When NDCDE Asks ND for Additional Funds, What Are NDCDE’s Motives for Doing So?

April 28, 2015

Motive. It’s a word you hear often, if you happen to spend even a little time watching TV. Cop shows, lawyer shows, crime shows, all make prominent mention of motive. Many times motive is the central focus of the drama. Whether the motive leads to finding the perpetrator, convicting the perpetrator, or explaining the perpetrator’s actions after the fact, motive plays a dominant role.


There are all kinds of reasons – from simple curiosity to the complexity of understanding the criminal mind in order that inappropriate and damaging behavior can be prevented, punished, and/or changed.

It seems that we believe why something is done is as important as the fact that something is done.

But even a cursory review of motive and even though it may appear to dominate TV programs associated with the law, informs us that motive is not limited to law.

Motivation is no less important when applied to a request. Why something is requested is as important as what is requested. When confronted with a request, don’t most of us assess the request by asking ourselves: “What is the motivation of the person making the request?” Then, if the motivation is wrong or perceived to be wrong, the request is likely to be rejected regardless of the actual content of the request.

What does this have to do with NDCDE?

NDCDE asked for additional support from the 64th Legislative Assembly. The key motives were (and are) needs of ND students, equity for all ND students, unique needs relative to ND’s disproportionate population growth and the increasing number of teacher vacancies. What is also playing a significant role is the transformation of education; that is, the changes driven by the speed of, and access to, information via the proliferation of communication devices and the support they receive.

Unfortunately, it is this last area – change, which carries with it the most misperceptions, particularly about motives. The key one, and the one most associated to motive, is that a change is sought for education in order to improve or correct education because education needs correction or improvement due to under par performance. Or focused on NDCDE that NDCDE is seeking to push its courses into North Dakota schools because those schools, and the system they represent, need correction.

I cannot speak for all who seek change to ND’s education system, but I can speak for NDCDE. I can state unequivocally that a presumptive judgment of poor performance is not what motivates NDCDE’s efforts. NDCDE’s motivation boils down to control. NDCDE seeks to help control the transformation of schools and education that is already happening, and will continue to happen, regardless of NDCDE’s participation.

Change is being forced on schools. The change agent is a force most of us cannot resist – societal change; that is, societal change on a global scale. All information ever produced doubles every year. Communication with the rest of the world is nearly instantaneous. Kids born today will likely work in occupations that do not exist today. Our ability to know is being overshadowed by our ability to do.
So what is it NDCDE seeks to control?

The answer is not what, but who and how. Who will provide the control and how will the control be administered?

For education, including schools as the deliverer of that education, two developments are changing everything. One, information is easily available and it is free. Two, vast numbers of people, increasing every day, can and do access the information. It doesn’t mean they know what to do with it or what is a proper use of the information, or even if the information is factual; but it does mean access is a constant.

Multiplying the access that is at least in part assisted (some would say forced), is the means by which information is made available. Let me explain. We buy something online and the next time we boot up our computers similar items to those we purchased earlier are displayed prominently as soon as we open our browsers. We are keenly aware that an unseen entity uses our browser to inform us about similar products and services.

But so what? How does this impact our control of education?

Two fundamental ways:

  1. If my control can be circumvented, it is likely that local control is circumvented. It means that to maintain local control it will need to be reimagined, reengineered and vigorously maintained, if it is to remain vital.
  2. The external influences are so numerous, compelling and available that they can overwhelm local control, and in increasing instances, seek to replace local control with their control.

NDCDE seeks to assist in keeping control local. Why?

It is simple. Local control is superior to distant control, especially in the long term. That’s right, even though the word distance is its title, NDCDE understands and appreciates the necessity of local control. It is not a conclusion that came easily. But it is a conclusion that becomes evident through observation. It is a lesson that governments and businesses of all kinds must relearn on a regular basis. If you want to save money, do work right, and do it right the first time, control needs to be put in the hands of those who do the work. Local control.

Local schools and school districts are best equipped to assert control over local learning. But then, if that is true, where does NDCDE come in?

NDCDE can help local schools achieve and maintain control in several areas.

  • Selection of digital curriculum,
  • Selection of learning management systems,
  • Selection and development of teachers, paras and supervisors,
  • Selection and management of digital providers,
  • Development of management policies and processes that are needed in the new environment, and
  • Provision for the capability and capacity to conduct the needed research, testing and due diligence required in the new environment.

Motives are important. NDCDE’s motives in its seeking additional funds from the ND’s 64th Legislative Assembly is about control. The motive is about keeping and maintaining control over the process of learning and its result – an educated ND citizen, in the hands of the people who do the work.

NDCDE’s motive for working hard and asking ND’s Legislature for funds to support that work can be summed up in one sentence. NDCDE firmly believes control must remain local for one simple reason – all other types of control fail to deliver the key purpose of education – student learning.

Student learning is a personal, individual process. And that is what motivates NDCDE.

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