Thursday, January 26, 2006


Post and discuss


J. Small said...

Here is an idea I had that is very similar to the 76 yr old lady semi-finalist's.
Some said her idea did not create jobs. However they are not thinking about preparing people for better jobs, which hers and mine would do, in other words raising the standard of living.
Also, this would increase the savings rate (more money to invest in small businesses-more jobs), home ownership (people feel more responsible and attached to their community), and reduce heath care costs for us all..
I would have added civics, critical thinking, but I think I ran out of space.

Living skills certificate/discounts

Submitted by anonymous in Massachusetts

People missing basic education in modern life skills.

Create a nationwide certificate program in physical and emotional health, financial health, safety, and child care skills for all citizens, much like driver's education. Could be administered through local high schools, but available to adults, also. (Living skills included open to discussion.)

Completion would qualify for discounts on insurance as with driver's ed. This could be linked to employability for certain professions, and/or discounts for health care services and financial services, and/or tax breaks.

Result would be better equipped and educated populace, higher savings rate, proactive heath care, lower health care costs down the line, investment in future generation.~~~~~

I think I saw a comment by John A. saying it should be state's choice. But why. The down side to not federal is that you would end up with places like New Orleans, that got left behind.

john Ashman said...

j. -

Even with making it federal, NO still got left behind. That's part of the problem - the federal government isn't good at fixing regional or local problems.

Did you listen to the Democrat response? It was an unwitting sales job for state/local government and limited federalism!!! Every comment was basically "we at the state and local levels are experimenting and improving and doing all these great things, so why shouldn't the feds?" Well, the feds shouldn't do it because the state and local governments are BETTER at it as demonstrated by his speech.

The easiest way to ruin a great idea is put the feds in charge of implementing it nationally. But when states are free to experiment and gauge each other's progress (you can't do that if everyone is doing the same thing!), then the states that lag will copy the states that move forward. Nationalizing everything prevents experimentation and friendly competition. And makes the emphasis on money, not innovation.

The second highest scoring school district in NM does it on something like 1/3rd or 1/4th the money of the top one, one of the very lowest per child expenditures.

Here's an audio example since that's my specialty. One of our competitor's products locks themselves into doing their products a certain way because they want to. So they claim to have spent $25M to overcome their self-imposed limitations of using a 3-way design instead of a 4-way. They claim to have solved the issue and the product sold for $11,000. My company simply used a 4-way, came out with a more accurate product and it sold for $2500. Then, they had to come out with a $20,000 product because the other one really still had the same problems, but it did give them great talking points for awhile. Then people realized that it really had issues. And guess who was paying the $25M development cost? The buyers of the product!

Government is the same way. They think inside the box and then throw money at the problem. Then they get to tell you how much they're spending on you when it's really they're money. When I see a road sign that says they're spending $millions on my behalf, it just pisses me off. Why not seek the affordable or no cost path FIRST. It would be so refreshing to hear "we solved this problem and it didn't cost *you* a dime".

Richard Yarnell said...

"Tweak the 529 Education Saving Acct
Submitted by Richard Y. in Oregon

"Financing education gets harder each year. The Education Saving Plan (527) exists but favors the wealthy. It's complicated, not lending itself to families with more than one child. It favors college bound students excluding primary/secondary school uses.

"Since I favor universal health care, I have not considered multi-purpose, tax sheltered accounts.

"Currently, 529's may have only one beneficiary per year although the beneficiary can be changed. 529's are only good for college or post HS technical training. The accounts can only exist for a finite amount of time. There are substantial penalties for use other than education.


"529's should become "Family" education savings accounts, available for primary/secondary special ed, college, post graduate and vocational ed.

"Accounts should permit multiple beneficiaries so long as they are bonafide family members. Accounts should be open ended so assets can accrue over several generations and be portable between states for tax purposes.

"Misuse of the accounts must be controlled by severe penalties/interest charges: wealthy families must not benefit by sequestering assets beyond what can be used for education."
While at first blush this seems like a policy entry, I believe it addresses one of the reasons there is such a huge gap between the poor and the middle and upper-middle classes in this country.

The 529 as presently structure is clumsy and benefits those who can fully fund their accounts. One account cannot be used for more than one kid at a time so unpleasant choices have to be made.

