Sunday, March 28, 2010

TaskTome: Task Management Software for Those Who Want Simple

As an administrator, I am always looking for solutions to managing the many tasks that come with being a school principal. During the course of the day, one or two dozen tasks can often come across my desk, and trying to find a way to keep track of all of these is problematic. Of course there are the usual Web 2.0 tools like Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, and Ta-Da Lists. All of the online tools have their positives and negatives, but I am always game for trying new software.

I honestly do not recall when and where I first heard of taskTome, but I do remember reading about it in some open source review. It looked promising so I downloaded a copy from After installing it, I found it really does work as advertised. It basically has five main features:

1. Planner: You can use this feature to keep track of events. It allows you to enter an event, just like many calendar programs, but there is no alarm or reminder feature. The calendar has a very simple interface.


taskTome Calendar Interface

2. Tasks Manager: The Tasks interface for taskTome is also simple. It gives the user the ability to create tasks by clicking a single button. These tasks can then be given due dates, placed in a category, and assigned a priority. Again, though, there is no reminder alarm system with the software.


taskTome Tasks List Interface

3. Diary Entry: One feature that I found interesting with taskTome was the ability to enter Diary entries. During my tenure as an administrator, I keep a running administrative log that contains notes regarding administrative actions taken and the incidents and situations faced every day while on the job. This feature is a handy one to have for someone who is keeping a daily log of activities for documentation purposes. The only feature I wish was included was a timestamp button so that I could easily enter the time.


taskTome Diary Interface

4. Notes Entry: TaskTome also gives users a place to enter notes. This is basically a simple notepad like interface where users can enter information and insert dates and objects into them. Useful for keeping additional notes tied to tasks or events.


taskTome Notes Interface

5. Financial Tracking: TaskTome’s financial tracking feature was personally the least useful feature for me. Perhaps that is because so much of the schools expenses are tracked in other ways. Still, it looks simple enough and might prove useful to some.


taskTome Financial Interface

TaskTome is a very simple Task tracking program. For the user who really does not need a lot of extra bells and whistles, this program fits the bill. It has the ability export its event list, task list, diary entries, and notes, and will also export these same documents into PDF files. The program is also small enough to install and operate from a flash drive. It truly is a simple task management program.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Four Concerns with NCLB 2.0 the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for the Reauthorization of ESEA

During the last week, the web has been abuzz with talk about the Blueprint for NCLB 2.0 the Obama administration’s reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Most of the talk is mixed. Perhaps this mostly due to the largely vague phrases and broad generalizations found throughout most of the document. Still, my repeated read-throughs of the document have basically made me concerned about four themes found in its language.

1. The tying of tests to teacher and principal performance. I have no problem with accountability, and honestly I have no problem with testing, but testing is an imperfect business. Anyone who has taken a graduate level testing and assessment class knows that there many things that can go wrong with testing data, and many of those things are beyond the control of teachers and administrators. Making sure students get sleep the night before. Ensuring that students have breakfast that morning. Ensuring that students have regular attendance in the days leading up to the test. The list is endless. There are just too many factors that can influence a child’s score on a test given in a single moment in time. Now, if someone could develop a test and testing procedures that can control all these variables and the unknown ones, then let’s talk about using tests to measure teacher and principal effectiveness. The equation in the blueprint has basically be redefined. Under the Bush administration, High Test Scores=Student Achievement and Effective Schools. Under the Obama administration, High Test Scores=Effective Teachers and principals.

2. The fact that in all four turnaround plans for failing schools, the principal gets the ax. In a Twitter exchange last week with someone, they specifically pointed out that in the business world, the CEO or even a manager gets the ax if the business does not show a profit, so what is wrong with a principal getting the ax when a school fails to meet expectations? There is actually nothing wrong with it, if schools were like businesses, but they are not. CEO’s enjoy a great deal more autonomy than school principals and they have greater control over the factors that control the organization’s performance. CEOs have a great deal to say about budgets. They have a great deal to say about hiring and firing. They even have more control over the planning process. The degree of freedom CEOs have permits them to control many aspects of their company. A school principal does not enjoy that same level of control. She does not have great control over the budget. Very often, she is told what amounts of money is available, and even told where and how that money can be spent. As far as hiring, principals can have decisions in hiring, but these decisions are subject to all manner of restrictions and in some cases directives coming from all levels of the educational system. And firing, well even in a non-union state like mine, there are processes that must be followed, and specific reasons for firing are defined by state law, so firing is no simple matter, and is certainly not left up to the principal entirely. The principal does not even control the planning process for his own school. In North Carolina, state policy and state law guide the planning process so that school improvement plans are created and presented in a prescribed way, even if that way is not entirely conducive to effective planning. Sometimes the state requirements on the format the plan has to take, makes the plan itself utterly useless at the school level. So, to hold the principal absolutely accountable for a school he does not fully have control over, seems to be unfair. Who would want to take responsibility for a school then be told every time he tries to make a decision that he can’t do that? Principals just do not enjoy the same operational freedom that CEOs have, so to pretend that they control the school is ludicrous.

3. There’s a lot of talk in the blueprint about encouraging “new generations of tests” but no actual language to make sure states follow through with designing these tests. Those of us who have been educators for awhile know that if it “ain’t written down” then it “ain’t gonna happen.” The language of the blueprint and the language from Secretary Duncan talks big about having tests that more accurately measure what students need to be able to do if they are “college and career ready.” In reality, if there are not specific guidelines, what would prevent states from just taking their current testing programs and continue them? Many states see nothing wrong with their testing, and might just choose to make their testing programs fit the new federal guidelines, especially if it is going to be costly to design those new tests. The reality of state testing programs is that they have financial restrictions too, and if it costs too much to change them, they won’t, especially if they have lots of money already invested in their current testing programs. I honestly don’t have a great deal of faith in the idea that states are going to change their testing too much.

4. The idea that states can arrive at a definition of effective teacher, highly effective teacher, effective principal, and highly effective principal. Buried in the blueprint is this idea of having states define each of these levels of performance. It does say teachers, principals, and other stakeholders should be involved in creating these definitions, but what is going to prevent these definitions from becoming too narrowly defined on things like increased test scores and low drop-out rates? A too-narrow definition will result in principals whose focus is on those specific things, often at the expense of other things. Besides, when you ask someone to tell you why they thought a particular teacher or principal was good, they often struggle to find an answer. If states can arrive at definitions of these that are fair and acceptable without being too narrow, then my concern is not quite as strong.

