Education needs to wait when you find out that you missed over 200 episodes of FakeTaxi!

Box Tops for Education: What you should know

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If you have purchased anything commercially packaged in the past few years, without a doubt you have purchased something that had the Box Tops for Education logo on them. You may have glanced over it without really knowing what you are looking at, but there is actual value to the box tops beyond looking kind of catchy on the top of the cardboard boxes.

For parents, it is important to help support your child’s education in any way that you can. Sometimes that includes participating in fundraising. Box Tops for Education is an easy way to participate without having to take up too much of your time.

What is the program?

Basically with the Box Tops for Education program you look for the logo on the top of certain packaged boxes. There are so many different participating products, I could not list them all, but here is an abbreviated list to give you an idea:

  • Annie’s® Baking Mixes
  • Bisquick™
  • Fiber One™ Mixes
  • Reynolds® Parchment Paper
  • Reynolds® Bakeware Pans
  • Reynolds® StayBrite® Baking Cups
  • Cascadian Farm™ Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm™ Farm Stand Harvest Cherry, Almond and Quinoa Granola
  • Cascadian Farm™ Farm Stand Harvest Honey, Almond and Chia Granola
  • Cascadian Farm™ Farm Stand Harvest Vanilla, Coconut and Pumpkin Seed Granola
  • Cascadian Farm™ Protein Granola
  • Cheerios™ Cereal
  • Chex™ Cereal
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch™ Cereal
  • Cocoa Puffs™ Cereal
  • Finish® Dishwashing Detergent
  • Lysol® Bathroom Cleaners
  • Lysol® Disinfecting Spray
  • Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes
  • Chex Mix
  • Fiber One Fruit Snacks
  • Nature Valley Granola Bars
  • Mott’s Juice
  • Annie’s Snack Mix
  • Larabar Renola Grain Free Granola
  • Ocean Spray Fruit Flavored Snacks
  • And so many more… The complete list is here http://www.boxtops4education.com/earn/participating-products.

How to Participate

If you are looking to participate in the fundraising program of Box Tops for Education, all you need to do is purchase the participating products and cut out the box top. You need to be sure that you are cutting the box top off cleanly and inside of the lines in order for the Box Top code to be legible and count. Then you would sent the Box Tops with your child or someone’s child for them to deliver to the school. It is then up to the school to submit them in order to collect the money for them.

How much are they worth?

Most Box Tops are worth ten cents per Box Top, though some of them are worth more than others. You need to look well at the box to ensure that it is not one of the ones that is worth double. A school can collect Box Tops for up to $20,000 each year. You can do an awful lot with $20,000, so it is definitely worth the time that it takes to cut out the Box Top before you throw away the product’s packaging.

Things to Remember

Box Tops definitely expire so you need to be sure that the Box Tops are current before going through the effort of cutting them out to begin with. You should also double check that your child’s school is actually participating in the program. If they are not, perhaps there is another local school participating so your work is not completely in vain. Also remember you do not really need to go out of your way in order to purchase a bunch of really specific products to get the Box Tops. A Box Top is only ten cents so it should be something you would have purchased anyway. And they are on so many different types of products nowadays that you do not have to do anything extreme or crazy in order to find some that can work.

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7 Facts about the Educational Foundation of America

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Established in 1959, the Educational Foundation of America has been working toward improving aspects of education throughout the Unites States. Foundations like the EFA are all labors of love, because their goal is not to bring in money, like a capitalist system, but instead are dedicated to the improvement of the education in the United States. As the media likes to continually show us, America’s education system is getting behind the rest of the world, putting our reputation as a first world country and the greatest country in the world, at stake.

Here are a few facts about the Educational Foundation of America to help you better understand what is so great about them.

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  1. There are three major grant focuses of the EFA. Their areas include the arts, the environment, and reproductive health and justice. The EFA has met controversy in the past because of its encouragement of healthy sexual education for children as well as keeping abortion and reproductive rights available to those who need them.
  2. The foundations will not accept any unsolicited letters of inquiry or any unsolicited proposals. What this means is that a single person cannot just write to the EFA and expect that they will gain a profit from it. You have to go through the proper channels and systems in order to request money from the EFA.
  3. The foundation was created by husband and wife team Richard Prentice Ettinger and Elise P. Ettinger. Mr. Ettinger became a professor at New York University when he was 18, since he already had obtained his law degree, but was too young to take the New York bar exam. It was during his time as professor that he realized the lack of teaching materials that were accessible and adequate, resulting in his creation of an educational publishing house as well as writing a textbook on creditors’ rights.
  4. Even after Mr. Ettinger passed away in 1996, his family kept the initial vision of the school alive and going, promoting more effective teaching methods got higher education. The original idea of supplying educators with the tools that they need in order to effectively educate their students still exists today, but has been expanded to include other important educational areas as well.

