Game Designer

I’ve added being a game designer to my long list of hobbies. This activity combines many of my interests- gaming, art, mathematics, and creation. Im still just getting started with this, but first game has been printed through the game self publishing outfit Gamecrafter.

Check out my first game blog here:

The Stones of Fate

http://stonesoffate.wordpress.com/

Gas Prices Falling ahead of the Presidential Election?

So we may be in for a gasoline price plummet. Will Barrack Obama be credited? Does the president sit there at his desk and wiggle the gas price lever and watch what happens?

Republican strategists, advice for you: Blame Obama for not keeping the price of gas stable. Get on FOX and say how you would have been fine with high gas prices. Say that the real problem is market instability. Then somehow claim that the instability results from TOO MUCH government interference in a market that’s actually far too global and unregulated to impact significantly by government action.

Will Obama get an easy ride to reelection if prices do drop significantly? Perhaps. Whatever the case is, We need to double down on economics education for the general public, because the electorate seems clueless about the true complexity of economics issues.

The Economy and Education- Inextricably Tied

Hello world,

I’ve been away from blogging for a while.

Education funding is suffering mightily in the current economic downturn- as tax dollars drop, so goes education. This is not inevitable. Repeatedly, liberals have attempted to structure education funding mechanisms that were not so acutely tied to revenues. Their efforts are consistently thwarted at every level by conservatives who attempt avoid funding public schools.

The compromise that is inevitably reached in this power struggle is that school funding is inextricably tied to variable and fragile funding streams that vary with fluctuations in the economy, and variations in tax rates. Consequently, when taxes are cut, schools also suffer.

When taxes are cut in an attempt to create stimulus, during a period of economic downturn and low tax revenues, schools are hit doubly. Localities are then hit with devastating choices of loss of personnel, school closures, large classes, eliminated programs and services, and inevitably: education decline.

There are young people’s lives caught in this power struggle. Kids who need help, attention, and special services. Kids who need sports, or music, or technology to thrive; denied.

The economic downturn is wreaking havoc on education funding. There is no lesser need for high quality education during recessions. History has shown quite the opposite- that boosts to education and retraining during downturn and vital to economic recovery.

I beg our leaders to find a way. I urge conservatives to stop placing public education in the same category as expendable services.

TNLI Work for 2010-2011: Education Advocacy

Luke Laurie

TNLI Fellow

Summary of Advocacy Work for 2010-2011 School Year

Einstein Summit and HIV Prevention Education

 

 

STEM Education, The Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit, Summer 2010

 

During the Summer of 2010, I concluded my work from the previous year by taking part in the planning, coordinating, and implementing the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Einstein Fellowship. This year-long project  was implemented by a volunteer committee of former Einstein Fellows, and culminated in a Summit that occurred over 3 days in Washington, D.C. in June of 2010. The highlights of the Summit included: approximately 100 attendees; several whole group sessions and break out sessions on timely STEM education topics; a Congressional Reception; guests from several Federal agencies, the White House, and the Legislative Branch; participation by a few current and former Members of Congress; a Published report of proceedings of the Summit, and a list of ten policy recommendations.

 

My personal work on the Summit included working on the Planning Committee, Chairing the Program/Agenda subcommittee that developed the topics for the sessions and drafted the program, facilitating the plenary session on STEM education and the Reauthorization of ESEA, and sitting on the panels of the opening plenary session, STEM Education Policy Panel Discussion. I also was the Facilitator of the Einstein Summit Policy Team, which put together the policy recommendations culled from all of the sessions of the Summit, composed a one-page summary, and distributed the recommendations to dozens of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Digitally, these recommendations were distributed to all Capitol Hill staff.

 

500 copies of the printed report: “From the Classroom to Washington: Einsteins on Education Reform” were printed and distributed by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education.

 

More information on the Summit can be found at the following URL:

http://sites.google.com/site/einstein20summit/

 

The Report from the Summit can be found here:

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/E20%20Summit%20Report.pdf

 

The Policy Recommendations can be found here:

https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/policy-recommendations-on-the-20th-anniversary-of-the-einstein-fellowship/

 

Policy Recommendations on the 20th Anniversary of the Einstein Fellowship

 

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows, some of the nation’s leading educators, gathered in Washington, DC on June 28-29, 2010, for a 20th Anniversary Summit.  Hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Summit brought together more than 80 current and former Einstein Fellows along with distinguished guest speakers from the White House, Federal agencies, national education organizations, and the U.S. Congress.  The goal of the Summit was to generate recommendations to inform and improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The Summit covered a variety of educational issues, including national curriculum standards, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and educational equity.

