Recent Poll Confirms What We All Want – Education to be a Top Priority for Local Leaders

In a recent national poll released today, the American public said public education is the number one issue local leaders should address, edging out health care, the economy and fears of terrorism at the local level. I don’t think this is surprise to most of us!

The poll was released at the launch of Give Kids Good Schools, a campaign aimed at helping the public improve America’s public schools. Give Kids Good Schools is sponsored by Public Education Network, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to quality public education for all children. But the way we ‘improve’ our schools is a key issue.

The same poll indicates that 84 percent of the American public believes the quality of public schools has stayed the same or declined over the past five years. The poll of 1900 adults was conducted by Lake Research Partners and has a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.

“When it comes to the importance of improving our public schools, Americans do get it,” said Wendy D. Puriefoy, president of the Public Education Network. “They want to make a difference, but they don’t feel like they know what to do. Give Kids Good Schools will offer the American public the information and power they need to make public education a priority on Election Day and every day.”

Give Kids Good Schools is a multi-year campaign that intends to build a constituency of Americans who will use their voices and votes to achieve the goal of quality public education for all children. A new Web site, GiveKidsGoodSchools.org, will help the public stay informed about issues that impact public schools and provide ideas for taking action to improve public schools in the community. The Web site will be a central resource for information, facts and materials about public schools and will provide easy to use materials such as:

    • FAQs About Public Schools: The Web site includes answers to commonly asked questions about public schools in the U.S.
    • How is My School Doing? A partnership with SchoolMatters.com will allow individuals to find information about their local school districts on our site.
    • Tips to Start Public School Conversations: Questions to ask school boards, principals, teachers and students are provided.

At the heart of the campaign will be Give Kids Good Schools Week, to be held October 16-22 this year. During this week, PEN’s constituency of Local Education Funds (LEFs) and other partners will help to engage the public at the local level in grassroots activities. Community conversations, education forums, and other locally-driven events will provide opportunities for individuals to take action and discuss new ideas about

what communities can do to give kids good schools. At GiveKidsGoodSchools.org, individuals can find out what is happening in their state or they can use online toolkits and materials to plan their own event or show their support during the Week.

Internet Bubble: Is it Happening Again? Look Familiar

Is anyone else having deja’vu with all the recent companies getting money for ideas that have been done before and failed. Additionally when I look at the companies raising 7.5 million dollars for simple/done ideas with no business model.

Here’s one recent example: Eventful Secures 7.5 million—hmmmm, where is the business model—where is the money going to come from to pay back the investors—can we say ‘buyout’. One other thing of interest—the company was started by an eBay exec—and investors include high profile Internet people—interesting, I guess it does come back to who you know—not what you know—cause this idea is one of those ‘stupid’ ones that has been done before. This is not innovative or new—amazing—truly amazing.

Open Source Education Models Discussed at Sun Microsystems’ Participation Age Event

Sun Spotlights More Accessible Education Resources with Open Source Solaris™ Operating System, Discussion Focuses on Collaboration and Community

Sun Microsystems, Inc. challenged leaders to rethink traditional education models. On the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) campus at a forum titled “Open For Education,” introduced by Sun’s Chairman of the Board of Directors Scott McNealy, the participants discussed how the rise of the global network has lowered barriers to access so that educators and students alike should contribute to and share better educational tools.

The panel proposed that a shared approach—which can harness the power of collaborative thinking and innovation—be adopted on a global scale in order to eliminate the “educational divide” and improve political, social and economic conditions around the world.

Moderated by Jason Margolis, technology correspondent for BBC’s “The World,” this Participation Age event featured Dinesh Bahal, senior director of education solutions—global education and research at Sun Microsystems; Dr. Vijay Kumar, assistant provost and director of academic computing at MIT; Tim Magner, director of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Bobbi Kurshan, executive director of the Global Education & Learning Community (GELC); and Patrick Supanc, vice president at Pearson Education. The event was attended by academics, professionals and media. A webcast will be available tomorrow at http://www.sun.com/openforeducation.

