Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More on Capitalism 2.0

There's a shift in how business is being done, and we're at the very start of it. Primitive Capitalism will be replaced, in a few generations, with what we at The Naples Institute have labeled Capitalism 2.0.

The idea is that profit is a vital component of business, but in the future it will only be one component of several in a company's value to stockholders, employees, customers, and the general public. The Good (with a capital G) that companies do will be just as important to our children and grandchildren as how much their stock appreciates over time - and it will indeed strongly effect the value of that stock.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shift Happens

I love the information presented in this video (below). You may hate it - I know a lot of people find quantum change scary.

Why don't I? Because the details of life may change dramatically, but the human animal remains largely the same, and that animal developed its out-sized brain specifically to master an ever-changing environment.

One lesson to learn from all this? Tell your children that learning how to learn, rather than learning a trade, is the whole point of going to school.

Enjoy! http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/video/shifthappens

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Capitalism 2.0

The Naples Institute is putting together its first book now, with the working title of "Enlightened Leadership." I'll share more about that as we go, but suffice it to say that one best-seller has already submitted his chapter to the editor, Ken Shelton of Executive Excellence Magazine, for review. It's damned good, too.

Here's something I shared with a couple of the contributors:

I'm already thinking of The Naples Institute's next book: "Capitalism 2.0" The premise being that there was Adam Smith/Industrial Revolution/Robber Baron "primitive capitalism," a zero-sum game, and that now - with our globally dependant trade, our corporate interdependency, our freelancing professionals, and our ever-increasing eco- and socially-conscious bent to consumerism - we're just at the periphery of something far more sophisticated, interesting... and profitable!

Don't get me wrong: very few people in business today get that, and those that are entrenched in primitive capitalism will see it as a challenge to the status quo that has worked for them all their lives. Very few would agree it's even possible, or (my least-favorite word) "realistic." But we see some hints of it, and I for one think it would be a fun challenge to paint this picture not of what is, but what may one day be.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More on Tomatoes and Justice

I submit the following in response to a very well-thought-out email I received concerning our stand on the tomato pickers versus Burger King and the growers. You can infer what this man wrote in my reply:

Whether an evil such as slavery, or even "just" exploitation, is performed by whites, blacks, browns, greens, or reds, no civilized society can tolerate it. Allowing such a thing to continue demeans us all as human beings. Frederick Douglas, the escaped slave-turned-abolitionist and the conscience of our nation, said as much in his writings and speeches in the 1840s and '50s. Whether the bad guys are Anglo or fellow Latinos, what they are doing is wrong and must be stopped.

I think that if the workers of Immokalee, and Florida in general, could influence the growers who employ them, they would. I think that it is more effective for them to pressure public corporations with images to protect, and so I can't blame them for taking that tack. They are in desperate straits.

At the same time that we are trying to help the poor, possibly uneducated, probably illegal field workers in Immokalee, we are also working to provide a better education to their children so that they can grow to have choices of careers in the middle class or better. (When I say "we," I want to point out that The Naples Institute is a small part of this effort, and late to arrive).

The old style thinking, that an unfettered market will pay what supply and demand dictates, is not a workable solution in an advanced economy. The Robber Barons of the 19th and early 20th Centuries exploited their workers similarly because they could. There is clearly so much unskilled labor eager to pick tomatoes at any rate of pay that the wages will never increase if the government or customers - in this case, McDonald's, Yum! Brands, and Burger King - don't step in to help solve such problems.

Another aspect to consider is that underpaid workers harm our economy. They cannot afford to buy our products, and so do not stimulate the economy the way that middle-class workers do. For better or for worse, the US economy is dependant on the extravagant spending of its vast middle class. Low-paid workers also strain our social programs, as they require public assistance for services such as health care, and they do not pay the taxes needed to support the community. A lot of attention has been paid recently to how Wal-Mart, among other low-wage employers, is actually subsidized by taxpayers because of the services rendered versus taxes paid by employees. This is corporate welfare. I don't pay my taxes to support Wal-Mart or to support the growers in rural Florida, either.

