Posted at 08:01 AM in Black Voters, Civic Engagement, Civil Rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Economy, March on Washington, Race, School District of Philadelphia, Transparency, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink
STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and math. In the nation’s revitalized manufacturing industry, math matters. And for a lot of job applicants, that’s problematic.
McClatchy reports that manufacturers are having trouble finding prospective employees with basic math skills:
But what troubles General Plastics executive Eric Hahn is that although the company considers only prospective workers who have a high school education, only one in 10 who take the test pass. And that’s not just bad luck at a single factory or in a single industry.
Jacey Wilkins, a spokeswoman for the Manufacturing Institute, added:
You could think that even for production, do you really need to know math? But the truth is, you do, because these jobs are incredibly complex and integrate multiple functions and systems.
The truth is, part of the problem is how math is taught. The focus on repetition (“drill and kill”) and teaching to the test kill students’ interest. Sam Houston, president and CEO of the North Carolina Science, Math and Technology Education Center, said the Common Core State Standard Initiative will help teachers connect math to real-world possibilities:
The Common Core should give everyone a better means to answer the question, “Why do I need to know this?”
Why indeed. That’s what most schools don’t teach. That’s also the problem that STEMeverywhere will help solve.
At last weekend’s AT&T EduTech Hackathon, my team developed a prototype for a mobile-friendly website where we will curate free resources for teachers to help them connect the dots for students. The team members are Morgan Bagshaw, Pamela Bey, Jessica Hammond, Cheo Walker and Michael Washington.
In the Teachers’ Lounge, we will break down information silos and curate a fully indexed database of resources, including Common Core instructional materials, lesson plans, and tutorial/how-to videos on inquiry-based learning. On the community message board, teachers will be able to collaborate, share strategies and effective instructional practices, and identify their needs.
The Students’ Space will promote year-round learning and engagement among our target audience of middle- and high-school students. With one click, students will have access to free resources on how to build video games and other cool things, internships and contests. Using our interactive map, they will be able to search for tech-filled fun where they live. Our STEM Rocks interactive videos will connect students to STEM superstars who can expose them to the possibilities.
STEMeverywhere made it to the second round where we will compete for the grand prize of $5,000, plus in-kind business services from local partners.
We will be judged on three criteria – concept, development progress and implementation opportunity. We have an opportunity to have an impact on increasing interest in STEM among underrepresented minorities and girls. But it will take a village – crowdsourcing – to fix the crisis in STEM education.
If you want to get involved, contact us.
This week marks the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to money in politics.
A picture is worth a thousand words. So ‘nuff said.
For information on how you can get money out and voters in, please visit Money Out/Voters In. An engaged citizenry will ensure that mo’ money will only bring mo’ problems for the fat cats who are undermining our democracy.
The STEM crisis is exacerbated by the shifting demographics. Whites make up 73 percent of the STEM workforce. Blacks and Latinos, who represent 28 percent of the U.S. population, make up only seven percent of STEM workers.
Over the holidays, I watched a documentary about American aviation. During World War II, there was a shortage of white male workers. Black workers were excluded from all but menial jobs. So the government, with the help of advertising agencies, gave factory jobs a makeover. And then the light bulb went off: The iconic Rosie the Riveter was a STEM worker!
One of the most popular versions of “Rosie the Riveter” was recorded by the Four Vagabonds.
Popular culture was used to encourage women to pursue “man-size” jobs.
The propaganda campaign worked. White women poured into factories and produced munitions and war supplies. The wartime workforce demographics also opened up opportunities for black women.
Fast forward to today. The shifting demographics and minority underrepresentation in STEM fields threaten our global competitiveness and national security. To borrow a phrase from President Obama’s election night speech, “We have to fix that.” To do so, we should go back to the future and give STEM a makeover.
A report by the Bayer Corporation found that one of the leading causes of minority underrepresentation is the prevalence of stereotypes that say STEM isn’t for minorities. Singer-songwriter will.i.am is determined to fix that. He recently observed:
I am trying to encourage kids to do something that isn’t yet on their mind because it is not in popular culture. Popular culture tells you “music, music, sports, sports.” It neglects the importance of a STEM education.
An innovator, will.i.am is rebranding STEM and making space history. For the first time, a recorded song was transmitted to Earth from another planet. His song, “Reach for the Stars,” was beamed down from the Mars Curiosity rover to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. How cool is that?
Hip hop icon GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan has teamed up with Columbia Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin and the website Rap Genius to use hip hop to teach science. They have created a contest, Science Genius BATTLES (Bringing Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science), that requires students to write science-based raps.
At the launch of the pilot project, GZA said:
I am here not as a teacher, nor expert, nor genius. But I’m here as a science enthusiast who wants to inspire New York City public high school students to get excited about biology, chemistry and physics.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the current approaches to STEM education are not working. According to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only four percent of African American 12th graders were proficient in science. By contrast, 27 percent of white seniors and 36 percent of Asian American seniors performed at or above the proficient level.
GZA and will.i.am are bringing attention to the crisis and connecting STEM to students’ interests. At the same time, they are giving STEM a much-needed makeover.
Posted at 05:22 AM in Citizen Journalism, Cost of Freedom App, Digital Journalism, Digital News, Help America Vote Act, Race, Social Media, Transparency, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
On the eve of Independence Day, Pennsylvania announced that 758,939 registered voters, including 186,830 voters in Philadelphia, do not have a PennDOT ID.
The state plans to spend $5 million in Help America Vote (HAVA) funds “on educating voters with regard to voting procedures relating to the recently enacted House Bill 934, which imposes a new requirement for voters to present photo identification at the polls, beginning with the November 2012 General Election.”
In the run-up to the April 24 primary election, the Bravo Group proposed PSAs to educate voters about the new photo ID requirement. The videos show a stunning disconnect with the voters who would be blocked from voting by the restrictive photo ID requirement.
The Bravo Group has since been awarded a $250,000 contract to develop the “Community Outreach and Public Relations portion of the 2012 General Election Voter Education Media Campaign.” The contract was awarded under an “expedited RFP” in arguable violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
While his plan is unlikely to “reach specific populations that could be less likely to have acceptable photo identification,” Bravacos likely “shows an understanding of the project objectives.”
Posted at 08:47 AM in 2012 Presidential Election, Accountability, Accountability Journalism, Black Voters, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Election '12, Race, Transparency, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink