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New York City DOE Announces Cannes Festival Lion Titanium Award

Here's what longtime superintendent and teacher Bill Cala said after viewing the "Million" film: "It is very sad, loathsome, devious and manipulative of children."

The total lack of pedagogy and principle in the so-called incentive program being touted by the New York City Department of Education is typical of what happens to Standardistos when all other attempts to get students to cooperate with a dead, lock-step curriculum fails: resort to bells, whistles, and bribes.

NOTE: The Department of Ed link to the film doesn't work. Here's one that does:


Click "Case Studies" at the top.

Click "Million" on the left side.

Try not to vomit.

Be warned: This is likely an idea that will be coming to your neighborhood soon.

New York City Public School Parents

DOE Announces Cannes Festival Lion Titanium Award

As the 2007/08 school year drew to a close, the DOEâs public relations machine churned out a little-noted press release entitled, âChancellor Klein Hails Department of Educationâs Student Motivation Campaign for Winning Cannes Lion Titanium Award for Best 'Breakthrough Idea' of 2008.â The âbreakthrough ideaâ turned out not to be an educational initiative or new instructional technology, nor a new concept for school operation or administration. The âbreakthrough ideaâ award was not even for the DOEâs pilot program to give free cell phones to 2,500 students in seven middle schools. Rather, the award celebrated the packaging concepts for the underlying "cell phone minutes as motivator" idea, and it was given not to the DOE but to its advertising agency, Droga5, for its Million Motivation Campaign and The Million cell phone.

The Million? Thatâs the ostentatious but quietly shepherded name of the DOEâs free cell phone. The name is apparently premised on the idea that the Cityâs one million public school students from Pre-K-12 (you have to include Pre-K to top one million students in the DOEâs official 10/31/07 register) are all potential recipients. Doubtless among that million are hordes of Pre-K to Grade 4 children whose parents relish the idea of cell phones in their wee onesâ hands, just as there are doubtless equal hordes of NYC high schoolers simply salivating over the prospect of a DOE-monitored and DOEâcontrolled, limited functionality cell phone.

Back to the award, though. The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is exactly that â an advertising industry awards extravanza. Winners are chosen not for the merits of their products or programs but for their promotional packaging effectiveness. Otherwise, the DOEâs free cell phone idea would certainly have difficulty standing next to some of its competitors this year: anti-smoking, homelessness, HIV testing, Down Syndrome, environmental awareness, and drinking water shortages in the less-developed world, to name several. Droga5âs, and by inference the DOEâs, Titanium Award was not granted by experts in the field of academics, but by experts in the arts of style over substance, of emotion and misdirection over logic and content. A truly fitting award, indeed, for the Cityâs current educational regime.

A look at Droga5âs video submission (it's worth watching the whole thing) to the Cannes Lion Festival makes it clear why the advertising industry was so enamored of their campaign. Yes, itâs graphically slick, as expected from an agency whose client list includes Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Adidas, ecko unltd., and MTV. Better from an advertising standpoint, though, are the prominent displays of the names Samsung and Verizon on the cell phone itself. Better still are the ârewardsâ programs, featuring among others AMC Theaters, Adidas, Apple Computer, Macyâs, Foot Locker, Sean John, Virgin Megastores, all members of an innocuously described âresponsible, on-screen corporate partnershipâ whose participation ensures that âThe Million pays for itself.â

What branded product executive wouldnât positively drool at the prospect of reaching into the purported Million young minds every day through a free, school system certified, advertising message delivery system? No wonder the folks at Cannes handed The Million its Titanium award -- they could probably barely contain themselves over the prospect of a captive student cell phone rollout across Americaâs major urban school systems. In Droga5âs video, DOEâs Chief Equality Officer Roland Fryer was already alluding to inquiry calls from the Chicago and Houston public school systems. The video closes with gushing accolades from the education experts at Esquire Magazine (a Droga5 client), Conde Nast, and (wonder of wonders!) Bloomberg News.

The DOE also proudly announced that The Million program was piloted in seven middle schools this year (starting back in February). While those schools are seldom if ever mentioned by name, The Millionâs own website identifies four of the seven as KIPP charter schools â Academy Charter, A.M.P. Charter, Infinity Charter, and S.T.A.R. College Preparatory. The remaining three are Ebbetts Field Middle School (K352), JHS 234 - Arthur Cunningham (K234), and IS 349 â Math, Science & Tech (K349), all in Brooklyn. All three of the non-charter middle schools received grades of B on their last yearâs School Progress Reports. Although the cell phone rewards were ostensibly connected to positive student behaviors, all three schools declined from between 0.2% to 1.0% in attendance rate this year compared to last year. All three schools did, however, show positive increases in the percentage of students who scored proficient (3 or 4) on the Math and ELA exams despite noticeable longitudinal (cohort) declines from Grade 7 to Grade 8 in Math (-9%) and ELA (-12%) at Math, Science & Tech and a smaller decline (-4%) in Math from Grade 6 to Grade 7 at Ebbetts Field.

The DOEâs press release closed with the declaration that, "Pending available funding, the plot will grow to reach 10,000 students during the 2008-09 school year." Funding from which corporate sponsor(s), do you think?
Posted by Steve Koss

DOE's Student Motivation Campaign Wins 2008 Cannes Lion Titanium Award

Press Release

The "Million" Campaign Selected from Field of 432 International Contenders

Titanium Widely Recognized as Most Prestigious Cannes Lion Award, Honors the "Most Innovative and Ground-Breaking" Idea of 2008

Program is Being Piloted Among 2,500 New York City Public School Students

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today hailed the Million Motivation Campaign for being selected from among 432 international contenders as winner of the 2008 Cannes Lion Titanium Award, which honors the yearâs âmost innovative and ground-breaking ideaââan idea âso unique, new, and pure that it cannot be labeled in a conventional wayâ and is also ârelevant to peopleâs lives.â Chancellor Klein launched the Million Campaign to help students recognize and internalize connections between education and success. The unprecedented initiative began operating in late February 2008 as a pilot program in seven City middle schools. Approximately 2,500 students received a free cell phone, known as the âMillionâ for the million-plus City students, that operates based on how well students perform academically. As the pilot expands, the phones will be used as a platform to communicate directly with students through a messaging campaign designed to âre-brandâ achievement. Mentoring programs will cement core messages of the campaign while providing students with workplace experience, life coaching, and academic support. The Million concept was developed in collaboration with Droga5, with extensive input from students. The program is entirely privately funded.

âWe launched the Million as part of our commitment to find innovative ideas for reducing longstanding racial and economic achievement gaps that many dismiss as intractable,â Chancellor Klein said. âWeâre thrilled that this prestigious award recognizes our creativity and willingness to explore bold strategies to tackle a problem that has persisted for generations.â

âOver the past five years, New York City has taken strong steps to improve public schools and create better options for all students,â said Dr. Roland Fryer, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and Chief Equality Officer for the Department of Education. âAs a result of these efforts, student performance has improved and the achievement gap has narrowed, but we still face a crisis in African-American and Latino communities, where students constantly face negative pressures pointing them away from the belief that education matters.

âThe Million is a bold idea that aims to re-brand achievement, motivating students to âbuy intoâ the belief that education is the best pathway to achieve their dreams and ambitions. We have seen encouraging results during the first months of the pilot, and this award confirms our belief that establishing true equality of educational opportunity requires risk and innovation, rather than continued reliance on conventional approaches which have only supported incremental progress toward that goal.â

The Million pilot achieved a high degree of engagement among students and their families during its first months of operation. More than 85% of eligible students opted to participate, and the impact of the program can be observed in preliminary data from student and parent surveys administered in late May 2008:

* Sixty-five percent of parents said that their children are doing better in school since the start of the Million program;
* More than 75% of Million students said that the program has impacted their schools in at least one of the following ways:
o Students are working harder;
o Students are âmore competitive in a good wayâ; and
o Students and teachers interact with each other more;
* Ninety-five percent of students said they would participate again if the program was offered next year;
* Over three-quarters of parents noted at least one of the following changes in their child since the start of the Million program:
o Spends more time doing homework;
o Gets more excited about certain classes;
o Receives higher grades and/or better progress reports; and
o Studies more with friends.

The Department of Education will perform a comprehensive assessment comparing student performance trends during the course of the four-month pilot to prior performance of the same students and to performance of comparable students over the last five years. Pending available funding, the pilot will grow to reach 10,000 students during the 2008-09 school year, which will permit rigorous evaluation of Millionâs impact on student achievement before determining whether to further expand the program.

The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival was established in 1953 and is often called the âOscarsâ of the advertising industry. Since it was introduced five years ago, the Titanium Lionâwhich honors a breakthrough idea âso unique, new, and pure that it cannot be labeled in a conventional wayââhas become widely recognized as the most prestigious award granted at the festival. Previous Titanium winners include the TAP Project for UNICEF, Earth Hourâthe World Wildlife Federationâs campaign against global warming, and Nike+ for its digital training equipment. Nominees submit videos that are judged by juries comprising leading international experts in the advertising and communications field. The Million video submission, which showcases Droga5âs broad-based vision for what a fully implemented Million program might look like, can be viewed online at http://www.canneslions.com/winners/titanium/win_22_1.htm.




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