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THE SUPER TIP OF ALL FOR NEWLY MINTED NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:

Update the information for your organization on GuideStar.

What?  You never heard of GuideStar?  Well you can get in line with hundreds of other new small nonprofit organizations.  GuideStar is a nonprofit organization that is currently merging with another nonprofit called “Candid”.  But GuideStar has been around for at least 5 years that I know of.

GuideStar is a database with the names of all the nonprofit organizations who have registered with the IRS.  If you have registered and been certified as a 501 c3 nonprofit organization, you are in their database.  GuideStar is the database that many donors use to check up on a nonprofit that is asking them for money.  For example, it is reported that 55,000 from Facebook used GuideStar to check on organizations asking for donations on Facebook.

Big problem with GuideStar

They download the IRS files but the information is not sorted into a format that most donors will understand.  But more importantly GuideStar does not notify the nonprofit organizations that they have downloaded half-baked information about the organization and uploaded it to their database.  You have no way of knowing this has been done.

I never heard of GuideStar until almost three years after founding Loving Garland Green and we participated in North Texas Day of Giving and we were told we had to update our information in this database.  At that point in time we had already been in operation for almost three years.  So, for almost three years when any potential donor would look up Loving Garland Green on GuideStar, they would see a screen that looked like the following example.  [I’ve blanked out name of Nonprofit, Ein number and name/address of a member that appears on this page.

 

 

Notice in the image above, for the Mission statement GuideStar has taken it upon themselves to write in:  “This organization has not provided GuideStar with a mission statement”  --as if somehow this is all our fault that we didn’t write a mission statement to be included in the database of GuideStar, an organization we never even heard of.  But that doesn’t matter.  And even worse, the whole tone of this implies the nonprofit is somehow out of compliance, or lax in their duties—which is totally false.

This is just another example of how small fish swimming in the sea of multinational corporations have the odds stacked against them when it comes to fundraising in competition with large nonprofit organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Cancer Society and others.

It’s the same story in the world of for profit organizations. Mom and Pop local operations face the same one-sided type of competition with large corporations.  For example, here in the USA our government defines a “small business” as any company with fewer than 500 employees.  This means that subsidiaries of large multinational corporations like Bechtel can compete with small mom and pop operations for government subsidies.  As far as the true definition of a small business in the USA is concerned:  Of the 28 million small businesses in the USA, 22 million are individually operated without any employees. The United State’s small business community contributes roughly half of the total $17 trillion GDP (approximately $8.5 trillion.)

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ADVICE TO DONORS:  Give more to local nonprofits!

Make a special effort to learn about and seek out your local nonprofits this year.  Like any local organization, more of the money you give to them will stay and directly benefit the people in your community and less of it will go for operating expenses for the nonprofit. If you come across a profile in GuideStar that looks like the one in this article, don’t just automatically write them off.  Seek them out.  Make a small effort to find their website or Facebook and learn who they are.  Don’t just depend on one source.  It’s to your advantage and to your community’s advantage to do this.  My three favorite nonprofits in my community of Garland:

Garland Area Makerspace (Garlandmakers.org)

Loving Garland Green (LovingGarlandGreen.org )

Good Samaritans of Garland (goodsamofgarland.org)

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TIP 1 FOR LOCAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS: Update your GuideStar information.

I know, it’s not fair but if you want to give your organization the best chance possible to profit from fundraising efforts, you’ve got to go to GuideStar and update the worse than non-information that may be showing there for your nonprofit organization.

Go to this link and search under the name of your organization.
https://www.guidestar.org/search

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TIP 2 FOR LOCAL NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:  Use technology to help contact donors.

Visit this Nonprofit Tech for Good.  It has some fabulous information to help you.
https://www.nptechforgood.com/

 

TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND TELL THEM TO TELL THEIR FRIENDS:
SUPPORT LOCAL NONPROFITS THIS YEAR!

