Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HE:ED Highlight : Can education end poverty?

For those of you that replied "Maybe" or "Amongst other things, yes", your response may have included some thoughts on quality education leading to better jobs, better jobs leading to higher income, and higher income leading to a non-poverty (level) socio-economic status. But, you may also want to factor in the fact that not all jobs are created equal. It's probably because of that same income inequality that Megan Cottrell, at, says maybe/maybe not.

Some people would agree that those who are not educated (and/or trained) are not skilled enough to attain the high skills jobs that will support their families. And because of this lack of education they may be forced to seek government assistance to make ends meet. These same people might agree that there is currently a strain on under/unemployment resources. Well, that means that creating programs that provide education and job training would alleviate the strain on under/unemployment resources, right?

But, why aren't the under employed and unemployed educated?

In an interview with HE:ED Joe Champion mentions, the right to quality education. And any educational options organization will site quality education as the basis upon which the current state of (especially minority) American communities will be augmented. But, citing Illinois as an example, Cottrell says "the sectors of the economy that are on the rise, the places that are hiring, are hiring people for wages where many workers still qualify, and need, food stamps."And to expand on Cottrell's statement, these workers qualifying for food stamps means they are still living in poverty. Moreover, if the head of household qualifies for food stamps (and the family is living in poverty) what are the odds that the children are attending quality schools?

So, what does that mean?

If the majority of vacant jobs (in an economy like Illinois') offer substandard pay, does education stand a chance of ending poverty?

Does that mean we should not focus of the value of education with American youth?

Should current high school students in Illinois just stop trying?


Cottrell goes on to say that even though some people will not want to change income inequality we will need to both educate people and look at the reason why the "Great Divergence" exists.

Now, Cottrell focused mainly on retraining adults so that they may find jobs that allow them to function without government assistance. But HE:ED would broaden the scope of the education vs. poverty focus to not only retraining for adults but, widespread quality k-12 education.

What do you think?

HE:ED is now on Twitter!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

HE:ED Interview (Joe Champion) : STEM education and black youth

HE:ED is trying something a little different...letting you have the spotlight. This is the first of a series of interviews which will feature various takes on youth, education and health-care in America. This post is an interview with Joe Champion, author of the blog The Power of Pao. Joe is a technology professional, blogger and speaker that we thought would be an excellent "firestarter" for this interview series. Below are our questions and Joe's responses.

What role does STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) play in the education of black youth today?

I'm not an educator so I can't accurately judge the role of STEM in the education of black youth today. It is my opinion that given the globalization of the world’s economies, driven by corporations' constant desire for lower costs and higher profits, STEM education is a necessity for personal, group and national competitiveness, If our youth can't compete academically, particularly in the STEM fields, with the youth from other nations, we all face a future of lower standards of living, higher incarceration rates, and less and less control over our personal and national destiny.

What role did STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) play in your education?

My education in technology played the primary role in determining my career direction and in enabling me to progress from childhood poverty to a comfortable economic status.

What led you to your career in information technology?

Actually, it wasn't something I consciously chose. After a couple of years of college, I still wasn't sure what direction I wanted to focus on. I dropped out and was working some entry-level jobs, not making much money, and was forced to live with my parents because I couldn't afford my own place. My childhood best friend had joined the Air Force after high school and he was telling me what a great time he was having, traveling the world and meeting all kinds of great, interesting people. That

sounded a whole lot better than working for minimum wage and living with your parents, so I went to the recruiting office and signed up. I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test and it identified my primary strengths in the Verbal field, and next in Mechanical, which I found surprising since I never was a hands-on kind of person, The recruiter advised me to go into the electronics field in the Air Force, even though my higher verbal scores pointed towards the administrative field, because he said it would be easier to get a job in technology once I got out. I took his advice and the rest is history.

Why do you think (racial) education disparities exist in America? (Ex. the difference in math and reading scores of white male youth vs. black male youth)

I think the answer to that is pretty simple: Economics. Children who grow up with more money have more opportunities. They eat better, they have better schools, they have more extracurricular choices, and they feel safer, more self-confident, more optimistic, and more loved. It is not all about money, but it is the major factor that determines opportunities.

Despite the fact that minority, and particularly black youth, are disproportionately at economic disadvantage compared to white youths, this shouldn't excuse them and their parents from competing. Countless cases throughout history show people who grew up poor, in bad areas with bad schools, with little or no parental guidance, and who became successful financially and productive members of society, demonstrating that environment can be overcome. Is it easier to make it when you have all the advantages that money brings in our world? Absolutely. But the evidence is there that it's not money that determines success. It's the adults in a community deciding that the care and nurturing of the youth is the most important factor in ensuring the viability and survival of that community.

