In an effort to save the district money, a Pocatello High School teacher decided to advertise a local pizza shop by promoting the business on paper he uses in the classroom. The restaurant provided 10,000 sheets of paper that included a company logo, and the teacher will use that paper in class over the next two years — a value of $315. The Idaho Statesman has the story:
Marianne Donnelly, chairwoman of the school board, said the ad apparently violates a district policy barring schools from directly promoting businesses. But she said the board considers the ad harmless and is not making an issue out of it.
"Give the teacher credit for creativity," Donnelly said. "There’s no question we’re in desperate financial straits."
Elsewhere, nonprofit organizations are helping teachers obtain free or discounted classroom supplies, and Web sites match educators with benefactors willing to buy materials. But Harrison’s approach has at least one critic worried the idea will spread.
"It crosses a line," said Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "When teachers start becoming pitchmen for products, children suffer and their education suffers as well."
Granted, the timing does seem interesting as a tax levy for more funding was recently shot down by the public, so critics argue the teacher and the school are just making a statement here. Regardless, it raises an interesting question: Should teachers be able to allow advertisements in the classroom? What if they would otherwise have to purchase classroom materials out of their own pockets?
Tell us what you think: Is this an inspirational, opportunistic educational tool, or just a matter of worlds colliding that shouldn’t, just to make a point?
Today’s media world is changing as never before, but you still need to get your good news heard. And, in today’s economic conditions, you may be forced into the position of delicately delivering job reduction or other difficult news.
Where do you turn for help? Try Rick Kamel, a 30-year public relations, marketing and broadcast news veteran. Kamel will be presenting a half-day Indiana Chamber seminar titled "Communicating the Good, the Bad and the Ugly During Tough Times: Communication/PR Strategies for Indiana Employers."
Kamel has worked with major clients throughout the country. In short, he knows his stuff and he can share plenty of tips and secrets with you. Among the key benefits for anyone in need of communications assistance (that includes most of us):
Strategies for identifying and prioritizing your internal and external audiences
Communication timing strategies that maximize the good news and minimize the bad news
Tried-and-true formulas for how to construct statements
Clear and concise words and phrases
Specific words to use and to avoid
How to stay in control during a Q & A session with employees or the news media
Being prepared to disseminate bad news in case of an emergency
The Indiana Chamber Conference Center is the site for the April 24 program (9-11:30 a.m.) Investing a few hours now could pay off in many valuable benefits for years to come.
The Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would modify existing labor law to eliminate the secret ballot in union-organizing elections and impose mandatory arbitration on parties to labor disputes, fortunately suffered a hiccup in the Senate last week.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) took to the floor and announced that – unlike in years’ past – he would not support the EFCA or even a cloture vote to debate this legislation. A key moderate vote in the Senate, Specter’s change of heart (perhaps triggered by home-state polls showing him down double digits in the primary) effectively derailed the EFCA in the Senate. However, rumors of potential “compromise” on the legislation began surfacing and it could still move in the House.
The Indiana Chamber forcefully opposes this bill, which would overturn nearly 70 years of labor law and place businesses at a distinct disadvantage in any union-organizing effort. This is labor’s top priority this Congress, but many centrist Democrats are running scared from the bill because it would stifle new jobs and business investment during a profound economic recession – reasons cited by Sen. Specter in his floor speech. Like Specter, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) will be a critical vote on this issue, and the Indiana Chamber, among others, has informed Sen. Bayh of our strong opposition to the bill. While some speak of compromise, the elimination of the secret ballot in union elections and binding arbitration language in this bill are completely unacceptable to business.
Call to Action: Contact Sen. Bayh at (202) 224-5623 or send a letter through www.indianaprosperity.org to urge him to oppose the EFCA and vote against any cloture motion in the Senate concerning this bill. Also, let your representative know your position on the EFCA and urge him or her to also oppose it.
