Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lights, Camera....OGP Action Plans!

David E. Eskey Memorial Award for Curriculum Innovation - Deadline: June 1, 2013. More about my father can be found here.

Curriculum content differentiation involves varying what we teach or how students gain access to that content. For example, teachers can provide students with leveled reading material, books on tape, highlighted text, varied topics for research, independent study options, interest centers, optional mini-lessons on a specific topic or skill, online extension activities, mentors or a compacted curriculum.

The content of lessons may be differentiated based on what students already know. The most basic content of a lesson should cover the standards of learning set by the district or state. Some students in a class may be completely unfamiliar with the concepts in a lesson, some students may have partial mastery of the content - or display mistaken ideas about the content, and some students may show mastery of the content before the lesson begins. The teacher may differentiate the content by designing activities for groups of students that cover different areas of Bloom's Taxonomy. For example, students who are unfamiliar with the concepts may be required to complete tasks on the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, and application. Students with partial mastery may be asked to complete tasks in the application, analysis and evaluation areas, and students who have high levels of mastery may be asked to complete tasks in evaluation and synthesis. Here is a list of some of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by the best universities and other entities.

Here is some good information from about understanding trusts, helpful tips on preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, and more. At what point does the goal of accumulating wealth become destructive? Counterproductive? Dysfunctional? Narcissistic? Illegal? Deadly? It seems to me that it is really no different from any other addiction. Why isn't the focus of our millionaires and billionaires on giving back and redistributing their wealth in productive, socially relevant ways? Helping others is the model for 12 Step programs and religions, and is by far the most deeply rewarding life experience. According to a new analysis (pdf) of Census Bureau data published on April 23 by the Pew Research Center, since the economy officially emerged from the recession in mid-2009, the wealthiest 7 percent of households saw soaring gains of an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the remaining 93 percent—111 million households—saw their overall wealth fall by an estimated $0.6 trillion. The number of US children living in poverty grew to 23% in 2011. What is the most valuable thing you've learned from listening to beneficiaries? Weigh in here.

International graft-busting efforts are bearing fruit. New laws have raised the cost of wrongdoing. Financial markets are punishing corrupt companies. Most encouraging, activists have growing clout not only in high-profile cases but at grassroots level, where the internet helps to highlight instances of “quiet” (low-level) corruption. Citizen-driven sites like Bad Cop Santa Cruz and I Paid a Bribe are shifting the power away from internal investigations (where the bias is towards the offending institutions) back to the victims and the taxpayers. In May, in an attempt to clean up its image, Seattle PD became the latest department to equip its officers with wearable cameras. This year’s elections around the world were often marred by allegations of election fraud, including vote buying, intimidation and physical violence. But what is new is the shift in how such claims are being reported in the digital age – and taken seriously. Ushahidi, a company that specializes in interactive mapping, was initially created to map out reports of violence in the deadly aftermath of Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election results. Five years later, the tech company launched the Uchaguzi platform prior to the 2013 Kenyan elections. The most far-reaching approach yet, Uchaguzi crowd sources data via Twitter, SMS, Android, e-mail, the web and more. The comprehensive classifications of both negative offences and acts of integrity ranged from polling station logistical issues to police peace efforts.

The countries that support the American-backed Open Government Partnership (OGP) are committed to providing data about the way public money is spent, helping to highlight wasteful (and corrupt) government procurement. Apps contests and larger scale technical challenges such as XPrize are a new approach, circumventing costly and inefficient internal contracting mechanisms. Every two years, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls attention to agencies and program areas that are high risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. This site presents GAO's current High Risk List, explains what has changed since the last update, and provides background information and related multimedia. Although internal government investigations are often "cover ups", exposing, preventing and finally eradicating corruption is a key cost savings measure in lean budget years. Here is a good article on who is doing what to fight corruption worldwide. Here is a link to the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2014. Good governance didn’t make it to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when the United Nations established them in 2000, but today, a civil society organization argues there is no reason why fighting against corruption and making public officials accountable should not be included in the post-2015 agenda. A May 29th webinar highlighted "Emerging Technology Solutions to Fight Fraud, Waste, and Abuse". It examined customer case studies of agencies that have reduced fraud, waste, and abuse in a variety of innovative and effective ways.