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ADDED AFTER ORIGINAL POSTING:

This is what a GuideStar listing for a nonprofit organization looks like after the members of the organization update it:

 

Below you can see what the Dallas Makerspace looks like.  Keep in mind Dallas Makerspace has been a nonprofit for almost 10 years and has over 400 members.I don't know why their site has SEE SCHEDULE O instead of  “This organization has not provided GuideStar with a mission statement”   as does the current site for Garland Area Makerspace.  I do know that Schedule O is the form for submitting supplemental information to the IRS Form 990.  I couldn't tell you why they have not updated their site in this database as did Loving Garland Green and others.  Perhaps they are less like sheep.  Perhaps their update is to simply reference donors to this IRS supplemental form--which is a little like saying "go play 52 card pickup" because that information really isn't very helpful--not that I would blame them for doing this at all.    

if nothing else this is a testimony to the reliability of the information in the GuideStar database.  The Dallas Makerspace has been around for almost 10 years has over 400 members and is a great organization deserving of community support but you wouldn't learn that here.

SO ONCE AGAIN, DONORS:  Please don't rely on one source when seeking information regarding nonprofits who deserve support.

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MY WISH IS THAT ON THIS DAY MORE AMERICANS WOULD SPEND MORE TIME CONTEMPLATING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PATRIOTISM AND NATIONALISM.

Patriotism is, according to Merriam Webster, a "love for or devotion to one's country." Nationalism is a "sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups."

A flag is merely a symbol.  it is not THE nation nor is it THE people.  Its reverence should never be put above that of "we the people."

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This 1920 depiction of Betsy Ross in the company of George Washington is most likely historically inaccurate.

About the Origin of the USA Flag

Once again it would appear that we've been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the history of our flag.  Most of us believe the story that Betsy Ross was visited by George Washington and sewed up the first flag in June of 1776.  There are no historical documents to substantiate this.  In fact, there is much to refute this claim.This pattern of the thirteen stars in a circle is now commonly called the "Betsy Ross flag", although claims by her descendants that Betsy Ross contributed to this design are not generally accepted by modern American scholars and vexillologists.  

  • There is no evidence to show that Betsy Ross and George Washington knew each other, or that George Washington was ever in her shop.
  • The Flag Resolution of June 1777 was the first documented meeting, discussion, or debate by Congress about a national flag.
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Burgi and Liz with some of the harvest

 

Today was a harvest morning in the garden.  It always takes longer than I expect.  We started at 7:30 and finished at about 9:30.  Then we delivered to Good Samaritan's of Garland--as always a lovely place to visit.   Pam Swendig and the volunteers at Good Sam's do such a great job of managing the place.

Burgi and I picked three containers of blackberries; 12 grocery bags of Kale (about 4 servings each); four bags of red spinach; one bag of Malabar spinach;  two bags or oregano; four bags of basil and two bags of mint.  Our total count in weight this visit was 13 pounds.  But it all adds up over our long growing season.  For the past three years Loving Garland Green has averaged 450 pounds of produce a year.  Never hesitate to give because you think the gift from your garden is too small.  Feeding even one person one meal is never small.

 

"Ole Blue" loaded with fresh produce from the Garland Community Garden.

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FIRST IN A SERIES ON THE VALUE OF A MAKERSPACE AS THE MISSING LINK TO BRIDGE TO NEW TECHNOLOGY AND JOBS OF THE FUTURE:

With a makerspace, creating prototypes for new Inventions and getting them to Market is not as difficult as it once was.

Elizabeth Berry

Since the time of Thomas Edison, invention has been as much about manufacturing and marketing inventions successfully as about having great ideas in the first place.

Some of the most famous inventors in history have developed existing ideas and made them successful. Edison didn't invent electric light, but he did develop the first commercially successful, long-lasting electric light bulb.

In much the same way, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconican't really be credited with the invention of the radio. Other people, such as German Heinrich Hertz and Englishman Oliver Lodge, had already successfully demonstrated the science behind radio and sent the first radio messages. What Marconi did was to turn radio into a much more practical technology and sell it to the world through bold and daring demonstrations.

Successful inventions often have to dislodge existing ones, both from our minds (which often find it hard to imagine new ways of doing things) and from their hold on the marketplace (which they may have dominated for years or decades).

