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Leading to Reform: January 13

This Week’s letter highlights how important it is that leaders speak the truth, the increasing use of student data to determine tenure and pay and the predictability of organizations and nations. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform. Most now forwarded by readers. Stay in with us in 2013. A regular blog and web site – coming soon…

To Tell the Truth and Other Leadership Resolutions for 2013
Many of us have the desire to achieve more in 2013, and if you are in a leadership capacity of any kind, even as an individual contributor, there are few things that you control that will help you to achieve those goals as much as improving your leadership ability. It seems to me that leadership is after all about improving organizations. It is hard to lead effectively if people do not sense that you care or are truthful in every interaction. So, you should be mindful in 2013 to go out of your way to demonstrate this. Leadership is a relational skill and it depends entirely on how others interact with you. Whether they interact with you through others, or directly, look for opportunities to show that you care and speak the truth. If you lose that, you aren’t leading. You are using power to cling to the allusion of leadership and you aren’t going to hang on for long.
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More States Embracing Student Achievement Data to Set Teacher Pay
The number of states embracing contentious education reforms meant to increase teacher accountability rose rapidly last year. In 2009, no states tied tenure to a teacher’s performance in the classroom as measured by student achievement on standardized tests. Now, 15 states have policies that base teacher tenure partly on student test scores, up from eight just a year earlier,
according to a report released Monday by the advocacy group StudentsFirst.

The StudentsFirst report found that more states are using teacher performance data to make decisions on hiring, layoffs, and tenures than ever before.

The tenure reforms have drawn heavy criticism from educators who worry about the reliability and fairness of using students’ standardized test scores to judge teachers. Yet even as many states have made sweeping changes, which also include increasing the number of charter schools and rewarding teachers based on student achievement, most are not doing enough to implement education policies that will better serve students and schools.

Most independent, charter and choice schools have figured out how to differentiate pay for educators, yet over and over, public schools don’t break clear of the salary schedule until the state enforces the move with legislation.

Why is it that the public schools are the slowest to change, when they have the most to contribute for students?

Ten states have school-finance challenges working their way through the courts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Four other states recently wrapped up legal challenges.

But school-funding advocates have found that winning a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily improve the quality of education — or even boost funding over the long term, as funding formula changes and budget cuts can eat into court-mandated increases.

“Some argue that the status quo before the litigation eventually comes back into place,” said Dan Thatcher, an education finance expert at the NCSL.
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More States are Using Student Data in Reform
Fifteen states have policies that base teacher tenure or employment partly on student test scores, up from eight just a year earlier. Increasingly states are taking over public schools, granting board’s responsibility without the necessary authority and in some cases the funding needed to operate their schools. Yet local schools continue to operate in their communities as if they have the power that comes with the responsibility when they don’t.

Perhaps, if they used student data to make decisions rather than public opinion, states wouldn’t be forced to assume a greater sense of control and direction of the local school systems.
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Organizations & Nations Are Predictable – With These Rules
Nations are eccentric. But they also have threads of repeated history through which we can discern what comes next. For five centuries, since Ivan the Terrible, for instance, Russia has been characterized by one-man rule, an exaggerated sense of identity, and an acceptance of often-deadly cruelty toward individual citizens.  Therefore, it is not surprising that those traits are the bricks and mortar of Vladimir Putin’s rule today. Yet, to borrow Peter Gabriel’s phrase, you can pick out the Peter Gabriel's Signal to Noise and from that derive the likely direction -- if not the outcome of events.

One of the instruments for doing so is history, as discussed. But there also is a perceptible universal trend to events that cuts across borders. Last fall, we told you about the 11 indicators of energy and geopolitics (
here are the original 10; here is the 11th, added in November). Now, we present 14 rules governing geopolitical events. These rules do not divine the future. Rather they allow you, generally speaking, to separate yourself from the unruly, conjectural maw of global opinion-makers and decipher for yourself what is going on, and the probable scenario or scenarios to unfold next. Neither are they complete—please send along your own rules (s@qz.com) and we will publish the best. Learn More...

Time Icon
Leaders Always Need More Time
Leaders struggle with finding enough time— they can't find time to do everything. And, they're right: no one has time for everything. Given the pace of work and the level of input in modern society, time management is dead. You can no longer fit everything in — no matter how efficient you become. (This conundrum is what inspired me to write a book on time investment).

Think about time as the limited resource it is and to allocate it in alignment with their personal definition of success. That leads to a number of practical ramifications. Learn More...

Articles for the Week:

“That organization obviously leaves him dismayed, baffled and fearful of great stupidity about to assert itself.” --Emmett Hughes

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