Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Environmental impact statement clears for new Hudson rail tunnel
by Brian T. Murray/The Star-Ledger
Tuesday November 11, 2008, 5:56 AM
Federal authorities have approved a final environmental impact statement for the new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, clearing an important hurdle to federal matching funds for a proposed project that will cost $8.7 billion.
Gov. Jon Corzine, who is getting heat from Republican legislators for proposing to fund New Jersey's share of the price-tag through highway toll hikes, Monday called the Federal Transit Administration's approval a "major milestone" for a project that "will greatly enrich commuter rail service between New Jersey and New York."
The project aims to double train capacity by building two single- track tunnels under the Hudson River, expand Penn Station in New York City and improve track and signal operations from east of Newark to New York.
The federal approval kicks off a 30-day public comment period, after which the FTA may end an environmental review process and allow agencies involved in the rail tunnel construction to obtain federal funds.
Corzine, echoing remarks made last week by Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also touted the rail tunnel as a means to boost the economy and get thousands of people in the area working.
"This key federal approval dovetails with our economic recovery plan, which includes a commit ment to major capital projects that can jump-start the state's construction sector and ensure the creations of thousands of jobs for New Jersey residents," Corzine said.
But Republican New Jersey legislators, noting the price tag on what is called the Access to the Region's Core has risen by 14 percent in a year, vowed last week to fight Corzine's plan to hike tolls over the next decade on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike to fund New Jersey's share of the costs. Republicans contend the tolls were never intended for such a venture.
The rail tunnel is a joint effort by the Port Authority, NJ Transit and the state, all of which have promised to pay $5.7 billion. Authorities said they hope to obtain another $3 billion in federal matching funds.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Domain Computer Services Inc. is seeking to install high speed internet service to low-income housing projects in Newark, New Jersey, as well as train individuals within the residences to install the internet data cabling into their own community buildings. The training should take approximately 3-4 weekends and at the completion of the training sessions the participants will be certified in data cabling installation. The participants will then have the skills to install data cabling in other housing complexes through the city of Newark. Once the buildings are wired and internet accessible, funding/support will be needed to provide each building with internet capable computers. It will be necessary to promote the action and initiative taken by the Newark residents to receive computers for the buildings by donation or at little cost.
Statement of Need
U.S. Department of Commerce data from 2001 indicated that 78.9 percent of people in families making $75,000 or more had Internet access, compared to 25 percent of people from households earning less than $15,000 a year. Newark, New Jersey had over 40,000 public school students, most of which do not have a computer that is accessible on a daily basis. The internet as well as technical ability is a clear necessity in the modern world, opening doors to education and employment. The Digital Divide is apparent in Newark and needs to be addressed. The Digital Divide is the discrepancy between people who have access to new information and communication tools such as the internet, as well the skills, knowledge and abilities to use the technologies and those who do not. This project will not only provide a resource to information technology, but also allow Newark residents to compete in the job market with those who have the access to these technologies and possess necessary technical skills.
This project will enable low-income housing residents an opportunity to become certified in data cabling which can be extended into a profitable life-long career. During the training sessions and by the labor of the participants in the program, the community housing complexes will be cabled for internet capability. After the buildings have internet accessibility, it is imperative to promote the initiative taken by the Newark residents to receive computers for the buildings.
Cooper, Mark (2004), Expanding the Digital Divide and Falling Behind on Broadband, (Consumer Federation of America, Benton Foundation)
Being disconnected means being disadvantaged.
The percentage of household with internet access is around 60 percent. Over 80 percent of households that lack internet access have incomes below $50,000. Over half of household with incomes above 75,000 have internet. Almost 70 percent of households making below 10,000 do not have access to the internet. The internet is not just a communication tool, a means of commerce, or an entertainment medium, it also enhance productivity and in many aspects of life increases the standard of living. The “have-nots” in the digital divide may find themselves disadvantaged for life because they lack the skills and tools to participate in our globalized, knowledge-based economy. The needs of the group will never be well represented in cyberspace, if the group itself is growing up without internet access. Penetration of the internet into households has stagnated around 60 percent for the past decade. Monthly internet service fees hover around $50-$60 which is an unreasonable expectation for low and middle income households.
Morino Institute, (July 2001), From Access to Outcomes, Raising the Aspirations for Technology Initiatives in Low- Income Communities
The digital divides creates a permanent underclass in our society.
To date, most initiatives aimed at closing the digital dived have focused on providing low-income communities with access to computers and internet connections. The real opportunity before us is to focus on applying technology to seek meaningful improvements in the standard of living and eventual closing the social divide. Technology can be applied to help meet fundamental needs such as health care, effective schools, safe streets, and good jobs. Closing the digital divide has less to do with the quantity of internet access and computers and has everything to do with how well we can enable those who are less fortunate to elevate there lives with implementation of technology. Low income communities can become empowered to make financial and social contributions to society and will become less dependent on entitlement payments as well as other social payments. These are large challenged with larger opportunities and gains for the most hard-press citizens of this country.
Pinkett, Randell (2000), Bridging the Digital Divide: Sociocultural Constructionism and an Asset-Based Approach to Community Technology and Community Building
Teach technology from the inside-out.
Studies have found that the gender gap in computer and internet use is closing, although the socioeconomic and racial gap is growing. According to the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA), with respect to computer ownership, minorities continue to lag behind Whites even at the same level of income. Social Constructionism involves participants as active change agents rather than beneficiaries, and act as the producers of information and content, rather than passive consumers. Social and Cultural Constructionism can lead to self-motivated learning. “Better learning will not come from finding better ways for the teacher to instruct, but from giving the learner better opportunities to construct”
Valadez, James R. (2007), Redefining the Digital Divide: Beyond Access to Computers
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
The likelihood of household computer ownership still varies as a function of socioeconomic status and race. Teachers are more likely to assign computer and internet work when their students have ready access to computers. Integration of technology into the classroom is essential in gaining the experience and practice necessary for using the Internet as an educational resource. Low-income backgrounds often find their access is restricted to computer labs where they are limited to instructional software that emphasizes low-level drill and practice routines. There are two types of technology participation “interacting” and the “interacted.” The “interacting” includes those who can take advantage of sophisticated applications and research possibilities available on the Internet, while the “interacted” are those individuals who must settle for the most simplistic offerings designed for lower level users. The key to closing the digital divide is to allow more “interacting” which will provide a knowledge-base for advanced uses of the internet and new emerging technologies.
Hann, Leslie Werstein, (April 2008), Profit and Loss in School- Business Partnerships
You can’t buy this kind of publicity.
There are many motives that influence a corporation to get involved with schools and the community, mainly marketing. Whatever the motive, the donations made by these corporations are immensely improving the lives and education of many. According to the article, 95% of schools have business partnerships. IBM says improving public schools is its top social priority and a strategic business investment. Refurbished computers can end up costing a lot to maintain. These corporations are essential to getting the most out of technology. HP provided 45 teachers with new laptops as well as 400 students with new laptops in Ravenswood City School District in California. They also donated a 3-1 match of any employee donation. Newark in particular has received great assistance from corporations. A CEO of an upholstery company reupholstered a schools entire auditorium. Panasonic installed 100,000 worth of surveillance cameras into Newark schools. Burlington Coat Factory has donated coats for a coat drive. And last, but certainly not least Prudential has donated 3.6 million to buy land for a new charter middle school as well as 1.6 million to pay for tuition for teaching licenses for 45 new math and science teacher in Newark. There are corporations that would like to help, just have to make the effort and have the motivation.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A Student by Any Other Name
Katherine M. Searle firstname.lastname@example.org Article Here
As educators, we have been schooled to accept the decree that all students can learn if and when teachers and support staff find the magical delivery system that fits the needs exhibited at any given moment. Sounds pretty basic. Factor in a stint of living at the Salvation Army Shelter. Factor in a parent who'd rather hit than listen. Factor in a comprehensive family history of poverty and illiteracy. Factor in a defeatist attitude honed throughout the educational experience. Factor in a neighborhood steeped in blaming the system. Factor in a flagrant distrust and contempt of authority. Factor in an inability to interact in socially acceptable ways. The picture begins to develop. Initially, the uniqueness of the urban student seems tied to a catalog of negatives too ingrained to be significantly affected by teachers and schools.