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  1. Their passion for reproductive rights was started by Mrs. Elaine P. Hapgood after she attended an International Planned Parenthood Foundation Conference. There, she learned about the population concerns that face many other places in the world. It was after this that Mrs. Hapgood dedicated her life to providing reproductive health services to both men and women without discrimination.
  2. The EFA is part of the Divest-Invest Initiative. The Divest-Invest Initiative is a group of foundations that made a pledge to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. The environment was another passion of Mrs. Hapgood’s and, following in her footsteps, the EFA has remained dedicated to any steps that they can take to help improve the environment as well as the education on how to improve the environment.
  3. The EFA is focused in not supporting companies that contribute to anything that the EFA is trying to get rid of. This means that they will continue in their pledge to protect the environment while supporting the arts as well as ensuring that youth have safe access to reproductive health services, as they should be. It is tricky to keep track of all of the secret lobbyists who may be supporting something you do not agree with on the side, so this means that perhaps it takes a great while for them to approve grant funding of anything since they have be careful about what they are supporting.

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7 Things to Know about the American Education System

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As we have seen all of the political dirty mudslinging as  of late, the question of the education system in America always comes up for air again. In that, there has been shouted that there is a crisis in the system. Between the Common Core controversies, teachers being paid below the livable wage, and schools slashing funding left and right, it does seem that there is a crisis happening in the public school systems in the United States.

But what is the truth on the topic? Here are seven facts on the truth about the American education system to let you decide for yourself.

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  1. The education assessment is mostly based on the graduation rate of students as opposed to overall performance. That means that C students are getting lumped together with the Valedictorians, because they all graduated. The statistic on graduation gets more depressing when we look at it from the perspective on race issues. In 2012, African American students only had a 69% graduation rate, while Latinos had a 73% graduation rate. Asians were the highest at 88% with Caucasian students sitting at 86%. Overall though, we should be doing better.
  2. In the early 1980s, the United States was considered the world leader on education, with our high school diplomas being worth more than any other country in the world. By today’s standards, we are currently sitting at 36th most valuable, having fallen terribly behind.
  3. It has been shown that the vast majority (97%) of low-income students need to use the school’s internet access in order to have any access to the internet at all. While this may not seem that bad, keep in mind that not all schools have internet access. There are 40 million students without high-speed internet in their schools, which means if there are any low-income students among them, which there likely is, those students will not have access to the internet at all. While you could think that the internet is a luxury, the truth is that we as a society have become so reliant on it that we need it to function at both school and work in order to be successful. Low-income students on the whole are at a disadvantage anyway, and adding in this to the mix cannot be a good helping hand to get them out of their current situation.

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  1. There were approximately 1.3 million high school dropouts in 2010, which is the annual average for how many students do not graduate on time. More food for thought on the matter is that if those 1.3 million students had actually graduated from high school, the United States would have had approximately $337 billion more in income earnings over the course of those students’ lives than they had having not finished high school.
  2. If a third-grade student is capable of reading at the age appropriate level, that student is four times more likely to successfully graduate high school on time than a student who is behind in literacy.
  3. As far as four-year institutions are concerned, only about half of students who start out at a four-year college will graduate in the allotted four-years.
  4. Teachers are often assessed based on the testing abilities of their students. But taking this into consideration, about 14% of teachers will quit after they have only taught for one year. 33% of teachers will leave within their first three years teaching and half will leave within the first five years of teaching. It is hard to think that the two concepts are actually separate from each other, but there are obviously other contributing factors to this as well.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Education in the USA

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We have been hailed as the greatest country in the world. Ok, perhaps sometime we are hailing ourselves that way, but regardless, you cannot disagree on the point that we are an excellent world power. The United States has its hand in so many different economies and countries around the world, that it still maintains its reputation of being a world power with ease.

