Monthly Archives: April 2009

An Undelivered Nixon Speech

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. The following speech, revealed in 1999, was prepared by Nixon’s then speechwriter, William Safire, to be used in the event of a disaster that would maroon the astronauts on the moon:

Original.

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

   These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

   These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

   They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

   In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

   In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

   Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

   For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

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Ethics and Technology Education By Bill Havice and Roger Hill

Original Paper

Ethics and Technology Education
White Paper written for ITEA
By Bill Havice – Clemson University and Roger Hill – The University of Georgia
2007

Ethics and Technology Education
The Issue
Today we live in an age of unparalleled change brought about by rapidly emerging technology. People throughout history have had to deal with the consequences of technological advancements. It is important that we make good choices to minimize negative social, environmental, and economic impacts of careless implementation of technology. Informed ethical decision making and proactive assessment of emerging technology is essential.
Regardless of how well intended, innovation and development of new technology have an ethical dimension. Technology itself is not capable of possessing moral or ethical qualities, but the ethical issues to be considered by the innovator include the following:
Production of technologies that waste energy and resources.
Production of new manufacturing processes that might inhibit employment, or might inflict suffering on some people.
Development of an innovation that has only questionable applications.
Introduction of technologies that raise hope, but have potential for failure and disappointment.

The ethics of various human endeavors are influenced and changed by new technologies. For example:
Bioengineering is largely consumed with questions that have been increased by new life-preserving technologies, new cloning technologies, and new technologies for implantation.
Rights of privacy are being continually attenuated by the emergence of new forms of surveillance and anonymity. Is it ethical to have video surveillance in public places?
Additionally, the emergence of the Internet has added new questions regarding privacy and free speech.

Characteristics of the Issue
Sample Energy and Power Technology Ethical Issue
Challenges today such as global warming and depleting and expensive oil supplies are causing humans to supplement energy needs with alternative energy sources to make changes in lifestyle. For example, the potential for harnessing energy from tidal waves is being realized. Tapping into wave power and tidal power is becoming a real possibility in places like Alaska, California, New York, Washington, and Nova Scotia.
City leaders in San Francisco are considering giant turbines submerged in the San Francisco Bay below the Golden Gate Bridge as an alternative energy to power homes. Cecilia Vega (2006) of the San Francisco Chronicle described this proposal in an article titled Tides around Golden Gate are Potential Energy Source. City leaders hope wave and tidal power will decrease the city’s dependence on oil and make San Francisco a hub for tidal power experimentation. A task force made up of environmental leaders, clean energy advocates and other experts will be formed to advise the city on the topic. “We have an imperative to do this,” City Mayor Newsom said. “This is not insignificant. The imperative is global warming, the high cost of energy, the scarcity of resources.”
San Francisco officials hope that turbines below the bridge will capture tidal energy from the powerful flow that circulates in and out of the mouth of the bay and would generate enough power for nearly 40,000 homes. Citizens in the San Francisco Bay area are faced with ethical questions regarding the development of emerging wave and tidal power options. These questions include:
Where will the turbines be located?
How large will the turbines be?
What are the potential environmental impacts to the bay, fish, and other marine life?
What evidence is there that existing tidal power usage, in other areas, does not harm the environment and marine life?
Who will own the power generated from the tides?
Who will pay to build and install the technology?
What federal and state regulatory approvals are required to submerge turbines below the Golden Gate Bridge?
Sample Ethical Issues in Information and Communication Technology
Emerging information and communication technologies like email, cellular phones, and electronic scheduling are replacing paper systems in business, industry, and education. These emerging digital technologies are quickly changing the work environment by promising increased efficiency and lower costs of office communications. Electronic systems must be understood and used appropriately or ethical challenges can occur without our knowledge. There are ways in which the improper use of an emerging communication technology can create an ethical dilemma.
For example, email can handle a majority of correspondence. This technology is not difficult to learn how to use, is convenient, and inexpensive. However, standard mail is less vulnerable to undesirable interception than electronic mail. It is less likely that someone would be willing to open a letter than to look at an email. In other words, it is more challenging to monitor who has access to your email messages than it is to keep messages secure using regular mail in a post office. One might ask, what are the confidentiality concerns relating to the use of email?
Improper use and understanding of our emerging communication technology can create potential ethical challenges. In addressing these ethical challenges these questions need to be asked:
Are we able to do more with less?
Are we improving the quality of life?
Do we truly save time and resources?
A Brief Review of the Literature
According to Kidder (2003) we all face tough choices. Sometimes we avoid these choices, other times we address them. However, we do not always decide to resolve tough choices. People who have a strong sense of vision and ethical values have the courage to stand up and make the tough choices.
A shrinking world and technological progress, argues Kidder, means that problems are increasingly global and demand solutions that presuppose a framework of values acceptable everywhere. Kidder (2003) compiled eight vital values—love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, responsibility and respect for life. These can provide a basis for a moral code of ethics.
Harvey and Airitam (2003) contend that if you discuss the subject of ethics, you are talking about challenges. Our first challenge is knowing the right thing to do. Many people are taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. We learn that honesty is good, lying is bad; earning is good, stealing is bad; having manners is good, and intentionally hurting others is bad. The guidelines we use in separating good from bad and right from wrong are what form the essence of our individual characters.
Contributions of Technology Education to Teaching about Ethics
Technology education can address the ethical elements of Standards for Technological Literacy by providing students of all ages with opportunities to develop ethical decision-making skills. Ethical decision-making strategies can be taught and opportunities for reflection can be introduced in conjunction with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content.
To do this, select a real-life ethical challenge that is appropriate for the maturity and knowledge levels of the learners. By using a real-life situation, the experience can be very effective. Next consider whether or not the students have the subject matter background to deal effectively with the challenge. If not, it would be appropriate to teach that content before engaging in the challenge. Part of this process includes letting the learners discover that they need additional knowledge to make good decisions. Students learn that having the right information at the right time will help them make wise decisions about technology. This is an important part of becoming a technologically literate citizen.