Shortly, I'll post an entry that was made under a classmate's name - several of us from my 1964 Pomona College class contributed to it. I prefer it's omnibus, public funding approach to education. In the meantime, the 529, as amended, would go a long way to helping more folks find the education they need to prosper.

Richard Yarnell said...

Submitted by Elizabeth E. in Arizona

"Our educational system fails many who cannot reach their potential ( illiteracy rate (US adults, 2004).

"Open schools to all needing an education. Provide free education for everyone. Open schools year-round, evenings, weekends for workers. Primary roll of prisons=education/rehabilitation centers.

"Fund education as though our future depends on it-it does. Property taxes obsolete/unfair-use income/sales/VAT. Corporations/businesses pay education taxes-they benefit directly. Make 529 accounts "family education accounts." Direct unneeded prison $ to education.

"Attract qualified/inspired teachers, pay salaries consistent with degrees to compete with industry for best minds. Public teacher salaries tax-free. Employ experts as part-time adjunct teachers. Create elder-teaching corps to mentor/tutor.

"Focus on interests not subjects;skills not tests. Students advance at individual pace in multi-age settings. Flexible options for college, trade schools, work-study, work time, national service. Relate societal roles, jobs, real world to education.

"Expanded education sector creates jobs. closing compensation gap between highest-lowest income will add nearly $250 billion to GDP and $80 billion in taxesrevenue. Quality of life and satisfaction improved for all Americans."

Richard Y. in Oregon:

Putting it all together sounds like a plan. In a way, it's returning to our roots.

I hope when judges and others take a look at this "idea," they take time to look at all the component parts.

Making life-long education available to anyone who needs it (or wants it) is a great idea. Everyone benefits, either directly or indirectly. Making prisons part of the education system, at least for non-violent rescidivists, is enlightened.

Business cannot, in good conscience, object to paying a healthy share of education costs: it stands to benefit directly. In fact, since everyone will benefit, the notion of making education our first priority with enough funding to do a good job of it should not seem a burden on anyone.

Another feature which appeals to me is the flexibility of enrollment. We all know people who didn't thrive in school, who went to work or into the service, and then went "back to school." Ususally this meant getting a GED and then going to Junior College to catch up. Much better to take the stigma out of the picture by encouraging re-enrollment and full participation in the education process. I admit my first thought was that an 18 year old would have not business sitting in on a 5th grade class, but that would be rare for a host of reasons. On the other hand, a 25 year old who went to work after dropping out of HS, coming back to continue where he left off, no doubt with at least some others of his age, makes a lot of sense. His maturity and real-world experience would probably benefit younger students.

The more thought I give to this "outside the box" and comprehensive idea, the more enthusiastic I get. That $250 Billion pay off will prove to be only part of the benefit: there will be so many additional savings....

Judges: over here!

Sheila D.

Turning loose of the old ways of educational organization with "one school, one classroom, one teacher, one grade level, one report card" may be a hard sell, but some dismal statistics in education suggest a new model is needed.

Focusing on skills, individual pace, and multi-age settings turns education into outcome-based learning. Each task becomes an end with its own reward, not a requirement toward "passing" a specific grade level. The logistics for outcome-based learning involve record-keeping software that is already available.

Bringing in experts in various fields (science, the arts, history, math, writing) would inject some improved content and process into the curriculum, allowing the teachers more time to oversee and respond to individual student needs. The legal and financial backing for this should go beyond allowing guest speakers into the classroom; a full unit on a topic conducted by an expert would produce positive results.

Layton O. in Illinois:

This is an excellent idea. How to get started, for k-12 and for postsecondary education?

Suggest (1) convening Learning Quality Assemblies in some areas, composed of 1/4 each public officials, learners/parents/community groups, educators/administrators from all kinds of instructional programs, and innovative curriculum/enterprises, then (2) creating Model Learning Career programs at schools and institutions with strong interests, and (c) communicating and sharing with others, with a special focus on distance learning-based Instructional Support Centers for learners, educators, citizens, enterprises.

One place to begin Right Now would be for (some or all of) 20 state departments of corrections slated for 2-3 year $450,000 grants in partnership with faith based/community based groups to use Learning Career models in "individual transition plans" for over 4,000 adult non-violent ex-offenders under Pres. Bush's Community-Prisoner Reentry Initiative. US Department of Justice is seeking bids through Jan 26, 2006 for community entery transisition/documentation assistance services to link with recently-funded model job training/placement grants to Faith/Community-Based Organizations across the nation.

