by smf for 4LAKids | updated 1/19 see note following*
Rumor (and press reports) have it that the Boston Consulting Group was the principal author and driving force behind the recent School Report Card and BCG seemingly has a blanket consulting, planning and implementation contract with LAUSD on day-to-day operation of the District - having also had a role in the Superintendent’s 100 Day Plan. This BCG contract is reportedly funded at no cost to the District by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation* – which makes BCG an outside consultant, once or twice removed – with dubious public accountability.
* CBS news adds The California Community Foundation
From the Official Story: "The Gates and Dell Foundations invested heavily in the district and funded the development of the Report Card. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also provided pro-bono contribution to the effort."
More: “The development of the Report Card began in iDesign at the start of this year. Mr. Cortines first heard about this work as Deputy Mayor, and was able to implement this reform effort district wide when he came to LAUSD as Senior Deputy Superintendent.”
The above misstates the history. The School Report Card had at least part of its genesis in the LAUSD A-G Working Group about two years ago. “(T)he start of this year” refers to 2008; iDesign didn’t exist at that time. iDesign and its progenitor iDivsion is a subset of LAUSD created to administer non-traditional programs, such as The Mayor’s Partnership Schools, The LMU Partnership, etc.
MSNBC gets it closer to right when they report: “These reports were originally developed through collaboration between the LAUSD and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for LA Schools.”
Searches of the Dell and Gates Foundations websites for grants to Los Angeles, LAUSD, Los Angeles Unified School District or Boston Consulting Group show no evidence of this investment “in the district”.
More from the Official Story: Q: Doesn’t the school score reflect poorly on the school, Principal and teachers?
No. The school score holds schools accountable for their performance and progress by identifying strengths and areas for improvement. The school score will help teachers, Principals, Local District staff, Central District staff , parents and students work together to determine ways individual schools can improve their performance to better meet the needs of students.
Q: Won't the report card be used to point fingers at Principals? None of the metrics in here relate to Principal performance.
The Report Card is focused on student outcomes and leading indicators of student academic performance. There are also qualitative metrics about teaching, leadership, school culture, safety and parent/ student satisfaction.
These metrics are about joint accountability for student outcomes and progress and will be collaboratively developed by Central staff, Local District staff, school administrators, teachers, parents and students. We are measuring progress over time with the Report Card, not pointing a finger at any one particular group.
Mayor Villaraigosa, at the press conference unveiling the School Report Card, asked what would happen if schools don’t improve, said the cards “could ultimately lead to reorganizing schools. (It) means we have to change the leadership, the teachers, everybody," he said. Who “we” is is worrisome; the mayor is constitutionally precluded from this sort of decision making; the case law is LAUSD v. Villaraigosa.
Not to be a conspiracy theorist – but sometimes there are conspiracies: Remember the words of the shadowy man in the parking garage: “Follow the money.”
Remember also that the consulting contract did not pay the $700,000 to $1 million it cost to distribute the School Report Card.
- If that was money well spent and valuable information parents want-and-need (the “qualitative metrics”) was effectively shared that’s a good thing;
- But if it was an ineffective ‘data download’ — misinterpreted and/or mis-or-over understood by parents and leveraged by critics in agreement with the pro-charter/privatization-of-public-education/mayoral control agenda of the sponsors of BCG it is not.
- Q: At a recent District meeting with parents I was asked why the information wasn't posted on the web?
- A: It was and many parents don’t have web access.
- Q: …and why it wasn’t simply sent home with children?
- A: Backpack mail doesn’t work in Secondary school …though I’m not sure how effective direct mail/’junk mail’ is either.
At that same District meeting Superintendent Cortines promised full public accountability and disclosure as to the cost, effectiveness and results of all District consultant contracts. The BCG contract – because it is technically free to the district it may be outside this oversight – all the more reason why disclosure and accountability is merited. No cost at what cost?
Has LAUSD held off a takeover by the Mayor only to have takeover accomplished through other means?
The Official story: The LAUSD FAQ/Factsheet on the Report Cards
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hans-Paul Bürkner, President & CEO
US$ 2.3 billion (2007)
The Boston Consulting Group is a global management consulting firm and a leading advisor on business strategy. BCG partners with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses.
BCG believes it differs from competition by its customized approach that combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. The Group is a private company with 66 offices in 38 countries.
Founded in 1963 by Bruce Henderson the firm prides itself on its employee focused culture: from early implementation of an employee stock ownership plan to winning ‘Best small company to work for’ by Fortune magazine 3 years in a row.
