The DeHavilland Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The principles of good cause marketing partnerships

PainePR and PRWeek conducted a survey on cause marketing partnerships, downloadable here in PDF format from PRWeek. The article offers great information on the state of cause marketing partnerships as well as some key concepts, including:
  • Make sure that there's something in it for both sides: one-sided relationships never last.
  • Ensure that all parties understand their commitments and responsibilities. This includes field people who may not be aware of the details of partnership agreements hammered out by the home office.
  • If it's not a good fit, you're better off saying no and looking for the right partner.
  • Find a champion in upper management. If your partnership doesn't have top-level support, it won't have the organizational backing it needs to thrive.
  • Go for at least a 3-year commitment; shorter engagements don't make sense, as it takes time to build momentum and awareness and get out the kinks.
  • Set clear evaluation standards from the outset, making sure both parties agree on what success looks like and how it will be measured.
A great resource for anyone interested in corporate/nonprofit partnerships (and this includes business/education partnerships as well).

Incentives for academic success?

In an article titled "Eyes on the Prize: Offering Incentives Boosts Attendance and Test Scores" (link here), Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle highlights an incentive program at a high-poverty school whereby students can earn prizes for things such as good attendance and good behavior. Prizes range from plastic bracelets to new bikes, with students either earning enough tickets to purchase these items or by them becoming eligible to participate in a raffle for some high-ticket items.

This type of initiative is controversial, with critics saying that students aren't developing a love of learning, but rather a love of prizes, and these sorts of external rewards will never instill values and behaviors into students. Alfie Kohn, author of "Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes," says:

"How can we nourish kids' natural curiosity and desire to learn? What does it
say about homework that children dread doing it and rarely find it of value?"
Kohn said. "You know, to answer those questions, to make school meaningful for
students, takes time and talent and courage. But you don't need any of those
things to toss kids a doggie biscuit when they jump through our hoops."

Personally, I see these types of programs in a positive light. Malcolm X Academy, the school highlighted in the article, sits in a high-poverty area where parents typically don't reinforce the value of education. I can see the need for an external motivator to encourage kids to show up and pay attention: after all, if they don't come to school and don't behave, you have no chance of engaging them.

However, implementing a program like this should be the beginning, not the end, of your work. These programs don't preclude the need to find ways to bring children into the learning process; they simply help you retain access to the kids while you continue to work with them to teach them the value and benefits of education.

I've heard of these kinds of programs on occasion, but haven't uncovered any data demonstrating their value - it would be great to see some information on whether kids who participated in these programs had different dropout rates, grades, or academic outcomes than kids who didn't. Just one more area in which we need information and not supposition...

Ads on buses

An article in USA Today notes that some schools and districts are starting to accept advertising on school buses as one way of overcoming budget shortfalls.

How data is being used in schools

Learning Point Associates, a nonprofit consulting organization that sprang from (and now runs) the North Central Regional Education Lab (NCREL), recently hosted a two-day conference on the state of data gathering and use by schools. The conference site offers several PowerPoint files from the conference as well as a few recordings of sessions. Many of the presenters are school personnel, sharing case histories and real, relevant information from the front lines. Well worth checking into for those interested in how data is/can be used to measure, validate, and improve instruction.

Is there really a shortage of engineers?

In their regular email brief, The National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions (NASSMC) highlights an interesting article on whether there is truly a shortage of engineers in this country, and whether the comparisons to engineering graduation rates in other countries (particularly China and India) are appropriate.

Their brief, reprinted in its entirety:

News Brief #3391 Category: Role of Education in Business
TITLE: "Does the US face an engineering gap?"

A new Duke University study questions dire warnings from US corporations
that the country isn't graduating enough engineers and is consequently losing
ground in the technology race with India and China.

Previous numbers issued by the National Academies estimated that China is
adding 600,000 new engineers a year, while India is gaining about 350,000.
Meanwhile, the US graduates about 70,000 a year.

