Thursday, October 27, 2005

National Council for Workforce Education

I just returned from the National Council for Workforce Education's Annual Fall Conference in San Antonio. NCWE is an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). I presented to stakeholders from business and education; toured Roosevelt High School, St. Philip's College and Palo Alto College; and talked to researchers and practitioners from Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Louisiana, Washington, Arkansas, the Community College Research Center at Columbia University, and many others.

Though most conference presentations were excellent, I was somewhat disappointed. I will expound in future posts, but I was struck by two things the community college system in this country doesn't seem to understand, both of which the CEC model solves very well: too many colleges are unwilling or unable to acknowledge the fuller role business can play in making education more relevant, and many are too eager to be mini-universities to see the importance to our national economy of directly partnering with secondary school systems and business/industry in collabortive ventures, sharing control and promoting regional economic expansion.

I also noticed the lack of "buzz" about the President's High Growth Job Training Initiative and Community-Based Job Training Grants, which appear to be focused (from the administration's standpoint, at least) on community colleges. I wonder if colleges are ready to embrace this national role.

I was very impressed by San Antonio, the connection its system of colleges makes with business, and how community colleges there are working closer with independent school districts. San Antonio appreciates the need to prepare a highly-skilled workforce, and its leaders are open to exploring new and better ways to meet local needs.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Use Business Practices to Unleash Teachers

Read this op-ed column of mine that was published today by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. It can also be found here.

What's Wrong With Education?

By Russ Moore

What’s wrong with education? Unfortunately, enough is wrong to make it prudent, in the interests of space, for one to explain instead what’s right with education.

Skipping over what’s wrong avoids unpleasant topics such as increased spending actually decreases achievement; “teaching the test” lowers perceived relevance; textbooks are sensitivity-focused mush; superintendents are forced to create results that don’t really change anything; “college prep” prepares students for neither college nor jobs, and too many teachers don’t learn very much about teaching at colleges of education.

What’s right with education is: teachers. Specifically, teachers who persevere no matter how hard policy-makers try to make already unrealistic jobs truly impossible. Those who persevere no matter how apathetic, ungrateful and downright rude students are or how unreasonable their parents can be. Those who persevere no matter how low the pay, how long the hours, how little the funding for meaningful professional development, and how few options teachers have to improve any of the above.

Though we certainly don’t deserve them, this country still has teachers willing to work in a system that fights them at every turn, apparently determined to make sure our children learn something. Policy-makers must realize the power they are holding back and find the E=MC2 of education to convert the critical mass of caring teachers into a truly reforming blast of positive energy.

At every level, the rule-makers’ rule should be to get out of the way by adopting research-based reforms that help teachers enhance their own performance and, by extension, help students. For example, as CEO of Central Educational Center in Newnan, a national model charter school, I saw the school district apply proven business practices that make sense to use in education – with the full support of local professional educators. The charter school is also a “learning lab,” so the following best practices can reach far beyond our school district’s borders.

First, teachers should be allowed to select the textbooks and curricula they will teach, as long as they are able to meet statewide standards. Mandated statewide and district-wide textbooks should be a thing of the past.

Second, teachers should be freed to work in teams, aligning academic and career/technical curricula to bring students to mastery through performance-based, project-based and work-based (i.e. applied learning) experiences. To that end, teachers must have the time to develop relationships and interact directly with partners from higher education and industry. Encourage these “customers” to help design curricula guaranteed to meet the needs and expectations of employers. In doing so, despite assumptions to the contrary, research shows schools meet the needs of the students and colleges, too.

Third, create a feedback mechanism with teeth. Principals and assistant principals should be more like those CEOs and vice presidents – leaders in the tradition of Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” – who encourage staff input and insist on consensus before moving forward. The result will be less autocracy and more implementation of suggestions from the “troops,” who then become more engaged in the pursuit of continuous improvement.

Fourth, reform colleges of education by sending them teacher candidates who already have experience in the classroom. The Newnan charter school’s teacher apprentice program has grown by 1,800 percent in four years, allowing the district to “grow your own” teachers and put them in front of real classes at age 18, instead of waiting until their last year of college.

And for the real kickers, here are a couple of proposals that so far are beyond even the Newnan charter school:

Remove pay scales and salary ceilings. That will stop the exodus of teachers who leave the classroom to become administrators, not because they want to, but because they have to in order to support their families. Keep those who want to stay in the classroom by compensating them based on their students’ achievements and their own devotion to classroom action-research, peer-developed professional development, and even peer, student and parent evaluations.

Finally, K-12 superintendents should highlight high-performing teachers as models district-wide. State superintendents should do the same statewide. The state teacher of the year could, for example, be paid as much as the state superintendent (via a special state supplement) for five years as a reward for outstanding work, which will be a tremendous incentive for teachers everywhere.

Keep in mind: As business has proven again and again, the only kind of reform that works involves everyone, especially those who must actually perform the work. For teachers to buy in, they must be involved in developing as well as implementing reform. Education can learn a lot from business, and we will all benefit from a business-style reform process that recognizes and unleashes skilled teachers nationwide. This way, No Child Left Behind won’t also become No Teacher Left Standing


Russ Moore is the former CEO of Central Educational Center, a national model charter school in Newnan, and runs Seamless Education Consultants Inc., which helps communities and business-education partnerships adopt a seamless education/workforce development model. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.