References
Arthur, J. (2003). Education with character: The moral economy of schooling. Routledge. Cornman, James, et al (1992). Philosophical Problems and Arguments – An Introduction, 4th ed., Indianapolis: Hackett.
Harvey, E. & Airitam, S. (2002) Ethics4Everyone. Dallas Texas: Performance Systems Corporation.
Hill, R. B. (Ed.) (2004) Ethics for Citizenship in a Technological World. 53th Yearbook of the Council on Technology Teacher Education. New York, NY: Glencoe, McGraw-Hill (companion Website: http://www.uga.edu/teched/ethics/)
MacIntyre, A (2002). A Short History of Ethics. Routledge.
Kidder, R. M. (2003). How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the ethical dilemmas of ethical living. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Singer, P. (Ed.) (1993). A companion to ethics. Massachusetts: Blackwell.
Jonas, H. (1979). The imperative of responsibility: In search of ethics for the technological age. Chicago: he University of. Chicago Press.
Vega, C. M. (2006, September 19). Tides around Golden Gate are potential energy source. San Francisco Chronicle.

My thoughts:

To me, some of the questions asked in the SF turbine section are not ethics questions.  Where will they be located?  How big will they be? Who will pay for them?  What regs have to be met?

Those don’t seem like ethics issues.  Sure, they are issues, but I think they can easily be worked out and a solution found.  Maybe my understanding of ethics is wrong.  If it is, please correct me.

Second, I think the entire comparison  between email and snail-mail is wrong.  I can easily encrypt an email message so that if someone were to intercept it, they couldn’t do anything with it.  There is nothing that can be done with snail-mail that provides that same type of security.  The only thing that comes close would be hand delivering it to the recipient, which defeats the purpose altogether.  Once you drop that letter in the mailbox, it is entirely out of your control.  It can easily be intercepted.  To say that someone is less likely to open a letter than an email is a foolish assumption.  What is that based off of?  If someone is purposely intercepting your correspondence, it doesn’t matter what form it comes in, they will read it.

I’m not saying that their ideas or points behind their analogy are wrong.  In fact, I agree with the paper in general.  They just use a terribly flawed example and it really hinders their point.

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Top teachers could get extra $20k in Houston

Original Article.

HOUSTON — Top teachers could have shot at an extra $20,000 if they are willing to move to a struggling school under a federally funded pilot program.

The Houston Independent School District will be a test site for a study looking at whether a good teacher can get the same results anywhere.

The top English and math teachers in grades 4-8 will be eligible, but only about 20 teachers will be selected, the Houston Chronicle reported in its Saturday editions.

Interested teachers must be willing to commit to a two-year stay and already have a two-year record of improving student scores on standardized tests.

The school district will rank the teachers the same way it does to calculate performance bonuses and those in the top 10 percent will be eligible to apply for the Talent Transfer Initiative program.

But the district’s largest teacher union, the Houston Federation of Teachers, complained the process was flawed.

“They’re basing their selection on flawed data,” said union president Gayle Fallon.

Similar pay experiments aimed at luring proven teaching talent to challenged schools have struggled.

The Palm Beach County school district in Florida dropped its program after few teachers pursued their $7,500 incentive.

The Dallas school district also struggled to attract enough teachers with a $6,000 per year incentive so now Superintendent Michael Hinojosa wants to raise it to $10,000.

Patricia McNeil, a math teacher at Johnston Middle School in Houston with 30 years experience, said the money would not be enough for her to move. She is not sure she could produce the same results in a school that for example had high absenteeism.

“If I’m proven to be an effective teacher somewhere, then I want that same latitude and support given to me in another place,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s a question of moving one teacher to another building and thinking that’s going to be a solution,” she said.