But even if we are one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world, what does our education system look like by comparison? With memes floating all over Facebook about how Scandinavian education is superior, we need to look at our own system outside of the internet. Let’s just look at the hard facts of the education system in order to make a fair and appropriate assessment.

Our Literacy Rates are Excellent

Say what you want about the failures of the American education system, but you cannot argue that our literacy rates are not spectacular. We have a 99% literacy rate so when you factor in the people who cognitively cannot learn to read, you are left with a small population of people who were failed by either the education system or perhaps child development services. Really, that is an incredibly small amount of people.

Literacy should not be taken for granted either. Reading is an integral part of our lives. You need to read in order to take a subway, read a map, order food, read what you buy in the grocery store, follow road signs, and even just exist as a citizen. It is also fairly impossible to work in this country without being literate. Even the most hands-on jobs require the ability to read and understand things, even if it is at a rudimentary level.

There are Three Acceptable Forms of Education

The vast majority of children in the United States attend public schools (87%), but there are also private schools and home schooling. Private schools make up for about 10% of the education system. The least amount of children are home schools. As long as the programs are accredited, it is acceptable.

Public schools are what are funded by the state governments. The teachers, staff, building maintenance, and more are all paid for by the government, the curriculum is built by the government, and the school system is monitored by the government. They create standards of learning that some perceive as controversial that they expect the basic public school to be able to meet. Private schools create their own curriculum, but are still expected to be able to match certain administrative requirements in order to be considered an acceptable type of school. Home schooling receives the most criticism among parenting groups because it is the parent acting as the teacher instead of an actual teacher. There are programs and expected curriculum that home schooled students are expected to be able to perform. Overall, it seems like most home schooled children do very well academically, but they do miss out on valuable social building opportunities.

The Set Up

The American school system is generally broken down into four educational categories. The first is preschool, which is not required by the government and is entirely optional. There are state-run preschool programs, but most preschools cost money out of pocket for parents.

The standard breakdown of school for minors is elementary school (ages 5 through 12, normally), middle school (ages 12 through 14), and high school (ages 14 through 18). There is some variety as far as the age ranges go depending on birthdate cutoffs, how well the children are performing, and some schools will begin earlier than others. Some middle schools are three or four years instead of two. It depends greatly on where you are and what your school system is like. Most students will graduate at the age of 18, releasing them from the public education system.

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School Fundraising Ideas

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If you are looking into how to raise money for your local schools, the idea can be overwhelming and seem somewhat impossible at times. But do not despair. There are plenty of ways, both big and small, that you can raise money for your local schools. The ideas are endless really, so here are just a small handful to get your juices flowing.

There are a lot of ideas out there, so please do not feel limited by this list.

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  • Art exhibition: Have the students for the schools that you are trying to raise money for complete some art. It can be art of any form really. You could charge an entrance fee for people to get into the exhibition or you could have people purchase the art, will all of the proceeds going back to the schools. Offering food and drinks at an increased price would help bring in some extra money as well.
  • Bake sale: I know this is overdone and may be considered boring. But it gets parents involved and is something the kids can get involved with as well. And honestly, who does not enjoy eating some homemade delicious baked goods?
  • Bingo night: Here you could sell tickets for bingo night and then use some of the money to buy the bingo prizes and pay for food and drinks. Turn it into a fun atmosphere and keep things on the cheap. You will wrack in a lot of money if you can get grandparents involved as well.
  • Color run: Color runs are all the craze right now. You will see friends all over Facebook boasting about their 2K or 5K color runs, where they run through an obstacle course while people chuck color bombs at them. These are usually set up by specialist fundraising companies who can run the thing for you. They will take a cut of your profit, but seriously these things are so hot right now that you should still be able to bring in the donations without much effort at all.
  • Cookbooks: You could create a cookbook specific to the school you are fundraising for and sell it to the parents and community. Recipes could follow a theme related to the school or perhaps could be submissions given by parents and teachers to come up with the collection.

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  • Cookie dough: This is also through another organization, such as fundraising.com, but is also widely successful in bringing in money. It is frozen when it is delivered. If you are familiar with the Girl Scouts, this operates the exact same way. The students will go around collecting orders for the various flavors of cookie dough. Once the orders are in, they will go around and collect them and the money.
  • Knitting or other crafts: Having parents who are able to do crafts create them for a fundraising craft fair could also bring in a lot of money. This is an especially good idea around the holiday season when people will be looking to buy presents for various friends and family members.
  • Recycling: This works really well if you happen to live in one of the states that reimburses you for recycling, such as California or Oregon. You would encourage people to drop off their recyclables to the schools where you could then take them to the bottle returns and get the cash out for it. The fundraising opportunity will definitely require some effort, but it does have the potential for a nice profit if you let it run long enough. This kind of thing you would want to have going at least a month or so to let anyone who wanted to donate have time to get you the recyclables.