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government 2012 Rankings includes the results of seven years of survey data, including trend charts of index scores. A good strategy for creating a healthier federal workplace is to develop a trend chart of the data for your organization, add the average line, look at the high and low and average scores and look for any outliers. Compare your assessment with the trends provided in Appendix D of the FEVS report. More data is always better and is needed for identifying common and special cause variation. Outdated government process doesn't work. Many of the managers in key roles are no longer "cutting edge", if in fact they ever were. I think we can all agree on that. So what can we do about it? Here are a few ideas from XPrize's Visioneering 2013. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held their first ever Twitter Town Hall on May 15, 2013. Join the discussion at any time using the hashtag #EEOfedtalk.

This year's What's Next DC conference was held on May 6,7 and featured communication strategy using case studies from the United Nations Foundation, The World Bank, Smithsonian, Facebook, Washington Post, National Geographic, PBS, Popvox, Accenture and many more. There were so many great speakers and sessions, I couldn't capture it all, but my slideshow will give you some of the highlights. Integrated Marketing Week is the event for marketers looking to learn and integrate on and offline marketing data, campaigns and technologies. The #IMW13 VIP Party was held at the 40/40 club, the all-American sports bar and lounge owned by hip hop mogul Jay-Z. Here is my slideshow capturing some of the highlights of the huge event. Key takeaways: From a retail perspective, the US acts like a developing nation. Use disruptive technology to embrace the consumer as a producer.

Here is some good information about Oracle Policy Automation. In our increasingly citizen-driven lawmaking environment, tools like this can help to bring more clarity to the stakeholders. The Oracle Policy Automation software has been publicly deployed within several government web-sites. Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship uses it for visitors to check their eligibility for visas. The UK Revenue and Customs agency uses it for their Employment Status Indicator assessment tool; and the United States IRS uses the software for guidance on tax law. On April 26, 2013, CodeX - the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics - hosted the first-ever CodeX FutureLaw Conference at Stanford Law School. Here's a look at some of the discussions from the conference, which focused on how technology is changing the landscape of the legal profession.

Ballot measures, referendum, proposition, resolution, and initiative: while the substance matters more, the terms can make even those with a law background feel dizzy. Even more confusing is that they vary some by state. We can start by describing them all as "ballot measures".

* Initiative: (E.g., county government form) While the word is sometimes used more loosely, an initiative is a citizen-driven, and generally citizen-drafted (although anyone can draft it) effort to put an item directly on the ballot. Requires a statutorily set number of signatures to get on the ballot.

* Referendum: Originates with the legislature - a citizen vote to accept or reject a law, like a popular veto power. Referenda formats vary by state; some are petition-driven, others offered by the legislature ("optional referendum"); or in some states, for constitutional amendments.

* Joint resolution: In Idaho joint resolutions are used for constitutional amendments, are drafted in the senate (SJR) or house (HJR), and require a two-thirds majority vote of both before being sent to the ballot. They needn't be signed by the governor. (Also used to ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution.)

The two states with the most citizen-driven measures historically are western: Oregon and California.

