Archive | January, 2012

The digital divide in classrooms

25 Jan

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has agood bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense.

Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education.

Jim Jansen reports in the Pew Internet report, Use of the internet in higher-income households:

Those in higher-income households are different from other Americans in their tech ownership and use.

95% of those in households earning over $75,000 use the internet and cell phones

Those in higher-income households are more likely to use the internet on any given day, own multiple internet-ready devices, do things involving money online, and get news online.

Some 95% of Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more a year use the internet at least occasionally, compared with 70% of those living in households earning less than $75,000.

Even among those who use the internet, the well off are more likely than those with less income to use technology. Of those 95% of higher-income internet users:

  • 99% use the internet at home, compared with 93% of the internet users in lower brackets.
  • 93% of higher-income home internet users have some type of broadband connection versus 85% of the internet users who live in households earning less than $75,000 per year. That translates into 87% of all those in live in those better-off households having broadband at home.
  • 95% of higher-income households own some type of cell phone compared with 83% in households with less income.

The differences among income cohorts apply to other technology as well

The relatively well-to-do are also more likely than those in lesser-income households to own a variety of information and communications gear.3

  • 79% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more own desktop computers, compared with 55% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 79% of those living in higher-income households own laptops, compared with 47% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 70% of those living in higher-income households own iPods or other MP3 players, compared with 42% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 54% of those living in higher-income households own game consoles, compared with 41% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 12% of those living in higher-income households own e-book readers such as Kindles, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 9% of those living in higher-income households own tablet computers such as iPads, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.

Read Full Report

Explore Survey Questions

Unless school leadership is very innovative in seeking grants and/or outside assistance or the school has been adopted by a technology angel, poorer schools are likely to be far behind their more affluent peers in the acquisition of technology.

Nick Pandolfo reports in the Hechinger Report article, As some schools plunge into technology, poor schools are left behind:

The term “digital divide” used to refer to whether classrooms had computers connected to the Internet. Now, the bar has been raised, as newer software programs require high-speed connections and as WiFi-dependent devices such as iPads make their way into classrooms.

Even though Chicago Public Schools reports spending about $40 million a year on technology, Bronzeville Scholastic lags behind its peers and exemplifies a dangerous disparity that exists in the United States, according to Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

Chicago in particular probably highlights the digital divide that’s across the country,” Patrick said. “Some schools may have access to one-to-one pilots, and other schools have old infrastructure that is barely functional, so that kids don’t have access to the computers.”

As a result, Patrick said, students are “not building their technology skills, (and) they’re not able to access some of the courses and supplemental materials that would help them ramp up and be successful.”

Technology spending in schools varies widely across the country, as some districts reap the benefits of grants and parental donations, while others tap local, state and federal funding….

Nationally, schools that provide laptops and tablets to students often grab the headlines, worrying educators at less tech-savvy schools that their students are being left behind their wired peers.

I’ve seen huge disparities, where I’ve gone into classrooms in urban districts and the paint is peeling and there’s not a computer in sight, to very high-end districts where every kid has an iPad they can bring home,” said Lisa Gillis, president of Integrated Educational Strategies, a national nonprofit based in California that helps schools implement digital curricula. “We have a long way to go.”

The government is aware of the “digital divide “and where that divide is geographically.

Mini Swamy, writes in TMCnet article, National Broadband Map Reveals Digital Divide in Schools:

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA, has released the first National Broadband Map in the country, a search tool that searches, analyzes and maps broadband availability across the country. This has been created and maintained by NTIA in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission.

Data released by the NTIA shows that Internet connection in educational institutions lack the level of broadband connectivity. Although virtually all schools are connected to the Internet, the speed of connection is inadequate to meet the education goals. The findings are particularly relevant for federal and state policy makers.

A press release based on studies by state education technology directors, released by NTIA, revealed that while most schools need a connection of 50 to 100 mbps per 1,000 students, data showed that almost two-thirds of those surveyed subscribed to a speed less than 25 mbps.

The “digital divide” has implications for U.S. economic growth.

Professor Susan P. Crawford of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation policy writes in the New York Times article, The New Digital Divide:

The new digital divide raises important questions about social equity in an information-driven world. But it is also a matter of protecting our economic future. Thirty years from now, African-Americans and Latinos, who are at the greatest risk of being left behind in the Internet revolution, will be more than half of our work force. If we want to be competitive in the global economy, we need to make sure every American has truly high-speed wired access to the Internet for a reasonable cost.

One of the skills that students must learn and be comfortable with is the use of technology. Unfortunately, the poorer student’s access is often limited because their schools sit firmly on the “digital divide.”

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Helping foster children alumni to succeed

24 Jan

This blog is written around a set of principles:

  1. All children have a right to a good basic education.
  2. Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved.
  3. Society should support and foster strong families.
  4. Society should promote the idea that parents are responsible for parenting their children and people who are not prepared to accept that responsibility should not be parenting children.
  5. The sexualization of the culture has had devastating effects on children, particularly young women. For many there has been the lure of the “booty call” rather than focusing on genuine achievement.
  6. Education is a life long pursuit.

Increasingly, schools are being forced to deal with the social problems brought to school resulting from dysfunctional families, violence, and substance abuse. Any person who thinks they will decrease the number of abortions by defunding Planned Parenthood is a knuckle dragging idiot. Of course, those families and parents who support abstinence have a perfect right to espouse that value to their children. BUT, values training and sex education should begin at home early, when each child is ready to absorb that information. Parents should pass along their values to their children because the culture is out there promoting the values of “Sex in the City,” Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan.

