_7.3 average___ On a scale of (0) strong
disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, is the United
States moving backwards on educational achievement?
_7.6 average___ On a scale of (0) strong
disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, should
priorities for new or changed strategies for education be based on
likely return on investment?
David Alden (8) (6)
Chuck Slocum (8) (8)
The top tier of US students do well but, overall, American students
are losing ground particularly when noting the future needs of the
workforce relative to the changing economy. We simply can not afford
to lose about one third of our youngsters who fail to complete even
high school. Parents/guardians must be involved in doing the right
things from the beginning. We must better understand the impressive
ROI for the education success of each child and, as Dr. Eilers notes,
the enormous social costs of those who drop out. A combination of life
long learning support systems--targeted at those who need it most and
beginning with prenatal health care and early learning--is a wise and
cost effective public investment.
Dennis Johnson (5) (1)
I am highly skeptical of the projected returns on investments that
were given. We have greatly increased investment of public funds in
education in past decades, yet little improvement in results has been
achieved. Funding is not the problem, motivation is. Education must be
returned to the control and choice of parents, not the education
establishment and the teacher's unions. Competition must be
reintroduced in education, and parents must individually control how
their tax money is spent on the education of their children. Today,
school is where kids go to have their education interrupted. The
motivated ones learn on their own and there seems to be little
shortage of talent in most endeavors.
Al Quie (10) (7)
Scott Halstead (10) (10)
We should utilize our financial resources in the most effective manner
possible. The current achievement levels are totally unacceptable.
Paul Hauge (8) (8)
Roger Heegaard (8) (9)
Peter Heegaard (8) (10)
Early childhood support is a key to higher graduation rates.
Joann Knuth (7) (10)
Regarding the second question, if the point is that we need to invest
wisely in public education so that our students will be successful in
their post secondary education, get good to great jobs, be productive
and involved citizens of our country and the world, then I respond
with a 10. The economic vitality of our state and nation depends on
the vitality of our public education system.
Shirley Heaton (8) (10)
As a mentor, here, in Kissimmee with Florida's Take Stock in Children
program, I am continually disheartened with our education process (if
we can call it that).
As for your questionnaire re Angela Eilers presentation.: 1. Re US
moving backwards.... The best response I can give is a "Yes" (about an
8) cuz until our so-called experts are ready to arrange for funding to
be put where their mouths are, we'll never get anywhere in the
education field and will soon be overtaken by those countries who can.
2. As for changing strategies based on likely investment return.....a
strong YES (#10) -- anything that works to get something happening.
On the first question, I do not have the data for making a judgment
except anecdotal. I suspect that the data for minorities and children
from single parent families are the most dramatic. The Chicago model
requires heavy involvement by parents, which seems to be the single
most important predictor of school performance. I believe that is
where we must start to change the dynamics. Mentoring mothers would go
a long way toward encouraging children. Our standards for teaching are
pretty high in Minnesota and our support of education financially is
high compared with other states. How much of the education dollar is
spent for food, transportation, ancillary social services?
It seems to me that when the family system breaks down, the costs are
shifted to the public in many ways, so let us begin by encouraging
these parents and providing support. My daughter who has a PHD has
been teaching English in the Middle School level for 18 years. She
tells me that many 12-13-14 year olds come to school hungry, have no
self-discipline, and have absent parents. These children need
nurturing and hugs and someone to listen to their problems. Also many
parents are playing the game of staying just ahead of rent collection
by moving continually, so that continuity in the classroom is
I don't think the economic model for service delivery based on return
on investment adequately measures some of the intangibles I refer to
above. How do we get at the issue of adequacy of parenting and
nurturance? Many single parents are themselves in need of
re-parenting. I know this intuitively from my years as a social worker
in MN. What if we focused on Seniors Mentoring Mothers and Fathers?
Surely, if we in MN can start an anti-smoking campaign nationally and
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we can start a movement to change the
way in which children are parented. More money isn't the answer.