A group of key stakeholders that has been meeting for months is apparently ready today to release its broad-based tenets for fixing what ails the nation’s health care system. The Healthcare Reform Dialogue, a self-given title, is expected to call for:
More individual responsibility
Tax credits to help individuals afford health coverage
Expanding Medicaid eligibility
Improving the Medicare payment system with a focus on prevention and care coordination
Increasing funding to train more primary care physicians (with loan repayment programs part of the deal)
Unanswered are the thorny questions of creating a public health care plan that would compete with private insurance companies or potential mandates on employers to provide health insurance. I think this simply foreshadows what a tough fight lies ahead.
Participants in the group represent insurers, physicians, hospitals, business, family organizations and unions. Many of the same people are talking with staffers for Sen. Edward Kennedy, chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. It’s that panel that will tackle the more difficult topics.
Key questions: Do we really want a government-run health system? How will the employer-based system, put in place at the end of World War II but not viable in many ways today, be adapted? And where is the money going to come from?
The Chamber’s next BizVoice magazine (debuting in early May) will have several interesting health care stories, including a roundtable with Indiana perspectives on reform and how everyone is going to have to "give a little" to make it a reality.
Finland has become a model for teachers across the globe hoping to learn about educational success. Attracting the best and brightest to the teaching profession is among the key benefits for the Scandinavian nation, which prides itself on rewarding those teachers with more autonomy. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
No single factor can explain the students’ strong showing. They grow up in a highly literate, bilingual society (Finnish and Swedish, with most learning English as well). Finns also enjoy strong governmental supports for parental leave, day care, and healthcare (in exchange for high taxes), which means that problems associated with poverty don’t show up at the schoolhouse door nearly as often as in the US.
One essential element, though, is the high caliber of Finland’s teaching corps, education leaders say. "We trust our teachers," says Reijo Laukkanen, head of international relations at the Finnish National Board of Education in Helsinki. "That is very important, and it’s not easy to realize in all countries – the culture of trust we have in Finland."
Since 1979, master’s degrees have been required for teaching in primary and secondary schools. And the profession is so popular – even with its moderate salaries – that only 10 to 15 percent of applicants make it into university teacher-education programs…
While many American teachers have been chafing under the accountability systems of the federal No Child Left Behind law in recent years, autonomy is a hallmark of the teaching profession in Finland. "There’s nobody who supervises if we follow [the curriculum]," says Marja Asikainen, a longtime English teacher at the Länsimäki School. "They trust us that we’ll follow it, and Finnish teachers are rather free … to do it in their own way."
Finnish teaching places a strong emphasis on helping students become independent thinkers. "We don’t want to give only ready answers," says Liisa Norvanto, a primary teacher at the school. "We want to teach them to explore their surroundings…. We try to teach them how to compare knowledge … and be critical."
Gordon Lloyd, coauthor of three books on the American founding and author of two forthcoming publications on political economy, addressed over 600 Economic Club of Indiana luncheon attendees yesterday.
During his speech, Lloyd surmised the Constitution could be broken down into a four-act drama:
Act I – The Alternative Plans (Madison-Sherman’s exchange; Hamilton’s Plan, etc.)
Act II – The Connecticut Compromise
Act III – The Committee of Detail Report (structure and power of Congress; the issue of slavery)
Act IV – The End (the eventual signing of the document)
When discussing the problems facing today’s America, Lloyd makes one point above all else: America’s greatest detriment is the crisis mentality. He contends that patience is often sacrificed when presidential advisors and others panic, and language then turns to "a language of war" – and supercedes cerebral debate.
He also makes the distinction that greed needn’t be part of capitalism, and that self interest is more the goal. Lloyd added that skewing toward socialism will only exacerbate our problems, not end them — a point he made to the applause of those in attendance.
When asked about the role of the presidency, he offered that both Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt were too tempted by progressive movements of the day to grow the presidency beyond its intended scope of power. According to Lloyd, this power has come at the expense of Congress and thrown off the balance in our system.
Lloyd’s web site on the founding of the Constitution is used by schools across the country to teach about the Constitutional Convention and the document itself. Peruse the site here.
The Economic Club’s next lunch will be held on Tuesday, April 7 and will feature education policy expert Lance Izumi. For more info or to order tickets, visit the web site.