The number of children in foster care is staggering, but the truly staggering statistic is what happens to these kids when they age out of the foster care system. Foster Care Alumni of the United States provides the following statistics:

These facts were taken from the National Foster Care Month website.  FCAA is proud to be a partner in National Foster Care Month.

Total Population:
513,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system on September 30, 2005. Most children are placed temporarily in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect.

Average Age: 10.0 years

6% < 1 year
26% 1-5 years
20% 6-10 years
28% 11-15 years
18% 16-18 years
2% >19 years


Male 52%
Female 48%

Race and Ethnicity:
As a percentage, there are more children of color in the foster care system than in the general U.S. population. However, child abuse and neglect occur at about the same rate in all racial/ethnic groups.


Out-of-home care population

General population

Black (non-Hispanic) 32% 15%
White (non-Hispanic) 41% 61%
Hispanic 18% 17%
American Indian/Alaska Native (non-Hispanic) 2% 1%
Asian/Pacific Islander (non-Hispanic) 1% 3%
Unknown 2% n/a
2 or more Races (non-Hispanic) 3% 4%

Length of Stay:
For the children in foster care on September 30, 2005, the average amount of time they had been in the system was 28.6 months. Half of those leaving care that year had been away from home for a year or longer. 54% of the young people leaving the system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

Foster Homes:
In 2004, there was a total of 153,000 licensed/certified/approved kinship and non-relative foster homes nationwide. In 2005, 24% of youth living foster care were residing with their relatives.

In 2005, 60% of adopted children were adopted by their foster parent(s). The “foster parent” category excludes anyone identified as a relative of the child. 25% of children adopted in FY 2005 were adopted by a relative. A “relative” includes a step-parent or other relative of the child.

Siblings and Extended Families:
Over 2 million American children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care (known as kinship care), siblings can often stay together. Kinship care also improves stability by keeping displaced children closer to their extended families, their neighborhoods, and their schools.

Youth in Transition:
Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations: 

Outcomes during transition from care to adulthood

National data

Regional or Local data

Earned a high school diploma 54% 50% – 63%
Obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher 2% 2%
Became a parent 84% 42%
Were unemployed 51% 30%
Had no health insurance 30% 29%
Had been homeless 25% 36%
Were receiving public assistance 30% 26%

Please download this National Foster Care Month Fact Sheet for important notes and citations.

We, as a society must care about these children after they “age” out of foster care.

Mary Beth Marklein reports in the USA Today article, Programs help foster youth achieve college success:

UCLA is one of a growing number of colleges and universities across the USA that are offering more services to students who grew up in foster care. The University of Alaska is piloting a program that provides academic and social support for 18 students. Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, this year is providing full scholarships, year-round housing and summer jobs to three foster care students and is seeking donors to support more. Colorado State University-Fort Collins recently sent gloves, cough drops and macaroni and cheese to 28 students as part of its Fostering Success program launched in 2010.

California, home to about a quarter of all foster care youth, is at the forefront of the trend. The first such program was founded in 1998 at California State University-Fullerton. Today, about 79 campuses offer a program for former foster care youth, up from 31 in 2008.

Spurring much of the recent activity is a 2008 federal law that makes it less costly for states to extend foster care beyond age 18. That’s becoming increasingly critical because, even as the number of children in foster care has declined, the proportion who leave care without an adoptive family has increased, from 7.1% in 2001 to more than 11% in 2010.

Since the federal law passed, at least 18 states, including Oregon, Michigan and California, and the District of Columbia have enacted or strengthened state policies or are considering legislation to extend care up to age 21. Proposals are pending in several states.

Advocates hope the extended support will enable more foster care youth to complete college. Research shows that 70% of youth who are aging out of foster care plan to attend college — but between 3% and 11% complete a bachelor’s degree, says data compiled by Casey Family Programs, a Seattle-based non-profit that focuses on foster care issues.

“When youth have their basic needs met like food, clothing and a stable living situation then they can focus on their education,” says Amanda Metivier, coordinator of Facing Foster Youth in Alaska, a non-profit created by former foster youth. “They aren’t making the transition out of care and starting college all at once.”

On campus, support generally falls into two types. Some schools, including Cal State Fullerton, offer full scholarships, mentors and other support to a select group of students — 38 this year. Others, like UCLA’s 3-year-old program, have created an office that connects former foster youth to existing resources, including each other.

See, For Former Foster Kids, Campus Is Their ‘Home for the Holidays’

In “Sisters Are Doin’ For Themselves,” But Could Use Some Help  Moses, Boggess, and Groblewski report:

In our paper, we argue that supporting responsible fatherhood and related pro­grams and services helps low-income mothers (single, married, or cohabitating alike) with the following:

• Economic stability. Fathers with more access to effective employment assistance have an increased ability to help mothers with the costs of child rearing. Those fathers involved in the lives of their children are more likely to directly con­tribute to household income, pay child support, and provide noncash support, minimizing financial burdens on families.

• Child care. Low-income mothers struggle to ensure safe and stable child care arrangements for their children. Fathers can help in providing care.

• Work-life balance. As mothers struggle to balance the demands of work and fam­ily, the contributions of fathers can determine the degree to which family obliga­tions result in some available “me time” for mothers to rest and also to get ahead.

• Domestic violence. Programs can help identify and serve mothers and fathers involved in violent situations.

• Reproductive health. It is unfair for all the responsibilities associated with family planning and preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to fall on the shoulders of women. Fatherhood programs can work with men on doing their part

• Providing more relationship and family choices. Poverty often limits women’s and men’s choices about forming and maintaining relationships and families. Properly designed government family support programs can provide women with more choices regarding the future of their families.

