Our Children's And Country's Economic Future Is In Great Danger!

Under revision. Updated on 5/12/2015

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, 1776

Public education results declined although more and more money was poured into education since 1970. It is the ACT and SAT scores that accurately tell how well a child was educated between grade one and twelve. The ACT also tells us (ACT Career and College Readiness) if a child is prepared to be trained for a job or to have just a chance to finish the first year of a college or tech school.

High school starts with the 9th grade. We chose to start measuring performance from the start of high school, rather than just look at the diploma at the end and see how ready those children are for a harder world out there or harder education to become self supporting for life. According to ACT's Readiness Report, and the State Report Card for the school district, more than 80% of those who entered 9th grade ARE NOT PREPARED in Knox County, Tennessee to be trained for a job to keep them gainfully employed. The state is worse. Sadly, a few states are worse and all the others are perhaps 5% better. The entire country is in trouble having slid to 36th place of the 65 OECD PISA participant industrialized countries in their 2013 test announcement. For you that may not mean much, but for those who require a well trained workforce, it is very important. If you need a job, it is very important. Knox County, Tennessee, our beautiful county and the state itself is about fifth or so from the bottom in the US. 80% of our children who entered 9th grade also do not have a chance to finish the first year of a college or technical school or to be trained for a job according to ACT. This low performance is creating a social powder keg and we wonder why Governor Haslam and our legislators have not acted to raise the ACT scores in such a dangerous situation. Even worse is the fact that black students have only a 2% readiness after they enter 9th grade and 98% are not ready after leaving high school. That is a BIG fuse in the powder keg. The black members of the board of education or the commission, if they have done anything about that, it was in secret and did not make any difference. Obviously this problem is solvable. There is a school chain in NYC, Success Academy Schools, who scored way above most public schools AND private schools IN THE ENTIRE STATE OF NEW YORK IN THE 2013 COMMON CORE TESTS WITH POOR, INNER CITY BLACK CHILDREN!!! THIS MEANS THAT WE COULD DO MUCH BETTER IF WE WANTED TO? We would love to hear from Governor Haslam why we cannot do better and why he is tolerating this situation! Our kind of performance is totally unacceptable, it will create serious civil disturbance, it is paid for by the public, and the full extent of this poor performance is kept from the public by the school district's PR group, and the state says nothing and does nothing to raise the ACT scores. ACT Readiness, unreadiness (not being ready) and how we calculate the results are explained at http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html.

A free two year college program just costs the people more and accomplishes nothing more than bring the poor high school results to a level for a few where they can start freshman college courses! Wasn't the responsibility to raise high school performance?! WE ARE CERTAINLY SPENDING MORE ON IT THAN MANY COMPETITORS WHO OUTPERFORM US!
  • Teacher morale is low and too many superintendents are management incompetent to solve that basic management problem.
  • The elected boards and superintendents make up their own vague objectives, and then they give themselves excellent performance reviews, while their compensation is guaranteed. YOU NEED SINGLE OBJECTIVE FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE.
  • The ACT or SAT score measures what children have learned from grade 1 to 12. There is no single performance objective that is an ACT or SAT score that is only 5% higher than the last one achieved.
  • The approved budget is not taken seriously and spending rises as performance declines. There is no objective to meet and not exceed the budget.
Governor Haslam, there can be no improvement when such basic management controls are not present in every single school district. Why are you not acting on it? What are we missing? And why are you not acting on poorly performing superintendents who are incapable of establishing such controls to raise the ACT performance year after year? YES, YOU HAVE TO SELL THE PUBLIC SOME LAW CHANGES AND DO IT EFFECTIVELY. IT IS DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE THAT THE PUBLIC WOULD NOT SUPPORT YOU IF YOU TELL THEM ABOUT THE POOR RESULTS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES ON OUR CHILDREN'S LIVES!

A car company is producing cars that leave the company defective. The board fired the CEO. Then the board hired a new CEO who was a supermarket deli manager. The drums were drumming, the music was playing and the newspapers were singing his extraordinary accomplishments and the great test results from the Mickey Mouse Car Testing Company for years. But the new CEO produced even worse quality cars, such that 80% of them failed when delivered to customers...but...he could make great sandwiches. Unfortunately, reality is not too different in too many school districts. Too much is expected of elected school boards without guide lines from the states.

The poor primary and secondary education will create a horrible life for the majority of Not Ready children, among them your children and grand children: increasing unemployment, homelessness, crime, jail, violent life and perhaps early violent death. Our public school district is creating an 80%+ failure rate, or 80%+ mortality from the employability point of view (98% for black students). If the board and the superintendent cared and knew what to do, the results would have been much better.

What would you do if in the only hospital available to you to whom you could take your sick child, 80% of patients/children became infected with an incurable fatal infection? Would you be very concerned or happy that such a hospital is treating your child? This analogy is better than you think right now. More than 80% are dead from the career point of view. You should be very concerned.

Superintendent of the Knox County School District in Tennessee claims that the drop in ACT scores is due to the state mandating 100% student participation in 2009 to take the ACT. Knox County's ACT performance is higher than the State's. 92% of the children in 11th grade took the ACT before the 100% requirement. The increase was announced two years prior in order to prepare. We did not prepare. The state dropped 1.0 point. Knox County dropped 1.3 . We had four years since to catch up. Instead we set an all time low record ACT score at 20.2 in 2013 in Knox County, Tennessee. Mr. Superintendent, we deserve much better.

How many employees do we have in Central? This is a never answered question truthfully. To determine the total number of central employees, one may need to request a list of all school district employees who DO NOT report to or are NOT performance reviewed by a school principal or said principal's organization within his/her school. By definition, they will be the total central management employees. Bloated Central Management is one way a large amount of money is NOT getting to the classrooms where the results are produced. WITH SUCH LARGE INAPPROPRIATE RESOURCE, ADDITIONAL MONEY REQUESTS MAKE NO SENSE, UNTIL THE LARGE OVERHEAD IS USED UP.

In Knox County, Tennessee, our example school district, students increased only 14% between 1995 and 2014. ADMINISTRATORS increased a whopping 130%. That is a 954% increase over the increase in students. But that cannot be all because administrators also have employees working for them. The increase would be much higher. That increase was not available, but it could multiply this percentage rise five to ten times depending on the average number of employees per administrator. By raising the administrator per student ratio, we made Central Management bloated until such a ratio is reversed, BY RE REMOVING THE ADDITIONAL ADMINISTRATORS AND THEIR EMPLOYEES UNTIL 1% OF TOTAL SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES IS REACHED BY THE TOTAL NUMBER OF CENTRAL EMPLOYEES. After all, the number of students is not increasing by leaps and bounds. Management to employee or student ratios rarely change, and even then the change is very small or a negative change because in time, management and staff become more efficient. WHY DO WE IGNORE MANAGEMENT BASICS IN EDUCATION? DIDN'T WE FIND OUT THE REASON FOR THIS POOR PERFORMANCE IN MORE THAN TEN YEARS?!

There are standards for the size of central management employees. The American Association of School Administrators published it as 1% of total school district employees, including all support staff. As an example under this rule, the Knox County Schools central management should be under 90 with all employees total, and not 381 plus support staff. For Central Management administrators only, the source in the chart above specifies 1200 district students per administrator, or 49 Central administrators total for the same county. They have 381. Central office employees are those who do not report to and take direction from a school principal's chain of command at a school. Ask the superintendent to produce that number and see what answer he gives. A commissioner tried in 2010 and did not get an answer (TN). However the superintendent, James McIntyre wrote to TM that a Texas consulting company called MJLM researched this question in 2000 and published its report in 2001 indicating that the central office has the right number of administrators, and therefore it is the right number ten years later?! It was much higher ten years later.

The actual pages of the referenced book can be examined by clicking here.

Life is tough. The children we are educating for it are treated too softly. They are not only 80% undereducated. They are too soft. The Special Forces training for a year is very-very tough. Some cannot do it and ask the instructors why everything needs to be so hard. The answer is "So that you are prepared for what you will have to do. If you experience difficulties, we want you to experience it with us here, so that you will not die out there...and learn how to handle the tough moments and discover that you can do much more than what you believe you can do." Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here. We do not even punish hard enough the outrageous discipline violations that diminish the teachers' ability to teach. It better change fast.

In Knox County, Tennessee, the public is informed only about news that makes the school district look good. An 80% failure rate of those entering 9th grade is far from being good. 98% on the part of black students is even more disturbing when we have an example like the Success Academy Schools in New York City. Poor inner city black children at this school outperform almost all public and most private schools in New York State. New York State is the fifth best performer in the US. Tennessee is generally the fifth from the bottom. It is most disturbing that some people in elected positions, in academia and prominent black professionals not only do nothing about this poor situation, but defend poorly performing boards and superintendents who are actually destroying a huge percentage of our children's lives, instead of demanding much higher performance against average ACT score objectives. All for just a "few pieces of silver". A few however make a very comfortable living from this shameful status quo and don't mind destroying our children's future for big salaries without shame, as they con the public out of more money. The public spends more than most top performing countries do per student on public education. Why is it that the people (the shareholder public) who pay for public education are uninformed about the real results (ACT score) and related poor readiness percentage AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE LIVES OF THESE CHILDREN?

The budget also does not seem to be taken seriously as well, just like the results. The "Current" budget is approved at the beginning of the school year. IT EXCLUDES CERTAIN EDUCATION-RELATED EXPENSES. It is overspent 15-18% every single year, and we get the above poor results for it. But as you see in the chart below, the "Current" budget is not all the money that we spend on education. The state publishes a Grand Total education expense spent in the school district, that is overspent 28-38% every year, including the capital and interest expenses covering school renovations and new schools that the education department decides to perform or build respectively, but excludes from the budget they present to the public. Even the Grand Total doesn't include all education related expenses. Boards of education always ask for more money than what they received before - and get it. The ACT results are poor and progressively become worse. WHY ARE WE ALLOWING THE PUBLIC'S HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS TO BE SO ABUSED?! We need to look at removing from the budget, amounts that were provided for previous years' programs that were PROMISED to raise academic ACT performance and do other "educational magic", but did not. The charts below show how much we spend relative the budget. In the second graph we show how much we spend per student compared to other countries. Three high performers among the top five in the world are marked with a red dot. Yet we spend more than those top performers. The US education results dropped to 36th worldwide. Tennessee is much worse. We, the USA, were on top in 1970. IT IS AMAZING THAT SUCH OVERSPENDING OF THE PEOPLE'S MONEY AND POOR RESULTS EVERY SINGLE YEAR ARE ALLOWED IN EDUCATION DISTRICTS WITHOUT ANY PENALTY ON BOARD MEMBERS AND MANAGEMENT. THEY ARE SPENDING MORE AND MORE OF THE PEOPLE'S MONEY YEARLY AND PRODUCING A FAILURE OF 80% WITH OUR CHILDREN (98% with black students!).


In the best high school in Knox County, Tennessee (Farragut), among those students with a regular diploma only 45% are ready to be trained for a job or to have a chance only to finish the first year of a college or tech school according to ACT. In all high schools in this school district the unreadiness percentage of those with a diploma ranges from 55% to as much as 95% depending on the high school. "Unreadiness" means spotty minimum wage jobs with eventual homelessness. Starting in 2016, cognitive robots will start eliminating employment possibilities for these poorly prepared children, except for those who enter a university to pursue a degree in demand. The more difficult degrees. The future looks discouraging for marginal students who graduated from our high schools http://www.businessinsider.com/experts-predict-that-one-third-of-jobs-will-be-replaced-by-robots-2015-5.

State government legislation appears to be focused on providing help programs like vouchers and charter schools or special scholarships for the lowest 5% or other low percentage depending on the state. We have an 80% "failure rate" according to ACT. We need to consider to offer help to all students to achieve maximum gain. Such help offered to the lowest 5% will not have much effect on the total readiness of the school system. I wonder if we understand how much trouble we and our children and grandchildren are facing as a result of the poor education system we have in Knox County, Tennessee and the state. IS THIS AN INDICATION THAT OUR LEADERS AND LAWMAKERS DO NOT REALLY CARE TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN OR ARE LEGISLATORS CONCERNED THAT SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN TO THEM IF THEY PROPOSE MORE AGGRESSIVE LEGISLATION? OF COURSE THEY DO. WE ALLOWED THE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS', TEACHERS UNIONS' AND CERTAIN FOUNDATIONS' CASH RICH PR GROUPS TO GROW TO A MASSIVE SIZE. WITH THE PUBLIC UNINFORMED OF THE UNPLEASANT TRUTH, THEY COULD PREVENT LEGISLATORS FROM BEING REELECTED OR THEY COULD DEFEAT ACTUAL LEGISLATION.

To be successful in life, our children not only need to be well educated, but they have to be able to deal with people and be tough enough for the more demanding jobs in a competitive world. 40 years ago parents backed the teacher and the school. If the child was bad in school he/she was punished in school and then by his/her parents as well. That has changed, and the schools need to regain their image. That cannot be done without better performance and better reputation that comes with such results.

What would you do if in the only hospital available to you to which you could take your sick child, 80% of patients became infected with an incurable deadly infection? Would you be very concerned or happy that such a hospital is treating your child? This analogy is better than you think right now.

All board members are good people with the best of intents. However, they all have their own agenda without understanding the achievement shortcomings and what causes them. They either do not have the time nor the interest in finding out what the best performers in education are doing differently in the world and if what they do successfully could be transferable to US culture. There is no primary objective that unifies all board members to minimize disagreements, and to motivate board members and the superintendent to be compelled to make improvements that raise the ACT scores. An elected board's voting majority does not have the management training and experience to oversee a 400-10,000 employee, $40-1,000 million annual budget school district. The state does not help them with guide lines in laws and they should. The superintendent loads the board with approval of minor items that someone under the superintendent should be approving, with responsibility for the results. Each school district just does its own thing and the results are poor decade after decade. Today, every school district acts independently, some differently, all with very poor results, like 80% or more of those entering 9th grade leave high school untrainable for a job beyond minimum wage or to enter a college or tech school. Such graduates cannot communicate properly in English or do basic math. They cannot even prepare a resume or fill out a job application. Cognitive robots are around the corner. They will replace such people and even those who are more educated by transforming businesses that are low end employers today. The best lectures and tutorials are available on the Internet now, available free or very inexpensively. If the education system does not change voluntarily, the day is close when a superior, much less expensive system will replace them. Listen below if you work in education, and change thy ways. There will be no survival if you do not.