“Grade school math hasn’t changed since Isaac Newton’s time, so why is California paying some $400 million annually to ‘update’ grade-school textbooks?” said McNealy. “With Sun’s roots in open-source software, we know that making technology free and available to everyone has broken down barriers and created innovation like nothing else. In the Participation Age, education should be similarly open and accessible. We recognize that today’s student is tomorrow’s researcher, developer, business owner, change agent and global citizen. The more corporations, non-profits, educators and individuals collaborate to expand opportunities, break down barriers to access and improve overall quality, the better the chances for innovation at every turn.”

The Participation Age
Sun believes the world is entering a new era – the Participation Age – where dramatically lowered barriers to entry, plummeting device prices, and near-universal connectivity are driving a new round of network participation. From blogs to Java™ technology, SMS messages to Web services, participants are forming communities to drive change, create new businesses, new social services and new discoveries. This growth in the network economy is fueled by sharing and collaboration among communities interconnected by technology and driven by purpose. Sun also believes that sharing and collaboration in the Participation Age will stimulate innovation to help all participants from across the world grow and prosper.

About Sun Microsystems

A singular vision—“The Network Is The Computer”(TM)—guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world’s most important markets. Sun’s philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at sun.com.

Outsourcing Teaching/Tutoring of American Education

Its not a new idea but it is coming of age. Recently I read an article about a company who will be tutoring you kids—and this takes the idea of outsourcing to an entirely different level. A company called TutorVista has gained business with US schools to tutor rural school districts. What a great idea—giving rural students access to excellent support/services. But what caught me off-guard is the company, TutorVista is not a US based company, its the ultimate in outsourcing—you’ll have the locals from India tutoring your children.

My first thought is why are American schools outsourcing this to non-US based/American companies? Well of course its about cost, but I would say there are millions of US workers/tutors who would be willing to work from the comfort of their own home for 13/14 dollars an hour. This would give the company a profit of 6/7 dollars an hour because the India based TutorVista is charging 20.00 an hour and 99.00 a month!

Thoughts, feedback?

More than 70 Million Adults Want to Head Back to School

Degrees of Opportunity, a new national study of the attitudes of adult Americans toward continuing their education, indicates that more than half of American adults age 25 to 60 would like to pursue additional education—the equivalent of more than 70 million adult Americans. The study, sponsored by Capella University, also reveals the reasons millions of adult Americans are returning to school, as well as the barriers that are preventing others from pursuing their educational goals. The national survey was conducted by independent research firm TNS NFO, the world’s largest custom research group.

Even in a time of wide public concern about the rising costs of higher
education, the study found that American adults overwhelmingly believe that advanced learning is an investment that pays. Nine out of 10 (89%) said that the benefits of higher education are equal to or greater than the time, money, and energy invested.

“One of the big surprises was the mix of reasons why people thought it would be beneficial to get more education,” said Lyungai Mbilinyi, PhD, author of the study report. “We thought that the prospect of a higher income would come out on top, and although 71 percent did think additional education would help them earn more, several intangibles were rated even higher. Eighty-one percent associated higher education with a personal sense of accomplishment and 78 percent believed education would help them better develop their talents or pursue their interests.”

Despite the value adults placed on higher education, only a third of those who said they wanted more education said they were likely to pursue it. Time management was the greatest barrier—73 percent of those who wanted to pursue additional education rated this issue as a concern.

“The National Center for Education Statistics has found that online education is growing at a rate that is 10 times faster than that of traditional postsecondary options. With time management concerns at the top of many students’ minds, the flexibility of online environments is likely contributing to the increase in those enrollments,” said Dr. Mbilinyi.

Financial considerations were also an issue for many. Seventy percent of respondents said that it would be difficult to find the money to pay for school. “We also discovered that applying for financial aid is a big concern for adults wanting to return to school,” said Dr. Mbilinyi. “Our educational system does a good job of helping high school students find financial aid resources, but the path is not as obvious for adults, even though many of the same resources are available to them.”

Many systems are geared toward the ‘traditional’ student—18- to 22- year-olds attending undergraduate school full time and living on campus. But the reality is that 84 percent of higher education enrollments are non- traditional students, such as working adults and students enrolled in distance learning.

Despite barriers that have kept some adults from returning to school, more than half of those who did go back to school said they wish they’d done it sooner—and virtually no students said they wished they’d waited longer.

