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Jan 13, 2017

Thinking ahead

My mind is mainly preoccupied with things to finish at HSE, but there is definitely an active Sac State department somewhere in my head, too. The rational part of it insists – calm down, wait, you cannot really do much planning without understanding of the organization’s culture and history. There is only so much you can get from reading and form the conversations at the interview day. There is always a deeper, contextual truth about a place; it is the very grid of the assumed normality, the way thing work here. You can only learn that by being there for a few weeks. Yet the impatient, adolescent part of the brain is churning out ideas; it does not care if they will turn out to be silly.

For example, I am thinking, how can we use our location in the state’s capital city? For example, can we develop a media product that would grade state and federal politicians and officials on their statements on education? You know, how they like to rank and grade schools, teacher ed programs, and universities. So why don’t we do the same to them? We can ask a simple question – how much of what they say is grounded in research? We call it the Sac State Report, or the Sac State Scorecard. Something like that should not be too expensive to produce, and it can eventually grow into a brand. A couple of capable grad students under faculty supervision could actually review the literature; it is not as hard anymore as it used to be. However, we would need a more or less rigorous methodology.

Here is another idea. There are not that many contests, prize competitions in education. Those existing already tend to be grandiose (Like the Reimagine Education, the Xprize, etc.) What do you think about setting up one for regular folks, not your high-tech startups, but for educators with ideas? If we could get enough response, it is a fairly inexpensive way of raising out profile. Anyone wants to help thinking about either of the two?

I am planning on having a systematic way of talking to faculty and staff within the College: Usually, the most important questions and even most solutions are already there, in the collective mind. My job is to listen, and to fish them out. In the meanwhile, between asking the estimates for moving companies, and looking for an apartment, I can’t help but indulge in groundless fantasies. It is actually fun, I recommend anyone - think without knowing anything about the constraints and limitations, think context-free.

Calling to Sac State’s COE faculty, students, and staff. What do you think is the next big move for the College? Where should we go from here? Reply with comments for this blog, or email me privately at


  1. Welcome to Sac State from Amy Murray. I am an Ed.D student this year, part of a Cohort group of about 25 educators working on our doctorate degrees. We represent a range of experiences from elementary school teachers through college-level instructors. Our backgrounds are diverse but we are all passionate about education. Our classes meet on Friday nights and Saturdays. It would be wonderful if you could meet our cohort group although you must be very busy, and I don't want to seem presumptuous! Thank you for your time.

  2. With my mind constantly on how to address the teacher shortage, I am wondering how we can think outside the box. We no longer have a year-round academic calendar that allows for FTES and faculty workload "counting" during the summer. So what can we do about this? Candidates would LOVE to start our teacher preparation programs during the summer. Our faculty would LOVE to stretch their workload across three terms instead of two. Our candidates would move more quickly through our programs and therefore gain their credentials in a more timely manner and be able to meet our communities' teacher needs more readily. Ideas about this???