Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stay Tuned. . .An Arkansas Plan Featuring World's Third Largest Company

OMG my brain is on fire, and I'm only on page 130 (of 733) in Nader's Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. I will have to say, though, that I would be further if it weren't for the charming middle school English teacher from the Hot Springs area that I met today in B&N. We talked for a long time about teaching, the evil NCLB, and I couldn't resist sharing Cory Doctorow's award-winning Little Brother and Charles Murray's Real Education with her. It sure is uber-convenient to do this in the middle of a bookstore where you can just pull them right off the shelf!

So, by the time I settled down and and starting reading, all I could think was: here it is, the blueprint. Nader is spelling it out for us in excruciating detail. At first I sighed heavily when I saw the massive tome, but once you start reading, you will understand, too.

And what else happened? Well, I obviously am inspired. And I have an idea that involves Arkansas's very own beloved Wal-Mart. Are you interested in joining me? If so, let me know, and as Ralph's billiionaire heroes say. . ."Stay tuned!"

oh, and P.S. I wanted to buy the book from Wordworth (locally owned here in LR) but they did not have a copy. I advised them they better order some and fast.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nader's "fictional vision that could become a new reality"

Well, after watching Ralph Nader speak on Democracy Now this afternoon, and spending the past two solid days sending out freelance inquiries to build my "real job," I feel like treating myself to devouring all of Nader's new Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us in hopes of some more inspiration. Can you imagine how billions of dollars distributed to hundreds of thousands of Americans mobilized to eradicate the higher ed debt trap would turn this country around overnight? Nader's cascade of thoughtful comments were motivational and I highly recommend viewing Amy Goodman's interview here. And Mr. Nader, won't you pleeeeeease add Little Rock to your book tour? See you at the bookstore!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Talk Vs. Action: Broadband and Economic Development in AR, Including Workforce Education

Coming to you live from the Breakthrough Solutions Conference, sponsored by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service: we've been talking about, planning, and beginning to establish broadband across Arkansas for a few years now. Should be some interesting updates from today. Don Macke, Director of the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship at the Univ. of Nebraska gave a dynamic keynote address. The crux of his message: supporting PEOPLE (aka citizens) who want to stay in their communities and helping them start their own small businesses. I'll be downloading his remarks to youtube soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"If it's digital. . .it's going to be free."

An opinion is brewing just under the surface in the minds of millions of American students and parents, a.k.a. consumers of higher education: the current price of a college degree is no longer worth that set price. I predict that within ten years, tuition prices will be driven down drastically, as consumers choose other (many digital) options.

Thanks to Chris Anderson, here is a quote from his new book (see right and below):
"If it's digital, sooner or later it's going to be free." - one of his "free rules" that I believe we can now apply to higher education. So start today, by refusing to pay the exorbitant prices for current college tuition and fees. Why? Because equal quality offerings exist online today, and the market is pushing those prices ever downward online.

Anderson says, "In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. The Internet is the most competitive market the world has ever seen." Free is "not just an option but an inevitability. . .so psychologically attractive that marketers will always find ways to invoke it by redefining their business to make some things free while selling others. . .In the digital realm, you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win."

Anderson's Free: The Future of a Radical Price is a dense, well-written 256 pages that will especially appeal to those interested in economics. His anecdotes and graphs increase the readability of heady subject matter. And it is available, of course, for free, online (see below).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chris Anderson Makes a Good Case

I just picked up Free: The Future of a Radical Price at my local library, and can't put it down. I'll post again after I've finished reading. In the meantime, you can read it for free online at multiple locations, including googlebooks and as an audiobook on itunes

Friday, August 28, 2009

How Much Will You Owe On Your Future?

Do you buy into the rhetoric that you will make X # dollars more over a lifetime with a college degree? Is that really true today? Maybe it was ten, twenty or thirty years ago, but perhaps that is changing. As a larger percentage of the population obtains four-year degrees, basic economics dictates downward pressure on wages. At the same time, the American Institute for Economic Advancement calculates that college tuition and fees have risen 248.4% since 1990 (from their 2009 Cost-of-Living Guide, which tracks the purchasing power of the dollar).

Some talented filmmakers are documenting the effects of student loan debt, and they deserve support to complete their movie, Default: The Student Loan Documentary. Check it out at http://www.defaultmovie.com/

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Howard Gardner Told Me I Have a Gift (We All Do - What is Yours?)

Gardner termed them multiple intelligences, but I prefer the term ability, talent or gift. And whether it came from God or evolution is really irrelevant, but the point is we all have valuable contributions to make as human beings in this world.

In 2006, my daughter entered high school, and I really began to give deep thought to what her post-secondary future would look like. What I discovered alarmed me. I have always encouraged my child to be open-minded, and tried to teach her to think critically, but it appeared that the soft rhetoric of “you must go to college” pushed gently on my generation had erupted into a hard-line, no-other-option available, edict from every adult in the school system. Not just in high school, but from the very first days of kindergarten, all students are being told that they should plan for college. Period. Well, I believe that is fundamentally wrong.

There are actually school personnel, parents, and experts who also disagree with this college-for-all model. But they are often intimidated by their peers, or even worse, directed by their supervisors, to remain silent when they encounter a student who might succeed on another path. I have slowly found a few who are willing to admit it, especially among parents who see their own children's talents, and let love triumph over “teacher knows best” and a one-track system driven by a false edict that true success and happiness is only achievable with a four-year (or more) degree.

Another proponent I admire is the well-known author Charles Murray. In his 2008 book, Real Education, he posits that if we truly encourage students in developing their natural talents, along with some fundamental changes in degree components and other training/certifications, we might actually create a system that is just, fair, and creates an educated populace that adequately serves societal needs.

Why does our society now seem to accept that “everyone should go to college”? When you really stop and ask yourself this question, what do you believe? Could it be that Big Education is reaping financial benefits the likes of which no industry has ever experienced?