Monday, August 22, 2011

More wisdom from Sam Smith

A way under-appreciated national resource who ponders and comments from Casco Bay, Maine, but often delivers truths needed in Salem too -- like this great skewering of the corporate hack appointed to run the US Department of Education, the one federal cabinet department that really should be abolished entirely.

Yes, abolished. Not because education isn't important, but because it is, and the feds not only have no constitutional mandate to run it, but they also have no particular expertise and an abysmal record of accomplishment. The US Department of Education is doing to education what the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been doing to the first Americans for a hundred years or more, and what the US Department of Forestry does to forests.

What we need for education is not a cabinet department where gladhandlers and cheese merchants like Duncan can roost and find jobs for their buttkissing friends but an agency modeled on the National Institutes of Health or the National Academy of Sciences --- a non-partisan, non-political body with actual expertise, created to develop, test, and promote techniques that work and to debunk nonsense ... the kind of nonsense that underlays nearly every federal initiative in education, which have been pretty uniformly bad.
Eternal fundamentals of leadership (Rev. 8/14/11)

Sam Smith

I have been trying to understand the new eternal fundamentals of leadership according to the likes of Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and others who see government and non-profits as badly in need of corporate principles. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Please copy it promptly as I may be laid off later today with this post removed.
  • Fire, don't inspire

  • Test, don’t teach

  • Statistics are just another form of adjective. Use them at will

  • Treat everyone – including citizens, patients, students, teachers, and volunteers – as corporate employees.

  • With enough public relations, personal relations aren’t necessary.

  • Internal organization is far more important than external programs

  • Statistical margins of error don’t apply when numbers improve. Acceptable progress need only be a decimal point away.

  • Dismantle, don’t build

  • Civility reflects inability

  • Reserve all creativity for budgets and annual reports.