I am sure as the ESEA reauthorization process continues, and as I continue to read through the blueprint I will find more areas of concern. Based on my readings so far, the four concerns above are my main ones for now. At this point in time, I am not sure that NCLB 2.0 is the radical transformation that Secretary Duncan says it is. Much of what it says seems to me to be faithful to the core of NCLB 1.0.

Administrative Ideas for Using Skype

I honestly cannot take full credit for this idea because when I came on board in my current position as principal of a redesign high school, most of the teachers were already using Skype to communicate during the school day. They suggested that I install it too. I knew about Skype, but until this point in time, had no reason to use the software. Sounds kinds of funny, but to Skype, you have to have someone to Skype with.

I installed Skype on my school laptop and my personal laptop, and to be honest, the experiment has been great. We are finding all kinds of uses for Skype in carrying out our daily tasks. Here are just a few ways we are using it:

  1. Making announcements: Our school does not have an Intercom system, so making school-wide announcements is problematic. Instead, should any of us need to make announcements during the course of the day, we Skype them. To make sure we are all connected, the first thing we do in the morning is log into Skype so that we have that immediate connection. If someone needs to see a student, we send out a message over Skype, and whichever teacher has that student, responds and sends him or her to the requested location.
  2. On-going discussions: Obviously, my teachers are teaching, so I do not always expect immediate responses to discussion items sent out over Skype, but if there is a pressing issue, I can send it out, and when teachers get a free moment, they respond. On one particular occasion, I posted a dilemma on Skype, and the conversation took off and lasted all day, with teachers responding to the issue when the opportunity arose. We can by using Skype have important discussions about any aspect of our school when the need arises.
  3. Teachers Meetings: Sometimes there are occasions, especially during the summer, it is a bit problematic for the teaching staff to come to the school. In those cases, we will use Skype to discuss issues that arise when coming to the school is problematic.
  4. Interviews: Next week, I will be conducting my first interview for a staff position using Skype. This prevents me from asking a potential job candidate from having to travel to our school for an initial interview.

Undoubtedly, many others have found many more uses for Skype than those I have listed here. But it has amazed me how quickly this interactive tool has seamlessly blended into our daily routine. Using technology is all about the possibilities, and the possibilities are endless.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Further Examination of NCLB 2.0 the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for ESEA Reauthorization

Yesterday, I examined priority one in the Obama Administration’s recently released blueprint for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. After examining priority one specifically, it is apparent that the Obama administration is going to continue the testing mania of NCLB 1.0, with some new areas of emphasis. Those areas are:

  • tying student test scores to teacher and principal evaluations.
  • ensuring every student graduates college and career ready.
  • increased flexibility but most likely more federal government oversight.

The blueprint outlines five educational priorities that guide the Obama administration’s education policy. The second priority is Great Teachers and Leaders in Every School. Under this priority, the Obama administration has decided to focus on three components: 1) Effective teachers and principals, 2) Placing the best teachers and principals where they are needed most, and 3) Strengthening teacher and leader preparation and recruitment.

In addressing effective teachers and principals, the blueprint uses language like “elevating the teaching profession” by “recognizing, encouraging, and rewarding excellence.” Teacher and principal evaluations are called for that “identify effective and highly effective teachers and principals on the basis of student growth and other factors.” These evaluations are to be used to identify staff development needs for teachers and principals and help improve student learning.There is also a statement that there will be a “new program” to address the recruitment, placement, rewarding, retaining, and promoting effective teachers and principals. Still another statement says that this program will be used to “enhance the profession of teaching.” The Obama administration’s talk about elevating the teaching profession is hard to argue with, but apparently his idea of doing that involves three things: 1)tying teacher and principal evaluations to test scores, 2) revamped teacher and principal evaluations that identify “effective” and “highly effective” teachers and principals, and 3) some unnamed program that will focus on recruitment, placement, retention, rewarding and promoting teachers and principals.

Personally the language of the blueprint should cause teachers and principals concern for several reasons. First of all, the Obama administration and Secretary Arne Duncan just can’t let go of the idea of tying teacher and principal evaluations to student test performance. This is a concern for me personally for two reasons. To begin with, right now there are no existing state tests or national tests that I would bet my career on. My own state, North Carolina has the strangest and quirkiest testing system in the country. It takes a mathematician to figure how the state figures growth from year to year because they do not even use the same subject test to determine growth. For example, to determine growth in on the US History test, they actually use non-history tests and some kind of magical statistical formula to determine growth. Who would want to bank their career on that kind of mathematical wizardry? Another reason to be concerned is that teachers and principals must regularly deal with a number of variables beyond their control. I agree with the Obama administration’s language when they point out the importance of having an effective teacher in the classroom and an effective principal in the school. But the Obama administration’s plan dumps the entire responsibility for student achievement into the laps of teachers and principals. What about all the other factors that are important too, like whether the child gets a good night sleep, whether he has adequate health care, whether she has loving, caring parents, and whether she has clothing to wear? The Obama administration fails address how this evaluation system is also going to take into consideration these social factors.

The other component that concerns me as an administrator is this word “placement” in this phantom new program. Does this mean that teachers and administrators can look forward to being shuffled to and fro during their careers? The hidden meaning here is that if you are an effective or highly effective administrator or teacher you are going to find yourself in schools of highest need. You’ll will get the call that you are being sent across town to a school that has trouble keeping teachers and principals for a reason. They are unpleasant places to work due to lack of resources and lack of support.

I plan to continue to sift through the language of the Obama administration’s blueprint for NCLB 2.0 in the coming days. The bottom line is, it seems to me that on the one hand, the Obama administration sounds supportive of teachers and administrators and the idea of educator professionalism. But, on the other hand, when you start looking more closely at NCLB 2.0 you have to start worrying that its continued focus on high-stakes testing is only going to intensify the sour culture created by the Bush administration’s NCLB 1.0.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are There Any Differences Between NCLB 1.0 and NCLB 2.0 Obama’s Blueprint for ESEA Reauthorization?

