Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Are Traditional Toys On Their Way Out and Educational Electronics In?

Okay so, I was a child of the 60s and 70s and back then we had tinker toys, Legos, erector sets, and Lincoln logs. These were great toys, but they were also educational tools in many regards. If you could conceive it, you could create it. This helps harness the creativity, imagination, and the thinking of the child, in hindsight it worked well. I doubt if any parents watching their kids play with Legos would disagree. Obviously that company has withstood the test of time, and emerged even stronger in the modern age. Okay so let's talk.

I have a question for you; are electronic toys taking over the market now?

An interesting article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 1, 2012 titled; "Lego Chief Sees Weak US Demand for Toys," by Jens Hansegard. The CEO in an investor conference call noted that consumers were tapped out on credit (credit cards) and probably wouldn't be spending big this Christmas season. Is he right? After all, the last 6-months have been good for the Lego Corporation.

Could it be that much of Lego's success recently has to do with its ability to take Legos in the real world and merge them with gaming in the virtual world? This would intrigue parents because it allows their children to understand the concept of CADCAM design, engineering, and taking all of this to the next step. Many toys go through periods of fads; with incredible growth spurts, and then incredible crashes. What was popular as a toy three years ago won't even be on the shelves of the discount merchandisers today; do you see my point?

When the CEO of Lego warns of future earnings in some regards he may be telling Wall Street analysts; "do not overdo it with your earnings and profit expectations," therefore, the company can actually meet them. This is a new strategy which is becoming more prevalent in the era of "forward-looking statement" lawsuits and regulations. Still, he may also have a point even though the company did good in the previous six months, the Lego Corporation has to be very careful not to become a fad of the past. They've made it this far, and they hope to keep going.

Nevertheless, more and more kids are intrigued with their personal tech toys and small electronic devices, and Legos must continue to make that transition, if not, the CEO is absolutely correct, and even with their theme Park, awesome branding, and great products they could very well hit the skids. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Education Is the Most Important Thing - But Don't Confuse That With Educational Indoctrination

I am often amazed how many people will tell me that education is the most important thing for society. I don't believe it is the most important, although it is surely in the list of the top 10. The reason I say this is quite simple; while education is important it is what you are teaching that is paramount. If we send our children to school and they come back living a life of mediocrity, political correctness, and brainwashed into this theory of socialism, we haven't done ourselves any good.

If we continually rewrite our nation's history every decade so that it fits within the parameters of this political correctness we are denying ourselves the truth to the actual history of past periods, in doing so we are almost doomed to repeat. And whose fault will that be? There's a difference between education and educational indoctrination, there's a big difference. Just because we send our children to school doesn't mean they are learning to think.

Most recently, with the No Child Left Behind strategy we are not teaching our children to think, we are teaching them rote memorization and submission to authority. However if that authority is lying to them, and filling their heads with socialist ideals, it could take years for them to see the reality, but consider how much damage they might do in the process? They might go and vote for a socialist politician who promises them prosperity and all sorts of other things, even that they will tax the rich in a Robin Hood sort of fashion.

If they vote for such a Pied Piper, they will have to pay later, either through unemployment numbers, increased taxes due to national debt, or deal with the economic implosion of the country. Some lessons come hard. Today we live in a global economy, and there is no sense making things any tougher than they need to be in our future, because America is going to have to compete one way or another, and if we make our population weak and unable to perform, how are they to press on when the going really gets tough?

Sure, education is important, and I think both sides of the political aisle can agree on that, but I am quite concerned with what they are teaching our children in school today not only in K-12, but especially at colleges and universities as well. The left-leaning socialism motif has reshaped American society in some disturbing ways, we need not complete that indoctrination using our education system. Education is just too important for that, it is one of the most important things after all. Please consider all this and think on it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Online Education - Why Get One?

Everything is moving online. Shop, order food, watch television shows, stream music, and get an education while you are online. You may have heard about online courses but never taken the time to see what they are about. Many people are realizing how easy it is to get higher education online, such as bachelor's and master's degrees, and many are signing up.

What are the advantages of going online with education? Well, for one, it's much cheaper than being on campus because it reduces fees you pay while on a university campus. Also, most universities offer online classes at a lower rate and will become cheaper as they become more popular and spots fill. Also, the other great advantage of online classes is being able to do course work from wherever you are. If you have a laptop, then you can access your education from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. It's revolutionizing the speed at which people become educated.

Convenience also translates to time and money. When education is convenient, it saves you time and hassle from finding a parking spot and attending class on a campus some where. Keep your valuable time by longing in to your class online and completing all necessary course work. When you save time, you save money. Not having to commute to school is a top reason to get an online education. Save money you would spend on transportation and use it to pay for the classes you take online. In every aspect, online classes save you time and money.

