Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The problem with democracy

Well, where to begin?  don't get me wrong, it's the best method for government anywhere, but "it needs adjustments." The first problem is gerrymandering, where the party in power (dem or republican) in Congress, sets the boundaries for voting districts so that their party is represented more (based on registered voters and other factors).  This is why the district boundaries are often very convoluted and homogenous.  Another logistical reason, is that there is a limit to polling places, usually based on local budgets. For example, in Philly, districts are kept to around 900 voters max (not necessarily to the max number of those registered). So do the math: 2 minutes to vote per person, polls from 7 am to 8 pm (780 min/2=390 voters per booth).  The combination really gives one party the advantage and limits full turnout as happened in 2008. Solution?  More polling booths/places, less gerrymandering? online voting? (wouldn't that be nice!).  However, you can draw your own districts! go to and check it out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fixing NJ Schools

Have you seen the movie "Waiting for Superman" yet?  Its a docusoap worth seeing about the American public school system; it even has some Jersey stats (not the best).  It makes a compelling case for many changes, and I think, without them, we are doomed to a mediocre (at best), educational system.  As you know more and more jobs require a college education, but too many of our middle and high schools are set up for failure and have a dismal graduation track record.  Certainly tenure has a place, but not how its currently implemented. And after almost ten years of experimentation, its been proven that some Charter Schools have been very successfull at elevating students test schores, much more so than public schools, even the better ones.
here's some of my suggestions:
1.  Lengthen the school day (by an hour or so), and the school year (by at least a month or two).  This has been proven to increase students abilities and retention, and in a modern world is needed to keep up with the explosion of knowledge. Successful examples include many other countries who do better than us.
2. Make adjustments to tenure:
a.  Make the probation period five years instead of the usual two years, and have stricter standards to weed out the bad teachers.  This means bad teachers can be fired during that five year period for poor performance.
b.  Have performance standards; a combination of satisfactory test scores, teaching ability, and socio-econic factors.
c.  After tenure is given, still maintain performance standards etc, with a scale, and those who don't rate at least "good", go on probation again and are subject to firing.
d.  Take into consideration, individual test scores, not just group scores, i.e. a 4th graderr who gets "Cs"  should at least get "Cs" or better in 5th grade, or if lower, should improve to a "C".
3.  Pay for Performance or just give COLAs, only if teacher makes "good" standard.  Give the teacher a choice, a performance increase worth more, like $5,000/yr for Excellent, or a COLA, like $1500-2000/yr.
There's more ideas, but those are some basics.  What are yours?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

the gulf needs a good idea too

I don't understand why they have not sealed off the hole (pipe) which is spewing the oil/gas.  It's 5,000 ft from the water level down to the seabed.  The broken pipe, cap etc is at the seabed floor.  The pipe then goes down another 10-13,000 ft through the seabed to the oil reservoir.  Simply put some explosives 1 or 2 thousand feet down into the seabed around the pipe, and implode it.  This would cause the surrounding seabed to collapse around and fill the hole (at least partially enough to seal it).  Woudn't that work?  What are your ideas?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A new blog, what we need is good ideas for NJ!

It's about time. Here's a blog where anyone who has an idea to help New Jersey improve, save money, econmize, change laws or policies, cut down redtape, solve problems and more, can express themselves. Here's a way for you to share your good ideas and be heard. The purpose of the blog is to collect good ideas and make them known to our lawmakers, politicians, regulators, businesses, organizations, families and more, whether on a local, regional or state-wide basis. Anyone who submits a cogent idea, that can be tested and can work, will get full credit for their idea. The hope is that bloggers will help improve, refine and vet ideas, so that they can be presented in a reasonable form (email, letter, phone call etc.) to those in power or authority who can make the idea work.