Educational And Economic Parity

I read two very interesting articles this morning that have caused me to think a bit about the enrollment challenges currently faced by academic institutions across the United States. In fact, there have been several articles written recently about the morphing of recruitment processes within elite and non-elite schools.

The University of Phoenix, which is a part of the Apollo Educational Group, still has an enrollment of 227,400 students, this is about one-half of what it once was. It is also down by 13.5% from last year at this time. In the financial section of to WSJ there were many reasons for this reduction, “glitches in online software,” problems with “recruiting and retention,” and greater (and deserved) regulation of processes. The University of Phoenix has had problems with recruitment processes that promise certain things, and with the support of struggling students. I would agree with today’s article that “Perhaps investors should take the hint: The once wildly profitable for profit-education sector is for the birds.”

As I think about this, and adult education in general, economic theory can help us understand what is occurring. Over the last 25 years adult education has thrived, and it was a market that had not reached a competitor equilibrium point. This meant that more competitors, and online opportunities, entered the market. The market for adult students now has a significant amount of competitors that are all competing for a fixed number of clients. Thus the law of survival of the fittest now applies. Only the strongest and best will survive.

The second article that has me thinking is the article “Why the SAT Isn’t a Student Affluence Test.” This article was written by Charles Murray who is a W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. The article begins with acceptance letters being sent out by the elite schools, “with most going to the offspring of upper middle class.” This according to some “perpetuates privilege from generation to generation,” but, as the author argues, is not a result of income inequality but IQ. I do not agree with this.

Mr. Murray gives two examples Sebastian and Jane. Sebastian is the child of parents who make $400,000 per year, which makes them a part of the 1%. Jane’s family has an income of $40,000 per year. Sebastian goes to a private school, and Jane goes to a public school. Obviously, in each school setting there are many variables, but with $400,000 per year the ability of Sebastian’s family to place him in a very good private school will give him more opportunity than Jane who will probably be in a public setting with more variables, such as environment, teaching ability, etc. Murray argues that Jane’s mom has an IQ of 135, “putting her in the top 1% of the IQ distribution,” but he forgets about the nurture part of the equation. Sebastian’s mother may only have an average IQ, but Sebastian has a better nurturing environment. Murray ignores a huge part of the equation.

However, I think he redeems himself towards the end. “What we need is an educational system that brings children with all combinations of assets and deficits to adulthood having identified things they enjoy doing and having learned how to do them well. What we need is a society that has valued places for people with all combinations of assets and deficits. Both goals call for completely different agendas than the ones that dominate today’s rhetoric about educational and economic inequality.” I do think we need to look at the system differently.

Another reason I am thinking about this involves a comment I saw on Facebook yesterday. Someone posted the comment “What advice would you give your high school self?” One of my previous students stated, “go to a public college.” That stings a bit, and makes me wonder what was it in his experience in my classes that made him want to say this. Of course, it could be just a student loan issue though, I wouldn’t know unless I ask him.

However, I can adjust what I am doing in my classes and my program. There seems to be a nationwide complaint that students coming into college are woefully under-prepared. Ok, point well taken, but instead of whining about it, what do we need to do. If there is one thing that can level the playing field between the haves and the have nots it is education. Therefore, how do we ensure educational success?

First, we need to have excellent teachers that are engaging students in the classroom. To accomplish this we need to deal with the substandard teaching in many college classrooms today. This also means paying competitive wages and hiring fulltime faculty instead of relying on adjuncts. This is not to say that all adjuncts are bad teachers, but they don’t have as much skin in the game. The table needs to be turned from relying on adjuncts to hiring fulltime faculty.

Second, we need more realistic assignments. Students need to have assignments that are real life. They need to develop real life skills with real life consequences. This gives the students the ability to use (enact) their skills.

Third, students need to be able develop relationships with the organizations associated with their majors. If they are not, then the practitioner side of the education is lacking.

Fourth, we need stronger academic support systems; this means better writing, quantitative, and qualitative tutors. The students need to raise their abilities to meet the demands of their future career.

And lastly, programs should not dumb down their academic requirements to ensure retention. They need to keep standards high and raise performance, not make it easier so students graduate.