With education results having decreased since 1970, and with ACT performance varying all over in the poor area of its range, standardization should be considered with management guide lines through all school districts. One cannot achieve acceptable results without the right objectives, not many objectives because focus is needed, a reasonably higher PRIMARY objective than the last one actually achieved for the board of education and superintendent for the evaluation of their annual performance, an annual operating plan with 8th grade language focusing on just a couple of monthly SECONDARY objectives for all supervisory and management people in order to reach the annual PRIMARY objective. Such things are not in place today in the proper form and rigor. One cannot succeed without such fundamental management controls.
  • For primary performance objective, an ACT score would be excellent if 5% higher than the last one actually achieved by the individual school district.
  • It needs to be coupled with the originally approved spending objective (budget), with reporting actuals vs. budget monthly and year to date. These are to become the objectives of the board and superintendent for performance evaluation.
  • An annual operating plan is based upon the most important 2-3 objectives for each manager or supervisor in every school and central management, based on the best indicator of excellent performance in their area of responsibility, while all such objectives contribute to ACT achievement.
  • Student-to-Administrator ratios are very bloated and they have to be brought within normal limits. That means the money is applied in the wrong places and that creates serious organizational conflicts that destroys performance. A very useful move related to this would involve the delegation of most central management decision making to school principals, who than need to delegate more authority to teachers to achieve better results.
FOCUS: We believe that the goal of a school district is to DEVELOP high school graduates at least 80% of whom are ACT Ready. Preferably higher. We develop only 19-23% (only 2% among black students!) ACT Ready graduates in the Knox County, Tennessee school district. The state is worse. The reasons are: the above four basic management elements are missing, teacher morale is poor and unresolved after their August 2014 demonstration; teacher product knowledge and teaching methodology needs updating to the top ten internationals' level (Reference1, Reference2, Reference3) ; teacher authority must be high in the classroom with immediate handling of any discipline problem; the existing teacher evaluation method is not valid and needs changing; paperwork along with some tests need to be eliminated to maximize teachers' teaching time; decisions are made centrally that need to be delegated to the schools; the board concentrating TOGETHER on increasing the ACT score and for spending not to exceed the initially approved budget; the autocratic management style under the superintendent needs to change.

FOCUS: A successful superintendent is one who raises the ACT (or SAT depending on the state) score objective by 5% annually if it is 24 or less, and increases the ACT Readiness as a percentage of regular diplomas by 10% annually. More than 80% of our children who entered 9th grade are not ACT Ready after high school to be trained for a job. This is the outcome of not having the above management practices in place. The large number of primary "objectives" can sound better, but they dilute any focus to achieve higher results. Every person in management ends up doing their own thing, and we get poor results. The board members will not replace the superintendent who has poor results, especially if they voted to hire him. Some board members defending his/her poor results become too obvious after a couple of years. The huge damage is all the Not Ready children above 80%, with black children at 98% every single year, for the number of years, that a poorly performing superintendent is not replaced (Read about how Success Academy Schools are beating even private school results with poor inner city black students in New York State). The big challenge is that elected boards very rarely pick a successful superintendent. Interviewing and selecting the needed person at that level requires substantial training. It does not come naturally. Board members not having that, they just keep picking the one who will not improve results as needed. What they should do is learn about how the high international performers create their superior results, implement them and invest in the superintendent by sending him to senior post-MBA management training programs that universities like Harvard and Stanford provide.

A chain of charter schools with poor black inner city children (Success Academy Schools of New York City 1, Success Academy Schools of New York City 2) worked hard and had outstanding results with 32 schools in 2014. They scored in the top 1% in Math and the top 3% in English on the difficult Common Core tests in the entire State of New York, the fifth best performing state in US education. THEY CARE! IT CAN BE DONE IF THE BOARDS AND SUPERINTENDENTS CARE!

Success Academy Schools are proof that far better results can be achieved than what most boards and superintendents can achieve. With our public schools we cannot match them, but we certainly should be able to cut the 80%+ ACT Unreadiness counted from 9th grade to 40% unreadiness in Tennessee. But not the way our school districts are managed. The elected school boards are in charge of all operational decisions by law. It does not take two years to realize that a mistake has been made by the superintendent they picked. A few mistakes are good, if the overall performance is excellent. They are the sign of trying and learning. But covering a mistake is damaging. 80% of 9th graders not being ACT Ready to be trained or have a chance to do the first year of a college or tech school is very damaging. If a board does not take action such that the problem is resolved, THEY OWN THE PROBLEM. THEY are responsible for 80% of the children who entered 9th grade not being well enough prepared to make a living. Being soft and without courage is not the way to excellent results.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, 1776

Our public schools are all things to all people. We permit behaviors that obstruct teacher effort. That's just self-defeating behavior that ensures poor results. American teachers have to do the most classroom hours, the most paperwork, the most tests, and no authority to instantly rule on discipline problem that is needed to keep the teacher image high in the eyes of parents and students. All of this burdens teaching time. The teachers need to be in command of the classroom if we want better results and measure teacher performance in an effective manner. Second, low teacher morale is very common. Most superintendents and boards influenced by them look at teacher complaints as a bad thing, do not want to find out what the reasons are behind it for fear of having to make changes elsewhere in the organization. Some superintendents need to learn that managing by fear autocratically makes things worse. You will not be able to replace all teachers. Turnover is very expensive, costing 6-12 months of salary.

It would be helpful if a state decision was made about what our high schools need to concentrate on, perhaps two types of schools, what they will excel at, test teachers for profession suitability (e.g. Strong Interest Inventory correlated with Myers-Briggs), help them to become excellent in subject knowledge and teaching methodology and give them the authority to control the classroom. Allow them to do their best with broad guide lines only. Define the objectives that they need to achieve in growth from a student baseline performance (e.g. the average GPA of class attendees for each of last five years), before a new class begins. We spend more than twice as much money year-after-year on poorly performing schools than in average or high performing schools. The poor performing schools' results do not change even after fourteen years of such high spending. See the graph below. IF THE BOARD AND SUPERINTENDENT KNEW WHAT TO DO TO IMPROVE, WE WOULD HAVE SEEN A BIG CHANGE IN FOURTEEN YEARS. The huge spending makes no difference. We have performance where only 20% of those who entered 9th grade are ready for job training or further education after leaving high school. We need at least 60% readiness based on 9th grade entry to start restoring the workforce while a new class of robots, cognitive robots come into the market place starting at end of 2015.

Some of the big issues appear to be:

  • Teacher morale is low. No one can produce good results with people whose morale is low. This is always a management problem in any business and it must be corrected. Teacher satisfaction needs to be evaluated by an impartial third party that guarantees anonymity. Instead a detailed questionnaire is used that goes to the superintendent. There are many good teachers and some not so good. But they are the only resource we have. Help all of them to become better. Mr. Superintendent, much more face-to-face contact with you and teachers would go a long way to help the relationship.
  • We mix students who do not want to work or cannot learn with those who can, in the same classroom. This slows all children down. Could the mixing be more selective?
  • The teachers do not have the authority to rule about bad student behavior immediately. It cuts teacher authority in the eyes of students. Such practices hurt all students and disrupt the class for a day or more. It reduces teaching time.
Just look at the fourteen-year performance of high schools in Knox County, Tennessee below. How many increased their ACT scores? Only one, insignificantly. The rest dropped as you can see. The objective set is too complex and weak (called 100/90/90/90). There is no sound operating plan that defines a couple of measurable monthly academic objectives for all supervisory personnel in schools and in central management. Spending more of the people's hard-earned tax money than budgeted and delivering poor results is not acceptable performance. It is spent in the wrong places like a huge central management instead of in the schools. The result of such work is poor scores from grade one and finally in average ACT scores and readiness percentages at the end of high school. I am not blaming anyone. We have a systemic problem in education that makes everyone's job a bit harder. The state has to correct that. If we had the knowhow on the district level, our ACT scores would be at least two points higher. We have some person call principals and teachers at times requesting teachers to CHANGE STUDENT GRADES to graduate them faster or to show better results. We used practice tests almost identical to the graded test, such that every problem in the practice test was explained in class in order to score better on the REAL test. I hope that such practices are over because they do not enhance student learning. Teachers can testify to such practices.

This is what our poor public education system has done for us since 1990:

The world has become too small 20-25 years ago, with almost everyone selling their products and services not just in their country but everywhere. People buy products and services that they like, whose quality is acceptable to them. The product quality and service appeal depend on how skilled and educated the workforce is that designed and created them. Our retail and service companies are loaded with imported products because the buying public prefers them. We have lost entire industries and we are losing market share in many more because our public high schools cannot deliver the quality graduates that our industries, colleges, trade schools and universities need. We present more data about this at www.usaedustat.com. Too many in elected boards and whoever works for them like a superintendent, do not have enough management training and experience with an organization that is at minimum one tenth the size of their school district. They cannot be held responsible for the results, therefore for the outcome, because the states, every one of them, do not provide management guidelines to help the elected boards and the superintendents they hire. The result becomes every school district doing its own thing with very poor results but the money gets spent, more and more each year. If the state provided management guide lines via laws to the school districts, then the school districts would become totally responsible for the poor results. As of 2015, state leadership and state education departments are directly responsible for our "delivery" of unqualified young people into the workforce in huge numbers because they are not helping the various boards and superintendents with such guide lines. Things will continue to get worse until elected boards, superintendents, state leadership and state education departments see and tell the public the truth, both good and bad, about what is happening and initiate aggressive corrective action to deliver better qualified graduates in the opinion of employers. SAT and ACT tests predict their readiness well.

Our intent is not to attack people. They are doing their best but it is not enough. In management that means that too much money and too many people, both, are deployed in public education in the wrong places. A professional objective, like the key indicator of success, an average ACT score that is 5% higher than the last one achieved, and a standard professional annual operating plan to achieve that ACT objective, does not exist in most if not all school districts. The management and teaching methodologies used are very old with very few exceptions. The result is that 80% or more of the children who entered 9th grade in Knox County, Tennessee, after drop outs and the ACT readiness report for the rest, will end up as minimum wage employees with a very poor future. The state's percentage is higher for those not ready. The public education system cannot possibly be called successful. It is destroying our country by destroying our workforce quality and most of our children's future. Some people in leadership must have decided not to want to change status quo or they simply do not understand how job needs are and will be changing. An increasing gap or disconnect in knowledge has been developing for several decades between high school graduates and what both employers and colleges need for successful performance within them. Too many in charge on the state and district level do not seem to understand that our excessive focus on percentage of students graduating, ignoring the knowledge achieved in lower grades, simply gives us the majority of graduates not having the preparation to continue with job training or higher education when graduating from high school. The student curricula, the teacher curricula at universities and continuing teacher education needs focus from preschool to grade 12, in order to close the discontinuity created to successfully transfer after high school with the great majority of students to higher learning institutions. Some people and foundations are cashing in on this situation claiming that they are improving things. Just ask them what they did to improve the ACT scores and why the ACT scores did not improve - the thing that counts.

We have interesting times coming: weakened workforce, high national debt combined with loss of national earning power, cognitive robotics in many forms starting at end of 2015, hardware and/or software, replacing more sophisticated jobs with cognitive robots. In Japan, a hotel is replacing 90% of the employees with these new robots. In Shenzhen, China, the center of high tech manufacturing, they are replacing a million employees. Lastly the population will be discovering that it is the education districts that made their children unemployable. The education districts published stories telling only the truth that made them look good. Angry people are forgiving if they are informed about the truth FIRST, before they discover it. But if uninformed first, the anger of discovery will create very serious consequences for some people.

Education will undergo a major change. The Internet can already deliver the best lectures and the best tutorials very inexpensively in any subject - much better than the textbooks. Artificial intelligence passed average human intelligence in 2014. The Khan Academy already produced more than 40,000 outstanding tutorials and there are many others. Such organizations are beginning to take on better motivational traits with artificial intelligence, while traditional education is not improving. Universities like MIT, Stanford and others are providing high school education over the Internet very inexpensively with accredited diplomas. Homeschooling Internet programs are inexpensive and excellent. How will any school district be able to compete when their results are poor and expensive? They cannot unless major changes are made embracing the truth for the public who pay their salaries, embracing what is new and excellent. The high respect for educators and schools in the top performing countries always formed AFTER they started to produce excellent results. High reputation never follows poor performance.

Success Academy Schools of New York City worked hard and had outstanding results with 32 schools in 2014. Their schools are admitting only poor inner city black children (~90%), Hispanics (~10%). These kind of children are scoring at the bottom 2% in Tennessee. They scored 75-90% on the difficult Common Core tests, far better than public schools and most private schools in the entire State of New York, the fifth best performing state in US education. IT CAN BE DONE WITH FANTASTIC RESULTS! We are just not interested in learning from anyone how to do better. That can be the only reason for 80%+ of 9th graders ending up untrainable minimum wage students when leaving high school, with a very bad life ahead of them.



In 2014, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States 49th in quality of mathematics and science education of 148 nations. World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014.
OECD PISA tests 65 nations' 15-year olds (includes OECD plus partner countries for taking PISA). The USA dropped to a new low of 36th in mathematics in the 2012 OECD PISA report.

A presidential project, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 (2010)", concluded that "disparities in U.S. K-12 education compared to those of many other nations, impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession - one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing." You can read it here.

Good education is the only certain way out of poverty. Unfortunately, our education system has become so poor that it can drive even children who are not from poverty, into poverty. Our students are not prepared well in basic reading and math in preschool and the early grades. Our public education system allows children who have not satisfied the requirements of one grade to be advanced to the next grade. That makes all subsequent courses in higher grades more difficult for them. By doing a poor job from the start and pushing them to graduate, we end up getting 77-81% of those with a diploma not being ready for anything other than minimum wage jobs, according to ACT in 2014 and in prior years in Knox County, Tennessee. Some teachers have been told by superiors to change bad student test answers for the better so that they get a higher grade to graduate them faster. Teachers also had to administer practice tests that were almost identical to the real test whose grade will count, and had to review with the class every single problem and how to figure out the right answer a day or two before the real test was given.

In the same county 80% of 9th graders have not been ACT Ready for some time. Surely we must do much better than that. ACT Ready means to be trainable for a job or to go to a tech school or college after they left high school. For those who are not ready, that means close to minimum wage jobs only until the new wave of cognitive robotics will replace them, starting very slowly at end of 2015.

Poor performance like this is a powder keg. What do you think will happen with so many unemployable young people in the streets? This situation is very damaging for our children, the workforce and our economy. Our superintendent, Jim McIntyre talks about high rigor, world class education with the help of an excellent internal PR group whose mission is to create a positive image of the school district's performance. It is unfortunate that such measures are needed. The use of a PR group to tell the public good news only, with such a group costing a million dollars is questionable. Why does a Board, elected by the people, deliver extremely poor performance and then spends THE PEOPLE'S MONEY on professionals who cover up the bad news for the public who actually pay for everyone and all expenses related to public education.

I am sorry that I have to tell you this Board members and Mr. Superintendent, but what you achieved is this for the past seven years (2008-2014), possibly more. 80% of the children who enter 9th grade are not prepared TO BE TRAINED for a job that provides minimal living for a family of four, or complete one year of college or tech school according to ACT. We are at the bottom of the industrialized nations in Knox County, Tennessee. In other words the 80% have been prepared by you poorly since 9th grade for years. Is that acceptable to you Board members, and why is it acceptable?

As you will see below in a chart on spending, we spend more per student than the best performing 20 nations in the world, with only two exceptions. Our performance fell in 2013 to 36th place as a nation (OECD PISA tests 2012 Dec), when we were on top in 1970. Tennessee is worse. We have also become the fifth largest spender per student of the top 65 nations (OECD plus partners). We certainly have more than enough money to spend to excel. Your performance is poor but you keep requesting more money every year that does not improve the results. Could you let me know please why you believe that you need more money per student than most of the top international performers whose cost of living happens to be higher (making everything more expensive for them than for us)?

