Saturday, February 15, 2014

98.6 - We need to be in balance

Last week as I was mentoring a student and parent about college and career readiness I was asked; “What is the most important thing I have learned over the years. “ I did not have to think long because it is something I learned in 1979 and really began to understand as I lived it since then is that everything belongs to a system and in order for that system to be effective and efficient it must be in balance.

Too much or too little of anything is not good. It’s like the name of a song by Keith in the 1960s called “98.6” because that is science calls the number that indicates our most important system in life is Normal.
When we have disruptions to the norm we have a negative consequence. For example – think about when you have had or when others have had too much or too little of anything:

  •   Too much Love or too much Hate
  •  Too Cold or Too Hot
  • Too Black or too White or too Brown or too Yellow or too Red
  • Too much Christian or Too much Muslim (See first bullet)
  • Too much education or not enough education = no common sense
  • Too much Water or too little Water
  •  Too much Sun or not enough Sun
  • Too many Rules or not enough Rules
  •  Too much Government or not enough Government
  • Too much knowledge = idiot or too little knowledge = idiot

I could go on and on but the results are always the same. Balance and interdependencies are the keys to all things in systems (i.e. life) and when it is interrupted or altered a negative result will occur.

When we get out of balance we look to medicine, religion, faith, family and friends and other experts to bring us back in line. What we need is a “98.6” in all aspects of our lives so we can predict and prevent out of balance in our lives.

As Keith sang in 1967 “Hey, 98.6, it's good to have you back again


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Just Don't Get it! IRS & Common Core Standards

I Just Don’t Get It! - IRS

Often times it becomes increasingly frustrating/confusing to understand social economic issues especially as it pertains to education. Our education system has and is in a constant state of disarray because of lack of leadership at the decision positions from the top posts in government to local school districts.

For the past seven years I have been directing a mentoring program ( ) that has been widely acclaimed. Over two years ago I made a decision (against the wishes of those who work with me) to create a non-profit business of this program.

My intentions were to go after scholarships and grants and then pass those dollars to students and teachers. I would not have charged parents and students but would accept donations. This is just a snippet of my intentions but I am in the process of dissolving this initiative (The IRS has a provision that will not return my application fee). Funny I should get into a for profit business that takes a business plan for a $1000.00 and sits on it and collects interest and then refuses to give money back for no services rendered.

You see my application (AND FEES I PAID) has been sitting in the IRS non-profit department without any activity or communication (Except to tell me I owed more money). The IRS has a website - that informs you of the month and year they are processing applications (Currently May 2012).

We have all read and seen reports the problems this department has caused with the refusal and delays for any company that had ties to the Tea Party. As with most problems like this it is the little guy who suffers. This problem runs much deeper than just denying Tea Party businesses and no one cares.

Please understand I am not a Tea Party Member. I’m just a guy who wanted to make a difference create some jobs and change the PARADIGM of how we prepare our students for College and Career Readiness.

Updated 2/14/14

Finally received a letter from IRS now wanting additional information and to update my original documents after 18 months. The website I mention above now states April 2013. So in a matter of a month they jumped a year in processing applications. I had some questions and called the number in my letter 5 times and no one answers and no one has returned my call. Years ago it was the Post Office that came under fire for customer service - Go Figure!

I Just Don’t Get It! – Common Core Standards/Teacher Evaluations

I have always prided myself on making most of my decisions on Fact Based Data and Information (FBDandI). The much discussed and often misunderstood Common Core Standards (CCS) are still confusing the stakeholders (Teachers, Parents and STUDENTS) who must adhere to what the standards mean and how they should be implemented. OOPS! The CCS inform us what students should know and by what grade level but it DOES NOT provide the HOW the standards should be taught and that is a big problem assuming educators already know how to do this vital step in education. It did not happen with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)  or the the other educational plans that have come and gone over the years. I should not say gone because they get implemented and then pile up on each other leaving teachers the task to try to be successful at all initiatives.

I am not going to go into the standards (see my write-up - ) but I will tell you the stakeholders will be negatively impacted because the LEADERS (Superintendents, Principals, School Boards) have not planned and prepared  (training, tools, resources) the teachers to implement these standards. The Information technology (IT) requirements alone to administer the testing portion will drive schools to more budget deficits in both public and private schools.