When Henry Ford doubled the rate he was paying his workers, from $2.50/day to $5/day, his fellow capitalists called him a socialist, a class-traitor, dangerous, and deranged. The Wall Street Journal railed against him. But the result was that our nation's economy was stimulated wildly; he actually created a market for his cars among his own employees, and other businesses added to this because they were forced to raise their pay as well, creating still more consumers. He was no saint, and he raised pay to benefit his own business by attracting and keeping the best employees, not to be nice. But Henry Ford literally created the middle class and the modern economy.

I don't see any down-side to corporations paying one additional penny per pound for tomatoes. I think it's important that we keep this in perspective: what is one penny per pound, to anyone? Yet multiplied over the number of pounds the workers can pick in an hour, they are able to double their pay! It's a brilliant, simple solution to a grievous problem.

That's my take, anyway.

Is "Evil" Too Strong a Word for Business?

Let me begin with praise for McDonald's and Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! Brands. They are ethical companies.

The following article illustrates the flip-side of "Enlightened Self-Interest," the basis of everything that I teach corporate leaders. While The Naples Institute has created its Socially Conscious Enterprise certification to recognize and reward the most ethical companies in America and the world, it will also be instructive in showing, through omission, what companies are unethical.

I have railed against Reggie Brown before. I will call it like I see it: Brown, and the coalition of Florida tomato growers he speaks for, is evil. His actions and the attitude behind them directly hurt the people who work for those he represents. I invite my readers to provide another adjective that more accurately describes him.

Burger King, likewise, is reprehensible.

To put this in perspective: Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! Brands, will pay an additonal $100,000 per year for tomatoes once the deal they and McDonald's have agreed to goes into effect. I do not have a figure on Burger King, but I would wager that the sum is close.

How much has Burger King spent on lawyers and executive man-hours since this issue arose? How much will it lose from the ill-will it is creating in the public? I believe far, far more than $100,000.

Meanwhile, the workers affected currently average little over $3.00/hour (there is a loop-hole in the Federal minimum wage law specifically for agricultural pickers). As the article said, their pay will double when this $.01/pound goes into effect. Double. Yet even making twice as much as before, they will remain at a level below the Federal poverty line. Think about that.

My question, given the context - the benefit to poverty-stricken workers versus the meager expense to Burger King (and no expense whatsoever to the growers, who are merely passing through the added wage) is this: what is wrong with Reggie Brown, the Tomato Growers, and Burger King?

What is wrong with these people?

Burger King may stop buying local tomatoes
Fast-food giant threatens move as it resists efforts to increase pay for pickers by a penny a pound

Daily News staff and wire reportsTuesday, January 15, 2008

Burger King is telling suppliers it may stop buying tomatoes from Southwest Florida, where farmworkers have fought to get the second-largest hamburger chain to pay more for its produce and help boost field-worker wages, according to a letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has tried for more than a year to get Burger King Corp. to join deals signed by rivals McDonald’s Corp. and Taco Bell owner Yum! Brands Inc.
Those agreements require that the companies pay a penny more per pound for the tomatoes they buy from Florida farms.

Farmers then would pass the extra money through to field workers, although the agreements are on hold after growers balked at participating this year.

Burger King has refused to join the deals and repeatedly insinuated the coalition was keeping the extra money, even after Yum! Brands and several human rights groups dismissed the allegations.

So the Miami-based chain, owned by Burger King Holdings Inc., is asking suppliers to plan for the chain to possibly buy tomatoes elsewhere.

In the Dec. 18, 2007, letter to suppliers, Burger King Vice President Steven Grover wrote: “In an effort to protect the BKC brand and supply system from disruption, we are developing contingency plans to assure our long-term supply of tomatoes.”

Grover went on to ask the suppliers to “submit contingency plans for the possibility that we would choose not to purchase tomatoes grown on farms in the Immokalee, Florida region.”
If it happens, the change would not begin until the 2008-09 season. The letter does not say whether Burger King would completely move its supply chain out of Florida.

“It’s unfortunate and unfounded when we are responsible employers paying good wages and there is no reason why anyone should not do business with the industry in Immokalee,” said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange.
Brown said he hasn’t had any discussions with Burger King.

“We would hope that there is little or no basis for this claim,” Brown said.

Florida supplies 80 percent of the nation’s domestic fresh tomatoes between Thanksgiving and February, but the number of domestically produced winter tomatoes has declined in recent years due mostly to imports from Mexico and Canada.

Burger King spokeswoman Denise Wilson confirmed the letter’s authenticity and said the chain is always looking at contingency plans. She emphasized that Burger King buys from repackers in Immokalee, not directly from farmers there.

Coalition spokeswoman Julia Perkins called the letter “defensive and not thought out.”

She said the group’s campaign has never been limited to Immokalee but to the working conditions and pay for workers across the state.

Florida tomato pickers earn about 45 cents per 32-pound bucket. If all purchasers of Florida tomatoes agreed to the penny deal, the state’s mostly migrant farm workers would see their pay nearly double.

“Instead of really dealing with the issues at hand, which are wages and working conditions for farm workers, they are trying to run away from dealing with them,” Perkins said. “If there weren’t any problems for wages and working conditions, there wouldn’t be any reason for them to turn elsewhere — or even look into turning elsewhere.”

Burger King does have support from the Florida tomato growers association.

Earlier this season, the group, which represents nearly all tomato farms, threatened to levy $100,000 fines on members who participated in the McDonald’s and Yum! Brand deals. As a result, no Florida farmers are participating in the deals this year.

U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent lawmaker, is scheduled to visit Immokalee Thursday and Friday to learn more about the farmworkers’ situation, which he calls “the race to the bottom,” spokesman Michael Briggs said.

A press conference is planned at noon Friday at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers office in Immokalee. [http://www.ciw-online.org/]

Monday, January 14, 2008

Certifying Ethical Companies

The following is the introduction to a speech I'm giving tomorrow, entitled "The Socially Conscious Enterprise."

The day of the greedy corporation is coming to an end. Businesses across the country and in many parts of the world are coming to see that, while profits are essential to their success, profit alone does not justify an organization's existence.

Market forces are shaping this shift in corporate values. Study after study show that employees flock to companies that are morally responsible: take Google, with its motto, "Don't be evil," as an example of this movement. While many firms are fighting to attract employees of even modest skill, Google and other ethical companies have a line of highly-qualified applicants that is miles long. Clearly, we are not just working for a paycheck anymore.

To attract the highest-caliber workers, and to appeal to consumers who likewise often choose based on a company's ethics, corporations are giving more to charity, encouraging their workers to volunteer, and are even taking initiatives such as green building buying fair trade-certified goods where no law says they must.

In order to recognize companies that are doing the right thing, The Naples Institute has established a certification for what it dubs Socially Conscious Enterprises. This certification will be to philanthropy what the Good Housekeeping Seal is to quality consumer products.

To speak about Socially Conscious Enterprises, let me introduce Ted Coiné, co-founder of The Naples Institute, a think tank dedicated to fighting for social justice.
The following is part of an ongoing dialogue I'm having with Naples Institute Co-Founder Dr. Jim Fisher. I think you can collect the gist of the preceding conversation without having to read it all. Please let me know what you think: ted@naplessocialaction.org.


As you know, I have had the life-long pleasure of interviewing and observing leaders and people of accomplishment. What interests me the most are the folks I find who are completely self-made: people who grew up either poor or middle-class, whose family was unable to give them a single dime to get them started, and who made something of themselves from scratch. Horatio Alger types, in other words.

