Saturday, June 24, 2017

Introducing Fisch Financial

Sorry for the departure from education-focused posts, although this is focused on financial education.

Introducing Fisch Financial. Financial advice for Colorado educators (and those they love). Absolutely free.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Preparing the Future for Our Students

We spend a lot of time in education circles talking about preparing our students for the future. And rightfully so (a large portion of this blog over the years has focused on exactly that). But I think it's important to also realize that we as educators need to be doing more to make sure the future is one our students can live, learn, and thrive in.

Most of you are probably aware that former Vice President Al Gore has devoted his post-elected-office life to addressing the issue of Climate Change. What you may not be as aware of is that he has an entire team of folks dedicated to helping him, and that that team is expanding all the time. I spent the last three days being trained as a Climate Reality Leader by Vice President Gore and the other amazing folks at the Climate Reality Project.

I was one of over 900 people from 32 countries that attended this training in Denver. We experienced three intense days, hearing from speakers including Al Gore himself (many, many times) and former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University), Dr. Henry Pollack and Dr. Kevin Trenberth (climate change science experts), Kevin Klein (director of Colorado's Homeland Security and Emergency Management) and Don Whittemore (former Incident Commander for the Rocky Mountain Interagency Incident Management Team), Leah Greenberg (one of the co-founders of Indivisible), Jules Kortenhorst (CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute), and many of the previously trained Climate Reality Leaders.

These presentations included the latest science of climate change (things are even worse than what was predicted), the current political climate (not great at the federal level, much better at the state and local level), and the road ahead (very optimistic, the solutions are available, we just need the will to implement them, and quickly). We got to see Vice President Gore present the latest version of his famous slide show - in fact, we got to see it twice. Once the long version (2+ hours), then the next day a shorter, approximately 60-minute version.


Now that I've completed the training, I'm officially a Climate Reality Leader (joining 11,700 others).



What exactly does that mean? Well, first and foremost, it means I can go out and give the presentation, which is where I need your help. If you're in Colorado, I would love to come speak to your "group", giving the presentation (can be modified for just about any length of time, although anything shorter than 20 minutes would be tough) and providing whatever resources you need to extend the conversation. (If you're not in Colorado, I can connect you with another Climate Reality Leader who can come present.) Your group can be just about anybody, including:
  • the teachers/staff at your school, your class(es), your school club, your entire school community
  • your church, mosque, synagogue or other religious institution
  • your book club, bowling team, softball team, etc.
  • your family or neighborhood
  • your civic organization
This list is not exhaustive, any group, of whatever size, that is interested, I'll come and present (no charge!).

Second, I'll be involved in organizing to influence citizens, policy makers, and office holders on what they can do to mitigate climate change and accelerate our transformation to a sustainable economy. This can include everything from smaller, individual/family acts (think anything from LED lights to solar panels) to convincing your school, business, city or community to become 100% Committed. In fact, I'm organizing a Douglas County group right now so, if you're in (or near) Douglas County and want to help, let me know.

Finally, I'll also help you get more involved if you'd like to. That might include joining me in the Denver March for Science on April 22nd (unless, of course, you'd rather go to the March in D.C.), the April 29th People's March for Climate in Denver (or D.C.), applying for a future Climate Reality Leadership Corps training yourself, or volunteering for any of the many fine organizations that are working to address these issues.

I know there are many, many issues that you could devote your time to, and I encourage you to do so. But I feel that this is truly an overarching issue for all of us, as it literally impacts every single person on the planet, and will have an impact on all the other issues that you care about as well. It's also an issue that's solvable, the amount of optimism in the room was incredible, because we have all the solutions we need, it's just a matter of how much damage is done before we implement them.

As Al Gore said near the end of our training (paraphrasing), "I suddenly realized, this problem isn't going to take care of itself. I'm going to have to get involved and do something." Please get involved and do something - let me know how I can help.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Ten Shifty Years

Ten years ago this month* (*now last month because I haven't been able to get this written) I wrote about a PowerPoint I showed to the staff at my school during a faculty meeting. I don't have anything really profound to say (never have), but I did think it might be interesting to look at what has changed in those ten years. In a word: everything. And nothing. (Okay, three words.)