In the past it was difficult and expensive for an individual to create the prototype and then launch a new invention.  Thus, such activities remained largely the province of giant corporations with the expensive tools and space to build.  Our modern technology and the Internet today have changed all that.  And now with makerspaces to bring these expensive tools and latest technology together in a collaborative diverse environment we have the potential of a fast track the world has never seen for new inventions and technology.

Makerspaces Do Not Replace Manufacturing Companies

In conclusion, it is important to note that while makerspaces can spawn new inventions and technology, they are not in competition with manufacturing firms.  Makerspaces are not there to mass-produce items.  Makerspace are there to create one-of-kind things—as art or as prototypes to be produced in a manufacturing environment elsewhere.  A makerspace could not afford to allow one or two of its members to tie up use of their shared tools and technology for the ongoing mass production of one product.  If a maker invents something, they must approach a manufacturer to mass-produce it.

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John Jones (Jonesy), Vice President of the Garland Area Makerspace, at our table.  Our theme was answering the question:  What is a maker?  The answers featured included Community Colleges; members of our makerspace; and two of the several local merchants in our area who have sponsored events for us:  Artie Moskowitz of 3D Printer Farms and Jeff Arrendell from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware of Garland.

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The event, sponsored by our Garland Chamber of Commerce was a great success. I did glimpse into the room where the fashion show was taking place from time to time and saw some fantastic fashion outfits—some of them designed by the models.  Ana Maria DeYoung a volunteer from our local Chamber and one of my friends, worked with others from the Chamber to make this event the huge success it was.  The turnout was to capacity. 

As a vendor representing the Garland Area Makerspace, most of my time was spent chatting with people who came to our table so I’ll tell you about them.

I’ll begin by mentioning the two local vendors on either side of us:  Alma’s sweet treats and Catering on one side and Lush and Plus on the other side. 

Apparently owner Alma Espinosa not only caters events by providing sweets, she also can create decorations for the event as well.  When we arrived to set up our table, Alma was busy creating a giant balloon entrance to the event with what appeared to be at least 100 balloons.  The effect of walking through the archway was like walking through the bubbles of champagne.   Jonesy and I each ate one of her delicious cookies.  If you need catering for your event, you can call Alma at 972-621-9884.

Lush & Plus Boutique, a new local business in downtown Garland, were our neighbors on the other side.  Sonya Owens, owner, has located her business at 804 West State Street.  Be sure to stop by to see some fantastic one-of-a-kind items.

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A FEW OF THE SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO STOPPED BY THE GARLAND AREA MAKERSPACE TABLE

 

Herb Moncibais – Chairman, Founder, and Creator of the Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has 17 Branch Hispanic Chambers serving 5 counties in North Texas and has Branch Chambers in 6 Latin American countries.

The Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber is expanding in many cities in North Texas and in Latin America offering its members tremendous economic growth here in Texas and Latin America. Herb’s expertise is in marketing and sales, specializing in product branding and visibility for international companies in the United States. The huge growth of the Hispanic market and the untapped market between the Americas (North, Central and South America) could be the tipping point advantage for the Tri-County Regional Hispanic Chamber in Texas 2020 and beyond.

Herb is an extremely personable man who is easy to talk with—a visionary who sees things and opportunities that others might miss.  For example when he stopped at our table, one of the things he picked up was an architectural model of the City of Dallas that had been created on a 3D printer.  When we explained to him how it had been created, Herb immediately saw the application of this technology to assist some people he is working with in Frisco to create some models for their projects.  Then we showed him two of the prosthetics for children also created on a 3D printer and he was even more intrigued, saying “This is exactly the kind of technology for the future that we need to be teaching our kids how to use today.  By the time they are adults, many of jobs today won’t even exist.”

WHY WE NEED MAKERSPACES NOW

Herb is right and creating jobs and technology of the future is part of the work of makerspaces.  Our schools and community colleges prepare them for jobs that exist now.  However, the unique environment of a makerspace is that it is also a laboratory for creating things of the future.  It is a place where people can tinker and talk to one another.  A makerspace is a collaborative environment that encourages people to experiment and tinker with new ideas.  A makerspace is a place where it’s OK to make mistakes and try again.  Already some of our technology of the future has come from a makerspace.  For example, The SQUARE , a device that allows business people to easily swipe credit and debit cards on their phone to building out a custom solution on their payment platform, or even selling online—was created in the tinkering/collaborative environment of a makerspace. When people get together and tinker and talk—especially in an environment that provides tools such as 3D printers they might not otherwise afford—all kinds of magic begins to happen.

