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NI budget may impose 2.5% education cut

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Northern Ireland’s education system would face a further cut of 2.5% if an emergency budget is introduced

Northern Ireland’s secretary of state has published indicative figures for a budget he will impose if the Stormont parties do not reach a deal.

The indicative figures include a 3% increase in cash for health spending but a 2.5% cut for education.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said he took advice from senior civil servants and is attempting to reflect the priorities of the local parties.

His intention is to “give clarity” in the absence of an executive.

  • How will election impact NI finances?

Stormont’s finances have been under the control of a senior civil servant since the start of the financial year because the previous executive did not produce a budget.

Mr Brokenshire said the totals he has set out “would not constrain the future ability of an incoming executive to adjust its priorities during the course of the year”.

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James Brokenshire said his intention was to give clarity to Stormont departments in the absence of an executive

Aside from health, the only other Stormont department to see a significant increase in day-to-day spending is the Department of Communities.

Its spending is up by 9%, which is understood to reflect welfare reform mitigation measures agreed by the previous executive.

The capital part of the budget would make available funding for projects which were announced by the executive as part of their 2016-17 Budget.

These include the A5 and A6 road projects, the Belfast Transport Hub, and the Mother and Children’s Hospital.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January, when the coalition collapsed over a botched energy scheme.

The late Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Féin, quit as deputy first minister in protest at the Democratic Unionist Party’s handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

It led to a snap election to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 2 March, which saw a surge in Sinn Féin’s vote.

Stormont’s two largest parties have been unable to reach agreement to share power since that date, and were warned they face either a second assembly election or direct rule from Westminster.

However, Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election to the House of Commons made a deal even more unlikely as parties switched to campaign mode.

In order to keep day-to-day services running in the absence of locally elected ministers, the Westminster government published emergency legislation last week – known as the Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates Bill

The bill began its accelerated passage through Westminster on Monday.

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Teachers criticise planned NI education cuts

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The planned cuts showed the political parties and the secretary of state were holding children and their future to ransom, said one principal

Teachers have criticised a plan to cut funding for education if the Stormont parties do not reach an agreement on forming a new power-sharing executive.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire published indicative figures for a budget he would impose if the parties do not reach a deal.

The proposed 2.5% cut would represent a loss of £50m from the education budget.

One principal described the cut as “completely savage” and others warned that teachers would lose their jobs.

  • NI budget may impose 2.5% education cut
  • How will election impact NI finances?

“This is really all the political parties, plus the secretary of state, holding our children and their future to ransom, so that a political deal can be struck to restore the executive,” said Kevin Donaghy, principal of St Ronan’s Primary School in Newry, County Down.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said he had taken advice from senior civil servants and was attempting to reflect the priorities of the local parties.

His intention was to “give clarity” in the absence of an executive, he said.

Analysis – BBC News NI education correspondent Robbie Meredith

Most of Stormont’s £1.9bn education budget is spent on paying school staff and on services like school transport, maintenance and special educational needs.

Therefore principals, boards of governors – and the Education Authority – have limited wriggle room when it comes to saving money.

Many schools were already feeling the squeeze, and there is no guarantee that the restoration of the executive would provide more cash.

But with no local agreement imminent, schools are set to face additional cuts this year.

And one principal I spoke to accused the political parties of “fiddling while Rome burns”.

However, two principals have said the cuts would mean teachers being put of work.

Deirdre Gillespie, principal of St Mary’s Grammar School in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, said: “The only way that I can stand still, not balance my books but stand still, would be to make three teachers redundant and I simply can’t afford to run a school with three less teachers.

“It will mean that I will have to reduce my curriculum even further, my class sizes would have to increase and that’s impossible because I can’t fit any more children into the classroom.”

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James Brokenshire said his intention was to give clarity to Stormont departments in the absence of an executive

Marie Lindsay, principal of St Mary’s College in Londonderry, also said the cut would mean “two and a half or three teachers” losing their jobs.

“I’m angry,” she said. “I read that one of the decisions was to reflect political priorities.

“This means our young people are not worth investing in.”

Ralph Magee, from Andrews Memorial Primary School in Comber, County Down, said schools were on an “unknown playing field”.