Avery Jukes is a basketball player at Butler University. Being a key player off the bench for an always competitive and sometimes overachieving program would normally be enough to define a young person during his or her college days.
Much more than an athlete, the Georgia native founded the Jukes Foundation for Kids after a volunteer trip to Uganda last summer. The mission is to collect resources, clothing, food and funding for educational needs in the African country. A mechancial engineering and mathematics major, Jukes also plans to assist those in need in his college home by building a youth recreational park in Indianapolis.
The Jukes Foundation is hosting the 2009 Champions for Children Gala on April 17 at the NCAA Hall of Champions. The family friendly event will honor the 2008-2009 Butler basketball team and include other special activities. But it’s not about basketball; it’s a young man doing what he can to help others in need.
Kudos to Avery and best of luck with all his efforts.
You can learn more about the foundation or donate here.
New Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director/CEO John Clark is looking at bringing more international flights to the state capital, which may be music to the ears of the state’s business community. Namely, he’s looking into more flights between Indianapolis and the European Union, which should also appeal to those who enjoy Oktoberfest, the Emerald Isle, and English food (ok, maybe just the first two).
Clark discusses with Gerry Dick of Inside Indiana Business. Watch the video here.
A recent Indianapolis Star article takes Indiana government to task for not providing online access to important public information. The story is based on a survey by journalism organizations that shows Indiana near the bottom of all 50 states when it comes to providing this information in digital form:
The days when tracking down pertinent public information required sifting through volumes of paper records have long passed. Or at least they should have here and elsewhere based on the technology now available.
We’re unaware of the state’s plans to increase information, but realize it will likely take years before state government provides the access businesses need. After all, we have had the same system of township government since the mid-1800s.
The Chamber’s own government information portal, IndianaNet, was not around during the Gettysburg Address, but has been supplying comprehensive online access to government information for many years.
IndianaNet provides regulatory information, agency information, meeting schedules and follows state legislative activity in real time. In addition to being a one-stop shop for complete government information, IndianaNet provides unique reporting capabilities and other powerful tools to ensure businesses are never blindsided by any state government or legislative action.
If you’ve been following our blog over the past year, you’ll realize we haven’t been too kind to Massachusetts. For evidence of our Commonwealth-bashing, see here and here – and for good measure, you better take a look at this as well. (Sorry, perhaps it’s just our Belichick aversion coming through.) But alas, the day has come to offer praise to the Old Bay State as we feature a column from former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith in Governing, in which he touts the reforms of Somerville, Mass. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone:
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone has enacted transformative changes in the management of Somerville, Massachusetts, and has done so by championing the importance of cost and efficiency data for all city services to improve accountability and performance. These efforts led to the creation of the SomerStat program. His approach to reform serves as a particularly timely primer on how to establish new norms for tracking and improving service delivery, giving officials the tools to know where to cut costs, where to keep investing and where there are opportunities for innovation…
SomerStat has now taken Baltimore’s CitiStat program one step further by integrating real-time data into its arsenal. According to Hirsch, this has allowed the city "to intensify its reliance on data for decision making." The mayor’s office requires that all city data be centrally accessible by the SomerStat office. This means that data from more than 50 sources are reported to the SomerStat office, from enterprise-wide and stand-alone systems. In fact, Curtatone subsequently created a major new source of performance data by implementing a centralized 311 constituent center (the first such center in New England) that tracks and issues work orders for every resident request for city services.
The first success to come from SomerStat’s analysis of this data was when it revealed a persistent problem of excessive overtime in the police department. The biggest culprit was that overtime costs were incurred whenever an officer was needed to cover someone who was out sick. Police leadership immediately started working with the mayor’s office and the union to create a solution. By increasing the number of officers assigned to each shift, the police and the mayor were not only able to rein in overtime costs, but were able to improve their community policing efforts by maintaining higher staff levels for each shift. "We’ve reaped one of the first rewards of the SomerStat process," Curtatone said. "This is part of our overall effort to modernize city government, cut waste and improve services."