital version (this is frequently the most expensive piece to produce in print because of the low number of units created). For large deals publishers often provide a free TE for every 30 student editions purchased – but I’ve handicapped the print by including it at full cost.

The annual content cost per student per class comes out to $10.38 per student for a printed textbook and $15.24 for the digital. The digital version is 34% more expensive.*4
Right out the gate using a true annualized cost Apple’s claims fall apart.

1184809_six_booksMANAGEMENT – Advantage Digital

In both cases there is some management involved in getting the right materials to the right student. We’ll call it $2 a year for a textbook – districts have to catalog it, repair it, and store it somewhere over the summer. On the digital side I used $0.25 for getting the right download code to the right student, this also involves cataloging and has an annual purchase cycle (vs. the 1 time buy for the book). No storage or repair gives digital a huge advantage.

A big plus to bytes vs. dead trees on this score.

DEVICE – Advantage Print

Apple’s price comparison completely ignored the fact that consuming the digital content requires an iPad that the district is obligated to provide. In private schools and Universities the institution can mandate that students bring their own device (BYOD). That doesn’t work in public K12 schools. If the content requires an iPad then the school also has to provide it to make sure there is equitable educational opportunity.

There is a huge upfront cost to doing this and the iPads will also need to be replaced on a regular basis (every 4-5 years). iPads also need service contracts and insurance – teenagers are not known for handling their things particularly well.

I used current pricing from Apple for the low end Wi-Fi only iPad, AppleCare service contract, and an insurance policy from a third party provider (damage, theft, etc.). The annual cost per device is $206, or $163,300 per year for the average high school. Assuming 5 courses this comes out to $43.44 per class per student.

Books are their own device so there is $0 annual additional cost. The device is a pure add-on cost from the district’s perspective.

Yes – because of Moore’s Law these costs will fall with time. But no matter how low they go they will always be incremental over the cost of a book.

1037NETWORK – Advantage Print

Putting an additional 750 devices on a wireless network isn’t a trivial exercise. A school isn’t like an office environment where usage by any one user is fairly random over the course of the day. A school runs on a bell schedule so most of those 750 devices are likely to be hitting the network at the same time. When you are relying on the iPad no network equals no learning – which isn’t acceptable.

A cheap $50 wireless access point from Best Buy isn’t going to hack it in this environment. Schools will need industrial grade access points with load balancing and several other features to handle the spiky volume. These typically run in the $500 range. A school will need about 30 of these to support 800 users (don’t forget the teachers).

I’ve assumed for the purposes of this exercise that the school is fully wired. If a school has to lay cable, punch through walls, etc. that would be on top of my estimates. But I think it safe to say that most high schools have been through that upgrade by now.

In addition to the access points an additional 4-5 T1 lines will be needed to handle the network volume. I’ve assumed 4 lines at an eRate cost of $400 a month/line. This is an informed guess on the bandwidth needs.

All-in the network infrastructure will run about $21,750 a year per school. or $6.94 per student per class. Like the device this is purely incremental on the digital side of the ledger.

I consider this estimate to be very conservative – an actual schools’ costs could be dramatically higher depending on the quality of their existing IT infrastructure.

TRAINING – Advantage Print

Teacher training is a bit complicated, but it bakes down into up-front training and annual tune-ups.

Textbooks are a known entity, schools and publishers have developed pretty efficient mechanisms to getting teachers oriented to a new textbook. The iText adds a need to train teachers on how to incorporate the devices into their classroom practice.

On an annual basis once a teacher has incorporated a textbook into their lesson plans there is very little fine tuning until the book changes. With a digital text the content should update every year requiring tweaks and updates to the teacher’s plans. Current content is a huge advantage for the digital text and one of the prime reasons to consider moving in this direction. But from a budget standpoint it comes with a real cost that can’t be ignored.

I peg the amortized cost of teacher training for a textbook at $1.88 per student per class and the digital text at $6.94. Most of the difference is attributable to the annual updates.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

At every level except management the iPad texts are more expensive. The single biggest contributor to the imbalance is the iPad itself, followed by the network. There will be widespread trials over the next couple of years, some of them quite large and visible. But the mass of the market won’t move until there is clear evidence of efficacy and the budget situation for schools improves.

ipad textbook costs

There is a case to be made that an interactive digital experience is a more powerful learning tool and thus worth more, but Apple didn’t really make that claim. We are likely to hear lots of bleating about engagement and how much the kids love to work with these devices. To which educators should respond with “great – where is the objective data on improved outcomes?” There are enough schools deploying the devices now that a preliminary study or two ought to be available. As a long term advocate of ed-tech I hope the data supports the thesis, but until we see the proof, claims along these lines ought to be regarded as aspirational marketing.