Teachers are working hard. Small classrooms produce mixed results.
Let's drill down to the emotional needs of children and their parents
before we introduce others programs, so that the children are ready to
learn at all ages.
Bob Brown (5) (5)
In fairness to the education establishment I think it might not be
said with certainty that we are moving backwards in educational
achievement, but it is clear that we are not moving forward as much as
some other countries. Some of our problems relate to things such as:
the structure of our system (the kind of things Ted Kolderie
discusses); the fact that over the years the teacher organizations
have become member welfare organizations (i.e., unions) as opposed to
their traditional roles as student welfare organizations; the
unintended consequences of special education laws coupled with the
zealousness of advocacy groups and activist judges to place and keep
in regular schools some profoundly handicapped children and some
dangerously violent children (the kind of children who were
historically not in the schools) that seriously drain the resources of
the system; excessive student mobility, particularly in low income,
diverse urban areas; and the inadequacies and inappropriateness of
much of our teacher preparation.
I would not argue against retrying to get a better return on
investment, but I am quite skeptical, possibly even cynical about the
theoreticians who come up with these gross generalizations about how
much money we would save if only we did (fill in the blank.) I
concluded in my years in the Legislature that if we believed
everything presented to us and we would have passed every proposal
that was going to save so much money or have such a substantial return
on investment we could run state government at no cost and probably
pay substantial dividends to the citizens. I have yet to see a unit of
government do that.
Charles Lutz (8) (6)
John Adams (5) (8)
1. This is not the way to frame the question. My sense is (1) that the
range of skill levels and demonstrated academic competence of 18-year
olds has increased in the past 25 years; (2) the top 10 percent of
students are better prepared than ever, while the bottom 20 percent is
disengaged and dropping out, and even if they receive a high school
diploma, it has little meaning as a certification of knowledge and
skills; and (3) the median preparation level of high school graduates
regarding what they need to know (compared with the international
competition) has sagged badly in the past 25 years.
2. There has to be serious attention to the payoffs associated with
each strategy suggested.
This presentation is long on measurement and diagnosis, but does not
contain a presentation and analysis and of a politically viable
strategy to enter into the educational system and make a difference. I
agree with Kolderie that the present system cannot do the job that
needs to be done, even if the amount of money supplied to it were to
Once again, an outstanding conversation. (Also enjoy - when I have a
chance - reading posted comments.)
I would like to propose a guest for your October 10 meeting: Jim
Bartholomew, the Minnesota Business Partnership's education policy
Education reform was the initial issue that prompted formation of the
Partnership in 1977. The Partnership commissioned the Berman Weiler
Report in 1984. Those recommendations were consistent with the
Citizens League's positions and contributed significantly to
Minnesota-based reforms, including open enrollment, PSEO and,
eventually, charter schools.
During the 1990s, the Partnership - and Jim - was actively engaged in
Minnesota's decade-plus effort to create a standards and
accountability system. Jim continues to be in the trenches on
standards and assessments. He's working with a group of educators in
Minneapolis on a true site-based control model, he's on the Board of
Teaching, and much more. The Partnership is also beginning a study
with the Itasca Project and McKinsey to define "world-class" education
(outcomes and systemic characteristics) then create a set of
recommendations for closing the "global achievement gap."
Given your focus on education this fall, I think he'd be a good person
to talk with. (Also might have a slightly different perspective than
the one Ted K. presented earlier on the level of engagement among Twin
Cities business leaders.)
Glenn Dorfman (5) (10)
In honor of our dear friend and mentor, John Brandl: It seems to me
that the root question that school reformers of all colors have failed
to answer is the goal of school reform. I caste my lot with Jacques
Barzun who said: "The sole justification of teaching, of school
itself, is that the student comes out of it able to do something he
could not do before." Schools exist, principally, to remove ignorance,
to grow self-esteem from mastery over words and numbers and ideas.