The Obama administration released on its web site its blueprint for revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This was just after President Obama addressed education in his weekly Internet address. (Here’s the transcript of that address.) I have completed one complete read-through of that blueprint and think there are four areas of concern for me as a 21st century administrator. These areas are: 1) continued emphasis on testing, 2) emphasis on tying test scores to teacher and principal evaluations, 3) emphasis on getting every child ready for college and career and no provisions to address how every child is going to pay for college, and 4) the many areas that are bound to cause additional red tape and paperwork. The bottom line, NCLB 2.0 seems to continue many of the same provisions in NCLB 1.0, only the names have been changed.

The blueprint re-emphasizes the four areas of the Obama administrations focus in educational reform. Those four areas by themselves are hard to argue with or about. The first area identified by the Obama administration has been improving teacher and principal effectiveness to ensure that every classroom has a great teacher and every school has a great leader. That seems fairly innocuous. Who would argue that we want ineffective teachers and ineffective leaders? The second area identified is providing information to families to help them evaluate and improve their children's schools, and to educators to help them improve their students' learning. Again nothing earth-shattering with this idea. The third area is implementing college and career ready standards and developing improved assessments aligned with those standards. Now this is obvious a continued emphasis on the importance of testing. This sounds no different from NCLB 1.0. The final area is improving student learning and achievement in America's lowest performing schools by providing intensive support and effective interventions. Again, not sure how much this is different from NCLB 1.0. It is also impossible to argue with this focus. There is absolutely nothing earth-shattering or distinctive about any of these. Where Obama administrative education policy starts being distinctive is with its so-called five key priorities.

  1. College and Career Ready Students
  2. Great Teachers and Leaders in Every School
  3. Equity and Opportunity for All Students
  4. Raise the Bar and Reward Excellence
  5. Promote Innovation and Continuous Improvement

The blueprint then goes on to describe each of the components for each of the five areas.

Under College and Career Ready Students, the components are: raising standards for all students, better assessments, and a complete education. What the first component calls for is that every student should graduate college and career ready and that states should adopt college and career readiness standards. It is made clear that states can adopt common standards or use existing their existing ones. I would note here that obviously the Obama administration is retreating just a bit on requiring common national standards. The better assessments called for by the administration must be aligned with college and career ready standards. There is also language that states that these assessments should “capture higher-order skills” and provide more accurate measures of student growth. These tests should also better inform classroom instruction. The final component under College and Career Ready Students is a complete education. The blueprint calls for students to have a well-rounded education. This is defined in the document as being “from literacy to mathematics, science, technology to history, civics, foreign languages, the arts, financial literacy, and other subjects.”

So what does this first priority suggest to me as an administrator. My first reaction is that the first priority means the following:

  • Our focus in the schools is going to be on core courses that prepare students for college.
  • Because there is absolutely no mention of Career and Technical Education, I wonder if the Obama administration is pondering tossing these programs on the slag heap.
  • States are not obligated to adopt common national standards. The early rhetoric from the Obama administration and Secretary Duncan seemed to be a call for common national standards.
  • There will be a continued focus on testing just like NCLB 1.0. The Obama administration seems to have attempted to address some educator concerns about tests that do not measure student growth accurately, and tests that do not seem require but the most elemental thinking.
  • Tests should also inform class instruction. This is big for teachers and administrators in North Carolina. Our current tests provide no useable information for the classroom teacher or school administrator.
  • The call for a well-rounded education seems to address concerns about how our education system has ignored all but tested areas. The problem is, the Obama administration still does not realize, unless it is tested, it is often not taught.

Now that I have had some time read carefully through some of the Obama’s administration’s blueprint for the reauthorization of ESEA, I can see that there were at least superficial attempts to address some of the educator concerns about NCLB 1.0. Still, I am not convinced there is a great deal of difference between NCLB 2.0 (Obama’s blueprint version) and NCLB 1.0 (the Bush version.) Tomorrow, I will try to post on the priority Great Teacher and Leaders in Every School.

Obama Education Policy: Change We Could Do Without

According to President Obama’s weekly Internet address his administration’s education policy is an attempt to create an educational system that “Creates a more competitive America and a better future.” It’s hard to argue with words like “what matters is what we do to lift up the next generation.” It is equally hard to argue with phrases like “raising expectations for our students and ourselves,” “rewarding good teaching,” “to recognize and reward excellence,” “improve performance of public schools,” and “give our kids and out country the best chance to succeed in a changing world.” We have been hearing the same thing from politicians for my entire 20 year career in education. So what is really different about the Obama’s administration from the previous administration?

According to his weekly Internet address, “states compete for funding by committing to reform and raising standards.” The idea of competition for federal funding is new. What is really wrong with this idea? As many people have pointed out, a competition means there will be winners and losers. Some states and school systems will have to do without needed funding in a year when states and local governments are having to slash budgets. Those will be the losers in the Obamafest Competition for Education Funds. Who will ultimately lose are students in those schools, systems, and states just because their state’s application is rejected. When a President boasts in the same speech that “unless we step up, there are countless children who will never realize their full talent and potential,” I see a serious disconnect between stated beliefs and practice. How can the President boast and declare that he is concerned about the education of every child, when he is going to use a process that by its very nature is going to declare some children losers, just because their state can’t write an acceptable application?  In his speech regarding those 16 states who were finalists, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reminds us again that  “Race to the Top is a competition. Only the best proposals will win.” A translation of this is, those states with poor proposals will lose, and so will the students in those states. I am puzzled to no end how a Presidential administration could possibly be so callous as to turn our children’s future into a bureaucratic competition.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Task Coach Review: Open Source Program to Help Administrators Manage Tasks

In earlier posts, I examined technology solutions for developing and maintaining a Professional Learning Network. As an administrator, one advantage of technology tools like Twitter and Google Reader is the ability to build and maintain connections to a number of like professionals through the use of technology tools. Another problem that administrators face is how to manage all of the tasks that are a part of the job. The old fashioned, written checklist is certainly a fantastic standby, but there are technological solutions to help with this task management too. Task Coach, an open source software program, provides administrators with a tool that is has some fairly powerful features that make keeping up with tasks much easier. Most of all, because it is open source, it can be downloaded free of charge.