What input do you have regarding the argument that blacks are "where they are" because they are lazy?

It's always been a strategy of victimizers and exploiters to diminish, demean, dehumanize and blame the victims of their exploitation. Whether it is been religious establishments justifying imperialism by labeling targets of imperialism as 'Infidels' or 'Savages ', regimes such as the Nazis or Rwandan Hutus portraying Jews or Tutsis as nonhuman devils to justify genocide ,or the modern Republican / Tea Party blaming the economic collapse on "sub-prime" borrowers (i.e., the blacks and illegal aliens), blaming the least powerful to excuse discrimination, exploitation and violence is as old as humankind. If blacks are portrayed as mostly "lazy and shiftless'; it justifies discrimination in the mind of an employer or bank against a qualified black job or loan applicant. 'Hey, you know if you hired one they would always be late, or if you gave them a loan they wouldn't pay it back, right?'.

Blacks are no lazier than any other group of people, and most people know this. We are still coping with the effects of hundreds of years of slavery, terrorism, apartheid, discrimination and media assaults on our collective psyches and economic resources. Just because we have not progressed as a group as far and fast as we would have liked, or others tell us we should have, we should never accept others or ourselves characterizing us as 'lazy' and therefore less deserving of the good things in life.

What do you think we should do?

I read an article last year in a magazine called YES!, called 'Why is Costa Rica Smiling?', which describes a study by the New Economics Foundation, called the Happy Planet Index, which ranks countries ''based on their environmental impact and the health and happiness of their citizens ". Costa Rica ranked No. 1. The United States was No. 114. Costa Ricans live longer than Americans and "there is little difference in life expectancy across income levels, unlike in the United States". The article points out that the reasons that Costa Ricans are much happier and content than Americans is because they receive free or very inexpensive ($200 a year for college tuition!) education and health care, they spend a lot of time with family, friends and community, and, since Costa Rica abolished its military in 1948, it has more to spend on health and education.

What does this mean for the challenges facing blacks in the United States regarding education and achievement? It points out the importance of priorities. To paraphrase Malcolm X," We've been bamboozled, we've been hoodwinked, we've been led astray". When we embraced the so-called American dream that was pushed to us by corporations through the media, the dream that told us that things are more valuable than people, that the individual is more important than the group, that he who dies with the most toys wins, that we deserve more than others because we are America and God blesses America more 'cause we’re God's favorite, we did not realize that chasing that dream was just a trap to impoverish the majority of us and imprison, physically and psychically, the rest of us (See the current economic depression as proof that short-term thinking and shallowness always leads to ruin).

What should we do? To quote brother Malcolm again," Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today". Look at our priorities. A college education should be a right. All education should be a right. Health care should be a right. Having enough to eat should be a right. This is all easily attainable. Guns or Butter? Profits or People. Fear or Courage. We just have to look at our priorities.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

HE:ED Highlight : Define Health Disparities

A fifth-grader recently asked her mother what health disparities were after hearing the words uttered (from someone closer to the register) while in line at the mall. The mother's reply was a little different than the definition given on wikipedia. The girl's mother said "that means poor people can't afford rich people's doctors".

Really?? Is that what it means?

After hearing something like that, any curious person is forced to bring the subject up with any available group to seek feedback....wouldn't you?

Holiday gatherings provide a captive audience's what the captives thought.

An eleven (11) year old girl said she thought it meant " when people from different racial or economic backgrounds receive a different level of health-care then others" An eight year old said "I don't know what it is exactly but, I know it's not fair".
A mother said "it's something I don't want my children to have to think about". A college student said "it means there's still work to be done to live up to the words and ideas of those who came before us".

Pictured above and to the left is Augustus A. White III, Harvard educated Stanford graduate and surgeon. His own thoughts and feelings about health disparities led him to write a book entitled "Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care"

Although the definition of health disparities will continue to vary, hopefully the discussion, literary works and advocacy amongst those that wish to close the gap will become more and more streamlined. There will be those that will acknowledge that the disparities exist and do nothing but, let's hope there are more individuals that act (by comparison).

More info on health disparities:
Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHD)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

HE:ED Share: Self-testing for STDs may soon be possible?