As you see in the chart on spending, we consistently overspend the approved "current" budget by 15-18% under Jim McIntyre if we exclude capital and interest expenses that the calculations of international competitors whose performance outshines us by far include in their figures (PPP). When we include capital and interest expenses we overspend the budget by 28-38%. WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON? BAD RESULTS AND OVERSPENDING HIGHER THAN THE BEST IN THE WORLD?

Students increased only 13% between 1995 and 2014. ADMINISTRATORS increased a whopping 164%. THAT IS A 1262% INCREASE OVER THE INCREASE IN STUDENTS. This makes no management sense. We have too much money in Central Management. Management to employee or student ratios rarely change, and even then the change is very small.

The results are extremely poor. The funding is better than most competitors'. If the superintendent knows exactly what to do to raise the results significantly, why didn't he raise them during the last seven years? On the other hand the superintendent may know how to achieve the significantly improved results, and he may be an expert about how to achieve excellent results by having read and visited those who are very good at it (Finland, Singapore, Success Academy Schools in New York City as an example). If that is the case why are so many of our children so poorly prepared? Parents are beginning to discover how poorly their children are educated and no parent wants his/her children to be poorly educated. We need Vouchers and Charter Schools in large numbers because the Board and Superintendent have not been doing a good job. 80% (98% for black students!) of those students entering 9th grade are not being prepared to be trained for a job to minimally support a family of four, or to go to a college or university or technical school according to ACT's Readiness Report. If the Board and superintendent did a good enough job that ensured close to 20% of 9th graders ending up Not Ready per ACT, instead of 80% not being ready per ACT, we would not need vouchers or charter schools. Private schools are averaging a 90-99% Readiness per ACT calculations.

The poor readiness results are not purposeful. It is happening because the Board and superintendent do not know what it takes to select the correct objectives, develop an annual operating plan with monthly objectives within every school and central management, and they are not helpful to teachers on whom the results depend. They are not encouraging continuing education for teachers in subject knowledge and the latest most effective teaching methodologies. These are areas where our competitors became much stronger. 250 teachers came to an August 2014 Board meeting to complain about their treatment. We were aware of these complaints for five years. As of April 2015 the Board and the superintendent did nothing to solve these problems to raise teacher morale.

What IS very dangerous is the fact that 98% of the black students have not been ACT Ready for some time in Knox County, Tennessee. This is a huge fuse in the above powder keg that appears to just go on unrecognized. What is very interesting is that a school chain with 40 schools in New York City, the Success Academy Schools http://www.successacademies.org/, a charter school who admit only poor inner city black children (about 90%) and poor Hispanics (about 10%), have outperformed practically all public and charter schools of New York State with the hard Common Core tests with very high scores (75-90%+). Amazing achievement. There is no reason why a team could not visit them from Knox County, Tennessee to find out what they are doing differently with great results, because we have a lot to learn to improve what we do.

We need much more help from our Governor to reduce significantly the huge impact of poor education by rapidly improving it. It is very important to consider what measurable objectives this school district has, because it has been the root cause of failure. It is important that the right objective be supported by an operating plan that is simple, focused on a couple of measurable objectives that are key indicators of success for each management or supervisory position in every school and central management, using 8th grade level English. On the board's website, the superintendent's presentation says this about HIS OBJECTIVE that started before 2008 when he arrived and has not changed since about 2003:
"In fact, you may remember that a key goal of our strategic plan is 100/90/90/90, that is:
  1. 100% of students completing high school (What is the value of "completing" high school with 80% of those who entered 9th grade not being ready per ACT but for minimum wage jobs at best?)
  2. At least 90% graduating with a regular diploma (What is the value of a diploma when 77% of those with a regular diploma are not even ready to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school per ACT?)
  3. At least 90% of our graduates taking the ACT, and (All students take the ACT by law. What is the value here? Just taking a test has zero value in any case.)
  4. At least 90% of ACT takers scoring a 21 or better" (An average ACT 21 score means that 73-75% of those who entered in 9th grade are NOT ACT Ready and are prepared for minimum wage jobs only. This is a shamefully low objective. A neighboring school district's objective is ACT 27. The top twenty countries in education are delivering high school students in an ACT equivalent range of 26 to 31).
It should be very clear to anyone that this 100/90/90/90 objective that the board and superintendent have been using makes no sense and it is not appropriate for improving the results.

The Tennessee Code Annotated, TCA 49-2-702 (a)(2) controls two areas above that may need to be amended because they set the minimum standards for performance that is too low for today, although the Board has the right to select higher goals than what the state law specifies. Sub. (A) here wants a graduation rate of ninety percent (90%) or higher; The ACT shows the readiness of regular diplomas at 19-23% that is very poor, with 77-81% graduates with a regular diploma NOT READY for a job that is better than minimum wage.
Sub (B) Exhibits an average student ACT score of 21 or higher etc. This ACT score (21) and the corresponding SAT score has a readiness of 25% only of those achieving it. We would have to be at 24-25 ACT average to have 80-90% readiness. The readiness for today's and especially tomorrow's job requirements need to be much higher. Since the elected boards control all such decisions and therefore uniformity of performance becomes elusive, the amendment of these two laws would go a long way to raise our poor performance. "Low expectation" objectives produce results below low objectives. With "High expectation" objectives people rise to the occasion to exceed such objectives and that is how one achieves higher results. The superintendent likes to claim "high rigor world class performance with excellence for all children". Our performance is the opposite. It is very poor. Why? Because the primary objective is wrong, and an annual operating plan per school does not exist. But we certainly spend a lot of money, more than the high achievers do.

The elected board majority does not appear to have the experience to ensure that the superintendent creates and follows a sound objective, operating plan on the level of each school, and improves the poor morale in the most important group of employees under him, the teachers who produce the results. The state could, but does not provide any guidelines to help elected boards with objectives and operating plans. The state could but does not provide firm management guide lines to change the incredibly poor performance that is literally endangering most high school students' lives, our economy, while wasting millions of the public's money. I am not overstating this situation. Check the figures we are using from ACT and the state about performance and spending. Then look at the spending per student in the various international OECD countries and see that we are high spenders compared to those who produce excellent results. This is an undeniable disaster. Who is acting on it to fix it? Fixing it means raising the ACT scores high enough so that we reduce the current very high ACT UNREADINESS that is higher than 80% in Tennessee, to 20%. If you feel that my figures are incorrect, please give me your facts and backup data. If you feel that the poor readiness figures we have are all right, educate yourself. It is never too late.


Starting in 2015 we are beginning to see the emergence of COGNITIVE robotics with artificial intelligence that passed average human boundaries in 2014. It can communicate, learn, and make decisions with more knowledge than many students who are not ACT Ready. It can be specialized for more than a hundred different jobs initially, some semi-professional. It's capabilities will advance rapidly and in a downloaded self-installed manner. They will replace more jobs than the previous robotics generation did between now and 2020. A Japanese hotel is replacing 90% of their staff with them. In the huge Chinese manufacturing city of Shenzhen one million workers will be replaced with robots this and next year. Consider that a citizen's work life is 35-45 years. Few of our children who must attend our public schools will survive them unless they had excellent school performance that results in an average ACT score of 25 or higher. Job requirements are increasing faster than in the past. That means that an ACT 21 score that goes back to 2003 that our schools still tout as an objective is not good enough, since it represents a VERY POOR 73-78% ACT UNREADINESS.

Since our board and superintendent constantly request more money as they deliver poor results, look at the chart below from the latest OECD (international) study covering total spending per pupil. WE SPEND FAR MORE THAN THREE TOP PERFORMERS MARKED WITH RED SPEND PER PUPIL WHO ARE AMONG THE TOP 5 IN THE WORLD IN RESULTS. WE DROPPED TO 36TH OF 65 COUNTRIES in 2012-2013, AN ALL TIME LOW FOR US. THEY INCLUDE CAPITAL AND INTEREST EXPENSES IN THEIR EXPENSES AND WE DO NOT (ABOUT $1,500 PER PUPIL FOR US). Obviously we are spending enough per student. We don't need more money. We need more competent management. Students increased only 13% between 1995 and 2014. ADMINISTRATORS increased a whopping 164%, and employed additional people increasing central management. We are spending money wastefully in the wrong places. For example in Central Management, in poorly performing schools WHOSE RESULTS DO NOT CHANGE WITH THE ADDITIONAL FUNDING for more than a decade with those schools getting twice as much money minimum per student than the normally performing schools, with POOR RESULTS NOT CHANGING, plus all the past programs with lots of promises that went undelivered, but the school district keeps spending the same amount of money every year from these old programs. The school district has enough money, but it does not reach the right places: the classrooms. We need better management.


The ACT Readiness percentage in 2014 shows nationally that only 26% of public high school graduates with a "regular diploma" represent sufficient knowledge to be ready for job training or further education in the US. 74% are not ready. See RESULTS: http://www.usaedustat.com/index.html#RESULTS below for details. Most importantly http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html explains ACT definitions and shows ACT references to explain what ACT's Career and College Readiness means. The high ACT UNREADINESS percentage is disastrous for the child and the workforce in all industries. In our example school district, Knox County, Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Report Cards and ACT's Career (job) and College Readiness percentage of regular diplomas, 80% of those students who entered 9th grade are NOT READY for a job that can minimally support a family of four, and NOT READY to finish even the first year of a college or tech school after leaving high school. These 80% will be minimum wage employees with rapidly increasing unemployment that robotics will accelerate. The State of Tennessee is worse. These 80% will be "dead" relative any reasonable employment opportunity. Furthermore, we, the public are paying for this poor but expensive education with our hard-earned tax dollars. WE DESERVE AND NEED MUCH BETTER. We are sorry but our Board of Education and superintendent, Jim McIntyre are responsible for these poor results.

Our public schools' goal must become the development of high school graduates, 80% of whom are ready to not just enter but to finish a four year college, university or technical school program that is in demand in order to support at least a family of four. We must motivate all students and that depends on teachers who are well qualified in the subjects they teach and are happy in their jobs.

Sadly we are nowhere near that in 2015, but the board members, superintendent or the teachers themselves could put in place an effective but inexpensive continuing education program using sources like the Khan Academy on the Internet. The Board and superintendent could make the teachers feel welcome just by spending time among them and with them, "Managing by walking around" (Peters) and expressing honest interest in them. It does wonders.

Naturally, when one does so poorly with an organization like the Knox County, Tennessee's school system, one must have a large PR group to make things look better for the public, because the truth would make them angry. It is sad that the kind of leadership does not exist who can admit openly that we failed, however, we will correct it with serious objectives and operating plans and not with silly five year plans that had a tendency to fail since they were started by the communist countries after WWII. We do not see PR groups in the top performing countries. The results THAT COUNT speak more loudly than PR stories.

The elected boards of education are responsible by law, since they are empowered to hire and fire superintendents and make or approve all decisions about objectives and operating plans. BUT ONLY THOSE CAN DO THAT SUCCESSFULLY WHO HAD SUFFICIENT UNDERSTANDING OF MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND THEIR RESOLUTION.

To see a more detailed version of the above chart with explanations go to the continuation of the "RESULTS" area, http://www.usaedustat.com/index.html#POORRESULTS by clicking here.


Board members and Mr. Superintendent, teachers are your ONLY resource to come out of the bad situation you are in. You have not been treating them well enough, and you have not changed that yet. If you want to change this failure factory called KCS (Knox County Schools), you better appreciate them, understand them and help them. At the same time, either through the school district or on their own teachers also have to improve every year in two areas, just like the top international performers: in subject expertise and in teaching methodology. Mr. Superintendent, promises and words do not count. Actions count.

There are a few management principles that could be helpful. I am sure that our school districts are working on them.

  1. When you have poor results, the money is not getting to the right places. Students increased only 13% between 1995 and 2014. ADMINISTRATORS increased a whopping 164%. We have too much money in Central Management, and twice as much money in poorly performing schools compared to the average and better ones. Even with all the money, the poor ones performance was in the gutter and kept going down for 14 years or more. It takes not more than 2-3 years to decide that the money is not working for you to produce better results. The high performing countries are better trained in all areas of education and management and are able to identify the problems to correct such situations quickly. We are not trained well enough. We think that we, people in general, know it all. I am afraid that I am guilty of that also.

  2. If there is bad morale in any group, fixing it provides the quickest gains in results. Denying it simply shows that a person is unaware of what's going on in the most important area of his/her responsibility. The number one requirement to achieve outstanding performance is happiness in the job and looking forward to it every day. A superintendent must create such an environment.

  3. American teachers have the most classroom teaching requirement at more than 1000 hours. That means that they do not have enough preparation time. The top twenty countries require 600-900 hours. We require the most paperwork. That cuts preparation time more. We do more testing in Knox County, Tennessee, and tests require preparation, administration and result review time. That cuts into teacher preparation time even more. Since our results are poor, we should be able to rebalance the teacher loading to something much more productive to get better results.

  4. A teacher must understand clearly what is expected of him/her, and must have the freedom to do his/her best without interference to produce better results to the best of his/her ability. To that end both the students and their parents must see proof that the teacher is in charge of the classroom, and will make all decisions including decisions about disciplinary violations on the spot such that the offender will not try again, including but not limited to any disrespectful behavior with the teacher. All this with full backing of the principal, the superintendent and the board. To that end different violations vs. punishment standards and teacher behavior standards must be defined with legal help.

  5. The current teacher performance evaluation is prejudicial (the observations) and inaccurate, and subject to redefinition in use by the state (TVAAS has the capability and needs to change from inaccurate growth prediction to GPA base-line definition for a fair end of course class-GPA result). A fair teacher performance evaluation must be present measuring class academic achievement gains during the year, with which the board and superintendent objectives, as described below, are compatible.

  6. Since the outcome of the school depends on the teachers who have a bad morale, board members and especially you Mr. Superintendent, must spend time with as many teachers as possible (e.g., 25% of your time) to keep your fingers on their job satisfaction pulse to raise their morale. (Ref: Peters: Management by Walking Around) Your audience does not like you and it is up to you to convince them that you are a warm human being who really cares. There are examples of SCHOOLS WITH ENORMOUS SUCCESSES with poor inner city minority children that could be emulated (e.g., Success Academies in NYC).

  7. We are substantially behind the international competition in teacher subject knowledge and teaching methodologies. Focus teachers on a continuing education program to improve their subject knowledge and teaching methodologies. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsb0602/.

    Today the competition is international. Anyone can sell their products and services in any country, and they can sell their products and services in the US. That means that the competition is international in every industry. Therefore the workforce has to be internationally competitive in order to create competitive products or services. The schools that prepare the workforce must be internationally competitive. Because of our poor performance since 1970, our public high schools are not competitive and our workforce is no longer competitive as a result. That is why we have been inundated with imports. That is why our national income or GNP is so poor. Our private schools are internationally competitive, with an ACT Readiness percentage above 90%.