We hope to talk more with Herb in the future to see how we can work together to support our common efforts.

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AND THEN THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE OF GARLAND

 Of course, everyone who was anyone was there.

 

Garland City Council Members: Deborah Morris (Second District) and Robert Smith (Eighth District) 

I don’t know how they do it but it seems that these two council members manage to stop by every single Garland event.  And they always have time to talk with me.  I love them both—not only for what they do for me, but for what they do for our City.  

 

Deborah with the delightful Somprasong

 

 

Kay Moore—Kay is one of the most vivacious and active members of our community.  She wrote the lyrics for a Becoming Garland Avenue, a musical drama set in the early days of the last century and performed on the downtown square at the Plaza Theater.  The drama featured an original script and musical score. Not one to rest on her laurels, Kay is now planning a huge Christmas event for the historical district of Garland.

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COME JOIN US AND HELP US BUILD THIS BRIDGE!

No community should be without a makerspace.  It's the place where new technology and new jobs are born.

Visit our website at Garlandmakers.org 

We need you.

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Interesting how political cartoons can resurface as real life.  Theodor Geisel created this cartoon almost 80 years ago as satire.  Just the other day we heard similar words from a US newscaster (Brian Kilmeade). The only difference is that Mr. Kilmeade was not being satirical when he said: “Like it or not, these are not our kids.  It’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.  These are people from another country.”

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Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) served in the army during World War II as a Hollywood propagandist for the war effort.  On January 7, 1943 Geisel reported for duty leaving behind New York apartment and his budding career writing and illustrating children’s books under his distinctive pseudonym—Dr. Seuss. 

Actually Geisel had already put behind his children’s projects three years prior to joining the army.  When Paris fell to the Nazis, he began to create political cartoons aimed at Adolf Hitler and American isolationists such as Charles Lindbergh who wanted to keep the country out of the war in Europe.  In  1941 and 1942 he drew over 400 editorial cartoons for PM. (PM was a liberal-leaning daily newspaper published in New York City by Ralph Ingersoll from June 1940 to June 1948 and financed by Chicago millionaire Marshall Field III.)

Following are a couple of my favorites from his time at PM:

[From:  Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego, La Jolla}


This one, featuring the USA as the Thanksgiving roast turkey being served up by Hitler was created by Geisel on November 20, 1941--just a few weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

 

The following one was created on February 10, 1942--only about two months after the USA entered into World War II.  its purpose is of course to warn against over confidence.  There are many ways in which this cartoon could be applied to today's world--depending of course on your world view.

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Poverty, even more than race or ethnicity determines who ends up in prison in the USA.  And, there is a connection between poverty and lack of education in the USA:  the less education one has, the poorer one will be and thus more likely to end up in prison.  This is the biggest and most important reason I can give people for doing all they can to keep our kids in school and to help those between the ages of 18 and 29 who have dropped out of school.  [Note:  even if you don’t like kids you should contribute in any way you can to this effort because people in jail cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year.]

Our jails and prisons are mostly filled with America’s poor. Since black people are far likelier to be impoverished or low-income, they’re also far likelier to be locked up.

The probability that a low-income black man has been jailed is around 52 percent; for an upper-income black man it’s 14 percent. That statistic reveals a lot about the role of poverty's relationship to those in American prisons.

Most of the people in prison in the USA are poor. The prison population of 2.2 million is evenly divided between black and white.  But one thing the overwhelming majority of inmates have in common is lack of education and poverty.

Year after year, the United States beats out much larger countries -- India, China -- and more totalitarian ones --Russia and the Philippines -- for the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America's prisons and jails at the end of 2016.