• Positive childhood outcomes. Research suggests that fathers can have a positive impact on the academic achievement and behavior of children. Mothers who want to do what they can to ensure positive outcomes for their children may be supportive of fatherhood programs, even participating in some of the services.

Women have to be reminded over and over again to use contraception especially if they are involved in a relationship where their partner is not likely to be a committed and involved father to children resulting from that relationship. Maybe the peeps know of someone, but moi never knew a rocky relationship which got better because the woman got pregnant. Girlfriend, you need to make the trip to Planned Parenthood

As for the report by Moses, Boggess, and Growbleski?  Amen, sisters.  

Moi does not support abortion, but in order to decrease the number of abortions there must be access to birth control and information about reproduction. That is a key part of the equation. Those who seek to make political points by defunding Planned Parenthood are simply increasing the misery index for children in this society. Women also have to be responsible for their reproductive choices. If you are in a sketchy relationship or have a substance abuse problem, you must use birth control. Sisters not doing it to themselves is the other key part of the equation.


Foster Care Alumni of America                                       

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum

24 Jan

Linda Shaw reported in the Seattle Times about cursive writing. In Roosevelt High School Teacher Gives Her Students a Review in Cursive

Sure, they learned cursive when they were in elementary school, but they use it so rarely that they’ve forgotten a lot of it.

Even for these students — high achievers taking advanced-placement Latin at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School — cursive is quaint.

“I never write in cursive,” said Annika Kounts, who struggled when she had to write a few cursive sentences as part of the SAT college-entrance exam.

“I gave up and printed,” classmate Kevin Tang said. “I started writing it in cursive, but it took me too long.”

Cursive is encouraged but no longer required in Seattle Public Schools, and Washington state’s education department doesn’t insist it be taught, either. That doesn’t mean early elementary-school teachers don’t teach it — the vast majority still do in Seattle and elsewhere. But as students use computers more and academic demands increase, many schools no longer devote as much time to cursive as they once did.

Roosevelt Latin teacher Nora MacDonald says it was about 10 years ago when she first noticed that fewer of her students used cursive for homework assignments. For the past five years, she said, almost all of them used block printing.

MacDonald last year became so annoyed with the state of her students’ handwriting that she asked her seniors if they wanted a short refresher in cursive. In some cases, their printing was so messy that she feared their grades on the advanced-placement Latin exam would suffer because graders wouldn’t be able to decipher their answers.

The students thought a day of cursive would be fun, so for the past two years, MacDonald has invited friend and retired third-grade teacher JoAnne Jugum to give a one-hour review.

According to Shaw, the teachers report that students who take pride in their writing take pride in their school work. Teachers are beginning to discover that cursive writing has education value.

Jaclyn Zubrzycki reports in the Education Week article, Summit to Make a Case for Teaching Handwriting

Doubt about the continued worth of handwriting skill is “similar to what happened with math as calculators and computers came into vogue,” said Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, which co-sponsored the gathering with Zaner-Bloser, a Columbus, Ohio, company that produces a handwriting curriculum. “People wondered whether students needed to learn how to do math. The answer in both cases is absolutely yes. Writing is not obsolete.”

Proponents of teaching—in some cases, reintroducing—handwriting in the school curriculum say their concern over the fading importance of handwriting became more urgent with the advent of the Common Core State Standards. The standards, which were released in 2010 and have been adopted by all but four states, mention keyboarding but not handwriting.

“The conversation about handwriting instruction has been growing,” said Kathleen Wright, the coordinator of this week’s event and the national product coordinator at Zaner-Bloser.

The company advocates that states supplement the common core with handwriting standards, as Massachusetts and California have already done. Ms. Wright said the conference, called the “Handwriting in the 21st Century?: An Educational Summit,” was timed so policymakers could address any lack of attention to handwriting while their states are still rolling out their own versions of the common core.

“As I talked to researchers, they were all saying the same thing in different ways,” Ms. Wright said. “Handwriting instruction needs to be done.”

Cognitive and Motor Skills

Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and a scheduled presenter at the conference, said that learning handwriting has both cognitive and motor benefits, and that letter formation is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the skill of handwriting helps in cognitive learning.

Gwendolyn Bounds reports in the WSJ article, How Handwriting Trains the Brain:

Recent research illustrates how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. During one study at Indiana University published this year, researchers invited children to man a “spaceship,” actually an MRI machine using a specialized scan called “functional” MRI that spots neural activity in the brain. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction. In children who had practiced printing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and “adult-like” than in those who had simply looked at letters.

“It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time,” says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University who led the study.

Adults may benefit similarly when learning a new graphically different language, such as Mandarin, or symbol systems for mathematics, music and chemistry, Dr. James says. For instance, in a 2008 study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, adults were asked to distinguish between new characters and a mirror image of them after producing the characters using pen-and-paper writing and a computer keyboard. The result: For those writing by hand, there was stronger and longer-lasting recognition of the characters’ proper orientation, suggesting that the specific movements memorized when learning how to write aided the visual identification of graphic shapes.

Other research highlights the hand’s unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding involves selecting a whole letter by touching a key.

