Life skills for your infant? Science says YES!

You might have read some of my papers or posts on a student’s personal development where our education methods don’t do enough to prepare students (all ages) for their next steps in life.  You may be interested to learn that we, as parents, can do so much more, even before our children’s first step into a classroom!  Please read this from the Center on the developing child, Harvard University titled  InBrief: Executive Function (don’t let the title scare you!) indicates that we as parents can do so much more than ever thought of.

InBrief: Executive Function

Money alone can’t buy A’s for Utah schools!

I watched the KSL report on last night’s news broadcast on “turnaround” school spending (https://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=46255925&nid=481). As an independent provider of services to charter schools throughout the US I was shocked to learn that a Utah “turnaround” public school with 47 students paid a “State-approved” consulting firm over $800,000 in fees for “… provide analysis, an improvement plan and coaching.” While I do not believe that just throwing more money to a school for more of what has not been working, spending $20,000 per student for this project can’t really make sense to anyone – can it?

Yes, I totally agree with investing in outside resources to “… provide analysis, an improvement plan and coaching.”. Sometimes the independent perspective working in conjunction with the school’s existing resources is absolutely the best solution but I would think that maybe 80-90% of the investment, depending on the situation, should go into building sustainable competencies, resources, processes and procedures within the school. The key word here is sustainable. After the school is “turned around” they must be able to at least maintain the advances made during the initiative, if not continue the improvements, otherwise the return on the investment is minimal.

Yes of course this is an extreme case of spending and Yes, we must live with the reality that not all schools will become “A” schools and Yes, sometimes a school needs only a one-time injection of funds to address unforeseen circumstances to prevent a turnaround situation but NO, I do not believe that the best solutions always come from within a school, the district or the Board of Education.  There are never perfect solutions to any such problem and as a rule any investment in education should be supported – but this just might be an exception to the rule!

K-12 Education Evolution – Finding The Best Model For Your Child, School Or Community

The world of education is changing – FAST!

While some schools operate the same way they did 25 years ago, others are evolving into schools that take advantage of new tools and methods and are creating the models of tomorrow.  While traditional “brick and mortar” schools often are slow to change we must make sure that proven approaches are not arbitrarily discarded in favor of  simply “new”.

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Charter School Enrollment Planning- You’re Late!

In January, we began to get our second round of calls from charter schools looking to get help in enrolling new students for the next school year.  Yes, second round of charter school enrollment projects!

Most of the time we begin working on charter school enrollment in September, compiling material for branding, marketing and recruitment and preparing for active campaigns in January that recruit new students right up to the beginning of the new school year.  Ideally we have worked with school leadership, PTO’s and other stakeholders and have a clear message as to WHY their school should be the preferred choice in their community.  From here, the processes to be used in recruiting are established and the work begins.  Successful schools tend to take this approach every year – yes, every year!  Once established, recruitment becomes an ongoing program, updated every year to reflect changes that have occurred in the past year or are expected to occur in the current year.

Most of the time, this is the way we work.

At this time of year we often see a different situation.  Some schools are late in developing recruitment plans and “suddenly” find themselves in a position where they may not fill all of the seats, resulting in financial and other problems that MUST be addressed.  They are very late in taking charter school enrollment action but hopefully not too late.

Sometimes schools make a bad situation even worse by contracting “recruiting” or “marketing” companies to magically make the problem go away.  Too often the problems remain but considerable funds have “gone away”.  In other situations we schools (honestly) believing they can do it themselves, after all, it is their school and they know it best.  For certain, the best educators do know their school and the value it brings to the community but that superior academic knowledge does not always translate into business acumen and, yes, there is a critical business operations component to every charter school in the country.

What then to do?  Hoping that things will get better or acting without planning are not viable solutions.  In most cases schools will need to seek outside help to get them on track and maybe even achieving some of the recruitment objectives.  Sometimes it works, it is almost always a cash drain and it almost always sets the stage for having the same problem repeat itself the next year.

The first thing schools in this situation need to do is to admit there is a problem in developing and implementing their charter school enrollment programs and they may not be able to solve it by themselves.  This does not mean just open up the checkbook and pay for a prayer but it does mean taking the first steps – being open to ask for help and willing to listen, not to a sales pitch but to actual paths of resolution.