  8. There must be performance evaluation at all levels against MEANINGFUL MUTUALLY AGREED OBJECTIVES in any successful organization. Objectives and performance evaluation must start on the top, with boards and the superintendent first, with two primary top level objectives only that becomes the only criteria for their performance evaluation. One objective focuses on the result vs the objective for it, the second on spending vs. approved budget. These are the most important two objectives, and as such they need to trickle down through management layers through the entire organization. Everyone needs to understand how their objectives contribute to these top level objectives in the organization. Speaking of the board and superintendent objectives, for results in an education district, one must use the best indicator of success, the indicator of what children have learned from grade one to twelve: the average ACT score. The average ACT score objective needs to be some reasonable percentage above (e.g., 5%) the last actual average ACT score achieved. The second objective is to create fiscal discipline. It is for expenses not to exceed the approved budget - after all the budget is a spending limit based on the operating plan. They have been exceeded every single year. The board and superintendent do not care. We have to learn to focus on academic achievement, doing a professional job in planning the coming single year's programs in every school and central management, and preparing a budget accordingly. More than a few objectives on the same management level dilute each other's importance, and are to be avoided because they will actually prevent good results. Multi-year operating plans are not a useful business move. Communist countries used them with five year plans at a time around WWII, and they were all failures. They fail because things planned change enough to be a challenge, making the second and subsequent year's plans not meaningful. They fail because the communist systems were centralized in decision making, weak in management training and experience, and socialist in nature, just like our education system. Ref: Peter Drucker, Management by Objectives. Dr. Drucker is known as the Father of Modern Management. I was lucky to have him as my professor. The five year strategic plans, from our superintendent Jim McIntyre with their low expectation goals and too many primary objectives are a good example of something that looks pretty, but operationally has not and cannot create good performance. The first one was a failure and the second will have the same fate. We need sound annual operating plans, and sound objectives. We appear to lack the management experience to do so.

  9. It is only with teachers who are well matched to their profession who will be happy in their job. THAT IS WHAT PRODUCES GOOD QUALITY WORK. FIRST, YOU CAN TEST FOR THE VOCATIONAL MATCH, e.g., using tests like the STRONG INTEREST INVENTORY correlated with the MYERS-BRIGGS PSYCHOLOGICAL INVENTORY. I used it with about 700 people with excellent results. Help kindly those who would be happier in a different profession by finding out for them where they should be. You can achieve that if you have compassion and understanding.

It is difficult to appreciate all the above if one did not have at least five years of experience managing at least a few hundred people with successful results. If one has not, well, everyone has an opinion about almost everything. The chef at Calhoun's is excellent and he may have a negative opinion about the way the New York World Trade Center was designed. The new one that is.


If we just keep providing more and more money, the school districts' results will not improve without a single ACT score goal and spending limited to the approved budget, as described here. Taxing the people to provide more money for our poorly performing school districts is just more wasting of the people's money, unless we see changes in the objectives as described here.

We spend more per student already than what most of the top 20 international countries spend whose cost of living is higher. Only a few of those countries spend more per student, but all have far superior performance. We, as a nation, dropped to 36th of 65 countries in 2013. Tennessee is far below that. An expense budget is approved every year by the board. However, the superintendent, spends 14-16% more with board approval every single year on education-related projects, when more than thirty states (see below) reduced their education spending (http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011). He started in 2008. How many years must a superintendent be in place with poor performance for the board to realize that it is the board who is in charge, it is the board who is responsible if they do not take action, and it is the board who must take action IN THE INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC WHO VOTED THEM IN. The superintendent is simply unable to improve performance enough from a very high ACT Unreadiness rate if such steady improvement did not start within two years after he joined us in 2008. He set an all time low record average ACT score in his fifth year. The damage that is done to many thousands of our children during the seven years he was in office with an 80% unreadiness rate after high school is very destructive. Why isn't the board taking action? ISN'T YOUR JOB TO MAKE SURE THAT QUALITY EDUCATION IS DELIVERED THAT MAKES MOST KIDS EMPLOYABLE FOR LIFE? Grand Totals shown below are the total education related spending reported by the state during the school year. It includes capital and interest expenses. Total Current Spending below is reported by the school district and it excludes interest and capital expenses, legal expenses and perhaps other things that are also education-related expenses. I am sorry, but we are interested in how much in total education-related expenses this school district is costing us with its poor results that leave 80% of those who entered 9th grade without the prospect of a better than minimum wage job after high school.


Students increased only 13% between 1995 and 2014. ADMINISTRATORS increased a whopping 164%. This is a greater than 12 times or 1200% increase from 13% to 164%. With all that increase in administrators, the actual increase of employees is greater because administrators are managers who have other people working for them, typically 8-15. You do not just add a bunch of management people under any circumstance. THE MOST IMPORTANT OUTCOME FROM THE ADMINISTRATOR INCREASE IS that the ACT achievement stayed low, setting an all time low record in 2013 with an average ACT score of 20.2. WHAT HAVE ALL THOSE ADMINISTRATORS ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE YEARS? NOTHING TO INCREASE THE ACT SCORE. WHY ARE WE KEEPING THEIR NUMBERS HIGH? MOST HIGH SCHOOLS' ACT SCORES DECLINED 2004-2014, A FEW WENT UP BUT INSIGNIFICANTLY if one looks at the individual high school trends in the graph below.

The ratio of supervisory people to employees normally changes very little over time in order to operate efficiently. There can be no logical reason for a 1200% increase above the increase in students in supervisors/administrators OVER ANY PERIOD OF TIME unless someone is "building a Kingdom". If criticized, titles can be changed by the superintendent to create the impression of fewer administrators. But the total central staff numbers and salaries are not so easy to hide.

With such a high administrator increase (1200%) over the increase in students, how could it be possible for Central Administration NOT to be bloated?
  1. Any such increase (support staff, teachers or administrators especially), should not be larger than the student increase. This kind of increase is a huge alarm in management, if they are experienced enough.
  2. Management to employee ratios rarely change in this direction. One needs one supervisory employee plus administrative support person per 8-15 employees. The number depends on how good their administrative/management people are in making good decisions independently. It also depends on the automation of reporting and management systems developed through management training and modern software tools.
  3. The number of employees a manager/administrator can handle has gone up during the years with new management tools and methods, and did not go down. Also as administrators are trained and learn to work more efficiently they can handle more students per administrator. Therefore increase in administrators should be less as a percentage than the increase in students.
  4. In addition take a hard look at relationships with foundations, and their former members, organizations who claim enormous successes in education that never happened. They sell ideas, that will cost $2-10 million here and there, require the addition of "recommended" administrators who turn out to be friends or relatives, and all this magic makes no difference in the ACT scores management. This is called inexperienced management and/or corruption.

Today in 2014, more and more foreign students with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in science and engineering from American universities are returning home because the opportunities there are better. In talking to graduate school professors in our universities one finds that before 2005, foreign students who were the best performers aspired to get a job in the USA and stayed. This made-up for the shortfall in American students with advanced degrees in science and engineering. That has been changing. Since 2005, more and more American students come out of our high schools poorly trained and unmotivated. They do not work hard and are unprepared to do college-level work. Look for the ACT "UNREADINESS" and how it is calculated below under RESULTS.


The above graph in a Cato Institute study shows that since 1970, US education spending per student skyrocketed, but the education results went nowhere as many other countries passed us SPENDING LESS MONEY PER STUDENT. US teacher training and the way we teach students also has not changed for at least a hundred years, as other countries developed better teaching and management methodologies in education. Not one of our state or federal leaders did anything about raising test results and especially the national ACT scores since it became available. As a result, according to the World Economic Forum, 47 nations of 148 passed us in high school level performance, yet we spend more money per student than 42 of the top 47. According to OECD-PISA, 35 countries of 65 passed us.

Massachusetts' students rank 1st in the US in math. Hong Kong's students rank among the top 5 in the world. The US is 36th, a new low record in math in 2013 (OECD-PISA tests of 65 countries). The best in our country do not come CLOSE to matching even the top 20 in the world. 87% of the questions on the Hong Kong test require a higher level of thinking and knowledge. Only 6% of questions on the Massachusetts test are on the same level. These figures express how woefully behind we are (http://iadvocateforkids.org/PTA/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CCSShandout4pg-FINAL.pdf, Page 3). Our example, Tennessee is worse than Massachusetts. The curriculum to get a high school diploma is more rigorous in the top 20 countries than ours. In most of them the curriculum defines what each course is to achieve by year end and the teachers decide individually how they will teach and in what sequence to achieve the curriculum requirement.

Jobs in the future will require a more educated workforce. Instead, we are and have been developing less-educated people, more and more students who are unmotivated, and unable to learn a job after high school. Between 2008 and 2014, this figure averaged above 80% of those students who enter Knox County, TN high schools in 9th grade. As if those weren't bad enough, Tennessee's statewide results are even worse at 89%.

"Education is not just the learning of facts. It is rather the training of the mind to think."
Albert Einstein


THE WEAKENING OF OUR WORKFORCE REPRESENTS THE GREATEST THREAT TO US AS A NATION. Look below at the chart that shows how our workforce has been weakening; the results of our poorly managed school districts: the increase in people since 1990 who are no longer in the workforce.

The following chart shows a disturbing increase since 1990 in those people who are without a job. This is a better measure than unemployment figures based on those who receive unemployment benefits. This increase also corresponds to the education and workforce quality downturn long term. Source: US payroll dropout reports.

Our leaders talk about job creation a lot, but no employer will hire anyone unqualified and insufficiently educated for any job. No employer will offer a job unless the candidate has a job history with good references, education and experience to guarantee that such a potential employee will be able to do an excellent job. Job openings do exist. Well enough educated potential employees need to exist FIRST before an employer can offer a job. They do not exist in sufficient numbers thanks to the poor results our public elementary and high schools are delivering - with very few exceptions. We are certainly spending enough money on them. The 80% of 9th graders who leave high school are NOT ready for other than minimum wage jobs. Unfortunately many have a bad attitude and no motivation to deliver an honest days work. Too many feel unjustly that they have the right to receive more than what they are getting.

We have 92 million of the former labor force who are not employed in 2013, including those who no longer receive unemployment and therefore they are not on the unemployment records. That is a lot of people. Source: US payroll dropout reports. We have only 145 million employed (http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/laus/us/usadj.htm) from a population of about 340 million. The reason: unqualified students coming out of public high schools with very few exceptions.

We hear from US companies more and more often that they do not value tax and property incentives any more from the states, because the available workforce is poorly educated. State leadership is aware of this everywhere. These companies are looking to expand elsewhere. There is no action taken yet that would improve the only thing that counts: average ACT or SAT scores.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, 1776

To date, not one person stood up who had the authority to make changes to increase the average ACT scores!! We are ashamed of what our expensive public education is doing. Exceptions are very rare.


For many years 80% of those who entered 9th grade are not prepared to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school after leaving high school, according to ACT's Readiness Report. They will be minimum wage employees at best with the new generation of technology and robotics eliminating their jobs. Such poor performance had a devastating impact on the workforce.See the facts here. WE DO NOT HAVE SCHOOLS ANY MORE. WE HAVE MOSTLY FAILURE FACTORIES with very few exceptions. MANY CHILDREN COULD END UP AS HOMELESS ADULTS UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES IF WE DO NOT MAKE URGENT CHANGES. Just imagine having only one car manufacturer from whom to buy a car, and 80% of them are constantly failing. But you cannot go to another car supplier whose cars work because you have to pay cash that you do not have. Some of you will object to this comparison. "My child is not a failing car or some gadget!!" No, your child is not. Your child deserves much better education so that your child can have a reasonable life.

Unfortunately, the mismanaged public school system makes your child a failure and keeps the truth away from the public, from people like you. Not one person in authority stood up to do something about the poor education such that the ACT score would go up, as a result. Why do you think that is? And why are some of you not taking action to reverse the poor performance and raise the ACT scores? Click here for an explanation of what the chart below means exactly. It is important to understand this area very well..

In the following graph, we want to focus on the blue GRADUATION line and the red NOT READY line that is above 80%!! It is outrageous that this line represents more than 80% of 9th graders who are not ready for any other job after high school but a minimum wage job with increasing unemployment and a possibility of homelessness for so many children. What is disturbing is that the lack of Readiness per ACT has been going on since 2006, degrading our workforce, and no one did anything about it.

"The most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives


"When the results are poor, money is not being spent on the right activities and people"

Let's look at the same graph again, now with the green line that represents the Grand TOTAL of all spending in Knox County, Tennessee including capital and interest spending by the Knox County school system.

Note how HIGH the spending is, although our education system does not show it. Only the state shows it. SHOULDN'T WE BE OPEN WITH THE PUBLIC WHO PAY ALL THIS MONEY, AND SHOW ALL MONEYS SPENT ON EDUCATION, WHATEVER THOSE EXPENSES ARE?

"TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" are what the school system presents in public as its budget before a school year starts. The approved budget for the Knox County School System for 2013 was $420 million. The public never saw in the papers how much they spent after the school year started. What they spent under "TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" was much higher, $474.9 million and published for the Governor in the 2013 Tennessee Statistical Report by the state education department in 2014. Who approved such overspending? It appears that there is no discipline and oversight associated with the budget to stay within it as the citizens and businesses have to do. What makes it even more disturbing is the fact that the ACT scores, that show what children have learned from grade one to twelve, are so poor that 80-90% of those who entered 9th grade, leave high school unprepared to be employed. The public is simply not informed of this fact, and the school districts can have a PR staff to flood the public with positively sounding news. Source of financial information on spending is www.tn.gov/education/data/doc/asr_1213.pdf, Tables 48 and 49. See other Tables to see details of the totals.

Under a different heading called "GRAND TOTAL OF ALL EXPENDITURES" in the Statistical Report, Knox County Schools spent a whopping $560 million total in 2013, (not $474.9 million as shown in some documents) including capital and interest expenses. But even this is not the total. For example, legal expenses spent on behalf of the school system is included in a different county cost center, and it seems possible that other education-related expenses are hidden elsewhere. WHY THE SECRECY? What other education-related spending is hidden and where? It is impossible to tell how much this education system is actually spending every year, AND ON WHAT.

Our point is that we do not see any reason for not publishing IN OUR NEWSPAPERS the entire amount of dollars this and other counties are spending for the education system.

The education system does not inform the public of the poor performance (e.g., the all time low record in average ACT score in Knox County, Tennessee in 2013). At the same time the US is the fifth highest spender per student in education, which under "maintenance of effort" laws must be (?) maintained, regardless of performance. Knox County, Tennessee spends more money per student than the top twenty highest performing nations, except one, and their cost of living is higher. Education districts appear to have no incentive to investigate how to improve performance. The reason: their objective is not a specific average ACT (or SAT depending on the state) objective to be met along with school level operating plans that measure monthly academic performance objectives and spending vs. budget. School management does not have an objective that forces them to focus on improving average ACT performance while keeping expenses within the approved budget.The poor outcome is not surprising under such circumstances.

80-90% of the students who entered 9th grade are not ready per ACT's definition to be trained for a job or to enter a college or tech school. This is a very poor return on the public's investment, and warrants some thinking about what schools will stay open and will be closed.

More than 30 states cut back education spending since 2008. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011. Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries, with the lowest academic performance among those nations.