Another way to put America's love of prisons in a global perspective: While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners. The American criminal justice system’s glaring racial disparities are well known: Black people make up nearly 40 percent of America’s incarcerated population and only 12% of our population at large. Black people are more than five times as likely than whites to be behind bars.  Thus, to say that racism does not play a part would be inaccurate; however, as noted by the fact that only 14% of educated black men could expect to go to prison compared to 52 percent for low-income black men. Education plays the overriding prominent role in what a person can expect for their income over their lifetime.  In most cases people with a good education earn twice that of people with no education.

The American prison system is bursting at the seams with people who have been shut out of the economy and who had neither a quality education nor access to good jobs. In 2014 dollars, incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration, which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.

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OUR GARLAND ISD TEAM AND OUR COMMUNITY ARE WORKING OVERTIME TO KEEP KIDS IN SCHOOL

1. Garland ISD is hosting Community brainstorming sessions to get ideas from our community as to how we can improve our schools for our kids.

2. Richland College, Garland Branch, is teaming with Texas Workforce and local Garland businesses to provide free and meaningful training that will be a stepping-stone to a job that pays a living wage for youth between the ages of 18 and 29.  Often the students they serve are dropouts from high school—kids who were left behind.

3. The Gilbreath-Reed Technological Career opened its doors two years ago to offer training and education in a makerspace environment that appeals to students with the kind of intelligence that likes to learn by doing.  The classes at Gilbreath-Reed are open to Junior and Senior students in the Garland ISD. Many of these classes lead to certifications that can open doors to a good job when the student graduates.  Gilbreath-Reed is an educational facility that among other things also helps to keep at-risk kids in school and learning and preparing in meaningful ways for adulthood.

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Private probation companies charge excessive fees to low income people who can't pay small fines like traffic tickets.  If they can't pay they go to jail.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn_yKqf-kOI

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Value Statement:  "Racial Hatred has no Color"

I've been thinking a lot lately about education and our schools and some of the actions we could take as individuals and as a community to improve the future for our young people.  Perhaps we might begin with teaching a few values or self-evident verifiable truths. Value statements are beliefs which can be guidelines for behavior:  "this is ok but that is not."

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I thought about that this morning when I saw this post on my FaceBook:
 
"St. Lawrence County, NY — Thirteen people were recently arrested for defrauding the Department of Social Services out of more than $104,000, which is considered the largest welfare fraud sweep in the county’s history. All of those arrested were reportedly white and not a single Black person was involved."

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When I read something like this, I always ask myself:  Is there an underlying, the unspoken message here? In this case the underlying message seems to be: "White people commit more crimes than black people. Thus white people are worse than black people."  But is this an accurate conclusion to draw based on the evidence offered in story?  I don't think so.
 
Before taking the obvious bait of indignant self-righteous racial hatred (White people are worse than black people) I remember my value belief that hatred has no color.  A black person is just as capable of hatred as a white person.
 
So I looked at the facts:  1)  all these people were women--perhaps a case could be made that this story illustrates discrimination against women in the USA.  Then I notice that this event took place in St. Lawrence County New York--never heard of it so I googled its demographics (only took a few seconds)
and this is what I found:

The population of St. Lawrence County, NY is 92.1% White Alone, 2.28% Hispanic or Latino, and 2.23% Black or African American.  The poverty rate in St. Lawrence County is 19.4%.  (National poverty rate is at about 12.3%.)
 
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CONCLUSIONS

With only 2.23% of their population being black (compared to 13.4% nation wide), it's no surprise that no blacks showed up in this photo.  Their poverty rate is high in their community and its highly likely these women were desperate (not an excuse) but certainly suggesting extenuating circumstances.
 
 

PERHAPS THIS IS A STORY OF WHAT HAPPENS TO THE POOR WHEN THEY BREAK THE LAW AS OPPOSED TO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE RICH WHO BEND THE LAW IN THEIR FAVOR 

When you average their thefts out, they amount to $8,800 per woman. I look at these faces and I think: How many men on Wall Street are bilking Americans of millions of dollars every year and getting away with it? You can put Amazon at the top of the list--a multibillion dollar corporation that paid $0 in income tax last year.
 