Ok, basically health officials in the UK are saying that STIs will soon be able to be diagnosed by plugging a computer chip containing a sample of urine or saliva) into your phone. Post transmission/receipt and processing, health officials also say the results would be available in minutes.

Why are they doing this? It's an attempt to control herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea infection rates.

What implications does this have for American mhealth?
Will this lead to pre-hook up testing?
How accurate will the results be?

HE:ED Share : Does the recession effect teens' sexual choices?

The associated press reported that the U.S. teen birth rate in 2009 fell to its lowest point in almost 70 years of record-keeping. "Experts" are reported to believe the decline in teen birth statistics is partly due to the recession. (To read their article click here)

They sight the painstaking sights of neighbors loosing their houses make kids and their families feel stress...not sure about you but...don't think so. If in 2009 34% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during last the time they had sexual intercourse it doesn't seem like recession related stress is helping kids make the right decisions. Plus, the article fails to tackle pertinent data including the amount of sex occurring amongst the highlighted group, whether their use of contraception changed, or whether they were having more abortions.

This create curiosity about the rate of teen birth in countries around the world, that are not experiencing a recession...anyway, if teen birth rates are in fact down (for whatever reason) that is a good thing. Hopefully, it has more to do with events like sex:tech 2010 and advocacy groups like, It's Your Sex Life, Go Ask Alice and others...

Monday, December 20, 2010

HE:ED Highlight : Is Potential School Superintendent Corruption More Important than the Students?

The media (and many other groups within American society) are so focused on who gave contracts to whom or made the call on which dirty deal that the actual issue is being ignored. That would be educating the children who will inherit the country. If people put half the energy they spend on writing about dirt (on possibly corrupt superintendents) into education reform; maybe Black and Hispanic students would not be so far behind White and Asian students (who incidentally are still behind students around the globe).

Maybe the nauseating focus should be on creating, implementing, revamping and auditing worthwhile programs that will turn our youth into the physicists, engineers, developers and surgeons of tomorrow, instead of the unemployed and incarcerated of next year.

Basically, if you're bummed because you didn't get the superintendent's position, that's cool but, the kids that SUCK at math and reading in the nearest public school could really use your attention. Try writing about that. Moreover, the parents in your community that weren't educated themselves and have no idea what education reform is (let alone which Charter schools they may be able to send their children to) may benefit from your two sense as well.

So, if you've written an article about any of the following in the past quarter, understand that the whiff of corruption is not the only issue within that district/school system.

Melody Johnson Fort Worth, Texas
Arlene Ackerman Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Michael J. Ritacco Tom's River, New Jersey
Nicholas Perrapato Garfield, New Jersey
Ramon C. Cortines Los Angeles, California
Carlos A. Garcia San Francisco, California
James Notter Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Saturday, December 18, 2010

HE:ED Highlight : Hey, ever heard of CES? Which one?

Well, as it turns out, there's CES and there's CES ...after speaking with a parent who was confused after being directed to "CES" as an ed-options resource it seemed logical to look into to this "organization that had two different websites". Upon further investigation it turns out there are actually to seperate entities.

The Coalition of Essential Schools' is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating intellectually challenging schools, based in Portland, ME. Their offices are located at 482 Congress Street.

At the Coalition of Essential Schools' website - - the organization's vision is described by saying

"We envision an educational system that equips all students with the intellectual, emotional, and social habits and skills to become powerful and informed citizens who contribute actively toward a democratic and equitable society."

The Center for Effective Schools is an organization that offers consultations, trainings and workshops to prevent the escalation of anti-social behaviour. The Center for Effective Schools is based in King of Prussia, PA. Their offices are located at 2012 Renaissance Boulevard.

At the Center for Effective Schools website - - the following is listed

"The mission of the CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS, a part of Devereux's larger Institute of Clinical Training and Research, is to build capacity in schools for serving children with, or at-risk for developing, emotional and behavioral disorders. This mission is accomplished through training, consultation, new model program development, and applied research"

So, looks like both organizations are possible resources for parents, depending on the parents situation and needs…(as a parent) are you looking to work with an organization that creates schools or drives innovation within them?

Monday, December 6, 2010

HE:ED Highlight: Sexual Health and Awareness

Many groups are doing something about the sobering STI rates amongst youth around the world. It’s hard to discuss education disparities without discussing health disparities and more specifically the lack of informed sexual health action amongst youth/young adults. With World AIDS Day not too far in the rearview it seems pertinent to mention the infection statistics for youth, LGBTQ and women of color. The following sources were used for the statistics and organization links below: ; ; ; ; ;

2009 America[1][2]:

46% of high school students had ever had sexual intercourse

14% of high school students had had four or more sex partners during their life

34% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during last sexual intercourse.