See, The Importance of Cursive Writing

Perhaps, it is wishful thinking. One cannot stop “progress.” Sometimes, everything old is new again.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Focus on charter schools: Charter school laws

23 Jan

This blog wholeheartedly supports charters, but more important, this blog supports school choice.  One of the principles of this blog is that all children have a right to a good basic education. There are a variety of ways that each child will receive that good basic education and the choice should be left to the parents or guardians. The only caveat should be that if the education option is failing to educate that child, there should be other alternatives to choose from. Charters are governed by state law which authorizes them and sets the parameters for operation. One of the reasons many support charters is it is at least theoretically possible for failing schools to be closed. There are going to be good education options of all types and there will be failures of public school, private schools, and homeschools. Just as success is not attributed to all choices in a category, the fact that a public school or charter school is a failure does not mean that ALL public schools or ALL charter schools are failure. People, use a little discernment. Many are so caught up in their particular political agenda that they lose sight of the goal, which is that all children have a right to a good basic education.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has issued the report, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws, 2012

2011 has been a significant year for charter school policy across the country.

At long last, Maine enacted a charter school law, becoming the 42nd jurisdiction that allows this innovative public school option.

Ten states lifted their caps on charter school growth (either partially or entirely). Most notably, North Carolina eliminated its cap of 100 charter schools, Michigan phased out its cap on the number of charter schools that can be approved by public universities, and Indiana and Wisconsin removed their limits on virtual charter school enrollment.

Seven states strengthened their authorizing environments. Most significantly, four states created new statewide charter boards (Illinois, Indiana, Maine, and Nevada), while New Mexico and Rhode Island passed major quality control measures setting the stage for the future growth of high-quality public charter schools in these states.

Ten states improved their support for charter school funding and facilities. Of particular note, Indiana enacted legislation that creates a charter school facilities assistance program to make grants and loans to charter schools, appropriates $17 million to this program, and requires school districts to make vacant space available to public charter schools to lease for $1 a year or to buy for $1. Also, Texas enacted a law that allows state-authorized charter schools that have an investment grade rating and meet certain financial criteria to apply to have their bonds guaranteed by the Permanent School Fund.

As of this writing, there were bills with major charter school improvements pending in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In addition, we expect to see big pushes for strong legislation in several other states in 2012.

See, Report: Quality of Charter School Laws Improves Nationwide          

The Center for Education Reform has a good synopsis of what makes a strong charter school law.

Charter School Law

Before you can have charter schools, you must have a state law. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws. (The nine states that do not have charter school laws are Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.) Maine passed their first charter school law in the summer of 2011.

As is the case with most education laws, charter schools are born at the state level. Typically a group of concerned lawmakers drafts a bill that allows the creation of any number of charter schools throughout a state. The content of the charter law plays a large role in the relative success or failure of the charter schools that open within that state. CER has identified a number of factors that can work together to create an environment that promotes the growth and expansion of charter schools. Some of them are identified below.

  • Number of Schools & Applications: The best charter laws do not limit the number of charter schools that can operate throughout the state. They do not place restrictions on the brand new schools either. A poorly written law would only allow conversion schools to operate but this hinders parents’ ability to choose from among numerous public schools. These laws should also allow many different types of groups to apply to open schools.
  • Multiple Charter Authorizers: States that permit a number of entities to authorize charter schools, or provide applicants with a binding appeals process, encourage more activity than those that vest authorizing power in a single entity, particularly if that entity is the local school board. The goal is to give parents the most options and having multiple sponsors helps reach this goal. For more information on why multiple authorizers are important, please go here.
  • Waivers & Legal Autonomy: A good charter law is one that automatically exempts charter schools from most of the school district’s laws and regulations. Of course no charter school is exempt from the most fundamental laws concerning civil rights. These waivers
  • Full Funding & Fiscal Autonomy: A charter school needs have control of its own finances to run efficiently. Only the charter school’s operators know the best way to spend funds and the charter law should reflect this need. Similarly charter schools, as public schools, are entitled to receive the same amount of funds as all other conventional public schools. Many states and districts withhold money from individual charter schools due to fees and “administrative costs” but the best laws provide full funding for all public schools.

Home Page for Charter School Law Data:

So, what does this all mean? No one method will educate all children. If the goal is to give all children a good basic education, then all options must be on the table. Otherwise, the supposed adults are protecting their jobs and their pensions.


Why Charter Schools

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Can free online universities change the higher education model?

23 Jan

The Pew Research Center has a recent report, Is College Worth It?

Executive Summary

This report is based on findings from a pair of Pew Research Center surveys conducted this spring. One is a telephone survey taken among a nationally representative sample of 2,142 adults ages 18 and older. The other is an online survey, done in association with the Chronicle of Higher Education, among the presidents of 1,055 two-year and four-year private, public and for-profit colleges and universities. (See the our survey methodology for more information.)

Here is a summary of key findings from the full report:

Survey of the General Public

Cost and Value. A majority of Americans (57%) say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend. An even larger majority (75%) says college is too expensive for most Americans to afford. At the same time, however, an overwhelming majority of college graduates (86%) say that college has been a good investment for them personally.

Monetary Payoff. Adults who graduated from a four-year college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 more a year as a result of having gotten that degree. Adults who did not attend college believe that, on average, they are earning $20,000 a year less as a result. These matched estimates by the public are very close to the median gap in annual earnings between a high school and college graduate as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550. A more detailed Pew Research Center analysis (see Chapter 5, “The Monetary Value of a College Education,” in the full report for more information) shows that this gap varies by type of degree and field of study.

Student Loans. A record share of students are leaving college with a substantial debt burden, and among those who do, about half (48%) say that paying off that debt made it harder to pay other bills; a quarter say it has made it harder to buy a home (25%); and about a quarter say it has had an impact on their career choices (24%).

