Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kevin's Meandering Mind � Social Networks in Education

Kevin's Meandering Mind - Social Networks in Education

Climate change threatens existence, Eskimo lawsuit says -

Climate change threatens existence, Eskimo lawsuit says -

YouTube - The Jews Of Iran - Part 1

YouTube - The Jews Of Iran - Part 1

Kiddie Records Weekly

Kiddie Records Weekly

ZaidLearn: Any Free Hosted CMS or LMS? (Yes, Obama Says!)

ZaidLearn: Any Free Hosted CMS or LMS? (Yes, Obama Says!)

The Comprehensive Math Assessment Resource

dy/dan Blog Archive - The Comprehensive Math Assessment Resource

AlterNet: Election 2008: Why Voters Aren't Motivated by a Laundry List of Positions on Issues

AlterNet: Election 2008: Why Voters Aren't Motivated by a Laundry List of Positions on Issues

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Poverty as a way of life

Jeff Frankel and Jeff Liebman over at Harvard's Kenedy School of Govenment discussed effective marginal tax rate facing low-income workers.

Jeff Liebman is an expert on the subject and an economic advisor to Senator Obama. The tax structure makes it more expensive for some low-income workers to find a higher paying jobs.

In one case, a woman's $10,000 salary increase ended up costing her several hundred dollars per month.

Liebman says:
Despite the EITC and child credit, the poverty trap is still very much a reality in the U.S. A woman called me out of the blue last week and told me her self-sufficiency counselor had suggested she get in touch with me. She had moved from a $25,000 a year job to a $35,000 a year job, and suddenly she couldn’t make ends meet any more. I told her I didn’t know what I could do for her, but agreed to meet with her. She showed me all her pay stubs etc. She really did come out behind by several hundred dollars a month. She lost free health insurance and instead had to pay $230 a month for her employer-provided health insurance. Her rent associated with her section 8 voucher went up by 30% of the income gain (which is the rule). She lost the ($280 a month) subsidized child care voucher she had for after-school care for her child. She lost around $1600 a year of the EITC. She paid payroll tax on the additional income. Finally, the new job was in Boston, and she lived in a suburb. So now she has $300 a month of additional gas and parking charges. She asked me if she should go back to earning $25,000. I told her that she should first try to find a $35k job closer to home. Also, she apparently can’t fully reverse her decision to take the higher paying job because she can’t get the child care voucher back (the waiting list is several years long she thinks). She is really stuck. She tried taking an additional weekend job, but the combination of losing 30 percent in increased rent and paying for someone to take care of her child meant it didn’t help much either.

Our future president needs to restructure the tax code to prevent the loss of child care vouchers to single parents and two-income households. Why not provide comprehensive health care to care for the children of low-income workers? They are kids who need medical service! And the Earned Income Tax Credit should not penalize workers for getting a raise!

Of course there is the potential for abuse in any system. The US does not want to wind up like the UK, giving state handouts to millions of able-body families. Let's open the way for low-income workers to get services without penalizing them for getting a pay raise!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker

Bertie Kingore posted some distinguishing characteristics of learners. Good read for teachers and parents alike.

Marriage may tame genius

Sci Tech News reports that young, single, testosterone-enriched scientists make the greatest discoveries. Haha, did I say testosterone and scientist in the same sentence? We might need a congressional hearing for Stephen Hawking!

Mr. Hawking, you are such a lock for the hall of fame. I hope Brian McNamee threw away all of your needles and gauze pads.

School is not an economic institution

The point of public school is NOT solely to prepare students for work. As Greg Cruey wrote, "I will not reduce public education to an economic institution."

With that said, there are many business principles which make schools more effective. Perhaps most importantly, we need to train teachers and administrators to make them more efficient managers of the learning environment. The first example that comes to mind is Harry Wong on classroom management. And David Langford on TQM in the school.

As the TIME article How to Make Great Teachers points out:
Across the country, hundreds of school districts are experimenting with new ways to attract, reward and keep good teachers. Many of these efforts borrow ideas from business. They include signing bonuses for hard-to-fill jobs like teaching high school chemistry, housing allowances ($15,000 in New York City) and what might be called combat pay for teachers who commit to working in the most distressed schools. But the idea gaining the most momentum — and controversy — is merit pay, which attempts to measure the quality of teachers' work and pay teachers accordingly.

Even our next president is open to considering education vouchers.

Native student program gets middling grade

Testimony regarding the Anchorage School District's two-year-old Alaska Native Pilot Project makes it clear that Alaska Natives do not have the same high level of scholastic achievement as their Caucasian peers.
The sometimes tearful testimony included accusations of neglect, concern and, in some cases, lingering racist attitudes by the district, which some parents said has not gone far enough to help their children. The problems -- low testing scores and high dropout rates -- are the result of a lack of understanding of Native cultures and unwelcome atmospheres in school, according to Anchorage Faith and Action -- Congregations Together, an association of area churches.
That perception has some validity, and surely racist individuals exist in our community. So it is great to see the discussion continue; and to see solutions identified and tested.

Unfortunately there are many other issues and factors contributing to low test scores and high dropout rates. So closing the Native achievement gap is going to take an lot more than public testimony. How about a Native School Board Member? Will someone who testified please run for school board? Thank you very much.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A peace-seeking idealist to the core

Awhile back, the Christian Science Monitor called Dennis Kucinich a peace-seeking idealist to the core.

No wonder Kucinich is Bush's Ememy #1.

Sharia Fiasco

Thanks to this post at Pharyngula, I found a funny video by Pat Condell.

Be sure to check out the Sharia Fiasco video description at YouTube. Who knew that the Three Little Pigs are too offensive for British Muslims?

Gods We Don’t Believe In

Friendly Atheist points out that atheists and Christians have a lot in common.

Nuclear fusion is coming

According to CNET, at least one venture capitalist is speculating in fusion.

I mentioned here that we may need to visit the mood to power the fusion reactors. Such a reactor would make the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline irrelevant, yes? And why bother drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea?

We certainly won't have to worry about biofuel destroying the environment and worsening global warming.

18.2 Seconds in Iraq

The Anchorage School District paid me 18.2 seconds in Iraq last year.

500 000 000 000 / (5 * 365 * 24 * 60 * 60) = 3 170.9792 war cost in dollars per second.

57 815.30 / 3 170.9792 = 18.232633 my yearly salary paid in Seconds-in-Iraq.

I got the idea and the picture from My Confined Space.

And this comment from natedog links to the The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2009. That includes "$515 billion for the Department of Defense base budget – a nearly 74 percent increase since the President took office..."

Falling moose nearly takes out trooper

Ouch! The Anchorage Daily News reports that a moose fell to it's death.
In 1995, a moose calf slipped off a cliff and fell 100 feet to its death in nearly the same spot, but flying moose remain an oddity.

Happy Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day from News Bloggers
Yes, today is Charles Darwin's 199th birthday and people around the world are celebrating. Boy, it feels like just yesterday we believed man was created out of dirt by an angry invisible man.