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The American Education System: A Guide for Foreigners

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Having grown up in the American education system, I think I have an understanding on how it operates from the student perspective. As an adult, have been working in the education for a decade, so I think that I speak from experience and knowledge when I talk about it. That said, it can be a different concept to understand if you have not lived it and are not incredibly familiar with it.

So this is a barebones guide for people who are outside of the American system to get a look at what it is.

Cost of Education in America

The majority of students in the United States go to public school. Public schools are free, since they are paid for by taxes. The amount that goes to the schools varies completely by where the schools are. Some states and local governments pump more money into the education system than other areas. This usually depends on the economy of the surrounding area. More affluent places will be able to pay for more than less affluent areas, so there is a huge variation between the quality of schools.

It is also because of this that it is harder to attract teachers to teach in low-income areas. The quality of the materials and the school itself is a lot lower if there is not enough money pumped into it. This is why there are education foundations to help out schools. Without some extra financing, many schools would fail under the current system since tax money is constantly being diverted away from education into areas that the government finds more profitable.

The Grading System

The basic grading system of students in the United States is an A, B, C, D, F grading system, where A is the best that you can do. Students that earn the most A’s in school usually have an easier time getting into colleges since they have already shown that they do well and are ready to go to college. C is considered “average” and is a passing grade. Anything below C is failing and is not considered a passed class.

The issue with the grading system is that it can be based greatly on test scores and standardized abilities, which is not appropriate for every type of learner out there. Also a disappointment is that when we look at our success rates for students, the grades are not taken into consideration, but instead it is the graduation rate. This often does not make sense as teachers are assessed based on the students’ abilities to pass tests, but not based on how well the students performed toward graduating from high school.

Who Has to Go

Education is required by law for all school-aged children. Of course if a student has graduated early, this does not apply. But a parent cannot keep a child at home instead of sending them to school. That is unless they are participating in a home school program, but these are also monitored and have standards that have to be met in order to be accepted. Children must go to school. Part of this was originally based on the United States Governments strong desire to have all children and adults be completely literate.

The literacy rate in the United States is pretty darned perfect, so while we need to do better with our quality of education as well as our success rate for students, we have mostly achieved a completely literate society. Unfortunately, this has not kept Americans from watching reality tv shows, but at least we know that they have the ability to pick up a book and read it.

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The Most Successful Education Foundation Grants

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Grant writing is no small feat and can be incredibly time consuming and frustrating to even the most experienced grant writers. That said, there are a number of education foundations whose grants are incredibly successful, meaning that they are actually worth all of the extra effort it takes to write a grant to obtain them.

Looking at the education foundations that support K-12 education systems, there are so many things to take into consideration when trying to figure out what is actually a successful education foundation. Looking at the top 100, here is what makes the grade as the very best education foundations in the United States. This is a short list and they are not ranked in any particular order.

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  1. Pinellas Education Foundation (Florida): The Pinellas Education Foundation was started in 1986 with the hopes of helping the education system and improving the educational opportunities that were in the Pinellas County School system. Part of their endeavor was helping students be prepared for college or the real world once high school was over. The foundation has blossomed over the past 30 years and now has many different scholarships and programs to students of all different backgrounds. The foundation reported a net asset of 31 million dollars. Not too shabby for a foundation at all.
  2. Omaha Schools Foundation (Nebraska): My personal favorite thing about the Omaha Schools Foundation is that there is a paid preschool program, where parents have to pay a whole $50 to register, but otherwise, the preschool is free to any who want it. Considering most preschools cost the same and sometimes more as full-time daycare, I am incredibly envious that there are any states who provide such an important and helpful service. They also sponsor a Kids Club where elementary school kids can dabble in arts, music, outdoor games, drama, and more. There are also teacher grants available and college scholarships.
  3. Clark County Public Education Foundation (Nevada): Clark County Public Education Foundation is located in the fifth-largest school district in the entire United States. It has been around for 25 years and boasts a whopping 140 scholarship programs. But the primary focus of the foundation is improving how students experience school when they are in the K-12 age bracket. Part of this includes giving supplies and books to teachers as well as helping children understand their potential in the world and what they can do with their education. It also helps low income students get dental care.