There is uncontrolled, significant overspending of the approved budget for more than a decade, possibly back to 1970. Why haven't we done anything to stop it and put a monthly reporting system in place watching spending vs. the approved budget? Why isn't the budget planned out monthly to keep an eye on spending? Look at the chart below. "Current Expenses" are education expenses that do not cover all expenses for education, and this is what the school districts refer to when discussing it in public. For example, they exclude capital and interest expenses like the expenses associated with mortgages and their financing for school property, however, the state's statistical report includes that with the words "Grand Total". Even the state excludes education expenses such as legal expenses, and perhaps other expenses, that are comingled or mixed into total (legal expenses) for the county. For this reason, the spending reported by the school district does not cover all education related expenses. Even the state's report does not, but their representation is closer. The public is unaware of the spending beyond the approved "Current Expenses" budget. As you can see in the chart below, what the school district announces is significantly overspent every single year. Some board members and the superintendent is pushing for more taxes to increase school funding. In view of the management problems, poor performance and funding comparable to the top performing internationals, we need to see the identified problems corrected first along with a more healthy business-like behavior correcting the many management issues with teacher morale on top. Click here for more information on spending.


"Too many cooks (bosses) spoil the broth - due to lack of good communication, the right objective, good planning and execution."


Everyone running for a school board has good intentions. Everyone has an opinion about everything, even if they have a limited knowledge of the subject. This is true of all committees, all groups that have to make some decisions. That is the way we human beings are. It is not unlike the chef of the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City having a strong opinion about how the New World Trade Center could have been designed better. Board of education candidates have no clear idea if the results are good or bad and why. This is the result of the school district having a professional PR staff. They do an excellent job in PR to present the school district in the best light.

The following is a common problem with our education system everywhere. It is not the boards' or superintendents' fault. The states created a system a long time ago that sufficed and has not changed as the world and job requirements changed. However, many other nations changed passing us and we lost market share to international competition for many years now hurting us economically. Will explain further as we go through each section below.

Board candidates and members know very little if anything about the best education systems in the world and why their results are far better than ours. They don't know the reasons for past superintendents' failures. They don't know much about objective setting, what works and what does not work. Many see their role as helping the superintendent, right or wrong, and do not see the vital importance of ACT achievement as the key indicator of what students have learned from grade one to twelve. Some become board members by establishing an early friendship with the superintendent, and addressing only problems the superintendent wants to address. Some become board members for the money.

In most places, being a board member is an uncompensated position. Are they achieving more? No. In some large cities it is compensated at $7,000-8,000 annually. Our school board members get $25,000-28,000 annually with salary, expenses, car allowance and the option to buy into the school system's benefits plan. Even if a person makes on his/her regular job $150,000 annually, and they get such an additional compensation as a school board member, and there are no term limits, they will not want to give up the money. How do you think that will effect their judgement and priorities? And would they tell you that it has and had no effect on their decisions? Of course they would. Then how come our results are so bad, that 80% of those who enter 9th grade leave high school unqualified for better than minimum wage job training or to complete the first year of college or a tech school? That is what ACT's Readiness percentages have been showing for year. We have been downgrading the workforce and creating masses of minimum wage employees who will become potentially jobless for most of their 35-40 year working life, as a result of a new wave of cognitive robotics.

The board is in charge according to the law, and the superintendent works for them. But they do not have enough interest in learning where we stand against international competition and end up doing what the superintendent wants. Most if not all see no importance in being internationally competitive in education. Most if not all do not see that the majority of students starting high school will leave not prepared by the schools to be employed minimally to support a family of four. The superintendent talks about world class education, high expectations, but neither is present and nor can board members or the superintendent explain what these promises mean. The results of this system have been poor as seen below. The school board majority at minimum does not have and are not required to have more than a high school diploma, and are not prepared to judge and guide the superintendent. The state provides no guidelines - which is a way to deal with lack of enough management experience. If a person managed only 5-10 people, they do not know that managing 100 people requires very serious training and experience; and infinitely more if thousands of employees are involved. It takes substantial management training and experience to interview successfully and decide about a superintendent who is to manage an organization with 8,000 employees. Board members are to do that but without the skill level success is not possible. The Board believes that the superintendent knows his business. There are very few who managed to improve ACT or SAT results in the entire USA. We do not believe that board members are at fault in these areas. They meet the requirements the state set. Our board hired a superintendent who never even managed a single school, and we have 89 schools. He was a teacher for a year, then managed security, food service, and accounting. Never managed schools to produce results. Does anyone understand the problem with this situation? One cannot succeed if the system itself within the organization is not healthy for the business to achieve good results and if you don't know what that result is so that you can measure its progress. That must be corrected first.

The EXAMPLE: Students increased only 13% between 1995 and 2014. Administrators increased a whopping 164%. This is a greater than 12 times or 1200% increase from 13% to 164%. With all that increase in administrators, the actual increase of employees is greater because administrators are managers who have other people working for them, typically 8-15. You do not just add a bunch of management people under any circumstance. With all those administrators added, the ACT achievement stayed low, setting an all time low record in 2013 with an average ACT score of 20.2. WHAT HAVE ALL THOSE ADMINISTRATORS ACCOMPLISHED OVER THE YEARS? WHY ARE WE KEEPING THEIR NUMBERS HIGH? The ratio of supervisory people to employees changes very little over time in order to operate efficiently. There can be no logical reason for a 1200% increase in supervisors/administrators unless someone is "building a Kingdom". If criticized, titles can be changed by the superintendent to create the impression of fewer administrators. But the total central staff numbers and salaries are not so easy to hide.

With such a high administrator increase over the increase in students, how could it be possible for Central Administration not to be bloated? This is not normal practice and it is unnecessary.
  • Any such increase (support staff, teachers or administrators especially), should not be larger than the student increase. This kind of increase is an alarm in management.
  • Management to employee ratios rarely change in this direction. One typically needs one supervisory employee plus administrative support person per 8-15 employees. The number depends on how good their administrative/management people are in making good decisions independently. It also depends on the automation of reporting and management systems developed through management training and modern software tools.
  • A 1200% larger increase IN ADMINISTRATORS than students in 19 years does not make sense under any circumstance.
  • An increase in government programs is neither so numerous nor sophisticated to require an administrator.
  • In addition the number of employees a manager/administrator can handle has gone up during the years with new management tools and methods, and did not go down.
  • Clearly the administrators' increase should not exceed the percentage increase in students. In fact, it should be slightly lower as a percentage than the student increase, as administrators are trained and learn to work more efficiently.
This 19-year huge increase in administrators is appalling, especially considering that the ACT results did not rise at a high rate, but went down to an all time low record in the average ACT score in 2013. Examine sudden administrator decreases after the question of bloated administration arises. Note that a superintendent can change administrator numbers simply by changing the titles to non-administrative ones, but central management employee numbers and salaries may not change.

A similar concern is that the state does not publish normal operating ratios defined in some key areas to keep central management small. This is a common problem. For example it is important having the ACT score with sufficient growth, and spending vs. budget as the two primary objectives and nothing more. Or limiting the size of central management employees as a percentage of total district employees to a maximum. But define central management employees as those who do not report to or do not have their performance review done by a principal's organization and therefore are under central control. Or checking morale by having an independent confidential body, to whom employees can talk, who would report anonymously the number of and type of problems every six months, and so on. Or reporting annually the employee turnover in the various work areas. Employee turnover is a very expensive thing. It costs an organization 8-16 months of salary to change an employee, depending on the level of the job. The boards and superintendents simply don't know what is wrong and why, because education districts never had to operate with the discipline of a business. The results have been poor for a long time now and can only be poor without such guidelines in place.

Central management employee numbers have been skyrocketing and in 2013, we set an all time low average ACT score record at 20.2. Obviously the increase in administrators did not raise but lowered the results. In addition, too much of the education dollars are not getting to the schools and classrooms. They are spent in central management. When central management grows beyond a certain size, they become too protective of their position and obstructive to the organization in any industry because they must justify their numbers and salaries.
  • Why do you think we have to administer more tests to students than what the state requires? It makes absolutely no sense to do so.
  • Why are we using higher paid coaches, who are simply volunteers from teachers who need to become a lot better relative the international competition? Regardless of where they are from, they come from the same poorly performing education environment and they will become an antagonist to justify their own position. For coaching one needs someone not from the same poorly performing school districts, but either from a very highly performing environment that may not even exist in the USA since we dropped to 36th in the world, or a specialized highly qualified company that teaches superior teaching and teaching management methodologies.
Someone in central management sold the above ideas.

If one wants to use a consultant, hire them from the best performing area in education in the world. There is a conflict of interest in Central Management hiring and paying consultants from whose work they benefit. Let the county hire them with results reporting to the County Mayor and the public, without any contact with the school district to define the scope of the work or to see anything other than the final report. If you hire them from high performers in education like Finland or Singapore, you can increase the probability of the truth in the report. You do not have the superintendent hire a consultant to report where he has to improve, as in the past. Otherwise consulting firms will not be impartial.

The numbers that the superintendent provides for the size of central management are smaller than reality. To find out do not ask for the total employees in central management. Ask under the Freedom Of Information Act or Open Records Act for all employees who are not performance-reviewed by and who do not take direction from the organization under a school principal. In the graph below we see a sampling of the surrounding Tennessee counties including our example Knox County. It is obvious that the poor performance and bloated central management is very common.

How does the superintendent keep the board busy so that the board members never address the poor ACT performance and the excessive spending? This subject is addressed in superintendent training schools. By loading up board meetings with a lot of low level spending approvals, decisions that should be made on a lower level, if an approved monthly operating plan and expense budget exists. By involving the board in low level decisions, the superintendent immunizes himself from blame. Superintendents and managers are highly paid to make the right decisions independently. Just think! What is the point in having supervisors, managers and administrators, if they are not allowed or are incapable of making important decisions for the better and taking action independently and immediately in their area of responsibility. Or what if the superintendent gets involved and changes their decisions? How efficient can such an organization become? And how demoralizing is that for a supervisory employee? The ultimate is to pass to the board issues for decision that should be made below the superintendents level. That is what is happening. The job descriptions of supervisory personnel should clearly identify the areas where they do make decisions independently. If they cannot do that, then change them. This is why measurable objectives, that are THE key indicator of the organization's success, like an average ACT score, are so important at the board and superintendent level, and this is why all objectives at all levels must relate to it to be in harmony to achieve the overall ACT objective.

WE BETTER WAKE UP! The board of education hires a superintendent who is to deliver better results. They never picked a superintendent under whom the ACT scores improved to a point where HALF OF THOSE leaving high school are actually ready per ACT. The board does not want to let the superintendent go if he/she produces poor results, because they picked him and they will look bad. So they ignore the poor results. In the mean time we waste millions of hard-earned tax payer dollars, we dumb down thousands of children and there is no oversight above the board to correct the problem.

80% of those who enter 9th grade leave our high schools on average not being prepared for job training, or to get into a college or tech school. Did boards of education in Knox County, Tennessee raise the ACT results 2-3 points to reduce this enormous failure rate?! They never did and neither did they have an objective to achieve such higher ACT scores.

It should be very clear by now based on many years of results that the boards are tasked with actions that the voting majority may not understand without experience and training in the area in question. Why doesn't the state provide specific written management guide lines to school districts to correct this discrepancy?

The reason for central managements being bloated is the lack of sufficient management training and experience by board members and the superintendents who are hiring people to guess what actions and talents are needed to correct the poor performance. If they knew, the performance would have increased a long time ago. This is why central managements are bloated, using up dollars that could be better used in the schools' classrooms.

The above is basic management practice. If we were wrong, we would not be producing out of 80% of former 9th graders who have not been trained well enough in high school to have a job or to enter even one year of a college or tech school. Instead they will be minimum wage candidates with rapidly increasing unemployment.


"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."
Albert Einstein


Board members and Superintendent, teachers are your ONLY resource to come out of the bad situation you are in. You have not been treating them well enough, and you have not changed that yet. If you want to change this failure factory called KCS, you better appreciate them, understand them and help them. Mr. Superintendent, promises and words do not count. Actions count.

There are a few management principals that are important here: 1. When you have poor results, the money is not getting to the right places. You have too much money in Central Management, and twice as much money in poorly performing schools whose performance was in the gutter and kept going down after 14 years or more. That money is not working for you to produce better results. 2. If your key challenge is bad morale, fixing it will provide the quickest gains. 3. The number one requirement to achieve outstanding performance is happiness in the job and looking forward to it every day. The superintendent must create such an environment. 4. A teacher must understand what is expected from him/her, and must have the freedom to do his/her best in his/her judgement without interference to produce better results to the best of his/her ability. To that end both the students and their parents must believe that the teacher is in charge of the classroom, and will make all decisions including decisions about disciplinary violations such that they will not try again, including but not limited to any disrespectful behavior with the teacher. All this with full backing of the principal, the superintendent and the board. To that end standard punishment standards and teacher behavior standards must exist. 5. The current performance evaluation is prejudicial (the observations) and inaccurate, and subject to redefinition in use by the state (TVAAS). A fair teacher performance evaluation must be present measuring class academic achievement gains during the year, with which the board and superintendent objectives are compatible. 6. Student opinion consideration for teacher performance review or superintendent interviewing is totally inappropriate. If you check with older people about what teacher they learned the most from, they will pick the tougher teachers. Even board members are not qualified to successfully interview a superintendent unless they had management training beyond an MBA. So anyone who suggests a student being involved just doesn't understand the skill levels required for a good decision.
  • 80% of those who enter 9th grade leaving high school not ready per ACT is the worst imaginable result. That's our result.
  • Since the outcome of the school depends on the teachers who have a bad morale, board members and Mr. Superintendent spend time with as many teachers as possible (e.g., 25% of your time) to keep your fingers on their job satisfaction to raise their morale. There are examples of SCHOOLS WITH ENORMOUS SUCCESSES with poor inner city minority children that we could copy (e.g., Success Academies in NYC). The school can expect to have control when the young mind is under their care for part of the day.
  • Any teacher, whether they are the best or not, must be in charge of the classroom, make any decisions to run that classroom the best way he/she knows how without fear or interference, including but not limited to ruling on discipline violations in such a manner that the violator and his/her parent will think twice before they try to interfere with the teacher a second time.
  • Focus teachers on a continuing education program to improve their subject knowledge and teaching methodologies.
  • There must be performance evaluation at all levels in a successful organization. Objectives and performance evaluation must start on the top, with boards and the superintendent first, with two primary top level objectives only that becomes the only criteria for their performance evaluation. One objective is an average ACT score that is some reasonable percentage above (e.g., 5%) of the last actual average ACT score achieved. The second objective is for expenses not to exceed the approved budget, graduating within a year to monthly spending vs the monthly budget for every school and the district. We have to learn focus on academic achievement, doing a professional job in planning the coming years programs in every school and central, and preparing a budget accordingly.
  • It is only with teachers who are well matched to their profession who will be happy in their job AND THAT IS WHAT PRODUCES GOOD QUALITY WORK. FIRST, YOU CAN TEST FOR THE VOCATIONAL MATCH, E.G., STRONG INTEREST INVENTORY correlated with the MYERS-BRIGGS PSYCHOLOGICAL INVENTORY. Help kindly those who would be happier in a different profession by finding out for them what it is. You can achieve that if you have compassion and understanding, if you can create motivation and enthusiasm with the practice that the best performing school systems use in the world.