Most professionals who pursue master's degrees are in the work force and don't have time to stop working, go back to school and work for a degree. They need to continue in their field but also acquire a higher education. The only way to make this possible and convenient is to take classes online. When you leave work for the day, you can relax and regain energy and knock out assignments for class, all from the comfort of your home. In no time you will have a master's for your field and hopefully receive a higher position and salary.

Are you starting to see the benefits of getting an online education? The numbers add up and they are all positive for you. Time, money and effort are all conserved and save for you to use in other areas of your life. Enjoy work and education at the same time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Oh Please, Not Another Teacher's Union Strike

Well, I don't know what's happening in your area, but I live out in California and we've had a tremendous number of teacher layoffs. Our state is in trouble, along with the counties and city governments. In fact we've had three cities file for bankruptcy this year, with perhaps more to follow. Nearly all the cities in California have legacy costs which are out of control, that is to say underfunded pensions, and promises and payments owed to retirees who no longer even work for the city.

In some cases these cities owe over 60% of all the money they take in in tax dollars to pay for people who are already retired. Why did all this happen you ask? It is due to public unions, demands, and public labor contracts. In California, CalPERS is a very powerful political organization, made up of retired school teachers, they have too much power. Much of the cost going to our schools is similar to the problem the cities have right now with their legacy costs. No, California is hardly alone in this problem with its teachers.

There was a rather troubling piece in the Associated Press published on September 4, 2012 titled "Chicago Teachers Threaten Strike Early in School Year" which seems to tell a problematic continuous tale of our degrading school systems across this land. Worse, things were supposed to have gotten better in Chicago with all the extra Federal aid and political juice they got due to it being Obama's hometown area.

Apparently, according to the article the union gave a 10-day strike notice, but what on Earth do you do with 400,000 students and no class? The teachers are complaining about the increased school day hours and a 4% demanded raise. I guess, any time our federal government bails anyone out something including the auto industry, or our schools, the money just goes to the unions. All the while the Obama Administration says that it is helping secure high-paying jobs for Americans.

Still, if we have to tax each individual citizen more so we can pay the labor unions what they demand, or they will stop working, then in essence our government is supporting extortion, and taking more money out of the pockets of middle-class America to run and in efficient and archaic system which isn't working.

The answer to the problem with our schools is not to throw more money at it, or to pay teachers any more money, nor is doing so going to fix the problem. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think about it as those teachers go on strike so they can get more cash and benefits.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Charter Schools And Vouchers Getting Results

Success is generally a good thing. But you wouldn't always know it, when certain people scramble to redefine "success" as "change, probably for the worse."

A Rand Corp. study released recently reported that "more than 190,000 students nationwide had left a private school for a charter by the end of the 2008 school year," according to The Los Angeles Times. Since 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, charter schools have increased in number substantially; the Los Angeles Unified School District boasts the most in the country, at 193. (1)

One of the best pieces of evidence we could have that charter schools are working is that they are successfully competing for students, not only against under-performing, inner-city public schools, but also against private schools.

Despite naysayers' complaints, this is good news for taxpayers, who are at least buying satisfactory education with their tax dollars, as well as for families that no longer feel the need to pay private school tuition. But charter schools are no panacea for the broader problem: Too many places in America pay too much for education that produces too little in the way of results.

Charter schools are one element of an answer. Another that is slowly but steadily gaining ground is vouchers that parents can use to pay for education at any private, charter or traditional public school. Such voucher systems are not only fostering improvement in public schools, which now have to compete more directly with charter and private alternatives; vouchers are also reviving private schools, especially parochial institutions, that were hit hard by the recession and faced the possibility of closing.

Teachers' unions, public school boards and administrators generally hate voucher systems. The National Education Association even offers a list of talking points specifically aimed at arguing against vouchers. (The organization is more ambivalent on charter schools; given the nature of charter schools, this is as one would expect.) But the current system is geared toward preserving a status quo that doesn't work. The goal of publicly funded education is to educate kids, not to create publicly funded jobs for public school employees. This hasn't stopped principals in Indiana from going door-to-door, however, trying to convince parents not to withdraw their students - and the public funding that comes with them - from struggling public schools.

What makes an individual child succeed or fail is a complex mix of many factors. Still, it is similarly not hard not to see why the National School Boards Association would be quick to dismiss a recent study from the Brookings Institute at Harvard that shows voucher systems have had significant positive impact in college enrollment among African-American students. Anne L. Bryant, the association's executive director, called the study's conclusions "grandiose" and claimed that parental involvement allowed for the difference observed. (2)

Public school productivity, like that of most public agencies, has lagged behind gains that the private sector has made over the last several decades, despite heavy investment in manpower and technology. In fact, those investments in manpower have arguably made public schools less productive, as we have more employees serving fewer students without commensurate gains in student success.