Grading President Obama’s Job Speech – What He Said Vs. What He Should Have Said

Last week the nation tuned into President’s Obama’s much hyped job creation speech to see if there would be any worthy ideas to try and break the constant high unemployment rate int he country. Would he be bold and innovative or would it be the same basic, tired political tactics that have been tried and have usually failed to live up to expectations?

The following discussion will compare what the President should have said and what he actually said. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that from a boldness, innovation, and courage perspective, the President came up well short of the goal line.

1) Infrastructure

As expected, the President did state that he wanted money and funding for infrastructure jobs to fix roads, bridges, dams, schools, etc. that were in need of repair, something many Americans expected and were supportive of. However, the President’s proposal came up short in two areas.

First, infrastructure spending and work done via the economic stimulus bill was woefully inefficient. According to various Associated Press investigations, thousands and thousands of government contracts were granted without competitive bidding. Half of the bridges that were repaired under the stimulus program were not in need of repairs. Powerful individual politicians in Congress snatched their share of the stimulus money and directed it to their voters regardless of whether of not the spending was actually fixing a real problem.

Millions of dollars from the stimulus plan were granted to companies that owed hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes. No where in the President’s jobs speech do we get firm assurances that these atrocities have been recognized and will not happen again. He states that the money will be properly spent but we were promised that in the economic stimulus bill. The only way to insure that this potential pot of money is well spent is to give the decision on what projects are done to the states via a block grant of money, taking Congress out of the decision process altogether.

Second, the President does not show any detail on how to pay for this increment Federal spending. He says he will unveil a plan within a week or so. Thus, his performance on this topic is an incomplete. He gave no indication of specifics like reducing the Federal payroll back to 2008 levels, terminating unwanted and unneeded military projects such as the Osprey, terminating corporate welfare programs, ending agriculture subsidies, and directing high speed rail line funding to shorter term infrastructure needs.

Grade: Incomplete given the unnamed ways to fund this infrastructure spending that will be forth coming. However, worries about whether this will be another waste of money spent on things that do not need to be fixed, given the economic stimulus program, and the fact that the President has not taken Congress out of the decision making loop, continue to exist.

2) Obama Care

According to many credible opinion polls, the majority of Americans realize that Obama Care is an unfolding disaster. It will screw up existing health care insurance for tens of millions of Americans that already have coverage, it will significantly add to the deficit, it has created a large amount of tax and business uncertainty into the employment crisis in this country, and will not address the root causes of our escalating health care costs. Nowhere in his speech did he address this problem.

The President did make reference to the fact that we need to somehow reduce Medicare and Medicaid costs going forward in order to protect the long term solvency of both programs. He wisely wants to phase in any changes over time to ease the transition. However, he gave no indication of how he thinks we should do this, he gave no indication he has a plan to do this, and gave indication when this would be done.

Overall grade – D-. Obama Care is one of the biggest drags on the economy and unemployment today and he ignored it. The only reason he did not get an F here is that he may finally be realizing the need to reform Medicare and Medicaid, even if he does not have a plan on how to do that.

3) Tax Holiday For Overseas Profits

Some economists suggested that the President should announce that there should be a one time tax holiday for American companies that have stashed billions of dollars of their profits overseas because it is cheaper to leave those earning overseas than to bring them back to the country and get hit with a 35% tax hit. This tax holiday should be a one time deal that would be followed up immediately with a dedicated overhaul of the tax system.

The reasoning is that it would be better to have that corporate cash sloshing around in the United States than sitting off in some foreign banks even if it was not taxed. The short term problem is jobs, not taxing overseas profits. However, in order to not train companies to wait for the next tax holiday, this would be a one time deal followed immediately by comprehensive tax reform. The President did not address this opportunity to get dollars flowing back into the country and economy.

Overall grade – F

4) Regulation – many businesses have suggested that the President terminate all Federal regulations that do not impact the health and safety of our citizens or the environment and he agreed with this in his speech. He addressed this issue, claiming that his administration had identified over 500 regulatory reforms that will free up billions of dollars over the next few years.

However, he provided no specifics or big deals such as termination of the unneeded and cumbersome Sarbannes-Oxley legislation. The President’s case would have been stronger if he had provided some concrete examples of what his administration has already done to ease the regulation overload.

He also did not address the overtly oppressive Federal government interference into individual business operations, specifically the overbearing and likely politically motivated harassment of Boeing and Gibson Guitars. This unnecessary type of government interference diverts companies’ resources from business and job expansion.

Overall grade – B-. This could change if he does not follow through with the promises he made.

5) Energy

He made no reference at all to using the energy industry, and using oil and gas company resources, to expand our internal energy capacity and development. Since the country does not have an overall, longer term strategic energy plan and policy, fossil fuels will still be the major component of our energy mix for a long time.