I don't condone crime yet I do believe in compassion for others regardless their color and I do believe in compassion and understanding that encompasses more than "rule of law."  Regardless, the fact that these women were white had nothing to do with their crime and should not be generalized to a statement regarding all white women--any more than it would have if they had been black.  Thus the statement "None of them were Black", even though true steers readers into making an erroneous conclusion based on racial bias.
 
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ADDENDUM:  MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN PRISON IN THE UNITED STATES ARE, LIKE THE WOMEN SHOWN ABOVE, POOR--REGARDLESS THEIR RACE OR ETHNICITY 

Year after year, the United States beats out much larger countries -- India, China -- and more totalitarian ones --Russia and the Philippines -- for the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.  According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America's prisons and jails at the end of 2016. 

Another way to put America's love of prisons in a global perspective:   While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.  The American criminal justice system’s glaring racial disparities are well known: Black people make up nearly 40 percent of America’s incarcerated population and are more than five times as likely as whites to be behind bars. 

The American prison system is bursting at the seams with people who have been shut out of the economy and who had neither a quality educationInvisible Men, Becky Pettit finds that while the overall educational attainment of Americans has grown since 1980, the fraction of the incarcerated with less than a high school diploma grew over this same period. See Becky Pettit, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012), p 16.

"> nor access to good jobs.Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park," The Right Investment? Corrections Spending in Baltimore City, February 2015.

"> In 2014 dollars, incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration, which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.
 
Our jails and prisons are mostly filled with America’s poor. Since black people are far likelier to be impoverished or low-income, they’re also far likelier to be locked up. The probability that a low-income black man has been jailed is around 52 percent; for an upper-income black man it’s 14 percent. 
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FIRST THE BAD NEWS:  Yes the USA Educational System is failing our kids.

 As I mentioned in a previous article on our USA educational system, it has failed many of our students, in my opinion, due to following a corporate hierarchical model of top down management with decisions being made far from ground zero where the teachers and the students intersect and interact.  Our model for education is quite similar to the model followed for corporate business.  For many reasons this business model is as inappropriate for our educational system as it is for our government.  Government, education and business have very different functions and goals and it is absurd to apply a one-size-fits-all corporate business model to all three.  Each should have an entirely different model with very different goals.  Neither government nor our educational system should be run like a Wall Street Corporation.

HOW DID ALL THIS FOCUS ON MATH AND SCIENCE BEGIN?

All this focus on math and science in our public school system began in 1957 when the Russians launched Sputnik.  Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on October 4,1957. The leaders of the USA were in an uproar because the Russians had beaten the USA into space.  It was considered not only a shame to our American educational system but also a threat to our national security.  

Following this national realization that we were “second”, was a tremendous, even fanatical push to “make American students competitive with the Russians” in the fields of math, science and technology.  If there was a choice between a math or science program and one involving the arts, it was no contest.  The arts programs were cut.  All the attention and focus was on the students who were college bound.  A cookie cutter educational factory was designed to turn out scientists and mathematicians.  This has largely remained the focus of our public school system for the past 70 years—math and science.  Students with other kinds of intelligence were largely ignored.

As a result, not only have many students been ignored and left behind, our American culture has also been left behind.  No doubt, over the past 70 years we have lost many dancers, artists, and entrepreneurs, who could have developed their interests in ways to enrich our culture.  We have probably even lost a few scientists and technology wizards as well because not all students learn in the same way.  Thus a one-size-fits-all, sit up straight and pay attention approach, sometimes turns students off to learning and they drop out.     

Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. [Miller, Tony. "Partnering for Education Reform." U.S. Department of Education]

Most students who drop out of school end up costing taxpayers more money than those who complete their educational path.  Consider that 63 percent of all youth crime nationally is committed by kids who have dropped out of school or failed to find a way into higher education. Their incarceration and court costs saddle us with a $76.7 billion annual bill – not including the financial hit to their victims in medical care, lost work time or insurance adjustments.

For welfare and food stamps, the pattern is predictable: Drop out youth receive $9,660 more in lifetime welfare payments than those who graduate from high school, for an aggregate annual burden of $65.1 billion. [Seattle Times accessed June 18, 2019   http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2014/01/03/how-much-do-dropouts-cost-us-the-real-numbers-behind-pay-now-or-pay-later/

That is the bad news.  To summarize:  Not keeping our students engaged and in school costs everyone big time.  It would pay us all to work to improve our public school system. 