“We need a collective voice here from all school leaders and, I would argue, the education authority as well in saying that schools cannot provide what you’re expecting to provide at the moment if you plan for these cuts to come in over the next few years.”

Stormont’s finances have been under the control of a senior civil servant since the start of the financial year because the previous executive did not produce a budget.

Mr Brokenshire said the totals he has set out “would not constrain the future ability of an incoming executive to adjust its priorities during the course of the year”.

His indicative budget includes £42m which has not yet been allocated to departments: If all that money was allocated to education it would eliminate most of the shortfall in the department’s budget.

Deal unlikely

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January, when the coalition collapsed over a botched energy scheme.

The late Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Féin, quit as deputy first minister in protest at the Democratic Unionist Party’s handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

It led to a snap election to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 2 March, which saw a surge in Sinn Féin’s vote.

Stormont’s two largest parties have been unable to reach agreement to share power since that date, and were warned they face either a second assembly election or direct rule from Westminster.

However, Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election to the House of Commons made a deal even more unlikely as parties switched to campaign mode.

In order to keep day-to-day services running in the absence of locally elected ministers, the Westminster government published emergency legislation last week – known as the Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates Bill

The bill passed its accelerated passage through Westminster on Monday and is set to become law by the end of the week.

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Meet the Colorado education researcher you can actually understand

Have you ever wandered into a thicket of education research terminology and wished you had a translator? Someone who could put “effect size” and “causal inference” into perspective? Or just English?

Kevin Welner’s your man.

On Monday, the Boulder professor was recognized with the 2017 American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Public Communication of Education Research Award.

Welner, who has been featured in the Washington Post and on NPR, shared a few tips with Chalkbeat.

Education research can be complicated and mind-numbing. What’s your secret to communicating so the general public can understand it?

My personal “secret” is just a lot of editing and rewriting, sharing drafts with friends and colleagues and seeking to squeeze out the academese.

But more important is the secret underlying the National Education Policy Center, which I direct and which is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education: We have a ready pool of hundreds of top researchers from around the country.

So if we need someone who can make sense of a research study with methods that are mind-numbingly complicated, we can quickly reach out to any of a dozen brilliant minds, all trained to fully understand those methods. If we need an expert who knows all the research on early-childhood education, class-size reduction or charter schools, we can do the same. We then work with those experts to engage in the editing process I noted above for myself – all geared toward ensuring that the published version is useful for academics as well as the general public.

What advice would you give to other academics and policy wonks ?

In the graduate programs where we receive our Ph.D. training, we learn almost nothing (or literally nothing) about how to communicate our research to a broader audience. Instead, our training focuses on preparing researchers to add to the scholarly knowledge base. We do that through academic journals, books, conferences, etc.

We designed the National Education Policy Center to help close that gap — to facilitate communications between the scholarly conversation and the conversation that everyone else is having, often about the same issues.

My advice to researchers would be to embrace opportunities to speak to a larger audience, even if it means stepping out of our comfort zones. The truth is that we’ve already found an enormous readiness to do so. Notwithstanding our training, and even the incentive systems that reward university-based researchers for more traditional work, we have seen a strong interest in this work, generally known as “public scholarship.”

You’ve critiqued influential news organizations, including U.S. News and World Report about their rankings of the nation’s best high schools. Why is it important to raise public questions about such things?

At best, each of us can only have real expertise in a very small number of areas. When a medical doctor or auto mechanic tells me something based on their expertise, I’m largely at their mercy. I often don’t know enough to even ask the right questions, let alone to have a B.S. detector for their answers.

What I and my colleagues at the National Education Policy Center have tried to do in the area of education research is to show the broader public a fuller picture. The U.S. News work I did, regarding high school rankings, is a good example. The rankings were undermined by technical problems, sloppiness, and fundamental problems involving choices about how and what to include in their measurement formulas. How would a parent who sees those rankings otherwise know about these weaknesses?

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New York resists trend of offering online-only hunter education

Apr 24, 2017 — Bill Stevens started day two of his hunter education class on a cold, Sunday morning in January at the Savona Rod Gun Club in Steuben County. He played a video, then reviewed the tenets of what a responsible hunter would do in the field.

