From the proceedings of the 2008 2007 Exploring Innovation conference, held by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
The question is, how do you come up with a new invention every 10 days and a major one every six months? How do you become as creative and inventive as Edison? I have spent 10 years on looking for the answers to this question. I have looked at large and small companies to find the answers. I think the answer is technology brokering, moving existing ideas from where they are known to where they are not, often in new combinations. You need to find ideas and connections that haven’t been found yet. You need to be able to move between a lot of worlds and talk a lot of languages. Once you can see the combination, you need to be utterly faithful to the idea you think is the best. …
The scope of your imagination depends on your network. It’s not about thinking out of the box. It’s about thinking about all the boxes you have at your disposal. The raw materials for innovation are bringing different worlds together and building new ones.
Innovation via networks: wow does that connect our thinking! Thanks, Diama, for the link! And we should definitely be planning for the 2009 conference.
As everyone is quite aware, the election is officially a week away. As such, I feel it is my civic duty to present this resource post. Monica and Micah – feel free to chip in on any other resources.
I can’t even begin to stress the importance of voting. With today’s information economy and easy access to voting, there is not one good reason to not vote. We all have a stake in what happens in government, whatever side you fall on. I realize it’s a little late in the game to register to vote, but even if you haven’t, it’s important to be informed. The deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma was Oct. 10. Okay, I’m done with the obligatory soapbox.
Besides what is posted on our links page, here are some helpful resources if you’re still wanting/needing more information on candidates and issues. Our links page is particularly useful for more in-depth information and research regarding specific issues. (more…)
Sara Mead at the excellent Early Ed Watch has a post on whether pre-K programs should be made universally available or targeted toward low-income children. This is usually phrased as a quality vs. quantity argument, which assumes that a universal program could not be as high-quality as a targeted program. I struggle with this question a good bit, largely due to the risk of a quality trade-off. I fear that if pre-K standards are watered down in order to make universal programs affordable, the results will be underwhelming (after having been perceived as over-promised) and the future of pre-K will be at risk. Sara concedes that she’d prefer a targeted approach in such a circumstance, but overall makes a strong argument on behalf of universality.
Her argument contains five parts:
Effectiveness – While the largest and most lasting impacts are for low-income children, there’s evidence (from Tulsa, no less) that middle class children benefit as well. (Probably the weakest argument, since it doesn’t address the problem of fade-out.)
Risk – Middle class kids can be at risk, too. They may not be as likely to drop out or be retained in grade, but a substantial portion of middle class children are still at risk for barriers to educational success.
Affordability – Child care and early education are actually too expensive for most middle-income families. This leaves an affordability gap, where low and high-income families benefit from pre-K but middle-income families are left out. (This is an argument we don’t see enough from advocates. Pre-K and child care, much like health care, are cost prohibitive even to solidly middle-income families.)
Practical – Making pre-K universal eliminates the administrative burden of verifying income and can enhance political support (though this might be a myth).
Legitimacy – Universal pre-K sends the message that it is just as educationally legitimate as the K-12 system. It’s not just “childcare or charity.” This in turn should help align pre-K and elementary school standards (PK-3 alignment) and fight fade-out effects. (Oklahoma’s pre-K program operates through the districts themselves, so this possibility looks promising.)
I think one argument that many advocates are failing to address is the commonly-heard argument (at least in Oklahoma) that children belong at home. This is actually an easy argument to rebut, since it mistakes the term “universality” for “mandatory.” The more socially conservative opponents of universal pre-K mistakenly believe that such a program would be mandatory, much like elementary school. We should be much clearer that no one is talking about forcing pre-K on anyone. And we should remind these opponents, who often oppose other parts of the social safety net and preach personal responsibility, that early childhood programs are an important work support that promote economic self-sufficiency and provide positive role-modeling to children.
The USDA has canceled Philadelphia’s universal school lunch program, saying that it cannot adequately monitor program performance, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The program, which is the only in the nation, allows every child in Philadelphia Public Schools to receive a free lunch without having to apply for it. It’s well known that take-up in the school lunch program is suppressed for two reasons: (1) it’s hard to get forms from child to parent and back to school, and (2) children refuse the free or reduced price lunches because other students stigmatize them. Philadelphia, where roughly 75 percent of children are free-lunch eligible (130% federal poverty level), tackles both problems by dropping the application and by ending distinctions between low-income and more advantaged children.
