One of the many flashpoints emerging in the early days of the Trump Administration is the commitment of President Trump and his education secretary-designate Betsy deVos to the privatization of education in this country – and then the defunding of education, and most forms of human capital investment, completely.
This is an issue that I and my terrific colleagues at Public Works have been involved with for years. We decided last year to build one of the top education policy consultancies in America. In 2017, this is shaping up to be even more important. In this update, I’d like to let you know about our approach to education – including stressing creativity over doctrinaire approaches of any kind.
We undertook three major education projects in 2016. We spent the bulk of the year enmeshed in two distinct performance reviews of the state of Alaska’s Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) and the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education/Alaska Student Loan Corporation (ACPE). The unique significance and sensitivity of education issues in Alaska demanded a high degree of oversight; you can read our full DEED report here. ACPE is the state entity for central planning for higher education and financial aid programs; our ACPE report is available here.
We also were retained by the Eagle County (Colorado) Department of Human Services and the Eagle County School District to develop an Early Childhood System Roadmap to identify principles and best practices essential to a comprehensive early childhood system, and strategies for building such a system in Eagle County. The report is available here.
And 2017 is off to a fast start: We just completed a comprehensive performance review of the Dalhart (Texas) Independent School District for the Texas Legislative Budget Board. That report hasn’t been publicly released yet – but the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, DC, did release this month a report I wrote on the Springfield (Massachusetts) Empowerment Zone Partnership – an attempt to create within the public schools the conditions that make charter schools successful, without the poisonous politics: It’s very close to the model Public Works has developed for our clients and advocated around the country for years. You can read it here.
The objective of our education practice is to help guide human capital investment so that all Americans, of every age, can receive world-class education and training enabling them to achieve their full potential. We’re combining expertise throughout the entire educational “pipeline” – from early childhood to K-12 through post-secondary and higher education, on to the adult workforce system – and building bridges between them.
We’ve helped multiple states construct P-20 systems, uniting everything from early childhood education through post-secondary training in governance, coordination, policy and substance. We’ve designed model early childhood programs for localities and national think tanks – and led the restructuring of adult workforce systems in a dozen states, bringing together all segments (PK-12, community colleges, and universities) in the public education system. In short, we’re taking a holistic approach to education.
We also take a holistic approach to effecting meaningful change, working on education policy-making at the highest levels of states governments, but also with principals and superintendents on improving district and building leadership – and community engagement. We’ve put together a team of about two dozen education consultants, with a core team that has some of my favorite people:
If your state or city needs intelligent new approaches to helping its schools, universities and workforce-preparation systems work better, we would love to hear from you. There’s really no more important issue in the years ahead if you truly want to keep America great.
In my last update, I told you about Public Works merging with Sequoia Consulting Group, allowing us to offer a wider range of services. Even before, however, we’ve been moving to expand and deepen our work in one policy area of particular interest to us: education.
This year, Public Works is literally taking our education work to new extremes: We’re undertaking reviews of both the K-12 and post-secondary education agencies in Alaska – and just this week we launched a new project to expand early childhood education high up in the Rockies. At the top are pictures of Dr. JoAnn Cox, our Alaska project leader, at the top of the world in Barrow, AK, and of me with our project manager Deborah Forman in Eagle, CO.
We’ve also been joined by Laura Dukess, a long-time specialist in educational leadership, and we’ll be adding additional experts as our practice further expands. Education also is a key part of the social venture activities I’ll be undertaking now in addition to my continued public sector consulting (more on that in a coming update).
Of course, along with our extensive involvement in workforce development, education has been central to Public Works’ mission from the beginning:
— One of our earliest projects was comprehensive research on early childhood education for the California Commission on Families and Children. We designed a national strategy on early education for the Center for National Policy, and the nation’s first Cabinet-level Department of Early Learning engaged us to identify innovative funding approaches. We also designed an expansion of Iowa’s Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, and last year coordinated transfer of Louisiana’s Child Care Development Fund to the state’s Department of Education.
— We’ve conducted performance reviews of school operations in New Orleans and four South Carolina districts, helped to streamline the school construction process in California, and wrote a comprehensive strategic plan for professional development in the New Brunswick, NJ, school district. And we designed an innovative Crisis Response Box program in California and Mississippi for addressing school shootings.
— In education policy, our statewide review in West Virginia not only identified $90 million in savings but also defined strategies to improve teaching and technology use. In Arizona, we studied the alignment of K–12 public education with post-secondary and workforce demands, and we helped establish P-20 councils in both Arizona and West Virginia. We also recommended improvements in teacher licensure, accountability and assessment, and charter schools in New Mexico, and developed a comprehensive K-12 agenda for New York City. And we produced a report for the California Department of Education on modernizing “Voc-Ed” into Career and Technical Education for the 21st century.
— We’ve worked on access to higher ed with a complete overhaul of California’s student loan guaranty entity, and a college scholarship program for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. We partnered with the world’s largest university system – Cal State – on expansion of applied education doctorates, a Centers of Excellence program in STEM education, and reorienting the state education system to high-demand fields. We also developed the strategic plan for a regional technical education center at UNM-Gallup and a gap analysis of community college needs in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Look for more from us in education as 2016 progresses!
Because of Public Work’s successful work on the Louisiana GEMS project, the company has been brought in to facilitate implementation of Louisiana’s unified Early Childhood System of Local Networks. This will provide families across Louisiana with access to high-quality early childhood programs by bringing the multiple current early childhood programs – including pre-kindergarten in public schools, the Nonpublic School Early Childhood Development Program, Head Start, Early Head Start, Early Steps and the Child Care and Assistance Program (CCAP) – together under one roof within the Department of Education.
This project is an example of Public Works’ unique capacity to work closely with and within government agencies to implement public policy and programmatic objectives and to being desired outcomes to fruition. Public Works is working with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to help transition the Child Care and Development Fund from DCFS to LDOE.
Public Works is accomplishing this by managing an extensive work plan to transition the CCDF fund and programs tied to CCDF, including the licensing of day care facilities, CCAP payments, and client eligibility. Bringing together both agencies, Public Works is working to seamlessly transition budget, programs, personnel, and computer systems from one to the other without interruption to the services they provide. In conjunction with agency leadership and staff, Public Works is managing the creation and drafting of Cooperative Endeavor Agreements and ensuring that operational and statutory deadlines are met