Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changing the World One Child at a Time

A Kennesaw State University organization has raised an impressive amount of money for Invisible Children Inc..  The money will be used to help children in Uganda who are being abducted and forced to fight in a civil war.

Changing the World One Child at a Time

 By: Alexandra Klauder

KENNESAW, Ga.- There is no shortage of charity on the Kennesaw State University campus this holiday season, whose chapter of Invisible Children has exceeded their expectations, after raising $5,500 for children in Africa, more than ever before.

             “We are going strong with more active members than ever,” said president of the chapter Allyson Tibbitts. “We have raised more money this semester than all our previous years combined.”

            Through bake sales and events such as the recent screening of “Tony”, Invisible Children’s newest documentary, the club affectionately called ICKSU (Invisible Children-KSU), gives students such as Tibbitts and others, the chance to spread awareness and raise money for child soldiers in certain parts of Africa.

Combining efforts for an important cause

            The club works alongside Invisible Children Inc., a nonprofit started by college students who traveled to Uganda on vacation and left with a mission.  They witnessed firsthand how war has ravaged the country, and how a rebel army led by a man called Joseph Kony, are abducting children and forcing them to fight. These children are known as child soldiers.

            “By 2006, over 25,000 children had been abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), and no one really knew about it. It was an invisible war that was displacing a million people, and killing, raping, mutilating, and abducting thousands more,” said Tibbits.  “Invisible Children spent several years rebuilding 11 Ugandan schools, and they got the money by high school and college students fundraising and spreading the word about the cause.”

            Much like the students involved with ICKSU, the founders decided to make a difference.  Through their documentary film “Invisible Children: Rough Cut”, the dire situation these children face every day was seen by millions of people in the U.S., many of whom felt called to action.

 Money raised goes a long way

            Today the program raises awareness and money for schools in Northern Uganda, and other parts of Africa, with millions of volunteers helping the cause. While Joseph Kony’s army, the LRA, has moved out of Uganda, they have spread to other parts of Africa such as Congo, CAR, and South Sudan.

            Since fall 2009 when the organization first started, students have helped raise $4,400 as of spring 2011.  In just one semester, they have exceeded that by more than $1,000.     

            “We are trying to raise money to rescue child soldiers by building early warning radio networks, and rehabilitation centers for people affected by LRA violence,” said ICKSU historian Alysha Smith, who will be taking over as president next year.

             The money raised has also helped to rebuild a school in Uganda called Awere Secondary School where Kennesaw State University is engraved on a plaque for their efforts.          

            Portions of the money will go to send students to Invisible Children summits, where they can learn more about the organization, and there are plans to possibly send one student on the trip of a lifetime to Uganda.

Everyone Can Help

            “There are several opportunities for students to get involved on the KSU campus,” said Tibbitts. “We always need volunteers to help bake food items, create artwork, or make tote bags, bracelets, and other items to be sold at our tables.  We encourage students to come to all of our informative meetings, and to speak up in their classes and on campus about the LRA.”

            Most students walk by ICKSU booths set up at different areas on campus, or walk over the chalk messages scribbled on the sidewalk on the way to class, but these booths are selling more than just tasty delights. They are selling a chance to change the world.

            “We believe in a global society. We believe that when one person does not have freedom, none of us have freedom,” says Tibbitts, “If we do not help our brothers and sisters across the globe, how can we expect respect from international communities, or how could we respect ourselves? Invisible Children has done more towards ending this war than all political factions combined. There is power in empathy, the youth are powerful, and you are more powerful than you think you are.”

Movie screening of Invisible Children’s “Tony” a success

By: Alexandra Klauder

KENNESAW Ga.- More than 150 students packed into a crowded auditorium Monday Nov. 14 to watch Invisible Children Inc.’s newest documentary “Tony”, and raise money for a worthy cause.

