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November 21, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Disruptive Innovation

  |   Video
  • Michael Horn is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Education at The Clayton Christensen Institute For Disruptive Innovation, a think tank that applies the theories of “Disruptive Innovation” to problems in social areas. He will talk about how Disruptive Innovation theories, where innovative, simpler and more affordable ideas replace older, more complicated and expensive ideas, can be used to improve education by identifying the root causes of schools’ struggles and suggest ways to customize learning for students.
  • Michael Horn - Co-founder and Executive Director of Education, The Clayton Christensen Institute For Disruptive Innovation
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, disruptive innovation,

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Ted Simons: Replacing older, more complicated ideas with newer and more efficient strategies is one of the tenets of disruptive innovation theory. But how to apply disruptive innovation to education ideas? Joining us now is Michael Horn, co-founder and executive director of education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Horn was a keynote speaker at a conference held today by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. It's good to have you here, welcome to the show.

Michael Horn: Thanks so much for having me.

Ted Simons: Did I get that right with disruptive innovation? Is that close?

Michael Horn: That approximates it. It's interesting, disruption, people think it's a newfangled thing, the breakthrough idea. It's a little more specific than that. It's really an innovation that starts with something primitive, it's not as good as what's out there right now, but it brings forth affordability, convenience and allows people that didn't have access to a really expensive product or service to start using it and then it gets better and better over time and people flock to it because they want something more affordable.

Ted Simons: And tailor this now to education concerns.

Michael Horn: We're starting to see in higher education in particular a lot of models powered by online learning right now that are coming out and making education a lot more accessible and affordable for a whole group of students, really working adults who did not have access to higher education before. Arizona's been a stalwart of this over the last couple of decades. We're seeing the pace of innovation increase significantly to make the price point a lot more affordable and really to start taking the innovations that you can do with technology and make it much more personalized for individual student needs and that's the exciting part of the work.

Ted Simons: So personalized, affordability, accessibility, what about quality?

Michael Horn: Quality is going to be the big question. I would say over the last couple of decades, a lot of the online universities that have come out have been great business model innovations and the quality has been sometimes really good and sometimes not so much. And a lot of what we're trying to do is raise the topic of you can actually use this to make education fundamentally student-centered, to meet each individual with his or her needs and that requires a very different mindset about what education looks like from where it's been now. In k-12 I'll tell you I actually think there's been far more learning innovations and far fewer business model innovations. We're seeing the potential.

Ted Simons: So how much, though, can a school, can a brick-and-mortar school customize education?

Michael Horn: In K-12 education, I'll talk there first, and then I'll talk about higher ed. In K-12 education, the bulk of brick and mortar schools can start to use online learning to create a blended learning experience that personalizes and is tailored to each individual need. A great example in Arizona is Carpe Diem, a charter school in Yuma. They use online curriculum to say you go at your pace, but there's teachers roving around the floor that can dive in and pull you out for a seminar with another group of students, can work on a project with you. It's much more personalized than a traditional classroom lecture-based experience would be. They're not building all of the tools, they're using it from the various people in the private sector. It’s that blend that I think is really fascinating and creates the opportunities.

Ted Simons: Hybrid notwithstanding, is there a concern when you've got a student and a screen and a yes and a no and a this and a that and there's no one else around that socialization just, the ability to communicate, that those learning experiences are lost?

Michael Horn: It should be a concern. I think what we're seeing from most full-time virtual or online programs as well as the blended programs that take off that they really think about this issue of screen time, how much time do you really want students in front of the screen? What's the right interaction with adults, what's the right interaction with other kids quite frankly? And it's why I think the best programs right now are those that really thoughtfully blend those different experiences together. But I will tell you, you walk into some schools that have online learning and it's like walking into the night of the living dead. Students just clicking away, click, click, click and it's not that robust interaction, but I'll also tell you it doesn't work, as well. So I think that's the mitigating force. Students don't like that experience.

Ted Simons: You mentioned K-12 and postsecondary were different. Talk about postsecondary.

Michael Horn: Postsecondary is going to be a different thing. We're seeing these online universities come on that actually will fundamentally disrupt a lot of our traditional colleges and universities. It wouldn't surprise me in the next 10-15 years if a quarter of our traditional colleges and universities merged or even went out of business. I think that the economics, their traditional business model is working against a lot of these traditional institutions and the online players have enormous advantages as they get better and better.

Ted Simons: Quality of education, postsecondarily, is it going to be there? Because again, if these things could go out of business, it's not good for anyone.

Michael Horn: It's an open question but what I'll tell you is this, the current teaching and learning occurring in current universities is pretty terrible. Most faculty members are not schooled in how to create very good learning experiences. They tend to be consumed with research at the elite end. They're overwhelmed by budget problems at the lower end. My sense is actually this is a huge opportunity to empower teachers to much more effectively reach their students.

Ted Simons: Disruptive innovation, how much is it being used now and from what you have seen so far, what kind of results?

Michael Horn: So we're seeing a lot of online education occurring and disruptively so. Northern Arizona is taking that, putting it into a competency-based learning environment. It’s just starting, but the excitement around that potential for quality is really quite there. They're doing something really smart, aligning it with employer and workforce needs. When students leave, there's actually an opportunity for them to immediately engage in the workforce and so there's actually a return on this time that they've put in.

Ted Simons: And real quickly, last question, you mentioned workforce and you mentioned job training and such, a lot of folks see a university education, a postsecondary education as a way to round yourself out, learn about yourself as opposed to focusing on one thing to the detriment of everything else. How does this play into all of that?

Michael Horn: That's a good question. I think a couple of things people have to realize. The majority of our citizens today don't enjoy that ideal collegiate experience where they get to snake through different experiences. When they snake through different experiences, most students don't complete college and it's actually a pretty disastrous impact on their debt and so forth. That's actually not the common experience today. The second thing I think is if we can make education fundamentally affordable, throughout our lives, we can actually make higher education a life-long learning thing where we continue to come back to it as it makes sense for our different passions and pathways.

Ted Simons: All right, very good. Good to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us.

Michael Horn: Thank you.

President Kennedy’s Arizona Connection

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  • The 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is November 22nd. His influence was felt in Arizona on the Central Arizona Project and in the political career of former Arizona Governor Raul Castro. Visiting Scholar in Legal History at the law firm of Snell & Wilmer Jack August, will discuss Kennedy’s Arizona connections.
  • Jack August - Visiting Scholar in Legal History, Snell & Wilmer
Category: Government   |   Keywords: Kennedy, arizona, anniversary,

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Ted Simons: Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. With that in mind, we thought we’d look at JFK’s connections to Arizona, with Jack August, visiting scholar in legal history at the law firm of Snell and Wilmer. Jack, good to have you here on "Arizona Horizon."

Jack August: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about -- what kind of a relationship did JFK have with Arizona?

Jack August: Let's kind of approach it chronologically. It's kind of episodic, that might be the best way to put it. We know that in 1936, at the age of 19, Joseph Kennedy, Sr. thought it might be good that his kids take a “working vacation” in Arizona. He had a friend with a multi-thousand acre ranch just west of Benton, Arizona. So he and Joe, Jr., went out, some say they worked for four months, I think it was probably two months, but they worked hard I think comparatively. It's also mentioned it's the first paid job the boys ever had.

Ted Simons: Isn't that interesting?

Jack August: That's interesting and they visited some of the border towns as kids will do at the time. And then later jumping forward a little bit, in 1944, he comes to Arizona to recover after the PT109 incident, his back was hurt. He goes to the Castle Hot Springs, a little too slow up there. He wanted a little more action, so he came down to the Camelback Inn for a couple of days and I think there's some famous photographs of him recovering at the pool there.

Ted Simons: I think he even stopped at the Biltmore. And the Biltmore wasn’t even fast enough for him.

Jack August: It wasn’t fast enough for him. The Camelback Inn was a little maybe younger at the time.

