Archive for March, 2010

Library Hours for the 2010 Easter Weekend

We are closed Friday, April 2 through Sunday, April 4. We will re-open for business Monday, April 5 at 7:30am.

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How School Districts Spend Their Monies

The 2010 Comparative Spending Guide was recently released by the New Jersey Department of Education. Each district is rated by 21 indicators ranging from classroom salaries/benefits to operation and maintenance of the physical plant, and the numbers arrived at are presented as a “cost per pupil” enumeration.  Both state average and median figures are provided as well. As voting on school budgets quickly approaches (in Jersey, it is April 20), this guide can provide valuable information for those who present budgets and those who vote on them. For differing viewpoints on this most critical budget, please consult the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey School Boards Association. News articles on New Jersey school budgets can be perused here.

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Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009

The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009 has just been published; the executive summary is also available. State profiles may be examined as well as previous reports . Related readings on reading can be found at : The Philadelphia Inquirer, CNN, the Associated Press, The New York Times, and U.S. Department of Education.

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Say Goodbye to Interlibrary Loan

Possibly lost among all the bad news emanating from Trenton is the fact that library services across the state will be devastated. According to Norma Blake, the State Librarian for New Jersey, the 74% decrease in state aid will cripple libraries. Among services targeted would be the interlibrary system within the state. Libraries would have to resort to book rate mail that is far slower than the present system and also costs money for postage that libraries have no funds for. It will mean faculty, staff, and students will have to subsidize the shipping costs or travel to the libraries where the materials are located. In addition, the loss of state aid would mean that this library will need to pick up the costs of two previously subsidized databases -  the heavily-used Academic Search Premier and Business Source Premier to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Other databases are also threatened. Additional measures call for the State Library to be run by Rutgers University, a partnership unheard of in other states. More can be read from : Library Journal, New Jersey Library Association, NorthJersey.com, and “talking points” from Norma Blake. UPDATE: A very informative article, along with quotes from some library leaders, is found in this Star-Ledger article: Budget Imperils New Jersey Libraries.

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Online Federal Budget Documents

This handy CRS report – FY2011 Budget Documents: Internet and GPO Availability - guides you, gentle reader, to online versions of the various budget documents submitted each year, including the budget justitications for the various departments.

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NJCU to Lose $4.6 Million in State Aid

Don’t shoot the messenger, but on p.80 of the Fiscal 2011 Budget in Brief, NJCU is slated to lose that amount of money. Governor Christie visited the Star-Ledger for a wide-ranging discussion on his budget; you can read and watch it here. You can also read the reaction of the NJACSU (New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities).

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List of Districts to Have School Aid Reductions

By using this site from the NJ Department of Education, anyone can find the amount of school aid cuts proposed by Christie; for example, Jersey City will lose $23.3 million. Additional details are available from The New York Times , Philadelphia Inquirer, Star-Ledger, Courier Post, Trenton TimesJersey Journal, and the Bergen Record.

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Governor Christie’s Budget Address

Governor Christie goes before the Legislature today at 1PM to deliver his first budget speech; you can watch it here. The transcript is now online. Advance information paints a dire  picture: $800 million cut in school aid along with a $175 million hit for the public colleges. Reactions and analyses can be found at: The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Bloomberg,

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Obama to Revise the No Child Left Behind Act

Titled A Blueprint for Reform, this plan would significantly alter the way schools are being evaluated. As stated by the President in his weekly radio address: “Under these guidelines, schools that achieve excellence or show real progress will be rewarded, and local districts will be encouraged to commit to change in schools that are clearly letting their students down.  For the majority of schools that fall in between – schools that do well but could do better – we will encourage continuous improvement to help keep our young people on track for a bright future….” Reactions can be found at USA Today, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. This overhaul, in light of the recent report on common standards, is meant to prepare students for college and work in the 21st century.

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Christie Plans to Privatize State Jobs

Only days after Governor Christie stated that he was bound by an “exquisite pair of handcuffs” at a meeting with officials at Haddon Heights, he has signed Executive Order No.17 creating the New Jersey Privatization Task Force (which, btw, has no state employee representative on it) which has until May 31 to issue its findings on the possibilities and methods of privatizing state jobs. Analysis of this move is covered by: the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Star-Ledger, Business Week, and the Bergen Record.

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Who is Carlos Slim?