            The screening hosted by the Kennesaw State University chapter of Invisible Children (ICKSU), featured a presentation of the film, a former child soldier guest speaker, and a raffle.

            Students received a rare glimpse into the life of a young boy growing up in war-torn Uganda under the threat of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

            “The movie is about a boy who’s witnessed LRA violence firsthand and the atrocities that have occurred to his family and his village,” said ICKSU historian Alysha Smith.  “So this a firsthand account of his experience and how Invisible Children has helped Tony, and the area recover.”

            After the film a former child soldier named Francis spoke about what is was like to grow up in Uganda, spending her whole life in a war.  She was able to escape at a young age, and attended college in the U.S..

            “ICKSU has actually met several people who were personally affected by this war. We've had Norman, Comfort, Irene, Monica, Francis, and Agnes all travel from Uganda to Kennesaw State to share their personal, heartbreaking stories,” said president of ICKSU Allyson Tibbitts.  “Every story was different, and each one carried so much meaning for us. These are my friends who we are helping, and they have personally thanked us for our work.”

            The positive reactions of questions after the screening and donations made to the organization have paved the way for events like this to occur more often in the future.

            Events like the screening of “Tony” which raised more than $200 in one night for the cause, help raise money and awareness on campus.  Many students have never heard of the war going on in Uganda, and these events spark an interest, and for some a passion to help.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More job openings could mean more jobs for unemployed. Job opening are the highest in 3 years.

Employers post most job openings in 3 years

The Biz Beat Four competing for every job opening


Employers post most job openings in 3 years

WASHINGTON — Employers advertised more jobs in September than at any other point in the past three years. The increase suggests hiring could pick up in the next few months.
In this Oct. 4, 2011 photo, Blake Andrews with Verizon, left, visits with prospective employees during a job fair, in San Antonio. Employers advertised more jobs in September than at any other point in the past three years, a hopeful sign that job market is slowly improving. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this Nov. 2, 2011 photo, the Bob Evans restaurant in Solon, Ohio advertises job openings. Employers advertised more jobs in September than at any other point in the past three years, a hopeful sign that job market is slowly improving. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

More business news

Competition Fierce

Competition for jobs is fierce. And many employers aren't rushing to fill some because they are worried about the strength of the economy.
Still, most economists say the increase in openings is a reassuring sign.
Nearly 3.4 million jobs were posted in September, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That's the most since August 2008, one month before the financial crisis intensified.
"Business confidence appears intact," said Alan Levenson, an economist at T. Rowe Price, "confirming ... that job growth is going to continue."
Job openings have rebounded from a decade low of 2.1 million in July 2009. But they are well below the 4.4 million advertised in December 2007, when the recession began.
Almost four years later, roughly 14 million people are unemployed. An average 4.2 unemployed workers were competing for each opening in September. That's slightly better than August, but it is still more than twice the 2 to 1 ratio that economists say is healthy.

Jobs opening on the rise, hiring not catching up
More openings do not necessarily mean more jobs. Even though job openings rose 22 percent in the past year, hiring has increased only 10 percent, the Labor Department's report shows.
Education and health care providers have boosted their openings 21 percent in the past year. Yet hiring in those fields has dropped. Retail job openings have soared more than 40 percent in the past year, but hiring has been flat.
U.S. employers remain extremely cautious. Modest growth over the summer helped calm recession fears. But the growth came after consumers spent more while earning less, a trend that economists fear can't be sustained.
And the economy remains vulnerable to shocks. Europe's debt crisis could intensify and throw the continent into a recession, which would slow U.S. exports and reduce growth. U.S. lawmakers are expected to sharply cut federal spending, which could mean fewer government jobs and less consumer spending.
"When you have a lot of uncertainty, an employer may choose to postpone their hiring plans," said Henry Mo, an economist at Credit Suisse.