Ted Simons: So from then, of course, on, his political career develops. In Arizona, how popular was John F. Kennedy?

Jack August: Well, I think, you know, Arizona was still in 1960 a democratic state in terms of registration. But by 1960, the so-called Pinto Democrats -- many democrats had origins with southern states rights democrats, a more southern than progressive democrats were registering, many of them were now by 1960 and 1970 as Republican. He was popular with the base but ultimately Barry Goldwater campaigned hard here, of course, and his name recognition is high and he did better than many people thought but he lost Arizona to Richard Nixon. Well, he campaigned here on November 3rd, 1960, five days before the election and he gave a speech, some of it is on tape in the University of California Santa Barbara archives, and it's a pretty amusing speech, he references Barry Goldwater and Nixon and how the elephants were all tied together and following each other, but, you know, Nixon couldn't follow Eisenhower. It was a typical campaign stump speech but he came here but did lose the election on November 8th.

Ted Simons: It was relatively close, if I'm not mistaken, and he was impressed by that to the point that he paid a little bit of attention to Arizona democrats, didn't he?

Jack August: Yes, he did. It was one of the great takeaways for Arizona, he appointed Stuart Udall, a Congressman he knew very well and liked and who campaigned for him. He appointed him Secretary of the Interior and he was the first Arizonan to hold a cabinet position in an administration.

Ted Simons: And future governor Raul Castro plays a part in this as well. Talk to us about this.

Jack August: It's a little bit of inside political baseball within the Democratic Party. At the time, Carl Hayden was a senior senator, the purse strings in the Senate, was institutionally very powerful, he had a very ambitious administrative aide, who was twice the candidate for the Senate in 1964 and 1968. In 1963, Roy wanted this young and up-and-coming and popular Hispanic superior court judge, Raul H. Castro, was making noise about running for the Senate. So Roy Elson and Senator Hayden had early discussions with president Kennedy to maybe appoint him to ambassador. Well, the assassination takes place, but nevertheless that talking point continued when LBJ took over, and sure enough, before 1964 election, Raul Castro was ambassador to El Salvador and Roy Elson has a free ride to the democratic nomination. It started with the Kennedy administration.

Ted Simons: And then, you know, it's interesting because you talk about the fact that he did not win Arizona but came close and he did celebrate the fact that the democrats helped him. He also courted the Latino vote, did he not?

Jack August: He did and his wife actually taped, as many historians know, President Kennedy was an early utilizer of this media, of television and he used it to great effect in 1960 and I'm sure he had plans for 1964. But also he did Spanish language commercials and his wife again, did several of them, and many people that grew up, I'm a native from here and growing up here, many of the Hispanic households I would go to, there would be a picture of Jesus and maybe the cross and a picture of John F. Kennedy who was a Catholic. So his Catholicism helped with that base. It may have alienated others, but probably was a wash in the end.

Ted Simons: Speaking of a wash, talk about the Central Arizona Project. While we're looking at his relationship with democrats and the state, he wasn't necessarily a friend of the CAP. Talk to us here.

Jack August: His term kind of bisects the longest Supreme Court case in American history, which is very important to Arizona: Arizona versus California. When he becomes president, it was such a complex and Byzantine case that they had to have a special master. Hearings and briefs and arguments were completed by 1960, eight years after it started, and several people died in the process. And Kennedy appointed again Secretary Udall but the Californians who were hearing noise that they were going to lose the case and indeed in 1963, it was handed down just after Kennedy was assassinated, Arizona versus California was rendered in Arizona’s is in a position to say yes it's feasible to dig the ditch and build the Central Arizona Project. By '62, Kennedy is already looking at California to win California in 1964. And so it's almost pure politics. So what they do is well, California is going to lose the case, let's give them something and so the interior secretary and Congress, began working on a massive regional water plan and CAP was part of it. Carl Hayden had been working so long and he wanted that to be a priority. So the regional plan versus CAP go it alone, the editorials at the Arizona Republic excoriated Stewart Udall and his brother Morris Udall every day. He wrote Hayden a letter over at the ASU archives, I'm going to take my daily horse whipping in the press but we've got to hold this together. And ultimately, five years after 1963 to 1968, that was the legislative struggle, the bill was passed, the CAP is finally affirmed and we finally have water here by the mid 1990s. It took a long time.