Here is a recent article about the correlation between public debt and economic growth. Economists have been astonished to find that a famous academic paper often used to make the case for austerity cuts contains major errors. Another surprise is that the mistakes, by two eminent Harvard professors, were spotted by a student doing his homework. It seems counterintuitive that wiping out government jobs and programs would help to invigorate the economy, leading instead to more global unemployment. There are fewer Americans working than at any time since 1979. This finally adds urgency – political urgency – to a jobs crisis that is only getting deeper and more painful for Americans. The unemployment rate keeps dropping – it's currently at 7.6% – which gives the illusion of a better economy. The real story is told by another number. Economists call it the "labor force participation rate". It tells us how many people are working, and how many are dropping out of the workforce because they can't find a single employer who could use their abilities, even for a few hours a day. The labor force participation rate is really a measure of potential that is lost: the intelligence and strength of Americans that goes idle because it cannot find a single profitable outlet. The deficit is not shrinking only, or even mostly, because of the actions of Congress or the President. The drop in the deficit is mostly due to the growth — albeit slow — of the economy, bringing the government more revenue than expected. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the increased revenue is also due to tax increases, most notably the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the higher rates enacted on upper-income taxpayers. Given the plethora of data showing unprecedented gaps between the rich and the poor, I would like to see an infusion of new tax dollars coming in from under-taxed companies and wealthy citizens over the next decade and beyond. Median U.S. CEO pay was $9.7 million in 2012, 6.5% more than in 2011. Median U.S. worker pay was $39,900 in 2012, 1.6% more than 2011. U.S. corporations pay an average effective tax rate of 12.6%. What are three factors that contribute to income inequality? Nepotism, cronyism, and narcissism. And let's not forget plagiarism, cleverly disguised as teamwork or the results of a single, highly effective team lead. If you have any thoughts on this subject (or any other), you can contact your elected officials here.

California is a role model for other states and for the federal government. Thanks in part to Proposition 30, California has been flooded with revenue this tax season and is on track to finish the fiscal year with a surplus of billions of dollars, according to officials. State coffers contain about $4.5 billion more than expected in personal income tax payments. Nearly $2.8 billion of it arrived April 17, the third-highest single-day collection in California history, according to government figures. Business taxes have also rebounded and are likely to be $200 million ahead of projections. The leading states by high-tech employment in 2012 were California (968,800), Texas (485,600), New York (318,200), Virginia (285,400), and Florida (270,900).

British tax authorities said they were working with the United States and Australian tax administrations on “data which reveals extensive use of complex offshore structures to conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies.” So far, it said, it had identified “over 100 people who benefit from these structures … and are under investigation for offshore tax evasion.” They have also identified more than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and other professional advisors who advise on setting up these structures who will also be scrutinized. Here is the Council of the European Union's conclusions on tax evasion and tax fraud.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the annual suicide rate among people ages 35 to 64 increased a startling 28.4 percent between 1999 and 2010. For people in their 50s, the number of suicides doubled in that period. The findings highlight the need for suicide prevention geared specifically toward middle-aged populations, according to the report. Historically, suicide rates correlate with economic downturns. The U.S. economy twice went into recession during the period under study, in 2001 and between December 2007 and June 2009. “I’m sure that the economy shift had something to do with it,” said Dar Walker, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness St. Louis chapter. “Especially if you’re 48 years old and haven’t worked in three years.” Workers in their fifties are about 20% less likely than workers ages 25 to 34 to become re-employed, according to an Urban Institute study published last year. "Once you leave the job market, trying to get back in it is a monster," said Mary Matthews, 57, who has teetered between bouts of unemployment and short temp jobs for the last five years.

In a new book, “The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath,” author Nicco Mele argues that global cynicism is not only warranted, it’s the inevitable result of social and political changes wrought by what he calls “radical connectivity.” That is, our ability to send vast amounts of data instantly, constantly and globally using breathtaking new tools that “empower the individual at the expense of existing institutions and ancient social structures.” These include government, businesses, entertainment, military, schools, media, religion, and other big institutions designed to protect and sustain people. Here is my first slideshow on this subject, entitled Disruption - Part 1. The University of Southern California (my alma mater) is the first to offer a degree in Disruption. Disruptive technology is changing the way we work, think, and innovate on a global scale. As an example, an interactive map released in May by U.S. geography students shows what regions in America originate the highest number of racist and homophobic posts on Twitter. Mele goes on to say that "radical connectivity is altering the exercise of power faster than we can understand it. Most of us feel lost in the dust kicked up by the pace of change. We can tell political, social, and economic life is shifting, but we don't know what to make of it in the aggregate."

