What’s it worth to you?

I guess the topic du jour is the death of Steve Jobs, and I don’t have much to add to the thousands of words already committed to paper and pixels today. My first steps onto the digital path were with the first IBM PC, which I bought secondhand from a guy who was headed on an open-ended, Jobsian journey to Europe. It worked OK for what it was — a very expensive typewriter — but once the loud, noisy printer died, I went back to using my Smith-Corona and left the thing on my desk to collect dust. A decade later, I bought my first Mac, and haven’t looked back.

Here’s why: In the early ’80s, I took a trip to Paris. The flight originated in New York; I found it in the back pages of the Village Voice. People’s Express was running its rock-bottom fares to New York at the time, and I cobbled together a package that got me from Columbus to Paris for about $500, a $200 savings over a traditional ticket. I had to arrange my own transportation from LaGuardia to Kennedy airports, but I fancied myself a brave, resourceful traveler, and this was only proof of my awesomeness.

It all worked fine getting there, but getting home was something else. The trip was a charter, which meant we weren’t committed to a particular airline, and on the way home, it was Alitalia. Every stereotype you ever heard about how Italians run things? It was like that. The flight was hours late leaving. We’d been in the air only a little while when the ice ran out, then the drinking water, then the water in the tanks that flushed the toilets. Before long, the passengers broke out their duty-free liquor purchases and started sharing bottles. The flight attendants did their best to put a stop to this, but as one belligerent man bellowed, in a voice loud enough to reach the entire coach cabin, “I’ll be goddamned if I’ll pay three bucks a pop to drink your hot booze when I can have my own.”

The drunken conviviality was a welcome break, and if nothing else, it helped everyone get to sleep, but as we approached New York and people started waking up, they were headachey and the toilets still weren’t flushing. We landed, and one of the loudest and drunkest of the complaining passengers immediately stood up to stretch his legs. The little Italian steward told him to take his seat. Nothing. The steward got up and approached him. The passenger continued to stand. The steward extended his hand, and…IF YOU PUT YOUR GREASY FUCKING HANDS ON ME, YOU WILL REGRET IT.

It was a genuinely scary moment. The steward wisely retreated.

We all deplaned. I’d missed my connection, and was now in Kennedy Airport, it was nighttime and I was probably broke. Fortunately, Jeff Borden was in New York for a TV critics’ convention, and had a double room at a Hilton in midtown Manhattan. I took the train to the plane in the opposite direction — thanking God it was an express, as we passed through those infamous, pre-Giuliani subway stations, filled with lurking wraiths — before shlepping my bags into Jeff’s room and collapsing on the bed.

I rebooked my People’s Express flight the next morning, and as we winged our way to Ohio, I asked myself if I’d have paid $200 to avoid the previous 24 hours, to get on a nice Air France or Pan Am jet at Orly and get off at Port Columbus, skipping Alitalia and the nonfunctioning toilets and the angry passenger and the train to the plane and all the rest of it, and thought: Oh, hell yes.

Years later, as I was contemplating the purchase of another computer, I learned that formatting a floppy in MS-DOS required me to type…

FORMAT drive: /C

…plus some other stuff, and if I got so much as a comma or space in the wrong place, it wouldn’t work. And if I bought the PowerPC Mac laptop I was considering, I would face a simple question: This disk is not formatted. Would you like to format it?, followed by a yes/no click option.

The Mac was a few hundred dollars more than the PC. I remembered the lesson of Alitalia. I clicked Yes, and haven’t looked back.

Thanks, Steve.

Jobsian bloggage today: Walter Mossberg remembers.

EDIT: Hank Stuever sums it up, and on deadline. We love us some Hank.

Bumper sticker I saw last night in Detroit: JESUS DIDN’T TAP OUT. I laffed all the way downtown.

And that’s it for me. I have to go format a day of work.

Posted at 9:27 am in Popculch |

36 responses to “What’s it worth to you?”

  1. Chris in Iowa said on October 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I was a late convert to the world of Macs. The newspapers where I’ve worked have always used PCs because — why else? — they were cheaper to buy. And for the most part, I’ve always been able to do what I needed to do on a PC.

    But then I bought an iPhone. It was life changing. I couldn’t help but think about it at 5 a.m. today as I listened to NPR on my phone and also checked the weather forecast while I waited for the coffee to brew. I read far more news headlines on my phone than is easy for an old newspaper guy to admit.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been wondering if the eulogies for Bill Gates will someday approach what I’ve read and heard so far about Steve Jobs.

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  2. Deborah said on October 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I’ve always been a died in the wool Jobs fan, so it was sad news yesterday. He was a tremendous champion for good design. On my way to work this morning, walking past the Apple store on Mich Ave was an experience, flowers and notes on the sidewalk and TV news trucks everywhere.

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  3. Bitter Scribe said on October 6, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I bought my first Mac five months ago. Let’s just say it’s my only major commitment in a looooong time that has worked perfectly.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Boo-yah, Bitter Scribe. Stealing that, I am.

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  5. alex said on October 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Oh. My. God.

    Another horrible loss today, although one that will be felt more locally.

    John Martin Smith was a wonderful historian and lived in the historic Cornell House on County Road 68, a known Underground Railroad station. His personal library is the envy of all who ever had the privilege of seeing it.

    This is a terrible loss for the community and for his family.

    Not sure how the Journal-Gazette overlooked the fact that he is also an attorney of some renown. Helloooo copy desk…

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  6. beb said on October 6, 2011 at 11:10 am

    While I realize that Jobs left Apple because of his health, his death so soon after retiring was a shock.

    Will Bill Gates be as eulogized as Jobs? Only if it’s a slow news day. Gates has affected more people with Windows but, on the whole, not in a good way.

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  7. Deborah said on October 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I think Gates will get a lot of attention because of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They’ve made a tremendous contribution through that.

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  8. LAMary said on October 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Not to defend Bill Gates, but his philanthropy out does Jobs by light years. Jobs was clearly a genius and innovator but not as generous with his bucks.

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  9. John G. Wallace said on October 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I enjoyed the People Express analogy, but I’m still not a convert to Macs. I can use both, always did fine at the newspapers with Macs but I’m pretty skilled PC guy, the one who takes everyone else’s calls with their problems and builds PC’s out of spare parts(want a nice media server?).

    My friend and I used to game Peoples Express in the mid to late 80’s. They had (for the time) a very sophisticated automated telephone reservation system. We’d figure out what days we had nothing better to do than hang around the old North Terminal at Newark, then book about 8-10 flights each, trying to figure which ones would be oversold.You didn’t have to guarantee the reservation.

    We’d go from gate to gate and when we found one of “our” flights oversold we’d check in and park ourselves near the reservation agent. When they asked for volunteers to giveup their seat we’d jump up, collect our free flight voucher and move on. If a boarding area was not filled to capacity, we’d simply be no shows. With me going to American University and my friend going to Bates (he was working on his masters – old joke) the vouchers came in handy for weekends home or to visit other friends.

    Pretty soon everyone figured out the game and killed the airline.

    I had to take note of an article in today’s Journal-Gazette to note Nancy’s friend Mark GiaQuinta was the subject of a “glib” tweet from the 22-year old DEM running for city clerk, Zach Bonahoom.

    Bonahoom wrote on Twitter, “Mark GiaQuinta sitting behind me at City Council…will need a shower when I get home.”

    Mark’s got too much class to soak himself in Axe bodyspray before their next encounter, but it’s an option.

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  10. Rana said on October 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I got my first Mac in college (it was Reed, and all of the computers there were Apples) and never looked back. I’m not a rabid Mac fan, but I’ve done enough work with PCs (my dad has one, most of the school computers are PCs, and 90% of the temp jobs I’ve had have used them) to know that while they’re not evil, they can be incredibly frustrating, and challenging to trouble shoot. I’ve long felt that Apple products were built with the philosophy of putting the user first, and most PCs and PC-based-programs take the line that you must adapt to the computer, not the other way around. Macs aren’t perfect, but they work for me.