Education is not about the level of profit for an academic institution, it is about the development of students who are liberally trained and professionally ready to change the world. That will truly lead to educational and economic parity.

And that is my thought for the day!

Disillusioned And It Feels So Good!

What an interesting title to my offering. The last few days have led me through a journey of discovery and clarity that has helped me emerge from a dark place to one of clarity. I admit I love to play golf, even when it is rainy and muddy. I played in between rain showers yesterday, four inches of them, and due to the fact there were only two of us on the course , I had lots of time to think. I have finally emerged from feelings of despair to feelings of victory.

Last week I received some disappointing information, and an indication that someone who could do something about a situation continued to choose not to do anything. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a plan, work toward that plan, and then have it thwarted due to a lack of something, money or effort. Thus, placing me in a position of disillusionment and wondering what my next steps should be.

The dark place I went into was the dungeon of doubting. Life is horrible, nobody cares, and everything around me is nutty. I began to think that life was like the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. The world has become Oceania, and everything around me is in perpetual war, filled with in groups who think they are the only ones with answers, creating a world filled with doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and organizations having various types of Room 101’s.

The definition of doublethink, “is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.” Orwell uses this term to demonstrate how people are conditioned to “fit in.” You must be seen as a loyal member of the party or you will end up in Room 101. A great example of this is the Clark County GOP’s attempt to censure Jamie Herrera Butler. The party did not like the way she was working for the good of the community so they attempted to place her in a room of torture being confronted with her greatest fears.

Then there is the issue of thoughtcrime. According to Orwell, “this is an occurrence or instance of controversial and socially unacceptable thoughts.” We see this all around us as the social elite attempt to create a thought standard that anyone who does not adhere to this liberal agenda is ostracized and deemed a hater. If you are someone who is against abortion, then you are anti-woman, if you think that marriage is between a man and woman, then you are a hater of LGBT, and if you believe Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, and no one goes to the Father except by Him, then you are a hater who thinks everyone is a sinner.

Heaven forbid that we have anyone that thinks differently than the norm. For any of you who do not think that Newspeak does not exist, look around you. The definition of Newspeak “is the fictional language created by a totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace.” Thus, liberals demonize the ideas proposed by conservatives, and conservatives demonize the liberals for the concepts. There is no clearer expression than our current congressional iteration.

Although Orwell presented a literary example of Room 101, “a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love where subjects are confronted with their own worst nightmare,” our society is a bit more sophisticated. We create figurative Room 101s. Right now Howard Schultz and Starbucks are being subjected to their worst fears. “Race together” was meant to be a simple discussion about the issues around us concerning race, and we complain. Previously Chik-Fil-Let was sent to Room 101 because the founder gave his personal money to support traditional marriage. Thus a symbolic Room 101.

You see where this thought process took me. Last week I had lost my oracle joy persona, and let others control my outlook on life. It is wonderful when you have an opportunity to sit back, rest, and reflect. It is wonderful to pray, and seek God’s direction, and get yourself on the right path once again.

There are certain things I know. God is on the throne. I know that, and I believe that. Therefore, just because things don’t go the way I think they should go doesn’t mean we are doomed. Also, I tend to take too much ownership of things. This means that I think they can only be successful if I am in control. This is an untruth that I need to let go of. Therefore, I can relax and keep moving forward and trust the results to my God. This is what I intend to do.

In the book Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes Christian’s journey from the “City of Destruction” to the “Celestial City.” During this journey Christian met, and journeyed with Hopeful. At a particular place in their journey they had come to a rocky and steep place where the journey became difficult. They took an easier path, “Bypath Meadow,” and were captured by the Giant Despair. The Giant threw them in the dungeon of doubting castle, and beat them day after day. Christian and Hopeful were delivered from the castle through prayer and remembering the promises.

No matter how bad it looks God has many promises, and the one thing I know, is that God has my best in mind. That does not mean there will not be times of rocky steep places, or places of despair, but it means those times are the times where I need to trust. And that is what I intend to do!

And that is my thought for the day!

The Entrepreneurial Mind

The more I read about what Babson College is doing the more impressed I am. The most basic definition of entrepreneurial action is the ability to review a current process and see how it could function at a higher level. This is the entrepreneurial mind. According to Greenberg “Entrepreneurial Leadership involves a new model of thought and action.” I got it! I also see the power of the entrepreneurial mental model to “create and build a better world.”

I am actually very excited about the ubiquitous nature of entrepreneurism. As I stated yesterday in my blog, I have grown tired of uncreative processes that have no ability to improve how something is done. I am tired of the constant negative rehashing of events to find the evil intentions behind something that was done several years ago. However, I am excited about the ability “to create the future through action and experimentation.”

When this negativity is focused on capitalism, which I think is a result of business’ own shortsightedness focused on economic value maximization, business educators and practitioners need to listen. And as Michael Porter has stated, “The legitimacy of business has fallen to levels not seen in recent history. This diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set policies that undermine competitiveness and sap economic growth. Business is caught in a vicious circle.”
This is why the entrepreneurial mind is so critical. This is a mind that “engages social, environmental, and economic value creation simultaneously rather than sequentially.” It is my job as an educator to help my students see the importance of focusing on the people, planet and profit at the same time while creating business models that successfully create value in all of these areas.
Greenberg lays out a strategy that I think is sound. First, “teach students how to use creativity, experimentation, and action to harvest opportunities.” Got it, I can do that! Second, help students see that value is more than economic. Value creation is both social and economic. Profit maximization is not the primary goal of business. The primary goal of business is mission. As such, the mission needs to reflect the triple bottom line that we have been discussing as part of the entrepreneurial mind. I can do that too, and I think the WPC Social Entrepreneurship program is accomplishing this.
John Friese, entrepreneur and leader of StarveUps, met with our five capstone students. He was so encouraging, and recognized That the level of passion associated with our students was unsurpassed by other entrepreneurial students in the states of Washington and Oregon. This passion is a critical part of the entrepreneurial mind. This passion is about creating something new that deals with something old. This passion, connected with the Millennials will change the world in a positive way. I as an educator need to foster that.
I hope as my frustration level continues to rise due to shortsighted people who don’t see the need to change, I don’t do stupid things that hurt this opportunity to help students develop an entrepreneurial mind. Social Entrepreneurism is, at least in my opinion, the most exciting business event in 50 years, and I want to continue to foster that new way of thinking.
And that is my thought for the day!

The Good And Bad Of The Week

This was a week. I think all of us have made statements like this, and we all know what this coment means. I am pondering this on a Saturday afternoon, having had a wonderful walk with my wife in downtown Vancouver, while waiting for my round of golf to begin at 2pm.

I am often amazed at folks that I come in contact with that are so stuck in their own way of thinking and philosophy that they miss the forest because of trees. Capitalism is wrong and cannot be trusted, decisions made that are short sighted because business is evil and we can’t have a vibrant business program because we don’t want to be a business school, stated with disdain. Sometimes it gets to me and really irritates me. But then I read comments that are coming out of schools like Babson.

Babson College is a large college of over 3,000 students. It is located in Massachusetts. It’s mission and vision:
Mission Statement
Babson College educates entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value—everywhere.
Vision Statement
We want to be the preeminent institution in the world for Entrepreneurial Thought and Action®—and known for it. We want to expand the notion of entrepreneurship to embrace and celebrate entrepreneurs of all kinds. We want to put the power of entrepreneurship as a force for economic and social value creation in as many hands in the world as we can.
I really like this, and I think where I need to teach should embrace this. Several faculty at Babson have collaborated on a book I just purchased, and I find this quite motivating.

In the book The New Entrepreneurial Leader the authors write “We believe in the potential of global innovations that can yield both social and economic opportunity.” I love it when I find kindred spirits. Porter and Kramer as also quoted in this book as stating, “Profit maximization and shareholder value creation, long considered an adequate basis for businesses, are no longer sufficient.” Business theorists, Academics, and Leaders now recognize the importance of “maximizing the common good and minimizing social injustice and environmental impact is the order of the day.”