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS—AT LEAST IN MY CITY OF GARLAND TEXAS

Our local educators in the Garland ISD are working overtime to improve learning environments for our kids.  Just this past week we had a Garland GISD-wide community meeting at Curtis Caldwell where citizens came together to listen and learn and provide their input regarding ways to improve our local public schools. 

 

Manny Romero, Director of Community Programs, Richland College, Garland Branch

Today Carol Currie, President of Garland Area Makerspace and I met with Manny Romero, Director of Community Programs at the Garland Branch of Richland College.  Manny and his team at the Garland Branch of Richland College are working overtime to bring those students (between ages of 19 to 29) who have been left behind back into the community fold by offering meaningful and free educational opportunities that lead directly to employment.

One example of these free educational opportunities is a Surveyor Technician Class.  This is a free 8-week course that provides a National Society of Professional Surveyors—Level 1 Certification.  Students in this class will learn about computer-aided mapping; field engineering; introduction to surveying; land surveying; survey calculations and safety and first aid.  For more information call:  214-360-1234.

The purpose of our meeting was to explore ways that the Garland Area Makerspace and Richland Community College in Garland might partner together in a mutually beneficial relationship to strengthen our ability to meet the goals of our organizations and also for each of us to learn a little bit more about the other.  A lot of great ideas came from our meeting that we plan to explore further.

For example, we will feature information regarding the great free classes offered at Richland College in Garland at the upcoming Fashion Show on June 27th at the downtown MillHouse Pizzeria.  In July we hope to have a planning event involving makers and educators in the community for a large event to be held in September in the main area of Richland College.  Details are to be filled in but we hope to have about 20 stations set up in this area.  The event will be on a Sunday 1PM to 5PM.  Attendees will be able to choose four stations.  The presentations/making events at each station will last one hour.  These stations will all be highly interactive.  For example a station featuring an overview of the surveyor class might give visitors the opportunity to handle surveyor equipment.  The maker area might have a section set up with sewing machines where visitors would have the opportunity to make a bag from a feed sack.  Details will follow.

As Manny mentioned, the classes at Richland are not typical as each student is assigned a counselor who works closely with the student.  These counselors have offices situated where the students come in. They care. They know the ones who are late or absent and they have conversations with the students.  A lot of caring and empathy goes into their programs.  Another thing you’ll see for students, not normally seen (except in gyms) is a shower.  Students who are enrolled can use the shower with no questions asked.  Some of these students may even be homeless and/or for other reasons, not have access to a shower.

At the successful completion of a class at Richland, the students will have a job interview.  More often than not, employers are chopping at the bit to hire a student who has completed a training course at Richland.

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Conventional Wisdom says to get back to the basics the three R's. Convention Wisdom is not even a reasonable facsimile for intelligence but it's an excellent stand-in for conformity. As Albert Einstein said: “The only sure way to never make mistakes is to have no new ideas.”  Stay with the tried and true of conventional wisdom and that's what you will get, but of course there will be no progress either.

Anything negative regarding our public education system goes double for the “Charter Schools”—a Wall Street educational system on steroids designed to ultimately be run for profit like any other Wall Street corporation for the investors and special interests such as religion—“mine of course, not yours”. 

Sorry I missed a recent community meeting sponsored by Garland ISD on improving education for our students here in Garland.  However I did watch the two TED talks delivered by Sir Ken Robinson that explored the question “Do Schools Kill Creativity” and  “Bring on the Learning Revolution” and took the online survey. (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Garland_English )

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.  And I believe that he is definitely on the right track.

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What is wrong with our public school system in the USA is basically what’s wrong with the culture of our nation.   First of all we have sold out to the top-down management style of Wall Street—a management style that results in the manufacture of cookie cutter products and services. (How different is a McDonalds in Des Moines from one in Dallas? and that is exactly what you get with the Wall Street model--a system designed for conformity and predictability, a design that will turn out satisfied investors.)