Given that fact, it makes sense to not keep sending our wealth overseas to other energy providers when we could develop our own energy resources, again, using oil company money, not taxpayer money. Ending any Gulf drilling moratoriums, building the Canadian crude oil pipeline, opening up drilling in the Arctic, etc. would create good, long term, needed jobs in our domestic energy industry.

Coupling that with a major initiative to develop alternative energy sources and an overarching energy strategy would cover both our long term and short term energy needs while creating a ton of jobs. The President missed this opportunity completely.

Overall grade – F

6) Education

As a country, we need a number of short term and long term changes in the nation’s approach to education and its impact on jobs. First, given that the Federal government has dozens of independent organizations that provide severely fragmented job training services, these dozens of job training entities should be consolidated into a single, more efficient and more effective Federal job training organization, placed in the Health and Human Services Department.

This single organization would be a one stop shopping for citizens looking for training support and be a conduit between job seekers and those hiring. It would be more efficient than having the dozens of organizations that we currently have.

Long term, need an initiative that would identify the root causes of our failing public schools and put together a comprehensive plan for fixing our education processes so that we stop under educating our kids relative to the rest of the world. A similar plan was laid out under the Reagan administration in 1983 but the American political class ignored those findings. As a result, our kids are not being educated as well as kids in dozens of other countries around the world.

Unfortunately, the President completely missed the needs in this category also. He made two references to education in his speech. First, he wants money to fix up 35,000 schools across the country. Second, he wants money to hire more teachers. However, if the country does not fix our failed public education processes, if we do not adopt curriculums to the current, fast paced world, if we do not improve teacher training and evaluation, etc., all the President’s plans will do is have us continue to under educate our kids. Only now we will under educate them with more of the same kind of teachers in nicer buildings.

This is a typical solution from the political class. It is based on their inability to understand root causes of problems Having a nicer school building will not make for a better educated work force. Hiring the same types of teachers will not improve the learning process. We need fundamental changes to education to compete in the world economy.

None of the President’s plans address this more serious problem. He just wants to hire some painters and electricians to make things look nice. The basic product, bad education results, will not change and will not positively affect job creation.

Overall grade – F

7) Taxes

Many assumed the President would ask for an extension of the tax changes made last fall, i.e. the extension of the Bush tax cuts be extended for two years in order to introduce some more certainty into the tax planning of individuals and companies. From his speech it looks like he wants to extend it for another year. Not bad, but two years would have been better and provided the economy with more certainty.

In addition, the President asked for more tax changes, especially for small business. These include providing tax credits for newly hired employees and forgoing the payroll tax for a year to give businesses more cash. However, while these are positive steps, they are open for abuse (e.g. what would stop a business from firing all of its employees on Friday, hiring them back on Monday and claiming the tax credits ) and will further deplete the dwindling Social Security funding.

Their effectiveness is also worthy of doubting. Many economists have looked at similar tax programs in the past and found that unless there is a clear path to an improving economy and improving sales, a business will not likely take on new employees and assume that risk if there are still all types of uncertainty in the mix (e.g. next year’s elections, Obama Care, over regulation, etc.)

The other tax area the President touched on his is unhealthy fixation with taxing the rich. The numbers prove that while taxing the rich more might be a healthy political move for some voters, the financial impact on the economy, government tax levels, and the national debt is extremely small. The President made some embarrassingly incorrect statements regarding taxing the rich in his speech that are worth reviewing:

“Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.” Likely a true statement since Buffet probably draws a smaller salary than his secretary. However, the President never brings up that fact that Buffet does not pay himself millions of dollars every year in salary, getting his money via legally approved other ways that minimize his tax burden. To not mention this fact is deceptive at best, a lie at worst.

“I (Obama) believe that the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that (pay more in taxes) if it helps grow the economy.” A number of problems with this tired, cliched statement. First, the President never cites a source or research that supports this statement. He states it as fact but no data supporting its truth is ever presented.

Second, if these people are so anxious to pay more in taxes, why don’t they? The U.S. Treasury Department has had a program for many years that easily allows Americans to pay more than they owe in taxes to pay down the national debt. If these people were willing to pay more, there is nothing stopping them from doing so. The fact that this program gets very little money donated to it every year reinforces the doubt that the President’s statement is right.

Third, if they do want to pay more in taxes, why didn’t the President challenge them to contribute to the infrastructure program he is proposing? We could name bridges and streets and dams after them as as a side benefit.

Finally, the President implies that if only these people paid more in taxes, the economy would grow significantly. Certainly not a true statement if you examine the numbers. Another Obama statement bordering on deception.

