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C'mon, everyone!  Put your two cents in for how we can reinvent our education system.  Read my four part post about one person's framework to create fundamental change in education.  The user who provides the most thought-provoking comments will we chosen to win an autographed copy of the popular book, Disrupting Class:  How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns This is a MUST read and a truly engaging look at how to move the system to student-centered learning pedagogy.


I look forward to reading your comments.


An Encore Post On "Hump Day"

I thought it would be nice to supplement my earlier post with some truly inspiring musical performances for your afternoon siesta, or for anyone seeking a brief respite from the daily grind.

The first video is from one of the most incredible pianists I have ever seen, Eric Lewis. Tell me you're not mesmerized by the performance below:

The second one I have no words for. A brief word about Jose Antonio Abreu (courtesy of ted.com):

The gulf between the rich and the poor in Venezuela is one of the worst in the world. Jose Antonio Abreu, an economist, musician, and reformer, founded El Sistema ("the system") in 1975 to help Venezuelan kids take part in classical music. After 30 years (and 10 political administrations), ElSistema is a nationwide organization of 102 youth orchestras, 55 children's orchestras, and 270 music centers -- and close to 250,000 young musicians.

El Sistema uses music education to help kids from impoverished circumstances achieve their full potential and learn values that favor their growth. The talented musicians have become a source of national pride. Several El Sistema students have gone on to major international careers, including Gustavo Dudamel, soon to be the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the bassist Edicson Ruiz, who at 17 became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic.

There is a simple concept behind Abreu's work: for him an orchestra is first and foremost about together­ness, a place where children learn to listen to each other and to respect one another.

"Music has to be recognized as an ... agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values -- solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings."

José Antonio Abreu


This performance, by one of his former students now leading the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, is truly awe-inspiring.  Remember these performers in Caracas are HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS!!  Enjoy.


We Must Do Better At Tracking Ed Stimulus Spending

Today I would like to refer to an article that came out yesterday in Education Week.  Stete and federal agencies have not been as quick to publicly "track" the money they have received to date as they are at receiving it.  Now I'm not referring to this article to continue to hammer the stimulus process every step of the way, but I refer to it because it is a stark reminder of the need for accountability and transparency whenever taxpayer funds are spent on public projects.

I have not been shy about putting a big "question mark" around the probability of success of the education stimulus funds, and if we are to evaluate the merits of the plans, then all parties must be transparent in tracking the use of such funds.  Hopefully, it is too early to state unequivocally that the American people will not know what the money is being used for, and that over the coming weeks/months, the back-end tracking systems will be enhanced and improved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Everyone should be watching this situation closely, because this is a LOT of our taxpayer dollars being put to work.


Support The Florida Virtual School And Others Like It!

Today I would like to share a link from a strategist I hold in the highest regard:  Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor.  Professor Christensen, author of The Innovators Dilemma and The Innovators Solution, also published Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns last summer. His theory of disruptive innovation is one that I have leveraged a great deal over the past few years, particularly when I was working on bringing GameTap to market.

In my opinion, his ideas and suggestions for how we can reinvent our education system are "dead on," and I encourage all of you to read his blog.  His thinktank, the Innosight Institute, has a blog that I have included on my blogroll on the left sidebar of this website.


A few weeks ago, Professor Christensen discussed the troubling events unfolding in the state of Florida, and I ask that you read his commentary about the issue.  The Florida Senate Committee has a bill that in its current form, would remove the FLVS abilty to offer AP courses or any other courses outside of the core curriculum and that it would no longer be able to offer courses for credit recovery or grade forgiveness.  The bill also contains some significant funding cuts that would force the school to only receive state funds if its students pass a class successfully.  Public schools in Florida do not have such a stipulation.

I bring this up because of the larger issue that it personifies:  that our country must not destroy innovation if it serves the greater good, but instead should look to harness and leverage such innovative practices.  This message does not apply to just the FLVS, but to any successful program that is deemed to be a disruptive innovation strategy.

So I send this message out to Floridians but also all Americans:  speak up, because in the greatest democracy in the world, you have that right to do so.  We all know what silence brings........


A Contest ForThe Best Feedback On The 4-Part "Reinvent Ed" Posts

To end the week, I wanted to provide my loyal readers as well as potential loyal readers an incentive to really think about my 4-part post about my framework for reinventing our education system.  So here it goes:


The individual who writes the most thought provoking, logical comment to my ideas will win a complimentary copy of Disrupting Class:  How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way The World Learns.  It will be signed by some or all of the authors of the book (Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson).  It is substantive, well research look into how to apply "disruptive innovation theory" to the education system.


I encourage you to participate in this contest and I look forward to reading your responses.  And don't worry - to maintain objectivity, I will be having some expertse also evaluate your comments. The contest will run through next Friday, May 1st, unless I determine that it makes sense to extend a bit.


Good luck and thanks for your continued support!  The contest will run through next Friday, May 1st, unless I determine that it makes sense to extend a bit.