Not so. Yes, the urban student is a challenge, but the rewards in meeting that challenge are sweet. To that end, each urban student must be considered as an individual. To lump such students together with generalizations, however well meaning, is to lose the chance to be an effective teacher. Square pegs in round holes don't always want to become round to fit. Urban students expect the holes to become square. Being able to "honor" the unique quality each student brings to the educational process while tempering it is a difficult balancing act that requires more energy and passion from the teacher than from the student.
As an English teacher, I try to find opportunities to respect what an urban student knows. In the process, I learn. After reading a story about a neighborhood honoring native heroes by creating a mural, I combined an earlier letter writing lesson with a real-life situation. Students had to work in groups to brainstorm perceived neighborhood problems. The final product was a persuasive letter written to neighbors urging them to work together to solve problems like litter, loud parties, speeding, run-down property, drug houses, and gang activity. Students who had previously done haphazard work, generated detailed work plans to clean up the neighborhood, created sign up sheets and posters, and designed tee-shirt logos on the computer for specific neighborhoods.
Had I not given that assignment, I would never have seen the organizational skills, the tact in explaining why the neighborhood should be cleaned up, and the highly developed sense of pride in neighborhood held by the entire class. Students were proud of the products they created. They did extra work because they were engaged with the outcome. During the course of the activity, I saw students who previously had not gotten along work together to reach a desired end. Quiet students who had not done much of anything took charge of a small group and kept everyone on task. Given the chance to demonstrate what they could do, these students did just that. The likelihood of their continuing to meet my expectations is great because they have experienced success on a variety of levels.
Dealing with the urban student is not always that easy or that rewarding. A roller coaster ride of ups and downs is the rule. One boy wrote a gritty 3-page poem which I'm sure detailed his home life "hidden" behind a persona he created. I was touched by what I read and shared it with several teachers and support staff. These adults spoke to the boy and praised his writing talent. The change I saw in class was nothing short of miraculous. He wrote another poem and didn't have time to use the computer. I typed his poem at home and added a graphic. I gave him a copy and submitted the poem to a poetry contest. The beatific smile on his face said it all. In the flush of success, I thought no more problems here. That lasted until I asked him to pick up a piece of paper for me. The vituperative harangue that followed told me how wrong I was. I used that "argument" to explain/model social skills, but in the heat of the moment, it was wasted. Regardless, that student knows he can do something well. He has continued to write on his own time and sometimes shares pieces with me. We can get past each outbreak of misdirected anger.
Over the years, I've taught a number of female urban students whose contempt for me has seemed unparalleled. How could I possibly know anything about their lives? They took one look at my white, upper middle class exterior, turned up their noses, and closed their hearts against me. One girl in a fit of anger screamed, "I bet you have your own washer and dryer." To her and her friends, those possessions marked the dividing line that guaranteed our experiences would never mesh in a way that could allow me to teach them anything. I patiently explained that the washer and dryer were anniversary gifts from my father because I couldn't afford them at that time. Still, I had a father who would spend that kind of money on a married daughter. In my naivete, I'd only made matters worse.
Through repeated attempts to get these students to write for me, we gradually arrived at a delicate truce. They would not throw desks at me if I shared my life with them via comments on their papers. The couldn't put the exterior together with the fact that I'd grown up the child of an alcoholic mother. They had trouble believing that my fancy jewelry was a legacy from my mother's suicide. Because I had been willing to put myself on the line, dialogue had been opened. Truly teaching an urban student means taking risks. These students feel their private business is written all over them. Leveling the playing field by being honest goes a long way toward breaking down the barriers that often cause an insurmountable, adversarial relationship in the classroom.