Why Not College? Nearly every parent surveyed (94%) says they expect their child to attend college, but even as college enrollments have reached record levels, most young adults in this country still do not attend a four-year college. The main barrier is financial. Among adults ages 18 to 34 who are not in school and do not have a bachelor’s degree, two-thirds say a major reason for not continuing their education is the need to support a family. Also, 57% say they would prefer to work and make money and 48% say they can’t afford to go to college.

Split Views of College Mission. Just under half of the public (47%) says the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge, while 39% say it is to help a student grow personally and intellectually; the remainder volunteer that both missions are equally important. College graduates place more emphasis on intellectual growth; those who are not college graduates place more emphasis on career preparation.

For Most College Graduates, Missions Accomplished. Among survey respondents who graduated from a four-year college, 74% say their college education was very useful in helping them grow intellectually, 69% say it was very useful in helping them grow and mature as a person, and 55% say it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.

Above All, Character. While Americans value college, they value character even more. Asked what it takes for a young person to succeed in the world, 61% say a good work ethic is extremely important and 57% say the same about knowing how to get along with people. Just 42% say the same about a college education.

Beckie Supiano and Elyse Ashburn have written With New Lists, Federal Government Moves to Help Consumers and Prod Colleges to Limit Price Increases in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the U.S. Department of Education’s new site about college costs. As college becomes more unaffordable for more and more people, they are looking at alternatives to college.

Jon Marcus reports in the Washington Post article, Online course start-ups offer virtually free college:

An emerging group of entrepreneurs with influential backing is seeking to lower the cost of higher education from as much as tens of thousands of dollars a year to nearly nothing.

These new arrivals are harnessing the Internet to offer online courses, which isn’t new. But their classes are free, or almost free. Most traditional universities have refused to award academic credit for such online studies.

Now the start-ups are discovering a way around that monopoly, by inventing credentials that “graduates” can take directly to employers instead of university degrees.

If I were the universities, I might be a little nervous,” said Alana Harrington, director of Saylor.
, a nonprofit organization based in the District. Established by entrepreneur Michael Saylor, it offers 200 free online college courses in 12 majors.

Another nonprofit initiative is Peer-to-Peer University, based in California. Known as P2PU, it offers free online courses and is supported by the Hewlett Foundation and Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox Web browser.

A third is University of the People, also based in California, which offers more than 40 online courses. It charges students a one-time $10 to $50 application fee. Among its backers is the Clinton Global Initiative.

The content these providers supply comes from top universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, Tufts University and the University of Michigan. Those are among about 250 institutions worldwide that have put a collective 15,000 courses online in what has become known as the open-courseware movement.

The universities aim to widen access to course content for prospective students and others. At MIT, a pioneer of open courseware, half of incoming freshmen report that they’ve looked at MIT online courses and a third say it influenced their decision to go there.

The New York Times reported about the online education trend in the article, Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree

Many free online colleges are not accredited. As an example, University of the People states this in their catalog:


At present, University of the People is not an accredited institution. The University is in the process of preparing the necessary materials to apply for accreditation from an agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. At this time no assurances can be given as to when, or if, accreditation might be granted.

University of the People offers the following four degrees: Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Computer Science and Associate (A.S.) and Bachelor (B.S.) degrees in Business Administration.

University of the People does not have a pending petition in bankruptcy, is not operating as a debtor in possession, has not filed a petition within the preceding five years, and has not had a petition in bankruptcy filed against it within the preceding five years that resulted in a reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. Sec. 1101 et. seq.).


The transferability of credits you earn at University of the People is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree you earn in either the Computer Science or Business Administration program is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution are not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your course work at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending University of the People to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

Contact Information

For questions or comments, please contact:

Before signing-up for any course of study, people must investigate the claims of the institution of higher learning regarding graduation rates and placement after completion of the degree. The U.S. Department of Education has an accredidation database and you can always check with the department of education for your state. Back to College has a good explanation of College Accredidation: Frequently Asked Questions

Often these online ventures will offer a certificate or badge to show completion of a course of study. Education Portal defines the difference between a certificate and diploma:

Certificate Overview

A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses relating to a subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest and certificates may be offered in similar programs as degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical programs. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.

There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.

Certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because core academic programs are not required.

Diploma Overview

Diplomas are similar to certificates but often earned at clinical schools. For instance, a diploma of nursing is offered as an option besides an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. This diploma program is only offered at hospitals with specialty programs that provide training. A diploma often takes two years and involves as much clinical work as classroom.

Degree Overview

An academic degree can be earned at many levels, including associate’s, which takes two years, bachelor’s, which takes four years, master’s, which is two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral, which is several years beyond a master’s degree.

A degree program differs from certificates and diploma programs in that it often requires the student to take core courses to support a more rounded education. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, math, science, philosophy and history. Earning a degree also opens up many more potential doors to the student than would a certificate or diploma. Many careers require that the student has earned at least a bachelor’s degree; several career options require more than this.

Some online universities are awarding badges.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy reports in the U.S. News article, Digital Badges Could Significantly Impact Higher Education:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recently announced that it was launching a competition that will award $2 million to companies and organizations that can develop workable digital badges and badge systems.

The digital badge concept has gained friends in lofty places. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, NASA administrator Charles Bolden and other high-level business, philanthropic, and technology leaders attended the kick off of the digital badge competition announcement. Duncan, who called the digital badges a “game-changing strategy,” had this to say: “Badges can help engage students in learning, and broaden the avenues for learners of all ages to acquire and demonstrate—as well as document and display—their skills.”

Americans could earn badges through skills and knowledge that they get in a variety of ways including informally, through their workplace, open courseware and other online classes, and even traditional colleges.