Rebecca N:

Yes, it's time that we conceive of education as a process that takes place over a lifetime and involves everyone. I love the aspect of this idea that people of all ages can be part of the educational process learning what they need to learn. Imagine a classroom in which fourth graders study reading with adults who are learning to read and in which elders work as teachers' assistants. This wouldn't work in every situation, of course, but it offers an opportunity to bring the classroom into the community and vice versa. This idea makes the school more a part of the entire community and promotes the institution as a "civic center" where, in time, other services could easily be provided as, for example, health care, counseling, or simply provide a venue for public life besides the mall. By reconfiguring the institution of "school" to include the entire community, we bring the generations together in work that enhances the life of all. I support this idea.

Jason B. in Texas:

The government should use the internet as a resource to provide free education, k-12 and generic college, for the public. Establishing an online sytem/format and maintaining it would cost far less than any proposal I have seen on this website.

Online streaming video & audio, downloadable text and study guides, PDF books, the ability to check out/return education CD's (COMPACT disc) at public libraries or through snail mail, minimal student testing fee's, schedule your testing online or snail mail, and using already established schools/libraries as testing facilities to verify ID of the testing student, while offering teachers a small additional income to conduct testing/tutoring for the public.

I believe education will be one of the top 21 finalist, and have seen alot of entries about it.

Great entry.

Anne B:

This totally smacks of socialism. Government schools are much too pervasive as it is. I would agree, however, that trade schools vs. academic schools would be an asset, as well as 24-hour schools. I believe these used to exist in parts of the US but have since gone by the wayside. Just like good, solid education. Too much permissiveness in schools. No discipline. Imagine what 24 hours of this nonsense would bring.

Ellis Y:

Hardly socialism.

Free public schools have been the custom in the US since even before the 1st Continental Congress. In NY, wealthy businessmen formed a Public Education Society that, in 1805, set up a free school for poor children. Their ulterior motive was to groom well disciplined workers for their factories.

In Boston, a few years later, artists, artisans, businessmen and wealthy landowners, petition to set up free schools supported by taxes. Curiously, the people who would most benefit from the idea, were the ones to object being afraid they couldn't afford the taxes.

Except for periods when it was illegal for slaves to be educated or to read; when "separate but equal" was the law; when Chinese were excluded from California schools; and a few other examples, education k-12 has been free and open to all. In fact, in most places, it has been mandatory.

A close reading of the suggestion in this idea that the present 529 "Education Savings Plan" be made into a "Family Education Savings Plan" suggests that Elizabeth E. intends that people who choose to put their kids in private schools be afforded a way to save toward that end.

And from what I hear, the Irish free school policy is one of the things that has made Ireland such an attractive place for manufacturing platns and high tech businesses. There is a growing pool of highly educated and motivated workers anxious to earn high wages.

I think this idea is a great way for the US to increase the number of its citizens who can been the high educational standards required for good paying jobs.

Richard W:

The diagnosis is correct in two important ways: (1) We are failing to educate people for the world they will live in. People who are inadequately educated cannot help themselves or others. (2) One reason for the failure is that we pay too little for education, and pay in the wrong ways (by property taxes that increase inequality of education and that encourage self-centered resistance by individual property owners). Better ways for more people (such as employers) to share the burdens of educational costs are essential if we are to have any chance of obtaining adequate funding for schools and adequate pay for teachers.

It is good to emphasize education for skills, rather than for memorization. However, education should also help people learn about things they are *not* going to be doing for the rest of their lives, as well as the skills they will use every day. Making the educational system more open to flexible participation -- distance learning, degree programs with variable schedules, lifetime enrollment opportunities -- will aid not only learning skills but also learning what makes the use of skills worthwhile.

This proposal attacks the right problem boldly with many of the right solutions. It deserves all the support we can give it.

John T. in California:

This is a good idea that will both make a smarter population and a more powerful economy. Beyond that, a smarter population is also more likely to have a lower crime rate, so even more of that unneeded prision money would be directed toward education over time.

Anonymous said...

go vote

Judy B. said...

How is your state doing on this?

Judy B. said...

The times are a changin'.
A couple of years ago my good friend Mike Haas got elected to our local school board. Since then there have been some policy changes for the better.
This article is about the recent changes in sex education.

"Kelso votes to abandon abstinence-only policy"

dan said...

Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyfull of words and do not know a thing. The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education.