Posts Tagged ‘School’

Education sector in the United States… system going hollow from the inside

April 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I have had different touch points that got me really curious to learn about the education sector here in the United States…
1. My business school work with companies serving in this space offering tools and resources
2. My discussions with people from work (consultants doing pro-bono work in this space, family/ friends working in this sector)
3. My own decision process as a parent of a soon-to-be-schooled kid

My inquiry process started with a simple question on – “How do I find which school district is the best performing in my area?”

Three fundamental problems surfaced…

A. Defining the school district boundary is arbitrary… it changes every few years based on the “subjective judgment” of the education administrators in the government. One prime example: the city of Chicago has one of the largest school districts in the US with a wide range of school performance and demographics. A few years earlier, some of the high-income neighborhoods worked out something whereby there are these pockets of school districts geographically within the large Chicago school district to ensure their high performance is not lost in the averages.

B. Funding and performance is a vicious never-ending cycle… Schools perform better with high funding, funding is high when the property taxes are high, taxes are high when the real estate is high, real estate is high when people are willing to pay more to buy/ rent a property because of the school district, school district is attractive since the school(s) within are better performing. And so the vicious cycle continues. Once a bad school, always a bad school is how it turns out to be.

C. Using technology to improve assessments and align them with the learning development goals… two sub-problems here include schools taking unethical routes to show higher scores (read the recent news article on how the education administrator in Atlanta city colluded with schools to alter student responses to increase scores) and then technology capabilities not sufficient to provide a timely feedback on student performance even though the level of data gathered is the most advanced it can get (e.g., schools collect some amazing level of data on assessments but then it takes almost a year to document that data, analyze it and understand potential implications for student learning plans by when the student has already graduated to the next class).

During my conversations, all that I have heard of work happening in this sector is on problem C which is an enabler problem… but no attention is given to even acknowledge the other two problems (A and B) and then go about solving it. It’s a matter of will I suppose… where there’s a will, there’s a way!

More on what tactical lessons I learnt in choosing a school in one of my future posts.


Going for a second MBA…

February 15, 2010 105 comments

The biggest question I’m asked… not just by the admission committee at my target business schools but also my friends n foes alike is, “Why do you need to get another MBA?”

It’s just not another midnight dream that pushed me to think about a second MBA… after all, I cannot afford such a $150K dream as yet!!! This was something I’d planned for right before I moved out of my first business school (IIM) and had kept the question open about when to do it… a full-time MBA if within 7yrs of work experience or an executive MBA if beyond that.

Having done lots of research, spoken to a number of business leaders and mentors, and then doing some internal soul-searching, I came out convinced that a second MBA from a top 5 US business school will better prepare me for my long-term career goals:
1) I matriculated at IIM just two months after completing my undergraduate engineering degree. At the time I saw IIM as a way to round out my analytic and technical strengths with “softer” management and leadership skills. Although I do not regret my decision to pursue a graduate degree immediately following college, I do now understand what I gave up by taking this path. At IIM, I had no “real world” experience to apply my learning’s to. Lacking this context no doubt worked against me as I tried to develop mental models and understand the pragmatic applicability of what I was learning. My lack of work experience also limited my ability to contribute to my classmates’ learning.
Now that I have significant experience, I am convinced this MBA will provide me a much richer developmental opportunity. I will look at management/leadership material in a whole new way and be able to better understand how to integrate those concepts into my leadership “toolkit.”

(2) With my experience as both a consultant and a business leader, I understand that there are still many areas I need to develop further. As I reflect on my career to date, I would like to be more proficient in areas like strategy development, operations management, financial modeling, capital allocation, and tax factors. This MBA will give me the opportunity to focus in on some of these disciplines and make me a stronger business leader.

(3) Given my decision to pursue a graduate degree immediately following undergrad, I did not have the opportunity to compete for certain positions (e.g., strategic consulting associate). Although I am in a better position now for those career options, I am convinced an MBA from any of my target schools will immediately position me very well for pursuing those opportunities and advancing my personal career plan.

(4) Having completed my under-graduate and post-graduate in India and having worked extensively in Asia and Africa, I am looking to bring a global touch to my perspective and management thinking. I know that I would not only get a US perspective on management and leadership but I would also get to study with a diverse class which would advance my international awareness and understanding.

(5) Finally…. the real reasons come to an end. And now, time for glossing it up with specific gyan on the USPs that each school has to offer.

If you’re thinking that I am so patient to write out such a long essay only for the sake of this blog, you’re mighty wrong. It’s just taken from one of my business school essays 🙂