The bottom line is we need a much simplified and much fairer tax code. A tax code where the rich pay their fair share and those Americans that use the income tax process as a money maker, i.e. 45% of Americans pay no Federal income taxes, also pay their fair share. However, beyond general statements about reforming the tax code, the President’s provided no details, plans, or timetable on how to do that.

Which is a shame since such a plan would remove a large amount of uncertainty and wasted economic time complying with our complex tax code. This would have freed up money, time, resources, and energies to expand our economy and hire new workers.

Overall grade – D-

8) National Debt – many organizations, including the President’s own debt reduction commission, have identified many ways to take trillions and trillions of wasted dollars out of our national debt. The President at least gave lip service to this need and claims to have an aggressive plan ready within the week. We shall see.

Grade – Incomplete

9) Unemployment Benefits

Many economists suggested that the President start finding a way to get out of the unemployment benefit business since every major study conducted in this area, including one done by the new head of his economic advisor team, says that providing long term unemployment benefits contributes to chronic long term unemployment The President stated in his speech that he wants to extend long term unemployment benefits, the exact opposite of what all economic studies say is wise.

Overall grade – F, based on the results of the studies cited above, the fact that as we keep extending benefits, unemployment gets stronger, and the fact that there are jobs out there. Just go to Craigslist, Snag A Job’s website or other employment websites and search for all jobs in a zip code and see the hundreds or thousands of vacant jobs that come back.

Jobs are out there, they may not be great jobs, they may not be in someone’s field but here has to be a creative way of melding unemployment benefits with the existing vacant job piles around the country so that everyone wins. In the President’s speech, status quo wins and that is a failure.

10) Trade treaties.

The President was expected to press for the passage of trade treaties that have already been negotiated and he did.

Overall grade – A

Overall, across all components, this speech gets no better than a D minus in boldness, originality, in-depth understanding of our root causes to our problems, and needed specifics on how to move forward. His tax ideas are standard and very tactical, with histories of varying degrees of success. His call for tax reform was hollow. His ignoring of the devastating effects of Obama Care on hiring and uncertainty is unforgivable.

His strategy for paying for this increased spending is vague and yet to be unveiled or to be determined. His removal of unnecessary regulations was tepid at best. He missed big strategic opportunities to free up uncertainty in the private sector by ignoring the wastefulness of Sarbannes-Oxley, failing to address the opportunities in the domestic energy field, and fixing our short term and long term education process. He missed a big time opportunity to declare a one time tax holiday to get off shore corporate earnings back into our economy and linking that to overall tax reform.

If these are such great ideas, which they are not, why haven’t we moved on them previously? Could it be that we have and the results has been a steady dose of 9% unemployment? There was not a creative, ingenious, or bold idea in the lot.

His speech reinforces the belief that the President is like most other politicians, they do not know how to think strategically. All of their thought processes and plans are usually very short term and tactical, rarely addressing the underlying problems. Cash For Clunkers. Cash For Caulkers. One time rebate for first time home buyers. A scattering of small business tax credits but no overall tax reform that encourages business growth. Fix up the schools and make them look pretty without long term education reform. All failed concepts, all short term, doomed tactics.

Besides not being strategic. the plans set out by the President do not remove the major road blocks of uncertainty in the economy and marketplace:

– Short term, gimmicky tax adjustments with unknown future implications and changes.

– A complex and unwieldy tax code.

– High national debt.

– High taxes at every level of government.

– Over regulation.

– Obama Care.

Until the political class fixes these problems, unemployment will still stay high and businesses will continue with their conservative “deer in the headlights” planning.

How Parents Can Recognize a Good High School

When children reach the high school age one of the most challenging tasks for parents is finding a good school for their children’s to attend. Parents need to be able to recognize what successful high schools looks like, and utilizes that information to identify the best choice for their children. Making an informed decision can help determine what school has the best career preparation for their child. Ultimately, their future is in the hands of the school they decide to attend.

High schools are very important when it comes to helping children to mature into productive people in our society. Who we allow to education our children is very important, and should be taken very seriously. The successful schools have a staff which demonstrates they have a vested interest in helping children to succeed, and they will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Successful high schools generally have some of the same characteristics. Parents should become aware of these characteristics in order to make an informed decision when enrolling children in school. In order to make an educated decision, parents should do their homework and research any school they have an interest in. This article can help parents by discussing five characteristics successful high schools have in common. Parents should take the time to investigate these characteristics before making a choice on which school to enroll their children.

The first positive quality involves the staff:

Is the staff motivated to help the students?

Is the staff qualified to meet the demands of high school students?

Does the school have good experienced teachers?

Are the teachers certified in their subject area?

Does the staff work after school if needed to help improve student achievement?

Do the students and parents have a good repore with the staff?

Is the staff involved with extra-curricular activities with the students?