“Would they treat every firearm as it’s loaded?” Yes, said the students. “Are you sure?” Yes. “Would they obey game laws?” Yes. “Would they use land without asking permission?” No.

If you want to get your hunting license in New York, you have to take an in-person class like this one. But some other states let you do it all online. It’s a trend hunting teachers in New York are hoping to stave off.

A January hunter education class at the Savona Rod  Gun Club in Bath, NY. Photo: Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

The nation’s oldest hunter education program

Stevens doesn’t have to teach a two-day class; he wants to. He’s a volunteer, like all of New York hunter ed teachers. There are about 2,378 volunteer instructors, including apprentices.

Many of the students are like Kassady Cerny of Ithaca. “I have absolutely no knowledge on the subject whatsoever,” she said.

The state created the hunter ed program in the late 1940s after a lot of World War II veterans started hunting, and getting accidentally shot. The classes have been mandatory for new hunters ever since.

At the moment, instructors design their own classes under state guidelines. Stevens’ class is part field training, part video and part lecture. It also has homework — as of last year, that’s a state requirement. Students must complete homework before coming to class. They can do it on paper or online.

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The move to online-only hunter education

Stevens doesn’t like mandatory homework because he has to turn people away if they don’t do it. He also worries the homework change foreshadows a shift to an all-online offering.

“Not fact, but also rumor, is that eventually they’ll get rid of the volunteers and do it online,” he said. “Which is what some of us are very worried about.”

Seventeen states now offer online-only hunting classes, although age and other requirements vary a lot. Every state does still offer a traditional in-person class.

John Organ with the U.S. Geological Survey said online-only classes make training more accessible.

“In many states there’s a backlog of students that want to get trained, and there’s just not enough spaces,” Organ said.

New York, like other states, gets a rush of people wanting to take a hunter training class every fall, a few weeks before deer hunting season, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. A lot of that is people waiting until the last minute to fulfill their requirements for a hunting license. An online-only option would help alleviate the logjam.

But the DEC said it’s not considering online-only classes.

DEC hunter education officials like Frank Phillips compare hunter training to driver ed: “Would you want to allow someone to take an online driving test and then get their driver’s license without seeing them drive a vehicle? I don’t think it’s any different with hunting.”

However, Brad Heidel, Executive Director of the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA), thinks online-only works just fine. Young people today are busy, he said, and they learn differently.

“Kids these days, they learn not by hands-on, but they learn by interaction with their computers, with their telephones,” said Heidel.

Lack of data

Whatever your philosophy on education, it’s a decision states want to make carefully. Various states are asking Heidel for reliable data on what kind of class works best. The IHEA has asked Matt Dunfee with the Wildlife Management Institute to design a study.

States are getting pressure to change, according to Dunfee.

“State fish and wildlife agencies are being challenged more and more to adopt new technologies and new ways of doing things,” he said. “What hasn’t caught up with those new technologies and new ideas is data to inform those decisions.”

The study should be out by the end of the year.

Volunteer hunter education instructor Bill Stevens' with his son Grant (left) who is an apprentice instructor. Photo: Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

The calming ritual lesson

Visiting Bill Stevens’ class, it is hard to see how a student would learn some of the lessons through a computer.

Here’s an example. Stevens is portraying a hunter who’s prepping to gut the first deer he or she has ever killed.

“I’m gonna be juiced, man, like every football player, baseball player. I’m gonna be at the goalpost.” (Stevens is dancing on his toes here.) “‘Man, I got a deer! Woo-hoo!’ And the last thing I wanna be doing is handling a very, very sharp knife while I’m all pumped up.”

Have a calming ritual, he told them. Good advice, right? But we all get great advice from teachers. The question is, do we retain it at the right moment?

For now, New York is sticking with in-person hunter training – but you have to do your homework.

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Get free legal, money advice Tuesday

Do you have a legal question you need answered?

Would you like to find out more about your rights when someone is trying to collect a debt?

Are you interested in learning how to better manage your money?

Do you want to meet me and some of the IndyStar Call for Action volunteers?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you should come to a special Money Smart Week program tomorrow at the John H. Boner Neighborhood Center, 2236 East 10th St.

