Changes to this Blog

Regular readers may have already noticed some small changes I’ve made to this site over the last week or two, as I’m beginning the process of transitioning this blog into something that’s more than just a personal diary for my own policy musings (and occasional Run DMC videos).

This site was originally just a place for me to post policy items that were more or less leftovers from other jobs. Later I started taking it more seriously and have been using it as a way to discipline myself to write regularly. I’m very gratified that over time the blog  has developed a decent-sized regular readership. For this reason, (and also because of some significant changes in my own professional life, which you can read about here), I’ve decided the time has come to see if we can take this blog to the next level, which means transitioning it from a personal blog to one that includes multiple contributors, and (hopefully) starts to evolve into a “real” digital publication and online community. In the process, I plan to cut back significantly on my own posting and move into more of an executive editor/publisher role, concentrating my time on recruiting and mentoring a cadre of contributors, and, over time, developing the resources to make the site self-sustaining.

I have no idea if this will actually work, although I do have confidence that it can work, and that I have the skills to make it happen. But it won’t get off the ground at all unless  I’m able to recruit strong contributors. Interested? Know someone who might be? Here’s an overview of the kind of contributors I’m looking for.

A Tidal Wave for Paradigm Shifting

From Education Week:

“[It’s] the perfect storm for re-imagination of the K-12 textbook.”

— Doug Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, arguing that Common Core State Standards, budget pressures, student demographic changes, and other factors are changing how instructional materials are designed and delivered.

UPDATE 9/27/12: There may be some connection here to this rare weather phenomenon:

Textbook storm explodes near Alaska

(h/t Ryan Avent)

Should We Expect All College Graduates to Write Well?

From a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article on the importance of writing skills at nonprofits:

…bosses shouldn’t assume that even college graduates can write at a professional level because so few institutions teach grammar or the critical thinking processes that go into good writing.

This adds some additional perspective to all the stories about rapidly increasing college costs, doesn’t it? I realize that the assumption used to be that high school graduates would enter college with decent writing skills to begin with, but since we know that this isn’t true anymore (if it ever was), it’s odd that we make this huge, ever-increasing  investment in higher education but can’t figure out how to ensure that those students who enter with poor writing skills learn to write at a professional level before graduating.

I’m been thinking lately about whether to ask for a writing sample from every potential employee. I’ve employed people with just GEDs, as well as people with college degrees, and the one place in my experience where the skill gap really narrows between people with different levels of formal education is with writing.