Does the staff keep the parents informed of the progress of their child?

The second positive quality involves the school curriculum:

Does the curriculum meet the needs of the population it serves?

Does the curriculum involve higher order thinking skills, and investigative skills for the students?

Does the curriculum align with the state standards?

Does the curriculum allow for student participation?

Does the curriculum have strong assessment tools for the students?

Does the curriculum allow for help when students are behind?

Does the curriculum have a track record of success?

The Third Positive quality involves a successful track record:

What percentage of students graduated each year?

What percentage of students attended college?

What percentage of students attended a vocational?

What percentage of student’s sign-up for the Military each year?

What percentage of students gets jobs immediately after graduating?

How much scholarship money does the school earn each year?

What is the attendance record for the school?

What kind atmosphere is in the school?

Are parents involved in the school?

The fourth positive quality involves extra-curricular programs:

What kind of extra- curricular activities does the school offer?

Does the school offer a variety of extra-curricular activities?

Some of the activities might include the following: sports, clubs, organizations, coop program, tutoring program, field trips, college fair, college tours, dual enrollment programs, school officers, etc.

Are students encouraged to participate in extra-curricular programs?

Does the staff organize most of the extra-curricular programs?

Are there leadership opportunities for the students?

Are there a number of clubs and organizations for the students?

Can students start clubs or organizations?

The fifth quality involves the school leadership:

The principal of the school will be the person who will set the tone of the building. It is very important that the parent is familiar with the kind of person he/she is, and what kind of leadership style they utilize.

Is the principal positive when you talk to him/her?

Does the principal make every decision in the building?

Does the principal use a shared leadership style?

Does the principal have a good repore with the students, staff, and parents?

Does the principal have an open door policy?

Is the principal visible throughout the building and at school activities?

Is the principal open for creative ideas?

Does the principal put the students first?

Are academics important to the principal?

In addition to the qualities listed above, the parent can get additional information about the school and the principal by observing what is going on day to day in the building. The day to day activities should include an orderly run school with a respectful staff and helpful main office. Additional positive qualities include: having a mission statement visible as you enter the building and keeping the building, clean and safe.

Overall, parents need to do their homework before sending their children to attend a high school for the next four years. This opportunity only comes once in a life time, so parents and students need to be prepared to make this experience as successful as possible.

CLIP – Colegio Luso Internacional Do Porto – An Educational Project

In an interview with Time magazine, Peter Drucker, one of America’s foremost management theorists, when asked “What kind of a century are we in, then?” responded: “In this 21st century world of dynamic political change, the significant thing is that we are in a post-business society. Business is still very important, and greed is as universal as ever; but the values of people are no longer business values, they are professional values. Most people are no longer part of the business society; they are part of the knowledge society.

The greatest changes in our society are going to be in education.” When the journalist later suggested whether the world of the 21st century would be characterized by the competition among the three great trading blocks –Europe, North America, and Asia –Drucker answered: “Yes, and the activities of three big trading blocks will have political consequences. I think we are already in the midst of this, and the pattern is not going to be fair trade or protectionism but reciprocity.” When asked: “Do you think we and our institutions are ready to cope with what you call “new realities”? Drucker affirmed: “Many are still stuck in the world of 1960. What we face now is totally new and dynamic -and we are quite unprepared for it.”

These statements from a man calloused in the world of business reveal a reality of the present characterized by dynamic change on all fronts, by the power conferred by the possession of information and knowledge, by the primacy of education in that context of profound alterations, by relationships among persons, institutions, and peoples based on the concept of reciprocity. with determination Europe searches for the attenuation of centuries old divisions; the nations of the Pacific, led by Japan, try to find a common understanding which may grant them a more condign place in the international forum; the Sultanates of Islam search desperately for a more cohesive and forceful expression of their influence in today’s world.

The progress attained in the technology of communications has made the international system of borders almost irrelevant. The quest for new markets has given birth to supra-national economic colossuses, capable of exerting a deep influence in the lives of peoples and nations. The rending of the iron curtain seems to have stolen the last visible and palpable barrier from a world forced to accept more and more, with less and less understanding. This vertigo of political and technological change has fostered a constant movement not only of people, but mostly of ideas and of information.

