Not A Level Playing Field

Yesterday, dozens of wealthy parents were charged in a pay-to-play scheme.


To get their kids into choice colleges, prominent lawyers, business people, and Hollywood stars paid millions of dollars for bribes, bogus exam scores, and fake athletic achievements. 


Uh, let’s give Bobby just a little extra advantage and he’ll do just fine…


But while some people pretend to be so shocked that this is going on, the truth is that we all know that it’s definitely not a level playing field.


All I have to do is drive by the local Mansions in Potomac, Bethesda or Chevy Chase, Maryland or in Northern Virginia and see the extravagant homes, schools, shopping, and neighborhoods, and you know there are the forever haves and the have nots. 


As the old adage goes, “Money makes money!”


If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth in the U.S., the chances are you will stay that way


Having the assets, information, connections, and opportunities seems to bode quite well for those who leverage it.


The worst part is that those who have these things often really believe that they are better or more deserving than others.


Can you see the nose elevated and those snooty eyes staring down on you? 


Wealthy parents cheating the system and paying off others to get their kids into the best schools–a surprise?  


Not a chance.


What the real surprise here is…that this time, they got caught.  😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Comes To Education, We’re Just Playing Around

Education Playtime.jpeg

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, “But I still don’t feel that I am learning anything practical!”

He friends responds saying, “Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?”

The first young women says, “They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on.”

The second young women starts repeating, “X+Y, X+Y, that’s all they teach us!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 


We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it–it’s still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education–behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can’t innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don’t change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You’re Getting Milked

Cow.JPeG

If you have a pulse and have been to the stores or even shopping online lately (hey, it’s the holidays so of course you have), you know that prices are on the rise.


And this is amazing, because–


Major factors point to pricing that should be driven down:


Commodities–which are the basic raw materials from agriculture to oil and gas and metals and mining–are at a more than 16-year low!


Manufacturing has moved to low cost sourcing countries (China, India, Vietnam, Africa, etc.)


Technology continues to benefit us in terms of cost-efficiencies from the transformation to robotics and automation.


Yet, we keep on seeing prices move ever higher:


Just a few examples…


– “Housing market is on fire” with existing home prices exceeding the pre-recession peak!


– “Car prices at records highs – and rising


– “Food prices are sky high“–it’s not your imagination.


Fashion “prices rising so fast


Health care spending is “again accelerating”


– “College costs are so high and rising.


Forget the B.S. of the basket of inflation stats your being feed…you know that your bills are going up, while your income is stagnant.


The real question is why is the middle class always getting milked–whose interest does it serve? 😉

The Power Of One, Many, And G-d

Voice
I took this photo at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. 



I like how they took the pictures of the professors, administrators, and students and wallpapered it outside on the facade of the building. 



It says, “I am the voice of innovative education and civic engagement for the 21st century.”



It’s a cool idea showing the individuals and the power they have to make a difference as well as the aggregate of the photos, as a group, displaying that we are somehow all in it together. 



We can’t just rely on others, and we can’t take it all on ourselves…progress is a shared responsibility. 



We do our part and contribute to the greater group–it takes a variety of talents to get things done, so we leverage everyones strengths for the good of the team. 



Education is one part.  



Experience is another.  



Engagement is a third



And all these ingredients only come together with divine providence and the good fortune from the Almighty.



This last one is the secret sauce as they say. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Graduation Day

Graudation
So proud of Minna graduating from University of Maryland today. 



And in only 3 1/2 years…record time, while she worked an internship too.



With a major in communication, please G-d she will go out as the keynote speaker said, “the glue that mends broken dialogue” in society.  



Communications comes from community…from marketing and branding to public relations and diplomacy, communications is key in everything we do from vetting ideas, innovating, decision making, teamwork, and even social media. 



Lots of luck in your future and may Hashem bless you in all that you do.



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cash And Books

Cash For Books
I took this photo in downtown Washington, D.C. today.

 
It was interesting to me for a number of reasons.
 
First, the amount and variety of advertising here (and there was more that is not even pictured here) was a little bit incredible, especially in light of the single customer at the stand.
 
Second, this vendor is buying the books back from the university students at a hotdog stand–yeah, more than a little weird, no?
 
Aside from the fact that students pay an exorbitant amout for textbooks and then get pennies on the dollar back, now you are encouraged to make your transaction with a street vendor in the cold of December.
 
Anyway, you think anyone will notice this cash for books stand? 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Finals Week

Finals Week
This was a funny (-sad) picture right outside the new Science and Engineering Building at the prestigious George Washington University today. 



It looks much like a noose and is lit up by the glass and modern finishes of this new building. 



So a colleague says jokingly to me “Is that because of [the stress of] finals week?”



Now execution and suicide are definitely not a laughing matter…



But what a juxtaposition of this gorgeous new building going up and the old time hangman’s noose (almost) hanging down. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)