C&J Blog

The C&J Blog gives partners and associates a way to share insights learned from working with a very diverse set of clients–including small rural districts, large urban districts, states, foundations, and national non-profits. Our aim is to highlight promising practices and current developments in the areas of federal and state policy, school and district reform, talent management, expanded learning, and school finance. We hope you find these postings informative and thought- provoking. Please feel free to provide feedback and share with friends!

What’s an appropriate pace for reforming schools and school systems? Put another way, is there a “speed limit” that attempted reforms cannot (or should not) surpass? These questions were on my mind last week when I was visiting Omaha Public Schools (OPS). As I have written recently (see here), we...
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Author(s): Scott Joftus
Why is it so hard to create a high-functioning HR team? We all want Human Resource functions that enable school systems to have the best and brightest in every role, but often times the challenge starts with the basics. The nuts and bolts operations of HR may not be...
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I have been a close, professional observer of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education for most of my 30 years as a journalist and, more recently, communications consultant. Over time, I learned to avoid talking about what I do. Because, invariably, when strangers or casual acquaintances or even family members...
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Congress Chamber big
By Christopher T. Cross
I’m often asked why we should care about the history of federal education policy. People usually want to know how past policy decisions are relevant to today. I always provide the same response. Knowing that religion and race were the issues that prevented any significant federal support for K-12 education...
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How does a district support principals in reaching their goals? Everyone talks about the importance of principal goal setting and surely the federal, state, and district bureaucratic requirements are chock full of expectations that principals set goals for improvement. But, how does one ensure these goals are the right goals...
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For the first 200 years of public education in this country, from ratification of the constitution in 1789 through the 1980’s, states delegated the executive powers and even many legislative powers, such as property taxation, to local school boards. The state’s role was typically limited to monitoring the use...
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When it comes to consultant speak, it’s hard to beat “theory of action.” It’s right up there with “paradigm,” “change management,” and “value proposition.” Whatever one calls it, we find that it is critical to help clients clearly articulate the rationale behind their strategy—aka their theory of action— for improving...
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Across the country, Expanded Learning Organizations (ELOs) that run afterschool and summer programs are doing their part to support students in their efforts to meet increased learning expectations. As states are implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or other standards focused on college and career readiness, some ELOs...
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Principals working feature2
By Monica S. Rosen
We know that having access to a great teacher really matters for student achievement and in any school system, it is the principal who is best positioned to ensure that each and every student gets to have a great teacher every year.  So when school systems are working to...
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Black woman thinking in a classroom
By Connie Wehmeyer
How frequently does the phrase “these kids just don’t think” come to mind in reference to students in your classroom or school? Every wonder how or when you really learned how to think critically and strategically? How are you teaching your students to think in this way? The Common Core State Standards...
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CIS feature2
By Heather Clapp Padgette and Sharon Deich
In the past two decades we have witnessed a steady growth of school-community partnerships. These partnerships have sought to address a wide range of school, student, and family needs including mentoring, before and after school care, academic tutoring, family financial literacy, and mental health support.  In the wake of...
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Since I began my work in education almost four decades ago, I have seen individuals at all levels of the education system make extraordinary efforts to improve the learning opportunities and academic achievement of their students.  These educators have developed and embraced new standards, have adopted countless new instructional...
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Performance management process diagram
By Monica S. Rosen and Scott Joftus
“In the business world, everyone hates performance reviews and no one does them well,” concluded Brian Kropp, managing director of HR at CEB, on NPR’s Diane Rehm show. Kropp appeared with Donna Morris, senior vice president at Adobe, who agreed with his sentiment and added that Adobe—with 12,000 employees—was...
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Historically, decisions about spending and staffing for individual schools were made at the district level, with principals playing a relatively minor role in school level resource and budget decisions.  More recently, however, the practice of granting principals autonomy to make decisions about how to use their resources—people, time, and...
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Road sign feature
By Christopher T. Cross and Scott Joftus
Throughout C&J’s almost 10 years of work in education, we have seen many positive changes (as well as some stubborn “hangers on”). Most strikingly, we have witnessed a sea change in the last decade in how the federal government relates to states and school districts. When we started our company...
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Oaklawn K-8 Language Academy
By Monica S. Rosen
Last week I had breakfast with Ann Clark, Deputy Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and she shared an idea that profoundly resonated with me. Ann had recently read The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan, and she shared with me the book’s premise that if you can focus...
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time money large
By Heather Clapp Padgette and Sharon Deich
There is a growing recognition that the traditional school day and school calendar are out of synch with the needs of students and the demands of the workplace. To address these challenges, more and more schools – originally charters, but increasingly traditional district schools – are expanding learning opportunities...
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On January 8th, the nation celebrated two major anniversaries, each of which has significantly shaped national education policy. In 1964, in his first State of the Union address, delivered less than two months after the Kennedy assassination, President Lyndon Johnson declared a national War on Poverty. Johnson's efforts led to...
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What's in a name?  More than you might think.  In one district, the individual responsible for supervising principals is an Executive Director, in another a Chief School Officer, in another a Learning Community Superintendent.  Wrapped up in a multitude of titles are countless roles, responsibilities, and expectations for an...
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Omaha skyline and River
By Scott Joftus
In education policy circles, a lot of attention tends to center on those districts and states receiving high profile grants to take on major reform efforts.  But there is one district out there that should not be overlooked. Omaha Public Schools may not be on most people’s radar screen.  In...
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