“We asked those who had pursued higher education to tell us what advice they’d give to someone who wanted to get more education, but hadn’t taken the leap,” said Dr. Mbilinyi. “Almost every respondent who offered advice said the equivalent of ‘Just do it!’ Despite the assortment of obstacles that many adults face when considering a return to school, the overwhelming majority believe the resulting benefits have made it worthwhile.”

About the survey
This study was conducted for Capella University by independent research
firm TNS NFO, the world’s largest custom research group, from a nationally representative sample of 1,129 U.S. adults age 25 to 60. The purpose of the survey was to gain a statistically sound understanding of the views of American adults on the value and feasibility of pursuing higher education as adults. The survey was conducted online from May 2 through May 15, 2006. Respondents included those with no college degree, as well as those with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Copies of the survey report are available at http://www.degreesofopportunity.org.

Degrees of Opportunity Survey
http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org

Other key results

Most adults wish they’d gone back to school sooner.

—57% of those who have gone back to school say they wish they had done
it sooner.
—42% say the timing was about right.
—Less than 1% say they wish they’d waited longer.

U.S. adults place a high value on education.

—More than half of adults believe that their lives would be better if
they had more education.
—75% agree that the education they have received has made a positive
impact in their lives.
—Those with degrees are even more likely to agree – 89% of those with
bachelor’s degrees and 94% of those with post-graduate degrees.

Kids aren’t the only ones who get butterflies at back-to-school time.

Adults have a very mixed emotional response to the thought of going back to school:

—Tired (34%)
—Nervous (33%)
—Hopeful (28%)
—Worried (25%)
—Excited (22%)
—Confident (21%)

People with college degrees are more satisfied with their current lives

and more optimistic about their future.

—Those with college or post-graduate degrees are more likely than those
without degrees to say they are earning more, making greater
contributions to their companies, families and communities, and
finding more job satisfaction than they were five years ago.
—Those with degrees were also more likely to anticipate these same
improvements happening in lives over the next five years.

For adults, the obstacles to getting more education are different than

those typically associated with students attending college right after high

school.

—Among adults who wanted more education, the top five
challenges/barriers to pursuing higher education related to time and
money:
– Managing all of my other commitments and still finding time for
school (perceived as a barrier by 73% of respondents).
– Finding the money to pay for school (70%).
– Providing for myself/family while in school (62%).
– Making a commitment for the length of time it takes to complete a
degree (61%).
– Attending classes regularly (50%).

—Adults were less likely to be worried about their abilities to choose
the right school or program and do well in school—worries typically
associated with younger students:
– Finding a school or program that matches my needs and interests
(perceived as a barrier to pursuing additional education by 34%).
– Overcoming fear of taking a risk and maybe not succeeding (33%).
– Deciding what subject to study or degree to pursue (28%).
– Being able to learn the material and do well in class (25%).
– Having the encouragement and support of family (18%).

Family matters most when it comes to pursuing higher education – significantly more than a child’s teacher or school counselor, or an

adult’s boss. In childhood and youth:

– 70% of adults say their mother had a major influence.
– 61% say their father had a major influence.
– Teachers were the third most likely to have a major influence, but
to a much lesser degree; 32% say teachers were a major influence.
– Only 18% say school counselors were a major influence – about equal
to the influence of friends, siblings and grandparents.

In adulthood:
– 51% say their spouse or partner has the greatest influence.
– The second greatest influence is children; 9 percent say their
children have the single greatest influence on whether they go
back to school.
– Only 4% list their boss as having the greatest influence.

Expectations and encouragement are strongly tied to educational achievement.

—Those with college or post-graduate degrees are more than three times
as likely as those without degrees to say they received encouragement
at home and at school to continue their education after high school.
—Non-college graduates are more likely than those with a college or
post-graduate degree to have received the message that they weren’t
“college material.”

Most people believe certain groups are at an advantage or disadvantage in higher education.

—Generally, people thought Caucasians and males are at the greatest
advantage in getting a degree, while people 50 and older and those
born outside the U.S. are seen to be at the greatest disadvantage.
—Men were more likely than women to think women have an advantage (37%
vs. 23%) while women were more likely to think men have an advantage
(48% vs. 31%).