    It is the classroom where children are motivated and learn - or do not learn. There are many good teachers, and some who are not so good, like in any job. Those who are not so good do have a negative impact on children. Teacher training is weak at US universities with very few exceptions (Reference). American teachers are from the bottom third of their college. In the top 20 foreign countries, graduates from the top third (top 10% in Finland) of their master's program VOLUNTEER to become teachers in the single subject they would like to teach. They are not switched from the subject in which they earned their MS or PhD. Continuing education is encouraged.

    My father was a teacher and principal in Europe. Whenever I visited him from here, he was very old, and former students would walk up to him on the street to hug him and kiss his hand. When he introduced me, they would tell me that he was tough (he was also a colonel who was knighted), but he was the one who motivated them, and that is why they are successful. It must be wonderful to have such experience. It was incredible to see it. This is the result of excellent student performance that drives school and teacher reputation.
    They are not paid well anywhere in the world, but they are in a highly respected profession in every country where the education results are good. Teachers in those countries stay with teaching for life. In some countries (e.g., Finland), close to 95% of teachers retire from the same school where they started. Teachers are so well respected in Finland, that they make all decisions about the students and the classroom, they choose even the textbooks and teaching aids they want to use. Any problem that comes up, the Finn teachers solve it together at a weekly teachers' meeting. There is no central management influence as we have it. There is a principal of the school, who is a general manager, who makes sure that teachers have everything they need. The national curriculum is broad enough to give teachers freedom to teach the best way they can. Their knowledge is certainly there for that, having a master's degree in the subject they teach.

    As many of us may recall, more than forty years ago, teachers had high morale, they were tough and they produced good results. The US was among the best countries in education then. If any student misbehaved in school, he or she was punished in the class, and then was punished again by their parents. All of that changed completely and no political leader stood up to tell the public the truth and to change the terrible education system we created.

    We are far from the people I just described. With the subject training being weak in college, we could make up for it with continuing education programs and supporting a master's program for them. Our superintendent, James McIntyre stopped that. Teachers could do it on their own, but very few do that. Our teachers do not have any authority to run a classroom. They are not allowed to teach as they see fit. They are told by less qualified people many times what to teach and how to teach. They have no authority to render judgment on discipline problems, destroying their authority. Their verbal and sometimes physical abuse by some students is terrible and such discipline events interfere with the entire class. US teachers have to work 1100 classroom hours, the most by far in the world. The paperwork load is huge. They do not have enough time for class preparation. Teachers are pressured by central management people to change the test grades of students for the better so that the students graduate on time, making the school district look good. The students' readiness is not important. Graduating with such a diploma (77% of the diploma holders are not ACT ready) is what the board and the superintendent want. Teacher morale is terrible. In 2014, 250 teachers came to a Board meeting to air their objections. When people write or speak about complaints, there are at least ten times as many out there who are dissatisfied. For us, that's 90-95% of all teachers. The superintendent and central management is very autocratic with them, with the superintendent being the worst. Teaching is looked upon as one of the most difficult jobs even under the best of circumstances (Reference).

    The most important thing for improved results with teachers in any country including ours is happiness in the job and independence to do your very best. The result is good morale, on which much of the results with students depend on. It is impossible to do your best if you have poor morale. The price our children pay for management incompetence is enormous. 80% of 9th graders not being ready for job training or further education is criminal. It is not the teachers who are doing this to them. It is the board and the superintendent who are inexperienced in management who are responsible.

    Teacher morale is poor as evidenced by 250 teachers demonstrating in August and September, 2014 ( http://www.wate.com/story/23897839/knox-county-teachers-voice-opposition-to-new-evaluations). Those who complain about working conditions represent only one tenth of those, minimum, who feel that way.

    We need performance evaluation for everyone including teachers. The annual teacher performance evaluation needs to be fair. It is not fair today in 2014. The currently used one-hour teacher observations four times per year are inadequate, unfair and can be prejudicial. The use of the TVAAS system for growth projections is mathematically unreliable, and is contested legally enough not to last.

    Objectives work only if they are measurable indicators of performance, if they are mutually supportive and related through all management levels, starting always at the top in an organization - not just on the bottom or starting only with teachers.

    The school results SHOULD depend on the education, quality and motivation of teachers. They would, if:
    • The required laws were changed in the state to give teachers full authority to deal immediately with discipline problems, with punishment that the student and their parent would not want to experience again, and if
    • They had the freedom of teaching the best way they know how without an enormous amount of paperwork they have to create by hand.

    We do not have all that as yet. The teachers' university performance is an important start and the best international countries in education do not hire teachers who are not in the top 1/3rd in their university performance - with a Masters degree in the field that they want to teach.

    We have some teachers whose subject knowledge and teaching methodology needs help through a continuing education program. Education systems that perform well and have the best reputation attract the best volunteers.

    Unfortunately, in our education systems teacher morale is poor. That is always the result of poor management on top. Our school districts try to create a good public image with professional PR stories in the media - not with results that count. We are dealing with the challenges that must be solved in this area on a separate page at http://www.usaedustat.com/1teacherchallenges.html.


    Promotion to higher levels from teachers upward, are on the basis of friendships with someone in central management or nepotism, instead of being based on excellent job performance and readiness for the new job. Titles do not make a manager or supervisor, yet management training before promoting someone into a management or supervisory position is nonexistent in education. It is also rare to see a person among the elected school boards who has management experience even at the level of one tenth the size of the school district in number of employees and budget size annually who actually had experience producing good results. Board members are not trained in basic management skills like interviewing a person for a superintendent position, do not even realize the need for such a skill, and tend to hire superintendents in their own image and experience, purely on the basis of appearances only and not on the candidates accomplishments. It is very common to find superintendents without the management experience that would be required for the size of the school district.
    We can even find boards hiring superintendents without the candidate ever having managed even a single school as a principal. That is exactly what happened in Knox County, Tennessee in 2008, and the result since then is declining ACT performance and bad teacher morale http://www.wate.com/story/24207001/knox-county-teachers-worry-current-policies-are-causing-more-educators-to-quit.

Poor ACT scores and ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas; excessive spending in areas that do not contribute to ACT achievement are all signs of poor management.

Teachers or any employees treated without respect, unprofessionally, restricted in their jobs resulting in the poor ACT score results, fooling the public with higher scores from the much weaker state tests, pushing teachers to change test results by changing scores, unemployable high school graduates in large numbers like more than 75% of those with a regular diploma not being ready to be trained for a job, are all signs of poor management. Teachers have very low morale. People with low morale cannot do their best. There are major problems in the classroom that remain unsolved because teachers are given no authority to solve them. Vague unmeasurable objectives on the board and superintendent level, politics replacing real performance and achievement of real objectives like an average ACT or SAT score; covering up of bad news about the important tests because their scores are poor; and publishing only news for the public that sounds positive is actually very damaging. As an end result, such school districts produce the majority of high school graduates WITH A REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, such that 74-90%+ of the students (depending on the state) with a regular diploma are NOT EVEN READY TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB according to ACT. All of this is created by school districts that are managed very poorly on the elected board and superintendent level. The great majority are like that unfortunately. THEY ARE ACTUALLY CREATING AND RUNNING FAILURE FACTORIES, INSTEAD OF GRADUATES DEVELOPED READY FOR JOBS OR FURTHER EDUCATION. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/12/broads-jim-mcintyre-gets-2-earfuls-from.html.

The needed improvement of our education results depends on how quickly we will recognize both our management and teacher challenges, and act to solve them all at the earliest. When 250 teachers show up at a board meeting, in an autocratically managed school district, that is very significant. In business, if you see a complaint, there are more than ten behind it with the same feelings who did not want to go public. That makes this entire school district's teachers very dissatisfied: http://www.wate.com/story/23897839/knox-county-teachers-voice-opposition-to-new-evaluations.

Fixing our poor education cannot happen without the public being informed of all the truth about education. Public support for changes is very important, and that is why our school districts have substantial numbers of full time professional PR staff on board, some more than we have seen in billion dollar corporations. One could legitimately ask why even one is needed in any school district to develop articles for the media that put the school district into a better light than what the entire truth really would about the school district's performance.

There is much more information of importance about teachers: click here.

What do three high performing countries do to retain teachers long term? The chart below explains. See also What brings success in other countries?

"Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives

Good Morale, The Right Objectives, Annual Operating Plans, And Operating Ratios Without Which Success Will Be Elusive

Good morale is most important in every part of every organization. It is the result of all professional employees being well matched to job and well treated on the job. That does not mean selecting a friend or relative for the job, but someone who is experienced in what the job requires, and someone who is well matched to his/her job requirements, coworkers and bosses. This last one requires tests, like the Strong Interest Inventory correlated with the Myers-Briggs Psychological Inventory. I was fortunate enough to work in a company that did that. The result is happiness in the job, and looking forward to it every day. When 250 teachers complain openly in front of a board meeting, there are at least 2500 teachers who feel that way. The worst thing that any senior manager can do is to do a specific satisfaction survey with leading questions, as our supervisor has done, and decide that money is the problem but we could give only 2-3%. Money is never among the leading issues in morale problems. The workers' treatment by management is. Money is not effective because people get used to money very fast. Compensation needs to be competitive.

There must be two primary objectives for the board of education and the superintendent. It must be the key indicator of success or lack thereof for the organization. That is an average consolidated ACT score to achieve, that is at least 5% higher than the last one actually achieved. The second objective must be actual spending vs. the approved expense budget, monthly and year-to-date. Objectives are measurable so that they are not subject to argument. There are no other primary objectives, because additional primary objectives would dilute the focus that must be present at the top of the organization. There are secondary objectives that also must be measurable and specific, that clearly need to be achieved to reach the primary objectives. All management or supervisory employees must have such objectives, and only a few of them. Objectives must be established from the top down through management layers and then the workers, in order for the organization's focus to be set on the primary objectives. In other words it is not healthy to set objectives at lower levels first, because then conflict is guaranteed with higher ups. Such is the problem with setting teacher objectives, even if they were good choices, before the objective is agreed upon on the top of the organization.

The primary objectives must be the same as for the annual performance evaluation.

If one wants to achieve an annual primary objective, one better have monthly objectives to monitor progress.

One needs to have an annual operating plan, that is a collection of monthly objectives for all supervisory and management people within each division (school) of the organization (school district). Multi-year plans are worthless, because enough things change during the first year of a multi-year plan to make the annual operating plan a challenge. The communist countries were famous for five-year plans. They all failed. Now we see them in the education districts, and they are meaningless pretty documents for PR purposes. If they were effective, our results would be better. Many organizations require plans to be without adjectives and simply double typed with minimal graphics, and brief.

In an organization that has more than about 50 employees, the president/CEO or superintendent will need support staff to be effective. The challenge is that if he/she is inexperienced, to make up for his/her shortcomings or to deflect blame for failure, he/she will start adding additional staff, who will add more staff and the ever growing central management is born. They become self protective because they are smart people. Unfortunately that makes for an unresponsive management organization. There have been management studies about this subject comparing efficient and inefficient organizations, and such study has been done specifically in the education area. "Education Administration" by Drs. Lunenburg and Ornstein. Dr. Ornstein published more than 50 books and more than 2000 research papers focused on education management, and retired recently from the prestigious Saint John's University in New York City, where he was Dean of the Graduate School of Education. The referenced book says under Efficiency indicators: "In a survey of fifty-one school districts with more than 50,000 students in the USA, the student per administrator ratio at the central office averaged one manager per 569 students with a median at 578 students per administrator. The ranges were as high or efficient as one administrator per 1650 students, and as low as one administrator per 161 students. The researcher concluded that school districts should aim for one central administrator per 1200 students for the most efficient operation." This answers the question of how many administrators would be normal per student: it is 0.8%. The American Association Of School Administrators supports 1% of total district employees for total Central Management employees. Tennessee school districts have central managements that are 3-7 times larger than these numbers, and that is a big problem that is obstructing performance and money getting to the classroom.

"Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives

COMPETITIVENESS: Is it important to be internationally competitive in knowledge as a high school graduate? Why?

Let's look at the individual ACT results below from Knox County, Tennessee high schools over eleven years. If the organization was well managed, most of the high schools should show a steady uptrend and not a disorderly downtrend. This is the result of lacking measurable academic test result objectives every month to focus the high schools in order for the school district to meet a growing average ACT score objective. Without that what we have is poor performance.

Why do we need to be competitive worldwide with high school performance? Why not just within the USA? Why should we compare our high school performance with other nations?

With airplanes, cars, television sets and radios the world became smaller, and nations became interdependent among each other because the entire world became everyone's market. We see imported products everywhere, don't we? Our companies want to sell their products and services internationally. There is a huge market out there. The best products for the money that customers liked the most sold well. They were American products through the 50's and the 60's. A few decades later, even the larger companies like an aircraft manufacturer may buy the jet engines in England or in the USA, have the wings manufactured elsewhere, various other parts would be purchased at hundreds of different international companies with final assembly in the USA. We stopped making electronics, televisions, large construction machines and other products because foreign suppliers could make them more innovative, less expensive and more reliable. All because the better trained workforce in other countries could create better, more reliable and less expensive products.

Why don't we purchase only US-made products? Because people or companies will always buy the products that they like. Because the desired quality for the price was no longer available from American companies. Successful companies require and have a well educated workforce, from the low end jobs to the highest, from a good high school education to a PhD in the specific fields that the employer needs. That is a basic requirement for the ability to create winning products which we did well until about the 70's. Then we started seeing a lot of imported products that were preferred by the American customer from the inexpensive to the very expensive. Today we lost entire industries. Look at what happened to the TV industry, electronics and others.

The quality of the product depends on the quality of the workforce, which then depends on the quality of education that the public schools do for the majority through high school. If the American high schools are not producing better educated students than foreign countries, the companies that hire them will be handicapped. The relationship between the quality of high school graduates and the competitiveness of the products of the companies that hire them, clearly shows that our high school school systems are in competition with other countries' high school systems. We are indirectly competing on the high school level with all countries. Their products are winning unfortunately. We dropped to 36th internationally in math in 2014, a new low record in the testing of 15 year olds (OECD PISA test published 2013 covering 65 nations). That is very bad news.


"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource."
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA

Isn't the high percentage of young people not being ready (80%+) a dangerous enough problem for boards, superintendents and lawmakers to act on it and fix it? Do we have to be above 90% not ready for them before action is taken to focus on a single primary objective, the ACT score?? Both the OECD PISA tests (65 nations) and the ACT publishes what the excellent performers do, what creates excellent results, so one need not discover any new solutions to see if they would work. They tell you what works.

VW's manufacturing operation in Chattanooga, Tennessee shows according to their CEO that after screening resumes, in the interviewing process only one candidate in twenty is found qualified for a manufacturing job. That is worse than the ACT's research conclusions.

How could our boards and superintendents allow such a damaging thing to happen?