Employers want more

Some employers are likely pickier about who they hire than they have been in the past, economists say. They have more choices with unemployment near 9 percent for the past two years.
In some high-skill industries, such as engineering or information technology, companies could be having trouble finding workers with the right skills. Some economists say companies aren't offering high enough pay to attract workers they need or are unwilling to train applicants who aren't a precise fit.
The economy added 158,000 net jobs in September. Hiring slowed a bit in October, as employers added only 80,000 jobs, the fewest in four months. Even so, the unemployment rate dipped in October to a six-month low of 9 percent, from 9.1 percent, because more people said they found jobs.
And October may end up looking better if the government revises the job totals, as it did with the August and September figures.
The rise in openings suggests the year could end with even more hiring.

The Biz Beat Four competing for every job opening

Businesses and governments say they posted 3.35 million job openings in September, a 7 percent increase over August, according to the Labor Department.
Tell that to someone who’s been out of a job for a year or two and has stood patiently in line after line at job fairs, and the reaction might be, “Oh yea, where are they?”
Competition remains stiff and,as previously reported, part of the disconnect lies in the types of openings (many are in technology) and the lack of qualified applicants.
According to the Associated Press's report on the openings, “nearly 14 million people were out of work in September, which means an average 4.2 unemployed workers were competing for each opening.”
The good news is that the numbers could signal a hiring upswing in the months ahead since companies typically take up to three months to fill a position, according to the AP report.
Are you confident one of those millions of jobs has your name on it?

Video game consoles the most popular way to watch things online?

According to an article by Steven Musil, on cnet.com more and more people are using their gaming devices to watch material online.  The article states that while most people still use their PC's or laptops to watch online movies and video, people are switching to using gaming consoles to watch on their televisions.   These consoles include the X-box,  the Playstation 3, and the Wii which all have internet capabilities.  Market researcher Strategy Analytics, claims "12 percent of U.S. households use the game platforms to watch online movies, TV shows or videos".  This percentage is only growing from the amount of game players that have increased in recent years. 

 I believe this makes sense considering the recent trend in gaming over the past 5-10 years. Gaming has exploded with the release of the Playstation 3, the Xbox, and the Wii.  Now the whole family plays games together as opposed to one or two children playing alone.  Playing video games is not what it used to be.  It is no longer just sitting in front of a television holding a controller, and staring at a screen. Now you can play with your friends and they do not have to be in the same house that you are. They do not even have to be in the same state or country that you are.  Gaming has become a  form of social media because anyone can now connect and meet people through playing their favorite video game.

So it just makes sense that the gaming companies would make their consoles internet capable. That way gamers can connect with people anywhere in the world, and the gaming consoles can be more versatile.  When you buy a game console such as the Xbox, you are not only buying a gaming device, but something like a computer, considering you can chat, contact friends, and surf the Internet all in one device.  Now you will even be able to watch TV on your gaming console because according to the article, Xbox is in talks with Microsoft to bring television content to the Xbox.  Which means that gaming consoles are now becoming even more versatile, and an even bigger force in social media.  I think that this convergence will be very exciting for gamers and internet users alike because once again businesses such as Microsoft have made it easier than ever to be able to use all types of media at once through one machine.  We have seen this through the iPad and the new Amazon Fire, and now gaming companies are jumping on the bandwagon.  Anything that combines the Internet and my other favorite types of media is a good thing in my book.  This just proves  to all the non-believers that convergence is inevitable and we should all embrace it.     

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Atlanta to be fully accredited, but on watch

Atlanta schools are no longer under threat of loss of accredidation.  The district, which includes 12 schools will all be accredited.  The board made serious changes, and will be taken off probation.  The board completed four of the six requirements 

Atlanta to be fully accredited, but on watch

Atlanta to be fully accredited, but on watch

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
5:55 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Atlanta Public Schools in no longer at risk of losing accreditation for its 12 high schools.

An "elated" school board announced Tuesday the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools, the state's largest accrediting agency, has taken the district off probation. APS was downgraded to "advisement" status, meaning the agency will watch to ensure the district's progress is sustainable over the next year.