Polls consistently show our faith in institutions in steep decline. In particular, trust in Washington is at near-record lows because the current model is a “vending machine government,” a phrase Mele borrows from technologist Tim O’Reilly to describe public frustration. Politicians make promises, we pay taxes, and our participation is limited to “shaking the vending machine.”

Instead, Mele writes, government should be considered a “platform” upon which individuals, organizations, and companies can build services and offerings that suit the times—flexible, transparent, and accountable. Here is a recent OGP blog on transforming multilateralism and global innovation. The OGP as a new model of international cooperation raises a number of challenging questions: How do governments benefit from their participation in OGP, and what will keep them engaged over time? How can civil society balance its role as a critical ally, where it must play the roles of both advocate and monitor? And how can we bridge the gap between countries that embrace participation in these new, mixed coalitions, and those that remain on the outside? For the OGP, promoting solid democratic institutions is what counts most. Fortunately, with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), countries of the so-called Arab Spring (Middle Eastern and North African nations), such as Tunisia, seem to be willing to prepare their institutions for future adherence to OGP.

Although Russia has retracted its letter of intent, its government's version of "openness" may endure, at least with respect to federal, city and state IT systems. Over the winter, a version of "Open Government a la Russe" - In Cyrillic большоеправительство or or “big government” — seemed to accelerating at the national level and catching on in its capital. Maybe that will still happen, and the Russian national action plan will go forward. Open government and technology blogger Alex Howard broke the news of Russia’s withdrawal from the OGP on May 17. In the meantime, the recent crackdown on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world suggests the need for stronger privacy settings on sites like Twitter and Facebook. The OGP is currently seeking researchers for 39 country action plans including Canada, Israel, Ukraine, Turkey and Spain. Welcome to the newest OGP countries, Australia and Ireland (where my maternal grandfather was born).

In the wake of the events in Boston, here are some good resources for dealing with violence and traumatic events. Here is an insightful tweet from Adriel Hampton ‏@adrielhampton at Gov 2.0 LA on April 20th:

Boston+internet is an unregulated view of violence new to American consciousness, says @obs3sd - compare to LIFE images of Vietnam.

Yet, death in the workplace is a much more real possibility for almost all Americans than is death at the hands of a terrorist. In 2011, 4,609 Americans were killed in workplace accidents while only 17 Americans died at the hands of terrorists — about the same number as were crushed to death by their televisions or furniture. Here is a 2013 report entitled Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities. Unfortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is limited in what it can accomplish, and occupational illnesses and injuries still cost an estimated $250-300 billion each year. In Japan, the word for "death from overwork" is Karōshi. Japan is one of the few countries that reports it in the statistics as a separate category. The major medical causes of karōshi deaths are heart attack and stroke due to stress.

Here is a map of the leading causes of death worldwide. Here are the statistics for how people are murdered in the United States.

There are many hidden costs to perpetuating the idea that the war on terror is "permanent". Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian writes: "though rarely visible, the costs are nonetheless gargantuan. Just in financial terms, as Americans are told they must sacrifice Social Security and Medicare benefits and place their children in a crumbling educational system, the Pentagon remains the world's largest employer and continues to militarily outspend the rest of the world by a significant margin. The mythology of the Reagan presidency is that he induced the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring it into unsustainable military spending and wars: should there come a point when we think about applying that lesson to ourselves?"

Less common knowledge, and harder to suss out than police brutality footage on Youtube, though, is the close ties that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has to law enforcement militarization. This is to the tune of billions of dollars in DHS loans for tanks, surveillance, and other tech that have helped turn Officer Friendly into the riot-ready or even war-ready soldiers you see at every protest, and sometimes at your doorstep.

In March 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched an investigation into this phenomenon. They’re calling the project “Towns Don’t Need Tanks.” So far they have “filed over 260 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments.”

My blog, and the Open Government Partnership in general, provides a peaceful alternative to terrorism, war and workplace violence/accidents/death. Namaste.

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