Knowledge of things and events has been made instantaneous, the volume of information has been suffocating, our capacity for absorption tested to its limits. Peoples and cultures, which some years ago could have been known only through the power of the imagination, visit us daily in our living rooms, so that, what was foreign, exotic, adventurous, has become common place. The need for a new private international school in the Oporto area is self evident. At the end of the twentieth century we are witnesses to an accelerating trend towards cultural globalization and a growing need for unhindered mobility for professionals and their families. In particular, the internationalization of northern Portugal due to the country’s present EU membership status has created new educational needs for both local foreign children.
This need could be adequately answered by a high quality school, from the primary through university entry level, with English as the base language and the British educational system as the model. The educational program of this school would permit full equivalency throughout all forms with the Portuguese educational system and other international schools and universities. CLIP – Cologio Luso-Internacional do Porto is designed to achieve the following goals:

1 – To offer a student – centered, thoroughly modern, academically challenging, and internationally focused program of studies;

2 – To offer Portuguese students the opportunity to acquire an international education that will prepare them for attendance of both local and foreign universities;

3 – To provide foreign students with the opportunity to continue their education in a sequential, comfortable fashion;

4 – To offer students of Portuguese parents, who have attended schools in other countries, a proper process of school reintegration;

These objectives could be implemented by the following instruments: – A curriculum based on current British secondary programs, allowing pupils to s it for G.C.E. (General Certificate of Education), G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education), I. G .C.S. E. (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) at O – Level, but complemented with studies of Portuguese language, history and social studies, granting equivalence to the Portuguese secondary education forms 9 and 10; – A higher education access curriculum based on and in accordance with the LB. (International Baccalaureate, Geneve, Switzerland) curriculum, which is currently accepted by most universities across the world, and is also equivalent to form 12 of the Portuguese secondary educational system.

CLIP will furthermore develop its activities around seven basic educational principles:

* Academic Excellence: The attainment or the highest academic standards through a stringent and fully integrated curriculum that stresses individual excellence and group achievement;

* Learning how to learn; the content or the various disciplines is developing at such a rate that makes an encyclopedic approach to education quite unviable. By focalizing on how to learn, our aim is to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and personal development;

* Cooperative Learning: The instructional program of CLIP is based on the premise that students can and should learn from each other, and that they must shoulder the greatest responsibility for their education;

* Diversity and Cross-Cultural Education: The underlying concept of International Education is a learning process that positions the study of the diverse expressions of human life at the core of its program of studies;

* Individual Needs and Concerns: The program focuses on the needs and differences of each individual student. The central programmatic focus in this regard is a Teacher Advisor Program coordinated by a Guidance Counselor;

* Participatory Decision-making: The governance of CLIP is based on a democratic model for decision making as articulated in its Charter. CLIP recognizes the preeminent role of parents teacher and students in the educational process;

* The Arts: The arts are essential to a complete understanding of our nature as human beings and as members of cultural groups. In this regard the arts must be taught as independent cl discipline and integrated on the entire program of studies.

4 Must Have Books For Homeschooling Parents

Every homeschooling parent knows that a well stocked library is one of their greatest assets. In addition to great pieces of literature and reference books, however, there are also wonderful books on the topic of homeschooling itself that are must have additions to the family library.

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy

One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a homeschooling parent is finding the right curriculum. You want one that matches your educational philosophy and that also works with your child’s learning style. This book makes this process of picking one among the many available choices so much easier. It’s a must read for parents at the start of theirhomeschool journey or for any homeschooling parent who wants to make a change in their home education.

Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of The World

Susan Wise Bauer is the author of several books on classical homeschooling. Her Story of the World series are well loved by home educators. They help parents create a living history experience for children and I enjoy them too, which is no small thing considering history was my least favorite subject in school!. The Story of the World books also have companion workbooks for those who wish to employ them alongside the volumes.

John Holt’s Teach Your Own

John Holt has been called the “father of unschooling”. His name is frequently mentioned among homeschooling advocates and pops up on message forums and websites for home educators with frequency. As a former public school teacher turnedunschooling advocate, Holt has penned several wonderful books on the topic of how children learn, why the public school system is failing, and encourages parents to trust their child’s learning process. Reading Holt gives you confidence that as a homeschooling parent you’re capable of educating your child and preparing them for adult life better than anyone else can.

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson

This one is another favorite among homeschooling parents. One of the ongoing challenges homeschoolers face is how we can teach our kids the most important subjects: reading, writing and math every day without boring ourselves and our children. This book offers hundreds of ideas that will keep things fresh and interesting for you as you teach your kids at home. It will also assist you in meeting your individual children’s needs since they differ in ability and learning style.

There are many other awesome books for homeschooling parents, but these are four of my personal favorites.

Getting a Proper Driver Education

Nowadays it is not sufficient to just pass a test and obtain a driver’s license; as it is becoming more and more important that a driver gets proper education in driving too. A driver’s education will equip the students with the prerequisite skills and knowledge to enable them to be drivers who are safe and responsible. This is because the drivers’ education offers the students the right tools to minimize the risk of accidents to themselves and to other road users.