© Georgia Public Policy Foundation(October 14, 2005). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and his affiliations are cited.

Friday, October 07, 2005

SECI presents CEC's Seamless Education Model

SECI Founder Russ Moore is shown conducting a clinic at this year's National Tech Prep Network annual conference in Orlando, Florida in October, 2005.

The clinic was titled, "Send Your School to Work: Make It a Partnership Run by Business," and Russ presented the history and elements that make Central Educational Center in Newnan, Georgia effective in raising student achievement, the perceived relevance of curriculum, the high school completion rate, and placements in either additional college or the workforce.

Using a participatory technique, the audience (including teachers, administrators, and business representatives from Oregon, Utah, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Ohio, Maine and others) decided that a few elements of the CEC model are familiar to them (needs assessment, charter school, "seamless" education and dual-enrollment - in blue), but MANY elements are completely new to them in an educational setting (in green), including a school developed through a community planning effort; basing the school on business needs; forming the school as a corporation; moving Career/Technical programs to the school from "base schools" in the district; creating curriculum using Backwards Design; having a school with a business culture; forming the school as an extension of the high school system, so it has has no "school number" and will thus never appear on an AYP Needs Improvement list; and giving all "team members" (students) a work ethic grade in addition to a course grade in EVERY class.

Click here to invite Russ to present the CEC model next in YOUR community!

SECI works in your community

SECI Founder Russ Moore presents to a standing room-only crowd at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce in Glynn County, Georgia in September, 2005. Glynn has a public steering committee working to create a charter school to meet the workforce needs of area employers. SECI has helped groups from Glynn visit Central Educational Center and is now engaged to guide local stakeholders through the same ADDIE process (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) that was used to create CEC.

SECI helps communities organize their stakeholders into a steering committee; develop a planning budget; perform a professional, customized needs assessment; analyze survey results; organize into subcommittees; and complete the remaining steps from curriculum/school design through evaluation.

SECI will help you tour CEC

Seamless Education Consultants, Inc. (SECI) helps communities study, evaluate and adopt the seamless education and workforce development model developed by Central Educational Center of Newnan, Georgia.

These pictures are from an October, 2005 visit by officials from Arkansas Northeastern College. CEC's Electronics Director Alan Summerlin demonstrates the advantages of hands-on instruction with an interactive board made by Lab-Volt Systems, Inc.

ANC officials hosted by SECI's Russ Moore listen to Health Occupations Director Gayle Owen and Dental Assisting Director Sandee Kirk. SECI arranges and hosts tours for visiting groups from Georgia, other states, and foreign countries.

To date, CEC has had nearly 450 such visiting groups, including 17 from outside the United States.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What is Seamless Education?

As used at Central Educational Center, a national model school located in Newnan, Georgia, "seamless education" is the product of a precise design and development process that purposefully breaks down barriers between:

  • Academics and Career/Technical Education (CTE)
  • High School and College
  • Education and Business

National research in education and workforce development reveals that as many as 80% of U.S. jobs require more technical training than provided by a high school diploma but less than a full four-year college degree. Only 20% of American jobs require a four-year or higher degree. A truly seamless approach to education guarantees that all students will be equally well-prepared for success in a job or college or both.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I have spoken to several dozen audiences over the years about Central Educational Center (CEC) and the ADDIE process. Here are some of my most recent presentations:

  • San Antonio business, higher ed, and secondary education stakeholders (October, 2005 - San Antonio, Texas)

  • 2005 Family Connection Conference (October, 2005 - Athens, Georgia)

  • 2005 National Tech Prep Network Conference (October, 2005 - Orlando, Florida)

  • Multiple stakeholder meetings (September, 2005 - Brunswick/Glynn County, Georgia)

  • Multiple stakeholder meetings for Arkansas Northeastern College (September, 2005 - Blytheville, Arkansas)

  • Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs (LEE) Faculty, Administrators, and Cohorts - Arizona State University - (June, 2005 – Phoenix, AZ)

  • Georgia Education Finance Task Force - Best Practices Committee (May, 2005 – Atlanta, GA)

  • Georgia Conference on High School Improvement (March, 2005 – Perry, GA)

  • Congressional Testimony before Education Reform Subcommittee - House Education and The Workforce Committee, US House of Representatives (February, 2005 – Washington, DC)

  • Georgia Charter Schools Association Annual Conference (January, 2005 – Atlanta, GA)
  • Georgia Tech Prep Conference (February, 2005 – Atlanta, GA)

  • U.S. Department of Education High School Leadership Summit (December, 2004 - Washington, DC)

  • USDE Regional High School Summit (November, 2004 – via phone to Waikiki, HI)

  • National Tech Prep Network Annual Conference (October, 2004 – Minneapolis, MN)

  • Georgia Charter Schools Association/Georgia Department of Education Charter School Office Workshop (July, 2004 – Atlanta, GA)

  • USDE - Preparing America's Future High School Initiative (Webstreamed Video and Powerpoint Presentation) (July, 2004 – Washington, DC)

  • Model Schools Conference (June, 2004 – Washington, DC)

  • USDE Regional High School Summit (March, 2004 – Atlanta, GA)

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