More:IndyStar Call for Action savings top $500,000

More:Indiana’s lost-and-found box overflowing with cash, jewels

IndyStar Investigates:A 20-year toll: 368 gymnasts allege sexual exploitation

IndyStar Call for Action is a co-sponsor of the event featuring free, one-on-one attorney consultations and educational presentations on topics ranging from how to spot predatory loans to knowing your rights as a debtor. The program runs from 4:15-8 p.m. Other sponsors are the Indiana chapter of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Consumer Advocacy Project, a partnership between Indiana Legal Services, the Heartland Pro Bono Council, the Boner centers, and Hawthorne Community Center.

IndyStar Call for Action’s participation in this unique program is an extension of our work providing Hoosiers help resolving consumer disputes. The philosophy is pretty simple: It’s better — and often easier — to head off trouble with education, rather than try to resolve a problem that has already happened.

We already deal with plenty of the latter in calls to the free IndyStar Call for Action hotline. Since we launched the project in January 2011, our volunteers have helped callers save or recover more than $553,000. To see if we can help you, too, call (317) 444-6800 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, or submit an online request any time at

One thing our volunteers cannot do is provide legal advice That’s why we’ve been partnering for the last year with attorneys from the Indiana NACA chapter to conduct legal call-in programs. This will be our first shot at face-to-face consultations.

Kimberly Thomas, a financial coach at the Boner centers, said many clients she works with seem to be more comfortable speaking to a live person.

“Whether it’s a skill set or preference, some people appreciate the ‘human touch’ in progressing through to the next step,” she explained. “If it were not for this event, some may have questions that they would allow to go unaddressed because they are not inclined to leave a telephone message or reach out via email — not to mention trying to figure out who to contact in the first place.”

She and others involved in this free walk-in project hope it eliminates some of those frustrating barriers, including the reality that there is far more demand for free and low-cost legal assistance than what is available in Indiana.

“This event brings critical resources to the neighborhood under one roof to help individuals resolve consumer legal matters,” added Carla James of the Boner centers.

Here’s the full schedule:

4:15-7:30 p.m. — Sign in to meet with attorney.

4:45 p.m. — “What is IndyStar Call for Action?” — Tim Evans, IndyStar.

5 p.m. — Attorney consultations begin.

5 p.m. — “Your Rights as a Debtor” — Steve Hofer, Consumer Law Office of Steve Hofer.

5:30 p.m. — “What Can I Do about Unwanted Calls?” — Ali Saeed, Saeed Little, LLP.

6 p.m. —“Expungement in Indiana” — Jack Kenney, Indiana Public Defender Council.

6:30 p.m. — “Child Support Family Financial Stability” — Matthew Dinn, Popcheff Dinn, LLP.

7 p.m. — “Tips to Spot Predatory Loans” — Crystal Brooks, PNC Bank, and Crystal Francis, Indiana Legal Services.

8 p.m. — Event concludes.

Here’s a little reward for reading this entire column: We’ll be having light snacks, too.

Tim Evans is IndyStar’s consumer advocate. Contact him at (317) 444-6204 or Follow him on Twitter: @starwatchtim.

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I Was a Homeless Student and Invisible


Educators need better training to help homeless students

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In the middle of my freshman year of high school, I started my fourth episode of homelessness. My parents, five brothers, and I migrated back and forth from relatives’ living rooms, motels, and family shelters for more than two years. By the time I graduated from high school, I had moved a total of 14 times.

Data from the research nonprofit Child Trends show significant growth in youth homelessness in the last decade. Since my own high school graduation in 2006, youth homelessness in the United States has increased from approximately 815,000 youths nationwide to more than 1.3 million youths in the 2013-14 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.

Experiencing homelessness as a child has a direct effect on academic achievement. In 2014, America’s Promise Alliance reported that youths affected by homelessness are 87 percent more likely to drop out of high school and, as a result, are more likely to become homeless as adults. Additionally, homeless youths have higher levels of physical trauma and social isolation when compared with their housed peers, including those living in poverty.