    (Not least because trying to convert all my data to a PC format would be a nightmare.)

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  11. alex said on October 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    John G–

    Zach Bonahoom is a Republican. The dustup is over the fact that city councilwoman Liz Brown (a/k/a blonde Michele Bachmann) had Zach perform the customary duties of his incumbent Democratic opponent at a city council meeting, an intentional act of hostility on the part of both Brown and Bonahoom.

    Glad she’s out after this term, and very much doubt this alleged wunderkind has any chance of winning.

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  12. caliban said on October 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    What Herman “The Great Black Dope” Cain said about Occupy Wall Street:

    I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself! […] It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.

    And $Palin quit just yesterday. It’s Mittens vs. Huntsman for the magic union suit. Which one never drove several hundred miles with Seamus the Irish setter strapped to the roof of his Wagon Queen Family Truckster?

    Macs vs. PCs? Isn’t it obvious that the entire point of Windows has always been to make PCs run as much like Macs as possible. I think an apt analogy is back in the day Word vs. Wordperfect. Each new iteration of the latter was designed to make it work like the former. Never caught up that I know of. I just use Open Office these days, but I’m thinking about ditching it for Bean.

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  13. John G.Wallace said on October 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    ALex – My bad,thanks for pointing that out.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Michelle Bachmann is not as smart as our Liz, but she’s also not as mean.

    We’ve had both PCs and Macs, as well as an Amiga (anyone remember those?) and I’m not going to get sucked into debating which is superior. It’s personal preference. However, unless Jobs did his philanthropy in private, Gates wins there.

    Here’s what gets me: Jobs was 56. I’m approaching the double nickel so 56 seems way too young. All his intelligence couldn’t defeat cancer, and that sucks.

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  15. LAMary said on October 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Julie, not just all his intelligence. All his money did not defeat cancer.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on October 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    So true. We are not masters of our fate.

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  17. Sherri said on October 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Jobs was, without a doubt, a brilliant man, but there was a reason that Macs never took over the world. To build a beautiful product like that, you have to make choices; in particular, you have to say no to some features. You can’t put everything in, and keep a simple, beautiful product. That means you leave out something that some people need. Networking? Apple was late to that game, and didn’t do it well for quite a while after that. Removable discs? Apple threw those away early, before most people were quite done with them. Backwards compatibility with earlier versions of the operating system? Nope, buy new software, this OS is the way things should be done.

    Like I said, those choices made for a simpler and more beautiful machine. It also made for a machine that was difficult to support in a large company, where you have a variety of machines that all have to work together, and custom software that is expensive to re-write, and you really need that floppy drive. Microsoft and the PC was all things to all people, and as such, was not beautiful or simple, but Bill Gates was just as important to the computing world as Steve Jobs was. They were just pursuing different goals.

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  18. Jason T. said on October 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    LAMary: Not to defend Bill Gates, but his philanthropy out does Jobs by light years. Jobs was clearly a genius and innovator but not as generous with his bucks.

    I love my Macs, and I think Steve Jobs was a genius, and I wouldn’t wish pancreatic cancer on my worst enemy.

    But let’s not lose sight of one fact: If he’d have been born 100 years earlier, he’d have been slugging it out with John D. Rockefeller for the title of “most ruthless SOB in business.”

    As well as in life — I thought his machinations to secure a liver transplant a few years ago were despicable.

    As I posted on Facebook a few minutes ago: “In honor of Steve Jobs, throughout China there will be a brief moment of silence today between each beating at Foxconn‘s factories.”

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  19. Suzanne said on October 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Julie said “We are not masters of our fate.” According to Herman Cain, though, we are and we could all be rich if we just got off our duffs and tried.
    Probably Steve Jobs’ own fault he got cancer. Pancreatic often hits smokers; maybe he was a smoker, so see, it would all be his own fault.

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  20. 4dbirds said on October 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Macs don’t let you open up the box and fiddle around. I find guys love to open up the box and get at the guts of a computer.

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  21. Dexter said on October 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I’m a PC. Jobs was not Edison, that much I know, and it was sort of insulting to hear Wozniak keep referring to Jobs as “smarter and more influential that Edison…” well, shit…Jobs was a great salesman and as Apple progressed, Jobs showed the world how the new products worked. Jobs was there when it all started, in 1976, and by 1979 was worth one hundred million dollars, so no arguing his effectiveness.
    And Jobs is / was for all you Apple people, and we PCs have our own gadzillionaire, Bill Gates.
    The difference is that Jobs pulled off the “guru” role, and Bill Gates is just a lightning rod for hatred from everyone, or close to it. Hell hath no fury like a PC user who is driven insane by a daunting friend with a MAC. Those PC people always, always, go for MAC.
    I only use a computer in my home now, like most folks, and I never had any issues that made me want to switch. When Vista became the standard OS, and so many people had so much trouble understanding it, I switched effortlessly. Why switch when it ain’t broke or even frustrating?

    John Martin Smith was a fixture in DeKalb County since I was a kid. He came to my high school in 1966 for “Law Day”, which was really May Day but you know…the “Red Thing” made the imbeciles try to make us forget about the origins of May Day.
    Smith explained the joys of becoming a lawyer. This was 45 years ago when Smith was about 27 years old. He must have loved the profession. A lot of people held John Martin Smith in exalted esteem.

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  22. coozledad said on October 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    The Republicans would have you believe Herman Cain started Godfather’s Pizza, but he was actually just a restaurant & food groups analyst for the Pillsbury Corporation, who appointed him first to downsize the Burger King chain in the Philadelphia area, and then appointed him hatchet man to close 400 Godfather’s restaurants. There are two things he knows: He knows who to say yessir! to, and he knows that the workers at Godfathers are to blame for the shutdown of nearly half the retail outlets.
    He’s never created anything in his life: not even a shitty pizza chain. I’m tired of the inference that somehow he created a business.

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  23. del said on October 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I’m sure Macs are great (I use a PC), but I wonder about the social dynamics behind Apple’s marketing strategies to its devotees. How much is hype? It surprised me that my wife had to make an appointment to have an iphone repaired at an Apple store last month.

    Jason T’s comments were thought provoking too. The article about Foxconn reminded me of Durkheim’s study of suicide and “anomie” in factories in the 1800’s.

    Steve Jobs’ passing is a reminder that wealth doesn’t really protect us. A friend recently quoted a poem of Swedish poet and Nobel Prize winner, Tomas Transtromer:

    We got ready, and showed our house.
    The visitors said, “You live well.
    The slum must be inside you.”

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Make sure to run and stand in a doorframe when the tremor starts — Coozledad and I are in complete agreement on Cain’s so-called experience. An analyst and hatchet man for the suits back in the head office. Romney has more of a claim to managerial experience, if it comes to that.

    But I am simply nauseous at the clear picture before us, that both parties are intent on simply sweating out the next fourteen months of the economy, and saving what actual governance ideas they have (yes, I’m a dreamer) for the six months after the election. I’d be willing to take any plan that came out of a room that Paul Ryan and Bernie Sanders were locked into — they may be in oppostion to each other ideologically, but they both seem to have an essential commitment to actually presenting proposals that will function over time.

    Give the two of them an empty room, a computer without internet connections, a large pizza, and a couple of two-liters of whatever keeps them up at night. I’d vote for whatever they re-opened the door with in hand, sight unseen.

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  25. Deborah said on October 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Jeff (tmmo), while I enjoyed reading your proposed scenario sticking Ryan and Sanders in the same room, I’m not sure I’d be anywhere near happy with what they re-opened the door with in hand. You trust both of them a lot more than I do.

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  26. alex said on October 6, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    The Republicans would have you believe Herman Cain started Godfather’s Pizza

    I frankly didn’t know Cain’s story, much less care, because whenever he opens his mouth he’s as big an embarrassment to the GOP as he is to his own race and Godfather’s Pizza. But thanks for the clarification.

    And speaking of Republican window dressings whose color is fading fast in the sunshine, ya gotta love this.