A big question mark (?) that comes with this initiative is how they will grade teachers. I have written about this before ( ). There are published reports by the State of Michigan that 99% of our teachers received high marks on their evaluations. Now is that Fact Based Data and Information or is that a result of the leaders (Principals) who are “supposed” to evaluate the teachers do this on a fair and consistent basis (Many parents don't know that CCS only covers Math and English Language - Does this mean Science, History and other teachers get a free pass). I’m here to tell you a big problem is the people in these positions for the most part are good educators but they are not equipped to be managers, supervisors and leaders when it comes to making these types of decisions. The main Root Cause is they don’t have the stomach to rate their friends and co-workers negatively. This was the same problem Union Leaders and Managers in the business world faced when downsizing and lay-offs took off in the 1980s. I have been involved in both of these scenarios.

This problem goes higher because who evaluates Principals and who evaluates Superintendents?  Too many articles complain and pretend to make issues of the common core standards. However, no one challenges the fact the standards are not standard in their roll-out (That is for another post) or in their implementation. Thus, as in most systems/processes the problems are found upstream with increasingly confusing complex negative issues in the downstream. The problem like in the past process quality initiatives is the leaders put all the money in band-aid fixes and symptoms.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Why I Still Like Girls Basketball - Season Eight - Season Over 2/27/14

SEASON EIGHT - New Beginnings

To read the seven previous seasons click on the label to the left on the main page where where it says "Girls Basketball" or click

JULY - 2013

We attended our summer team camp last week and just like previous years we learned a lot about what to expect for our upcoming season. I would have to say the coaches were expecting some better results but yet we were not surprised at the outcome.

This is basically a new team from last year that will need to develop their own identity and develop an internal leadership group that must lead the team both on and off the court.

We continue to lack size but we are more experienced in some key positions. The summer workouts have been good and I have added some speed and agility drills that hopefully create quicker hands and feet that we must have to play solid team defense this year.

Our summer workout sessions have been well attended and learning continues to take place at each practice.

November - 2013

We have concluded our 4 Player Workouts and had a good turnout to work on their individual skills.
This week we are concluding our try-outs and should have a good nucleus of players from 10th - 12th grade.

Team Leadership will be a factor going forward to determine which players want to take the lead and what players will be voted to be the leaders. In other years this was predictable but not this year.

I must say that if I was to pick a saying for this year it is:

How Hard? By putting everything you got in to each practice and a little more into each game going forward by being better than you were the day before - cc

December - 2013

The team may have lost our best defensive player and senior captain to injury. We are waiting on the MRI and the doctor to determine the extent of the injury. Nothing affects me more than seeing a player work so hard and go down to injury (especially senior year). Others will have to step-up if we are to be successful this year.

We had a five team scrimmage last week and we got beat up pretty good both physically and mentally. There are always good things to learn from these situations and we now have a good sense who can handle pressure and who is tough when it comes to pushing oneself beyond the norm.

First Game - We won our first game against a team that was not very good. What I especially liked was the play of a few players who really crashed the boards and got some easy put backs through hard work and hustle.

February - 2014

We are now 7-7 and we have again been riddled with injuries but in truth that is the nature of sports and not to be used as an excuse. We play in a tough league and if you are not prepared or have "Basketball Players" on your team it is very difficult to win tournaments, leagues and championships.

Basketball Players are those who work on their game all year long and especially in the off season to get in daily defensive drills and shooting work (200-300 shots). Fundamentals must be taught early (5th grade on...) because too much time going over blocking out, closing out, defensive position and multiple offenses and defenses in daily practices in high school proves futile. If I can't add or subtract what good does it do concentrating on multiplication and division and story problems that required deducing the facts? Just like in the classroom there is a wide knowledge gap between those that get it and those that do not. To win you must have at least 7-8 players who get it and are on the same page. The result is you beat teams that you should and lose to teams that you should. Thus - you have a 500 season.

It's very simple -
"For the most part you can not improve your game while preparing to play the next game"

February 27,  2014

Unfortunately we lost our first game in the state tournament and our season is over. Our local paper did a nice pictorial and video shoot of the game that can be found at:

I will miss the girls

This will be the last Post of this series. It's been a good run and for the most part fun.