Youth homelessness is a devastating epidemic with negative outcomes for students across all racial groups. However, African-American students are disproportionately affected. African-American children represent 48 percent of all children living in homeless shelters, even though African-Americans make up only 14 percent of American families with children, according to Child Trends. Concurrently, a 2013 study of homeless youths in San Francisco from the California Homeless Youth Project found that homeless African-American youths are less likely to self-identify as homeless compared with their white peers, and thus fail to receive aid and services to which they are entitled.

Although my parents notified my school district of when we became homeless, I was unaware that anyone knew of our circumstances. I never spoke to any teachers, counselors, or administrators about my living conditions, and no one ever asked me about them. Keeping such a secret was extremely difficult, but fear of being reported to the Department of Social Services kept me silent. I spent more energy lying about where I lived than studying, and as a result my grades dropped dramatically.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, federal legislation enacted in 1987, defines as “homeless” any child who doesn’t have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” That includes children from families who are doubling up in homes with relatives or other adults, as well as those living in shelters, motels, or cars. The McKinney-Vento Act established that homeless students have the right to transportation, free lunch, school supplies, tutoring, and school choice. In addition, students who are designated as homeless have the option of continuing to attend their current school or enrolling in the school closest to where they are currently residing.

In 2015, the McKinney-Vento Act was reauthorized under the Every Student Succeed Act and now requires school districts to increase outreach efforts for identifying homeless students and informing families of their legal rights. According to Education Department guidance on ESSA issued in June 2016, the amendment to the McKinney-Vento Act also requires school districts to disaggregate their student-achievement data and graduation rates to explicitly show the academic progress of their homeless youths. The improvements to McKinney-Vento are significant, but they are in vain if key stakeholders continue to be in the dark.

As a student experiencing homelessness, I wanted my teachers to attend to my social and emotional needs. But now, as a former high school and special education teacher myself, I understand why my teachers did not respond to my needs: They did not know. As a teacher, I never received training on the McKinney-Vento Act, nor was I informed that there were homeless youths at my school. The McKinney-Vento Act requires state coordinators to train district liaisons on identifying homeless students and implementing the policy. Each district liaison is then charged with disseminating the information to his or her respective school leaders and supporting the homeless youths identified. Teachers are not mandated to learn about the McKinney-Vento Act. Thus, many teachers are often uninformed about homeless populations at their school.

An overall lack of awareness of homelessness prevents homeless students from receiving support or even being identified. Principals and teachers should consider the following when creating a network of support for youths experiencing homelessness:

Schoolwide training. The entire faculty should be trained and versed on the McKinney-Vento Act. Faculty members are in the best position to identify homeless youths and refer them to the district liaison for additional support.

Student awareness. All students should know the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homelessness and that the rights of homeless students are guaranteed.

Meaningful relationships. Teachers should foster meaningful relationships with students to affirm that students’ well-being matters.

More Opinion

Targeting the most vulnerable populations. African-American youths are overrepresented in the foster-care system, the special education system, and the penal system. African-Americans’ distrust for institutions is warranted, and it needs to be considered when identifying and supporting African-American youths experiencing homelessness. The school is responsible forestablishing trust with both the student and his or her guardians.

While housing insecurity is a societal issue well beyond the scope of public schools, educators have an obligation to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education. The first step to providing educational equity for homeless students is to identify who they are, what they need, and what resources can be made available to them.

Earl J. Edwards is a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a former classroom teacher.

Vol. 36, Issue 28, Pages 22-23

Published in Print: April 18, 2017, as I Was Homeless And Invisible

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The Secret Homeschoolers Know About Education

“Well, whatever you do, don’t homeschool your kid. Homeschooled kids are weird.” It was the first real comment I’d received from one family member shortly after we announced our pregnancy. Let’s be clear: My son was less than 20 weeks developed in the womb and already I was receiving education advice. That’s precisely how passionate people are when it comes to education in America. Not because the average Joe is worried about competing with China, but because education has become the primary source for acculturation in America. Choosing your child’s school is the equivalent of choosing his religious and political persuasion, let alone his career path. To put it even more simply, schools are the lens through which children learn how to view the world and their place in it.