If the political will was there on the national level an additional $6.5 billion per year would do the trick. That would be stimulating.

FINAL RANT

One more thing. The next time some ignorant bloviator refers to “outrageously priced textbooks” remind them that at 6 cents per day a textbook is about as efficient as you are going to get for high quality, well designed, instructionally sound, standards aligned, and globally permissioned materials.

Update – A follow on post discussion of reader responses is here.

_______________________

*1 Wherever possible I’ve used data from a reputable source and noted that in the spreadsheet. I did have to make a few assumptions (e.g. the lifespan of an iPad). If you want to play with the spreadsheet yourself to tweak the variables please email me at info@headwaystrategies.com and I’ll send you a copy.

*2 It is complicated because some of the costs are per student (the text), some per teacher (training), and some per school (networks). Breaking these back down to a per student basis is the only common denominator that works well.

*3 Bald lie
*4 I didn’t factor in student mobility, but since the iText is registered to the student’s Apple ID not the school’s once a student uses a download code it expires. If that student leaves during the school year the district can’t simply pass the iText along to the new student the way they would with a book. I think Apple and the publishers will come up with a solution for this so I didn’t think it was fair to include it – but it is a real issue as things stand right now.

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UPDATE: For those who took offense at this graphic know that as I saw it the teachers’ drinking was a result of the cycle, not the cause. I interpreted this graphic as a slag on parents (myself included). If you are a teacher and were offended please accept my apology. If you are a parent and were offended – go volunteer in your local school. Regular readers will know that I have nothing but the highest respect for teachers.

One simple graphic from the always brilliant Jessica Hagy untangles the whole complicated mess.

Nuff said.

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500px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895Is the instructional materials market in the tank? I’ve spoken with people at a dozen companies who are all seeing the same thing – since November 1st a moderately down market has dropped like a stone. A senior executive at one of the big 4 publishers flatly stated that this was the worst he’d seen it in 35 years. I’m inclined to agree.

Since this appears to be an industry wide phenomena how should companies react? That depends on whether you think this is a temporary stall or a permanent realignment of funding for materials. How you see that depends on whether you focus on the supplemental or basal market.

For the supplemental market the evidence points towards a stall – at least so far. Low sales numbers don’t match the funding availability, there is no evidence that a huge amount of funding has been pulled from the market all of a sudden, What we do have is an abundance of uncertainty which is prompting districts to sit on the funds they have.

On the basal side it is another story. In general states are stalling, canceling, and opening up their adoptions as a means of responding to budget shortfalls. Given the long wave nature of adoptions even stalling is more than a temporary problem for the large publishers. The large publishers have reacted accordingly with McGraw-Hill laying off over 500 people and HMH a smaller number. It appears that the brunt of those layoffs occurred in adoption states. States also appear to be using the crisis as an opportunity to reform adoption rules in ways that open them up to new media and competitors (technology).

As a general rule a down market for basal materials means an up market for supplemental as schools fill gaps and extend the range of the basal programs. In this market the best we can hope for is probably level funding for supplemental, which given the dismal numbers on the basal side amounts to the same thing. As the old joke says “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you…”
The current market is a noxious intersection of several trends.

1. Stimulus – Everyone was expecting a cooling in the market when the stimulus program came to an end in September. Then the Feds announced that they would grant extensions through next September to pretty much anyone who applied. Prudent districts will sit on these funds until next summer when they have more information about all funding sources. Technically this isn’t bad news – but it doesn’t help us right now.

We may also be experiencing a “stimulus hangover” similar to a sales dip in the car market after a huge round of incentive driven purchases.

2. Adoptions – While state tax receipts have stabilized and even started a very slow crawl back they are still too low to fund essential services. Witness California cutting $1 billion from K12 and Higher education. Numerous states have cancelled or postponed adoptions and there is some evidence that this whole market mechanism is unravelling before our eyes. Since many districts don’t know when they will be able to buy core materials they are husbanding their available funds for a much broader array of products than in the past – competition is more intense.

3. Technology – The success of blended print/technology products is upending the traditional buying processes in districts. This is the result of new regulations on the adoptions that are moving along that allow districts to purchase in many media rather than requiring a book. New product evaluation procedures need to bring both textbook purchasing and technology experts together. This is taking some time to figure out and gumming things up.