Task Coach is a software program that allows users to keep track of personal tasks and todo lists. Some of its most common features are: 1) It can be installed on a flash drive for maximum portability. You can take your todo list and task lists with you. 2) Tasks can be categorized. 3) You can also create subtasks. 4) Can views tasks as a list or as a tree. 5) Tasks can be sorted by attributes you assign. 6) Can show/hide certain tasks so that you only see what is due on a given day. 7) Can add attachments to task items. 8) Tasks can be created by dragging email from Outlook or Thunderbird onto task viewer. 9) Notes can created and assigned to certain tasks. 10) Tasks can have budgets and a record of time spent. 11) Tasks can be exported in several file formats so that they can be converted to other formats like Excel or Word files.

To set up Task Coach, you can begin by downloading the program from the link below.

After you have run the installation, and you have started the program, the program should open with screen below.


Ideas for Using Task Coach

One feature that is highly useful in Task Coach is the ability to assign main tasks and then sub tasks under that main task. So many times there are administrative tasks that are quite complicated. These tasks actually involve a number of multiple sub tasks that must be completed before the task is completed. By using Task Coach’s sub task feature, a complex task can be broken down into manageable parts.

Another useful feature is the ability to color code your tasks. You can choose colors to highlight certain kinds of tasks such as operation tasks, curriculum tasks, or even red-hot tasks that must be completed.

You can export your tasks from Task Coach into a file readable by Outlook. Using this feature, you can sync your tasks in Outlook with Task Coach items.

Use the set priority to establish which tasks are most important.

If you have a task that involves completing a form, attach that form electronically to your task entry. You can also attach it to email.

If the task involves an email, you can copy and paste the text of the email into a note attached to a task.

Task Coach is a free solution to track tasks. It has many features for a small scale program. There is a bit of a learning curve to learn how to use all its features. But for an all-around task management system for school administrators, it is a good program.

This post is a continuation of solutions for administrators. The focus of this post is finding electronic ways to manage all the administrative tasks.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Attendance to Last Weeks NCTIES Conference in Raleigh NC

Last Thursday and Friday I attended the North Carolina Technology in Education Society Annual Technology (NCTIES) Conference in Raleigh, NC. As an administrator, I realize my fellow principals are sometimes reluctant to get away from their schools for conferences that appear to be remotely related to administration. Honestly, I am not sure of the logic behind that thinking. Now that the 21st Century is underway, and we lead schools who are being asked to prepare students for a future that does not yet exist, I can think of no better conference for an administrator at any level or in any department. This kind of compartmental thinking about technology by administrators could perhaps be hindering the advancement of technology in their own districts and schools. As a leader of m y school, attending NCTIES served a number of positive purposes for me.

First of all, there's the modeling factor. If I am going to expect my teachers to be engaged in the use of technology in their teaching, then I must model the enthusiasm and the interest in technology myself. Talk is still pretty cheap as they say, and my attending NCTIES last week was a message to my staff, "I believe in the place of technology in our school and in instruction." Even more important, attending NCTIES also sends them the message that I am not just going to talk about technology. I am going to engage in its use and join with them in exploring all its wonderful possibilities.

Secondly, attending NCTIES was more than just modeling, it allowed me to connect and renew connections with those that I know are using technology to better education in general and teaching specifically. If I am the instructional leader I claim to be, then I need to be engaged, just like my teachers, with others in the exploration of technology in the classroom. At NCTIES this year, I had wonderful conversations with teachers, administrators and vendors about possibilities, and we all know that without looking at the possibilities, we could not possibly claim to have a vision that includes technology and the preparation of our students for the 21st Century. Each year NCTIES gives me the ability to renew the current conversations of how technology is transforming teaching and learning

Finally, attending NCTIES gave me the opportunity to present. Leading means being out front. As a school administrator, that is the true position a 21st Century Principal should be in symbolically. By presenting at an NCTIES conference as a school principal, I can send the message loudly and clearly to my staff and everyone else, "I am a technology user and consumer too, and I see its promise and potential." Presenting helps keeps me engaged in the conversation. It forces me to continue the exploration.and "new adventures" for the rest of the year.

As I reflect on this years NCTIES, Ted McCain and Ian Juke's book Windows on the Future provide clear advice that speaks to all educators but to me specifically as a principal. "We must catch up or face the unenviable prospect of becoming irrelevant." I refuse to be irrelevant in my role as a school leader. I want to be a technology leader. This year's NCTIES has once again renewed my energy to continue as technology advocate for all of my school, and it allowed me to continue to learn about my role as technology leader. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review of Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System

Diane Ravitch;s book The Death and the Life of the Great American School System is one of those rare books that will either ignite some long-needed, introspective discussion by the educational establishment about testing, accountability, and charter schools, or it will simply be brushed aside by politicians, business and media as the usual excuses made by an educational system that just does not want to change. Back in the 1990s when all the politicians and media were bewailing the failure of our schools because of the decline in SAT scores, I remember purchasing David Berliner's book The Manufactured Crisis which very clearly pointed out some of the flaws in the logic using SAT scores to decide whether public schools were failing or not. I thought then that his book made a great case for not using SAT scores to judge the effectiveness of schools. Yet, the media and politicians continued to harp about SAT scores and about which schools and states were failing because of low scores. It was as if David Berliner's book had never been written. Even though, by well-reasoned and logical arguments, Diane Ravitch's points out that the culture of testing and accountability is destroying our public schools, I am afraid her book may suffer the same fate. I just hope the victims of these political games are not the children of this country and our beloved public school system.