Only the wealthiest person in the world,  according to the most recent Forbes  The World’s Billionaires(this link also gives you access to many other billionaire-related lists; i.e., homes of the billionaires, top billionaire cities, etc.) His actual name is Carlos Slim Helu and he is a telecommunications giant in Mexico who has broadened his footprint into a number of diversified industries through his Grupo Carso. He currently owns 17% of the common stock of The New York Times, to which he loaned $250 million in early 2009. More information can be found here: Best Practices for Becoming the World’s Richest Man (from the AtlanticWire – it contains links to other stories); Carlos Slim Helu (biography.com); Profile: Carlos Slim (BBC); and Carlos Slim Helu (New York Times Topics – lots of links to NYT articles). Other reports of interest include: Priorities for Telecommunications Reform in Mexico (Stanford, 2007); Mexico Must Boost Competition in Telecom, OECD Says (Bloomberg News, 2007);  IT and Telecom in Mexico (U.S. Commercial Service, 2009); and Background Note: Mexico (State Dept., 2010)

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Nationwide Curriculum Standards

In response to recent reports of how American students compared to their international counterparts on benchmarked tests, the National Governors’ Association developed the Common Core State Standards in conjunction with other groups, among them the chief education officers of 48 states (Alaska and Texas opted out). After soliciting opinions from the various stakeholders, these standards are available for comment. The thrust of these standards is to provide K-12 education that equips students with high-order skills for both college and the working environment. Additional information/comments can be found at: NCTE, NCTM, IRA, School Library Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post.

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Mandated State Residency for ALL State Workers

Identical bills have been recently introduced in both the Assembly and the Senate requiring ALL state workers, including college and university employees, to establish their primary residence in New Jersey. New employees would be given a four-month window; current employees would be given 2 1/2 years to find a Jersey home. Additional information may be found: The Star-Ledger, nj.com, PolitickerNJ, and the Bergen Record.

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Teachers’ Views on Education

In probably the largest study of its kind, slightly more than 40,000 teachers from all grades levels and states  responded to a survey funded by the Gates Foundation. The report based on this survey – Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools  - reveals what teachers think are the most important factors in public education. For instance, 68% opine that supportive leadership is  absolutely essential for teacher retention, and only 45% rate higher salaries at the same level.(p.39) A majority of respondents also embrace new digital technologies and consider them an essential component of today’s education.(p.37) Tables and statistics are analyzed in a variety of ways: by age, by length of service, by grade taught, by state, etc. A valuable and timely document. This can be supplemented by the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, an annual undertaking since 1984.

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Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches

If you, gentle reader, wish to read both the onstage acceptance speeches and the backstage interviews of the award winners, please come here. Also, you may avail yourself of the Academy Awards Acceptance Speeches Database which contains transcripts  (as well as videos of recent ceremonies) at least back to 1946.

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2010 Spring Recess Library Hours

The Library will be open 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday, March 8 through Friday, March 12, and it will be closed Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14. Regular hours resume at 7:30am on Monday, March 15.

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No More Saturday Mail Deliveries

That is one of the recommendations offered by Postmaster General John Potter at a conference hosted by the Post Office yesterday.(A video of the conference is available from C-SPAN.) However, as drastic a step as this may seem, a recent Gallup Poll showed that  66% of those questioned are in favor of no mail delivery on Saturday as a way of keeping the Post Office afloat. Six other recommendations are enumerated in Ensuring a Viable Postal Service for America: An Action Plan for the Future. Three outside consultants were retained to examine the plight of the postal service; here are their reports: Boston Consulting Group – Projecting U.S. Mail Volumes to 2020;  McKinsey & Company – USPS Future Business Model; and Accenture – Is Diversification the Answer to Mail Woes? So dire is the situation that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) has placed the Post Office on its “high risk” list. Other reports worth mentioning are: The U.S. Postal Services Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress (CRS); The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the U.S. Postal Service (Senate Hearing); Financial State of the U.S. Postal Service (House Hearing); More Than Stamps: Adapting the Postal Service to a Changing World (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform). An historical overview of the Post Office is here; additional historical works can be accessed here and here. We must confess, gentle reader, to a feeling of dismay at the dimunition of this national service. In our youth, we worked for the Post Office. Long will we remember the “swing room,” the “relay boxes,” “riding shotgun,” “route and street,” and riding the subways for free by flashing our Post Office badges. Believe it or not, at Christmas time, we made deliveries TWICE A DAY!! Times change.

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Updated Congressional Biography Sources

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Economic Crisis – March 2010 Update

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