Public Education Can Save Our Country

Public education is broken. I wanted to grab your attention with something much more impactful. But the way I see it, what has more impact than the absolute and simple truth? Our public education system is broken and it has been for a long time.

Some of us believe it is the responsibility of our elected officials. Others think our communities can fix it. Parental involvement is the answer for many. “If only we had more funding” is another cry. They are all right.

Of course, the debate continues about No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Remember, this is the measure which was passed in January 2002 during the Bush Administration. It requires states test all students in certain subjects every year to be sure they are prepared for college. I don’t believe the problem is entirely about NCLB; it’s about public education in general. However, this initiative has had such an impact, mentioning one practically begs a mention of the other.

NCLB was supposed to fill in the gaps of public education. It was likely intended to do just as it says…leave no child behind. The goal is admirable, but the execution has a detrimental effect on how children are taught. We tried to solve the problem with one sweeping measure. There is no one answer and no one entity with the complete solution.

The reason I see the problem of public education in the United States as a national issue, and not an individual, family, group, regional, or even state issue, is very simple. Let me use myself as an example. I am not an educator or a student. I do not have a child in the public school system, or any school system. But I am a citizen of this country and have a vested interest in its present well-being and hope for its future. So, it is my problem. It is our problem.

We all know the future of this country and our place in the world depends on our children. How they fare and compete on the world’s stage depends on their access to quality education. That is why I am so afraid.

We are not preparing our children to compete. We are not teaching them to think. We are not teaching them to react. We are not teaching them to create. We are not teaching them at all. We are preparing them for tests. We are filling them with facts, having them regurgitate them at the appropriate time, in the appropriate format to attain the appropriate score.

Creativity, individuality, and inventiveness are practically discouraged. If a child shows too much individuality in the way she learns, acts, or interacts, she is considered inappropriate. She is relegated to a special class, isolated, or even worse, medicated.

We live in an age of entrepreneurs and innovators. The time has passed when we stay on a job at a factory for 25-30 years or even in a corporate cubicle for that long. We are not training our children to be innovative in the workplace, or to build businesses like the type built by the entrepreneurs and solopreneurs that are the backbone of my own industry, virtual business assistance.

The Public Education Network’s (PEN) National Survey of Public Opinion lists 10 key findings in its Survey of Public Opinion about our responsibility for our educational system. Top among those were:

1. Education continues to be a top national priority, even in the midst of war and concern about the economy, joblessness, and healthcare.

2. Americans want funding for public education protected from budget cuts, and they want to see more public investment in education.

3. The jury is still out on No Child Left Behind. [1]

What does this tell us about what we need to do to fix our broken system?

We have to stop making education a mere campaign promise and make it a policy priority for our elected officials. Any official who does not fulfill his promises to improve public education, especially our national officials, should not be re-elected.

Realize quality education comes at a cost. We must be willing to pay our teachers a competitive wage so that we can attract the best and brightest…or provide tax and other benefits to supplement their salaries. Be open to studying tenure and pay for performance as options for teachers. Even if these are not the best or only options for improvement, let’s at least consider them and be open to new, inventive options.

Consider a moratorium on NCLB, nationally, or on the state or local levels. This measure affects too many of our children to continue with so many unsure of the long-term consequences. If a moratorium is not practical, at least reconsider the amount of funding for the program so that schools are able to place more focus on traditional or creative teaching methods as well.

The results of the 2008 National Poll and the Civic Index for Quality Public Education conducted by the PEN shows that over 63 per cent of us do not think public officials are held accountable for the status of public education. Four in 10, nationally, and over one third of local respondents think our schools are declining. [2]

We have an election coming up on November 2, 2010. Let’s not forget education when we go to the polls. We can save the future of our country.

[1] 2004 NATIONAL SURVEY OF PUBLIC OPINION Learn. Vote. Act. The Public’s Responsibility for Public Education

[2] Public Education Network, Community Accountability for Quality Schools, Results of the 2008 National Poll and the Civic Indexor Quality Public Education