The selling point of education has always been curriculum, but don’t let that fool you into thinking academics are the primary purpose of the educational institution. Public education was developed to provide slews of immigrant children a forum through which to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, sure. But, the ultimate goal was acculturation: Taking a mass of immigrants from across the globe and acculturating them into American life. Over a century later not much has changed. Academic curricula are still being used to sell specific interpretations of social class, economics, politics, and religion. The main difference is that the interpretations have radically changed.

Mother Says She Was Arrested for Homeschooling Her Children

No one knows this better than the families who homeschool. Most of them are observant Christians who began pursuing homeschooling during the post-Biblical era of public education. Fifty-five years ago the Supreme Court ruled against prayer and non-sectarian Bible reading in public schools as a violation of the First Amendment. The fallout resulted in moral decay among students and teachers: Wardrobe, interpersonal relationships, self-respect and yes, even curriculum all suffered from the lack of basic moral guidance. Wanting their children to be acculturated into a worldview guided by faith, Christian families pulled their children out of public schools and began teaching them at home.

In the decades since, other demographics have followed in Christian homeschoolers’ footsteps. Jewish families seeking a more cost-effective option are pulling away from the religious school tradition while a growing number of Silicon Valley geniuses, disgusted with their own negative experiences in public schools, are homeschooling their own children. With the dawn of the Trump administration, even the most avid public education supporters are reconsidering the homeschooling option. What these diverse groups have in common is the understanding that education is, above all, acculturation. They see through the line that school is about learning basic facts to prepare for adult life.

Every parent needs to understand that how we educate is how we acculturate. Recently I received an email from one Jewish women’s organization that advised “”Who do you want standing under the chuppah beside your kid? Now rewind and choose your schools, friends, and camps accordingly.” Academics are an essential part of education. But when the facts fade from memory, a child’s sense of self-identity and purpose forged during those formative years are what will last a lifetime.

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DICK YOUNG: ABC’s of saving for a private education

The cost of private school varies based on factors like the type of school and program. Boarding programs, where tuition covers room and board, are the most expensive. According to the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), private school tuition and boarding fees range from $30,000 to $60,000 per year, with schools in large cities at the higher end of the price range. Generally, faith-based schools have the lowest fees and you’ll also likely pay less while your child is in the lower grades.

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Education Activist Coach Carter provides advice

Zerina Bajramovic, Staff Writer

“Get up early and stay up late — work when it hurts,” Coach Ken Carter, an education activist, business owner and former high school basketball coach, told UNH students Wednesday evening during his lecture, “Average is Just Not Good Enough”  in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building (MUB).

Carter, whose basketball coaching at Richmond High School in Richmond, California, inspired a Hollywood film, titled “Coach Carter,” offered students motivational advice for success.

Samuel L. Jackson portrayed Carter in the 2005 Hollywood production after Carter’s coaching became noticed in 1999. Carter’s story was unique not only because of his game-winning coaching, but because of benching his entire team due to their grades.

Carter’s talk was the last of the MUB’s Current Issues Lecture Series for the academic year. The lecture involved active participation from the primarily student audience and was accepted with laughter throughout the hour-long event.

Upon projecting a video including clips from the film and Carter’s past TV interviews, Carter surprised the audience by entering behind them, blowing his whistle and stopping the video. The energetic entrance from Carter gained the audiences’ attention and prepared them for his life-coaching session.

“Enough of that, it’s time to get busy,” Carter announced as the video clip was stopped.

Carter began his talk by exclaiming the one thing he hates the most: “chronic complainers,” a term that he associates with anyone not willing to work harder when presented with difficult circumstances. 

Carter maintained the audience’s attention throughout by calling on individuals to use as examples, and on two occasions asked two students to perform five and 20 pushups in front of the audience.

According to Carter, one of his philosophies on life is that people must have stories.

“Life is about stories,” Carter said. “You gotta have stories to tell.”

“What is going to be your legacy?” Carter asked the audience.

Aside from requesting pushup demonstrations, Carter gave one student a $20 bill, used students as examples for an interactive discussion and signed autographs.

As for more lighthearted advice, Carter told students: “You gotta laugh at yourself. Don’t worry about always being politically correct. Just have fun.”

