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  • The number of Americans who say their lives are a struggle climbed steeply last year from less than half the population to nearly six in 10 people, a vast Gallup poll showed Friday.

    “In January of 2008, 49 percent of Americans were thriving, 47 percent struggling and four percent were suffering. In November and December, 38 percent were thriving, 58 percent struggling and four percent suffering,” Gallup scientist Jim Harter commented on findings of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

    AFP via Raw Story

    As unemployment climbs, this number is expected to worsen.

  • But don’t worry, you will be soooo much happier when you find out that you’ve been stuck with the bill for the toxic waste when the “bad bank” that the US government will basically own goes under.

    What’s another trillion out of your social security anyway?

  • “At a time when companies desperately need cash to keep their businesses afloat, the new funding rules will require huge, countercyclical contributions to their pension plans,” a group of more than 300 companies, trade associations, consulting firms and labor unions wrote in a letter sent last week to the senior members of the House and Senate committees that deal with workplace matters. [SOURCE: NyTimes]

    people are in for a rude awakening.

  • lots of folks on this blog have commented on how cheap Skype is! so that’s one area where costs have plummeted. International calls used to be expensive.

    My 90+ year old grandmother loves Skyping me; she plays scrabble while I play the piano or work on computer work. She loves the company and iChat lets me remotely fix her computer without a plane ticket or a car rental.

    I’d also claim that the cost of education has plummeted since kids today have access to resources that past generations could only dream about. The only thing that stops learning today is one’s ability and desire to read. Today’s youth can also access blogs to get their questions answered and to exchange ideas without having to travel!

  • …to their satisfaction. Now, correct, complete, contextualized answers that equip for further exploration – that is often another matter.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • Students Covering Bigger Share of Costs of College

    Kate Zernike | January 15

    NYT – College students are covering more of what it costs to educate them, even as most colleges are spending less on students, according to a new study.

    The study, based on data that colleges and universities report to the federal government, also found that the share of higher education budgets that goes to instruction has declined, while the portion spent on administrative costs has increased.

    It describes a system that is increasingly stratified: the smallest number of students — about 1 million out of a total 18 million students — attend the private research universities that spend the most per student. The largest number of students — 6 million — attend community colleges, which spend the least per student, and have cut spending most sharply as government aid has declined.

    “Students are paying more, and a greater share of the costs, but are arguably getting less,” said Jane Wellman, the executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, which drafted the study.


    [Comment: Of course, this may or may not actually be relevant to the issue at hand – “cost of education“. Dunno, though I daresay University worked for me – in a doubly ironic piece of ironic timing I rather think it worked for Kate as well, who I’m quite certain I actually went to University with, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. One thing you need to know about greater Canuckistan: when it comes to members of particular educational attainment strata, it ain’t six degrees of separation – more like about 2-3. ~ JPD]

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • Have you seen the inflation of tuition costs at universities? It’s outrageous. Kids these days literally mortgage their entire future for a four year degree that in many cases is worthless.

    “Is not our first thought to go on the road? The road is our source, our vault of treasures, our wealth. Only on the road does the ‘traveller’ feel like himself, at home.”
    Ryszard Kapuscinski


  • I think home schooling will become the best option… skype tutoring is now available and it’s reasonably priced. I may try to pick up some math tutoring business myself!

    music students take one lesson a week; I don’t think that math students should need more than one lesson per week. i.e. teachers– in my opinion, have merely become expensive talking books in many cases.

    indeed– I agree, degrees have become useless; when I was at the university of arizona, someone wrote in their student paper that “universities raised their rates since students had access to loans.” i.e. indeed, it’s easier for students to take out loans than getting the public to sell bonds.

    tuition, IMO, should be coming down since the majority of courses are well understood and have well developed curriculum.

    moreover, free textbooks are being released into the public domain:


    and MIT (and other universities) are putting their course designs online:

    Open CourseWare

    Andy Grove (ex Intel CEO) and others are very interested in developing cost effective education methods in third world countries and, if they’re successful, the cost structure in the US is going to suffocate our economy!

    If my understanding of this source is correct:

    Can Computers Help Teachers Teach Math

    students who learn math via a computer have a 0.28 standard deviation advantage on standard tests. The authors of the study also suggest that using computer instruction is as effective as reducing class size.

    Obama, as you know, is “modernizing schools.” Perhaps we’ll start seeing a paradigm shift…

  • the literacy rate is dropping in our k-12 classrooms.

    Obama had this to say about the current system:

    “I will not allow my predispositions to stand in the way of making sure that our kids can learn. We’re losing several generations of kids and something has to be done.” [Source: Ny Sun]

    I didn’t think that technological solutions could outperform humans but then I saw my reading and writing skills dramatically improve because of blogs; as a college student, my writing stagnated and, honestly, it probably got worse since I wrote to get a grade instead of communicating something important.

    Moreover, as I’ve looked into computerized mathematics instruction, I’ve learned that computers always follow best teaching practices: they give copious amounts of feedback; they track learning rates; they scaffold based on a students needs and ability; etc…

    My favorite computerized learning environment is:

       Math + Music Curriculum

    and the research behind this instruction environment fascinates me! They actually adapted the software based on real world data that showed how much students were learning!

    The problems in the real world, of course, aren’t well defined but– in most classrooms, only well defined things are studied so that’s why computers can teach those things.

    The good news: teachers can now focus on open ended problems and let the computers teach the facts…

  • it’s only during the past 10 years that statisticians started seeing a decline in the literacy rates of college students:

    Not only does it find that the average literacy of college educated Americans declined significantly from 1992 to 2003, but it also reveals that just 25 percent of college graduates — and only 31 percent of those with at least some graduate studies — scored high enough on the tests to be deemed “proficient” from a literacy standpoint, which the government defines as “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” [Source: Graduated But Not Literate]

    at the university of minnesota, the “adjunct faculty” member who was teaching an engineering course would only do 2 hours of office hours a week even though he had 70 students; so quite a few students were turned away.

    I talked to the supervising professor and got 5 to 10 minutes of his time during the entire semester– it felt like visiting a doctor and, based on past experience, I assumed he was kept busy by corporate work or pentagon work…

    the community colleges (in minnesota), on the other hand, hold their student’s hands; the bad thing about this is: when those students get into the university, they have trouble thinking on their own.

    as a person who is about to get a teaching license, I really feel that our high school students need to do more independent study since, down the road, that’s their bread and butter.

    moreover, the most important thing I learned from my student teaching experience was: teachers do far too much for their students!

    students need to take risks and learn from their failures!

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