"We took this work very seriously," said board chairwoman Brenda Muhammad. "And the the Atlanta Board of Education has worked diligently and cohesively to reach this outcome. This is another indication Atlanta Public Schools is moving forward."

Board makes significant changes

In January, the district was placed on probation largely due to infighting among school board members. The board was given six directives that pushed them to work together. Since then, the board has made a series of changes including electing a new chair, selecting a new superintendent, revising a critical policy around board leadership and overhauling an ethics panel designed to police the board's behavior.

The board earned praise for changing its ways and for its ability to stick together, even in the midst of a widespread cheating scandal that toppled most of the district's top leadership. Encouraged by the changes, state school board members in July voted to let APS board members stay in office, despite a state law that allowed them to be removed.

After visiting the district in September and reviewing a detailed progress report, SACS determined the board completed four of the six required actions. But the agency still has concerns the board can sustain the progress once the threat of accreditation loss is lifted.

Can APS board continue with improvements

"Several interviewees expressed cautionary concern about whether the APS Board’s improved functioning would continue after the ‘bright lights' of SACS ... the Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, and the State Board of Education have been extinguished. This issue of sustainability raises concern," the report said.

SACS officials ordered the board to develop a long-term plan to communicate with stakeholders and regain their trust, and ensure the board members continue to follow district policy. The board will have to report back to the agency in September 2012.

"These are not deficiencies," said Superintendent Erroll Davis. "The programs are in place, but they would like to see they are in place working over time."

Accrediation provides relief for students and parents

The loss consequences of accreditation loss would have been "devastating" according to Davis. Students who graduate from unaccredited high schools may not be eligible for scholarships or for entry to certain colleges. Parents and students also expressed relief that the threat of accreditation loss was gone.

Cynthia Briscoe Brown, whose son and exchange student are both sophomores at North Atlanta High School, said she was “thrilled” to hear the SACS ruling Tuesday afternoon.

“I think it is entirely justified,” said Brown, who along with her husband serves as co-president of the North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools (NAPPS), which supports a cluster of eight schools in North Atlanta.

“Those of us who have been watching the board for the last year and a half have seen a big improvements in how they relate to each other and how they direct policy.”

Georgia students show gains on national exam

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4:33 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Georgia students improved in three out of four subjects tested on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but continue to trail the national average in most areas, according to results released Tuesday.
Known as the nation's report card, the NAEP is given to a sampling of fourth and eighth graders across the country and is one of the few exams offering a snapshot of how students compare from state to state.
Georgia students have shown considerable improvement since 1990, but still lag behind their peers nationally in every subject except fourth-grade reading. Still, state leaders consider the latest results good news because scores increased from 2009 in three of four subjects -- fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade reading.
"The fact that our students showed improvement on a test with a nationally set-cut score is encouraging and demonstrates that Georgia's students are making great strides in competing with the rest of the nation," State School Superintendent John Barge said in a statement.
Georgia's improvement is attributed to the introduction of a tougher curriculum. Barge said he expects scores will continue to increase as the state rolls out a national curriculum know as the Common Core.
The test was given earlier this year to about 422,000 fourth-graders and 343,000 eighth-graders nationwide. Results are only available at the state level, although scores for 21 urban districts including Atlanta will be released later this year. Writing and science scores will be released in 2012.
Nationally, scores were up in every subject except fourth-grade reading, where they were flat. David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board and a former Massachusetts commissioner of education, said the nation has been making substantial gains in math, while reading scores have been slower to improve.
"The improvement in mathematics achievement undoubtedly reflects the success of math instruction in our schools because math is almost exclusively a school subject taught almost entirely in math classes — although Sudoku and some computer games may be helping," he said. "It is quite different for reading, where the achievement that NAEP measures also reflects how much children read outside of school and the reading demands across the curriculum, not just in reading classes or English language arts."