Why 2015 will be a game-changer for financial inclusion in India

Originally posted on Quartz:

When it comes to digital finance, India punches below its weight.

The 2014 Intermedia Financial Inclusion Insight (FII) Survey of 45,000 Indian adults found that 0.3% of adults use mobile money, compared to 76% in Kenya, 48% in Tanzania, 43% in Uganda, and 22% in Bangladesh.

This stems from a range of factors, but lack of innovation-friendly regulation has been barrier #1.

Most importantly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) historically allowed non-banks to participate in payment services in two restricted ways. They could build and manage an agent network on behalf of a bank; or they could issue a “semi-closed” wallet which allow customers to cash-in, buy airtime and other services, but not cash-out—not a particularly useful product for a poor customer.

This regulatory framework ensured that India’s banks controlled not only the market for savings and credit, but also payments. The problem is that banks have struggled globally…

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Anthony Cody: Is There a New Humility at the Gates Foundation?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Anthony Cody has been a persistent critic of the hubris of the Gates Foundation. Not long ago, he managed to get an agreement from the foundation to engage in a debate about the foundation’s agenda, what it is and what it should be. That debate became the basis for Cody’s recent book The Educator and the Oligarch. Cody wants the foundation to pay more attention to experienced educators, not so much to economists and theoreticians who don’t know much about the realities of classrooms today.

In this post, he holds out hope that the foundation might display a new humility because of the recently expressed views of its new CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellman, who taught for two years in Uganda. She was quoted saying,

On a very practical level, that time in Uganda was a lesson about what it takes to work successfully in a different culture. “I learned about…

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Whitehouse to Prez: Dude, You’re Copying My Ideas! Keep it Up!

From the Whitehouse Press office:

New Obama Administration Goals for Medicare Mirror Sen. Whitehouse Recommendations

Senator Whitehouse has Been Urging Administration for Years to Set Clear Goals to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Goals Resemble the Whitehouse-Steinberg Compact in Rhode Island

Washington, DC – Today the Obama Administration announced that it is setting clear goals and a specific timeline for reforming the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed when treating Medicare patients. The goals announced today come after U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been urging the Administration for years to set clear targets for health care delivery system reforms, arguing as early as 2011 that, “we can and must have a clear challenge to strive toward.”

In 2013 Whitehouse co-authored an opinion piece urging President Obama to set specific goals for reforming payment systems, noting that “at least 75 percent of Medicare payments should be assessed in some way other than fee-for-service” by 2020. Whitehouse also released a report in 2012 chronicling the Administration’s progress in implementing the delivery system reform provisions within the Affordable Care Act, and identifying payment reform as one of five key areas for reform.

“As we continue working to improve the delivery of care and lower costs in our health care system, it’s vital that we set clear, accountable goals,” Whitehouse said today. “Vague calls to ‘bend the cost curve’ will never galvanize our nation’s health care providers and insurers in the same way that specific goals with a number and date will. Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration reinforces the reforms already taking place under the Affordable Care Act and could accelerate the shift to a system that works better for everyone.”

More specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018. HHS also set a goal of tying 85 percent of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90 percent by 2018. Whitehouse was briefed by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in advance of today’s announcement.

Since 2011, Senator Whitehouse has been calling on the Administration to set a specific cost-savings target to drive health care delivery system reform efforts, and has identified payment reforms as one of the key areas in any such effort. More recently, he and Rhode Island Foundation President Neil Steinberg brought together a coalition of Rhode Island health care leaders to develop recommendations on how the state can improve care and lower costs. Among the recommendations they agreed to was to establish specific payment reform goals this year.

Senator Whitehouse has long been a leading voice for health care delivery system reforms. He founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as the state’s Attorney General, helped secure new investments in Health Information Technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was a strong advocate for the inclusion of delivery system reforms in the Affordable Care Act.

Lani Guinier: We Have a “Testocracy” Pretending to be a Meritocracy

Kiersten Marek:

Great new insights from Lani Guinier on the tyranny of testing.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In this excerpt from her recent book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, Lani Guinier describes the tight linkage between standardized testing and family income. To the extent, then, that colleges rely on the SAT (or ACT) as a filter for college admission, they disproportionately screen out students who have not had the multiple advantages of living in affluence.

She cites data demonstrating that the SAT is of little value in predicting college performance, yet it effectively excludes students of color and students who are from low-income families.

She writes:

Close to eight hundred colleges have decreased or eliminated reliance on high-stakes tests as the way to rank and sort students. In the current environment, however, moving away from merit by the numbers takes guts. The testing and ranking diehards, intent on maintaining their gate-keeping role, hold back and even penalize administrators who take such measures. The presidents of both Reed…

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From a Teacher: Brace Yourself, Rhode Island!

Kiersten Marek:

Be prepared, Rhode Island. We will need to look long and hard at any big pushes to charterize Rhode Island public schools. And the pressure is going to be on.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

A teacher in Connecticut, signing in as Linda, wrote the following comment:


Brace yourself Rhode Island…it is worse than you think. Hide your children and warn the teachers. He is coming to charterize, privatize, monetize your schools. See Pelto research here:

Gina Raimondo’s husband Andy Moffitt was Cory Booker’s roommate.
Moffitt is a member Stand for Children Board of Directors

Moffit is a Senior Practice Expert and member of core leadership team for McKinsey & Company’s Global Education Practice.

“Since co-founding the Global Education Practice in 2005, Andy has worked with multiple large urban districts, state education departments and charter management organizations to markedly improve system performance and close achievement gaps.

He co-authored a recent book, Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for School System Leaders (Corwin Press, 2010), which describes key success factors and steps in driving results in global school system reforms.

Before joining McKinsey, Andy was an elementary…

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Inside Philanthropy: The Scariest Trends.

Originally posted on pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.:

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According to blogger Diane Ravitch, David Callahan wrote an insightful article in “Inside Philanthropy” about something that most of us have noticed: the growing power of foundations that use their money to impose their ideas and bypass democratic institutions. In effect, mega-foundations like Gates and Walton use their vast wealth to short circuit democracy.

Callahan identifies five scary trends but they all boil down to the same principle: Unaccountable power is supplanting democracy.

He writes:

“1. The growing push to convert wealth into power through philanthropy

“Look at nearly any sector of U.S. society, and you’ll find private funders wielding growing power. Most dramatic has been the reshaping of public education by philanthropists like Gates and the Waltons, but the footprint of private money has also grown when it comes to healthcare, the environment, the economy, social policy, science, and the arts.

“Whether you agree or disagree with the specific…

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