This is a very interesting idea. I don’t know enough to figure out if it will work, but I don’t see the harm in trying. If the teachers are willing to move and take the risk, than why not. I also don’t agree with the union rep, although I would like to see the data to make an informed decision.

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Offering the Best Price for Learning Supplies: Free AMY MAYER

We need more places like this.

Original Article

BOSTON — Matt Knapp, a middle school history teacher, used to spend a lot of his own money on supplies for his classroom. Now, he goes to the warehouse-style shop of Extras for Creative Learning.

“I come here for the free loot,” Mr. Knapp said, holding two reams of paper above his head.

Extras for Creative Learning is a nonprofit organization that funnels castoff items from businesses into the hands of teachers, day care providers and parents. And the economic downturn is fueling a boom in some donations.

“We actually have been getting all kinds of office things from places that are either downsizing or moving to smaller offices,” said Jodi Schmidt, the director of the group.

Mr. Knapp pays $40 a year for eight visits to the warehouse, during which he can take as much as he wants. He usually stocks up on poster board and drawing paper, markers and pens, binders, and sometimes cups, fake coins and other props for skits in his classes at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Boston.

Ms. Schmidt said the center received items that would otherwise be destined for landfills or incinerators, allowing businesses a tax write-off.

The center, which has an annual budget of $175,000, picks up donated items at no charge. To raise money, it sells new and used donated furniture, like filing cabinets, tables, desks and chairs.

When Reebok moved a division to South Carolina from Canton, Mass., last spring, all the paper clips, in-boxes and other supplies that employees did not want were sent to Extras for Creative Learning, said Becky Snow, chairman of the Reebok Environmental Action Team.

The company also reduced its garbage cost by donating more obscure items. Heavy rolls of polyurethane film, most likely used to make prototypes of the cushioning mechanism in sneakers, turned out to be great for making music.

“Artists and school groups have been using it for drums,” Ms. Snow said.

Recycling for Rhode Island Education, in Providence, also redistributes corporate castoffs with an environmental angle — ensuring that materials are reused rather than trashed. The Kids in Need Network gives free school supplies to low-income students in 23 cities.

Extras for Creative Learning has nearly 1,000 members. Anyone can join, though rates are lowest for Boston public school teachers. The school district provides free space for the center in the basement of the Boston Latin Academy.

Since August 2008, the center’s data show, the school district has received more than $300,000 worth of supplies.

On a recent visit, Su Theriault, an education instructor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, chose some short cardboard tubes, felt and paper for a preschool project she coordinates.

Then an Extras for Creative Learning worker brought out the items she had called ahead for: 50 canvas tote bags so children could take materials home.

“I just saved $693,” Ms. Theriault said as she surveyed her items.

Along with the paper clips, paste and cardboard, there is the occasional must-have oddity — like the centrifuge once donated by a scientific company.

“You can’t pass up an opportunity like that,” said Teresa Marx, a chemistry teacher at nearby Excel High School who saw the item listed on the center’s blog and rushed over. “It was just too amazing.”

The demand for supplies is steady, and Ms. Schmidt said there was never a shortage of material donations. But like some of its contributors, her 28-year-old organization has its own budgetary troubles. Membership increased fourfold from 2005 to 2008, but furniture sales are currently down because of fewer donations. Cash contributions are also down, and expenses are up.

“We are going to be facing a budget shortfall, probably in mid-July,” she said.

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Teaching Economics and Pizza Equations By WILLIAM YARDLEY

This really is something that has crossed my mind. I wonder if there will be any consequences.

Original article here.

The students Jeb Harrison teaches in his economics classes at Pocatello High School in Idaho have learned one thing for sure about these hard times: for $5 you can get a 14-inch pizza with one topping at Molto Caldo Pizzeria, just down the street.

Earlier this month, after residents of Pocatello rejected a school levy intended to help address a depleted budget and rising costs, Mr. Harrison decided to find a way to help. He approached Dan McIsaac, the pizzeria owner, and brokered a deal.

If Mr. McIsaac paid about $315 for 10,000 sheets of paper for Mr. Harrison’s classes, more than a year’s supply, the pizzeria could run an advertisement across the bottom of every sheet handed out in class.

“Wow,” said Mr. Harrison, echoing the response of some of his students to the $5 pizza offer, “that is a pretty good deal.”

In the weeks since, Mr. McIsaac said, his lunch traffic has been fairly flat but his dinner business has increased 3 percent to 5 percent. The new patrons are mostly students’ parents

So far, no one has accused him or Mr. Harrison of exploiting students.

Mr. Harrison said that he had no financial or other interest in the restaurant, and that the idea had helped him teach how advertising works.

“I taught my kids a good lesson,” Mr. Harrison said. “I saved my school some money, and I helped out a local business.”

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