Ravitch carefully points out in
 The Death and the Life of the Great American School System how the push for national standards metamorphosed into the testing and accountabilty movement, and she also describes how the original charter schools movement has been hijacked by those who originally sought vouchers and other ways for government to fund private and sectarian schools. With example after example, statistics, and logic she explains how both of these movements became entrenched in our public schools. According to Ravitch, what is behind these two movements is the mistaken belief that opening public schools to free market reforms will force reform in the entire American educational system. This belief in the ability of the free market to force reform is not only held by some of the most wealthy educational foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, but it is now firmly held by both political parties. The Democratic party which was once the party that espoused many of the same beliefs held by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers and endeared itself to teachers in general, now has bought into the free market reform strategies that has been pushed by the Republican party as far back as the Reagan administration. Ravitch makes a reasoned argument why these reforms will not work in public schools. The ultimate result of the testing and accountability movement is the dumbing down of the curriculum because states have lowered their standards to meet the impossible-to-reach everybody-is-proficient deadline of 2014. This same overemphasis on test scores is also forcing teachers to "teach to the test" which is not creating well-rounded, educated graduates. With President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" initiative which for the first time pushes to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations, one can only imagine that "the test" will become even more important. Teachers will spend even more time on test preparation than ever before.
Ravitch also points out some of the flaws in the arguments regarding increasing the number of charter schools. The same large education foundations that have convinced the Obama administration to adopt draconian policies regarding tying testing to educator job performance, are also pushing for increased numbers of charter schools. According to Ravitch, the reasoning that charter schools are more effective is just not true. She quotes several studies, and most point out what common sense would tell you, "There are good charter schools and there are bad charter schools," and logic would also tell you that the same thing is true for public schools. The studies, according to Ravitch, just do not support that charter schools do a better job at increasing student achievement. Ravitch also points out that one of the end results of charter school movement are charter schools that siphon off the best students, refuse to admit special needs students like special education or English as a second language students. These students and those whose parents do not take the initiative or interest to apply and pursue charter school admission languish in regular public schools now void of the better students. The end result is a dual education system that distributes students based on haves and have nots, and in some cases, on race and ethnicity.

Diane Ravitch's book has the potential to ignite honest discussion about what the testing and accountability reforms and the charter schools reforms are doing and will do to our American system of education. It also has the potential to cause conversations about what she thinks will do more to reform education, which is the development of a more complete and comprehensive curriculum that will create well-rounded, highly-educated graduates. Her mantra that "There are no quick fixes, no magical solutions to fix education" should resound loudly to educators everywhere that have had to suffer through educational fad-after-education fad during the course of their careers. Though, perhaps this time with these two reform measures, the stakes are higher. The public education system we have come to love may not survive she warns us. Who are the ones who really lose? Our kids.

I highly recommend this book for all educators. It should be discussed and its ideas debated by teachers, administrators, politicians, and government leaders. It really does have the potential to foster serious debate and discussion regarding the culture of accountability and testing and the push to increase the number of charter schools.

 The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch: Book Cover

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: Diane Ravitch’s The Death and Life of the Great American School System

This book is bound to make angry some of the data-crunchers who believe school improvement is all about testing data. As for those who think that schools can be run like businesses, they are not going to like what Diane Ravitch has to say either. I personally think her book has the potential to start serious discussions about what all this emphasis on testing is really doing to our educational system. It’s just darn difficult to walk away from this book and not feel just a bit of anger at how the people we have recently elected have chosen policies they claim as research-based, but when you start looking for that research, it does not exist. These policies are even undermining our public schools.

Diane Ravitch makes a strong case in this book that the accountability-testing movement is destroying our schools. The philosophy that schools can be operated like businesses is wrong-headed and though she did not put it this way, “Just plain dumb!” Test scores are not increasing real student achievement because teachers are just teaching to the test. And to be honest, after President Obama and Secretary Duncan’s cheerleading the firing of an entire school of teachers, you can bet your pants, if I were in the classroom, I would have the best bubblers there are too. This testing culture has become insane. Ravitch does a much better job pointing out its flaws than I, but when you start blaming teachers on an entire school’s failure, that is absurd.

The honest truth after reading this book, I am just a bit angry. I certainly hope to have more to say about this book when I have had the opportunity to digest it more. I would highly recommend that everyone who is an educator whether teacher, principal, or superintendent read this book. As a 21st Century administrator who loves public schools, I believe in their promise not their destruction.

The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch: Book Cover

Democracy Now's Interview with Diane Ravitch Part II: My Reflections

Democracy Now has posted the second part of their video interview with author Diane Ravitch on their web site.

What strikes me most about the video is Diane Ravitch's pointing clearly that "NCLB was a failure." She also points out that the belief that schools can be run like a business was an assumption behind NCLB, and that the Obama administration has the same mindset. So much for "Change We Can Believe In."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Interview from Democracy Now: Diane Ravitch-“Obama Administration Is Pushing Bush Administration NCLB Policies Even Further”

Diane Ravitch discusses in this interview why she thinks Race to the Top and the Obama administration policies are going to ruin public schools.

Several things come to mind after watching this interview. First of all, I think Ravitch is right on target when she discusses the need to focus on “curriculum” rather than tests. If we truly want students to learn more rigorous content it makes sense to create a new curriculum that contains more rigorous content. Anyone who has been in schools during the NCLB days knows that in order to satisfy the requirements of AYP, teachers are being forced to teach to the latest test. It’s a reality that can’t be denied. Secondly, the idea somehow that charter schools are better than regular public schools has not been proven. Besides, if the allure of charter schools is that they can somehow operate better outside the red-tape and educational bureaucracy, then perhaps we need to allow all public schools to operate outside this bureaucracy by cutting it away.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Technology to Help 21st Century Administrators: Using Google Alerts to Maintain Professional Learning Network

In the previous post, I attempted to explain Google  Reader’s place in my Professional Learning Network. It is through this tool that I am able to control the flow of web information that I pay attention to. Trying to mine the web for information of interest is a difficult task because any search string typed into a search engine returns an enormous amount of information.

Another electronic tool that I use to keep up with information from the web is Google Alerts. Google Alerts is free and available to anyone with a Google account. What Google Alerts does is send you an email any time a new web page appears in the top 20 web results or top 10 news results based on the search words or phrases you specify. For example, I am currently very much interested in the Obama administration’s new education initiative “Race to the Top.” So that I can follow the latest news and web pages discussing this topic, I have set up a Google Alert to catch the top 20 web results and top 10 news results on this topic. I have done the same thing with No Child Left Behind since discussion of its reauthorization is becoming more and more frequent. Google Alerts gives you the ability to stay on top of current educational topics, all from the comfort of your email inbox.

How to set up a Google Alert? It is really simple.

1.  Access the Google Alerts Main Console page by entering the web address below. You can also access the Alerts page from Google’s main page by selecting the drop down menu more, then even more. Then click on the Alerts hyperlink. (You must have a Google Account to do this.)

2. The screen below should appear.


Screen clipping taken: 3/6/2010, 6:07 PM

3. To create an alert, just type in the watch words or phrase in the search terms box.

4. Choose the type of alert that you want. The choices are as follows:

  • News: This means the alerts will only be drawn from news sites such as the New York Times or CNN.
  • Blogs: By selecting blogs, you are choosing to draw the alerts only from the Blogosphere.
  • Web: By choosing web, you cover any new web pages in the top 20 search items.
  • Comprehensive: Choosing this means you want the alerts to be drawn from all of the choices.
  • Video: If you are only interested in video alerts, select this option.
  • Groups: By selecting this option, you want the alerts drawn from Google Groups content.