The reasons these people interest me most are (a) my family had trouble just making ends meet, too, and (b) the self-made person is the American Dream, a dream that I cherish as much as I love my family and my home. So every time I see proof that it is more than just a myth, as so many people will tell you today, it validates my most central beliefs and sense of self.

Last winter I had the opportunity to interview a gentleman who grew up poor and is now quite wealthy, and he's a philanthropist of some note - exactly the kind of person I most admire, especially because he prefers to give anonymously. He agreed to let me interview him only out of respect for the mutual friend who suggested it - and as long as I promised not to use his name. I told him my intention: to create a high school course and text that would show underprivileged children how to "make it" through the example of people just like them.

Let me pause here to note that this issue, the lack of even basic exposure to positive models of success, is in my estimation one of the single largest contributors to the poverty cycle and to the middle-class trap as well. (By trap, I mean that there is no financial security in being middle-class, and so it is only better than poverty as a matter of degree.) I intend for much of the fruit of The Naples Institute to be in augmenting mentoring and bringing together haves with have-nots.

Back to my tale: This man, as I said, was kind enough to give me a morning of his time, and he was happy to answer all of my questions in depth. But he told me his opinion of my ambition up-front and in no uncertain terms: he thought mine a fool's errand.

This man grew up poor during the Depression, but with a family that supported his education whole-heartedly. As with most intellectual families, dinner-table conversation was wide-ranging, informed, and often heated. He and his siblings studied in the living room after dinner, while the adults read newspapers and books. The children were expected to get top grades at school, which they did, and they were also active in working various jobs to help the family. He says the work ethic and the education-ethic were instilled in him from birth. It never occurred to him that he would not go to college, study something practical, and go on to a brilliant career in science or business (or in his case, both).

"It all starts with the family's value of education," he told me as we began. "Your course is not going to work because without parents who promote education, these kids can't make it. They don't stand a chance."

I was horrified. "This is why we're making the course," I said. "To help kids when their parents can't or won't."

"It won't work," he insisted. And that, to him, was that.

Now to your reader's critique of Geoffrey Canada's interview on Charley Rose, that he spoke for an hour about transforming American education but never once mentioned the necessary role of the family as an active participant in the education of the child. I agree, parents are vital to their children's education, and we need school systems to engage and partner with parents in every conceivable way.

But what about parents who either can't or won't help? What about the single parent who works three jobs, and rarely sees his children? What about the immigrant whose own education ended in second grade, and who cannot speak a word of English to understand her child's homework? What about the foster child whose foster parents are merely using him as a paycheck? The kids whose mother is too strung-out to care, whose brothers are dealing, whose sisters are turning tricks? The kids whose peers mock him and beat him up for owning any books at all? What about the child whose parents are uneducated, and proud of it? Who think that school is a waste of time? Or who think that a tenth-grade education is sufficient, and further schooling would be a frivolous waste of time?

Do we have to write all these kids off before they even begin first grade? Perhaps what Canada and other educational reformers are trying to do is say, "Yes, in a perfect world, parents would participate in their kids' improvement. But if we wait for the world to be perfect, we'll lose yet another generation of promising lives to the ravages of academic failure? We must do what we can do, controlling what we have control over (schools), and yes, encourage parents to join us, but not wait for them to do so."

The gentleman I interviewed thinks the fight is lost before we ever begin, and so we may as well give up now. I have a different plan. I believe that Geoffrey Canada does, as well.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

From NSA issue 12/The Naples Institute

What follows in italics is from the NSA e-newsletter, issue 12. When the italics end, the unpublished writing begins.

Several months ago, my friend John remarked, “You know, Ted, you need your own think tank.” It was a passing comment, but it stuck with me because I’d been thinking the same thing for a long time.

Now, what John meant was that I have a pretty fertile mind, and I could use some help getting my ideas out into the world. That was kind of him, but I had another idea entirely, one that to me was a lot more interesting.