“These are your good-old-days. It don’t get much better,” shared the former coach.

Carter also offered words of encouragement for college students. He spoke on the importance of investing in a college education.

“There’s a thin line between this thing called great and greatness,” Carter said.

Carter advised the audience members to always be “life-long learners.” He also stated, “You have to be a great follower to be a great leader.”

In between motivating and inspiring advice, Carter shared his own experience as both a high school girl’s basketball coach and a boy’s basketball coach.

The lecture ended with a brief QA session and the opportunity to take a picture with Carter.

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Could Universal Environmental Education Spur A Green Revolution?

Even though Kentucky’s voting population runs red, the state is among the most progressive in the country when it comes to environmental education. The United States, however, currently has no formalized environmental education policy (and under the current administration, is unlikely to implement one), but volunteers in 48 out of the 50 states have drafted their own plans. The results have been mixed. Earth Day Network (EDN)–the advocacy organization that emerged from the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970–surveyed the status of environmental education across the 50 states.“Some are decent, some are horrible,” EDN President Kathleen Rogers tells Fast Company. “Some have the right idea but haven’t made progress.”

In the U.S., EDN will advocate for environmental literacy to be added to the Common Core State Standard. [Photo: Kheat/iStock]

The theme of Earth Day 2017 is environmental and climate literacy, and part of the goal of the theme, Rogers says, is to rectify the country’s uneven educational landscape, and develop an environmental education platform that can be applied across the world. The educational goals are part of EDN’s larger five-year strategy, launched in 2015 and timed to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, to advocate for environmental awareness and action around the globe; other efforts include planting 7.8 billion trees (one for each projected person on the planet) and building the world’s largest environmental service project, Billion Acts of Green, that encourages citizens to take small steps toward reducing their environmental footprint, like eating less meat and discontinuing use of disposable plastic.

To launch the environmental literacy campaign this Earth Day, EDN has partnered with the March for Science, which will pass through Washington, D.C., as well as over 517 other cities that have registered as “satellite marches,” this April 22. At the center of the EDN campaign launch will be a series of teach-ins–a nod to the educational model that activated the first Earth Day–held on the National Mall; organizations from the National Audubon Society to the Princeton University Press have registered to host sessions in Washington that day. EDN and the March for Science have also developed a downloadable toolkit so any community can host a similar educational initiative.

But through its three-year campaign, EDN aims to see environmental literacy move out of the grassroots realm and into policy. EDN has developed an environmental curricula for year-round use in K-12 classrooms; it’s the organization’s goal to promote mandatory environmental education in schools both in the U.S. around the world and to have its strategy serve as the backbone of that effort. Along with the World Bank Group, EDN will conduct a study of the state of climate literacy in over 50 countries and will work with educational ministers, NGOs, and other stakeholders to understand how best to promote mandatory climate education in each country.

By failing to consistently educate the next generation in issues related to climate and the environment, “you won’t build an educated workforce; you won’t build an educated consumer base.” [Photo: Kheat/iStock]

In the U.S., EDN will advocate for environmental literacy to be added to the Common Core State Standards, which so far have been adopted by 42 states and four territories. Taking a district-by-district approach, and focusing particularly on states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Idaho, which reject current scientific standards, EDN will train formal and informal educators alike in using their online resources to teach students.

The current scattershot state of environmental education in the U.S., Rogers says, could jeopardize the country’s future as a global economic force. By failing to consistently educate the next generation on issues related to climate and the environment, “you won’t build an educated workforce; you won’t build an educated consumer base,” Rogers says. “We need to prepare our citizens for what we know will inevitably be the green industrial revolution—regardless of what Trump says, it’s coming.” Though education, Rogers says, is often treated like “the poor stepchild” of the environmental movement, overlooked in favor of advocating for other environmental and climate goals, that has to change. “We need a national policy that drives this kind of education not just for political reasons; we need a uniform process of educating our kids so they can grow up and get jobs,” she says.

Other countries around the world are already far ahead of the U.S.: EDN has been in talks with countries like Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, and Italy, all of which are moving forward with the idea of mandatory environmental education. “They want to have an educated consumer public and they want to have an educated workforce,” Rogers says.

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