With any education opportunity the prospective student and their family must do their homework and weigh the pros and cons of the institution with with the student’s goals and objectives

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Teaching kids that babies are not delivered by UPS

22 Jan

It is time for some speak the truth, get down discussion. An acquaintance who practices family law told me this story about paternity. A young man left Seattle one summer to fish in Alaska. He worked on a processing boat with 30 or40 others. He had sex with this young woman. He returned to Seattle and then got a call from her saying she was pregnant. He had been raised in a responsible home and wanted to do the right thing for this child. His mother intervened and demanded a paternity test. To make a long story, short. He wasn’t the father. In the process of looking out for this kid’s interests, my acquaintance had all the men on the boat tested and none of the other “partners” was the father. Any man that doesn’t have a paternity test is a fool.

If you are a slut, doesn’t matter whether you are a male or female you probably shouldn’t be a parent.

How to tell if you are a slut?

  1. If you are a woman and your sex life is like the Jack in the Box 24-hour drive through, always open and available. Girlfriend, you’re a slut.
  1. If you are a guy and you have more hoes than Swiss cheese has holes. Dude, you need to get tested for just about everything and you are a slut. 

Humans have free will and are allowed to choose how they want to live. What you do not have the right to do is to inflict your lifestyle on a child. So, the responsible thing for you to do is go to Planned Parenthood or some other outlet and get birth control for yourself and the society which will have to live with your poor choices. Many religious folks are shocked because I am mentioning birth control, but most sluts have few religious inklings or they wouldn’t be sluts. A better option for both sexes, if this lifestyle is a permanent option, is permanent birth control to lessen a contraception failure. People absolutely have the right to choose their particular lifestyle. You simply have no right to bring a child into your mess of a life. I observe people all the time and I have yet to observe a really happy slut. Seems that the lifestyle is devoid of true emotional connection and is empty. If you do find yourself pregnant, please consider adoption.

Let’s continue the discussion. Some folks may be great friends, homies, girlfriends, and dudes, but they make lousy parents. Could be they are at a point in their life where they are too selfish to think of anyone other than themselves, they could be busy with school, work, or whatever. No matter the reason, they are not ready and should not be parents. Birth control methods are not 100% effective, but the available options are 100% ineffective in people who are sexually active and not using birth control. So, if you are sexually active and you have not paid a visit to Planned Parenthood or some other agency, then you are not only irresponsible, you are Eeeevil. Why do I say that, you are playing Russian Roulette with the life of another human being, the child. You should not ever put yourself in the position of bringing a child into the world that you are unprepared to parent, emotionally, financially, and with a commitment of time. So, if you find yourself in a what do I do moment and are pregnant, you should consider adoption.

Why the rant? Live Science reports in the article, 1 in 6 Teen Moms Say They Didn’t Believe They Could Get Pregnant:

Half of teen mothers say they were not using birth control when they got pregnant, and a new report outlines the reasons teens give for not doing so.

Of teen moms who reported not using birth control, 31 percent said they did not believe they could get pregnant at the time. To decrease teen birth rates, teens need factual information about the conditions under which pregnancy can occur, along with public health efforts aimed at reducing or delaying teens’ sexual activities, according to the report released today by researchers for the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Others gave various reasons for not using birth control — 24 percent said their partner did not want to use contraception, 13 percent said they had trouble getting birth control, 9 percent said they experienced side effects from using contraception and 8 percent said they thought their sex partner was sterile. Twenty-two percent of the teens said they did not mind getting pregnant.

Health care providers and parents can work to prevent teen pregnancy by increasing teens’ motivation to avoid pregnancy; providing access to contraception and encouraging the use of more effective methods, and strengthening the skills of teens to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners….

Research has shown that teens who report using birth control do not use it consistently, the report noted. One survey found that among sexually active teens who reported using condoms, only 52 percent said they used a condom every time they had sex.

The rates of not using birth control did not vary among teens of different racial groups — whether white, black or Hispanic, about half the teens reported not using birth control when they became pregnant.

There were some differences among the groups in terms of the reasons teens gave for not using birth control. Forty-two percent of Hispanic teens reported not using contraception because they did not think they could get pregnant at the time, whereas 32 percent of black teens gave that reason and 27 percent of white teens did.

Previous research has shown that 17 percent of all sexually active teens report not using birth control when they last had sex….

About 400,000 U.S. teens ages 15 to 19 give birth each year, which gives the United States the highest teen birth rate in the developed world, according to the report.

Teen mothers are more likely than others to drop out of school, and infants born to teens are more likely to have low birth weight, putting them at risk for a number of health conditions, and lower academic achievement, according to the report.

Parents and guardians must have age-appropriate conversations with their children and communicate not only their values, but information about sex and the risks of sexual activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a plethora of information about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

19 Million

STDs are one of the most critical health challenges facing the nation today. CDC estimates that there are 19 million new infections every year in the United States.

$17 Billion

STDs cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion every year—and cost individuals even more in immediate and life-long health consequences.

CDC’s surveillance report includes data on the three STDs that physicians are required to report to local or state public health authorities—gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis—which represent only a fraction of the true burden of STDs. Some common STDs, like human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes, are not required to be reported.