Naples has arguably the highest concentration of leaders, past and present, of any community in America. When you think about it, we are to CEOs what Beverly Hills is to movie stars. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of these people of influence. Surely there was an opportunity here to do some good.

What if we could get some of the best minds in the world together to work on some of the things that need fixing? Things like poverty and its root, lack of opportunity. Things like incompetent leadership and unenlightened management.

If nothing else, John gave a nudge to this notion of mine. It took me some more noodling, but finally
I approached someone I thought would be great for this kind of endeavor: Dr. Gene Landrum. This brilliant man created Chuck E. Cheese, now a billion-dollar company, and he has been behind a number of other start-ups as well. He is author of thirteen books, most of them studies of fascinating, highly successful people. He is a professor at Hodges University and, it turns out, we share a mutual friend in Truly Nolen. With Truly’s introduction, Gene agreed to meet, and he loved the idea. Our think tank was born!

I asked Gene who else we should include, and he suggested Bernie and Rita Turner, founders of Walden University, the first “school without walls” – which currently boasts 20,000 students. Bernie leads the Naples chapter of the Center For Inquiry (CFI) here in Naples; he and Rita thought we were really onto something, too, and they happily opted in.

Now we were cooking with gas. Bernie just happens to know every intellectual ever born, and most of the earth’s people of character and merit as well. Better, each of these leaders highly respects Bernie. With a phone call, our group included Dr. Jim Fisher of Tampa, multiple bestseller and Pulitzer Prize nominee. Jim is a leadership and organizational guru, a philosopher-warrior whose mission seems to be to assail the waste and mediocrity of the status quo. Just our luck, Jim was waiting for just such an organization to come into existence – though perhaps he didn’t even realize he was waiting for it until Bernie’s call.

Another friend of the Turner’s and CFI member joined our ranks: the active, dynamic philanthropist Jeanmarie Hendry. And we rounded out our numbers with my own close personal friend, co-creator of Naples Social Action, businessman, and technology expert Michael Junkroski of Marco Island’s www.VSM.net. Our group of Founders was gathered.

I have to credit Bernie again for giving our organization its rallying cry: Fighting for Social Justice. It sums up everything we Founders believe in, everything that Jane and I have been trying to accomplish through NSA and the Coiné Foundation. I feel lucky just to be included in such a group. But I’m not just a member; probably because it was my idea, and perhaps also because I don’t sleep very much and so have some time on my hands, I find myself leading this pack of extraordinary leaders. It is a heady responsibility, one that I take quite seriously.

It has taken us a couple of months to flesh out exactly what it is we’re going to do first, and how. Indeed, we’re still tweaking parts of that, and we have agreed that the tweaking will never really end – after all, a think tank should by its nature be a dynamic and ever-evolving force force for change. But we’re finally up and running, and we’re quite proud of our first endeavors.
I hope you enjoy what you see at www.institutenaples.org. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Be the most useful person you know.

What follows is another passage from my upcoming book, Philanthropist in Chief:
Ten years ago or more, Jane shared a line from the Dale Carnegie course she was teaching:

“Be the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.”

Those nine words have helped to change my life. No one I’ve ever met would call me timid or unenthusiastic, and I’ve always been quite positive as well. But “the most…” that’s a challenge, and I love to rise to a challenge! Way back then, Jane and I printed this affirmation up and put it on our wall.

The problem for me was that I knew Jane: how was I ever going to be more positive and enthusiastic than she? Some days I think I’ve got her beat, others I know she still kicks my butt in this regard. Perhaps over all, I can claim to be one of the two most positive and enthusiastic people I know. I could do worse, I guess.

What does that have to do with my adventures in philanthropy? Well, maybe four or five years ago, when our first business was still in its infancy, I came up with another affirmation for myself based on Dale’s advice:

“Be the most useful person you know.”

As I said, I’m a dogged competitor, and this self-challenge is something I take quite seriously. It has paid off handsomely in business. The Coiné Companies wouldn’t be where they are today without that quote.