  1. Philadelphia Education Fund (Pennsylvania): Founded in 1985, the Philadelphia Education Fund was created by merging the Philadelphia Renaissance in Science and Mathematics and the Philadelphia Alliance for Teaching Humanities in the Schools. Later, the Philadelphia Schools Collaborative also joined in. The Philadelphia Education Fund is a foundation to help support educators in their classrooms, encouraging them to mentor children while keeping them interested in staying school and on track to graduate high school. Because there is a high dropout rate in Philadelphia, the foundation has proved incredibly important and beneficial.
  2. The Fund for Public Schools (New York): New York has both its hands full in keeping up with a high population as well as harboring some of the best schools in the nation. A dichotomy that can sometimes be difficult to manage. The Fund for Public Schools was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to provide initiative s to exemplary teachers, as well as scholarships and healthy kids programs. They combat childhood obesity while also supporting teachers in their hard work. They also fund the public school libraries, ensuring that they are still operating as a keystone in the education systems on the whole.

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The New to the Wiki Education Foundation? What you need to know

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When you are trying to get a general sense of something online, where do you go first? For many people, the answer to that is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that allows anyone to go in and edit the content. Of course that makes it questionable and not always the most reliable source of information, but as long as you are looking at it for a general overview of something and not in place of actual scholarly research, then it is a wonderful source. Wikipedia answers a great many unanswerable questions that plague the modern internet user.

The Wiki Education Foundation uses the publishing power of Wikipedia to connect to higher education resources. It enriches the education system. So what does it do exactly? Let’s take a look.

Editing Wikipedia

If you have ever wondered who the people are who edit the Wikipedia page, I have some answers for you. Through the Wiki Education Foundation, students gain experience by editing Wikipedia. They are reading information and learning while they are reading what is there and understanding what should be expanded and improved. It allows the free encyclopedia to have a fine tooth comb brushed through it without having to pay someone to do it for them. The win is that it is free for Wikipedia while allowing students to gain both experience and knowledge at the same time. It’s a genuine win/win.

Some of the student testimonials on the foundation’s website include “My favorite part about writing for Wikipedia was knowing that the information being presented is valuable to someone,” “It feels awesome to take information squirreled away behind paywalls and share it with Wikipedia’s vast readership,” and “I was encouraged by more than the grade. I wanted to contribute to something long-lasting, and something bigger than myself.” While you should always approach testimonials with caution, it does seem like the vast majority of students working with Wikipedia are having a positive learning experience and gaining knowledge at the same time.

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Designing Courses

Another wonderful thing that the Wiki Education Foundation has done well is helping instructors and teachers design courses that appeal more to students while increasing the students’ public knowledge. Some of the subjects that the Wiki Education Foundation have included are:

  • Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Translation into English
  • Applied Human Geography
  • Topics in Art History
  • Women and Writing
  • Neurobiology
  • Writing for Wikipedia
  • German Diasporas
  • Women, Art, and Culture
  • Writing Through Literature
  • Global and Cultural Perspectives
  • Urban Sociology
  • Human Development in Global and
  • Local Communities
  • Advanced Media Studies
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Modern Art
  • American Indian Literature
  • Geotectonics
  • Global Enterprise and Sustainable
  • Development
  • Cyberlaw
  • History of Psychology
  • Molecular Immunology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Evolution of Terrestrial Planets
  • Cold War Science
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Prokaryotic Diversity
  • International Trade
  • Authors: James Joyce
  • Virology
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Ethics for a Free World
  • History of Western Canada

The Stats

Since the Wiki Foundation took flight in 2010, there have been over 14,000 student participants in the foundation. Of the instructors that worked with the foundation, 92% said that they would work with Wikipedia gain, which is not a statistic to scoff at. There have been more than 35,000 articles worked on by the students in the past six years, showing that having someone actually look at the content on Wikipedia has been helpful.

On a personal note, I have noticed that the quality on Wikipedia has gone up exponentially in the past few years it is certainly partly due to the hard work of the Wiki Education Foundation’s hard work to ensure that the pages are as accurate and well-written as possible, allowing anyone with internet access to have the ability to read a free online encyclopedia.

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