I usually choose “Comprehensive” because I would like to see anything published on that particular topic.

5. Choose how often you would like the alert sent to your email box. The choices are: 1) as-it-happens, 2) once-a-day, or 3) once-a-week. I have tried “as-it-happens.” If the issue or search phrase you are following is a particularly hot one, be prepared to have an email inbox full of Google Alerts. I usually select once-a-day because in the evenings, I sit down with my laptop and go through them.

6. Choose how many results you would like in the Google Alert email sent to you. There are two choices 1) up to 20 results or 2) up to 50 results. Most of the Google Alerts I have set up return up to 20 results. This is sufficient because the Alert items I am following rarely have more results.

7. Choose the email address to which you like the email alerts sent. I choose my Gmail account simply because I really do not want my professional school account to become a collection point for these alerts. I archive them in case I need to refer back to them.

8. The final step is to click the “Create Alert” button and you have set up your alert.

If you click on the “click here to manage your alerts” link the screen below comes up.


Screen clipping taken: 3/6/2010, 6:33 PM

In one screen you can change each of the settings of all your Google Alerts. One interesting feature is that you can choose to send alerts to one email account or the other or both. You can change any of the settings at any time.

Google Alerts is an information management tool that helps control only the information you would like to see. As school administrators, we have a great deal of information coming at us at any one time, which makes staying current in any of the topics that are part of the education dialogue that much more difficult. Using Google Alerts is a great way to follow the current discussion on any topic you choose.

This is one of a series of posts I am making on topics related to how technology can make the job of a school administrator easier.

Three Areas Technology Can Help 21st Century Administrators: Using Google Reader Effectively to Maintain Professional Reading Library

IMPORTANT NOTE: While I speak mainly about using Google Reader as an RSS feed aggregator in this post, I know there are others out there. I chose focusing on just Google Reader for simplicity sake and because of its accessibility. It requires no additional download, and it can be set up rather easily. There are many administrators out there who are put off from trying these technologies because they become too complicated. Google Reader seems to me to be the easiest RSS reader out there, though some of you might disagree. The old rule “Keep It Simple” I think applies as we try to encourage more of our administrators to use technology.

My previous post pointed out that there were three challenging issues I have faced as a 21st Century school administrator. These three areas are: 1) Developing and Maintaining a Professional (Personal) Learning Network, 2) Managing all the tasks and dates that come across my desk, and 3) Maintaining effective communication with stakeholders. With this post, I would like to continue the exploration of technological tools and how they can address some of these issues.

As I posted earlier, Twitter is a center piece in my Professional Learning Network. I use it daily. It provides a more or less instantaneous connection to a group of like-minded professionals. Another component of my Professional (Personal) Learning Network is Google Reader. I have always been an avid reader, typically reading four or five books at a time. As a professional, trying to remain current in the educational dialogue can be a daunting task. By using an RSS reader, I am able to follow hundreds of sources, and focus on just those of interest. Trying to do this with ordinary journal and periodical subscriptions would be costly and a great deal more time-consuming.

There are several advantages to using RSS feeds to create a professional learning RSS feed library to enhance your professional learning network.

1. As a Google Reader user, you are your own librarian. You control the content flowing in. In the typical traditional library, the person purchasing the journals, periodicals, and books can be said to control the flow of information in. Using an RSS reader like Google Reader gives you that power. As a user I decide which feeds I will follow. For example, as a school administrator, this means I can include the RSS feed for US Department of Education so that when they make announcements, I can follow these without waiting for a copy from secondhand media outlets, or hearing it from someone else. I can subscribe to as many feeds as I wish and to whom I wish. If I subscribe to a feed that offers information that is no longer useful, I simply unsubscribe. That information will no longer be included. The RSS reader places the user in control of the information flow.

2. Using Google Reader allows me to scan hundreds of items (articles, blog posts, etc.) quickly and efficiently. RSS feed readers like Google Reader gives users the advantage of being able to collect a large number of articles, blog posts, and other items and pull them into one place so that a reader can quickly scan for interesting and relevant items. Because of this, Google Reader places you in charge of the information flow. You can simply star items that you would like to explore further, or even email them to yourself for deeper scrutiny.

3. Using Google Reader allows me to get the latest updates from the sources I choose.  For example, I subscribe to several news outlets which provides me with headline updates throughout the day. By subscribing to several news outlets I am able to get a broad overview of the most current news items available. The same applies for those sites I subscribe to in other areas of interest. Let’s face it, the information coming out on the web is the most current available.

4. Using Google Reader is more secure than using email to receive updates and newsletters from sites. When you give a web site your email address, there is the potential of that site providing your email address to an advertiser so that you start getting unsolicited advertisements. This is not an issue with using Google Reader.

5. Using Google Reader allows you to sort the RSS feed sources into categories. Using these categories allows the user to sort the incoming information. For example, if there are favorite RSS feeds (or web sites) you can place them in certain folders so that you know where they are. I currently have a “News” folder that contains feeds from major news outlets. I consult this folder often when I want to know what is the most current news.

I realize that this article assumes some level of understanding regarding RSS feeds and RSS feed readers called aggregators. It is simply difficult for me to write a blog post that addresses a broad audience on this topic. However, there are some great introductory materials out there regarding RSS feeds and using RSS readers. I would suggest someone wanting to understand more visit the sites below.

Google Reader Help: Its section on “Getting Started with Google Reader” begins by providing an overview of RSS feeds and setting up the different features found in Google Reader. It is a very useful tool.

Getting Started with Google Reader

CNET’s RSS News You Choose: CNET provides a slightly more technical overview of RSS feeds and how they work. They also include their own favorite RSS feeds and links to some other feed aggregators or readers users may wish to try.

CNET's RSS News You Choose

There has been a great deal published on the web about using RSS feeds and feed readers in the classroom. There is a bit less that discusses how administrators can take advantage of this tool as well. Maintaining our Professional Learning Network means being able to stay as current as we can regarding the educational dialogue.  RSS feeds and feed readers like Google Reader gives administrators a tool be both active consumers of the most current information, and by default, that means we can be a part of the professional conversation.