To steal my own story from my first book, Five-Star Customer Service, I once told a client who had a special request, “My job is to make your job easier.”

He stopped dead, looked at me sincerely, and said, “You know, Ted, you may be the one person in business today who truly means that.”

So when I came to Naples and we created Naples Social Action, I made being the most useful person I knew my first priority. I’m still hard at work on it, and I think it’s really serving us well in making NSA a success.

Here is the benefit of being useful: people rely on you to solve their problems. They come to you for advice. They count on you to have the answers, the introductions; to be a resource. People think of you first when they need something. You gradually become indispensable to those who know you. And your name comes to mind right away when someone else needs something, too. Buzz starts. Strangers reach out to you for help, referred by those who know you.

“Be a resource.”

In short, being useful makes you influential. And if you want to make change happen, you cannot be too influential.

I don’t have any hidden agenda up my sleeve, and I think most people - the ones who are themselves honest - know that. I get off – I really, really find great pleasure – in people thanking me for all we’re doing to help their organization and the community. At first it embarrassed me, but I've come to appreciate it.

Just last night, I was at a public charity event. I was sitting with some friends before the show started, and a number of stars in the giving community, people whom I really, deeply admire, came up to me to thank me for the work we're doing. I got about eight days’ worth of motivation from that experience.

I like being useful for its own sake, because it makes me feel wonderful. Why else go into philanthropy?

But I’m also sowing good will for the time that I’m ready to cash it in, and I’m not afraid to share that with the public. I am helping others first, which is where you should start. But when it comes time for me to look for donors for $100 laptops for the kids in Immokalee, I’m going to ask my friends to introduce me to their friends, the donors who can make this ambitious scheme possible. If we end up starting a magazine to augment our newsletter, we’ll need capital. Again, I’ll draw on some of this good will. And I'm fine with that, because I think at this point we've earned it. We're helping others first.

Even if I'm just influencing the thoughts and actions of others, this policy of being useful will help. For instance, several of us are passionate about convincing folks that we need to invest more per child in education, and that this is one major issue they should weigh when choosing a political candidate. I want that kind of influence, because I believe – no, I am certain – that I will use this influence for Good.

No act that we take occurs in a bubble. Helping others helps you, be it in spiritual or personal fulfillment, working off bad karma, or something more material. Doing the right thing pays – it’s the underlying lesson of everything I teach executives about how they should do business.

Be the most useful person you know. That is my own personal goal. Still, I'd be honored if my readers took this up themselves and gave me a run for my money.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Public Education

The following is an exchange I participated in as a member of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee. The positions I address are meant to reach well beyond Collier County, Florida. My comments are in italics. The questions the committee asked Dr. Puryear are bolded. Her replies are in regular type.

Dear fellow Education Committee members,

The Naples Institute is a new think tank dedicated to fighting for social justice. I am one of eight founders; our ranks include Bernie and Rita Turner, founders of Walden University, among other experts in education, business, leadership, and philanthropy.

Education reform is one of the key components to promoting social justice, and it is a cause that is central to the mission of The Naples Institute. I joined the Chamber’s Education Committee in the hopes of making a significant impact on policy here in Collier County, where my girls will go to school. I believe that we can play a powerful role in influencing the direction that our legislators, school board, and administrators take in improving the (currently poor) standard of education in our school district and, with time, in our entire state.

I have added The Naples Institute’s positions and observations below. I hope that this stimulates conversation within the Education Committee.

Finally, let me add that I am personally grateful for Dr. Puryear for taking the time to meet with us recently. I do not mean to disparage her through the following remarks. I respect her experience, professionalism, and intellect. I also understand that she is in an unenviable position with regards to her position, especially considering recent political turmoil involving the superintendents.

For more information on The Naples Institute, please visit
www.institutenaples.org. Please keep in mind that we have just recently established this site, and are still adding to it and improving it.