4. Waivers – The Department of Education has created uncertainty about accountability requirements by moving ahead with the waiver process. This is really a result of Congress’s inability to pass a reauthorization of ESEA (NCLB). Something had to be done.. The new guidance districts are getting from the feds is often in conflict with existing regulations at the state level – until this is resolved districts won’t be comfortable releasing funds they already have.

5. Budget – The Super Committee failure at the end of October aligns almost perfectly with the stall. Correlation isn’t causation, but in this case a good argument can be made that uncertainty about the availability of federal funds cascaded through the decision making processes under way at districts. As of the end of December the new budget actually increases Title 1 and IDEA. This was too late to help with December sales but should free up Title 1funds in particular in the new year.

6. Rescissions – As part of the DOE applying the existing rules in a tight budget they are getting stricter with states about rules and regulations. This has resulted in some states seeing rescissions of already allocated funds. These are not large amounts – 1-1.5% in average. But for cash strapped states who can’t make up the difference it is creating a huge problem. Until people at the district level have certainty on the funds they can spend they will wait.

Decisions Decisions

So what should companies do? Do you take short term actions to tide you through a couple more months of uncertainty or do you plan for a different future? Market mavens are counseling a wait and see attitude – expecting that once the budget issues are resolved in the next 6-8 weeks that the funding levels will be pretty close to flat. They are urging supplemental publishers to refrain from doing anything drastic until we have more information.

From the outside the layoffs at McGraw-Hill and HMH are linked primarily to the cratering adoption market and teeing up new investment in technology solutions. There may be some correlation to the short term dip, but they appear to be strategic moves addressing longer term trends. In other words they probably are not harbingers of what smaller companies should be considering.

In the end every company will have to make their own informed decision and accept the consequences. Get out there and talk to some customers, consult the folks who track funding, look at your product pipeline, and match your response to your findings. There will be no “right answer.”

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r67ye5tertgrgtreBooks, iPads, and the Kindle are changing the fundamental structure of the publishing industry. From a strategic perspective they are having the largest impact on the development and pricing of products. In other words it is affecting the “what” deeply. The “how” has not changed all that much, regardless of whether you are selling print and/or technology.

There are four fundamental strategies for a growing a company in the K12 sector because even in the best of times K12 is (mostly) a zero sum game. In 2008 I wrote a post about this competitive dynamic:

In normal times education budgets grow at 2%-5% a year. Most start-ups or new products need to grow at a huge multiple of that – 30% to 300% or even more. Mathematically in order for you to grow someone else is must lose out.

We are most definitely not living in “normal times” these days. Any growth strategy in today’s market is fighting gravity as school budgets are expected to fall next year after the stimulus has expired.

K12 Growth Strategies

How does a company go about “stealing” share from other players in the market? Below we look at innovation, distribution, acquisition, and diversification.

1. Innovation – This is the most obvious – if you build a better product people will flock to you while ignoring the tired offerings of your competitors.

The best example in the market today is interactive white boards which are now in over 60% of classrooms (70% is considered market saturation for most technologies). This has mostly happened over the last 5 years.

Since this platform is now ubiquitous a new innovation frontier is content for these devices like Saddleback’s excellent math programs.

PCI published our award winning PCI Reading Program – the first research based comprehensive program for intellectually disabled students in decades. It is designed for today’s Special Ed population, including a much higher number of students with autism. Tellingly it is a combination of print and software. This product line has seen explosive growth in a rough market.

Success requires a clear vision of market needs and how to apply new tools to those needs in an economically efficient way. Easy to say, really hard to do.

2. Distribution – Distribution is the achilles heel of all K12 start ups. If you have something innovative making more people aware of your innovative solution will drive new business. The problem is that there are 3.8 million teachers in the US and they are bombarded with marketing messages. Cutting through that clutter at that scale takes time and money.

The largest publishers have actually contracted their distribution networks in the last five years. They collapsed their supplemental teams into their core basal teams with the predictable result that the supplemental business has shrunk. There is a fair debate on how much of this shrinkage is falling demand on the customers’ side and how much is publisher neglect. What is clear is that the publishers’ actions have fueled the fire at some level.

This has created opportunities for mid-market players with niche distribution networks to fill the gaps at both ends – with their own products and as distributors for larger and smaller players. As I noted last fall:

“…[in the attention economy] access to expertise becomes very valuable and companies that can help their customers make informed, relevant, and effective decisions will thrive.”