If you have trusted advisors, seek their inputs.  Put together a well thought out plan and fairly quickly, take action.  Walk before you run but move.

 

At Impact Navigators we have lived this and know what you are up against.  We have been school leaders, led Boards of Trustees and provided services to address these problems.  If you would like to ask a few questions, please do.  No charge, no obligation and not unlimited but please do take the first step ….. ASK!

We provide business development consulting services to public charter schools.  For more information about Impact Navigators contact me at: William.Brown@ImpactNavigators.com

Teach Us All (2017) – Will U.S. Businesses Learn?

I like to think of myself as a socio-economic entrepreneur, supporting for-profit businesses that have a “Giving Back” mentality, often referred to as “Social Enterprises”. While many Social Enterprises engage with non-profit organizations and they may support the same social causes, their methods can be as different as their typical approaches to funding their social impact initiatives.

For the most part I do not get heavily involved in non-profit business development any more. Why social enterprises rather than non-profits? A personal perspective I have to admit. I see too many being created as “hobby” businesses, quite often by individuals who have a personal connection to a cause but not the personal resources (or they do not want to exhaust their resources) to get involved. In some cases, individuals or organizations use non-profits to scam those who would like to support a believed good cause. Some are just looking to create a job for themselves. In other cases, people with hearts of gold wind up spending dollars that could very well be better spent and have greater impact elsewhere.

As with most rules, there are exceptions and I do get heavily involved in education projects, specifically the creation, development and support of charter schools in underserved communities throughout the U.S., many of which, by law, can only operate as non-profits. Of course, there is the personal satisfaction in “serving” and how wonderful that I am involved in such a noble and just cause – but I think we are missing a key point and thereby a real opportunity to add significantly to the American economy while “doing good”!

I recently watched the documentary “Teach Us All”, (http://www.teachusallfilm.org/), talking about how little we have progressed in providing equality in education. Sure, making America and the world a better place for all is something to aspire to but let me take off my “social” hat for a moment and don my simple “business” hat and make a few bullet points:

·  In an ever-evolving world economy, the typical American student achievement would rank 38th out of the top 71 developed or developing countries according to the Pew Research Center (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/).

·  Our global leadership in education plateaued around 1990 which is when the gap between white and minority student achievement stopped narrowing. Coincidence? (https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-02-16/the-costs-of-inequality-education-is-the-key-to-it-all).

·  The general consensus of leading business strategists and economists indicate our systems and methods of education are not getting us ready to create the jobs or ready the workforce of the future. A great article in the NY Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/upshot/how-to-prepare-for-an-automated-future.html?mcubz=0) provides some expert insights.

·  Incarceration versus education? Only a small sample of evidence and facts from the U.S. Department of Education (https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/report-increases-spending-corrections-far-outpace-education).

·  State and local spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of funding for public education for preschool through grade P-12 education in the last three decades.

·  The United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population yet more than 20 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.

·  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, two-thirds of state prison inmates have not completed high school.

·  One study also shows young black men between the ages of 20 and 24 who do not have a high school diploma or an equivalent credential have a greater chance of being incarcerated than employed.

·  Researchers have estimated that a 10 percent increase in high school graduation rates results in a 9 percent decline in criminal arrest rates.

I could go on but think you get the message. The question that needs to be answered is what are we going to do about it? By “we” I mean the business leaders and concerned citizens. What should we expect the government to do? Not much unless we push so hard that they succumb to the pressure. Ok, but where do we start? I want to get people to understand that this is not going to be changed overnight and we cannot do everything today. At the risk of sounding like I am prepared to “write off” those underserved people of today I would like to first try to stop perpetuating an unsustainable situation by focusing in on 3rd grade education in underserved communities and here’s why:

·  A student who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer. “Third grade is a kind of pivot point,” said Donald J. Hernandez, the study’s author and a sociology professor at Hunter College, at the City University of New York. “We teach reading for the first three grades and then after that children are not so much learning to read but using their reading skills to learn other topics. In that sense if you haven’t succeeded by 3rd grade it’s more difficult to [remediate] than it would have been if you started before then.” (http://gradelevelreading.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Double-Jeopardy-Report-030812-for-web1.pdf)

There is no one expert who knows it all or any one answer to any of these problems but I strongly suggest you read the article from the Pew Research Center The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training found at http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/03/the-future-of-jobs-and-jobs-training

Is getting involved the right thing for you to do? I hope so! If you want to explore opportunities to have an impact please visit us at ImpactNavigators.com, send me an email at William.Brown@impactnavigators.com or follow us in Twitter @IN2Outcomes

Take a knee? Take a Stand!

Please repost, tweet and promote this in any way you can!

Now that we have awareness from the “take a knee” issue let’s convert the talk to something that can have a more significant meaning and may become much more impactful! Please check out the documentary “Teach Us All” and the social justice movement (http://www.teachusallfilm.org/).  While driven by the civil rights activities of the 1950’s it speaks to the education of the multitude of underserved people throughout the United States.  I am so fortunate to be a part of a team working to have an impact in a Utah community with a significant population of Navajo and Ute children who to this day are not receiving the benefits of living in America.  None of us can do it all but if we #TakeAStand we can make a difference in underserved communities, giving people a chance to reach their true potential.  Sure, the social impact of such engagement is enormous but I am a Socio-Economic Entrepreneur and can easily see how this can deliver a huge economic benefit to all of us.  Please, get involved, #TakeAStand and support us in our IN2Outcomes initiatives to make America and the world a better place.  View the trailer at http://www.teachusallfilm.org/theatrical-trailer

8 Approved Regional Investment Centers Now On Board

Impact Navigators is now working with 8 Education Fund of America Regional Investment Centers approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.  We are working with foreign investors to support the development of public charter schools in the US, bringing in needed investments and creating new jobs!

We support these investments by providing the resources needed to make a charter school dream a REALITY, delivering excellence in education with a sustainable financial model.

Why You Will Want To Pay More Income Tax To Fund Education!

Wait, …. What, …. I will WANT to pay more in taxes?

That is what you are going to hear in the next several months, signing petitions to launch an initiative to rise the Utah income tax rate from 5% to maybe 5.75% or more to support a poorly funded education system.

The initiative will not come from educators, it will not come from politicians, it will not come from students or even parents – it will come from some of the most powerful, influential and successful business leaders in the State of Utah. It will come from a sector of our population that understands that education is not the end but the means to social and economic development. It will come from those who realize that, if Utah does not do something, something significant, our vision of NATIONAL and GLOBAL leadership might be nothing more than a fairy tale.

While I applaud the effort, we must be aware that there is so much more to achievement of the desired outcome than “just” putting more (?) money into the current “system”.  First of all, we must hold our legislators accountable to apply incremental funds into the education “system”. Let’s be real here, just because we vote to raise taxes to fund education, that does not mean that the added revenues will be INCREMENTAL funding.

Sound incredible? Well there are many instances where, with the best of intentions, things went awry. We can look at our neighbors in Idaho who voted for a State Lottery to fund education only to have their elected officials redirect some of the overall funding to projects other than education. If our neighbors knew what their legislators were going to do with the new money they might not have voted to create the lottery.

The time to get onboard the initiative to assure education-targeted funds actually go to education is NOW.  We are so much more aware of the power of social media and how it can influence, favorably or unfavorably, actions, opinions and outcomes.  If this resonates with you and you want to be an agent of change, Tweet about this @In2Outcomes, Post to Facebook and stay engaged as this  #In2Outcomes and #Funds4Education movement gets some traction.

I love my work but there is truly so much more for me to do!

Working to develop, launch and manage medical technologies, products and companies all over the world has brought me unmeasurable satisfaction. The learning experiences and personal relationships built in the United States, Europe and Asia have been nothing other than a true blessing. Now I am living a dream in working to impact social and economic challenges with a specific focus on education.

When all of the dust settles in Washington and @BetsyDeVos is no longer in the headlines, the passion and performance of our educators, in traditional and charter schools throughout the country will endure – if WE, The People engage and contribute.

To be very transparent here, I am a STRONG advocate for charter schools, not as the panacea for an ailing education system but to complement and supplement “district” schools. Adding performance, quality and other metrics is of course a prerequisite for all schools so, as I look at it, charter schools are not to be considered better, just different and serving unmet needs in our communities.

We are @In2Outcomes and believe that change in our current education system is absolutely necessary for America. Working today on charter schools in Utah I like to refer to the current Utah State Stature 53A-1a-503 which states:

The purposes of the state’s charter schools as a whole are to:

(1)   continue to improve student learning;

(2)   encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods;

(3)   create new professional opportunities for educators that will allow them to actively participate in designing and implementing the learning program at the school;

(4)   increase choice of learning opportunities for students;

(5)   establish new models of public schools and a new form of accountability for schools that emphasizes the measurement of learning outcomes and the creation of innovative measurement tools;

(6)   provide opportunities for greater parental involvement in management decisions at the school level; and

(7)   expand public school choice in areas where schools have been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq. Amended by Chapter 319, 2008 General Session

Some of the work we are doing in areas of “Flip Education”, “Remote-based Learning”, “Project-based Learning”, “STEAM”, “EnterEducation” (I’m not sure that I like to use the word “gamification” in education so we look at Entertainment as a method of delivery) and even “Virtual Reality” speak to innovation in education. In our approach, we believe if far more effective and efficient to engage with charter schools before we approach the broader (and much more bureaucratic) district school systems. This is not the only way to make a difference but it is the way we have chosen to make a positive impact in education. What are you doing in your community to make a difference?

We are so much more aware of the power of social media and how it can influence, favorably or unfavorably, actions, opinions and outcomes. If this resonates with you and you want to be an agent of change, Tweet about this @In2Outcomes, Post to Facebook and stay engaged as this #In2Outcomes  movement gets some traction.

Teach more than just fishing to the underserved and reap the rewards!

Whether taken from an old Chinese proverb or something that evolved from an adage credited to Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, we have all heard the phrase “…give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”. I would like to take it a few steps farther and talk about a socio-economic business model you might want to consider in your next entrepreneurial venture or maybe even a new structure for your current business.

While there are so many non-profit organizations feeding those who would otherwise not survive, my passion is more to help develop what is often referred to as “Social Enterprises” which I like to define as “…revenue generation organizations that have a give-back mentality”. They may be structured as Benefit Corporations or as Low-profit Limited Liability Companies (L3C’s) but operate similarly as businesses that allocate a portion of their profits to a specific or general social benefit and not exclusively for the benefit of their shareholders. Under these structures for-profit organizations can make a conscious and public decision to invest a portion of their profits into impact-driven initiatives which themselves might be non- or for-profit companies. In “giving back” we can also support initiatives that directly support our company values and convert generic giving into something so much more meaningful, beneficial and rewarding – personally and financially.

Building on the theories of Maslow and others we can fulfill immediate needs of survival, provide assistance for subsistance and engage in a process of sustainability with measurable and significant results and benefits. For those of us who are so tired of a culture of exclusively maximizing profits for financial investors, the results of such behaviors in driving jobs and opportunities overseas and overall displeasure in social and economic opportunity for ALL Americans are issues we must and can address. This is not just some simple dream or fantasy, it is something we can do today and achieve social and economic benefit right away!! We the business community have a vested stake in all aspects of our communities.

Yes, there will always be those who will need a fish to survive but the hope is for this to be the exception, not the rule – and only to meet the immediate need. Yes, the next step would be to teach that person to fish but we can do even more. Let’s teach another to make the fishing poles, another to make ice, others to drive trucks to sell the fish in another market – and let’s not forget those who can teach us not to overfish or destroy the ecosystem! So, maybe too simply stated, we like to develop the rod making, ice making, trucking, …. businesses that will be the backbone for the communities and help those who have been given the fish, get on a path of self-sustainability.

Just a social perspective? Not at all, it’s (good) business (for good).

There are many companies who have learned how important these topics are to their Customers and the marketplace. With appropriate performance in these areas and a good marketing approach these investments can become a very effective marketing campaign and increase the top line. I’m not talking about selling social engagement just to drive up profits but there is nothing wrong with driving social and economic growth and being very transparent about the business side of things. can’t we drive revenue AND do good at the same time?

A Benefit Corporation or L3C structure might not be right for you or your business or by your suppliers or other partners either but I would hope you would think about it.

If you would like to talk more, just drop me a line.