Category Archives: Teaching

Don’t Blame The Teacher!

Here’s a link to an interesting article in the Bangor Daily News:

Moving Beyond ‘Blame The Teacher’

Much as I enjoyed the article, I also ended up frustrated because–try as I might–I could not post a comment! Reading the comments already there made me want to add:

One caution is that we not move from blaming the teachers to blaming the parents. To do so would be to miss the point of the article. You can bet that the schools cited here did far more than is reported in this article. Ultimately, the ENTIRE system was affected. The article perhaps didn’t go quite far enough in describing this. One sentence that needs changing:

“In education as in industry, progress toward quality will require collaboration among administrators, teachers and their unions, the parents and the students themselves.”

Of course Demings wasn’t the only “guru” promoting this thinking, but there was a simple elegance to his approach. The approach forced us to stop finding people to blame and look at the systems those people are working under. Very often those systems punish the very behavior and outcomes being sought and reward the undesired ones.

I was a practicing systems organization development consultant during those years and can attest to the success of the approach. Organizations with red bottom lines were in crisis and desperate for a fix. Those who saw beyond blaming often achieved incredible turnarounds. The need to make a profit can be incredibly motivating.

We might start wondering when we face a similar crisis and the need to teach and develop our kids becomes similarly motivating.

Federal Budget 101

As an instructor I’m a big admirer of people who find ways to make information understandable–isn’t that the job of a teacher? While the following email crossed my screen from a political perspective, I was impressed with the simplicity of it and how “eye opening” it is. See what you think!

Federal Budget 101

The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars.  Few people know how much money that is so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms.  Let’s put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

  •  U.S. Income: $2,170,000,000,000
  •  Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  •  New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
  •  National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  •  Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

 It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to.  Let’s remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family .

  • Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700 
  • Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200  
  • Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500  
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Amount cut from the budget: $385

So, in effect last month Congress, or in this example the Jones family, sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385  from its annual budget.  What family would cut $385 of spending in order to solve $16,500 in deficit spending? 

Now after years of this, the Jones family has $142,710 of debt on its credit card (which is the equivalent of the national debt). 

You would think the Jones family would recognize and address this situation, but it does not. Neither does Congress. 

The root of the debt problem is that the voters typically do not send people to Congress to save money. They are sent there to bring home the bacon to their own home state.  To effect budget change, we need to change the job description and give Congress new marching orders. 

It is  awfully hard (but not impossible) to reverse course and tell the government to stop borrowing money from our children and spending it now. 

In effect, what we have is a reverse mortgage on the country.  The problem is that the voters have become addicted to the money. 

Moreover, the American voters are still in the denial stage, and do not want to face the possibility of going into rehab. 

Attributed to: DAVID THOMAS, Chief Executive Officer — Equitas Capital Advisors LLC