Here are a few things I've noticed:
  • In 2006 we had No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In 2016 we have Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • In 2006 in Colorado we had CSAP and ACT for our mandated state testing. In 2016 we have CMAS (based on PARCC), PSAT and SAT for our mandated state testing.
  • In 2006 my daughter was 6 and starting first grade (part of the impetus for Did You Know?). In 2016 my daughter is a Junior in high school.
  • 2006 was one of the warmest years on record. Much of the world denies that climate change is occurring, that human activity is contributing to it, and subsequently decides to do little to change our behaviors. Every year since 2006 has been the warmest year on record. Much of the world denies that climate change is occurring, that human activity is contributing to it, and subsequently decides to do little to change our behaviors.
  • In 2006 Louisiana was beginning to recover from Hurricane Katrina and Representative Mike Pence held disaster relief funding for areas affected by Katrina hostage. In 2016, Louisiana is recovering from a storm we didn't even bother to name and Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for Vice President.
  • In 2006 we purchased a Toyota Prius. In 2016 we put down a deposit on a Tesla Model 3.
  • In 2006 police shootings of unarmed African Americans was in the news. In 2016 police shootings of unarmed African Americans was in the news.
  • In 2006 there was no iPhone (or anything similar). By 2016 more than a billion iPhones have been sold, and hundreds of millions more of similar phones.
  • In 2006 signs about cell phones appeared in my school. In 2016 pocket cell phone holders were made available to teachers in my school. 
  • In 2006 we used Microsoft Office in my school and Google Apps for Education was announced (just apps, no Drive). In 2016 some adults in my school still use Microsoft Office and every student and staff member not only has access to the apps, but unlimited storage on Google Drive.
  • In 2006 gay marriage had little political support and was extremely controversial. In 2016 marriage is marriage.
  • In 2006 more than 30,000 Americans were killed by gun violence. Since 2006, more than 300,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence, including two within the walls of my school.
  • In 2006 there was no iPad (or anything similar). By 2016 more than 300 million iPads have been sold, and hundreds of millions more of similar tablets.
  • In 2006 we purchased all of our electricity from the utility company (and paid a little extra each month to get some of that from wind energy through the utility). We paid over $1800 for electricity and gas. Starting at the end of 2009 we started generating our own. On a yearly basis we generate approximately 400 kWh more than we use. We paid less than $700 (new windows, better insulation, new furnace, on-demand water heater ... in addition to solar panels.)
  • In 2006 One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) was going to change the world with $100 laptops, although they cost more than $200 at that point. It didn’t. In 2016, we have sub-$200 laptops.
  • In 2006 we had just completed the first year of staff development in my school that included several demonstration classrooms that had carts of laptops in them. In 2016 every student at my school has a laptop computer 24-7-180.
  • In 2006 Twitter launched. In 2016 Twitter has over 300 million active users.
  • In 2006 Facebook was 2 years old and had about 10 million active users. In 2016 Facebook has over 1 billion active users.
  • In 2006 both The Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News still printed stock prices in the print edition. In 2016 they don’t, and The Rocky Mountain News doesn’t exist.
  • In 2006 newspapers and TV are prominent in both breaking news and political coverage. In 2016 the websites of some newspapers and TV stations are prominent in both breaking news and political coverage, but most of the news breaks on Twitter and Facebook first.
  • In 2006 every U.S. President had been a white male. In 2016 we’ve had an African American President and odds are we are about to elect a woman President.
  • In 2006 housing prices were going through the roof, unemployment was at 4.6%, and the stock market was setting records almost daily. In 2016 housing prices are going through the roof, the unemployment rate is 4.9%, and the stock market is setting records almost daily.
