Archive for the 'education' Category

Recession Holding Back Education Too…

Great… not only is the recession hurting my income today but it is likely to have a much larger economic impact on education (and thus earning potential) of future generations.  It a NY Times article last week titled “Facing Deficits, Some States Cut Summer School” many schools are cutting back or closing their summer school programs to save money.  This is being done in spite of $100 billion in stimulus money being pumped into education and the Secretary of Education urging states and districts to keep their summer school programs open.

Summer school you say?  Who really really cares about summer school… unless of course you are talking about the classic 1987 movie Summer School with Marc Harmon and Kristy Alley.  The reality is that summer school can be critically important to those kids coming from low-income households.  In our most recent bout, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell we learned that the knowledge gap between the kids from the poorest families to the richest families is almost exclusively attributed to what knowledge is gained or lost during the summer (not technology in the classroom or classroom size).  As the Times article points out, children of working parents will be at the mall or in front of the TV instead of in the classroom preparing them for the next grade level.

If Gladwell’s analysis is correct, why is it that state governments or school districts would make such a short sighted decision?  Perhaps his research hasn’t made it back to the education establishment?

Are we frightened of being wrong?

Sir Ken Robinson gave a speech at the 2002 TED Conference on education, creativity, and society. Robinsons suggests that society needs to give the same “status” for Creativity & Education… we tend to reward progress of education but not creativity in our education system. He also talks about how children are not afraid to be wrong… they will just say what they think, but by the time we reach adulthood we have become afraid to be wrong because of the stigmatism of making mistakes. If we are not prepared to be wrong we will never come up with something original. We are educating people out of our creative capacities. Below is the link to his awesome presentation. I highly recommend that every parent watch this video.

Should it take 5 years to graduate from college?

Just thought I would take a moment to share some humor on the lighter side.  I admittedly agree that it was entirely my fault that it took me 5 years to graduate college but I was living my own little Dead Poets Society.  Frat parties, sleeping late, & hacky sack on the front porch… carpe diem!  Well here are some gentlemen displaying their college antics… my hunch is that they might be on the 6 or 7-year program at their institution of higher learning?  Enjoy.



Build up our future for our children (in Iraq and S. Africa)

1/5 of Americans can’t locate the US on a map?  Pushaw, we’re building a future for our children!  Thank you very much South Carolina.

Ami needs to include this in his stupid Americans montage.

Broader Sense of “We”

that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.

Continuing our conversation about the US system of education and the No Child Left Behind Act: Does the America system of education suffer from the Tragedy of the Commons?  Furthermore, are we re-segregating into micro-segments in the long tail, becoming a divided society lacking common concerns?   A couple observations that support this pessimistic view:

  • A bridge falls down because no one wants to pay more in taxes to support our ailing infrastructure
  • Karl Rove leaves a legacy of divisive politics that tear down (Swift Boat) candidates instead of electing them

Gregory Rodriguez writes in the Los Angeles Times that people in the most diverse areas are the most likely to withdraw — even from those with whom they have much in common.  For instance, interracial trust is relatively high in homogenous South Dakota and relatively low in wildly diverse Los Angeles.  But it’s not just people from other races we don’t trust.

It turns out that in the most-diverse places in the country, Americans tend to distrust everyone, those who do look like them and those who don’t. Diversity, therefore, does not result in increased conflict or increased accommodation, but in good old-fashioned anomie and social isolation.

Rodriguez continues, “we may indeed find some sense of togetherness and common purpose in a truly broad, overarching identity called American. Maybe once we achieve that, we’ll volunteer more, vote more and be more willing to pay to fix our bridges.”  

On a separate but related note, I checked on voter turnout and it’s not as bad as I thought.  The United States Elections Project writes: Statistics on voter turnout presented here show that the much-lamented decline in voter participation is an artifact of the way in which it is measured.  The most typical way to calculate the turnout rate is to divide the number of votes by what is called the “voting-age population” which consists of everyone age 18 and older residing in the United States.  This includes persons ineligible to vote, mainly non-citizens and ineligible felons, and excludes overseas eligible voters.  When turnout rates are calculated for those eligible to vote, a new picture of turnout emerges, which exhibits no decline since 1972. 

Presidential Turnout Rates for Voting-Age Population (VAP) and Eligible Population (VEP)


Kicked to the Curb: The Unintended Consequences of the NCLB Act

In anticipation of our next fight club gathering I wanted to pass along an interesting blog posting on the negative unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act – like science instruction for 1st – 3rd grades reduced to 20 minutes at a “successful” school because they are so afraid of even the scent of a poor performance on standardized tests and the resulting budgetary drop kicks.

Check out the full article on (parent . thesis) over at c|net.

Also read about some interesting solutions from the Donor’s Choose website.  If you have an AMEX card – read how you can get involved for FREE!

Shift Happens

If I were to take our current bout subject, education, and make a mash-up with Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, I very well might come up with this thought-provoking video. Of course, I didn’t come up with this; credit Karl Fisch, and The Fischbowl Blog, who originally compiled it to present to high school teachers thinking about the world our students are entering and wondering how best to help them prepare…

Besides the myriad thought-provoking blurbs in the video, here are some other interesting nuggets to consider (taken from the original presentation but cut from the above version):

  • In 2002 alone, Nintendo invested more then $140 million in R&D; by comparison, the U.S. Federal Government spent less than half as much on R&D in Education.
  • It’s estimated that a week’s worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • The $100 laptop project (OLPC) is expecting to ship between 50 and 100 million a year to children in underdeveloped countries.


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