The latest CDC data show troubling trends in three treatable STDs:

  • Gonorrhea: While reported rates are at historically low levels, cases increased slightly from last year and more than 300,000 cases were reported in 2010. There are also signs from other CDC surveillance systems that the disease may become resistant to the only available treatment option.
  • Chlamydia: Case reports have been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, and in 2010, 1.3 million chlamydia cases were reported. While the increase is due to expanded screening efforts, and not to an actual increase in the number of people with chlamydia, a majority of infections still go undiagnosed. Less than half of sexually active young women are screened annually as recommended by CDC.
  • Syphilis: The overall syphilis rate decreased for the first time in a decade, and is down 1.6 percent since 2009. However, the rate among young black men has increased dramatically over the past five years (134 percent). Other CDC data also show a significant increase in syphilis among young black men who have sex with men (MSM), suggesting that new infections among MSM are driving the increase in young black men. The finding is particularly concerning as there has also been a sharp increase in HIV infections among this population.

For more detailed data on each disease, see the Snapshot and Table.

Less than half of people who should be screened receive recommended STD screening services

Undetected and untreated STDs can increase a person’s risk for HIV and cause other serious health consequences, such as infertility. STD screening can help detect disease early and, when combined with treatment, is one of the most effective tools available to protect one’s health and prevent the spread of STDs to others.

STDs in the United States: A Look Beyond the Data

STDs primarily affect young people, but the health consequences can last a lifetime

Young people represent 25 percent of the sexually experienced population in the United States, but account for nearly half of new STDs. The long-lasting health effects are particularly serious for young people:

  • Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can silently steal a young woman’s chance to have her own children later in life. Each year, untreated STDs cause at least 24,000 women in the U.S. to become infertile.
  • Untreated syphilis can lead to serious long-term complications, including brain, cardiovascular, and organ damage. Syphilis in pregnant women can also result in congenital syphilis (syphilis among infants), which can cause stillbirth, death soon after birth, and physical deformity and neurological complications in children who survive. Untreated syphilis in pregnant women results in infant death in up to 40 percent of cases.
  • Studies suggest that people with gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis are at increased risk for HIV. Given the increase in both syphilis and HIV among young black gay and bisexual men, it is particularly urgent to diagnose and treat both diseases.

A range of factors place some populations at greater risk for STDs

STDs affect people of all races, ages, and sexual orientations, though some individuals experience greater challenges in protecting their health. When individual risk behaviors are combined with barriers to quality health information and STD prevention services, the risk of infection increases. While everyone should have the opportunity to make choices that allow them to live healthy lives regardless of their income, education, or racial/ethnic background, the reality is that if an individual lacks resources or has difficult living conditions, the journey to health and wellness can be harder. Even with similar levels of individual risk, African Americans and Latinos sometimes face barriers that contribute to increased rates of STDs and are more affected by these diseases than whites.                                                                                                                          See, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex, Drugs & Alcohol which was posted at the Partnership for A Drug-Free America

1. Talk early and talk often about sex. “Teens are thinking about sex from early adolescence and they’re very nervous about it,” explains Elizabeth Schroeder, EdD, MSW, Executive Director, Answer, a national sexuality education organization based at Rutgers University.  “They get a lot of misinformation about sex and what it’s supposed to be like. And as a result they think that if they take drugs, if they drink, that’s going to make them feel less nervous.”

Take this quiz to sharpen your talking skills.

2. Take a moment. What if your teen asks a question that shocks you? Dr. Schroeder suggests saying, “‘You know, that’s a great question.‘ or ‘I gotta tell you, I’m not sure if you’re being serious right now but I need a minute.‘” Then regain your composure and return to the conversation.

Learn how to handle personal questions from your teen like: “How old were you when you first had sex?” and “Have you ever used drugs?”

3. Be the source of accurate information. Beyond many school health classes, teens have lots of questions about drugs, pregnancy, condoms, abstinence and oral sex.

Find out what one mom discovered when she sat in on her daughter’s sex ed class.

4. Explain the consequences. Since teen brains aren’t wired yet for consequential thinking and impulse control, it’s important to have frank discussions with your teens about the ramifications of unprotected sex and the importance of using condoms to prevent the spread of STDs, HIV and unwanted pregnancy.

Find out how to guide your child toward healthy risks instead of dangerous ones.

5. Help your child figure out what’s right and wrong. Teens need — and want– limits.  When it comes to things like sexuality, drugs and alcohol, they want to know what the rules and consequences are.

6. Use teachable moments. Watch TV shows (like “16 and Pregnant,”  “Teen Mom,” “Jersey Shore” and “Greek”), movies, commercials, magazine ads and the news with your teen and ask “What did you think about that?” “What did you notice about how these characters interacted?”  “What did you think about the decisions they made?” For us, one of the best ways to talk about a number of heavy topics was to take a drive — that way we weren’t face-to-face.

7.  Explain yourself. Teens need to hear your rationale and why you feel the way you do. One approach is to talk about sex, drugs and alcohol in the context of your family’s values and beliefs.

One of the most challenging moments for me was when my daughters brought up the subject of intercourse.  I explained that my hope was they would not do it until they were in a committed, mutually caring relationship and that it would be a choice, not an attempt to hold onto a relationship and that it would be mutually satisfying.

8. Talk about “sexting.” Texting sexual images and messages is more prevalent than you may think. Read more.

9. Remember how you felt. I know when I started puberty I had many thoughts, feelings and questions that weren’t discussed in my family. Things like body changes, feelings of attraction, acne, weight gain, emotional confusion and the desire to push your parents away.  I wanted to help my daughters avoid that confusion.  I wanted them to understand early on that puberty is a hardwired, biological change that happens to all humans so they become interested in sex for the purposes of procreation. It’s natural to have impulses and feelings that are part and parcel to puberty. Teens don’t have control over these feelings and impulses, but they do have control over whether they act on them.