It is also a good way for parents to ascertain that their children are getting the proper development and a right attitude for them to become safe drivers in the future. These days children as young as those in their teens can get their drivers license and this is talking about teens as young as 14 years old. They are not even mature enough to understand the dangers associated with bad driving habits.

This makes them more vulnerable and at the risk of getting involved in nasty accidents and fatal crashes. Young drivers can benefit profusely from the wisdom and instruction that they get through this program that teaches them how to adopt driving responsibilities and begin to practice them.

Learning early will definitely help the students to develop the best driving habits for life. It is also the best chance for those who want to do refresher course on driving to go ahead and the most beneficial chance to brush up their driving skills every so often. It is a good chance for updating their understanding of road rules.

What can one learn from a good driver education program? First of all, you should expect to learn some latest traffic rules for road users. Also you will learn how to take care of your vehicle properly and operate it safely.

You will get to learn the best and safest driving methods like how to keep a safe distance between vehicles all the time. It helps to understand the dangers of drink-driving and the reasons why one should not use a cell phone while driving, and basically it prepares a driver for any tough situations on the road.

There are many different ways by which a student can get a genuine driver’s education. One is by joining one of the classes that are available in your locality.

It is also possible to get some programs that are offered online via the Internet. Home study is also possible through the correspondence course is another option and this is great as the learner can do it at his own pace and whenever they have free time.

Maintaining Chinese As The Heritage Language

No matter how hard they have had to struggle to survive in the United States to learn English, Chinese immigrants traditionally never stop urging their children to maintain their heritage language.

In addition to immersing children in Chinese at home, many parents urge their children to attend Chinese language schools after regular school hours. Although Chinese immigrants come from different dialect backgrounds, when referring to Chinese heritage language in the United States, they normally mean Mandarin. Most Chinese language schools are nonprofit schools, which are operated by parents and open on weekends or after regular school hours.

The funding generally comes from tuition and fund-raising. Parents and communities provide great human resources to Chinese language schools, including instructors and staff. With more than 100 years of history, Chinese language schools have evolved into an organized and influential educational force that plays a significant role in Chinese language and culture preservation.

At the present time, Chinese programs target both non heritage language learners and heritage learners. In many places, heritage learners are fewer than those who wish to learn Chinese as a foreign language. The growing interest in learning Chinese as a foreign language is not directly related to maintaining Chinese as a heritage language or as a language used in bilingual education, as that concept is defined in the United States.

Overall, the Chinese language appears to enjoy an increased popularity that is likely to continue in the future. An important historical shift is that Chinese is now associated with higher-economic and social value than was the case in previous decades. This is motivating more heritage learners to maintain the language via public and private programs in which Chinese is taught and, collaterally, attracting nonheritage learners to learn Chinese.

Creating International Education Partners for Global Transformation of Our Educational Systems

With the constantly changing environment of our communities that impact and make up our world, transformation is inevitable. The question is, are we leading this change consciously and doing what we can to ensure that our youth will be able to function as successful citizens and professionals in the future? In reality, this responsibility is shared among our school systems, parents and students to create a global platform of international education partners. Our educators and parents lead this transformational movement, which is required to connect our educational systems on a global level, as they themselves move with the winds of change to keep up with new processes and technologies to function in the changing conditions of our communities that link us to the greater world.

How can we ensure that we are the leaders required to facilitate the global transformation needed for our educational systems?

We first need to step back and ask, “What kind of life are we preparing our students for?” To take our students into the constantly changing future, we need to focus on the big picture while looking at the day to day, moment to moment here and now without losing sight of the fact that it is surely the here and now that impacts the bigger picture of the future. Our actions and efforts as leaders today will dictate the outcome of the transformation we seek. Utilizing clear personal values and beliefs to provide the purpose for setting this new direction, leaders help educators grow together to co-create the pathway to the new future.

To encourage the success of any individual or enterprise in the future, we need courageous leaders willing to push boundaries and barriers to stimulate the change needed in our global educational system and who are willing to link the local and global business communities around the world when doing so. Endurance to keep up with the required change is also a necessity for the most optimal and powerful result for our students.

The core success of this transformation that’s needed hinges on a leader’s ability to live strategically, which is different from strategic planning. Strategic living is an orientation of daily work that is driven by core values, a vision and mission, and a few big ideas. By living strategically, educators can respond to rapidly changing conditions, and become more nimble and flexible as they take advantage of emerging dynamics and their opportunities.

To develop schools as the necessary global learning centers discussed here, there are seven organic competencies that facilitate the development of leaders. The “Seven C’s” are Confidence, Commitment, Co-creation, Connection, Communication, Celebration and Course Correction, and Caring, which together represent the characteristics of mature organizations.