The examples I have discussed come from my own classroom because I feel it's important to note how much impact the classroom teacher can have. However, there are a number of programs at J. B. Young Intermediate that deal with the urban student. Young Intermediate houses the Health Initiative, an on-site medical screening program; a Rape/Assault Program; a juvenile court liaison officer; a breakfast club sponsored by CAD's; mentoring; tutoring; Puppeteers; and the Family Service Center, a program to help families connect with social service agencies. The school is part of the Iowa Behavioral Initiative and uses the Boystown model. Many good things come out of these varied programs which are supported by staff members, students, and families.
However, for the urban student, these programs are just one more indication that they are somehow lacking in what everyone else has. They need a personal connection from someone who doesn't see them in the capacity of "urban student" and who doesn't represent an agency geared to solving urban problems. Although I have used the phrase "urban student" repeatedly, I don't think in those terms. It is likewise important that urban students don't apply those very limiting and inherently negative connotations to themselves. To that end, the classroom teacher has a responsibility to approach each student without labels. "What's in a name?" you might ask. Very simply--success or failure.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Let's stop focussing on how we got here, and let's focus on making our situations better.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
What if in order to receive government assistance such as WIC, Welfare and Section 8 housing, parents had to attend a "parenting class" prior to receiving assistance, would this ease some troubles in the schools?
Education is important, and a teacher can only go so far... It all starts in the home....Just a thought....I'd like to know your opinion on this... I am interested in possibly finding some grants to fund projects that will increase the chances for inner city children. Often the parenting lessons that are given at planned parenthood-are directed towards infancy(diapers, formula, all that jazz). But the baby grows quickly and some parents may not know that reading is to the child is the first step in the educational process or that brushing a toddler's teeth is essential to good health... the list goes on. I am sure there are many girls that would appreciate a program like this... and would like to raise their children the same as everyone else... just haven't got the money or the parenting skills... we can help,but by the time the child is in school it is too late... the education begins in the home and with the parents.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
"The mayor (Cory Booker) recounted an encounter he had early this week with three teenagers who were walking the streets about 11 p.m. The three boys told him they were no longer in school and when pushed, admitted having no plans for the future. Mr. Booker found the encounter troubling. “It’s not O.K. for children to be walking around at night,” he said. “They have to be confronted.” He added: “They were not bad kids, but they had fallen through the cracks. We have to show that this is a city that truly loves its children.” These are true problems. Children need guidance and if no one gives it to them, they could end up chillen on the streets at night, which leads to a life of crime.
I feel that there is a certain desire to paint a pretty picture of Newark while ignoring the truth. Newark is a dangerous city, not for the "whites" who work/walk to their cars, but for the people who live and sleep there. Shots ring out often, whether we would like to accept this as our definition of Newark, our students are aware of it all. Hopefully things will change and the new Booker administration has some great ideas on curbing violence and reforming the cities education polices. I have a idea that with some push for new "attendance" regulations rather than "proficiency" regulations we can reach more students. The goal should be to get the students to graduate in an area were the drop out rate is high. Why is it high? It is easier to accept your fate as a drug dealer than to fail as a student. One though that I have is that since money makes the world go round, the government should give a monetary incentive for attendance in school. A computer incentive would be even better. I know this would cost alot, but half the reason why the achievement gap is getting greater is because the children in the inner city don't have computers, and let's face it, they aren't going to go the the library. Teachers who give many computer assignments (ie, blogs) are overlooking major obstacles that students must overcome and it shows their inability to truly relate to the problems they face. I know some like to say go to the library, and many parents would argue that it is not safe and it is inconvenience(think bus fare). Parents don't have 1000-2000 to provide a computer for their children, nevermind pay $30 a month on Internet. This puts the poor at a huge disadvantage in a future filled with technology. The government could give laptops with wireless Internet, and make the project buildings wi-fi. This is the only way to incorporate technology in their lives. Making the students do "projects" on a computer is not enough practice with the technology. WE need to provide children in the inner city more opportunities and encourage them to graduate. Getting the students to attend school, when they are 16 is hard, a good way is positive reinforcement.
Music is my outlit. This is a fitting song. There has to be a way to get them to choose a better life than this....
Nas-The Life we chose
It's the life we chose, where friends become foes
and the dough'll get you killed quicker than you know
This is the life we chose, bring fake snakes and h%#s
and the only way out, is death or goin broke
This the life we chose, ain't too many happy endings
That's why there ain't too many happy niggaz in it
And I'll admit it, this life is fxxxed up but yo..(but yo..)
this life is the only life I know
Friday, October 10, 2008
As shown in Table 12, according to the 2000 Census Data, the total population of Secaucus is about 16,000. Within the population, about 80 percent were white, about 5 percent were black, almost 13 percent were Asian, 0.2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, and about 4 percent claimed some other race. About 20 percent of the households were listed as female head of household. About 70 percent of the population only listed English as their primary language. Twelve percent indicated that they did not speak English fluently and were linguistically isolated. The 1999 average household income was $60,000. Eight percent of the households reported incomes below the 1999 poverty level. Most of the population, about 85 percent, had at least one car available, leaving only about 15 percent of the population that were transit dependent.
As shown in Table 11, the total population of Jersey City is about 240,000. Of that, 40 percent were white, 30 percent were black, 18 percent were Asian, and one percent was American Indian or Alaska Natives. Twenty percent considered themselves to of some other race. Female householders with no husband present accounted for 20 percent of the total households. Those who spoke English as their primary language accounted for 50 percent of the population. Of those who spoke another language, 20 percent did not speak English fluently and were considered linguistically isolated. The 1999 average household income was $40,000. Almost 20 percent of the persons in Jersey City reported incomes below the 1999 poverty level. Over 40 percent of the population was transit dependent with no vehicles available.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Culture generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Cultures can be "understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another" (Wikipedia) Culture analysis begins with basic components of culture, including symbols, language, and values.
And another definition of culture from dictionary.com here.
Frame of reference. “A set of standards, beliefs, or assumptions governing perceptual or logical evaluation or social behavior” (Websters)
I will elaborate more just a quick thought. I think we need to re-evaulate if we understand the foundation of a culture. What we have been defining as culture (race, class, religion, ethnitcity, geoprhapic regions) are "subcultural groups".
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The Popular Culture and American Culture Association website if interested
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I have several other song lyrics that describe real-life situations that our students will be facing and will post them soon. Rap, like any art is often imitates life.
Ghostface Killah- All That I got is you
Yo, dwellin in the past, flashbacks when I was young
Whoever thought that I'd have a baby girl and three sons
I'm goin through this difficult stage I find it hard to believe
Why my old Earth had so many seeds
But she's an old woman, and due to me I respect that
I saw life for what it's really worth and took a step back
Family ain't family no more, we used to play ball
Eggs after school, eat grits cause we was poor
Grab the pliers for the channel, fix the hanger on the TV
Rockin each others pants to school wasn't easy
We survived winters, snotty nosed with no coats
We kept it real, but the older brother still had jokes
Sadly, daddy left me at the age of six
I didn't know nuttin but mommy neatly packed his shit
She cried, and grandma held the family down
I guess mommy wasn't strong enough, she just went down
Check it, fifteen of us in a three bedroom apartment
Roaches everywhere, cousins and aunts was there
Four in the bed, two at the foot, two at the head
I didn't like to sleep with Jon-Jon he peed the bed
Seven o'clock, pluckin roaches out the cereal box
Some shared the same spoon, watchin saturday cartoons
Sugar water was our thing, every meal was no thrillI
n the summer, free lunch held us down like steel
And there was days I had to go to Tex house with a note
Stating "Gloria can I borrow some food I'm dead broke"
So embarrasin I couldn't stand to knock on they door
My friends might be laughin, I spent stamps in stores
Mommy where's the toilet paper, use the newspaper
Look Ms. Rose gave us a couch, she's the neighbor
Things was deep, my whole youth was sharper than cleats
Two brothers with muscular dystrophy, it killed me
But I remember this, mom's would lick her finger tips
To wipe the cold out my eye before school wit her spit
Case worker had her runnin back to face to face
I caught a case, housin tried to throw us out of our place
Sometimes I look up at the stars and analyze the sky
And ask myself was I meant to be here... why?