This is part two of a series of posts I am using to explore technological tools that can assist school administrators in developing and maintaining professional learning networks, managing the many tasks and events an administrator faces, and maintaining and fostering effective communication with stakeholders.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Three Areas Technology Can Help Administrators: Using Twitter to Develop and Maintain Professional Learning Networks

Three of the most challenging areas I have faced as a school level principal are: 1) Developing a Professional Learning Network, 2)managing and keeping up with all of the tasks and events that come across my desk, and 3) maintaining effective communication with stakeholders. This is first in a series of blog posts where I am going to explore tools that school administrators can use to address these challenging areas.

When you walk into your first principal’s office for the first time, the sudden feeling of isolation can be daunting. You are in effect in charge of a school. This means that perhaps President Harry Truman’s maxim that “The Buck Stops Here” becomes your maxim whether you like it or not. It’s just part of the job. That’s where having a network of like professionals becomes vital. While some school systems do provide mentors for new principals, they often do so on a very limited basis. I had a mentor only for my first year, and we met just about once a month. The frequency of these mentor sessions provided for some support, but there were times when I needed answers to questions much quicker, and answers from individuals who were experiencing the same problems I was facing. Or, I just needed vent a bit to whoever would listen. This is where the Professional, or Personal Learning Network comes to the rescue. Developing this network is made possible by just using a few technological tools that are mostly free.

One component that I use to foster, develop, and maintain my Professional Learning Network is Twitter. Many administrators dismiss this technology tool as a frivolous waste of time. The idea of using 140 character messages to post messages in cyberspace just does not seem to useful. But Twitter can be a primary tool for a school level principal to maintain connections with other principals around the country. After using Twitter for about two years, I have learned some principles that might just be useful for school administrators who want to take advantage of Twitter to develop their own Professional Learning Network.

1. Be persistent and patient about using Twitter. Just like it takes time to foster and develop a network of friends and acquaintances, it takes time to develop a network of Twitter followers. Obviously to develop a list of followers, you have to post Tweets regularly. Lots of people post what I would call status tweets. In these, Twitter users post brief updates about what they are doing at a particular time. Others will post informational tweets. These updates contain bits of information of interest. I like to post quotes from books I am reading. Then there are link tweets. I call these link tweets because they provide a link to some resource found on the web. Finally, there are opinion tweets which are just what the title suggests. A twitter user in this instance just shares an observation or opinion about an issue. I am sure there are other kinds of tweets, but the idea is to post a variety of tweets that others will find interesting or useful. Doing this will attract other followers.

2. Carefully manage both your follower list and the list of those you are following. Too often new Twitter users will see individuals they want to follow and start adding indiscriminately users to follow. At some point, you get a fairly unmanageable list of Twitter users that you are following. By approaching your follow list in this manner, you end up getting more and more updates about things for which you do not have an interest. As far as those who are following my updates, the more the merrier, but I sometimes get the suspicious follower like everybody does.

3. Pay close attention to those you choose to follow. In Twitterverse there are those I like to call “screamers” which are people who are constantly bombarding the twitter stream with updates. They actually can pollute your personal Twitter stream with constant updates about topics for which you have no interest. Of course, one person’s pollution is another’s interest. That’s why you have to watch carefully the individuals you choose to follow. For example, I chose to follow one individual because she chose to follow me. It seemed like the polite thing to do. The only problem with the idea was that all of sudden I started receiving what looked like ten updates a minute about things I should buy and places I should visit. I eventually had to un-follow this individual because it was becoming impossible to wade through her updates. That’s why being selective about who you follow is important.

4. Visit a site like Tweep ML. Tweep ML is a web site that allows Twitter users to manage and share lists of Twitter users. For example, one principal has created a list entitled Educational Administrators. You can select to follow all of them, or you can choose those you want to follow. This is a great site to find like-minded individuals to build up your following list.

5. Find and use the Twitter Client program that you like. I have tried several and my personal preference hovers between Tweetdeck and Seesmic for Windows. One of the joys of being a Twitter user is selecting the client program you like best. I have included below some of the clients I have used and a brief description of them and links to the pages where they can be downloaded. Try them all.

Tweetdeck: This client is probably one most often used by Twitter users. It basically arranges your updates, mentions, direct messages and other columns you choose horizontally across the screen. It has the capability of tying in to Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. When you copy and paste URLs in the update box, it will automatically shorten them.

Twirl: Twirl was the first Twitter client that I downloaded and used when I began using Twitter. I am not really sure why, but it does have an easy to use interface. Its colors are customizable and it was one of the easier clients for me.

Seesmic for Windows: If you have used Tweetdeck, using Seesmic for Windows is easy. It’s screen layout is similar but simpler for those who want an easy to use Windows client. I read once that because it is a Windows client it is not as memory intensive. But to be honest, I have not had any problems using those Adobe Air clients either.

Seesmic Desktop: This client operates in your web browser. If you do not want a separate client from your browser this is the one to use. My school system’s security prevents the installation of software programs so I use Seesmic Web. Of course I could use the Twitter web site too, but this application displays both my home updates and the mentions column. I can also list other columns as well.

Seesmic Look: I have downloaded and tried this new product from Seesmic, and I honestly do not know at this time what to say about it. I do not really like the interface too much, but it claims to be the client for those who are not Twitter power users. Try it out.

Blu: I downloaded this client a few weeks ago and used it for a few days. It has a really attractive appearance and interface. Operates similarly to Twirl. I had some problems with the URL shortening. It did not want to work on several occasions.

I know there are other clients out there, but these are the ones that I have personally tried. When it comes to becoming a regular Twitter user, you need to find the client that fits your ability level and personal preferences.

It seems like everyday, Twitter reaches a new milestone. As of February 23, 2010, Twitter had reached 50 million Tweets per day. As a Professional Learning Network tool it can become just one of the tools to keep you connected professionally.