Leaders of this global movement towards developing our students for success requires the development of agile and responsive organisms that can only occur by discarding the elitist hierarchy, undoing the myth that it is natural for all organizations to have superiors and inferiors. This elimination of the elitist hierarchy begins with educators and parents who lead by example to emphasize this truth for our students.

By stepping out, pushing boundaries and connecting our communities on a global level, we as leaders will be able to lead the movement reviewed here to transform our students into the individuals required to positively impact and succeed in organizations of our future for our world.

Drivers Education For Teens

Most teenagers have a craze for driving that tempts them to get behind the wheel of a car even before they’ve had the proper training. Parents of young teenagers are wary of this temptation and enroll their teen in driving programs that highlight ways to drive efficiently and safely. Teenagers typically have short attention spans in a classroom environment. They seek out visual stimulation and learn better by practice. There are driver?s education programs that tap into these teen traits and teach them to drive responsibly. Automobile safety research organizations demonstrate the importance of driver’s education programs designed for teenagers.

Driver’s education programs for teenagers generally include a quick-paced video laced with clues, revealing common teenage behaviors that put new drivers at risk. It also offers problem-solving exercises in a variety of hazardous driving situations, from road rage to bad weather. Students will study these problems and try to solve them. One of the biggest hurdles that teenage drivers must overcome is developing an appropriate attitude to reflect their driving skills.

Every year, teens across the US pass driver’s education courses at school and earn a license. However, that does not necessarily mean that they are ready to get behind the wheel. The driving exam is only a screening exam. The actual responsibility is in the hands of the teenagers, as cars are far more deadly than firearms. Motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of death and injury among teenagers, claiming thousands of young lives every year.

Teenagers think they are invincible, and this attitude often follows them behind the wheel of an automobile. Driver’s education programs for teenagers help students discover the value of safe driving habits. They also show different attitudes teens choose that affect their decision-making on the road.

There are centers that provide driver’s education for mature teens. They include information about road safety, drinking and driving, licensing information, driving laws, DMZ links and the requirements for new drivers. There are many online study guides for student drivers with practice test questions and safety tips. Teens are provided the required information before applying for a learning permit or driving license.

Run Your Small Business From Your iPhone – Essential Apps

Being self-employed, I HATE to feel that I have to be at my desk for a prescribed number of hours, or to perform certain tasks. So, when I recently went travelling around Europe in my campervan, I had to find solutions to give me the freedom I wanted to enjoy my trip, but also to remain in control of my businesses, and not take my eye off the ball. I still use ALL of these in the everyday running of my business when I’m not in the office…which seems to be getting quite frequent!

1) Firstly, I had to find a way to be able to access my pc for the sole purpose of running the payroll on a Friday…any business is only as good as it’s staff. so there was no way this could go wrong!

I discovered LogMeIn – free remote access to my computer, just as if I was sitting right in front of it. I just needed internet connection, which isn’t difficult to find around Europe. There is a desktop version as well as an iPhone app, but the app isn’t free…definitely worth the £17 though.

2) Being a bit of a control freak, I check my Google Analytics account a few times every day, as I like to know exactly how the site visitors found us.

I discovered Analytics Lite – another free app that I still use all the time as it’s quicker than checking on my desktop!

3) Both of my business websites are created using WordPress, and I needed to make sure that if there was a problem with either site while I was away, I could access it and fix it as soon as possible.

WordPress has a free app. As it happens, I didn’t need it, but it gave me fantastic peace of mind.

4) I was discussing mobile websites with a SEO guy and he laughed when I said that yes I have a mobile website, and it seems to run just fine on my iPhone. I was referring to my original website, which is obviously not what he meant!

I discovered DudaMobile – another free app that will convert your existing website into a mobile website which even gives you an app type favicon on your iPhone or Android home screen

5) I like to cast my beady eye over any legal docs before they leave our office, and I also love to analyse statistics to the nth degree, but I didn’t want to have to use LogMeIn for everything,.

I discovered Google Docs – free ‘MS Office’ type programs that can be accessed as long as you have internet connection, and shared with different users at the same time. This meant my manager could ‘show’ me stats by looking at the same spreadsheet, at the same time, while talking me through it over he phone. We’ve moved our entire document and spreadsheet library over to this!

6) As I wouldn’t be able to take out of hours calls on the hop, I needed to find a way for my prospective clients to communicate with me and get answers to their queries. Email would be too slow. I needed a system that would allow me flexibility, while still offering excellent customer service.

I discovered Comm100 – a FREE ‘Chat Now’ button that I embedded into the header banner of my website. I downloaded the free app to my iPhone, and every time someone wanted to connect out of hours, I had a loud notification from my iPhone. I knew I had a few minutes to react so I’d find a hotel and away to go!

7) There were times when I wanted to check up on the office and make sure it hadn’t burnt down or been burgled…or even the staff doing acrobatics over the desks!