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  27. Suzanne said on October 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm


    Best line in the article is Cain asking Bill Clinton at a town hall meeting about healthcare, “On behalf of all of those business owners that are in a situation similar to mine, my question is quite simply, if I’m forced to do this, what will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?” I guess you’d tell them to be happy they didn’t work for one of the low-performing Godfather Pizza franchises he’d already closed, because then, they would already be out of a job and would not have to worry at all about losing one.

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  28. beb said on October 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    About Bill Gates philanthropy. I tried reading “Perfectly Legal” but only got as far as the author’s discussion of how Bill Gates had structured his charitable donations in a way that he would get almost all the money back. And it was all perfectly legal…. Charity? Idon’t think so.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 6, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Deborah, the problem is, we’re stuck having to trust someone. We could do so much worse than Ryan and Sanders!

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  30. brian stouder said on October 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Further to yesterday’s discussion of schools, here’s something I found very interesting, and more than a little troubling. (I apologize for the length of this post; it is easily skimmable, though; don’t miss the email toward the end)

    Several months ago, I attended a debate at the Allen County Public library that included Nancy’s friend Mark GiaQuinta, who is the president of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of Trustees. It was a Notre Dame Club discussion/debate about vouchers, along with a think-tank guy who was a big proponent, and another guy who is the Headmaster at Canterbury – who will NOT accept vouchers because of the “strings” that come with them.

    But the voucher-proponent was big on referring to public schools as “Government schools”, and this struck me as genuinely odd; he used the term “Government school” repeatedly, and it was clear that he intended that term as an epithet. I even rose and asked him what the difference would be between a “Government school” and one of his Catholic schools, if his Catholic schools started getting direct cash payments from the government?

    But it was only later the real question hit me – WHO, in fact, “governs” these charter schools? Do they have a board? Do people get to vote for the board, if they even have one?

    Frankly, I would at least trust the Catholic schools and their bureaucracy to “govern” things to some extent or another, moreso than our local Imagine schools. Who “governs” them? I wondered if they have a board, like the one GiaQuinta serves on. And thanks to Uncle Google, here is some of the stuff I learned.

    Here is what Imagine says:

    How are Imagine schools governed?
    Imagine Schools is a full-service charter school operator that contracts with each independent local charter school governing board. Imagine schools are governed by a board of directors typically made up of members of the local community and others with a demonstrated interest in offering families a choice in the education. The charter governing boards that oversee Imagine-operated schools take great care in discharging their responsibility to care for the finances and legal requirements of the charter school and to set overall policy based on the charter’s vision. The board oversees Imagine, which has responsibility for day-to-day school operations. Each board is locally formed and operates independently and transparently. Board responsibilities are set forth in the charter. We work in close partnership with local boards to successfully start and operate each school in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations regarding charter school operation and governance.

    Doesn’t sound so bad, right? But then Google showed me this next thing, which I bet GiaQuinta (et al) read years ago, but which I had never seen. This is an email from 2008 addressed to all the top management of Imagine Schools, from the guy who started and heads the corporation, specifically about how to deal with Boards for Imagine Schools:

    (if you just want to skim it, I highlighted a sentence or two)

    Sent: Thu 9/4/2008 10:26 AM

    To: #DL All School Developers; #DL All National Principals; #DL All Regional Directors; Alan Olkes; Barry Sharp; Eileen Bakke; Isabel Berio; Jason Bryant; Nancy Hall; Roy Gamse; Sam Howard; Octavio Visiedo

    Subject: Boards for Imagine Schools

    DRAFT (for internal Imagine discussion purposes only)

    This draft note includes some thoughts, observations and suggestions about our local school boards. Please feel free to opine on any of the draft comments I make in this email.

    This is not a legal pronouncement for Imagine Schools or an announcement of official policy. It is simply some preliminary observations and possible approaches to selecting and caring for these important people who help us educate children.