The picture may not be as bleak as it looks, however, because, according to
the Duke researchers, the overseas figures are inflated. India's figure is
closer to 215,000, by their estimate, and nearly half of those graduates have
only three-year diplomas, or "short-cycle degrees." The US figure counts only
four-year degrees. The case is much the same with China, the researchers say.

"China includes in its count a lot of graduates - including auto mechanics
- who would not be included as engineers in the US or many other nations," said
Gary Gereffi, a coauthor of the study and director of Duke's Center on
Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness.

Some experts accuse corporations of deliberately misusing the figures to
justify their search for cheaper engineering talent overseas.

"Business groups have been very smart about trying to change the subject
from outsourcing and offshoring to the supposed shortfall in US engineers," said
Ron Hira, an outsourcing expert at Rochester Institute of Technology. "There's
really no serious shortage of engineers in this country."

SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, 20 December 2005
The NASSMC Briefing Service (NBS) is supported in part by the National
Science Teachers Association, International Technology Education Association and
Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education. Briefs reflect only the
opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the source
articles. Click to SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT, or FIND archived
NBS briefs. Click for information about NASSMC. Permission
is granted to re-distribute NBS briefs in unmodified form, including header and

If you're not a subscriber, please go to the NASSMC website (link here) and sign up. It's free and extremely valuable.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bright walls, bright students

This article on showcases a great program: simple, inexpensive, huge impacts. It's about Publicolor, a program through which students get to paint over they typically horrible colors found in their schools (anyone remember puke green?), making their schools look exciting and vibrant instead of like prisons. From the article:

On Thursday, 14-year-old Pedro Rodriguez
was busy splashing oriole orange and apple green paints on the walls. The old
colors, he said, "sometimes would make you feel down."

The dull colors on tile walls at P.S. 34 gave way to shimmering lime,
teal blast, yellow flash, tangerine zing and blue wave. The bright shades
contrasted with the tall grayish buildings in the surrounding

"I like doing work now and I actually like being inside the school
building," Rodriguez said.

It was founded by industrial designer Ruth Lande Shulman, who has turned the concept into an entire organization; however, I think just about anyone with some initiative could buy some paint and paintbrushes and let students and/or volunteers go to town.

What a great idea - making school someplace you don't mind going!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Earning your education

Joanne Jacobs has a great article on earning your education at Tech Central Station (click here for article). It's a derivative of her book, but you can forgive her inadvertent plug given the value of the article. From the article:

U.S. high school seniors don't have the skills to match their ambitions,
according to a new U.S. Education Department study. A third of 12th graders
surveyed in 2004 expected to complete a bachelor's degree and another third
expected a bachelors and a graduate or professional degree. But nearly
two-thirds of the college bound hadn't mastered intermediate mathematics; nearly
a third had trouble solving simple problems requiring elementary math skills.

Everybody who wants to go to college can find a place at a community
college or unselective four-year college. But half of students who start never
earn a degree. They're not prepared, they get sick of remedial classes and they
give up.

It would be an enormous kindness to tell students what they'll need to
succeed while they've still got time to improve.

The rest of the article talks about how this happened at a charter school she profiled in her new book. Well worth reading.

When you read about the continued use of social promotion, such as the recent announcement in my own state of North Carolina (story about 4000 fifth graders failing end-of-grade tests, with 3500 still getting promoted,
here), you have to wonder how these kids will ever be prepared for the real world.

A sneaky way of solving the teacher shortage

The Center for Teaching and Learning has released a report on the impending shortage of teachers in California schools (link to release here). And of course, there are several ways to address a labor shortage: better wages, better working conditions, and so on. But one option I hadn't considered: lowering standards and letting less-qualified people into the workforce, which is what The Education Wonks say has happened in California in the past.