MANAGING AND FOCUSING TO ACHIEVE THE RIGHT SINGLE PERFORMANCE AND SPENDING OBJECTIVE IS VITALLY IMPORTANT FOR IMPROVEMENT AND SUCCESS, ESPECIALLY IN POORLY PERFORMING ORGANIZATIONS. The education-related actions of our school board are NOT FOCUSED on THE single best indicator of achievement by the end of high school. That is an average ACT score objective that reflects at least a 5% growth showing high enough expectations. This also needs to become THE single objective for the board and superintendent. There are secondary objectives also. It covers all the things that supervisory employees must accomplish every month in every school and central management in order for the board and the superintendent to reach the single academic ACT objective. A good example of meaningless objectives is what Knox County calls 100/90/90/90 for almost a decade. Its details are at http://www.usaedustat.com/1sevenactions.html#100909090. We need ACT score focus in every school district, as the basis of performance evaluation for boards and superintendents. Without connecting the measurable ACT objective to performance evaluation of management, we cannot improve.

One cannot expect unhappy employees to do well. It appears that too many superintendents do not understand this and use an autocratic style. That is the outcome of putting a person into a job with insufficient experience AND management training unfortunately. When the board hired ours, he has not even managed a single school as principal, and managed support functions only. Putting such a person into a position to manage more than 85 schools and more than 8,000 employees is a disservice to both us and him. We are paying an enormous price for such a mistake.

The Knox County, Tennessee school district set an all time low ACT score record at 20.2 in 2013. After more than four decades of increasing spending per student and with results going nowhere, our board and superintendent had enough time to change this destructive trend. It is not helpful to accept any action you have taken, unless it raised the ACT average a lot closer to 24-25 to have 80-90% of graduates ready for the workforce or further education, and not 80% NOT READY as we stand today. The poor education is destroying our workforce and our children's lives.

In one chart above on this website, all of these figures were and are dismal since 2008 under the board of education and James McIntyre as superintendent. ANYONE CAN CLAIM THAT THEY HAVE DONE MANY GREAT THINGS. HOWEVER, IF THE AVERAGE ACT SCORE DID NOT MOVE INTO A MORE SUCCESSFUL AREA ABOVE 22, IT IS PAINFULLY OBVIOUS THAT NOTHING OF IMPORTANCE WAS DONE, REGARDLESS OF HOW GREAT THEIR STORY SOUNDS. Sources are the Tennessee Report Card, the ACT READINESS Report and the Tennessee Statistical Reports. For the chart, ACT CCR means ACT Career (job) and College Readiness percentage; explained at http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html

99% of the black 9th graders are not ready after high school according to ACT. THIS IS A SOCIAL EXPLOSION IN THE MAKING. However, there is a chain of 32 public charter schools (Success Academies) in New York inner city areas. They take only poor inner city minority black students and a few Hispanics. They have been producing superior results compared to virtually all New York state schools. New York state is the 5th best performer in the USA while Tennessee is close to 35th. Obviously it is possible to do much better with black students from poor inner city families than we are doing in Tennessee! You just have to take action on it!

"Things may come to those who wait...but only the things left by those who hustle!"
Abraham Lincoln

The poorly educated workforce, mostly untrainable (80% per ACT), is a major concern of corporations who are paying most of the taxes. To do well, they need a well-trained workforce. They are holding onto cash instead of hiring. To survive, they will have to expand elsewhere or move entirely, or depend on the new generation of cognitive robots. This trend just started happening. Read about the first example in Japan (hotel staffed with robots) and in China (Shenzen China, FOXCONN, a million workers replaced). China and Japan have much better education results than we do. Their objective is clearly to provide the best quality services or products at the lowest cost in a competitive market without falling behind in either quality performance or cost. Expect such changes happening here on a much larger scale. We will not survive the poor objectives and lack of a professional annual operating plans on the school district management level.

The poor public school performance already damaged many of our children and our workforce. VW recently (2014) interviewed in one of our cities many for factory jobs they want to fill. After screening the resumes, only one in twenty qualified for a job. Our schools are creating a lot of people who will be unemployed in the future. Does this mean that too many of our children have been and are being damaged by our public school system? Absolutely! IT IS TIME FOR SERIOUS ACTION TO FIX THIS DESTRUCTIVE SYSTEM.


"When the results are poor, money is not being spent on the right activities and/or people"

By law, the elected boards of education get at least as much money each year as in the previous year and can spend it any way they please - regardless of performance. Boards to date (before 2014) did not establish any objectives and operating plans to achieve them in order to raise the average ACT scores, and assumed that all that can be done will be done by the superintendents they have hired. Such avoidance of one's responsibility in a position of trust always results in poor outcomes. The results shown above are terrifying. However, more than 30 states managed to cut back education spending since 2008. Their academic results did not go down. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011.

Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries in 2013, with the lowest academic performance among those nations. Our own education spending increases did not result in ACT score increases, and it is the ACT results that define readiness for work or higher learning. It is fair to say that the constant request for more money by the board is unjustified in view of the poor results.

The elected school boards and superintendents write their own objectives at the beginning of a school year, always vague or insignificant or unmeasurable. At year end they write up their own performance evaluation against the objectives THEY specified (board approved) and give themselves an excellent performance review. Such a practice never leads to good results. Their income and budget are guaranteed by law to be at least the same as what they received in the prior year. There is no incentive to perform to increase average ACT scores. There is a bloated central management organization with a large PR group to generate only good news to make the board and superintendent look better.

The excessive spending in the chart above covers all education related expenses that the state reports in their statistical reports annually, some of which the school district does not report to the public. There are other education district expenses that even the state figure does not show. For example, the school district's legal expenses are such. One wonders what other education expenses are hidden. TO FIND OUT, ONLY A FORENSIC AUDIT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTY WOULD SHOW SUCH EXPENSES. A FORENSIC AUDIT IS RESISTED FORCEFULLY BY THE EDUCATION DISTRICT. ONE WONDERS WHY. A forensic audit is more expensive than a normal audit. However, compared to the waste, it costs less, and it would have a disciplining impact on the careless spending.

We overspend the approved education budget by 28-38% every year. We spent $560 million in this school district alone in 2013. We are paying interest on more than half a billion dollars of mortgages including unused school real estate properties. Why don't we sell such properties and use such proceeds to reduce such interest expenses? The superintendent is not responsible for some of this area, and he should be responsible for all education related expenses. Per pupil, spending is higher than most of the top 20 performing countries in the world, and teacher morale, on whom the results depend, is poor. Neither the board of education nor the superintendent did anything that raised teacher morale. A 2-3% increase is considered as a solution, however, money is never the important solution. People get used to additional money fast, and the real problems arise again. In addition, a 2-3% raise is of no significance.

Our education system eagerly established objectives for teachers that are faulty in management practice. However, we do not have an ACT score objective on the board and the superintendent for performance evaluation where it is needed the most - on top. They prepare their own vague unmeasurable objectives and then THEY do their own performance evaluation with board approval. Unbelievable! Doesn't anyone realize on the state level how senseless and self-defeating such practice is from the management perspective? For good reason, a specific measurable objective setting must start on the top with the most important key indicator of success.

The superintendent creates beautiful, 50-75 page "Strategic" Five-Year Plans, with meaningless objectives like what Knox County called 100/90/90/90 for almost a decade. Its details are at http://www.usaedustat.com/1sevenactions.html#100909090. The board of education does not lead their only employee the superintendent. The superintendent leads the board of education. This superintendent never even managed a single school before he was hired for one of the largest school districts, ours. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THERE IS NO ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN IN WRITING THAT DEFINES WHAT MEASURABLE OBJECTIVE EACH MANAGER MUST ACHIEVE EACH MONTH IN EVERY SCHOOL AND CENTRAL MANAGEMENT, TO ACHIEVE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S ACT SCORE OBJECTIVE FOR THE YEAR.

Although they probably exist, I looked for but I have not found a single person on any board of education, state or district, or education department member in any state, who knew how poor our performance really is, understood the ACT readiness figures, knew who the top three high performance countries are in education, and most importantly what they are doing differently that could improve our performance.
We hope that the board and superintendent can explain why their practices and results are acceptable, let alone the best. No wonder our results are so poor. It should be obvious what actions we need to take to correct it. It is not more spending. However, if those who are to take action have no idea what to do, CHANGE THEM. Major changes need to be made, with excellent execution.

School district management doesn't know what top few actions (1-2) to focus on in an excellent manner. The results just keep going down with our schools making more than 80% of the 9th graders unemployable by the time they leave high school. That is a very high failure rate. We waste billions of the public's hard-earned tax dollars. Now the government will provide more of our tax dollars for two years of community college training for those who qualified for a regular high school diploma, with 80% not ready to be trained for a job. The way the public school districts are allowed to operate with the high failure rate is irresponsible by the state. The free two years of college will be helpful, but not enough. We must improve significantly job training readiness in high school to get much more out of the free two-year college program. The program should not just make up for the shortcomings of high school performance.

Our lawmakers are busy with a hundred different projects at any one time. Education is one of them. Some projects are more important than others. WE DO NOT GIVE EDUCATION ENOUGH IMPORTANCE. VERY IMPORTANTLY THE PUBLIC IS NOT BEING INFORMED OF THE POOR RESULTS THAT OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS DELIVER. Why have not our lawmakers passed laws FOR DECADES to implement the above mentioned actions to make our secondary schools produce higher ACT scores AS OTHER NATIONS PASSED US? Isn't that the ultimate objective coming out of high school? To get to 80% readiness from the current unreadiness, our high schools today must produce an average ACT score of 24 minimum. This number is slowly increasing because future job requirements will grow even more aggressively than in the past as low end jobs will be automated more aggressively. Our poor high school performance is providing pressure on the robotics industry worldwide to provide an alternative to untrainable young people with the wrong attitude. The first result of cognitive robots will be visible by the end of 2015, targeted at more than 100 professions. We don't just need some actions from our legislators. We need urgent actions by legislators that increase the ACT scores like the action examples we mention above.

Why doesn't the state set operating ratios and standards in the above key areas? If we explained the public the above poor performance and what its results are on our children's lives and our economic future, it would be very helpful in making changes. The school district PR machines are large and well funded, and their stories for the public create the impression that "There is room for improvement, but we are doing well". Why is public education a "CAN'T DO" organization with no action for decades to correct it? The above gives many clues. WE THE PUBLIC DESERVE BETTER FOR OUR MONEY from the governor, legislators, boards of education and superintendents.




It is the board that is in charge and is responsible for the results under the law. The superintendent, their only employee, is to make sure that the objective set by the board is met. Vague objectives will always be met especially if you do your own performance evaluation - and that is the case unfortunately. If the people in charge are not motivated to increase ACT scores with a specific average ACT score objective, there is no motivation and no results. They get paid just the same. That is what we have.

Why would anyone be motivated to put in the extra effort to correct a poorly performing education system,

If their income is guaranteed,

If they have no specific measurable academic objective to meet,

If they receive at least the same amount of money to spend as before regardless of results by law, and

If they can spend the money in any way they want by law; even on a large professional PR group that turns out only positive news for the public who are unaware of the truth?

That is what we have in Knox County, Tennessee.


In the chart below "What % of column 1 is higher than column 2" refers to how much higher actual education-related spending is in column 1, than the "unapproved" public budget spending in column 2. Unfortunately the "approved" budget at the start of the school year did not appear in these reports in the Tennessee Dept of Education's Statistical Report to the governor. Clearly the "approved" budgets for school districts are of no importance - a very bad practice in spending discipline.

For more go to: http://www.usaedustat.com/12013spendingvsperformance.html

In short:

When the results are poor, the money is not getting to the right places.

Our schools in Tennessee produce more than 80% of those students who earned a regular diploma, who are not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT. In Knox County, Tennessee, the county we use as an example, we set an all time low ACT score record (with superintendent James McIntyre, and board chairs Karen Carson, Lynn Fugate). People who care (and/or don't know what to do) DO NOT DO THIS. Other states are not much better. A few are worse.

As presented above per the Tennessee Education Dept. Statistical Reports, approved budgets are outspent every year by a huge amount, and mean nothing. This is the people's money, the spending beyond approved budget's needs to be investigated. People who care and plan well DO NOT DO THIS. Other states are not much better. A few are worse.

According to Fortune Magazine (http://fortune.com/2014/06/10/most-corrupt-states-in-america/), Tennessee is the third most corrupt state in our country. No wonder we overspend the people's money every year in education and produce the third worst results from the bottom at the same time within the USA. Internationally, we dropped to 36th place in math - that's the bottom of the industrialized countries.

We need a forensic audit to identify exactly where the money went and why it was not getting to the right place in the school district, destroying most of our children's employability, our workforce and our economy as a result.


Proposed programs costing additional tens of millions of dollars in each state by school district management, did not and do not deliver higher act or sat scores. They are the only tests that show the real end of high school results. Could these kinds of ineffective actions be accidental after more than 40 years? No, they cannot and they require uniform statewide control via laws.

SCHOOL DISTRICT PR CAPABILITIES: There has been a significant increase in PR professionals over past decades within school districts to present "good" news and make sure that the poor ACT or SAT are kept from the tax-paying public who pay the bills.

This effort goes so far that school districts like Knox county, Tennessee, distribute the pr capability over several different groups and "partnerships" to increase the number of pr people significantly, hoping that this increase would be hidden. Why cover up the results that count to the public who actually pay the taxes to fund their children's education? The management people make a good living in the school districts and do not want to risk that with bad news. There is no state requirement to promote or publish the tests that are more meaningful (ACT or SAT or NAEP) with the same or higher frequency than the weaker state tests that show higher scores because they are easier tests. The exception is the new Common Core Test and many oppose it for this reason only. The Common Core test results must be published to the public with its scores in the original form. New York State was the first to publish it in August 2013.

We would recommend for reading OECD-PISA's analysis of US academic performance at http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/PISA-2012-results-US.pdf. This organization tests the best educational performers internationally with 34 member countries, plus associate countries totaling 65 countries in total. The following article presents a broad and accurate overview of worldwide education spending and performance and how we fit into it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/oecd-education-report_n_3496875.html.

Reference: http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html

We have a unique situation in that US education results are very poor and keep going down compared to the international competition, our workforce is weakening so much that attracting employers with tax incentives no longer works in the lower performing states. If we do not improve significantly, we could end up discouraging all employers who are able to move elsewhere.

On what basis can anyone condone, and approve (as a county Commissioner or mayor) monies of the people to be spent in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, without requiring that an ACT score objective be met for such monies that is at least 5% higher than the last average ACT score achieved, and that such an objective also be made THE board's and superintendent's performance objective, counting at least 60% of their annual performance evaluation?

Don't we have an implicit responsibility to the public to do so?

Don't we also have an implicit responsibility not to mislead the people whose money we are spending?

Don't we have an implicit responsibility NOT TO USE ONLY the much weaker and meaningless TCAP state scores to call the superintendent a Miracle Maker as a local paper did, while not mentioning the all time low score on the ACT test achieved in 2013, whose results mean a disastrous future for 79% of those children who earned a regular diploma?