    What are we learning about the selection and care of board members for our schools? Most Board members become very involved in the life of the school. Often, even before the school begins operation, the Board members have taken “ownership” of the school. Many honestly believe it is their school and that the school will not go well without them steering the school toward “excellence”. They believe they are the “governing” Board even if that adjective to describe the board has never been used by an Imagine School person. Many become involved in the daily life of the school, volunteering and “helping” teachers and other staff to get things done. Even those who are not parents, take “ownership” of the school as if they started it. Initially, they are grateful to Imagine (especially Eileen and me) for helping them start the (their) school.

    I have been to 3 school openings in the last month where I was thanked for helping the local board start the (our) school. In none of these cases did the board have a major role in “starting” the school. They didn’t write the charter. They didn’t finance the start up of the school or the building. They didn’t find the principal or any of the teachers and staff. They didn’t design the curriculum. In some cases, they did help recruit students.

    Why does it matter? Don’t we want local boards to be grateful and helpful and take ownership of the school? “Yes” and “No”. I do not mind them being grateful to us for starting the school (our school, not theirs), but the gratitude and the humility that goes with it, needs to extend to the operation of the school. In all three cases of the new schools I visited this past month, I started my talks by responding to the flowery introduction thanking Eileen and me for helping to start the XYZ school, with a thank you to the Board and others for helping Imagine start ITS school. Most people probably missed the serious point I was making. Besides, it was probably too late in most cases to correct the misconception that we had given to Board members and other volunteers about the nature of governance of the school Imagine had created.

    “But Dennis, I need strong Board members or the authorizer won’t give me the charter” Even though, some authorizers (or their staffs) use this threat to keep control of our schools, I do not believe it is a significant reason that will stop us from receiving a charter or be rejected. If it does, so be it. If an authorizer is using this as the excuse, it is likely about 5th on the list of real reasons for rejecting the application. Also, we need to examine our definition of “strong board member”. As much as we heard about board make-up in New York while we went after the charter, in the end it had no bearing on whether we got the charter.

    I suggest that not one application granted or rejected in Florida or Indiana or DC or anywhere else had anything to do with the membership of the board, the governance approach, or the “quality” of the application. It has taken me about 4 years to convince many of you that getting the charter has almost nothing to do with what you put in the application or who your board members are. And, in the one or two cases where it did matter which board members were part of the application, it was likely a disaster for Imagine Schools just waiting to happen.

    Most problems we have with Boards were not, however, caused by our developers or regional directors or executive vice presidents choosing the wrong board members. In many cases, I think we didn’t make clear their role as a board member before we selected them. Sometimes we let a self-proclaimed Board chair select the Board (Please do not do that). By “we” I start with my own lack of understanding and poor teaching on this subject. I am learning most of these things right along with the rest of you. Whether or not a person has been on a board or not (with the exception of someone who has experience on the board of a major corporation), most people believe that Boards are “governance” boards. In other words, they are “in charge” of the school.

    Without you saying anything to them, they will believe that they are responsible for making big decisions about budget matters, school policies, hiring of the principal and dozens of other matters. This is the way most nonprofit boards work, so no one should be surprised by the assumptions held by the board members you select for an Imagine School.

    I suggest that Imagine boards and board members have two significant roles. The first is to “affirm” (vote FOR if legally required) significant items like our selection of the Principal and the budget (if you “need” to give them veto power over our proposed principal, then that would be okay although I don’t think in most cases it is essential that they be given that power (check the State law).

    Legally, I believe “affirming” is the same as voting “yes”. The difference is the assumption that we have made a “recommendation” or decision and want the board to agree formally with that decision. Before selecting board members we need to go over the voting process and our expectations that they will go along with Imagine unless the board member is convinced that we are doing something illegal. Of course, we want the board member to vote “no” on any proposal that the board member believes is illegal. However, in non legal issues of judgment , we expect them to argue the issue vigorously, but if they can’t convince us to change our position, we expect them to vote for our proposal. It is our school, our money and our risk, not theirs.

    The second and most important role of board members is to advise us on all matters of employment, policies, school climate, shared values, growth, building, academics and financial. We have school principals and regional directors who are not involving their boards sufficiently in this important advisory role. I think this is a big part of the problems we have had in Atlanta. Board members want to be needed (all of us do). The best way to acknowledge your need for a board member is to keep them informed of what is happening and ask them their advice on ALL significant decisions before the school, including hiring and firing decisions.