In the comments section of
their post on the subject, they write:

Have you ever noticed that when the supply of licensed teachers starts
becoming tight (resulting in rising salaries) the state loosens licensure
requirements? The job market is then flooded with people who don't have their
licenses, (emergency credentials, pre-interns, interns, etc.) all of which tends
to depress wages.

I'm supportive of the idea that only fully licensed folks should be working
in the classroom without the direct supervision of an administrator or
highly-skilled teacher.

To use a comparison involving other skilled occupations: When's the last
time you've ever heard of a doctor, dentist, electrician, plumber, or beautician
having less than full certification yet working without supervision?

More on longitudinal data

In talking about the Data Quality Campaign (previous post), I should have noted important current events related to this movement, such as the US DOE's move to test growth models (ie, gathering and use of longitudinal data) in up to 10 states. Release and fact sheet from DOE here; insight into the challenges and pitfalls of such a move here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The data quality campaign

Launched this year by a laundry list of heavyweight partners (Achieve, CCSSO, NCEA, National Governors Association and several others), the Data Quality Campaign will promote and support the development of longitudinal data systems by the states. They explain the value in this in their inaugural press release: "Longitudinal Data—data gathered on the same student from year to year—makes it possible to follow individual student academic growth, determine the value-added of specific programs, and identify consistently high-performing schools and systems worthy of study." In other words, data that allows you to more accurately see what's happening and what's working.

Their initial efforts focus on:
  • educating their target audiences on the value of longitudinal data
  • providing information on how to build longitudinal data system
  • highlighting the state of the states in their use of longitudinal data
  • promoting data standards and collaboration in systems development
I believe that NCLB, while containing any number of flaws, has been an instrumental first step in turning the conversation towards data-driven improvement in education. There are still tremendous strides that need to be made in what's measured, how it's measured, and how we improve in all areas - but initiatives like the Data Quality Campaign show that once you've established a goal, you're able to start putting the right pieces of the puzzle together.

At any rate, take a look at for more information.

Changing demographics of teachers

Interesting web-only article here in Teacher Magazine on the ways in which the teaching workforce is changing. According to Susan Moore Johnson, professor of teaching and learning at Harvard, teachers entering the profession today are very different from the group that entered 30+ years ago (and is now about to retire).

She notes that the last generation of teachers was made up primarily of women who entered teaching with few other career options at a time when lifetime employment was the norm. In contrast, teachers today have a number of career options available to them and don't see teaching as a long-term commitment.

Further, many teachers entering the profession today - 35 to 40% by Moore Johnson's account - have previous professional experience and are entering the teaching workforce as mid-career professionals. Since these teachers have been in a professional environment, they have different expectations in areas such as collaboration, authority, and career advancement.

To me, this is a fascinating new variable to add to the education reform mix. If teaching changes from a lifetime decision to become one stop in a string of positions, I believe that teachers will have more power to demand change: their threshold for institutional pain will be lower, and the fact that they're willing to walk should force schools to become more accommodating to them. I don't mean this in a traditional union-vs-school sense of negotiating over work hours and bonus pay, although that will certainly be a factor; rather, it could/should go deeper, to altering root-level issues that impact how pleasant and professional teaching is as a career.

This is doubly important with a wave of retirements coming up - interesting to see what happens!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Science standards not up to snuff

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has released its assessment of the science standards of 49 states (Iowa not included since it does not have state-level standards). the results:
  • 7 A's
  • 12 B's
  • 8 C's
  • 7 D's
  • 15 F's
This from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - Nearly half the states are doing a poor job of setting
high academic standards for science in public schools, according to a new report
that examined science in anticipation of 2007, when states will be required to
administer tests in the subject under President Bush's signature education

The report, released Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,
suggests that the focus on reading and math as required subjects for testing
under the federal law, No Child Left Behind, has turned attention away from
science, contributing to a failure of American children to stay competitive in
science with their counterparts abroad.