Ted Simons: It's very important in the state's development. Before we go, though, the impact of the assassination on Arizona in particular. Was it any different, was it so removed?

Jack August: I was here. I think I was in third grade and I remember the teachers took us out at Madison Meadows, north central Phoenix, they took us out on the playground and told all of us, it was grade 1 through 8, I talked to many people, another columnist that occasionally offers opinions, we talked about it the other day, we all remember where we were in school and all that, what the teachers did, it was a very serious thing and I think all of us remember it, even as a 3rd grader. I think the state was affected just like the rest of the country.

Ted Simons: We thank you so much for your memories, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Jack August: Thanks.

Winter Air Quality

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  • Get an update on winter air quality in Maricopa County with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality director Eric Massey and Maricopa County Air Quality director Bill Wiley.
  • Eric Massey - Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Bill Wiley - Director, Maricopa County Air Quality
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: air quality, environment, winter,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. Winter is approaching, and for the Phoenix area, that means air pollution issues. Valley residents are likely to again be faced with concerns over temperature inversions and bans on wood-burning fireplaces. Here to talk about regional winter-air conditions is Eric Massey, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Division, and Bill Wiley, director of the Maricopa County Air Quality Department. Good to have you both here, thanks for joining us.

Eric Massey: Thanks for having us.

Ted Simons: What are -- how are we doing? How's air quality in the Valley heading into winter? How's it looking?

Eric Massey: As we head into winter, we are actually moving into one of the worst air pollution times of the season for us, largely because of the pollution we're dealing with and the concentrations that we see, specifically what we would call pm2.5, more commonly referred to as soot, or smoke levels. And what we're seeing is really high concentrations of really harmful pollutants that can actually penetrate past your lungs and into your bloodstream, creating real problems for specifically sensitive people in general but the overall population as a whole.

Ted Simons: I want to get a little bit deeper there, as far as particulates but I know the feds are watching us, and we've got some concerns on those timelines. What has to be done to meet federal standards?

Bill Wiley: Well, we've got to stay below a federal standard. They passed health standards and all states across the country have to meet them and that's why we're here today is because we're very, very close to exceeding those standards, which then would require us to put a plan in place and a bunch of new controls. We're trying to have a voluntary effort to get people to restrict their activity.

Ted Simons: Is there a time table? Basically once it reaches that level, that's the time table for the plan?

Bill Wiley: Once we exceed the standard, don't meet the standard, then the E.P.A. will say you're not meeting the standard and they'll give us three years to come up with a plan but that requires rules, that will require all kinds of new controls, even on sources that aren't causing the problem.

Ted Simons: Talk more about that. What kind of regulations would we likely be facing if that were to occur?

Eric Massey: The kinds of regulations that we would be looking at is anything that generates the very fine particles from a source of combustion, so the trucking industry, diesel smoke could be at risk of having to do additional controls. You know, those particular industries, where burning is a real important function of the actual business itself, could be facing additional controls in addition to looking at what we can be doing about the residential aspect.

Ted Simons: So staying below the threshold is key here. You mentioned residential aspects, you mentioned soot. What are particulates? We hear about particulates and the levels there. Define particulates.

Eric Massey: So particulates in the concept of what E.P.A. regulates is two different things. One is pm10, which we'll call dust, the materials that you see out of the earth and blows around in the desert and off of disturbed soils and other manmade types of activities. The other one that we deal with is pm2.5, really soot. It's a product of combustion, so think of it really as smoke level. Pm10 is seven times smaller than a human hair and pm2.5 is 30 times smaller than a human hair.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned residential concerns. Woodburning fire places doesn't seem like it would be that big of a deal. It's a big deal, isn't it?

