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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): On Quite a World....

Starting to fulfill a dream is not easy as our journey began with a simple idea to help change the conversation about our World and to help transform it all for the sake of the future.    

In our Forays around the "Grid", we picked this up courtesy of @larrykim who we view as he shared a dose of a reality check about what is at hand as we have truly tried to embrace some of his admonitions here: 

This is as we wanted to remind all that the art of the possible can be before us becuase we need to remember that these as Vala Afshar of SalesForce reminded us did not even exist 15 years ago:

The question, though, is maintaining a sense of humanity throughout it all as we are witness to the transformation at hand because we just went through Black Friday, Cyber Monday which among other things catapulted Jezz Bezos to be the first $ 100 Billion Dollar Man: 

What is important, though, to note with the chart above is about how many of these big players today must run scared and hungry all the time!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Special Edition): From the Obama Foundation Summit

As we go "dark" for Thanksgiving, We wanted to report on this courtesy of the team at the Obama Foundation with some lessons we look forward to building on this thanksgiving Week 2017 and beyond:

Three weeks ago, the first Obama Foundation Summit brought together hundreds of leaders from around the world to exchange ideas and explore creative solutions to common problems in our communities. We wanted to share the top 10 takeaways that came out of that two-day conversation:

Key themes from the Obama Foundation Summit: Balance global challenges with local responsibilities. Build a civic leadership pipeline. Act, don't just talk about change.
Show up in person -- again and again. Imagine the world that's possible and fearlessly pursue it. Use dialogue to humanize difficult conversations. Shine a light on effective civic leadership to demonstrate what works.
Grapple with the positive and negative effects of technology on civic life. Leverage diverse voices to enrich communities. Prioritize self-care and sustained friendships to maintain momentum.
Commit to change.

Commit to changeFired up? Good. Now, make a commitment to put these lessons to work in your community today:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Weekly Edition): As We Prepare to Go Dark For Thanksgiving Week...

Please enjoy this snapshot courtesy of the team at Futurism as we wish all a joyous Thanksgiving:

At tonight's launch event for the Tesla semi, Elon Musk officially unveiled the new Tesla roadster, which can go from 0 to 60 in just 1.9 seconds. READ MORE
For the first time, the value of bitcoin passed the $8,000 mark. This milestone arrived just weeks after the cryptocurrency crossed the $7,000 mark. READ MORE
METI has sent a new message out into space, targeting a nearby star system called GJ 273. The new project hopes to establish a new method of reaching out to alien life, which could potentially send a reply in the next 25 years. READ MORE
Medical experts think the world is due for another global pandemic. Professor of Medicine at Queen's University, Dr. Gerald A. Evans, thinks we have 50 years tops. We have quite a bit of work to do before we're prepared for the onslaught. READ MORE
CRISPR technologies have made way for a wide variety of life-saving techniques within the last few years. Recently, a Japanese researcher debuted a film that shows, in real-time, CRISPR editing DNA. READ MORE
See Full Infographic
Wearable Earpiece Translates Language in Real Time

Friday, November 17, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Special Friday Edition): On Our World.....

It is the eve of thanksgiving Week here in the United States.   As we prepare to go dark, we wanted to share some interesting news from the City of Stockton as we are faced with unprecenteded change in our World as automation continues to wreck havoc in the Workspace today on what the City of Stockton has done: 

This week also saw #COP23 on-going wiht the World showcasing efforts to continue the move to create a more "green" future not withstanding the United States.    France, for instance, committed to funding the US share of research on the Paris Climate Accord after the US formally withdraws--and this from the UK as the US seems to embrace Coal under Donald Trump:

We remain hopeful and are ever so thankful as we wish all the very best during this joyous time. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Notations From the Grid (Mid-Week Edition): On the State of Education in the United States

For this edition of "Notations", please note this courtesy of the team at Education Next as we also wanted to have 

As millennials grow up and become parents, find schools for their kids, and move into positions of leadership, what’s apt to change on the education reform front? The Fordham Institute and the Walton Family Foundation are convening a panel to discuss this on November 14 at 4 pm.
Watch the live stream or learn more about the event here.
— Education Next

Posted: 06 Nov 2017 06:01 AM PST
Recently submitted state plans for implementing the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) provide insight into how research is making inroads into education policy at the state level. Based on my review of a sample of plans, a fair answer is that it is not. A previous postin this series by Martin West describes how ESSA created opportunities for states to use research and evidence in ways that improve student outcomes. [1] Opportunities, yes—but most of what is in the plans could have been written fifteen years ago.
To date, most of the attention on submitted plans has focused on the accountability structures they propose. ESSA requires each state to specify how it will hold schools and districts responsible for meeting the state’s education goals, unlike No Child Left Behind, which specified an accountability structure that applied to all states. Other organizations are reviewing these aspects of plans. [2] My focus emerges from another ESSA requirement: each state has to designate at least 5 percent of its schools, and high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent, as low-performing and use “evidence-based interventions” with them.
I looked at one other aspect of plans—how they proposed to “use data to help educators be more effective.” Intervening in schools falls under a different funding stream than using data to improve educator skills (Title I for the first and Title II for the second), but both clearly involve a role for research and evidence.
Research can enter in various ways, some of which I do not focus on. For example, some plans cited statistical research to support their n-size determination (the minimum number of students in a subgroup, such as English learners, above which schools are held accountable for outcomes for that group). Some plans cited research to support their choice of a “nonacademic indicator” in their accountability structure. As has been reported elsewhere, chronic absenteeism has been a favorite choice, and research on it is cited in many plans. [3] Some plans cite research on early warning systems designed to flag students who may be in need of support to help them progress in school. Debates about n-size have been occurring at least since NCLB. Chronic absenteeism and early warning systems are relatively recent. [4]
What the plans say
Reviewing 51 plans (each between 100 and 200 pages plus appendixes) was too extensive an undertaking. Instead, I sampled 10 states with probability proportional to their 2015 K-12 student enrollment. That sampling process yielded California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Arizona, Colorado and Alabama. The 10 states account for about half of the country’s K-12 enrollment.
Table 1 displays how state plans describe their approaches for using evidence to support low-performing schools or to use data to help educators be more effective. The text in the table mostly is from plans themselves, edited to remove acronyms and make wording more concise.
The variability in the table is noticeable. California’s plan for improving low-performing schools essentially is we got this. Ohio’s plan is much more detailed about how it will take steps to promote improvement. How long a school can underperform before the improvement requirements take effect is variable, from two to four years depending on the state. Some states require low-performing schools to partner with external entities. Some states call for state longitudinal data to be a source that educators will use to improve their practices. Other plans simply say data will be used somehow.
Overall, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that plans mostly ignored research on what works and what does not to achieve particular outcomes (effectiveness research). The logic that is most evident in plans goes something like this: if a school does not improve after some number of years, the school and its host district will do a “needs assessment,” and a “root cause analysis,” which will support choosing appropriate evidence-based interventions. Not one of the ten plans offered an example of how that process might yield evidence-based interventions that schools could implement. Requiring a needs assessment and a root-cause analysis might fairly be interpreted as “intervening” with schools, but if your doctor tells you there’s something wrong, you would expect to hear a treatment plan. The Department of Education’s guidance to its peer reviewers who scrutinize the plans is unclear about what they should be looking for as treatments. [5] There is a glaring missed opportunity to tie effectiveness research more closely to identified needs.
States understand that using the expression “evidence-based” in these plans, over and over, is a plus. In using the term, however, plans do not provide enough detail to allow a reader to assess the evidence base being referred to. For example, Arizona’s plan indicates it will work with low-performing schools to implement “evidence-based interventions which are bold and based on data.” Yes, well. It goes on to say it will work with districts to support selection of “innovative, locally-selected evidence-based interventions leading to dramatic increases in student achievement.” If there is substance underlying Arizona’s claim to be able to help districts achieve dramatic success with students, why wait?
It is at least a bit uncomfortable that, under ESSA, states do not require schools to undertake interventions until years have passed and millions of students have continued to perform at low levels (ESSA requires that states designate at least five percent of schools and low-graduation rate high schools as having to improve, which is more than 2 million students). Why schools are not immediately identifying needs and root causes is unclear. Perhaps conserving resources?
Another feature of some plans is that schools designated as needing to improve have to work with external partners or entities. How working with external partners will improve schools is unclear. It seems unlikely that the driving factor in why schools do not improve is that they are not working with external partners. Partners do not hold the keys to unlocking achievement. It would have been useful to see at least citations to evidence that working with partners is a pathway to improvement.
Plans to use data to improve educator skills are even more unclear than plans to implement evidence-based interventions. A number of plans appear to be describing what they currently do with data, which means their “plan” is to keep doing it. While that might be a good idea if they had evidence that what they were doing was working, none of the plans offer that.
Several states note that their teacher evaluation systems will use value-added models and those evaluations will point the way to improving teacher skills. Using value-added models for evaluating teachers has been contentious, but they certainly are grounded in research. But research demonstrating how to successfully use the outcomes of those evaluations to improve student learning is a different matter, as I have documented previously in this series. [6]
Noteworthy aspects
Five states (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Alabama, and Illinois) indicated they will set up “clearinghouses” or listings of interventions that have been vetted for evidence of their effectiveness. Clearinghouses seem like a reasonable idea—and in fact the Institute of Education Sciences has been operating one, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), for nearly 15 years. It has reviewed thousands of studies and released hundreds of reports. Re-inventing this concept seems inefficient, though it should be noted that ESSA’s evidence standards and WWC evidence standards differ and creating vetted lists using the WWC as the starting point will require some effort. Indiana proposes that its clearinghouse only list programs that have evidence of effectiveness in Indiana. This seems a bit strict, like asking my doctor to only prescribe me medications that have been shown to work on patients living in New Jersey.
A number of plans mention “multi-tier systems of support.” The logic of these systems is that students, schools, or districts can be arrayed into tiers. The lowest tier applies to just about everybody. Those in higher tiers need more support. Arraying individuals into tiers can be cost-effective to the extent that lower-cost forms of assistance can be broadly applied and higher-cost forms of assistance can be narrowly applied to those showing they really need the assistance. It is like triage in hospital emergency rooms. However, what happens in the highest tier still needs to be identified. The notion of using tiers is simply structural—the tiers need to be filled with something.
Developed authority has its costs
ESSA moved more authority for K-12 education back to states. But there are sensible reasons the Federal government should continue to invest in education research. All states share in the benefits of these investments, at no direct cost to them. But it remains up to the states to take advantage of these investments.
When I started reviewing plans, I thought I would see more concrete ways effectiveness research was or would be used. What I see is closer to leaps of faith—needs will be assessed, causes will be identified, and, then, suitable interventions will be selected. That last step is a big one, though, and it is where most of the resources will be spent. Researchers and states will need to work together more closely than these plans suggest to make this happen.
— Mark Dynarski
ednext-evidencespeaks-smallMark Dynarski is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Economic Studies, Center on Children and Families, at Brookings.
This post originally appeared as part of Evidence Speaks, a weekly series of reports and notes by a standing panel of researchers under the editorship of Russ Whitehurst.
The author(s) were not paid by any entity outside of Brookings to write this particular article and did not receive financial support from or serve in a leadership position with any entity whose political or financial interests could be affected by this article.

4. State plans can be downloaded from Each state also posted their submitted plan on the state website.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Notations On Our World (Special Weekly Edition): On the eve of Remembering Road Traffic Victims

We join the team at Vision Zero in helping to note how Communities Stand Together for Safety on November 19th: International World Day of Remembrance

As awareness of the alarming numbers of traffic deaths in the U.S. has spread across the country, so too have events commemorating the International World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Without a doubt, the majority of these tributes are organized by Vision Zero city advocates, and friends and family members who have lost loved ones to traffic crashes, including Families for Safe Streets chapters growing across the country. Mark your calendars and consider participating in local commemoration ceremonies. Honor the day with us through social media with #WDR2017, #Crashnotaccident, and #safetyoverspeed.

Friday, November 10, 2017

On the Eve of #VeteransDay2017

Our hometown, Laguna Niguel, will honor Veterans Day on Saturday November 11 : 

One of our Community Leaders, Lt. Col Shep Bentley, USMC (Ret). reflected upon this day which will be read by the Scouts of Troop 772 on Saturday November 11:


Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of
all wars. 99 years ago, in 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the
11th month, an armistice (“ARM-ISS- STISS”), or temporary end of the
fighting, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in
World War I, which at the time was called “the Great War.”
The Treaty of Versailles (“VUR-SEYE”) was signed on June 28, 1919,
marking the official end of World War I. Still, the armistice date of
November 11, 1918, was remembered as the date that marked the end
of the conflict, because that is when the bloodshed stopped.

One year later, in November 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson
proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well
as a brief pause in business and school activities at 11 a.m.
On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the
war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to
rest at Westminster Abbey in London, and at the Arc de Triomphe
(“TREE-OMFF”) in Paris.

On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring
anniversary of November 11, 1918 should be commemorated with
thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace
through good will and mutual understanding between nations,” and that
the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the
observance of Armistice Day.

By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal
holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made November 11 a legal
Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be
hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'”
American effort during World War II saw the greatest mobilization of the
U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more
than 16 million people), and nearly six million more served in
the Korean War.

In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the
83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice
Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954.
From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans
of all wars.

A century ago today, American forces were still battling against vast
numbers of the enemy in the First World War. Alive with us today are
veterans of the Second World War, Korea, Viet Nam, the Cold War, the
Gulf Wars and the War on Terror.

In Laguna Niguel, we observe Veterans Day as a tribute to our citizens
that have stepped up to defend our nation and its way of life by serving
in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Please help us as
the Boy Scouts to carry forward this tradition and to salute them today!

In Honor of this day, we will be "dark" through this Veterans Day Week-End with only daily updates available on our Twitter Feed.

Happy Veterans Day!!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Notations on Our World (Special Weekly Edition): On Transparency In Our World.....

We are pleased to feature this for our weekend edition of "Notations" on the fight for transparency and accountability in the World:

Transparency International logo

It has been a historic week in the legal fight against corruption.
This morning, French court convicted Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice-president of Equatorial Guinea and son of the president, of embezzlement.
Transparency International has been fighting this case for ten years, since we helped bring about a change in French law to allow civil society to present evidence.
The verdict is a huge victory against impunity, and a signal to corrupt leaders everywhere that they can’t hide their ill-gotten gains abroad. Next, we’ll be fighting to ensure that Obiang’s confiscated assets go back to their rightful owners: the people of Equatorial Guinea.
We had another important legal victory in a case brought by Transparency International Hungary. The country’s highest court ruled that special donations given to sports clubs in lieu of corporate tax counted as public money – and should therefore be open to public scrutiny.
US$1 billion has gone missing from the state treasury since the programme began in 2011. The biggest winner? Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s own hometown football club.
Meanwhile in Italy, a whistleblower’s courage led to the conviction of the former President of Ferrovie Nord Milano (FNM), the second largest railway company in Italy.
He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for embezzlement and fraud after the court found that he had taken company money for personal use.
We’ve been involved in the case as a civil party, and the ruling sets an important precedent: companies that receive public money should be subject to same anti-corruption rules as public administrations.
Speaking of whistleblowing, the European Parliament voted for the European Commission to propose EU-wide whistleblower protection legislation – something for which we’ve been advocating for years.

News from Transparency International

Interview with key witness is Obiang case: Delfin Mocache Mosokko

Interview with key witness is Obiang case: Delfin Mocache Mosokko

Obiang verdict: guilty of corruption. Before the verdict was announced we interviewed Delfin Mocache Massoko, a key witness in the case, to find out what the trial means to him and the citizens of Equatorial Guinea.

How to make anti-corruption agencies accountable and independent

Anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) are key to the fight against corruption. They need to be independent, publicly accountable and well-funded and staffed. In a report launched in Bangkok this week, we published research into the strengths and weaknesses of ACAs in six Asian countries. 

TI France releases plan for returning ill-gotten gains of grand corruption to country of origin

Ahead of this morning's Obiang verdict, Transparency International France released a plan for ensuring that money seized in cases of grand corruption returns to its rightful owners.