JCL Blog

Interesting Trends

We have arrived at that season where the list of predictions for 2013 will start to pile up.  I find them interesting reading, but I have not felt that I have much to add to the pile, so mostly I just read instead of making a list of my own.  

This year however, I will be taking note of a handful of trends that seem to capture my interest.  I see tend to read articles about these things and I just might have some thoughts congealing into a theory that brings them together.  

For now though, just the trends:


  1. Education:  One of our greatest exports to the rest of the world is educated people from our university system.  Why do we get that right and K-12 is seeming to fall farther and farther behind?
  2. Big Data:  Technically big data is just a lot of data.  Specifically, it is the ability for systems to capture and save everything.  Before big data we used to keep track of the closing price of a stock, then we stored the closing price and the high and low price for the day, big data is storing every single trade, who made the trades, their sequence…
  3. Internet of Things:  There are between one and two billion people connected to the Internet.  Devices and sensors are being added to the network by the billions and probably already outnumber the people.  Soon the number of connected machines will dwarf people and the Internet will change significantly.
  4. Vendor Relationship Management:  The relationship between the makers of things and their customers has been mostly one way and managed by the manufacturer, with CRM systems.  This relationship dynamic has been evolving through 1:1 marketing to an inversion of CRM where the customer is in charge and the vendor is managed.  The Berkman Center at Harvard is defining a new industry called Vendor Relationship Management (VRM).
  5. Digital Divide:  The people at the top of the economic ladder will advance ahead of the rest in earning capacity, lifespan, leisure time, and as a result will desire many new services. Those not at the top will have to serve the others or live off of charity or government assistance.  The gulf between the haves and the have nots is getting bigger in our country and around the world.  Right now the unemployment rate for white college graduates in the US is 4%.  Other social classes or ethnicities are much worse -- some over 25%.  It is hard to think about things getting even worse.

Of course the current year always feels like the one that is moving faster than ever before and 2013 will certainly feel the speediest ever.  In this context, and considering this list, it will be an interesting exercise to do the Gretsky thing and skate to where the puck is going to be.  It will be even more interesting to take a shot -- because the other famous Gretsky quote is: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."



Knowledge IS Power, Vote Yes on I 1240

Here in Washington State we have the unique opportunity to vote for charter schools (I-1240) on November 6th.  Those of us that think education reform is needed, see this as a once in a decade opportunity to improve the education options available to the students that need it the most -- the ones on the less advantaged side of the education divide.

Here are the main data points:


  1. Charter schools are public schools open to everyone -- if more people apply than can be accommodated, students are picked by lottery.  In the 41 states that already have charter schools there are 600,000 students on waiting lists and 2 million students enrolled.
  2. Charter schools are funded just like public schools (by the student enrolled) -- so this initiative will not increase the cost of education in Washington State.
  3. Charter schools have the same academic requirements as public schools -- but have the ability to have longer school days, different curriculum, and make other decisions associated with the operations of their schools.  The teachers also must be certified -- just like in public schools.
  4. Charter schools in other states deliver very good results -- opponents often state that charter schools fail too.  Any time there are thousands of organizations -- some will perform poorly.  But since charter schools have to attract students (customers) and cannot compel them to attend (like regular public schools) --so failing charter schools do close down -- and that is a good thing.  Also, it is important to note that most charter schools serve low income students.  If even if charter schools only deliver results equal to all public schools, but are serving the disadvantaged students, it is a dramatic improvement.  If you divide all students by economic background into four groups, the lowest group graduates 6% from high school, and the top group graduates 89%. (see correction below)
  5. Charter schools are not run for profit or by religeous organizations -- only qualified not for profit, non religeous organizations can run charter schools.  In some cases, existing public schools can become charter schools


So, please join me in voting for Initiative 1240 on November 6.

If you want to read more, here is a great site:  YesOn1240

Also, here is a site that covers the charter school movement nationally: Charter School Resource Center

And here is the site of KIPP schools, an amazing example of what we could have.

Here is my review of Work Hard, Be Nice, the book about the founding of KIPP.  If you are tired of being depressed about the quality of education in Washington State -- you should really read this book.


LATER:  Correction.  I did a bit more research on these numbers.  Turns out they are about Bachelor's Degree attainment by age 24.  Either way, the education divide is getting worse -- much worse.  Here is a link to the study.