Friday, March 25, 2011

Pop Quiz II

Take this test...lets see how you do.

1. What is the purpose of a K-12 Education?

2. How do you know that an 8th grader is ready for the 9th grade?

3.  How would you measure the success of the educational system?

4. Rate in the order of importance where funds in Education should go. (no essay)

    a. Administrative Salary.
    b. Teacher's Salary
    c. Classroom equipment
    d. Facilities upgrade
    e. Research and Development
    f.  Evaluation
    g. Teacher's training
    h. Lunch.

5. In K-12 what purpose does Tenure serve?

6. What is a fair compensation for a Teacher with 10 years of service? (Include benefits as well as salary and working hours)

7. Should parents be compelled to serve as volunteers during the school day?

8. What programs/services should be cut first when faced with a budget shortfall? (Pick 2)

  a. Transportation (buses)
  b. Free/Reduced Lunch
  c. Sports
  d. The Arts

9. How would you measure a teachers competency?

10. Do you support Teacher's Unions?
  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pop Quiz

Every year thousands of people get a drivers license.  Every year thousands of people are killed because of mistakes they make while driving.  Everyone of them took a test and passed.  Driver's license testing is a failure. But we keep on testing and giving out licenses.

Every year we hear of pilots that crash their planes, Doctors who remove the wrong leg...accountants who high tail it out of town with someone else's money.  All of them took tests..and the tests..failed to protect us.  But we keep on testing.

There is a point in the planning process where you say...this is where we start.  Sometimes you have the luxury of taking your time to pick the best spot to start...more often the situation dictates where you start. Failure is not dictated by where you start a plan...it is dictated by failing to act swiftly and decisively.

If we wait for the perfect test...or the perfect plan when dealing with the challenges to debacle of public education then nothing will ever get done...there will never be a good place to start...there will never be a perfect plan.

Our tax base is dwindling...property values are in the tank...more people are unemployed and under employed...We have eaten the frosting off of our cake...Our need for action is dictated by the situation.  If we fail to act...we are in grave danger of losing what little edge we have in public education.  We can no longer afford to wait for a perfect plan....the perfect test...we must take action with the best we have..and remain flexible enough to continually improve the process.

Major corporations such as Dell, Microsoft, HP, and others have implemented cost savings while improving internal educational methods.  They have no choice if they wish to remain competitive in an ever changing technical world.

Test design and implementation will cost them millions...as it will within our educational system..it will be money well spent.  Creating goals and milestones to judge and reward success is the American Way. Children  deserve the best.

Public Schools...if there is to remain such a thing...must change with the times. If they do not..only the failures in this nation will be attending.  They will be taught by the teachers who are themselves failures.

The largest public educational system in this country..and as far as I can tell...in the world has been using performance based evaluations of their teachers for decades.  The result has been the best educated employees found anywhere.  They are constantly evaluating their methods and processes.  Changing their training systems on a continual basis to meet the demand of an ever changing world.

In just a few short weeks they take their students from no knowledge to a high level of competence.  They do this in spite of the fact that our public schools only provide them with sub-par matierial.

I myself spent 15 years training kids from High Schools across this nation...I had to deal with long hours...and idiots that couldn't pay attention.  At times I wish I could just say "that guy is too stupid to even put on his pants, and you want me to teach him to carry a gun?"  But I didn't...it was my job to give him every opportunity to succeed.

Their failure was my failure...and I was graded on their performance.  I love a challenge...and that job was certainly that.  Where I work now requires my attention 100 percent of the time...it is fun..challenging..and I am paid based on such a complex formula it boggles the mind...and I LOVE IT.

Turning our educational system around will be expensive in terms of money and emotional distress.  I am sorry that some have chosen a career that is tough.  I guess that is where the term work and job come in. But I for one am not willing to pay for substandard Educators in my Educational system.

P.S.  I hate pop quizzes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Performance pay

Performance Pay is all the rage right now.  Many cash strapped companies are moving away from standard annual pay raises and opting to pay quarterly bonuses based on performance. It will in effect save some of them millions of dollars, and allow them to keep and reward their best performing employees. So, How does it work?

Performance pay requires a measurement system to determine the performance of an individual or group.  This is  a difficult thing to do in certain conditions.  For instance, if a company makes widgets..and the number of widgets produced equals profit...then performance is tied to the number of widgets made.  However, if the employee's widget maker breaks..then the number of widgets they could have made is reduced.  How does a company account for this?

Since this can get complicated I will try to keep it as simple as possible...a company can create metrics that are used to measure an employee's projected production.  For instance, is an employee has created 100 widgets on everyday they worked during a quarter, and their widget maker was down for 2 days...they can just say that had the widget maker not broken they would have made 100 on those days as well.

The second element in Performance Pay is..well..the pay.  Every product made has a cost to manufacture..and a profit margin.  Both cost and profit are variable.  To keep this discussion simple we will say that the company only looks at profit for each widget when determining the Performance Pay.  The company allocates a certain percentage of profit for regular pay..and a certain percentage for Performance Pay.  Employee's that meet a certain level of production then qualify for the Performance Pay.

I know what you are thinking...Making an actual physical product is different than providing a service. Actually there is no difference.  Services are products...they are widgets...the only difference is how you measure the profit from the service...and how the employee generates the service.

Is Performance Pay fair?  No, it is not intended to be fair.  It is intended to get the most productivity out of your production line as you can.  Hard work is rewarded.  It is smart business.

Now for the difficult part of the discussion.  How does Performance Pay translate into government services?  At first it may appear that government is a special case....well it isn't.  Each year government begins with a finite amount of funds.  Those funds are based on Taxes and fees (which are also taxes) collected.  How those taxes and fees are collected is for another discussion.

Merit Pay is Performance Pay.  Our Educational system is a business. Each year a certain amount of funds are allocated to the education system.  Gauging the performance of that system is a complex and dynamic task.  Our educational system must remain dynamic to meet the ever changing world in which we live.  There is no difference between education and making widgets...it is just the widgets are alive....and they are an investment in the future.  The return on that investment is variable...but it is measurable.

What will Merit Pay cost?  It will cost what we budget to the effort.  What return can we as taxpayers expect from Merit Pay?  We can expect Teachers who are competent and dedicated to doing their absolute best in creating valuable widgets.

Government has been working on failed budgeting.  Money is often lost due to poor performance of those who have been trusted to use the money wisely.  I support any effort to bring cost in line with the return on investment.  It is long past time that our children received an education from the best teachers...not just those who have a teaching certificate.