What Education Can Learn from the US Election

As policy wonks and spinsters debate the reasons why Obama won and Romney lost, it seems more than apparent that Obama's ground game was more effective than Romney's. Joe Biden even commented: "The ground operation which you guys represent is the best in the history of presidential politics." What was equally more interesting is that the Republicans were so sure of victory up to election day. Many of the lessons learned echo education reform. One more thing: I'll try to keep my own political views out of this.

Know your electorate, know your students
Staffers from the Romney campaign were taken aback from Obama campaign's dizzying understanding of voting blocks in key counties. In doing so, they identified areas where staffers could concentrate their efforts to win over undecided voters. When teachers have a better understanding of each individual student, they learn how to tailor instruction to them as well to ensure a more personalized learning experience.

Use Data Effectively
Polls and assessments can vary depending on the sample size of the electorate and students that take them. The goal of assessment should not be for teachers to put a grade in the gradebook but rather to identify gaps and learning and reteach accordingly. Formative and summative assessments should be little snapshots into student abilities, but educators should never resign to saying: "Well Johnny, you didn't get it". They should use this data to help sit down with Johnny until he learns.

There is no substitute for hard work
"Democrats' turnout efforts this year dwarfed those of their GOP counterparts. The 125 million voter contacts the Obama team claimed were more than twice the Republican total. The hundreds of Democratic field offices outnumbered GOP outposts by greater than 2-1 or 3-1 in key swing states." CNN

Teacher centered environments are not as engaging as 1 to 1 contact
Many Romney polls said they had an edge because they had hung more door hangers on door knobs in neighborhoods or had used more attack ads that week. This smacks of a teacher/politician centered environment talking down to students/constituents where they are not allowed to voice their feelings and ask questions. Classrooms must change to allow students to take charge of their learning and merely be led.

Old tech tools are counterproductive
The Romney campaign used an automated calling center that left disparaging messages on peoples message center that were impersonal and, lets face it, no one wants to be interrupted at the dinner table. His voting/polling app fell flat too. Obama has been one of the most tech savvy presidents ever (possibly the most) which he supplemented by great connections by his dedicated electorate through "get out and vote" programs through Facebook and Twitter. 

Teach people how to use tech tools 
I had lunch with one of my ICT support staff the other week and he said that our school has so many software tools that the staff don't even use. Although we do offer in service workshops and have professional development, many staff members don't simple 'play' and 'explore' new applications. The Romney team met this headfirst first with their ORCA data amalgamation system that crashed on day two. Also, tens of thousands of their ground staff on election day were plagued with apps and communications systems that they could not access. Many of them were standing around confused and unorganized on election day. Obviously, they hadn't give the staff the proper training and and troubleshooting tutorials.

By the way, I am a Democrat. A big one.

Analysis: Obama Won with a Better Ground Game CNN
Obama's Moneyball Campaign  

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