Ted Coiné, Founder
The Naples Institute

Dr. Rozalyne P. Puryear January 4, 2008
Responses to Questions from the
Chamber Education Committee on
November 19, 2007
What have been some of the ramifications of implementing the CSR Amendment?

(CSR = Class Size Reduction, a state mandate).

a. a huge amount of funds($2.7 billion statewide) from the state level that are earmarked for more teachers to reduce class size which leaves considerable less resources for other things like salary increases, program costs, etc. (class size is NOT a major indicator of increased student achievement)

The Naples Institute is well aware of studies that report class size is not relevant to student performance. This proves Benjamin Disraeli right when he said, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Statistics can be misused to prove any point. Not only is this premise counter-intuitive, but we find it hard to believe that any real-life teacher, parent, or student would agree with this claim.

One of the most alluring draws of private schools is the low student-teacher ratio. In my own personal experience running a for-profit, highly competitive ESL school in Massachusetts, we base our guaranteed results on a class size of no more than eight students. I challenge a public school administrator to replicate the efficiency and results of the private educational sector.

b. need for more teachers when there is a shortage of quality teachers (quality teachers ARE a major indicator of increased student achievement)

We completely agreed.

c. the sizes set by the state are unnecessarily low: K-3: 18, 4-8: 22, 9-12: 25

The Naples Institute finds this attitude appalling. Even if class size did not determine educational quality, still 18, 22, or 25 students in a classroom at any level is much too high. For school-system leadership to express the idea that it would like more students in each class than 25 is simply outrageous.

d. increased capital need for more classrooms and thus schools which in turn increases operational costs, e.g.: support staff, administrators, utilities, groundskeeping, etc.

We support dramatically higher teacher pay first; more classroom space, administrators, and grounds keeping staff all come in second to this priority. Indeed, school administration is top-heavy to begin with. Grounds can be maintained exclusively by students performing in-house community service. I attended a prep school for two years, The Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut, that did not have a single maintenance worker of any kind. The students manage the entire campus themselves, and have since 1921. It builds character, something our children could use help with.

4. RE: Teachers’ Salaries

a. How does Collier County rank in comparison with other districts in the State?

Collier ranks as one of the highest paying districts in the state. In starting salary, Collier is also in the top paying districts. If we look at average teacher pay for 2006/07, Collier ranks #2 at $50,812 after Sarasota, followed by Monroe at $50,762.

The position of The Naples Institute is that Collier County should not compare its self to other school districts in Florida, as the entire state’s level of educational instruction is too low to be relevant in a discussion of academic excellence.

b. How does Florida rank in comparison with other states?

It is difficult to compare teachers' pay across states because average teacher pay is typically used. States/counties that hire many new teachers each year will typically have a lower average teacher pay.

We find this answer to be insufficient, and perhaps motivated by unwillingness to share the answer, which we know is below-par. Our reply to “it is difficult” is that we aren’t really interested in how difficult it is. Dr. Puryear should do her best to provide us the information we requested. This answer is a brush-off.

Perhaps the comparison – for instance, Florida ranks 32nd in pay – could include a note on the fact that the statistics are skewed because recent demographic shifts have demanded hiring of more new teachers in Florida compared to some other states, especially in the Northeast where pay is higher.

6. Are there any health curricular changes being proposed for our district?

a. The only major change would be if SB 440 gets a House companion bill and passes. This would require .5 Health Education at the High School.

Does this answer satisfy any other member of the committee? It does not tell us the changes to be included in said bill. And is “.5” one-half of a year? That is also completely obscure.

RE: Funds for Teachers’ Salaries

a. Can the district receive funds from an outside agency to use for raises for teachers?

i. The district can receive funds from outside agencies for raises; however, unless the funds are available from the same source in subsequent years that would possibly worsen the situation in the years to follow.

We concur. It is important that any funding source that we establish include this consideration in its plan. (This notion was one that I suggested at the meeting as a way of circumventing the state's and county's reluctance to pay teachers more.)