I have now found folks who believe as I do that Entrepreneurial leadership is needed to create both social and economic value for society. This activity is not just accomplished via startups, but by being an entrepreneur no matter what setting one is in. “Entrepreneurial leaders are united by their ability to think and act differently to improve their organizations and the world.”

The job of the Social Entrepreneurship program at Warner Pacific is to create entrepreneurial leaders who are self-aware, innovative, and who have the ability to create social and economic value for their communities, nation and world. We want our students to understand that entrepreneurship can be used to create social, economic, and environmental value thereby improving the world. Our students learn about appropriating and using needed resources, and “through a combination of self-reflection, analysis, resourcefulness, and creative thinking and action, find ways to inspire and lead others to tackle seemingly intractable problems.” Just like those students at Babson.

I am very thankful for this little book I have found. I am going to use it as a textbook for the leadership course in the Fall. For the last several years I have been looking for textbooks that will help me push my students to think differently about business. I want my students to see how business can be a powerful force for good in this world. And now I have found likeminded folks at Babson College, which makes me quite excited.

“As a management educator, I believe I have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a force for change as I redesign –and even reinvent – management education and development programs to foster entrepreneurial leadership.” If anyone wants to join me on this journey and study what entrepreneurial leadership is, then come see me at Warner Pacific College. I am currently working with 20 students, and I know they will change the world. I am hoping many more young and old alike will come and study what it means to be a Social Entrepreneur.

And that is my thought for the day!

I Can Only Hope!

Everywhere I turn I see Social Business, Business As Mission, and other acts of business doing good. Thus, I can only hope these are indications that business has finally understood the power of creating value, both socially as well as economically. My last blog was about a gentleman who had caught the bug, and was using his business to serve God.

From history the Puritans understood this sense of calling, as had Martin Luther, and others who recognized that being called by God to ministry was not just teaching or preaching is was serving in areas where one is planted. Pretty cool stuff.

Now I am beginning to see evidence of this in the corporate world. It appears there may be a corporate search for meaning that may surpass my generation’s move into social responsibility. I learned about this in an article entitled “I don’t have a job. I have a higher calling.” I remember a few years past there was a “spirituality in the work place movement” that seemed interesting, but it was too benign for me. I need a little more Jesus than that. However, the current version of this seems quite interesting because of what corporations are involved.

Companies like KPMG, Travelzoo, and Juniper Networks are reframing how and why they work. CEO’s of these companies are saying things like, “we are catherdral builders, not bricklayers;” that statement was made by the CEO of KPMG. Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper Networks also stated, “we are enabling scientists to bring clean tech energies that make the planet a better place.” Seems reasonable.

The obvious next question is why are companies doing this? Some could be cynical and say these companies are only doing it for the accolades. But, I tend to agree with the authors of this article that it is the Millennials who are pushing these companies to change. KPMG and others are “faced with a cadre of young workers who say they want to make a difference in addition to a paycheck,” thus the need to “inject meaning into the daily grind, connecting profit-driven endeavors to grand consequences for mankind.” I think this is where business needs to go.

Many years ago our economy made the shift from being product focused to one of service. Often we think that this means we have shifted from manufacturing to retail. I disagree. During the height of the industrial age there wasn’t a lot of competition, and therefore there was a caveat emptor perspective within the market. The buyer had to beware or they would get cheated. The famous quote by Ford describes the essence of this bygone age. “The customer can have any car any color, as long as it is black.”

Now, because we are a service oriented market competitors are required to focus more on service. This means that all businesses need to be clear on their mission. I think this is helping to lead companies to recognize a higher calling. “The words mission, higher purpose, change the world, or changing the world were mentioned on earning calls, in investor meetings, and industry conferences 3,243 times in 2014, up from 2,318 five years ago.”

Companies such as Kohl’s, Harley-Davidson, and others see the value in this. This has been proven to pay off with higher productivity and employee engagement; critical elements of profitability and social capital. This may seem a bit naïve, but we have come a long way. Obviously there are people who only see business as a way to make as much money as they can. Those are individuals I really don’t want to hang out with.

I believe that business is an incredible force for creating positive social change. I think the power of entrepreneurship can create a better world. This younger generation just may do it.

And that is my thought for the day!