White Paper Teaser: Innovation in Education


Recent studies have shown that students can learn more from videos, games, and other forms of interactive learning than they can in the traditional classroom. A student’s attention span is about 10-18 minutes before their mind begins to drift, suggesting 1 hour+ long lectures are very ineffective (Ripley). Students also can retain more from watching a documentary or a YouTube video on a topic rather than reading a 500+ page book on it. I believe replacing traditional, archaic forms of learning with an innovative form of online and interactive learning would not only help students learn more, but also could provide an option of lower costs and high availability. We would be replacing the traditional classroom with a virtual one. If implemented properly, online learning could revolutionize education and make a college degree much more affordable. Continue reading

DREAM BIG: A Solution for Undocumented Workers Teaser

Immigrant Students Rally In Washington

“Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream. But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-century underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.”-Jose Antonio Vargas

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Cause for Concern?

If you were asked to name a philanthropic company, what would come to mind? Since its founding in 2006, TOMS has grown to become one of the best known “socially responsible” brands, receiving the Footwear News Brand of the Year award in 2010 and the Award for Corporate Excellence from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009.

The concept is simple: for every pair of TOMS shoes sold, another pair will be donated to a child in need. “One for one,” as they call it.

After a trip to Argentina in which founder Blake Mycoskie came across many children in poor areas without shoes, he recognized the problems these children and their communities face without shoes to wear – not just in terms of health, but also in education and future opportunities. For example, providing shoes to children who were previously unable to walk to school would then allow them to do so.

So how is TOMS doing in fulfilling its mission?

In 2010, four years after its founding, TOMS surpassed the one million mark in shoe donations, and by October of 2011 that number had doubled (check out the 2012 TOMS Giving Report). In April of this year, participants at over 3,000 events in 50 countries and on 275 campuses around the world joined in TOMS’ “One Day Without Shoes” movement to bring awareness to the cause. Fueled by the simplicity and tangible nature of its cause, TOMS has continued to grow in popularity.

Some opponents have pointed out, however, that the shoe drops orchestrated by TOMS do little to solve underlying problems. Free shoes, while solving certain issues in the short-term, fail to benefit the local economy or provide jobs in the long term. This video, based on details from a report by Good Intentions, an organization that provides research to donors on charities, claims that shoe give-aways compete with local markets.

In an article with Women’s Wear Daily, however, Mycoskie acknowledged this problem, stating that TOMS hopes to install a factory in one of the areas it helps, and that a test location has been set up in Ethiopia. The long-term goal is “to have shoes made by the people we are serving.” So while the current model provided by TOMS may have shortcomings, it seems that bigger and better solutions are on the horizon.

How Much Does a Good Education Cost?

The city I grew up in has a population of about 130,000 and income levels ranging from the millions to the low thousands. There are two public high schools, five public middle schools, and twelve public elementary schools. Every few years, the superintendent has to redistrict all of these schools. The redistricting happens because of funding. Stamford (the city I grew up in) has three very distinct areas; there is the lower class area right near the downtown area, the middle class area which is surrounded by various shopping centers, and the upper-class which is located away pretty far from the chaotic city life.  The two public high schools pulled in students from two very different districts. Stamford High School had about a quarter of the students from the upper-class, half of the middle-class, and three-quarters from the lower-class. Westhill, on the other hand, had the majority of students from the upper-class families and very few from the lower-income areas. Which school do you think had more funding?
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Chicago Public Schools on Strike

News about the Chicago Public School Union strikes have been blowing up my Facebook News Feed all week.  Curious to learn more about the issue I found this blog that discusses exactly what is occurring back home.

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, mentions that “There’s been – let’s put it this way – centimeters (of progress) and we’re still kilometers apart.”  I hate to beak it to you Karen, but it looks like centimeters is all you’re going to get. Continue reading

Can we teach MBA’s to do the right thing?

I came across this blog on business ethics which I thought was pretty appropriate considering the things we’ve talked about in class over the past few weeks. The blog first mentioned an article found in Slate magazine to address the question of whether or not we should be teaching ethics in business. In the article that the blog introduces, MBA students were asked why they would want to become a CEO. The first two responses are “I want to make a difference” and “I enjoy a challenge.” The third reason anyone would want to be a CEO is of course, “Making gobs of money.” Continue reading

Chicago Public Schools

As a Chicago native, I could not ignore the opportunity to explore blogs on the current teachers’ union strike.      Karen Lewis (CTU president) has stated that one of their main points of contention with the current system, is the evaluation system.  This is RIDICULOUS!

Chicago public teachers on average earn $76K + benefits– the highest in the country.


High school graduation rates have dropped to 50%. 

(source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-31/news/ct-met-grad-rates-1031-20111031_1_graduation-rates-new-graduation-high-schools)

And now the CPU wants to negotiate accountability out of their contracts?

I completely understand that motivating kids to care about learning and care about there education is a very difficult task– especially in gang ridden Chicago.  But I don’t think lowering standards of test scores or eliminating the teacher evaluation system is the answer to this problem. The only other profession that I can think of that still gets paid no matter the quality of their work is a meteorologist.  You have to earn your money, produce results.  If the quality of students education is not the basis of a teacher’s pay, then what is incentivising them to care?  What is the motive for them to improve?