    I believe that most of the problems we have with boards are caused not from taking decision making away from them, but not involving them in the advice process. Remember, the advice process shares your thinking with others and brings them into your circle. Some of you aren’t even doing an adequate job of asking your colleagues or your staff or your bosses for advice, so including the board in that way is going to be even more challenging. I told the Pittsburgh school board that if our principal didn’t ask for advice on significant issues like hiring and firing and budget, a new building addition and school policies, that they should give me a call. Not asking advice of the appropriate people before making a decision is a good way to lose a job at Imagine Schools.

    None of this will protect you from the person who starts out as an “advisor”, but becomes a major problem, thinking he/she are crucial to the success of the school. Sometimes you can protect yourself from board members that you chose, by getting undated letters of resignation from the start that can be acted on by us at any time would also help. Some states allow “founding” boards that can be changed once the school starts. That is a good idea if we can control who stays and who goes. Maybe you make all terms one year (if legal) so that we can re-nominate who we want. Make it clear that we will propose all new board members. Again, when the legal rules seem contrary to what I have been suggesting, seek lots of advice about how to set up the board before you select members.

    There are probably hundreds of other approaches to overcome the “runaway” board problems that can arise if you are not careful.

    Please take this area of Imagine life seriously. The Board of Imagine Schools meets once a year. It is made up of very secure people that I have known for a long time. They do not need to be “in control”. They are not power hungry. They are encouragers, advisers and people who want to see Imagine grow and succeed. They realize that society places a significant responsibility on them to ensure that we do not participate in illegal activity or do things that will hurt children. They trust that we will do our best to make Imagine the best for parents and students as possible. They know we can’t eliminate all the problems and mistakes, but they also trust us to correct those mistakes and overcome the problems when they arrive. They are ready with assistance and advice when we ask for that, but they are comfortable letting Imagine people do their thing.

    That is the kind of board members we want for each of our schools. To get them and keep them, we need to tell potential and current board members the truth about our expectations and keep them involved in all the significant successes and problems that occur in the school. Probably the most important concept that needs to be grasped by potential and sitting board members for our new schools going forward is that Imagine Owns the school, not just the building. Obviously, there are a few legacy school boards for which this will not likely be true, but let’s not create new one if at all possible.

    I mean, wow. Wow. This isn’t just fraud, but contempt! Contempt for the public, contempt for the public’s government, and utter contempt for public education and local control for public education. People should really be going to jail – and not just Wall Streeters, but also their enablers in state governments scattered across America.

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  31. Dexter said on October 7, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Papa Grande fanning A-Rod for the final out? Priceless. I love the 2011 edition of the Detroit Tigers. On to Texas to play the Rangers Saturday night.

    I am recording Part Two of the Martin Scorsese movie about George Harrison. So far, it was very good last night. HBO. If it goes to OnDemand, check it out. George made it to just 58 years of age…cancer.

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  32. moe99 said on October 7, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Suzanne, I waited for a few hours, til I calmed down over your remarks about Jobs being responsible for his pancreatic cancer because he may have smoked.. I am hoping that you were trying for some humor.

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  33. Dave said on October 7, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Moe, go back and read it carefully, it was in the context of Herman Cain saying everything is our own fault, not being rich, not trying hard enough. I know you’re sensitive to it but she was trying for irony.

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  34. moe99 said on October 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Thanks, Dave. Got it now.

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  35. Linda said on October 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Cooz, this isn’t the only Wall Street Barbie at CNN to dump on OWS. Alison Kosik did the same, and gave a big hummer to the Wall Street crowd (“they’re hit hard by this recession, too). This is why CNN is nowhere–they’re always a dollar short and a day late, hiring comely capitalism cheerleaders to shore up their performance. How late ’90s.

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  36. Linda said on October 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Dexter–you know what the Easter Bunny and A-Rod have in common? They never show up in October.

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