Young minds need to be treated with respect and excellence not equated
with elitism. Finally, tradition and innovation should only be judged
by the results they achieve.
Vici Oshiro (0) (6)
1. Much improvement over the long haul. More kids going to and
finishing school. Some short term setbacks.
2. Don't allow ROI to become the magic bullet. This is an excellent
measure within the context of a broader view.
No women again. And this is NOT a hint. I'm not the person you want.
Find someone younger and more in tune with your modus operandi.
Janet M. Hively (7)(9)
"Return on investment", from my point of view, is equated with
productivity --- work that benefits the individual, family, and
community. It's important, however, that we take into account the full
range of productive activities that have economic value to the
community. That includes parenting, care giving, and volunteering as
well as employment.
I think that Minnesota was on track mid 1990s... Moving ahead on pre
school. School to Work programs that included project-based service
learning and workplace learning as well as classroom learning. The
Profile of Learning encouraging ALL students to take charge of their
learning and keep track of it. Encouragement of Lifework Planning from
the elementary grades on. A combination of conservative legislators
who felt that they knew better than kids and families how and what to
teach, plus achieving parents of students who were very successfully
moving ahead in traditional schools, plus Ventura's naiveté dumped the
leadership for these efforts. By 2000, the good times were over. What
a waste of efforts begun in the mid-80s.
Wayne Jennings (4) (6)
I wasn't impressed with Eilers' comments. While she made good points
about the importance of early childhood programs, I think she's off on
the new requirements for math for all students--that's going to be a
train wreck. She said nothing about citizenship education, little
about prep for productive work (other than college), nothing about
producing lifelong learners and developing critical thinkers. I
suspect that's because she knows little about educational options
other than reinforcing the present system. Doing more of the same
harder isn't going to produce substantial better results. We need to
ask more often what is education for.
Donald H. Anderson (7) (5)
"No child left behind" is an example of why we are moving backwards.
One size doesn't fit all children -strategies for education should
also consider the parents and their involvement or lack of involvement
in the raising of their children.
James L. Weaver (10) (10)
Robert A. Freeman (7) (8)
1. I think it is probably more correct to say that even though we are
still moving forwards, other countries are moving forwards faster than
2. Yes - if the investments are undisputed, and those numbers should
not be used as a blank check to increase funding for education without
some awareness that there will be diminishing returns. I liked her
focus that teachers be paid more with increases being linked to their
performance, and would argue that should be true for all new
investments in education. If it is not working we shouldn't fund it.
I agree that we should measure whether we have succeeded by whether
the total number of students graduating increases, but am concerned
that if the only focus is on this figure as a measure of success that
it will provide a systemic incentive to make it easier to graduate
high school / college in order to maintain levels of funding. It
should be coupled with an increase in the rigor of the subject matter
students are being taught in K-12 and post-secondary.
Brian Thiel (10) (10)
Every decision made by a legislative body must give highest priority
to cost/benefit. Even if the facts are inconclusive or conflicting and
the need for decision is imminent, always the best available data in
detail must be on the table.
Any other type of basis for making policy is merely wishful thinking
or wishy-washy thinking, of which there has been too much. When an
economy is in a growth spurt such thinking seems to exert no undue
burdens. But in all other situations, it is destructive to avoid the
hard headed reality of cost:benefit ratios.
And there is another necessary component to every cost:benefit
presentation... it must provide the actual data as well as the study
design and assumptions upon which the conclusions are based. I have
much experience in my life trying to sell something using empiric
studies to professionals who themselves write such papers, and every
one of them insists on seeing the actual data and all the study design
constructs before they place any credence in the findings.
I am very interested in the presentation by Ms Eilers! But before I
would set my legislative agenda if I am elected, I will study the
underlying facts and study constructs. I hope Ms. Eilers has made or
will make those things available.