The report also appears to support concerns raised by a growing number
of university officials and corporate executives, who say that the failure to
produce students well-prepared in science is undermining the country's
production of scientists and engineers and putting the nation's economic future
in jeopardy.

Dozens of academic, corporate and Congressional leaders emerged from a
meeting on competitiveness here on Tuesday to warn that the nation needs to
expand its talent pool in science to stay ahead of countries like China and
India that put vast resources into science education.

"Many states are not yet serious about teaching science," said Michael
Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy of the institute, a
group that supports education reform. "The first step is to set higher
expectations, and too many states have low or a lack of expectations to respond
to the new global competitiveness."

You can download the report here.

Building understanding through video

Saw this while looking at the Phatgnat blog - if you're not familiar with DK's company and blog, I'd encourage you to check them out. Anyway, Steven Spielberg has a movie coming out called Munich, about the Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Olympics. In an article in Time Magazine (article here), he talks about an initiative he's launching to build understanding between Israeli and Palestinian kids:

What I'm doing is buying 250 video cameras and players and dividing them up,
giving 125 of them to Palestinian children, 125 to Israeli kids, so they can
make movies about their own lives--not dramas, just little documentaries about
who they are and what they believe in, who their parents are, where they go to
school, what they had to eat, what movies they watch, what CDs they listen
to--and then exchange the videos. That's the kind of thing that can be
effective, I think, in simply making people understand that there aren't that
many differences that divide Israelis from Palestinians--not as human beings,

A very exciting idea - makes all kinds of sense.

(DK, I hope you don't mind me stealing the same quote you stole ;-) )

New resource from DeHavilland Associates

I've just published "Checklists for Education Outreach Campaign Design," a series of step-by-step checklists for anyone interested in designing an education outreach initiative. Checklists include:
  • Maximizing Your Campaign Assets
  • Targeting Your Efforts
  • Designing Your Program
  • Building Your Evaluation Plan
  • Building Your Communications Plan
While most of our resources are available from our website without any registration requirements, we're asking people to register for this one prior to downloading for the time being. Click here to register at our site and gain access to this new resource!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tom Peters: The sky is not falling

Just took a look at Tom Peters' blog - the man is both brilliant and prolific. (I'd be happy being either :-) ). He writes here about the buzz over the precarious state of America's economic future, and how the sky is not, in fact, falling due to our lackluster education system. He makes a pretty good case in a very few words. The core of his post:

Many lament (correctly, in the main) our declining share of engineering
graduates and science majors. True enough, but I contend there is (still, for
the foreseeable future) a Magic American Potion of: Lotsa smart, motivated
people + New immigrant blood (never discount this) + Incredible research
universities (and Gov't R&D infrastructure) + A generic/genetic
entrepreneurial "instinct" to die for (including an almost unique American
desire to make-a-ton before 40) + Wide and deep financial entrepreneurship (VCs,
Angels, etc, etc) to die for + A deep-seated competitive (genetic again) urge to
be/stay #1 + A generic capitalist "spirit" 300 years in the making and nurturing
+ Genetic openness (called "freedom" and "democracy" in the U.S.A. and the West
in general) + Etc. (Or some such.)

Do I think China can be "stopped"? Of course not, save for the
"democracy-openness problem" (major). Do I think Kmart and GM can be
resurrected? Never. Do I expect as many Googles-Amgens in the future as in the
past? Much as I'm fearful of going way out on a limb, I will anyway: Count on

He ends by saying:

An open, entrepreneurial society with a propensity for risktaking, and an
infrastructure to support it, are as well positioned as possible. Frankly, I
think the raw quantity of engineering degrees produced is pretty close to

This doesn't change the need to education reform; there's still a huge disconnect between the society we live in versus the society we prepare kids for through our education system. Nor, for that matter, does it change the need for smart governance in general (such as addressing the trade and budget deficits). But it is nice to hear someone saying that our country won't be a smoking pile of wreckage in the next few years.