Approximately 19 million new STD infections each year (almost half of them are among youth aged 15 to 24.)


Estimated 2 million people under 15 living with HIV in 2007,[3]

AIDS is the second most common cause of death among 20-24 year olds (globally).[4]


Groups questioning why sexual health awareness amongst young adults is lacking and actually speaking to youth and driving awareness around STI prevention (in general or just HIV/AIDS) have been highlighted below.


Established in 1980 as the Center for Population Options, Advocates for Youth (AFY) champions efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates (AFY) believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health.

Sex::Tech, hosted by ISIS, is the premiere event for health and technology professionals, parents and youth, and community leaders to share insights and strategies for youth sexual health education and disease prevention.

Centers for Disease Control STD Hotline
Provides facts and information on STDs.

The hotline is 1-800-227-8922 (English)

1-800-344 7432 (Spanish)

1-800-243-7889 (TTY).

Go Ask Alice

Produced by Columbia University's Health Education Program, this site has questions and answers on relationships, sexuality, and sexual health issues.

Health Initiatives for Youth (HIFY)

Works to improve the health and well-being of all young people. HIFY gives information about health in a non-judgmental, straightforward kind of way, so that young people can make their own decisions about what affects them.

It's Your Sex Life

Sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, this site offers information on STDs, birth control, abstinence, and how to talk with your partner or your parents about sexual health issues.

I Wanna Know

A project of the American Social Health Association, this site provides information on STDs, body basics, and advice on how to deal with peer pressure.

National HIV Testing Resources

This Web site contains many resources on HIV testing including a national database of HIV testing sites and answers to many questions about HIV/AIDS and testing.

Not Me Not Now

A site for teens who are choosing to wait, with articles, quizzes and a safe space where you can chat with other teens like yourself.

Planned Parenthood

Believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. Planned Parenthood clinics offer medical services, STI, HIV and pregnancy testing, and counseling. To find a clinic in your area, please go here. Teen Wire
This site from Planned Parenthood gives great information on body basics, how not to have sex if you don't want it, safer sex, and dealing with breaking up. It also provides referrals to local clinics.

A resource for sex information for teens as well as a supplement to in-home and school-based sex education to allow teens to make their own choices, and develop their own systems of ethics and values from themselves and their families.

Scenarios USA

This site allows you to watch films—written by and for teens—that address important topics such as relationships, communication, sexual identity, teen pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.

Sex Etc.

Written by teens, this Web site offers information on sexual health issues for young people.

Teen Pregnancy

Created by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, this site has information for young people and adults who want to prevent teen pregnancy.


4 Girls Health

Developed by the Office on Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services gives girls between the ages of 10 and 16 reliable, current health information.

Black Women’s Health

An online forum for African American women that provides information and strategies targeted at improving health and wellness.

Center for Young Women's Health

The mission of their website,, is to help teen girls, their parents, teachers, and health care providers improve their understanding of normal health and development, as well as of specific diseases and conditions. They want to empower teen girls and young women around the world to take an active role in their own health care.

Feminist’s Women’s Health Center

Providing women of all ages with information so they can freely make their own decisions about their bodies and sexuality.

National Women’s Health Information Center: Minority Women’s Health
A Web site to help you learn about the most common health risks and concerns of minority women

Native Shop

A project of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center, to address pertinent issues of health, education, land and water rights, and economic development of Native American people


This Web site provides information about emergency contraception, to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

Pro-Choice Public Education Project
The Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) puts choice on young women's radar screens, educates them about threats to their reproductive rights, and helps young women identify with pro-choice ideas. PEP is energizing a new generation of pro-choice leaders.

FYI (America)

The Ford Foundation awarded grants totaling $4.1 million to six organizations to design and undertake innovative research on youth sexuality in the United States.

Ford Foundation Grant recipients:

The Public Health Institute (Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development)

The University of Arizona/Gay-Straight Alliance Network/YWCA Tucson

The University of Illinois

The University of Michigan

San Francisco State University's Health Equity Institute

The Face Value Project

[1] CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. [pdf 3.5M] MMWR 2010;59(SS-5):1–142.

[2] Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W. Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: Incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2004;36(1):6-10.

[3] UNAIDS (2009), '2009 AIDS epidemic update'.

[4] Patton G et al (2009, 12th September), 'Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data' The Lancet 374(9693).