Playing to win

See all posts
The folks at Education Resource Solutions have published School Budget Hold 'Em, a "game" designed to illustrate the impacts of district budgetary decisions.

Couched as a card game, players (anyone with a web browser and the inclination) set a budgetary target (say, reduce by 5 percent), then choose a series of "investment" and "savings" cards to play - each with explicit strategy descriptions and rationales - to simultaneously meet the budgetary target and set the stage for transformational growth within the district.  For example, if one chooses to shave four-tenths of a percent from the budget by "[making] teacher layoff decisions based on performance instead of seniority", the game will suggest you consider "[investing] to implement and build capacity for a teacher evaluation and data system" which will add five-tenths to your bottom line.

In other words, you can't help but think in terms of trade-offs in the game's framework.  And once you're thinking more strategically, why just make decisions to get by right now when you can set the stage for long-term improvement?

There's even a group option to start a broader conversation. Beyond an innovative and fun way to look at school budgeting, this just may be the leading edge of crowd-sourcing analysis in K-12 education.

-Rob Rickenbrode