An investor once asked me what it took to build a distribution network in K12. My answer was most definitely not what he wanted to hear – 10 years and a lot of patience. Most new companies don’t think in that kind of time frame but the survivors will all tell you that the trick was a long term bloody minded dedication to the challenge. There is no quick fix here.

3. Acquisition – Between starts ups innovating new learning technologies and mature mid-market companies seeking exits Education is a target rich environment for those seeking acquisitions.

The core challenge has more to do with investor expectations for returns on capital and the speed at which the education market moves. Due to the stickiness of education solutions once they are adopted they pay out nicely over a long period of time. Put another way – the payoff is there in this market but most investors are not patient enough to earn it.

Right now the larger publishers seem to be sitting this out but people looking to enter the market – like News Corp – are active. Private Equity groups are circling as well but many probably see education as a low risk hedge rather than a core investment. The VCs are quite active – but they are investing in small innovative start ups.

One of the more interesting plays may be marrying the playbook of the PE and VC camps. Leverage the distribution muscle of an established player than can reach across the market with the disruptive innovations coming from the smaller players through creative acquisitions. Culturally and operationally there are significant challenges in this approach, but the payoff if done correctly is a dramatic reduction in the time to market for innovations at a time of disruptive change.

4. Diversification – Another approach is branching into new markets. There are opportunities in corporate learning, education systems in other countries, tutoring, trade publishing, home schoolers, etc. for publishers who currently sell just to schools.

This mistake that may company’s make is underestimating both the changes in product design and the distribution challenges associated with moving into other markets.

Does your box say “program” instead of “programme”? At a minimum you will need a new box if not a complete page review and spelling update for the guts of your program if you want to sell it in the UK or Australia. Are you ready for the rough and tumble of trade publishing or corporate learning?

Moving into new markets requires sustained discipline as you learn the rules of the road and a willingness to invest over a long haul. If you are looking for a quick hit don’t waste your time on this approach.

Summary

If you are thinking about how to grow your business (rather than just holding on in tough times) then some combination of the four approaches outlined above is where you will probably end up. Your vision, access to capital, and discipline will determine what the right mix is for your company.

I’ve probably missed some obvious alternative to the four core growth strategies outlined above. Feel free to drop me an email or comment and we’ll update the list.

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Distilling the range of policy positions on our current economic malaise is a huge challenge, but fortunately Rortybomb is up to the task. I recommend his post – A Topological Mapping of Explanations and Policy Solutions to Our Weak Economy.

Not only does he provide spiffy venn diagrams that distill people’s positions he also provides extremely useful links to articles that lay out those positions.

As a business leader I recommend this post for those wanting to dig deeper on what the road ahead might look like for our organizations.

As an education publisher I recommend it for those seeking outstanding examples of web articles that would be useful in the classroom. While he has strong opinions he isn’t afraid to provide a platform for those with other opinions to put their best foot forward. This one post could serve as the foundation for 2-3 weeks of a high school econ class.

As a citizen I just want what Jessica Hagy outlined in her inimitable way over at Indexed

 Wp-Content Uploads 2011 09 Card3012

I just wish DC would get on with their job.

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In an age of information overload Librarians are the pilots who can help us quickly navigate to what is meaningful.

Said differently – librarian’s rock and they make a huge difference in schools. Here is a video made by a school for a library aid who got laid off due to the budget crisis. Think this “saving” won’t make a big difference in the education of these children?
Watch the video.

Yes – she is my lovely wife. She will find new work, but this work resonated with her soul and she was damn good at it. Thousands of young learners are better off because they crossed paths with her.

She and thousands of other educators who were dedicated and loved by their students will not be there in the fall when school reopens.

Think about that the next time someone bashes teachers to make political hay.

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I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this.

Notice to All Banker Types from a Teacher

Also too:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland – For Richer and Poorer – Teachers and Wall Street
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

The hypocrisy is staggering. Bail out banks with trillions of taxpayer dollars – “bonuses are contracts and you can’t touch them.” Banks drive economy into the ditch and cause funding crisis for schools – “teachers are overpaid and coddled so unwind teacher contracts to solve the problem.” Sociopaths is the most charitable term I can think of to describe the people making these arguments.

My take from another angle on this subject from the middle of the healthcare debate:
Pre-Existing Ignorance – Healthcare vs. Education

OPOL