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Bridging the STEM Skills Gap Involves Both Education and Industry Commitments

The U.S. News and World Report – Rebecca Ellis

“Inside Subaru of Indiana Automotive, students gather around a scaled-down version of the robotic arms the industry uses to make cars. They watch as it sorts colored blocks on a miniaturized production line, occasionally glancing at the nearby laptop to make sure it is following the commands they programmed. These students are simulating the roles of modern manufacturing employees.” (more)

Kids needs tax education

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Regardless of whether you believe taxes are crucial and helpful or unnecessary and unfair, it is important that your kids understand the concept of taxation, how tax money is collected and used, and what they can do to influence tax policy.

Here are a few kid friendly facts you can share with your children.

There are a lot of taxes in the U.S.
Individuals are taxed on property, purchases, income, wages, facilities use (tolls), and dying (death tax). Companies pay duties, tariffs, fees, registrations, and employment taxes. They pass these extra costs onto consumers as higher prices, which means individuals ultimately pay for business taxes.

U.S. taxpayers have little say on how tax money is spent.
Once the taxes are collected by a taxing agency, taxpayers have little control on how the money is allocated. As a result, it is critical that voters consider all tax referenda carefully. If a taxpayer does not like a tax he/she can circulate a petition to have the tax recalled, run for office, and/or work to get different politicians elected.

Taxes increase the power of the government.
Tax revenues give government entities control over large budgets, which can create problems with corruption as companies and individuals lobby to obtain projects bid by the government.

Taxes fund a wide variety of programs.
Taxes are used to pay for everything from roads and bridges to special projects like studying methane emission from dairy cows.

Private sector worker taxes pay for government jobs.
When someone works for a public school, a public college or university, the TSA, the military, a company who executes government contracts, an organization that receives government grants etc. his/her salary is paid by people working in the private sector. Even though government employees pay “taxes”, these “taxes” just reduce the cost of that worker, since the taxes go back into the pool of money used to pay government salaries. As a result, it is impossible for the government to operate without loans or tax contributions from private sector workers.

Tax marketing is often different from tax implementation.
Taxpayers are often more willing to approve taxes for education, so government agencies will sometimes market a tax as a way to improve schools without restricting the money to schooling.

Once your kids have an understanding of taxation they can make sound economic decisions for themselves and help their communities make wise choices about taxes and community services.

Orange County parents opt to put children in language immersion programs

Los Angeles Times – Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil

“‘They’re learning how to speak English anyway, so it’s really no different for them to learn other languages at the time,” said Carrie Mizera, executive director of Renascence School International, a tri-lingual English, Spanish and Mandarin immersion program in Costa Mesa. “Their brains are really, really absorbent at that time, and that’s why we want to capture this opportunity and teach multiple languages.'” (more)

Financial intelligence as important as IQ

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

The latest Center for Microeconomic Data Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit revealed that total American household debt reached $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In addition, a recent bankrate.com survey suggests six in 10 Americans (61%) don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency and four in 10 (39%) have nothing in their savings accounts.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand how so many Americans can be in such poor financial shape. After all, making wise money decisions does not require proficiency in particle physics or an understanding of Shakespeare.

The biggest challenges appear to be intense peer and marketing pressures. If friends and marketers can create this type of havoc in our personal lives, it is imperative that we make sure our children are aware of the pressures and have the tools to make wise financial choices.

Some of the key concepts and teaching ideas are:

Money is limited. Give your child a fixed amount of money. If he/she spends it all on candy near the store entrance, he/she will not have money to purchase a doll or toy truck a few rows back.

Money is earned. Rather than giving a child an allowance, issue money based on successful execution of tasks – emptying the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, etc.

Spending beyond your means comes at a cost. Credit card companies are VERY good at marketing. It is critical for kids to understand that marketers play on their desire for immediate gratification. Whenever you spend money you do not have you are charged extra money. For example, if you put $100 on a credit card for a year, you will have to repay about $115.

Saving makes sense. Kids need to understand compounding. The sooner you start saving the more the money will grow. If you save $1000 this year and make 5% you will have $1050 at the end of the year. If you make 5% the following year, you will have $1102.50.

Cheapest is not always the lowest cost. Remind your child that there are more than immediate costs. If the $15 shirt falls apart in the wash after the first month, it would be less expensive to buy a $25 shirt that lasts a year.

Even though teaching children financial responsibility may seem overwhelming, it is imperative that children are aware of the marketing and peer pressures they will face and are empowered to make wise decisions with their money.

Changing our Paradigm

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Technology is changing so fast, it is impossible to know what the world will be like in a year, much less four or five. Just 25 years ago, the Internet was still in its infancy, mobile phones were just gaining popularity, and genetically modified foods were not yet on the market. Now we are worried about biological computers, electronic currencies, and the health impacts of genetically modified foods.

For decades, education experts encouraged schools to track kids into narrow areas like molecular biology, medieval history, copyright law, or Fortran programming. As technology advanced, the lines between disciplines began to disappear and some areas vanished.

Now a person’s long-term employment prospects are based on his/her ability to quickly learn new things, interact with others, and change. This means everyone needs a strong understanding of all the disciplines including the arts, math, history, science, languages, etc. In addition, employers need people who can communicate, listen, and empathize with others; have a strong work ethic; and possess good character. This means our kids need a completely different type of education than we did when we were growing up.

Here is a list of the skill gaps that exist in our education system and parenting approaches.


1. Ability to think critically and assess and analyze information
The problem often develops in elementary school. Primary school teachers need strong proficiency in this area.
2. Collaborative/Influential
Students need practice working with others. Schools are not structured to provide exposure to different ages.
3. Agile/Adaptable
Schools/parents want stability. Students need exposure to change.
4. Initiative
Students need opportunities to start new programs, etc.
5. Effective Written and Oral Communication
Schools need step by step teaching approaches and effective ways to assess proficiency.
6. Curious, Imaginative, Creative
Schools should foster these abilities with short creative blocks during the teaching day.
7. Ethical
Parents need to demonstrate acceptable behavior.
8. Polished and Courteous
Parents need to teach their children basic life skills – allow others to finish speaking before you begin, chew with your mouth closed, etc.
9. Well-read
Parents should discuss world affairs and technological advances with their kids.
10. Strong work ethic
Parents need to teach their children about self-discipline, punctuality, follow-through, etc. and then allow them to experience consequences when they do not deliver.

Once we realize what worked in the 1900s no longer makes sense today, we can work together to make sure our kids are ready for life on their own.

Common sense a prerequisite for brilliance

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Do high standardized test scores assure success?

Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.

Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.

Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.

According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.

The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.

Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.

Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.

Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.

Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.