This top down corporate conformity management style for our schools is as mechanistic as any industrial operation designed to produce products that conform—which is fine for mechanical objects, but not for kids.  This unnatural approach to education sacrifices the heart and soul of creativity and innovation to conformity. It is an educational style that caters to the middle of the road and leaves students at either end of that bell-shaped curve (which in many ways defines a student’s ability to conform) out of the picture.

 In one of his TED talks Ken Robinson told the story of Gillian Lynne who grew up in the 1930’s in London.  She couldn’t sit still in school.  Her mother took to her a psychiatrist.  This was in the days before Attention Deficit Disorder was invented; otherwise Gilliam Lynne would have likely been medicated out of a brilliant career. As it turned out the psychiatrist told her mother to put her in a dance school.  The rest is history.  Gillian Lynne became a renowned British ballerina who, after turning to choreography, created the sinuous dances in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Cats,” which became the longest-running musical in London's West End and on Broadway.

Here is another, closer to home story of “Attention Deficit Disorder”.  I went to school at North Texas University as an art student.  My parents insisted that I graduate with a “useful” degree so they insisted that I get a teaching certificate while I was there.  In my senior year, one semester was devoted to student teaching in the school lab.  As it turned out, the teacher I was to work with got Mono and was out for almost two months.  Another teacher would checkup on me about twice a week.

I had a male student in my class who was so disruptive that it made it impossible for me to teach the class.  On my third day, I asked him to stay for a few minutes to talk with me.  It turned out that I knew his father—a biology professor and terrible tyrant that I had endured for my required science class.  I asked the kid what he thought might help him gain better control over his behavior because things couldn’t go on the way they were as it was keeping the other students from learning.  He thought for a minute and then said:  “Well maybe if I could pound a basketball in the gym next door for a while and then come to class.”

There were no classes in the gym that same period so I allowed him to do it. At first he was in the gym almost the entire class but gradually over a two-week period he returned earlier and earlier to class and became an active participant in the art activities.  Unfortunately, the teacher inspector stopped in one day when he was returning from the gym.  I was reported to the principal who had a chat with me about why my solution was not acceptable.  After that experience, I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of the “system” when I graduated.

All students are individuals with different kinds of intelligence. This is the point that Robinson drives home in his TED talks and he is right. When we only respect and cater to an intelligence that rewards math and science, we all lose out from our one-size-fits all educational system. The innovators and creative thinkers are the ones who bring forth all the new ideas and things that move our civilization forward—not the conformists who do as they are told and are part of group think one-size-fits-all system.

Not only does the current USA educational system pay homage to math and science and test rigorously to ensure that students meet these standards—the only plan they have for the studentS who don’t meet these expectations is to punish the teachers for “not doing a better job" of cramming kids into their cookie cutter idea of education. 

Instead of having our schools controlled like a Wall Street corporation with the top tier being members of a state board of education choosing textbooks of outdated information whose members are often more interested in furthering their political and religious agendas than they are with education of our children, we need to give more decision-making power to our teachers.  And in conclusion, since our teachers have the most important job in our society—the quality of the future of our nation, they should be paid accordingly.  It is absurd that we live in a nation that pays higher salaries to professional ball players than to our teachers.  All this needs to change.  I’m glad that my community is at least looking at these issues.

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THE PATH OF THE FUTURE ARE MAKERSPACE DESIGNS FOR OUR SCHOOLS.

Garland Texas has what is perhaps the most modern educational learning facility in the state, if not the nation.  It is the Gilbreath-Reed Technological Center located across the street from Naaman Forest High School  This $7million dollar facility opened its doors two years ago to Junior and Senior high school students in the GISD.  It is a hands-on makerspace where student make things—from food to mechanical equipment.  It is a place with rules and yet no boundaries for the possible.

If you haven’t toured this facility, you really should.  In addition to all the latest tools and equipment such as 3d printers and lathes, this space itself is designed to encourage student collaboration and sharing of ideas.  Little nooks and crannies all over the building are set up with cushy chairs and tables where students can informally gather to discuss ideas.  This is what schools of the future should look like—not square rooms with desks all lined up in a row and filled with outdated textbooks that have been scrubbed by those with political and religious agendas.