 

Recommendations of the Einstein Fellows:

Support initiatives to enable school systems to implement innovative teaching practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Increase funding for Pre-K-12 education, especially programs that impact each child as opposed to competitive grants.  Federal funding is vital to the maintenance and development of STEM programs in states and districts.

Establish national standards for science education and support provisions in the reauthorization of ESEA that give equal treatment to science as to mathematics and language arts. Science knowledge and skills, as part of a comprehensive STEM approach, are vital for all students and provide 21st Century workforce skills, promote national security and global competitiveness.

Include K-12 teachers, such as Einstein Fellows, in the formulation of professional development or curriculum.  The real world experience of classroom teachers is an overlooked asset when new programs are developed.

Base school and student assessment on multiple measures and formative assessments.

Create and fund a program to place science specialists to teach and coach in elementary schools.  Elementary schools can benefit from the presence of competent STEM teachers who also have skills in working with K-12 students.  They can teach STEM and also model effective strategies as instructional coaches.

Support legislation that encourages research-based instruction and teacher training.

Support federal programs to purchase science equipment and provide STEM training to teachers at the K-6 grade levels.  This will enable the delivery of inquiry-based, hands-on science experiences.

Establish guidelines to ensure all administrators are competent and knowledgeable in STEM education.  Student success and instructional quality depends on strong school leadership.

Support initiatives and funding to enable states and districts to lengthen the school day or school year.

HIV Prevention Education in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District

 

During the 2010-2011 school year, I spent considerable time pursuing local advocacy by continuing my work to improve HIV prevention education for junior high students in my school district. I had been working on this issue for four years through ongoing communication with other teachers, schools, and administrators. My district had not adopted or purchased new materials nor updated curriculum since before California updated its laws and guidelines governing the mandatory HIV prevention education in 2004.  Several discussions and meetings with Science Department chairs and life science teachers in the 2009-2010 school year had revealed that HIV prevention related health content was being taught with outdated materials, or in some cases not taught at all. Through my work and at my request the district began to hold meetings specifically to deal with this issue, during the 2010-2011 school year, to investigate the nature of what we were and were not teaching, to better understand the State’s requirements in this area, to discuss the sensitive nature of the subject matter, and to explore curriculum resources to help us meet our requirements and duty to our students.

 

My work included researching legal statutes, consulting State guidelines, talking with staff at the State Department of Education, reading health and sex education research, attending several meetings with administration and science teachers, building an extensive digital collection of resources for teachers, and making a presentation to the school board.

 

The results of this work allowed our district to create new policies to be in compliance with State law, and to begin the adoption process by piloting the Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum. I can happily report that I faced little resistance from the administration and the school board, though numerous discussions with teachers turned to debates over the nitty-gritty aspects of what and how to teach the sex-related content.

 

Below, I have included my comments to my school board upon the first introduction of the curriculum, prior to piloting. The remarks and our presentation of the curriculum was met with unanimous support and positive remarks from the entire board.

 

The curriculum materials were piloted and approved by the science teachers, and will now, during the 2011-2012 school year, go through the process of being cleared by various committees and going back to the school board for a final vote. I will participate in some of the presentations of the materials.

 

Link to the training workshop slideshow:

http://homepage.mac.com/mrlaurie/misc/hivinstruction.pdf

 

Link to the Positive Prevention Red Cross Curriculum:

http://www.positiveprevention.com/

 

Comments to the school Board on HIV Prevention Curriculum Pilot

 

I thank the board for allowing me to speak this evening,

 

In the field of education, we’re always operating within an economy of scarcity. Far from an ideal system for serving the needs of our students, we do not have not enough money, nor enough time, and we have too many students with tremendous needs; academic, social, behavioral, emotional and physical.

 

In the standards-based educational push of the last decade, we were caught up in fervor to enhance academic learning, specifically, of course, Math and Language Arts. Because resources and time are scarce, schools across the country eliminated programs and courses in the fine arts, health education, physical education, and even science. With this unbalanced approach, we were doing less to educate the whole child.

 

In our district, we haven’t done enough in recent years to provide our students with the health information and skills they need to make good choices about their sexual health.

 

The HIV Prevention Education requirement in State law is there to address issues that are vital to our youth. A large fraction of our students are sexually active, and many lack the knowledge and behavioral skills to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy. Santa Barbara County has a teen pregnancy rate for latinas that is the highest rate in the State at 9%. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of our latina population, and three times the average rate for all California teens.

 

We all know that the challenges for teens who become parents are numerous. And challenging too, are the lives of our students who are being raised by young people who became parents too early themselves. We all bear the costs. And while the Red Cross curriculum is not specifically focused in preventing teen pregnancy, the same knowledge and skills they will gain from learning to prevent HIV will also prevent pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases.