I installed Skype on my iPhone and randomly called my manager for quick chats a few times….I was quite disappointed everyone was so well behaved in the background!

So, I had a great stress-free trip, and I never work Fridays…well not in the office anyway!

Types of Homeschooling Families

In my seven years of homeschooling I’ve found that there are usually three types of homeschooling families, each with different goals and desires for their children. Many homeschooling families will find themselves in one of these niches. These niches are not a bad thing, necessarily, but some of them, in my opinion, can be taken to an extreme.

When researching homeschooling I found there are a lot of different names for different styles of homeschooling. You have “school at home”, a strict type of schooling with a full curriculum, laid out lesson plans, desks and maybe even a chalk board or white board. School starts at 8:30 a.m. on the dot with scheduled breaks, lunch and even a recess. I’ve even heard of some moms who have their children call them “Mrs. Jones” or whatever when they are homeschooling in this method.

You also have a relaxed homeschooler. This homeschooler follows a curriculum but it’s usually loosely structured. Lessons take place on the couch, at the kitchen table, in the family car or wherever else may be convenient. Sometimes the lesson is tossed for the day and they end up watching movies as a family or going on a spur of the moment field trip. Lessons start whenever the family feels like starting and may end well into the night.

Then there are unschoolers. These are families who use no curriculum and at times seem to have no rules at all for their children. If they live in a state that requires a portfolio or testing, they may break down every now and again and produce some work, but they primarily just go with the flow. Parents have material readily available for the kids to play with or read and believe that they are there to be a resource for the child. Some unschoolers are more strict than others, sometimes even more so than the “school at home” parents. These types of unschoolers are called “radical unschoolers”.

I consider myself a relaxed homeschooler. I love the idea of unschooling, but I fear it as well. I fear that if we unschool that our son would spend all day playing games and watching TV. I fear that he won’t learn to spell or read well or write anything, much less learn enough math to get into college. I fear that he will be selfish and rude and care only about himself. I have reasons to feel this way and any newbie homeschooler should be prepared if she dips her toe into the unschooling waters.

When my husband and I first started discussing homeschooling I researched and tried to learn everything I could. That was how I heard about unschooling. I thought it sounded great and I wanted to know more. I found a very well known site on unschooling and joined their email list. This site and list featured a predominant unschooling figure that is well-known as a speaker at various homeschooling events.

I found the people on this site – including this well-known speaker – and the email list mostly rude and arrogant. They apparently allowed their kids to stay up at all hours, play games all day, and, in my opinion,
pretty much allowed their children to do whatever they wanted. Any mention of any types of rules handed down by the parent – bedtimes, mealtimes, etc. – seemed to be out the window. At the time I was on this list I was still working outside the home, so we all had bedtimes. Anytime I mentioned bedtime I was told I “wasn’t an unschooler” and pretty much that any type of rules from me or his father was hurting him. Even though the parents didn’t seem to advocate any “rules”, it seemed these radical unschoolers had a lot of them. One particular discussion was about swimming lessons. Were they too restrictive? Did they count as “curriculum”? Should children not participate?

I was only on that list 2 weeks. I knew I still wanted to homeschool, but I swore I would never unschool because I didn’t want my child to be selfish and mean like the parents on that list. I also chose to stay off lists that proclaimed “Do it MY way or it isn’t right.”

It’s been over 7 years now since I was a part of that email list and since then I’ve met more unschoolers.
I know now that not all unschoolers are so “radical” and that unschooled children can be sweet and kind and unselfish. I also discovered it doesn’t matter what curriculum you use or don’t use. Everyone needs to do what is right for their family.

However much I’ve learned about unschooling, though, I still have a fear of actually going through with it.
Maybe if I’d been able to homeschool my son from the beginning instead of starting in third grade then maybe my feelings would be different.

Unschooling can be a positive thing, especially starting with a young child. I still believe that a home should have basic rules, however, just because everyone has to live there together. Those rules may be simple, such as bedtimes and mealtimes and chores and maybe there is an agreement that during certain times of the day the TV, computer and video games are turned off unless you are doing something educational. Within that framework I believe a child could find something to occupy their time – reading a book, creating a project or even playing with a sibling. All of those things can be a positive unschooling experience.

Even though homeschoolers do try to put themselves in a “category”, homeschooling is actually so varied and different for everyone that there can be no set of rules that pertains to us all. As homeschooling parents, we need to look at how our children learn best. There is no one curriculum for all. No one can teach their child everything and everything will not be learned during the typical schooling years. Learning should be for a lifetime and education means that you are able to find out what you need to know when you need to know it. A quote from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill states:

An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.

I think this should be the goal of all education, not just homeschooling.