10. Persevere. Dr. Schroeder warns that your teenager may not want to talk — he or she may shrug and walk away. “Adolescents are supposed to behave in that way when inside what they’re really saying is ‘Keep talking to me about this. I need to know what you think. I’m trying to figure this out for myself as a teenager and if I don’t get messages from you, then I’m not going to know how to do this,’” she explains.

Parents not only have the right, but the duty to communicate their values to their children.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©


Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person

22 Jan

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the state of education in America. A lot of that dissatisfaction comes from the belief that the education system fails to actually educate children and to teach them critical thinking skills. The University of Maine at Augusta defines an educated person:

An educated person exhibits knowledge and wisdom; recognizes and respects the diversity of nature and society; demonstrates problem solving skills; engages in planning and managing practices; navigates the on-line world; writes and speaks well; acts with integrity; and appreciates the traditions of art, culture, and ideas. Developing these abilities is a life-long process.

Essential to this definition is the development of critical thinking skills.

Melinda Burns writes in the Miller-McCune article, No Debate: Kids Can Learn By Arguing about Columbia professor Deanna Kuhn’s assertion that developing debate skills in children helps to develop critical thinking skills.

But how do kids become deep thinkers? To find out, Kuhn, who’s the author of a book titled Education for Thinking, and Amanda Crowell, a doctoral candidate at Columbia’s Teachers College, set up an experiment at a public middle school in Harlem. Forty-eight students, mostly Latinos and blacks, took philosophy classes twice a week for three years, from sixth through eighth grades, and every year debated four new subjects. The kids became experts on, for example, home schooling, animal rights, the sale of human organs, and China’s one-child policy. Under a coach’s supervision, they chose one side or another on an issue and tried to anticipate their opponents’ arguments. They often debated in pairs — not face to face, but online, in a sort of Socratic inquiry via Google Chat. By debating electronically, the students were able to consult each other and reflect before firing off comebacks.

At first, as each new topic was introduced, the researchers were startled: the youngsters were clueless about complexity. (“Prisoners, not animals, should be used in medical research because prisoners are guilty and animals are innocent!”) And early in the experiment, the kids showed no interest in the written questions and answers offered by their coaches. By the end of year two, though, they had developed a thirst for evidence.

As each quarter drew to an end, students held a “showdown,” a verbal debate where every three minutes, two new students — one from each side — would rotate into the hot seat. During the post-showdown debriefing, coaches awarded points for good moves (counterarguments and rebuttals), took away points for bad moves (unwarranted assumptions and unconnected responses), and declared the winning side.

All the while, a separate group of 23 students at the school studied philosophy in a more traditional way, using a textbook. Their teacher led discussions; the students rarely broke into sides, or held formal debates. They never argued online, but they wrote a lot in class — 14 essays apiece per year, compared to four in the experimental group.

At the end of every year, as a test of their progress, the students wrote essays on a subject neither group had ever discussed: seniority-based pay versus equal pay for teachers. At the end of the third year, everyone wrote an essay on whether family members and doctors should assist in euthanasia.

Hands down, the winners were the students in the experimental group — even though they’d had much less practice writing. By the end of year one, researchers found, two-thirds of the students in that group were considering and addressing opposing arguments in their written essays—a skill demonstrated by only 38 percent of the students in the comparison group. By the end of the third year, nearly 80 percent of the students in the experimental group were writing essays that identified and weighed opposing views in an argument. Less than 30 percent of the students in the comparison group were doing so.

The key is developing the idea that facts should be used to support an opinion.

The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to
    interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought,
    recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008).

The question is how to teach critical thinking skills.

David Carnes wrote the excellent Livestrong article, How to Build Critical Thinking Skills in Children.

Critical thinking skills are typically developed over a long period of time through educational exercises designed to develop them. Because critical thinking is a lifelong habit, critical thinking skills are best developed during childhood.

Step 1

Having your child read passages of some length in which the author argues a point and then reaches a conclusion that others may dispute. Although political commentary is ideal for this purpose, it is best to choose a passage that does not require background knowledge that your child is unfamiliar with.

Step 2

Quiz your child after each passage to make sure that she understands the facts upon which the argument is based. Although the memorization of facts does not constitute critical thinking, it is the starting point from which critical thinking may proceed.

Step 3

Make your child think analytically. Analytical thinking involves the ability to recognize patterns and separate ideas into components, according to Elizabeth Shaunessy, assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of South Florida. Ask your child questions about the passages he reads that are designed to test these abilities. For example, you might have your child rank several passages according to their degree of relevance to a particular topic touched upon by all of them.

Step 4

Encourage your child to think synthetically. Shaunessy describes synthetic thinking as the ability to generalize, reach conclusions and use information in a new way. Have your child read several passages about related topics, and then ask her a question that is not directly answered by any of the passages. Your child will then have to use the information in the passage to answer the question without parroting the author’s thinking.

Step 5

Test your child’s ability to make judgments. Evaluative thinking is the ability to choose the best among several options that each have advantages and disadvantages, and to examine opinions for bias. Have your child read “for” and “against” passages on the same subject, and ask him to choose which one he agrees with and say why. Then ask him to take the opposite point of view and give arguments that an opponent could use against his opinion.

Step 6

Engage your child in an activity that is interesting and that regularly employs critical thinking skills. This activity need not be verbal–it may be mathematical or even musical. Dave Rusin, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Northern Illinois University, notes that music always has an underlying mathematical structure. If your child has an interest in music, you could encourage her to compose her own music using either musical notation or computer software that graphically represents musical structure.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.


The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Derek Bok

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©