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Date: Sun, Sep 23, 2001 8:45 am EST
Subj: Education Committee Minority Report
To: [address removed]
cc: [address removed]
To: Elissa Margolin
CC: Education Committee
From: Bill Hoffman and John Schubert
While we are in agreement with nearly everything it contains, we (the undersigned) believe that the "official" EdCom report, prepared by Barbara, does not point out strongly enough two things that are standing in the way of improving our education program:
1) A disorganized method of communication, and perhaps an unclear understanding of responsibilities, between EdCom and Mike.
2) What we feel are serious errors and poor, at times unprofessional, judgment by Mike in his job.
EdCom's original role was to advise the Board on general policy matters relating to the education program. That's good in theory but we have seen that it's not the best practice for the League in the current situation.
For several years when there was no dedicated education staff, EdCom fulfilled a clerical as well as an advisory role. Not a good procedure, but it saved the program from extinction. Now we have staff, but the staff does not have enough experience and expertise for EdCom to fully revert to the role of being a general advisor to the Board. The program is still under construction and the expertise residing within EdCom, as well as in other highly experienced LCIs outside EdCom, is needed and should be actively sought--before decisions are made.
Mike is not utilizing EdCom's expertise in the most efficient and productive manner. The most recent revisions of manuals that he sent us were done in a way that made it virtually impossible to track what had been changed, and the reasons for those changes. We want to emphasize that the "scavenger hunt" we undertook to figure out what the changes were has been extensive, and an abuse of our time and good will. Between the month of May and today, our e-mails discussing this topic fill up 216 pages of single-spaced text, and every word of that is in the "blind men describing the elephant" vein, as we search for problems.
We need revisions presented to us in an "old text-new text-reasons for change" format so we can see exactly what changes are being proposed. This is what Barbara meant by "an appropriate revision tracking document." Moreover, we need sufficient time to study and discuss the changes.
Schubert has distributed to the committee an example of a revision tracking document, and the concept was well received by the committee. We do NOT recommend that LAB try to copy the format of that particular document. However, we want to emphasize that this is what professional writers do when they need to discuss revisions with other people. EVERY change is called out and explained. You're welcome to have a copy of this document if you want, but what's important is that you devise a format that speaks to the needs of this group.
Mike did faithfully incorporate the "mechanical" edits that EdCom had made earlier, either as a group or by individual members; these dealt with relatively small text changes in the instructor and student manuals that accompany each of the courses that currently exist.
But he made wholesale changes in format (schedule) and content to the training seminar manual without consulting us, and then applied those changes in setting up at least two seminars. Among the changes was a unilateral decision on who would teach the seminars that raised serious concerns about the quality of the seminars--the undergirding of the entire LCI development process.
And all this before he had ever taught his first Road I course! This is headstrong and unprofessional. We agree with the suggestions in Barbara's report about restoring some portions of the original seminar manual.
One reason we are writing this letter is that we feel Barbara's report does not state strongly enough that Mike should not have done a complete rewrite of the original manual without our input. The Committee strongly agreed that the new 2-day seminar format, based on the pilots conducted this spring, has serious weaknesses. Mike subsequently corrected several of the weaknesses, but it is our belief that others still remain. We'll know more after the upcoming Bethlehem seminar, which Bill will audit, and which we hope you can observe as well.
We know that we are required under the NHTSA contract the make the education program more flexible. This need not, and should not, mean a decline in quality. We do not claim that the old manuals and procedures were perfect; in fact, some "touch-up" work was needed. But Mike has done much more than touch-up, and without adequate consultation with EdCom. Because Mike lacks the knowledge himself to rewrite the curriculum, he should have **started** by asking the Education Committee, Regional Trainers, and authors of the original EC curriculum for help in meeting the NHTSA goals. Many people would have given him excellent advice if he'd asked.
Reviewing document changes and certain operating policies is a function that is still very much with EdCom, and evidence shows that these functions need to continue.
We, the undersigned members of the Education Committee, therefore request that you exert greater oversight and supervision over Mike. We recognize that this is your responsibility alone and we do not intend to undermine it. But we have seen enough evidence in Mike's headstrong performance to show that, in order to preserve and improve the quality of our education program, this warrants your increased attention.
Mike needs to be re-directed by you. He does not understand his proper role. He is not the expert. Rather, he is the coordinator, and it should be his role to coordinate the expertise readily available to him.
We want to have a positive working relationship with you and Mike. Further, we recognize that e-mail may not be the best way of communicating in this situation. If you would like a conference call, we will be happy to participate.
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