In scuttling the program, the USDA is ignoring the emerging consensus developed by behavioral economists that “default” options greatly improve take-up of valuable programs such as 401(k) savings accounts (doc). While the USDA says the change is based on its need to monitor programs, the cancellation comes at the same time that interest in Philadelphia’s program is growing – New York City and Los Angeles have both asked USDA to allow them to adopt the program. It seems pretty clear, then, that this is really about cost control. Philadelphia argues that program actually saved money by reducing administrative costs, but we all know that too often the preferred form of cost control is erecting barriers to take-up.
I know this is a bit late (and others have already covered the topic, saving me from doing any primary research), but during last week’s debate I heard Bob Schieffer, the moderator, say something that surprised me:
The U.S. spends more per capita than any other country on education. Yet, by every international measurement, in math and science competence, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, we trail most of the countries of the world.
So in honor of our blog host’s new poll/quiz feature, I thought we’d take a little test (answer below the fold):
Because Diama and I are eking out a partial existence in the “Republic of Imagination”, I thought it would be appropriate to stretch great lengths to connect cool news articles with our work.
The British paper The Telegraph ran an article a few days ago about how the kind of television we watched as a child – black and white vs. color – influenced whether we dreamed in color as adults. It turns out that adults over 55 who primarily watched black and white TV dreamed in black and white 25% of the time, versus just 4.4% for under 25 year olds (who nearly all watched color televisions).
I had to two primary reactions. My second, more direct, reaction to that was Wow, if just the type of television set we watch as children has a lifelong influence on our dreams, imagine all the non-obvious, seemingly trivial things have just as profound an impacton children.
But my initial, more metaphorical reaction was this question: what colors my dreams? (Diama, you asked for questions and questions you shall get.) What are the factors in my environment and in my life, many of which I had no control over (my parents bought the TV I watched as a child), that define the limits of possibilities? What can I do differently to dream more often in color? What am I giving up to dream less in black and white?
[I know this is a far-flung post, but it gets far-flungier. I was interrupted in writing this post so that I could play a financial education video game. Steven came by and introduced me to Nick Maynard of D2D Fund (Doorways to Dreams). Nick is developing a computer game that teaches financial literacy, which he designed with low to moderate income women ages 18-34. He's in Tulsa testing it with some of CAP's tax clients. Nick's dreaming in color.]
The Tulsa World is doing a series on a family here in Tulsa. The story chronicles the journey of a single mother by the name of Margo raising her two children who have the odds severely stacked against them. Her husband, their father, is in prison until 2047. Nothing has come easy for Margo and she is doing everything she can to create a better life for her children. She is also concentrating on getting her children involved in activities that will lead them to make better choices. Please read this series if you get a chance. Many of the families that we seek to help to break barriers are facing the same battles. We can learn a lot.
It’s quiet around here today. Micah is in sunny San Diego and Monica is holding up the TI fort while still recovering from an intense last three days of planning for the next 3 years. From what I heard in the wrap-up, all I can say is WOW. I imagine Monica and Micah will be sharing some of the goals and products that came out of these past few days on this blog. Echoing Monica’s sentiments in her post below, I am also grateful and privileged to work among such caring mission-driven people. (more…)
You may notice the last post (before this one) dates from October 8. I want to be sure our loyal readers don’t take this as a sign of flagging interest on our part. Instead, the whole Tulsa Initiative team has spent the past few days planning out our goals and activities for the next three years. It’s been an incredibly stimulating and challenging process so far. As a team largely committed to research, planning, and partnership building, it can be tough to develop precise definitions of success and to predict what we can realistically accomplish, especially given that we plan to rely so much on others. At the same time, however, we have the freedom of thinking about how we can help CAP and partner agencies become more innovative. The session we spent thinking about this part of the work was boisterous and filled with laughter. And this was when I once again felt grateful to be working in the place I work with the people I get to work with.