Bill Wiley: It's a big deal in the winter, especially when we have inversion conditions. You have the ceiling come down and the pollution can't escape the valley and you have 300,000 fireplaces emitting pollution at the same time with no place for it to go. And that's why we have these very, very high pollution levels during these winter periods.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned a temperature inversion, we see that a lot, that's something you can see when you're on the freeway, you go yuck. Explain the temperature inversion.

Bill Wiley: Temperature inversion is when the air above is warmer so the smoke and the pollution rises, and then it stops because it typically will not go past that warmer layer. So it just sits there and it builds up and it builds up and it gets very unhealthy.

Ted Simons: And it looks bad. Is it as bad as it looks?

Eric Massey: Usually, it's worse than what it looks. Those are some of the conditions we run into. I think that the point for us, too, is that visibly, the worst days that we see and the worst days that we see on our monitors are some of our most significant holidays, like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's day.

Ted Simons: Which explains why we see these alerts and conditions at unacceptable levels on days that everyone's going I'm home, I’m not driving, nothing's going on but if your fireplace is going, that's a factor.

Bill Wiley: That's right, that's right. And it's interesting because you typically don't have the business activities going on on those days where you have the highest levels but we know it's from fireplaces.

Ted Simons: What's being done to address these issues, to keep us under the threshold?

Eric Massey: Well, the first thing that we're doing right now as a department is we're putting out a region-wide forecast. As part of our forecast we're trying to tell people what's happening in the upcoming days, usually 3 to 5 days out. The concept is to give people the opportunity to number one decide what their behavior is going to be over that time period in terms of burning, being able to predict whether or not there will be a no-burn day, but the better aspect is empowering people to make decisions on how they can protect their own public health. If you know a day's going to be bad in advance, schedule your activities such that you're not out and about in that air quality during that particular day.

Ted Simons: Anything else going on?

Bill Wiley: We actually have some rules that are in place and a county ordinance in place on no-burn days. So when we call a no burn day, based on the forecast from ADEQ, I actually send inspectors out. And you can get a warning letter to a $250 fine as a home-owner, or businesses can go $200 and go up substantially higher than that if you're caught burning on a no burn day. There are some rules in place. They'll go substantially higher if you didn't meet the standards that the E.P.A.'s required us to plan.

Ted Simons: You hit that threshold and all bets are off and you think you've got it bad now, wait until that happens. People do have it bad now as far as the health concerns. Do we see added admissions in hospitals? Do we see hard facts and figures when we have these bad days?

Eric Massey: We do and that is one of the key selling points of our campaign. But anecdotally, I've spent time with my niece in the hospital on a smoke-filled night. I’m sure many other people have spent time with their loved ones in a hospital room waiting to see a respiratory therapist or work through those particular issues, you see it in the hard data as well as having anecdotal evidence.

Ted Simons: No burn days. Anything else you want to emphasize to folks to keep the levels down?

Bill Wiley: The key thing is pay attention to the no burn days. There are other things you can do on no burn days. I mean, there are gas fireplaces, there are electric fireplaces, there's a great video that you can download and watch, you can burn candles, you can have incense, a lot of other kinds of activities you can do. I think a key point here, we're only asking people to take action on the no burn days. We don't issue those every day of the month and, in fact, what we found is that two or three days before the holiday, we typically don't have problems. It seems to be a cultural event, not necessarily something for heat.

Ted Simons: And again you will issue these in advance knowing how the weather patterns are changing and developing?

Eric Massey: That's exactly right. We have meteorologists on forecast that are looking at how the weather's going to impact the concentrations, they're looking at what our monitoring network is telling us what pollution levels look like. We're doing our best to predict, and we have pretty good predictions about what's going to happen over the course of the next few days so we'll call those no burn days or health watches or high-pollution advisories.

Ted Simons: Let's hope the information gets out there. Let's hope we can clean up the air a little bit here, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which, want to make sure your niece gets out there and has some fun. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us.