Start Buying Rental Property With This 5-Step Process

If you’re very new to all of this, you’re probably wondering how to dive in to the wonderful world of buying rental property. I’ll share with you what worked for me, and it involves 5 specific steps:- Find a good real estate agent
- Practice running the numbers
- Conduct physical inspections (drive-by’s & showings)
- Make an offer & negotiate
- Manage the contract processSTEP #1: FIND A GOOD REAL ESTATE AGENTEventually, you will need your own “team,” including a real estate agent, mortgage broker, insurance broker, title company, attorney, home inspector, and a handful of trustworthy contractors. But with the exception of a real estate agent, your team does not need to be brought together right out of the gate. You will gradually assemble it as you go.STEP #2: PRACTICE RUNNING THE NUMBERSAsk your new broker to send you all the active 2-8 unit multifamily rental property listings in your target area, and practice running the numbers to identify the most beneficial ones. As long as you know a simple formula and have a few key numbers from the property, can use those numbers to do rapid-fire “back of the envelope” calculations to quickly screen properties for financial practicality. Read my property valuation article to learn how to do this.STEP #3: CONDUCT PHYSICAL INSPECTIONSOnce you have a list of financially viable multifamily rental properties, take some time to do drive-by’s. Whether the numbers work or not, you do not want to get any property in an especially bad area (in fact, you’ll find that the numbers usually work best in such areas…you get what you pay for!). Plus, while not a flawless science, if the outside looks like it’s falling apart you may want to pass.After this process, you will have a list of maybe 3 or 4 properties to look at with your Realtor, instead of, say, 10 or 15. Have your Realtor schedule weekly showings, and bring a notebook to jot down notes so you can later use this info to adjust your bid amount.Keep physically inspecting properties with your agent in this manner every week and do not get discouraged. The majority of rental properties you come across will be poorly maintained and/or overpriced. Tenants beat them up, and many, many landlords could care less about maintaining their investment.So, buying rental property takes time. All I can say is be patient, and remember that the more deals you inspect, the better deal you are likely to get when you finally pull the trigger.STEP #4: MAKE AN OFFER & NEGOTIATEOk, so you’ve run a bunch of initial numbers, did a bunch of drive-by’s, and physically inspected a bunch of hot prospects with your agent. Finally, you’ve found a 2-8 unit multifamily rental property you’d like to purchase. Time to negotiate!STEP #5: MANAGE THE CONTRACT PROCESSYippee, your offer was accepted! So now what? Well, there are various steps that round out the process of buying rental property:- Get the property “under contract”
- Initiate title work; note that some states require an attorney
- Conduct a property inspection
- Get an appraisal
- Arrange financing
- Get property insurance
- Get a property survey
- Review settlement documents and close the dealThis may seem complicated if you happen to be new to all of this, but it’s really not. After you go through the entire process once, you’ll be ready to start buying rental property like there’s no tomorrow!
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Top 5 Reasons to Take Office Space in Austin, Texas

Deciding to move office space is a big move for any company. Executive suites, cubicle space, window offices, conference rooms; the choice of commercial real estate is endless, as is the choice of location.

If you’re considering moving to US office space and you want to move somewhere hot then Texas could be the ideal choice for you.

Hot, humid and vast; Texas is the perfect location for any business. But where’s the best place to take office space in Texas? Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Worth are all great locations for commercial property in the Texas area but in my view, nothing can beat Austin.

Why’s Austin such a fantastic choice to take office space in Texas? You’d better read on!

1. Austin is the capital of Texas. This means it has a growing population, which currently stands at around 790,000 people, so you’ll never be short of employees or customers. The city of Austin was christened 2nd Best Big City in “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine in 2006 and according to Travel magazine ranks as number 1 on the list of cities with the best people.

2. Austin office space is rich and plentiful. Affordable pricing, stylish interiors and versatile floor space means it’s one of the top office space locations in Texas. As a result, the city’s office space is home to 3 of the Fortune 500 companies – Whole Foods Market, Forestar Group and Freescale Semiconductor. Dell also has an office in the city, while earlier this year Facebook announced plans to build a new downtown office in Austin, which could bring around 200 jobs to the area.

3. Austin is hot, hot, hot! The city has a sub-tropical climate which means that it experiences hot summers and mild winters. This makes it ideal for companies who hate the cold and enjoy warm winters.

4. The city of Austin is a fantastic choice for technology and defence companies thanks to a steady stream of graduates from The University of Texas at Austin. As a result, Austin is known as major centre for high-tech and boasts a large number of major technology companies such as Apple, Google and AMD.

5. Austin’s official slogan is “The Live Music Capital of the World”, which reflects the city’s vibrant music scene. The city is full of nightclubs, particularly on 6th Street and Austin’s annual film and music festival, South by Southwest, attracts thousands of tourists each year.

In conclusion, Austin might not be the most high profile city in the United States but it’s certainly a fantastic choice for commercial real estate for any business.