One big question I have is, "what time frame is used to arrive at the
various cost:benefit ratios?" Everyone knows that the longer it takes
to bring a return, the less beneficial that return is. So,
cost:benefit ratios without a time line can become disinformation. I
never dared to make a proposal in industry without a calculation of
IRR. Are we doing that in government?
Another way to consider the group of studies is to ask, "are there
certain combinations of proposals that produce the best outcome
possibilities given various levels of funding?" It is hardly likely
that this year there is enough funding available to every project that
has, for example, a cost/benefit ratio > 4:1 without serious cost to a
struggling economy. So, among the higher cost/benefit ratios with the
smallest incremental costs, what combination seems most beneficial
with limited resource use?
I believe this presentation is very useful... especially if it leads
to more dialog before setting legislative agendas. Enough wishy-washy
idealism has led to over-spending from the MN pocketbook for some
things. Let's have more intelligent and pertinent discussions of
factual realities this coming year.
Egregious and bogus economic predictions were made at the MN
legislature last year. Even with a professional economist seated in
the chamber, there was no confirmation of hefty economic promises made
by her colleagues. Strange silence....!
Chris Brazelton (6) (8)
It appears that we are stagnant and the need for competitiveness in
the world is increasing. Wise investments would include those that are
most likely to be successful, and return on investment is certainly
one good way to measure success.
The nice thing about education is that we can find successful program
models and replicate them in other schools. We don't have to turn the
entire ship all at once, but do need to get the parents, teachers and
administrators on board with changes in plans so that we have the buy
in needed to make any changes work.
Edward Dirkswager (_) (10)
The target has changed. The US now realizes that all children must be
educated and it is failing at doing so. Whether the US is failing to
educate the types of persons that it has historically educated is open
The answer is an obvious 10. Obvious if you think that increment
tinkering will yield much result. The answer is not strategic
investment. The answer is systemic change.
David Broden (10) (6)
1. Moving backwards is a relative term--we in many respects are moving
forward but we are also continuously raising the bar by which we
measure educational achievement--the raising of the bar is perhaps one
of the overlooked criteria as we look for ways to think about
increasing achievement. The need for education and education in
different ways is growing--the importance to the overall quality of
life and providing the workforce for the future is always evolving.
The national debate on educational achievement is a very healthy
focus--but it is also creating some disruption in an organized process
of improvements--we are seeing various parochial groups get protective
of the change. We need to build in opportunity for risk taking and
moving forward etc.
2. The priorities should be set first on what will get the best effect
for education--cost and cost benefits analysis is great but should not
be the first level constraint or in most cases the best ideas do not
really or often get the discussion to really give them a chance--the
cost is often higher--at least at the start. We need to focus on the
best metrics for improvement and then as a second level assessment
bring in cost--certainly what we do must be affordable--but we need to
think of what we mean by "affordable"--these are investment decisions
not real time spending decisions.
On the measurements by which we are deciding that students and or
schools are failing... I have seen students ask "Does this count?"
when some of these tests are given...meaning "Am I going to be graded
on it, or will it keep me from graduating?"... and then when they know
it does NOT count for those things, they answer haphazardly and with
low effort....especially those less able students. I don't believe the
results are as accurate as they could and should be. Two, I don't
believe the reward system for getting a diploma, or achieving good
grades is what it should be. I believe motivation is indeed a problem,
and perhaps some real rewards (potential employment doesn't seem to be
it)...should apply, such as a driver's license.
Lyall Schwarzkopf (6) (6)
I think that priorities for new or changed strategies for education
should be based on the outcome of the students.
Carolyn Ring (6) (3)
Bright Dornblaser (10) (10)
But need to consider the substantial differences in the cost of
implementing the alternatives.
Tom Swain (9) (9)
David Hutcheson (8) (5)
It seems to me that there are a lot of open questions about how the
estimates of return on investment are arrived at. Most of them are
intuitively appealing, but they do have a fairly strong flavor of
numbers picked out of the air.