This is one of several posts I am going to make over the next several days that explores Tech Tools that administrators might find useful.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trying to Explore Uses of Google Wave

I am currently trying to find ways to incorporate Google Wave into administrative practice. I have had an account for some time, but as you well know, it really takes time to explore and find a use for a new technology. I want to use Google Wave to carry on a discussion about Race to the Top and the other educational policies of the Obama administration generally and those espoused by Secretary Arne Duncan. If you would like to be a part of this technology exploration send me an email at I have some invites left and would like to carry on a more detailed discussion and explore how to use the Wave at the same time. Who knows, we might just solve a problem or two.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Callousness of the Obama Administration and Mal-Practice of Secretary Arne Duncan

I don’t really have a “I-Told-You-So” personality, but after reading about the backlash President Obama and secretary Arne Duncan are experiencing after their callous remarks regarding the teachers who were fired at Central Falls High, I just can’t help myself. I TOLD YOU SO! If they were somehow able to dig into the pile of email they receive, they would find an email from me just two days ago pointing out how hurtful and callous their statements are to teachers and educators. There is just no logic to heaping all of the blame for a school’s failure on just the teachers. If we really want to spread blame and “hold people accountable” as Obama keeps saying. (I wonder if he realizes he sounds just like President Bush when he says that?) But in all honesty, if we want to begin the process of holding people accountable for the failure of a school let’s make a list. Who else will we fire because they are not doing their part to make a child’s education successful? The list is endless, and in all honesty, the blame game is a time-waster and unfruitful exercise.

I am thrilled that teachers are letting the Obama administration know that they do not appreciate his using them as a scapegoat for all that ails in education. They need to be even more vocal by writing emails, sending letters, and speaking out. All educators have a stake in this debate, whether they are teachers, administrators, or central office personnel. The Obama administration’s education policy under Race to the Top and his stated efforts to address the drop out rate stand to do even greater damage to the education system.

We educators need to continue fighting this administration’s education policy. We need to push the Obama administration to get rid of Arne Duncan, whose sledge-hammer tactics is going to destroy public education in this country.

Monday, March 1, 2010

An Educator without a Party

Today, I continued to reflect on the desertion of the Obama administration regarding its promise in “Change We Can Believe In.” I have an old campaign sign gathering dust in my garage with that slogan on it. Somehow it is quite fitting. The promises of change made by our current president are also gathering dust. The Obama administration and Secretary Arne Duncan have only continued the same policies of the Bush Administration. There is absolutely nothing new in Race to the Top, proposed changes to NCLB and President Obama’s announcement of additional funds to address the drop out problem. It has the same flavor of the agenda followed by his predecessor. Now that is certainly fine if you believed in the promises of the previous administration. But for me, I am saddened. I am hurt that the President who promised change is basically bringing about more of the same, especially when it comes to educational policy. I am hurt by the fact that the Democratic Party has chosen to offer educators as a sacrifice on the altar of expedience. The party for which I have supported in election after election since I was old enough to vote, has deserted educators. Perhaps it is time to change affiliation.

What can we do? Well, the educators I have worked with over the years are a trusting bunch. They often look for the best in people, and many no doubt give our politicians the benefit of the doubt. Not one of us educators would say that our education system is a total success. But good educators tend to be so self reflective, that when someone says something is wrong, they scramble to see if it is true. Many bought Goals 2000, NCLB and now Race to the Top simply because they trust the minds of our government. This is not as it should be. We need to do three things.

Firs of all, it is time for all educators to stand up to politicians like Arne Duncan and the Obama administration and tell them that their ideas are junk. (I would use a more choice word, but the educator in me won’t let me.) We need to be critical, especially when what they propose is bad for our students first and education in general. Race to the Top, NCLB, and Obama’s proposal to address the drop out problem are not new solutions. They are simply repackaged ideas. They are not the kind of “Change I Can Believe In.” Teachers, principals, and all other educators need to start calling our politicians on their junk educational practice suggestions.

Secondly, I believe in bombarding the Department of Education, the Whitehouse, and our Congress with emails and letters telling all who will listen that we are tired of tonic-peddling politicians promising the “cure for what ails us” in education. Our politicians need to hear from us. Otherwise, they will dismiss us as irrelevant. We need to keep sending letters and emails relentlessly until we are respected for our contribution to the debate as well.

Finally, it’s OK for educators to get tired of all the negativity about education being promoted by our current President and the media. We need to communicate to all who will listen that there are places where students are learning. There are schools where teachers are dedicated and teach effectively. There are schools that truly exist for our kids. We need to keep reminding the naysayers in this administration that we are not all members of unions seeking only to preserve our jobs. We became teachers for a variety of reasons, but we remain teachers because we want to hope and promise to the lives of our young charges.

Arrogance of the Obama Administration and the Force-feeding of National Standards

I have tried really hard to avoid saying anything further about the “Race to the Top” initiative and the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind because I have been fairly vocal about this in the past. There comes a point when you keep yelling about something that people stop listening. Yet, the arrogance with which Arne Duncan specifically, and the Obama administration generally, continues their efforts to force more federal control over education makes me regret every day my support for this administration in the last election. I realize that we probably should not let one issue drive our selection during an election, but darn it, I trusted this president to change the course of education away from the failed policies of the Bush administration and No Child Left Behind, and instead, educators actually end up with even worse policies that focus on more of the same: Testing is still the salvation of the American education system and the mistaken belief that “free-market” forces will transform education which are also the tenets of Arne Duncan and President Obama.

So where do I go from here? I have tried to contact the Obama administration and any one else who would listen and let them know how I feel. I guess my mere hundred dollar donation during the last election cycle can’t measure up to the thousands donated by the insurance industry and others. Sadly, all I received from my efforts was a call from the Democratic Party asking me to donate more money to fight the health-care battle. Honestly, I am concerned about the state of health-care in this country, but as an educator, I am more frightened of the unproven education policy of this administration and Arne Duncan. Arne Duncan has simply transposed initiatives from his efforts in Chicago to the national stage, and sadly, from what I read, they have not been successful there either. After 2o years as an educator, I am simply tired of education being a political football. Every politician talks about how important it is. This administration even pushed “Change We Can Believe In.” Sadly for me, I bought it lock, stock, and barrel. The Obama administration no longer has change I can believe in. All of my Republican friends are telling me loudly and clearly “I told you so.” They told me that this president would not make a difference in education, and I am afraid they are right. I am sure the Democratic Party really does not care if I go tomorrow morning and change my party affiliation to Independent, after all, there are still plenty others who will remain. But you know, it will make me feel a great deal better. That is “Change that I Can I Believe In and Make Happen.”