STARS, QUESTION MARKS, CASH-COWS & DOGS:
The BCG growth-share matrix
In the 1970s, BCG created and popularized the "growth-share matrix", a simple chart to assist large corporations in deciding how to allocate cash among their business units. The corporation would categorize its business units as "Stars", "Cash Cows", "Question Marks", and "Dogs", and then allocate cash accordingly, moving money from "cash cows" toward "stars" and "question marks" that had higher market growth rates, and hence higher upside potential.
The chart was popular for two decades and "continues to be used as a primer in the principles of portfolio management," as BCG says.
▼The following is from the BCG website: one of the "Industries" (their word) they serve is PUBLIC EDUCATION.
smf notes: Not to be a conspiracy theorist again, but note BCG's work for Charter Schools: charter and charter management organization support and for the New Orleans School District. The strategy - implemented by BCG for New Orleans Schools post-Katrina- is to make every school a charter school. (Like Huey Long's "Every Man a King" …only Charter Schools!)
Remember also that some say politics in New Orleans and Louisiana exist to make Chicago and Illinois look good!
And please note this: the words "Child", "Children", "Student" and "Students" appear nowhere on the BCG website or on it the Wikipedia entry about them — and certainly nowhere in the BCG vision or mission statements.
Boston Consulting Group is a multi-billion-dollar for-profit growth-and-performance-model-driven business consulting practice.
from This Week in Education
Alexander Russo's inside scoop on education news.
Russo wrote in his EdWeek Blog back in June ‘08
Here Come Consulting Firms (Again)
Today's Washington Post has an interesting piece about the use of high-priced management consultants -- Deloitte, KPMG, McKinsey, Alvarez & Associates (of St. Louis and NOLA fame) -- in urban school districts, a good reminder that it's not just the policy wonks and think tanks that drive real live schoolpeople crazy. "Two dozen high-priced consultants have set up shop on three floors of the D.C. public schools' headquarters, wearing pinstripe suits, toting binders and BlackBerrys and using such corporate jargon as "resource mapping" and "identifying metrics," begins the piece (Big-Name Consultants Greeted With Wariness).
"They come from big-name restructuring firms, and the city is paying $4 million for their services this summer."
It's not just DC, of course. Chicago has used Boston Consulting Group on several projects, some of which haven't turned out particularly well. St. Louis and New Orleans have both used Alvarez, to mixed reviews. And, as the article points out, few of the consultants offer project management services or stay on to implement the plans that they make. Binders and powerpoints are all well and good, but making the plans work and building buy-in and capacity are the real keys.
Back to the Wikipedia entry▼
BCG typically hires for an Associate or a Consultant position. Whilst so called "lateral hires" as Project Leader, Principal or Partner are possible, they are not the norm. BCG recruits MBA graduates to join as Consultants from the world's top business schools. Additionally, increasing effort is being placed on hiring advanced non-business degree holders. Graduates holding JDs, MDs and PhDs in disciplines like engineering, science, and liberal arts receive training in business fundamentals and then typically join the firm as Consultants. There is also an opportunity to join as a Summer Associate or Summer Consultant (internship) position for 10 weeks, which for the majority of interns will result in an offer for full-time position.
BCG uses the case method to conduct interviews, which is an interview technique designed to simulate the types of problems inherent in management consulting and to test the qualitative and quantitative skills deemed important for abstract thinking in a business setting.
Every year, BCG publishes articles, industry reports, government commissioned studies and books relating to particular industries or authorial practice areas. Many partners have written books on issues facing management in the modern business environment. Some recent publications:
Trading Up - Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods and How Companies Create Them. By Michael J. Silverstein and Neil Fiske, 2003. A Business Week Bestseller and Berry AMA book prize winner.
Payback - Reaping the Rewards of Innovation. By James P. Andrew and Harold L. Sirkin, 2006. Published by the Harvard Business School Press, Payback has become a staple in the MBA curriculum.
Blown to Bits - How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy. By Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster, 2000.
Treasure Hunt - Inside the Mind of the New Consumer. By Michael J. Silverstein with John Butman, 2006.
The Change Monster - The Human Forces that Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change. Jeanie Daniel Duck, 2002.
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* note :|: 1/19 update: Upon rereading the above I must allow for misunderstanding because of what I do not know. I AM unable to ‘follow the money’ – and the timeline - from the foundations to the District to BCG, or from the foundations to the BCG. - smf