Last week: Five year anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act by George W. Bush. This legislation was intended to have a lasting impact by holding states and institutions accountable for costs of higher education. Over those five years, state spending on higher ed continued a downward spiral (reduced by almost $ 10 billion since 2007) as average tuition and fees have gone up and new reporting requirements, tighter rules on eligibility and changes to the interest rates on student loans have been implemented. It seems we are veering from simplification and efficiency to costly complexity.
Looking ahead: Hurricane season seems unseasonably quiet this time of year. Let's cross our fingers. We need a major effort by our architects, landscape architects, engineers, and planners to forge a statewide initiative to explore important issues concerning both short-term recovery and long-term resiliency of our vulnerable habitat. How defenseless are we against storm surge and sea-level-rise in the coming years? What are we going to do about it?
Last week: Congress passed a bipartisan student loan bill, awaiting President Obama’s signature, that links interest rates to financial markets. As a result, more students are likely to apply early to meet scholarship and financial aid deadlines. Students uncomfortable with assuming the risk of the increased cost of borrowing money for their education may opt out even though public education in Florida remains a bargain. Looking ahead, congressional action on Pell Grants and the Dream Act will remain hot-button issues for students in South Florida.
Looking ahead: The second class of the Principal Rapid Orientation and Preparation in Educational Leadership (PROPEL) program graduates this week. The program is designed to train teachers to lead low-performing schools with the highest need for effective principals. The program is centered on job-embedded experience with the second group learning from the experience of last year’s graduates. The innovative program is run in partnership with the School Board of Broward County with the support of the largest grant received by FAU last year and the largest in the College of Education in a decade. The program is run entirely at the Davie Campus in Broward County.
Last week: The acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman speaks volumes about the dissonance between our legislative and judicial processes. The lesson here is chilling: if Mr. Martin had been carrying a handgun instead of Skittles when he was feeling threatened by a stranger in pursuit, what might have been the outcome?
Looking ahead: The movement to expand our educational focus on STEM to include the arts is gaining STEAM. The Florida Cultural Alliance is encouraging more representation in a congressional ‘STEAM’ caucus. The trend among South Florida policymakers and business interests to establish a “creative economy” through arts districts is worth examining in light of parallel trends in cross-disciplinary work in education and among artists and industries. The emergence of the 3-D printer is another example of how society will further democratize design and production. Design education will become more essential as we play a larger role in creating the world we inhabit.
Looking ahead: The announcement of two important events: mark your calendars for this fall as Florida Atlantic University's Center for Environmental Studies will host the 2nd Sea Level Rise Summit in Fort Lauderdale on October 16-17. Three weeks later, the Southeast Florida Regional Compact, a four-county partnership among Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, will host the 5th annual SE Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit at the Broward County Convention Center on November 7-8.
Last week: The President unveils an action plan against the "threat of our time” is the news story of the week — almost 6 weeks after scientists at Mauna Loa reported the average daily level of CO2 in our atmosphere had exceed 400 parts per million. This concentration has not been evidenced on Earth in millions of years and has occurred in an unprecedented short period of time coinciding with emissions from industrialization. Every mile we drive, every time we turn on an electronic device, and every time we fly should give pause to reflect on the cumulative impacts that are ongoing every minute of every day around the world. Florida is one of the places in North America that has potentially abundant renewable energy alternatives. It is time to reset our fuel sources and dependencies and create the foundations for a viable future for our children.
Last Week: While so much has caught our attention this week, including woman’s reproductive rights, campus security, right to privacy, race relations, a small story about the extinction of the Sestos Skipper and Rockland Grass Skipper butterflies caught my attention - hitting a deeper more profound chord. While the two butterflies in themselves may be appreciated by some for their aesthetic beauty, they were part of a web of interacting organisms with potential impacts to our supply of food and medicine. There is a past, present and future value for each living organism - but extinction is permanent - erasing any possibility for the future and more than likely affecting us in as yet unknown ways. As a barometer of the health of our environment and its longer term prospects, being able to identify local species is important to understanding our surroundings. When a species has permanently lost the ability to survive - that is a story that deserves our attention. We need to learn why and gain a broader understanding of the impact of such events.
The quiet death of a species appears demanding an obituary that speaks to the cause, what role we may have played in its demise, and what it means for the future of our local environment.
Looking Ahead: The City of New York is proposing a $19.5 billion plan to build protective infrastructure in response to the increased likelihood of intense storms, sea level rise and climate change. As we head into hurricane season, what is the status of the Southern Florida's Regional Climate Change Compact?Copyright © 2015, CT Now