  • In 2006 there were many sites where people went to find viral videos, including Glumbert.com, Break.com, MySpace.com, IAmBored.com, and YouTube. In 2016 it’s mainly YouTube and Facebook. (As a side note, this makes it hard to track historical views of older videos. I stopped estimating at about 60 million for various versions of Did You Know? - my guess is probably close to 100 million now - but it’s just a guess.)
  • In 2006 Instagram was still four years from launching. In 2016 Instagram has over 500 million active users.
  • In 2006 Hillary Clinton was a Senator from New York and the presumed Democratic nominee for President in the 2008 election, Barack Obama was a little-known Senator from Illinois, and Donald Trump was an obnoxious developer who was hoping the real-estate market was going to tank. In 2016 Barack Obama is a two-term President, Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee for President, and Donald Trump is an obnoxious developer who is also the Republican nominee for President and thinks Brexit is good for his golf course.
  • In 2006, President George W. Bush gave the first ever prime time Presidential address on Immigration and stated, ""We're a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We're also a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways." In 2016 the Republican nominee for President wants to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it.
  • In 2006 Al Qaeda was the greatest threat to western civilization. In 2016 ISIS (ISIL) is the greatest threat to western civilization. (Some folks would argue that it’s actually second to Donald Trump.)
  • In 2006 U.S. public schools are “failing.” This was also true in 1996, 1986, 1976, 1966, 1956, 1946, 1936, 1926, 1916, and 1906. In 2016 U.S. public schools are still “failing.”
  • In 2006 Colorado spent $551 less per pupil than the national average. In 2016 Colorado spends more than $2500 less per pupil than the national average.
  • In 2006 NASA was still using the Space Shuttle and would be for 5 more years. In 2016 NASA uses SpaceX, ULA and others to launch into space.
  • In 2006 self-driving cars were thought of something out of the Jetsons. In 2016 self-driving cars are already here (and will be ready for mass adoption in the next five years).
  • In 2006 I was asking about core values at my school. In 2016 I’m still asking about it.
  • In 2006 I posted 2020 Vision, the third part in a trilogy of sorts. In 2016 just about every organization has a 2020 vision document, but schools are still focusing on the wrong things.
  • In 2006 Snapchat was still five years from launching. In 2016 Snapchat has over 1 million active users.
  • In 2006 it was estimated that 40 exabytes (4.0 x 1019) of new information would be generated. By 2016 it's estimated that much is generated each day (rounding a bit here).
  • In 2006 there were about 2.7 billion google searches performed each month.  It's now more than 3.5 billion per day.
  • In 2006 I wrote about graduation requirements several times. In 2016 my district has a graduation task force that is looking to revise our graduation requirements in light of changes to the state requirements.
  • In 2006 a student commented on my blog about being seen as more than just a number. In 2016 we seem to still be all about the numbers.
  • In 2006 “You” was Time's Person of the Year. In 2016 it’s likely to be “I” in the form of Donald Trump.
  • If I said “drone” in 2006 most folks thought military or talking for a long time. If I say “drone” in 2016 most folks think military or Amazon delivery.
  • In 2006 the typical microprocessor clock speed was approximately 5,631,000,000 Hz. In 2016, it is approximately 28,751,000,000 Hz.
  • In 2006 a TI graphing calculator cost around $100 and was the preferred tool for high school mathematics. In 2016 Desmos is (my) preferred tool for high school mathematics and is free (but many high school teachers still require their students to purchase a $100 TI calculator because they can use it on “the tests”).
  • In 2006 if I said “the cloud” everyone thought I was talking about the weather.
  • In 2006 no one had heard of binge watching.
  • In 2006 Uber was a newly released album.
  • In 2006 people bought paper maps and dedicated GPS devices.
  • In 2006 a human was still the best Jeopardy player.
  • In 2006 if I said "artificial intelligence" most people thought I was talking about aliens.
  • In 2006 Shift was happening. In 2016, it still is.
  • In 2006 I was worried that we were preparing students for our past, not their future. In 2016, I still am.