What is certain in this world is change. Faster change than before. What is also certain is that some people will be hurt by change and many others will be afraid of change, perhaps made fearful by the people who do not want change and the unknown. BUT HOW CAN ANYONE IGNORE THE FACT THAT 80% OF THE CHILDREN WHO ENTERED 9TH GRADE WILL BE PUT INTO A LOSING SITUATION WITH THE POOR JOB WITH WHICH THEY ARE LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL. WE CANNOT LEAVE SUCH A SYSTEM IN PLACE WITHOUT A MAJOR CHANGE. WE DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. WE MUST CHANGE OR WE WILL BECOME A THIRD WORLD NATION WITH A TERRIBLE LIFE.

Teachers are the part of the education system who deliver the necessary level of knowledge to our children to get them ready to learn more for higher level jobs, or to be trained for a job by an employer. Today, the best lectures, the best tutorials are available from the Internet from the best minds on ANY subject (go to "Great Learning Tools" in the menu above). TODAY, the best universities like MIT and Stanford offer the public for their child to learn on the Internet and earn a fully accredited high school diploma OR MORE, for much less money than what public education is costing us per student (Example 1: http://www.pgbovine.net/advantages-of-name-brand-school.htm, Example 2: http://ohs.stanford.edu/, Example 3: http://www.lincolnonlinehs.com/index-landing.php?gclid=CKKey_KCs7wCFZRr7AodGH8A6g). It should be very obvious to everyone that primary and secondary education will change, and the old schema of public education that is producing poor results will disappear whether we like it or not. Who are the best positioned people to take advantage of this opportunity? They are the great teachers of today who understand this picture, and who want to deliver an excellent result: high school graduates who match the best international performers in the world. Nothing remains the same. Things are changing faster and faster. Public schools will not go away. Some will change and become excellent. Others will disappear. In the best performing nations like Finland, Canada and Singapore, public schools are very successful. In Finland even private schools are financed by the government and their standards are controlled by the government. Any fears about people like Bill Gates or Common Core Curriculum and its test are totally unfounded, spread by people who want to preserve status quo.

No changes would come if the results were not so poor and damaging to the great majority of our children's lives and to our economic future.

The trio that wants to preserve status quo at any cost: Boards of education in education districts, teachers unions, and foundations that solicit funds from the public to support only the education districts, do promote the state of education in a much more positive light than what reality is. Many people in the management of these organizations make an excellent living from our schools' poor performance by pressing for and getting more money "to save our children". The system worked a hundred years ago, but it is not working well enough today. THERE IS NO PERSONAL INCENTIVE FOR THEM IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO DO OTHERWISE. Boards and superintendents having to meet an average ACT or SAT score objective would change that in a hurry. Teachers are not treated well by central management and their morale is low. Many of them would welcome change.

THE UNSOLVED DESTRUCTIVE DISCIPLINE PROBLEM IN THE CLASSROOM: Imagine working in an office where a few employees call your boss derogatory four-letter names to his/her face and pour pee in his/her coffee behind his/her back or throw various objects or even feces at him or her; all of this in front of other employees. Can you imagine what would be done immediately with such an employee in any place of employment? He or she would be fired immediately. This is done to our teachers (the "boss") by a minority of students ("employees") and it disturbs the entire class for a day or more in each and every case. The worse the school, the more often this happens. Unfortunately we have many such poor schools. The teachers can report it to the principal but can do nothing about it. The offending student may be sent home, but will be back the next day, a hero now to a few other kids. The teacher's authority suffers another blow and he/she becomes an easier target, because he/she has no authority. How can anyone expect a teacher to have high morale and do their best without any authority to deal with such behaviors on the spot? How could anyone achieve anything under such barbaric conditions? See more important data about teachers at www.usaedustat.com/index.html#howareteachers.

The biggest impact will come very soon through a new generation of robots that are cognitive, multilingual and can learn and make decisions. Artificial intelligence passed average human intelligence in 2014. We will see the first cognitive robots entering the US in 2015 that will compete for the jobs of many with a high school education or less. They will certainly be welcome by businesses who cannot find workforce without a bad attitude, who can communicate well and know more than basic math. They will cost less than minimum wage, and they will rapidly improve, just by downloading artificial intelligence and job knowledge, like a PC can today. One of 125 jobs being implemented with them is an assistant teacher. We think that the end of employability for those not having been well prepared in high school is within two years, by 2017.

Good performance results only from setting the correct objective, making it a personal performance objective for the board, superintendent and central management leaders such that it counts for their annual performance review, and the importance of having an operating plan to ensure the achievement of the annual objective.

A measurable objective has to exist first, one that is a key indicator of the entity's successful operations. The objective cannot be vague, like increase the number of graduates in a school system, because just getting a diploma does not mean that all graduates with a diploma are ready for job training or to enter a college or technical school. The objective also needs to include a numerical target, in this case the percentage or number of students graduating. Unfortunately in virtually all states in the USA only a small percentage of high school graduates with a regular diploma are prepared to be trained for a job (24% according to ACT in 2013), or to go on to further learning. The school systems promote the percentage of diplomas achieved in order to look good, but not the readiness figures. Furthermore, some states created their own readiness definition of high school graduates, that present better results, than the readiness figures published annually by ACT that tests students nationally and conducted empirical research since 2000 in order to provide precise readiness indicators.

For testing, ACT, SAT and NAEP are the reliable national tests. For percentage of high school graduates with a regular diploma, who are ready for employment training or to finish only the first year of a college or technical school, the ACT is a reliable source.

Objective setting needs to start at the top of an organization, as with a school board and superintendent, and then trickle down through the management layers to teachers, in order for the entire organization to be in harmony to work toward the same objective. Unfortunately education is unique in not investing in management training, and therefore management problems are common (e.g., low teacher morale, autocratic management styles, poor results). Again the objective must be THE key indicator of the school system that measures academic performance, such as an average ACT or SAT score, or ACT's Career and College Readiness Percentage of Regular Diplomas, for the school district or a high school. For elementary schools the state test would suffice, provided that the average raw score is used for an objective and not a "cut score" that is used to "translate" the poor raw scores to better looking scores for the public.

If one wants good performance, then such objective like an average ACT score must constitute at least 60% of the annual performance evaluations for the board, superintendent and central management senior staff at minimum. Lastly a professionally prepared operating plan per school and for Central Management is essential with monthly objectives, to ensure that the school district ACT, or SAT annual objective is achieved.

“Things may come to those who wait...but only the things left by those who hustle!”

Abraham Lincoln


Public school spending per student is guaranteed by law to be as high as the maximum a school district ever received in prior years, regardless of the results produced; they have no performance-based risk or salary reduction risk based on achieving or not achieving an objective that is based on a national test like an average ACT score or a specific percentage of regular diplomas under ACT's Career and College Readiness report. Why? Because the school board and superintendent create their own vague objectives, AND they do their own performance evaluation (the board just approves the superintendent's). WHAT KIND OF EFFORT CAN BE EXPECTED WITH SUCH AN "INCENTIVE" RIGHT ON TOP OF AN ORGANIZATION? For example a superintendent can perform so badly that he/she sets an all time low record in ACT scores, deliver high school graduates with regular diplomas 79% of whom are not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT's Career and College Readiness Report, and the board will give him an excellent performance review and guarantee his/her $250K+ annual compensation package for four more years - every year, giving away the public's hard-earned tax dollars for the superintendent's poor performance. Who would want to see any change that risks their job under those conditions? This system actually rewards poor performance.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"

Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, 1776


New York is one of the best performing states in education in the USA. The best example for excellent inner city performance is a charter school network called the Success Academies in New York City. See also THIS. In 2006 a charter school was formed in Harlem, NYC, the Harlem Success Academy, that scored 5th and 6th in reading and math tests in New York State by 2009. The inner city parents, who many think do not care, beat their doors down to get their children into this school. In December 2013 they have 20 schools with approximately 80% black children, the rest Hispanics, all from poor families, with plans to open 100 by the end of this decade (up from 40 in the original plan). New York State was the first to publish to the public the new Common Core Test results in August 2013. The Common Core Test scores are published unadulterated by law, without "cut scores" that are normally used with state tests to show higher scores (like a 45% score is presented as a "B"). New York State published them first in August 2013 (47 states will do so by 2015). Reference: http://excelined.org/common-core-toolkit/information-common-misconceptions/.

There is no doubt that current law is too supportive of students who are a discipline problem and perhaps in other areas as well the law is burdening the education system.

If that is so, then what requests have boards and superintendents sent to the governor's attention and to legislators to change the laws that load the public school system with unreasonably bad behavior by a few, resulting in poor performance for many additional children, by disturbing the teachers' ability to teach and the students' ability to learn more. Should such a child be part of the public school system reducing the school districts' performance or should they be part of a special school system? In fact, should some of them be schooled at all? For what end if they will be unemployable? Our schools should not be a baby sitting service. We are just asking the question if the schooling for some children should be different such that they do not drag down the teachers and the other children who are willing to learn.

The public was shocked with average public school performance in the 35-45% area with New York State's Common Core test results in 2013. But the Harlem Success Academy, now called Success Academies (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3) scored more than twice as high, with poor inner city children. What is important to note is that this school has a proprietary continuing teacher education program in place. Why don't our state public school leaders learn from the top international and domestic performers? They all produce superior performance with less spending per student.

The public was and is not made aware of our disastrous performance WITH THEIR MONEY. But they were informed of all news that sounds/looks good, however insignificant, via newspapers and media.

The outcome for our survival depends on whether or not the public will become aware of the truth or not, because public support is essential for any change. So far the public was not given the information that shows how poorly we are doing, and what that will do to the upcoming generation's life.

"Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives


“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Lenin (1870 - 1924)

Disinformation or misinformation is created not only through repeated lies, but also by presenting news frequently that sounds good although it may be meaningless, or news that is good but insignificant, but keeping important news that is not positive quiet. In both cases the entire truth is not presented, especially the truth that is more important and significant for the good of the public. Unfortunately, it is very common in the way education districts and the media present our education results.

It stands to reason that if a school district is spending $560 million per year in 2014, including ALL education-related expenses not disclosed to the public, like capital and interest expenses, AND the fact that their ACT Career and College Readiness percentage of regular diplomas is only 20% counting from 9th grade entries (meaning that 80% with a regular diploma cannot even be trained for a job), a large portion of the money is not being spent correctly to produce good results, and they have serious management problems.

We feel that the public who pays their hard-earned tax dollars for our public education system, deserves to know the entire truth about how well their children are educated, and what the education they receive will do to prepare them for a reasonably tough but successful life to be able to maintain a family of four. The important thing is not just to present good news to make a good impression on those who pay the bills, as we currently do. The important thing is to tell the truth, the good and the bad, so that we can together go after what is not going well and correct it. I fear for what is happening to our country.

Is a good grade or grade-improvement promoted by a school district or newspaper or the media always means the truth about our children's education? Are articles in the local newspapers, that are telling the population how great a job the school district is doing, always truthful and tell the entire truth?

Unfortunately, not. Positive comments about state test-based scores are meaningless, except for Florida. Florida's state test rigor is in the ACT, SAT, NAEP rigor whereas other state tests are much weaker. Such state tests are weak for the purpose of showing higher grades, and the difference is so great that an A or B grade can mean a failure in reality. Such tests are used to qualify for federal aid dollars and to create the impression for the public that the school system is doing well, when in fact it is doing poorly.

The national test results (ACT, SAT, NAEP) on the other hand represent the students' knowledge correctly as it relates to becoming employable or entering a college or technical school after high school, or being internationally compatible. There is very important good news in Tennessee in 2013: the NAEP test results for grades 4 and 8 have improved more than any other state, coming close to national average, setting an all time high for the state (http://www.niet.org/niet-newsroom/niet-press-releases/statement-from-the-national-institute-for-excellence-in-teaching-on-the-2013-naep-results/ and http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/).

Many of the new Tennessee elementary school standards are working. The NAEP represents high rigor testing every other year and its improved record setting scores are much more significant than the much weaker state test scores called the TCAP.

GRADE IMPROVEMENT sounds positive, but it may or may not be important. The maximum ACT score is 36. As the average ACT score increases, it does not represent a proportional increase in the regular diploma holders' readiness to be ready to be trained for a job. For example, an average ACT score of 21 means that only about 20% of those with a regular diploma will be ready to be trained for a job, and 80% will NOT be ready to be trained for a job. But the situation changes fast once we get the average ACT score above 22. To achieve an 80% readiness for job training or to finish only the first year of college or a technical school those with a regular diploma would need to be close to an average ACT score of 24. Job trainability readiness that it is not something to celebrate. A 0.5-1.0 average ACT increase at the lower numbers do not change job training readiness much. But such a change above an average ACT score of 22-23 brings big improvement in the "readiness" percentage of regular diplomas for job or college training.

Unfortunately our poorly performing school districts make any improvement positive news, sometimes so extreme that a publisher in Knoxville, Tennessee called the superintendent a Miracle Maker for an A or B Tennessee state test result that is absolutely meaningless because it represented less than 30% good answers on a test. The Tennessee state test (TCAP not the NAEP) is too easy in order to produce high grades, but in reality it represents F level performance for a 45-50% score when compared to ACT's measurement for job or college readiness; not an A or B. Under the same superintendent also in 2013 we set an all time low record in the average ACT score at 20.2 that represents only 21% of the regular diplomas being ready for job training or to complete only the first year of college or a tech school; with 79% of those graduates with a regular diploma not being ready. They are minimum wage candidates. But the publisher chose not to mention that, when the ACT score was the more important information. This is what journalism has become in many places. We are presenting that article as an example further down below. The point is that the public is informed only by what appears to be good news, but they are not told about the bad results that really count. One can legitimately wonder why such journalism misrepresents the results coming out of our schools, when we, the public, are paying for it.

Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA



"The most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives

WHY WE MUST IMPROVE URGENTLY: It Is A Good Idea To Peek Into The Future With The Videos Below To Understand Why Better Education Than What We Currently Have Is Absolutely Vital For The Future Existence Of Our Children.

Dr. Michio Kaku, world famous scientist, in "America has a secret weapon":

What will the future look like? The reason for more education:

...and if you would like to understand more about the future in depth, here is Dr. Kurzweil, a world famous scientist.

"Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource."
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA

If your child is going to a public high school where 80% of those who entered 9th grade will be employable only in a minimum wage job and become often jobless, would you favor as a parent the option of:

  • Being able to transfer what the public school spends per student to a school for your child where more than 80% of the children will be prepared to go to college or a tech school and finish it successfully?

  • Would you care if that good school is a Christian school or is the readiness of your child after high school more important?

  • Do you care if the school that produces an 80% failure rate, loses the per pupil expense for children if the option existed for them to be transferred to a school where they get a good education?

  • If a school has a very high rate of unreadiness after leaving high school, like 90%, counting from 9th grade entry, who will be only marginally employable. If the school's performance could not be changed over four years, should we keep spending the money on them, or transfer the children to a good school and close the bad school?

  • If a child disturbs the teaching by bullying or any other bad behavior in or outside of the classroom, should he be suspended for months to a year and should his/her parent be fined $250-500? Some states are doing that.

Copyright(c) 2008-2015 V. Spencer
This is a work in progress.