"Your version of better might not be enough"; plus chili!

I liked Needles in a Haystack. It's by Fordham Foundation. They profile good schools in Ohio. One story:

And Whipps shares the story of a particularly tough teacher hiring event: “After two interviews, all the candidates were equally good,” she continues. “So we invited them all back. And before they arrived we crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it on the floor right at the building entry. Several of them walked by it, but one of the candidates picked up the scrap of paper and put it in his pocket. We hired him,” she says with a smile.

1. Our original charter for Match says: Staff will pick up trash, as a small way to build the right culture Blah blah blah technology projects. That is, before Match, I was the guy who ignored other people's trash. When I saw Charlie in action as our principal, picking up trash all around the building, I began to copy him without really processing what I was doing.

2. Back to Haystack. Why do struggling schools not copy others that do well?

Business writer Seth Godin explored this in why "your version of better might not be enough."

A. I might not know about your better, because the world is so noisy I can't hear you.

B. I might not believe it's better, because, hey, people spin and exaggerate and lie. Proof is only useful if it leads to belief.

C. The perceived cost of switching (fear, hassle, internal selling and coordination, money) is far higher than your better appears to be worth.

Godin says it well.

3. Cage-Busting Leadership

My friend Rick Hess has a new book which addresses Godin's C, published by my peeps at Harvard Education Press. I read it in a day. Good stuff. I liked Sarah Tantillo's review, here.

4. Scary thought

Talked to a friend last week, for an hour. She's involved in a geography that will soon have many new charter schools. She's worried that because it's a liberal area politically, she'll have to encourage the creation of a certain type of "progressive" charter, and tamp down No Excuses schools.

I.e., her reality is if you push for the schools you think will help kids the most, you might trigger enough early additional opposition to cause the whole charter sector to crash. It's the classic "Charters are not very good, and we know that because of the test scores; oh and the charters which do have high test scores, they are also not good. When it comes to charters, low test scores mean bad charter, and high test scores mean cheating charter."

Godin's B above.

5. Orin wins chili contest!

My chili was plain ol' not better enough. Orin carried home the prize.

I thought perhaps Johanna had made it, but Orin insisted he whipped it up in a few minutes around midnight. It's like when you study for the test for 3 days and the guy who crams 10 minutes gets the A. Plus the Knicks beat the Celts. Plus Rondo is out for the year. Mama.