 

The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum provides a framework that teaches the means of transmission and prevention of HIV, but it also includes lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills. The material in this curriculum is presented in a manner that is useful to teachers, and provides them with tools for handling controversial subjects sensitively.

 

I strongly encourage the board to support this committee’s work and to move forward with the pilot program for the Positive Prevention Curriculum. I also would like to encourage the board to support other improvements in health and sexual health education to provide our students with vital information and skills that will help them live healthy lives.

 

Thank you.

HIV Curriculum Pilot- Remarks to the School Board

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Comments to the school Board on HIV Prevention Curriculum Pilot 5-4-11

I thank the board for allowing me to speak this evening,

In the field of education, we’re always operating within an economy of scarcity. Far from an ideal system for serving the needs of our students, we do not have not enough money, nor enough time, and we have too many students with tremendous needs; academic, social, behavioral, emotional and physical.

In the standards-based educational push of the last decade, we were caught up in fervor to enhance academic learning, specifically, of course, Math and Language Arts. Because resources and time are scarce, schools across the country eliminated programs and courses in the fine arts, health education, physical education, and even science. With this unbalanced approach, we were doing less to educate the whole child.

In our district in this time period, we haven’t done enough to provide our students with the health information and skills they need to make good choices about their sexual health.

The HIV Prevention Education requirement in State law is there to address issues that are vital to our youth. A large fraction of our students are sexually active, and many lack the knowledge and behavioral skills to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy. Santa Barbara County has a teen pregnancy rate for latinas that is the highest rate in the State at 9%. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of our latina population, and three times the average rate for all California teens.

We all know that the challenges for teens who become parents are numerous. And challenging too, are the lives of our students who are being raised by young people who became parents too early themselves. We all bear the costs. And while the Red Cross curriculum is not specifically focused in preventing teen pregnancy, the same knowledge and skills they will gain from learning to prevent HIV will also prevent pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum provides a framework that teaches the means of transmission and prevention of HIV, but it also includes lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills. The material in this curriculum is presented in a manner that is useful to teachers, and provides them with tools for handling controversial subjects sensitively.

I strongly encourage the board to support this committee’s work and to move forward with the pilot program for the Positive Prevention Curriculum. I also would like to encourage the board to support other improvements in health and sexual health education to provide our students with vital information and skills that will help them live healthy lives.

Thank you.

(The Board was unanimously and overwhelmingly supportive of the committee’s work and dedication to the topic.)

10,000 Visitors

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s TeacherBlog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Thank you to my readers, I hope that the words I’ve put here have provided you with information, entertainment, or at least a little diversion for a moment.

-Luke

Rush, the band. A Motivational Playlist

Blog post from Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

The music of Rush has long been a motivating force in my life. I was captivated in my teen years by the hard-rocking, rhythmically complex music, and the truly geeky philosophical lyrics. I enjoyed the references to literature, science fiction, and history, and especially the themes of perseverance, atheism, integrity. I’ve grown to appreciate many more progressive rock bands, but I still come back to Rush from time to time when I want to feel that drive.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this year’s tour and the new Rush album: Clockwork Angels

Below is a setlist of some motivaional Rush songs with a few selected lines of lyrics. There are links to youtube videos. The years are from the album release date.

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin’
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time

Well, I can see what you mean
It just takes me longer
And I can feel what you feel
It just makes you stronger

You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart

Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays the song that’s so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill

Science, like nature
Must also be tamed
With a view towards its preservation
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely serve us well

No his mind is not for rent
To any God or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is

All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each anothers audience outside the gilded cage

The boy lies in the grass with one blade
Stuck between his teeth
A vague sensation quickens
In his young and restless heart
And a bright and nameless vision
Has him longing to depart

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes
One moment’s high, and glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades in the summer sky

Hold your fire
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame ’til the dream ignites
A spirit with a vision is a dream
With a mission

Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away
Time stand still

We are young, wandering the face of the Earth,
Wondering what our dreams might be worth,
Learning that we’re only immortal, for a limited time.

We go out in the world and take our chances,
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that Lady Luck dances
Roll the Bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones

Mistress of the dark unconscious
Mermaid of the lunar sea
Daughter of the great enchantress
Sister to the boy inside of me

You and I, we are strangers by one chromosome
Slave to the hormone, body and soul
In a struggle to be happy and free
Swimming in a primitive sea

Stick it out
Don’t swallow the poison
Spit it out
Don’t swallow your pride
Stick it out
Don’t swallow your anger
Spit it out
Don’t swallow the lies

Driven in…Driven to the edge
Driven out…On the thin end of the wedge
Driven off…by things I’ve never seen
Driven on…By the road to somewhere I’ve never been

You can never break the chain
There is never love without pain
A gentle hand, a secret touch on the heart

The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory