Canaan Calling

Education Reform, Writ Large!

A Relationship Can Come To An End Due To Snoring

sspThere are many factors that make one attracted to another. Snoring can be a deal breaker when it comes to relationships. Sleeping with someone who snores can get tiring over time. Lack of sleep causes irritability which can result in the ending of a beautiful relationship. Snoring pillows can offer the perfect solution to a snoring spouse. There are different shapes, colors and sizes available in the market; they are convenient and easy to clean. They are portable and you can take yours when you go on holiday with your love.

Teens are great fans of sleep-over; a snoring teen will not get an invite. Protect your teen from bulling by purchasing several snoring pillows to take to the sleep parties. Living with an elderly person can be challenging. Having a good night sleep will be possible when you have snore less pillows for your guests. Your children will enjoy living with their nana is she does not keep them up with her snoring.  Keep pets away from the bedroom if they snore. Make sure that all the bedrooms in your home are well ventilated to allow everyone to breathe in and enjoy a good night rest without snoring.

Why Do You Need A Snoring Pillow?

Those who have a snoring problem are quick to point out that they are willing to try anything to do away with the problem. Apart from the problem interfering with their good sleep, it also makes them be stigmatized by colleagues and siblings alike. A case where one has to spend a night away from their homes and with others is quite embarrassing to say the least. In fact, most snorers will always want to sleep after all the others have gone to bed. Meaning they may not get enough sleep at night, leading to a bad day the following day. Partners, who have to contend with snorers too, go through hell, as they have to endure the loud noise emanating from their spouses, yet it is not a pleasant experience at all, they are fast to recommend snoring pillows to their partners.

Since sleep is one of the basics of good health, many snorers proclaim that they cannot sleep well as the noise from them irritates those they sleep with, causing them serious unease when it is time for bed. This has been known to cause fatigue which contributes to lots of incompetence at work. Some snorers are also known to choke while asleep, especially when they have a common cold or a cough. That is why snoring pillows come in handy for those with this kind of problem.

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Saving Your Data With Laptop Data Recovery

Everyone’s worse nightmare is when their laptop dies on them and it does not turn on again. Many people face this problem at least once throughout their relationships with computers and laptops. Most of us store important and confidential data in their laptops or personal computers. In addition, when our laptop crashes and requires data recovery, it is not an easy task to retrieve lost data, as you can read at Nevertheless, laptop data recovery is feasible. Experts have been able to take apart laptops and personal computers and extract the data from the hard disk. By carrying out steps like dismantling the hard disk from the ‘dead’ laptop and assembling it onto a working laptop, professionals can access the data stored within the hard disk. This task is intriguing for non-experts, as laptop data recovery requires the professional to connect the hard drive and select proper settings to remove information from the drive to a working personal computer. With the existence of laptop data recovery, the ‘death’ of your laptop does not mean the end of your work or the loss of important information. By asking or purchasing the services of a computer expert with the appropriate skills, there is a bright chance that your data can be recovered.

Older laptops need data recovery most of all!Blue screens, virus attacks and master boot record failures are some of the dreaded things that we might face in our relationships with our laptops. When any of these sorts of errors arise, it usually means the possible loss of our hardware and our saved data. For most people, we store important and private data on our laptops, and losing them means big trouble for us. This is why laptop data recovery is now a must service that is available to help us extract data.

By removing the hard disk from the old hardware, connecting it to a working laptop or personal computer and finally accessing the data in the hard disk using the appropriate tools and software, computer experts are now providing laptop data recovery services. By developing this technique, you can now retain your data from your old laptop even after it is stopped functioning. The ‘death’ of your laptop does not mean a nasty loss of data because now that laptop recovery is available around you. By following the proper steps and using the right software, anyone can save important and confidential data that they thought they had lost. At this time, you can take online hard drive recovery help for your laptop as well.

Photographs, software and working data are some of the things stored in our laptops that are important and mean a lot to us. Backing up data from time to time is an important procedure to ensure that these precious and vital documents are not lost when something happens to our laptops. But sometimes, the inevitable happens. You forget to do your regular backup and suddenly, your hard drive crash occurs!

We are here to tell you that not all is lost. With laptop data recovery, we can restore data that is loss in your old hardware, which is no longer functioning. By removing the hard disk from the old hardware and connecting it to a working laptop or personal computer, we can now access information from our old hard drive with the proper technical skills and software. Laptop data recovery can be obtained with the help of computer experts. Or if you are the hands-on type of person, you might want to try to extract data from your old hard drive by yourself. Overall, we just want to tell you that laptop data recovery is the solution to regaining the data that you thought you had lost together with your non-functioning laptop or personal computer.

When your laptop crashes, you think that you will lose important and personal data like photographs, working material and significant soft copy documents. In the past, this used to be true. But with the advancement of technology, laptop data recovery allows users to retrieve information that they thought they had lost together with the hardware. Even though your hardware might not live another day, your data will be saved.

Do this with hard drive failure.There are several tips and procedures to follow before embarking on the process to repair a hard drive failure. This is in order to achieve a success and also gain meaningful experience in handling computer parts. Once you gain relevant knowledge on these devices you save a lot of money incurred when consulting technicians. First of all you should diagnose and determine the main cause of a defect. This could be a physical problem or a logical error related to software. These logical errors are mainly caused by viruses and program malfunctioning. Other common causes of hard drive fail include aging, electrical problems or human negligence in handling computers. There are several ways of repairing these devices depending on the cause and extent of a defect. The most common way is by using recovery tools to restore data and fix errors. Another way is by reinstalling the operating system in by first formatting a drive then installing this software or performing a function to repair and rectify faults. This software comes with well outlined user manual. Once you have fixed your drive, it is important to keep note for future reference. This is also ideal to facilitate you to analyze a device and determine the root cause of a problem. You should also have a plan and mechanism to back up important information and data.

Gain Knowledge and Skill With How to Repair a Failed Hard Drive

There are several ways you can learn how to repair a failed hard drive. This is mainly to save costs and inconveniences that occur when you have to seek consultancy services from professional. It is also important in order to secure personal and confidential information from landing in the wrong hands. This is mainly as a result of your storage device being handled by third parties. In order to get basic skills on this you should read extensively on the Internet and computer related books ad publications. This venture should be accompanied by extensive practical lessons. This practical exposure is vital in order to equip you with real life scenarios. To understand these basic skills, you can seek internship services from people who are already into computer hardware ventures. Old and unused storage devices are ideal for practical purposes at home. However, you should first make a decision on the type of hard drives that you want to specialize on. This is because these devices vary according to their model and company of manufacture. You should also equip yourself with essential computer skills and have information on other peripherals that relate to this drive. This is in order to be able to test or install this piece of equipment after repair.

Laptop data recovery consists of several steps. First, one has to take out the internal hard disk from the non-functioning hardware. Next, you have to connect the hard drive to a working laptop or personal computer. Finally, you need the right software and technical skills to access the hard drive and extract the data and documents stored within it! Laptop data recovery is not an easy task and you might want to request for the service of a computer expert to carry out this job. This is because an accidental mistake during the process might cause you to lose the data, which is stored inside the hard disk. So whether you decide to get the help of an expert or if you plan to do it on your own, we are here to tell you that you can retrieve your ‘lost’ data with laptop recovery such as that offered by!

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Recovering Data Prior Doing a Hard Drive Repair

Preparing for your thesis presentation and deliberation or working on your materials for the next Board meeting of the Company, and then there goes your hard drive crashing down. Suddenly your screen turns black. The fact that you need a hard drive repair comes into your mind. Fear creeps in as the thought of losing all the materials and wasted time preparing it. Pray hard that you can recover it. Do not get alarmed; stay calm. There are many ways now to save your files when you need a hard drive repair done. But first, do your “first aid kit” when things like this happen. Restart your computer. But if it keeps on saying: insert a bootable media, try to switch your hard drive from IDE1 to IDE2. If it still will not start, remove your hard disk drive from your computer and try it to your co-employees computer. If it still will not work then you will need a hard drive repair done. But your main concern at the moment is how to save the materials for your thesis or the Board meeting. Get yourself a data recovery software, which is available in the market. Some comes for free and downloadable. Again, pray that it works, because there is no 100 percent guaranty that it will work. If it does not work then it is time for you to bring your PC to someone who specializes in data recovery. Unless your hard disk drive is physically or mechanically damaged, then they will be able to recover your files. After you have recovered your files, you can then have a hard drive repair made.

It is always good to know where to go to have a hard drive repair. Though we are not wishing for our computer to breakdown, it is still nice to know where to go when an emergency like need to have a hard drive repair comes up. You can search for list in the Internet or the Yellow Pages. The hard drive is the core of a computer. Just like our heart is of our body. The hard drive stores every important software and data. It stores the most important software for a computer to run like your Operating System. If you are encountering power fluctuation in your area, it is sensible to invest in a UPS. This will protect your PC from sudden fluctuation and upsurge of power in your area. Take care and use your computer properly. Remember the Do’s like turning off your computer correctly. This might seem petty but a lot of computers collapse due to improper shutting down of their PC. Have patience in seeing that it is really off before shutting down. Always have your PC on a stable table. Falling on the floor can easily cause a hard drive damage. Especially now that hard drives come in different sizes and nature. Some can be sturdy and some imitations can be fragile. But in case you need someone to do the hard drive repair, just view your emergency list of phones and addresses to bring your computer. Good luck.

Data recovery depends on the extent to which the hard drive is damaged. Different data recovery approaches are used depending on the type of failure faced by the hard drive. A hard disk may crash due to physical or logical failures. When data is inaccessible and data recovery solutions seem unable retrieving the data, one may opt to purchase a new hard drive. Though it is an expensive option, it is better than risking future loss of data or permanent loss of data in the event of performing basic scans on the hard drive in trying to salvage the lost data. If possible, the damaged sectors of the hard drive are repaired and its contents are retrieved through data recovery solutions ready to be transferred to a different destination to minimize the risk re-occurrence.

The purchased hard drive is installed as a master drive and the original hard drive is reassigned as the slave drive. An operating system is installed into the master drive making it possible to boot from it while accessing the slave drive. The user is able to transfer any data recovered from the slave drive to the master drive. This option may be dangerous if the exact cause of the previous hard drive failure is not established and resolved.

Symptoms of Hard Drive Crash

Before a hard drive crashes, it exhibits some signs that appeal for immediate back up of all files and folders. The symptoms range from mild to alarming signs. Both physical and logical hard disk failures send out different warnings. The early warning signs include first, unresponsive mouse cursor and ignoring of keyboard input into the computer. This prompts for a reboot since nothing works. Second, files disappear mysteriously. Created and saved files cannot be traced. Third, the computer becomes extremely slow in creating and manipulation of files and folders. This pave ways to critical symptoms which lead to the hard drive crash?

The critical symptoms that signify that the hard drive is at the verge of crashing are: an irritating, high pitched, metallic sound from the drive. A normal functioning drive spins with a smooth whirling sound. When this changes, it is a clear indication that the hard drive is malfunctioning. Besides this, the screen displays a “STOP” error messages showing that the windows system is experiencing a critical hardware or software problem. This error messages are also known as the “Blue Screen of Death”. Furthermore, the computer experiences a frequent rebooting sequence by its own. This may be because of dust covering the motherboard or hardware issues but in many a times; it is due to drive problems. Furthermore, in critical conditions, a computer may display the error message “drive not formatted”. This is usually the peak of it all. An error message describing the absence of an operating system may be displayed. This confirms that a computer no longer detects the hard drive because it may be badly damaged to be read.

There is always a lot of hard drive failure information and symptoms at


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New Innovations In POS Systems

The winning pos systems, which are PC-based, costs about $20,000 per store to install. It is well worth it, according to Heaton.

“We can get sales at any point in time, by the hour or quarter-hour,” she says. Managers can find out the product mix at any given time; run out reports of servers’ sales and average checks; and obtain an entire-store financial statement. Store-to-corporate-office E-mail and inventory functions will soon be available.

As fantastic as the new system is, the logistics of setting it up were mind-bending, Heaton says. The touch screen, she explains, contains icons on a flat surface–one for each menu item. Instead of turning in a paper order sheet to the kitchen, servers press the icons and the order comes up in the kitchen. “You’ve seen a Denny’s menu,” Heaton says. “What are they, nine pages? Imagine putting that on a screen.”

Indeed, learning the menu layout is proving to be the most difficult part of the system for servers. After a two-hour tutorial, they’re picking up the technical end in about 20 minutes of practice, Heaton says.

Upgrading The Upgrade Is Huge

Touch-screen systems might be new to AFR, but they’re old hat at Arby’s, which back in the late 1980s was one of the first chains to use the restaurant pos software technology. Now, The Bailey Company, a 60-unit Arby’s franchisee based in Denver, is installing the next wave of touch screens–both customer- and cashier-operated.

There are a few technical differences between the old system and the new one, says Joe Morian, director of operations for The Bailey Company. The hardware is an upgrade to 386 megabytes of memory from 286 megabytes, and the cashier’s screen, formerly a PC monitor, is now an LED screen. Because of the hardware upgrade, everything–from sales reports to customer ordering–gets done faster. “It’s not unusual for a customer to be handed his food as he’s opening his wallet,” Morian says. Indeed, speed is one of the reasons the company decided to upgrade.

Later this year, however, the company will make an upgrade to the upgrade, one that customers will really notice: The words and pictures representing the food will be real, clear-as-a-bell photographs. “It’s a big difference from colored squares,” says Morian. “We will have a problem with people drooling on the screen.”

Other than the wow factor–and the higher sales that the company forecasts–the new system handles a variety of managerial tasks. Among them is scheduling. “We used to have 13 pages of paper for the schedule,” says Morian. “Now we have three.”

The stores can also order food and supplies through the computer; track inventory; and pull up-to-the-minute sales reports. These features help the company save labor hours, another reason for the switch, Morian says.


While touch screens are hot items for chains, debit systems are popular in institutions because they speed transaction time and cut the amount of cash employees have to handle. They also get customers to spend more money.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., has seen the student participation rate rise to 74% from 63% since it inaugurated a debit account for students on the meal plan in 1991, says July Wesel, manager of the Hokie Passport ID office (the hokie, a fictional bird, is the school’s mascot). “Students were getting more sophisticated,” Wesel explains. “They were raised on retail and wanted those kinds of choices.”

The plan has three tiers:

* A meal plan with the choice of 10, 12, 15 or 19 meals a week, which students can eat at traditional dining halls or the school’s two food courts/retail markets.

* Dining Dollars, discretionary money students can spend at the food court/retail markets.

* And a supplementary Yes Card marketing plan that gives meal-plan participants a 10% discount at retail areas.

The magnetic strip on the Hokie Passport ID tracks both the meals per week and the Dining Dollars, Wesel says. If students choose to eat a meal at a retail market, the math gets a little complicated: The price of the meal is deducted from the price of the traditional dining-hall meal. Because retail meals are more expensive, the student ends up owing money, which is taken from his or her Dining Dollars account.

It’s complicated, but it’s a hit with students, Wesel says: About 14,000 of the total 23,500 student population have some sort of meal plan. (The 8,500 who live on campus are required to, she adds.)

Taking Payments

When employees at Norman Regional Hospital, Norman, Okla., pay for meals at their newly refurbished cafeteria this fall, the money won’t be deducted from a debit card, but from the employee’s paycheck. “We’re upgrading the in-house payroll system, and that system and ours will be net-worked together,” says Paul Pape, director of food and nutrition services at the 240-bed facility. The debiting will work the same way–through a magnetic-strip card, he says.

POS systems

Most POS system touchscreens look like this.

The reason for the change? To speed up service, Pape says. “Right now, we’ve got tremendous lines,” he says, adding that the cafeteria is extremely popular with employees.

In addition to reducing the amount of cash handling, the system might induce customers to spend more money.

Hold The Gizmos

While some operators swear by the labor- and time-saving devices POS systems offer, others consider them super-fluous. At least that’s the case for Don Weissmueller, who owns Keegan’s, a 150-seat, casual-upscale “neighborhood place,” and Dan Ryan’s Sports Grill, a 300-seat bar and grill, in Phoenix.

Weissmueller, who recently replaced the hardware and software in his stores, did so not to upgrade operations, but to save money and get better service. The company that had handled his system was sold and “service got terrible,” he says. Plus, because 50% of his sales are put on credit cards, he was interested in finding a lower discount rate–that is, the amount the bank charges to process the credit- or charge-card transactions.

He ended up going to his own bank and getting a 1/2-point lower discount rate. “It doesn’t sound like much, but with the other, they were charging one fee for corporate cards and one fee for other cards,” he says. “This is the same flat rate.”

The new software, made available by a well-known credit-card company, is similar to American Family Restaurants’ in that it can manage the entire restaurant. But the speed with which it processes transactions was the biggest selling point for Weissmueller. The other features he can do without. “It can issue more reports than I want,” he says of the system. “But the information is there, and if I want it I can get it.”


What he doesn’t want is anything that keeps servers away from the customers, “including the remote printer on the cash register,” he emphasizes. “It’s my general philosophy that I’d rather have servers with customers than standing in front of a machine pushing buttons.”

That philosophy extends to the entire restaurant: Weissmueller has the restaurants’ bookkeeping done out of house so the managers can spend more time on the floor.

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Staying Competitive With Literacy

The US work force has a literacy rate of 80 percent while Japan’s is 95 percent: Better education could strengthen economic competitiveness.

To meet today’s challenges, our educational system should be producing thoughtful and creative workers. But our schools don’t measure up. What if children grew up enjoying learning and maintained that attitude? Their responses to our troubled future would be better guided, more thoughtful, more intelligent. This should be the goal for our schools; and technology can help. Revolutionizing our schools won’t be a quick fix, but in the long run ignorance is far more costly.

Literacy pays dividends.

The business sector has a longterm interest in educational improvement. A recent article in Business Week, “Human Capital: The Decline of America’s Work Force,” concludes that “investments in education and training will yield sure-fire retums we can’t afford to ignore.” The computer industry, too, should take a leading, pro-active role in the coming educational revolution. Along with fierce competition to produce workstations for industry at large, the computer industry should cooperate to mass-produce powerful and inexpensive IMM learnstations.

Hi-tech Solutions

The techno-entrepreneurial spirit delights in finding hi-tech solutions for the problems of a broad market. The data recovery sector, as an example, continues to benefit from a variety of mac hard drive failure solutions like these. Profits from the educational market could be the industry’s impetus for improving educational technology. With a half million new students joining grades K-12 each year-for a total of 44 million by the year 1997 -the potential is great.

Why will IMM help turn our schools around? Because we learn best by doing. IMM is not a spectator sport. Integrated sound, moving pictures, and text are stimulating and mutually reinforcing: IMM works because it’s fun. Children approach every new aspect of their environment with self-motivated, explorative good humor, playfulness, and open minds. IMM allows students to approach learning with these same attitudes: Instead of viewing a videotape demonstration of how a watch works, students can use IMM to assemble the parts themselves.

A new genre of educational material, edutainment, has emerged from a collaboration between computer game developers and educational software writers. Edutainment aims to create entertaining computer games that are unavoidably educational. For example, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” is a Broderbund program for PCs which teaches world geography while students play detectives tracking a band of thieves. The learnstation environment encourages creative problem solving, intellectual exploration, and left/ right brain cooperation. IMM has the potential to make educational media, for the first time in decades, more appealing than commercial TV, Saturday morning cartoons included. IMM will substitute homeplay for homework and, instead of passive couch potatoes, will produce active, creative minds capable of dealing with a difficult future.

A Proposal

Given IMM’s potential for improving education, industry should form a consortium with education and government to research the overall system design of learnstations at all educational levels. The task force should set general specifications for standard learnstation components, allowing many vendors to participate. I challenge the computer industry to lead all sectors toward the goal of installing a learnstation on every student’s desk by the year 2000.

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Satellite And Remote Courses Becoming Huge

Satellite and microwave transmissions have become commonplace in continuing education. Transmissions are typically set up between a university and a corporation, and both satellite and microwave transmissions allow for 2-way audio, which means engineers can ask professors questions during the lecture, just as if they were in the campus classroom. Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts are just two examples of universities that run such programs.

Distances no longer a problem.

Some companies have even moved beyond the one-university, one-corporation satellite link. Texas Instruments, in conjunction with Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX), created an extended continuing education system that serves Northern Texas. Called The Association for Graduate Education and Research, or TAGER, and now operated independently by the Texas Association for Higher Education (Dallas, TX), the network includes SMU, the University of Dallas, the University of Northern Texas, and the University of Texas at Arlington. The network transmits classes via microwave to a variety of subscribers, including Motorola, Rockwell International, and General Dynamics.

HP has also taken satellite education a step further. In addition to subscribing to Stanford’s microwave network, HP set up a nationwide computer-science program for its engineers with California State University at Chico. The university transmits classes via microwave to HP’s Roseville site, and from Roseville the courses are transmitted nationwide. HP even allows other corporations to subscribe to its network.

Nationwide network

Engineers also have another satellite option: If their companies subscribe to the National Technological University (Fort Collins, CO), they can participate in courses that can lead to a Master of Science degree in computer engineering or science, electrical or manufacturing engineering, engineering management, materials science and engineering, or technology management.

At present, 29 universities offer NTU’s accredited program, and about 70 organizations subscribe, says Mark Bradley, NTU’s director of customer development and service. Member universities include Purdue University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Georgia Institute of Technology; subscribers include General Electric and Digital Equipment Corp.

“The professors are teaching to students both on campus and at the work place simultaneously,” explains Bradley. “Their lecture goes to a video machine, then to a satellite dish. The signal is picked up by another satellite dish at the job site. Students at the job site can even call in questions via the phone.”

About one-third of NTU’s courses are offered live, while the remaining courses are videotaped and then broadcast at a later date. NTU also has an electronic mail network that lets engineers leave questions for professors, and professors have telephone office hours set aside specifically for NTU students. The average cost for NTU courses is $405 per credit, excluding books or materials. Courses average two to three credit hours.

Engineers who work for companies that don’t have satellite hookups might want to ask their employers to consider the Association for Media-based Continuing Education for Engineers (AMCEE), based in Atlanta, GA. AMCEE offers about 700 different videotaped courses, in long (25 to 50 hours) and short (one to 20 hours) form. The tapes are produced by the 33 member universities, including MIT and Stanford, and then distributed to companies.

AMCEE courses aren’t offered for credit, however, and company sponsorship is needed to participate in AMCEE, as the cost of courses–$15,000, on average, to cover the purchase of a set of videotapes–is prohibitively high for individuals. Still, though many of AMCEE’s customers are large corporations like General Electric, AT&T, and IBM, the majority of ACMEE’s business comes from smaller companies, says Greg Stenzoki, an ACMEE course counselor. AMCEE also rents courses for about one-third the cost.

With the help of a VCR, learning at home has become a viable option. The Educational Activities Board of the IEEE, for instance, produces a variety of self-paced independent study materials aimed at engineers who want to continue their education at their own pace.

Study materials range from home video tutorials (HVTs), which cover timely topics and update technological developments, to individual learning programs (ILPs), which are entire courses that engineers can finish at home. Approximately 50 HVTs are available, and prices for IEEE members range from $49.95 for a 2-hour tape to $519.95 for a 13-tape series. Eight HVTs are offered to IEEE members at a cost of $200 to $250. IEEE volunteers review the videos’ quality and relevance.

The IEEE also sponsors satellite videoconferences, which cover various state-of-the-art developments.

In-house opportunities

Because finding college courses that cover recent developments in technology can be difficult, many large electronics companies have produced their own in-house courses to cover topics perceived to be potential trends.

AT&T, for instance, has been teaching courses on the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) for about five years, says Conover. The company has a catalog of 150 courses specifically developed for engineers, says Conover. “For each type of engineer we hire, we’ve developed a curriculum that would give them the equivalent of a master’s level education.”

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Science And Engineering Key To The Future Of America

Most deans also believe students from high school to kindergarten must receive more exposure to science and engineering.

A program at Northeastern University (Boston, MA) is trying to provide that exposure. Northeastern sponsors 2- to 4-week seminars for high-school faculty members in an effort to improve their methods of teaching and to introduce students to engineering.

AT the University of Massachusetts (Amherts, MA), summer sessions in engineering target high-school students. Students learn about personal computers and low-level engineering and visit nearby electronics companies.

The AEA has also taken an active interest in upgrading education in math and science at both the elementary and high-school levels. It produces and distributes “The K-12 Model Program Guide For Industry/Education Partnerships” on a quarterly basis. This guide outlines various programs that have been successfully implemented across the US to enhance math and science education. The AEA hopes other schools will emulate these programs.

Women and minorities

As the white-male population continues to decrease, universities are also realizing they must step up their efforts to attract women and minorities to engineering and teaching.

According to the AEA’s statistics, by the year 2000, 83% of all new work force entrants will be either female or minority–two groups that historically have avoided careers in math and science.

“The percentage of blacks in the engineering profession is 3%, and for women, it’s about 12%, and for women, it’s about 12%. That’s not representative of the population,” says Eve Majure, manager of the AEA’s Electronics Education Foundation.

Although the AEA hasn’t announced a formal, national plant to approach this problem, its quarterly guide does outline programs that have already been instituted, such as the New England Council’s Science Technology Engineering Pre-college Studies program, targeted at seventh, eighth, and ninth grade underprivileged minority students.

Universities must also attract minorities and women to engineering and then encourage them to get PhDs and teach. “A small percentage of women and minorities go on for a PhD, and an even smaller percentage consider teaching,” says Brighton of Penn State. “The problem stems all the way back even before the undergraduate level.”

In an effort to change this, Penn State’s College of Engineering recently hired a director of women’s studies and a director of minority studies. Among their responsibilities: talking to high-school students about engineering and advising them about preparational courses.

A more obvious problem in attracting students to the teaching profession is salarly. Yet contrary to common belief, the issue of salary becomes less important once a student actually becomes a professor, say most deans. A starting assistant professor earns about $35,000, according to various sources in the education field–a figure that increases greatly from there, the sources say.

The fact that students are often uncertain after completing undergraduate studies also makes a decision to pursue teaching a difficult choice. They must decide between an industry job paying $35,000 and at least four years of graduate school, which can cost $12,000 per year on average.

“The money paid to assistant professors isn’t nearly as much a concern to students as the financial loss of four to five years of graduate school,” says Paul King, Northeastern’s dean fo engineering. “What we need to do is offer more assistantships and bigger stipends. We can’t expect to attract the brightest students with an $8000 stipend. We need to establish the idea that graduate assistants are half-time workers and should get paid accordingly at about $18,000–half of what they’d earn working full time in industry.”

Other ways universities could improve the situation for graduate students, King says, would be to offer low-cost housing and day care.

Funds for assistantships and stipends, however, are often limited. Although most deans insist the size and nationwide reputation of their schools have nothing to do with attracting qualified professionals, these factors do affect their ability to draw R&D funds, which typically help pay for assistantships and stipends.

Penn State, for example, is considered one of the top 12 recipients of industry-donated R&D funds, according to a study done by Business Week. “Our college budget is about $20 million. We get an additional $27 million from outside sources,” including the electronics industry, says Brighton. “All the research we do has to in some way impact our academic program, and that includes helping to fund graduate assistantships and stipends.”

Besides providing R&D funds, companies such as General Electric and Hewlett-Packard have also donated monies specifically for PhD candidates. Important technology subsectors, such as the data recovery industry have also offered a variety of funding and internships, spearheaded by Irvine’s Hard Drive Recovery Associates.  In addition, the AEA initiated a Faculty Development Program in 1982 that gave electronics companies the chance to sponsor engineering students seeking PhDs. The fellowships covered four years of PhD support, including tuition and living expenses. Half of the award was given as a nonrepayable scholarship, while the other half was presented as a loan, forgiven after three successive years of university teaching.

Under the program, 84 companies contributed about $11 million to fund doctoral studies for about 114 US-born students. Although the program was considered a success, the AEA board of directors voted to phase out the funding; the last two fellowships were granted this year. “We tried to stress the importance of continuing the program, but the board feels the are of faculty shortages has become less of a problem,” says Majure. “That may be true, but that’s because the gap is being filled by international professors, not US-born professors. For now, they want to concentrate on the K-12 problem.”

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College Students And Computer Literacy

Are our schools producing the computer-literate graduates we expect? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, if the college products who walk through our doors are typical.

Corporate computer managers often dread the newly minted graduate who trots in, takes a look at the computing environment and runs off to management saying, ‘Oh, you’ve just got to get X or I can’t possibly do my job.’ X, of course, is either the software or the hardware our graduate used in school.

Recently, I read an alarming sentiment from a university computer manager who fervently hopes Steve Jobs will price the NeXT at about $3,500 so all the manager’s students could afford it. What am I going to do with an employee who thinks computing starts and ends with a NeXT?

And not too long ago, a graduate student at a major university where the Macintosh is the standard student computer told me she couldn’t imagine using an IBM PC. The Mac-PC arguments aside, what is she going to do if she gets hired by a company that not only doesn’t use Macs, but does most of its work on IBM mainframes running CICS?

I worry about the dependency of many of our schools on the largesse of major vendors such as Apple, DEC or IBM. These companies often provide large numbers of free, or heavily discounted, computers to colleges and their students. Why? Because they know the students they capture in school will carry that brand loyalty into corporations.

Scratch a Unix fan in a corporate IBM shop, and you’ll find a student who played Zork on a Berkeley Unix 4.2 system. Look for a guy who specializes in do it yourself mac hard drive recovery, and you’ll find a guy who also knows quite a bit about Windows hard drive failures as well as raid information – more details.

I don’t expect our major universities to become job-training centers for corporations, but we need employees who are not afraid of computers, who understand the basics (such as the difference between a terminal and a PC, and the concept of a file) and have been exposed to enough different systems to understand that they all have strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t know how to fly an airplane, but I know what a plane is, and I know, generally, how it differs from a train or a boat. College students today should be similarly familiar with the differences between microcomputers, minicomputers and mainframes.

We all know diamond-studded MBAs who insist on using Lotus for everything from memos to differential equations, who often spend hours trying to get it to do something that could be accomplished in seconds with a basic word processor or statistical package. I am, quite frankly, amazed as much by their ingenuity as by their attachment to the two-dimensional spreadsheet.

Universities should be teaching students how to think, how to evaluate alternatives, whether the issue is computing or politics. They need to teach students how to learn and how to select the best tool for the job.

If they do, we can handle the details.

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The PC Industry Has Changed; Stayed The Same

It was a decade of polarity. The ’80s began in the deepest recession since the war. Inflation ran rampant and interest rates were the steepest in memory. Hard assets — gold, silver and real estate — dominated investor portfolios.

The decade closed with the greatest peacetime economic expansion in history and soft assets — stocks — in favor. Times haven’t changed, have they?

It was also the period in which the nation completed its shift from a smokestack economy to a service economy. And in a large measure, the personal computer stands as the icon of the decade because the currency of that economy was information; its treasury, the personal computer.

Absolute extremes were clearly reflected in the industry that drove this transition. Expansion rates in excess of 100 percent per year were the norm for the PC market in the early years. And at the same time as the industry was exploding, it was imploding. Technologies grew obsolete at an unimaginable rate; players came and went at a breakneck pace.

Today, as the market settles into a more manageable growth rate, its yearly expansion still makes mature industries green with envy.

Contradictions were also exhibited in the evolution of the distribution channel. This channel was created to serve as the retail delivery system for computers in the predicted explosion of the home computer market — an explosion that failed to materialize.

But corporate America’s zeal for productivity and its seemingly insatiable appetite for PCs filled the vacuum. Retailers repositioned themselves as resellers chasing Fortune customers.

This channel will carry into the new decade many of the problems that plagued it through the 1980s: overdistribution, channel conflict, pricing pressure, a lack of segmentation and differentiation, and the channel’s perceived failure to fully service and support the systems it sells. Indeed, one of the most perplexing dilemmas the industry faces is the issue of how to deliver increasingly complex systems.

But there is also a darker side to the polarity of the 1980s. In a large measure, PCs failed to fulfill their promise. They did not revolutionize society and education. In fact, they served as a wedge between the haves and the have-nots — the information-rich and the information-poor. They served to create a barrier between those who could afford hard drive recovery services, and those that could not. ( This is the huge wall that must be brought down in the ’10s, the wall that blocks a sizable segment of the population from participating in the information-based service economy.

Absorbed with their own interests and problems, people in the industry may choose to ignore larger issues. But fulfilling the early agenda must be a priority. The industry must assume a leadership role in restructuring the failing American educational system.

Unfortunately, this critical problem cannot be resolved without dealing with poverty. America’s belief that education should be financed locally contributes to the gap between the rich and poor, the well educated and poorly educated. The federal government pays only about 6 percent of the total cost of education, whereas the Japanese government pays roughly half.

Federal priorities and the deficit also contribute to this problem. The Department of Education’s budget for elementary and secondary education in fiscal 1990 grew only 5 percent over that of 1989. The prior year, this budget expanded by 10 percent. Indeed, one reality was left unsaid at the Education Summit convened by President Bush in September: the cost and who was going to pay.

The PC industry is in a unique position to shoulder its share of that tab. Grants of PCs should not be made to middle- and upper-class school districts, but to poverty pockets in the inner cities and among the rural poor. Indeed, the industry should provide, or at the very least finance, personnel capable of teaching computer literacy.

This is the industry’s social responsibility, and at stake is its own growth. The future of any service economy lies in exploiting information. That requires access to information. Without a work force exposed to and capable of using that information, the tools will never be used to their fullest.

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Hitting Mathematics Where It Hurts; Artificial Intelligence

Beyond being “whatever mathematicians do”, mathematics is the study of abstract structures: integers or points in space, for instance, or sets, and sets of sets. The beauty of mathematics is revealed when we develop a deeper understanding of such structures. To cope with mathematical abstractions, people have used practical representations as a way to visualize mathematical ideas ever since they first realized they had ten fingers.

Tracing the history of technology in mathematics, we see the invention and use of the abacus, the quipu, Napier’s bones, and the slide rule, all of which were improved ways of manipulating numbers. Drawings have always been used as a tool to express geometric ideas; Archimedes was slain as he pondered a drawing in the sand. The ruler and the compass were more than just drawing tools to the ancient Greeks. Their use inspired deep mathematical questions as to what could and could not be drawn with them–questions that eventually led to the development of modern algebra.

Recently, with the advent of digital computers, machines have given us even greater insight into mathematical problems. Simulations and computer graphics make it possible to visualize complex ideas and systems. Computers have been used to provide evidence for and identify counter-examples to conjectures in number theory, solving problems that had stood open and unchallenged for hundreds of years. Certain artificial-intelligence programs attempt to find theorems by heuristic methods, and mechanical theorem provers can find proofs for certain theorems, given a conjecture and some axioms.

But perhaps the most substantial impact computers have had on mathematics has been delivered by software systems such as Macsyma, Maple, and Mathematics. Programs like these let users manipulate symbols the way calculators let them manipulate numbers. They are capable of handling many of the unpleasant tasks associated with algebra and calculus in better ways than unassisted people can.

Computer algebra systems have been available to researchers since the introduction of Macsyma in the 1960s. Because they consumed huge amounts of memory, they resided on large mainframes and were consulted as oracles when difficult problems arose. User-unfriendliness, combined with massive resource demands, kept them out of the hands of all but a few mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.

Time and technology have brought about notable changes in this arrangement, however. Computer mathematics systems that can be used on much more modest machines are becoming widely available. Mathematica, for one, runs well on a Macintosh, a 386-based machine, or a Next workstation (on which it is a part of the system software). Since machines capable of running computer mathematics systems (which demand a few MIPS of performance and several megabytes of memory) should become relatively inexpensive and widely available over the next five years, it is reasonable to expect that they will soon be available to the masses. This development could lead to dramatic changes in education, science, and engineering.

What is a computer mathematics system” First, it is a tool for doing numerical mathematics which has capabilites that exceed those of a calculator. Beyond the manipulation of numbers, it is also used as a tool for doing symbolic mathematics. It can do mathematically oriented graphics that are much more interesting than pie charts. Let’s look at some examples of one such mathematics system, Mathematica, in action.

Suppose you have to work with big numbers, bigger than will fit on a calculator, such as

(5906 2953)

And you need to compute this exactly–scientific notation won’t cut it. In Mathematica, which uses arbitrary precision arithmetic, we simply type “Binomial [5906,2953]“, as in Figure 1, and the digits come spilling out.

Or remember yourself back in high-school algebra, laboriously expanding polynomials by the FOIL (first, outer, inner, last) rule. Careless errors constantly foiled your work, but had you had access to Mathematica, you would have been a key-press away from the solution shown in Figure 2a.

A third example concerns the inverse operation of expanding polynomials, that of factoring them. Factorization is well defined mathematically, but simplifying to find the nicest closed form is largely an aesthetic problem. The correct answer, produced by Mathematica, is shown in Figure 2b.

Generations of engineers have lugged around huge tables of integrals, with the hope that the identity they needed was somewhere in the scriptures. Computer mathematics systems make those tables obsolete, as demonstrated in Figure 3.

As powerful as the mind’s eye is, if unaided it can have considerable difficulty in visualizing mathematical surfaces in three dimensions. Computer graphics, however, can make complicated trigonometric functions considerably easier to understand (see Figure 4).

A final example involves the use of series expansions, one of the time-consuming tasks encountered in introductory calculus. I always felt they were taught as a test of character, and didn’t realize until years later that they were useful to approximate functions. In Figure 5 we’ve painlessly taken the first six terms of the power series expansion of a function around x=0.

If you remember the efforts of learning how to do these kinds of operations, you will realize what a boon to mathematics access to systems such as these can be. They have the potential to change the way math is taught and used.
=When portable calculators became widely available, there was a long, loud debate on how they would affect the teaching of mathematics. As the dust settled and it became clear that calculators were here to stay, their existence forced a re-evaluation of what it is students actually need to learn. Most people realized that while it was still useful to know how to add and subtract, extracting square roots by hand, or using a slide rule or logarithm tables, were skills of the past. And yet, there still exist school systems where these things are taught. Imagine the howling when we tell parents and the educational establishment that much of what is taught in algebra and calculus also must change.

It seems fair to assume, however, that within five years many high-school students will have the same sort of access to a computer mathematics system as they now have to a good encyclopedia. Even if mom and dad can’t afford a computer to run it on, there will be one in the school library. This changes the game of what should be taught in school. When students have a program that can manipulate algebraic expressions and do integrals better than a math major, it is clear that obtaining fluency in these manipulations is less important than it used to be. Thus less class time and effort should be devoted to them, freeing the schedule to allow for study of remaining subjects in greater depth or the addition of other subjects to the curriculum.

How should the mathematics curriculum change? It is fairly clear that counting, simple arithmetic, and other basic skills will remain important. The first significant changes will occur in high-school algebra. Much of the year is spent practicing how to manipulate algebraic formulae, which is certainly tedious and error-prone. Once you learn how to use a computer mathematics system, you will never attempt to factor [x.sup.4 + 5x.sup.3 + 9x.sup.2 + 8x + 2 by hand] again. Thus, a significant portion of the year can be freed up, leaving enough time, for example, to explain how computer algebra systems do their thing.

Calculus is usually taught in colleges and universities in a four-semester sequence. The first semester introduces the theory of limits, rates of change, and derivatives. The second semester traditionally concentrates on integration, with most of the time spent on tricks such as integration by parts and a variety of substitutions which are valuable only when you take integrals by hand. The third semester covers multidemensional integration–which is fairly straightforward but tedious–and the fourth semester differential equations, among other topics. With a program to do the formal integration and differentiation, a semester can be cut from this sequence with no reduction of its intellectual content. Since using a computer mathematics system requires practice and experience, these courses can be restructured to teach students how to enlist mechancial aid effectively in solving mathematics problems and what the inherent limitations of such systems are.

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Creating A Business From The Ability To Repair a Failed Hard Drive

Do you own a business venture that needs to know how to repair a failed hard drive? This is an ideal business venture because computer peripherals fail from time to time making your services ideal to many people. However, you should market yourself in order to make sure that you reach out to your potential clients. This marketing venture is done by approaching marketing agencies or placing advertisements on media publications like newspapers, magazines and journals. Attending information technology seminars and symposiums is also a way of reaching out to people whose computer parts have problems. You can also write articles on blogs, websites and discuss related issues with people on online forums. These websites and blogs should have the best choice of colors and layout to catch the eyes of a reader. Content should also be readable and captivating. In addition to that you can seek people close to you to give you relevant recommendations. However, you must budget for this advertising venture in order to make sure that costs are within your budget. Comparing different costs of advertisement is the best way to ensure that you choose the most affordable means of advertising. Also you should choose a means that is accessible to your target market. Before embarking on this, you should make sure that you have sufficient skill to attend to customer requests.

Do you know how to repair a failed hard drive? This is an ideal venture to those who want to buy devices that are not functioning properly. However, you should have enough technical skills to handle these devices. This is because you also need to analyze them accurately in order to determine the main reason why they are not performing properly – click here. You should also have proper knowledge on how to recover user data. This is because some of the people selling to you defective drives may request you to retrieve and hand over files that that they had stored in them. It is also advisable to recover this data in order to make sure that it is deleted in the presence of the owner. This is to avoid future disagreements and getting a bad reputation when data leaks from other sources. Other skills required are basic computer knowledge in order to make sure that you offer proper maintenance services to your customers. Satisfied customers will recommend you to their associates. This is an ideal way to market your business undertaking in order to boost your returns. In order to convince potential customers to buy second hand devices, you must have good marketing and communication skills. This will make it possible for you to convince them accordingly.

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Succeeding In American Education

In the business of quality education, nothing succeeds like failure. Every commission report that rails against the mediocrity of our schools translates into a multimillion-dollar government program for education. Every time the literacy rate or the SAT scores decline we get another batch of reforms to raise teacher salaries and fund innovative techniques. No matter what is wrong with the schools, the response is invariably “more”–more spending, more programs, more reports. In the private sector this is called rewarding incompetence. In public education it’s called “investing in our future.”

America has a blind faith in the melioristic power and perfectibility of its public schools. In her outstanding history of post-world War II education, The Troubled Crusade, Diane Ravitch notes the pattern:

Probably no other idea has seemed more typically American than the belief that schooling can cure society’s ills. Whether in the early nineteenth century or the twentieth, Americans have argued for more schooling on the grounds that it would preserve democracy, eliminate poverty, lower the crime rate, enrich common culture, reduce unemployment, ease the assimilation of immigrants to the nation, overcome ethnic differences, advance scientific and technological progress, prevent traffic accidents, raise health standards, refine moral character, and guide young people into useful occupations.

Traditionally, the faith in the wonder-working powers of education was based on the belief that if you could teach people to think well, they would be less likely to fall into poverty, commit crimes, practice racism, or submit to demagoguery. But after 1945, people in and around the Federal Government began to believe in public schools as institutions through which social problems could be addressed directly. Instead of relying on a good education to help blacks get decent jobs that would integrate them into society, the government created a busing program a force integration in the schools. Instead of depending on the standard English curriculum to assimilate immigrants, we now have the Bilingual Education Act, which sponsors curricula in 68 languages, including Siberian Yupik, Aleut, and several American Indian languages that have no written form. Instead of teaching students how to evaluate research reports, or how to understand carcinogens, we now have legislatively mandated health courses telling students not to smoke. The emphasis is on propaganda, not education.

The faith in education is now based on a series of grandiose boasts about public schools’ ability to solve public-policy problems. For example, Lyndon Johnson told the nation, “All our problems come down to a single word, and that word is education.” And last summer, Mary Futrell, president of the National Education Association, demanded more federal aid to the schools with the argument, “Place education first. Everything else will then fall into place.”

Diane Ravitch, who has a tendency to tell a tale and then ignore its moral, smiles on all this. She praises the growth of educational endeavors and concludes her book with the following lump of saccharin: “If it seems naively American to put so much stock in the schools, colleges and universities, and the endless prospect of self-improvement and social improvement, it is an admirable and perhaps even a noble flaw.”

But a quick reading of The Troubled Crusade will be enough to convince one that our faith in the schools’ ability to solve social problems has proved to be a more damaging self-delusion than, say, the Mets fan’s lament, “We’ll get ‘em next year.” Education has historically had an impact on reducing poverty, narrowing the gap between rich and poor, improving public understanding of political issues, upgrading common culture, and reducing the crime rate, but it is not clear that it can continue to do this unless it stops trying to implement programs to address these problems directly. People like Thomas Sowell have argued persuasively about the failure of specific programs. But more than that, the spread of educational undertakings has reduced the schools’ traditional emphasis on reading, writing, and calculating. It has contributed to a decline in critical thinking (even among our best student), it has spread semi-literacy, and it has eroded self-discipline. Trying to solve everybody’s problems, the schools have neglected their own.

The Federal Government deserves particular blame for the diffusion of educational goals because, as Diane Ravitch notes, “Almost every federal program encouraged local education agencies to do something they might not otherwise do,” whether it be to provide career education, offer free medical services or hearing and speech instruction, provide nutritional and hygienic information, or develop innovative teaching methods. In 1970, for example, the Nixon Administration launched the Experimental Schools Program, which offered grants to schools if they could devise a new program organized around “a central theme or educational concept that reflects change from what exists at present to what education ought to be in terms of the needs and aspirations of the learning.” Berkeley, California, won a grant for a program designed to stress ethnic pride. It established one school for blacks only, and one school for Hispanics only.

Most schools respond to these federal- and state-grant opportunities by establishing “socially relevant” courses, usually in the form of university-level disciplines bastardized for high-school consumption. A course teaching computers talks little about hard drive repair, as an example.  A psychology course tells kids how to get along with their parents. A sociology course teaches that high-school cliques are antisocial. An anthropology course tells the students that we should have peace between cultures.

A few months ago, a teacher confronted me with the observation, “I don’t understand all this talk about ‘back to basics.’ The basics were never gone. I’ve been teaching spelling for twenty years.” Teachers have noticed, correctly, that the back-to-basics movement is misnamed. The basics are still there–the problem is that they are now strangled by the government-funded growth of the nonbasics. The need is not to go back to basics, but to cut the bull. After all, how much resonance does a class on how to write a sentence have when it is surrounded in the schedule by a health class on the evils of drinking, an English class on subliminal advertising, and a bachelor-education class on how to make brownies from a packaged mix? And how successful is a computer technician going to be who has mastered the computer languages but doesn’t understand basic mathematical principles?

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California Dreamin’ Turns To Nightmare For Education

That is one ugly California school!

For most of the country, California’s Proposition 13 has become a footnote to an era that’s had a surfeit of talk about tax revolt and tax reform. But eight years and two political cycles later, it’s clear that, for California, Jarvis-Gann, wasn’t a passing fad, but a conscious political decision, institutionalized by two governors and reconfirmed in every election since, to cut taxes, cap public spending, and curtail public services. As a result, California, which was once regarded as a leader among states in progressive government, public education, and social service, is now not much better than average.

Consider the numbers. In a decade California has dropped from sixth to 15th in per capita public spending, from 14th to 29th in spending per $1,000 of personal income. It now spends less than the national average for each child in its public schools (it stands 26th in the nation, between Ohio and Texas), comes in 18th in per capita spending on health and hospitals, and is close to last in spending on highways. It has not started a major water project in more than a decade. Teachers are content to let any and all hard drive failure problems go without any form of data recovery whatsoever. When the legislature approved a three-billion-dollar state program a few years ago to deliver more water to southern California, it was soundly voted down in a statewide referendum. Despite a 20 percent population increase, California’s 1986-87 state budget, in constant dollars, will be almost precisely what it was in 1980-81.

This was the state that a generation ago was described as a place of young upwardly mobile (pre-yuppie) families– a place of new schools and freeways, of high-tech aspirations and unlimited possibilities. In the early sixties, when California surpassed New York as the largest state in the nation, thousands of journalists came out to wonder at it, and to lavish the place with sunbaked hyperbole about the future. California, wrote George Leonard for Look magazine in 1962,’ presents the promise and challenge contained at the very heart of the American dream; here, probably more than at any other place, the shackles of the past are broken. In helping to create the society of the future, a man is limited only by the strength of his ambition, the dimension of his concern and the depth of his courage to face the dangers of his own creation.’

Of course the reality rever lived up to the myth, but of the millions of sun-starved people who moved to California in the past 75 years, enough believed it to demand that the state make every reasonable effort, and some not so reasonable, to make it come true: in schools, in parks, in freeways, in enormous water projects, and in the most diverse and accessible system of higher education ever created.

Much of it, to be sure, is still in place. The University of California, the flagship of that wonderful education system, is alive and well and being treated grandly by the governor and the taxpayers. And California is still more generous to its welfare recipients than any other state– thanks to cost-of-living provisions placed in state law as part of a deal between legislative Democrats and thengovernor Ronald Reagan, who thought it would save money.

But the state’s huge community-college system, once a national model for educational opportunity, is a shambles –highly politicized, without a clear mission, and with uncertain and (on some campuses) non-existent academic standards. Similarly, its public schools are overcrowded, underfunded, and in most measures of performance, just barely average. (California now has one of the highest high-school dropout rates, which climbed sharply when Prop. 13 forced the cancellation of nearly all summer school programs.) Both the community colleges and the elementary and secondary schools are the subjects of sweeping reform commission reports that have lain neglected since they were first submitted, one in early April, the other last November. It is New Jersey and Tennessee that are leading the education reform movement of the eighties, not California.

The reasoning is not hard to find. Here again California prefigures the nation, in its massive demographic shift from an electorate of predominantly young voters with children–and hence presumably interested in schools, parks, playgrounds (all the things cut by Prop. 13)–to one increasingly dominated by older voters whose children are grown. Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, a pair of elderly curmudgeons themselves, weren’t the first to discover that fact, but they were the first really to understand its political significance. In the Proposition 13 campaign in 1978, they described the state not as a place of young families but of retirees and aging taxpayers unable to pay thier property tax bills. Proportionately there were far fewer people with children in school than there had been a generation before, and many of them were single parents and/or members of California’s rapidly growing minority populations, and thus doubly underrepresented at the polls.

There was, of course, some fiscal truth in the Jarvis and Gann-created image (property taxes were exorbitant in some communities). But the gerontocratic politics they helped to create easily transcended the limited problem of high state property taxes. Just this spring, a large and very overcrowded suburban school district outside Sacramento prepared to float bonds to build new schools, which it badly needs. When some elderly people came in to protest that they wouldn’t get anything out of new schools, the school board voted to exempt property owners over 65 from two-thirds of their share of the cost of amortizing the bonds. Nevertheless, when the matter went on the ballot in April, the elderly voted heavily against it, and it narrowly missed getting the necessary two-thirds vote.

THE TAX-CUT fever is gone, but unless there is some unexpected upheaval, no one will soon repeal Jarvis-Gann or undo its effects. It’s not merely that Governor George Deukmejian, like Ronald Reagan, has steadfastly refused to grant any tax increases to bail out schools or local government, but that increased taxes are no longer an issue, even among liberal Democrats. So far almost no one has seriously proposed restoring to local governments the fiscal authority that Prop. 13 stripped from them, much less succeeded in doing it. Finally, and perhaps most significant, there is a Gann-sponsored measure in the state constitution that, in the next year or two, will cap public spending even if the money is available. The cap, an off-spring of Prop. 13, was enacted as a ballot initiative in 1979. With certain exceptions, it limits increases in the state budget to increases in the consumer price index and population. The rest must be refunded to the taxpayers. Gann makes no provision for the growth or increasing complexity of the state’s economy.

Gann passed in a time of high inflation, when nobody expected that to be a problem. But by 1983-84, as the state’s economy recovered, the gap between real appropriations and the Gann cap began to shrink; it will disappear during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins July 1. There are a great many technical uncertainties about its provisions and some marginal ways of stretching the limit. But sooner or later, Gann’s constraints will set in. They already had a substantive effect in shaping this year’s budget debates and will certainly have more in the future. It’s not simply that the governor is telling the legislators and the school people that Gann prevents him from appropriating more money for schools, but that, for the most part, they accept that explanation.

So far hardly anyone has proposed the repeal of either Gann or Prop. 13. Both seem to be regarded as immutable –laws of nature, not of man. Of course, there has never been any real fiscal emergency, except maybe in the first months after Prop. 13 passed. But neither is there any pervasive sense of concern that California no longer provides the quality of public services that it did a decade ago. Meanwhile the schools–and of course, other public institutions and organizations–cater increasingly to the state’s growing minority population. (In the next few years, more than half the students in the state’s public schools will come from minority groups.) In that respect, as in many others, California is becoming more like a Southern state.

Unless those minority groups develop political power proportionate to their numbers, it will be even less likely that California will either restore the level of public spending it once took for granted or recapture the unbridled optimism that encouraged that spending and so much else. On the contrary, it’s much more likely that the state will be increasingly polarized between the special-interest politics of younger minority groups and the conservatism of an aging white population. That hardly bodes well for good public services or the sense of community that sustains them.

The general cooling of California is hardly an unmitigated disaster. The state can stand a little less of the old lurching between the ecstatic and the demonic. Jim Jones has been forgotten. Patty Hearst now makes the women’s pages as a wife and mother. And Charlie Manson makes periodic appearances before a parole board that will, one hopes, say no forever. Maybe there will be no burning of Los Angeles.

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French Surrender In Education? Say It Isn’t So…

Chirac attack!

It appeared to be total capitulation. In the face of spreading, and ever more violent, demonstrations by students, and the threat of a general strike by the major unions, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac withdrew his controversial university-reform plan. What Chirac’s government had proposed was hardly draconian: a small rise in tuition fees, more autonomy for the state-run and -supported universities in choosing their students, other relatively minor reforms to debureaucratize an overloaded, overcrowded system.

The students who took to the streets in protest, first in some of the smaller cities and then in Paris, were not spiritual heirs of Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the student revolutionaries whose riots in May 1968 resulted, one year later, in the departure of le grand Charles from French public life. These were thoroughly bourgeois students who were asking only for a better chance at a better life. The lot of the French collegian is hard: The universities from the Sorbonne on down are dingy and rundown, the classrooms overcrowded, the lodgings cold and meager, the student cafeterias–the only place they can afford to eat–miserable. Now the government–they thought–was planning to make things even worse by permitting the brighter among them to be chosen by select universities, which would in consequence become more prestigious, while the general run of state colleges slipped even further down the scale. Graduates of the new elite universities would then have a better shot in the narrow job market. That was the nub of the students’ discontent. There is no Ivy League, no Big Ten among French universities (if you discount the specialized institutions called les grandes ecoles, whose graduates end up running France). And now a conservative government was trying to create one.

So the demonstrations escalated: Barricades went up, rocks were thrown, cars burned. In one police action a student died. The Socialists saw a great opportunity here, and the press and TV screens were soon filled with former Socialist cabinet members–among them Lionel Jospin, Pierre Mauroy, Laurent Fabius–parading shoulder to shoulder with the students down Paris’s broad boulevards. The major unions announced a 24-hour general strike in support of the demonstrators (French unions have brought the 24-hour general strike to a fine art) and Chirac capitulated. He withdrew his entire reform package. It was not worth the looming confrontation, the bad press, the potential explosion. His sights are fixed beyond the daily business of government on a date, still unaanounced, in the spring of 1988–the next presidential election. Sharing the limelight as he does with a Socialist president who retains many powers, Chirac must play the waiting game. It is only when, and if, the center-Right runs both the Elysee and the Matignon that Chirac can get down to the real business of reforming France. Meanwhile, let the students return to their classrooms before any further damage is done.

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Schools In Japan – Still Insane?

JAPANESE SCHOOLS HAVE a mixed reputation among American educators. On one hand, there is a certain admiration based on the fact that Japanese students consistently place first in international comparisons, especially in mathematics and science, far ahead of American students. On the other, it is widely believed that their academic success relies almost exclusively on rote memory and a rigid curriculum. Many American educators think that the Japanese have purchased achievement by squelching individuality and creativity.

The Japanese have encouraged a degree of smugness among Americans by their own humility. During the past two years, teams of Japanese educators have been touring American schools, eager to learn how we encourage the development of unusually gifted children. In addition, as I discovered in a recent trip to Japan, their educational leaders typically downplay their remarkable record of academic achievement and focus instead on their problems, such as “school violence.” (In fact, their discipline problems pale in comparison to ours; they worry about children who “bully the weak,” while we worry about children who assault or kill others.)

Many scholars have concluded that there is a causal link between the success of the Japanese economy and the extraordinary effectiveness of the Japanese educational system. The Japanese work force is reputed to be the most literate and skilled in the world. Merry White of Harvard wrote last year that “any worker on the factory floor can be expected to understand statistical material, work from complex graphs and charts, and perform sophisticated mathematical operations.”

The average high school graduate in Japan is said to be as well educated as the average college graduate in the United States. Our high school graduation rate is about 75 percent; theirs is 90 percent. Their achievement even at the elementary level is striking: a study last year by Harold Stevenson of the University of Michigan compared American and Asian children learning mathematics; by fifth grade, the worst Japanese class in the study was ahead of the best American class.

How do they do it? It’s easy enough to identify the factors that cannot be transferred to American soil. Japan is culturally and racially homogeneous; it does not have large numbers of immigrant and minority children to educate as we do. Yet it would be dismal if American educators were to conclude that a pluralistic society cannot educate all children. Surely education is more complicated when children come from diverse cultural backgrounds, but experience has repeatedly shown that children from immigrant and minority families are capable of learning.

JAPAN has a culture that prizes education. Although Japanese expenditure for education is about the same as ours, respect for education as a positive good permeates Japanese life. Japanese mothers are world-famous for stressing, reinforcing, and demanding good education. Harold Stevenson found in his cross-cultural study that whereas Japanese parents are quite critical of the quality of their schools, even when they are producing outstanding results, American parents tend to be satisfied even when their children’s schools are ineffectual.

Not only do the Japanese believe in education as a route to individual and social advancement, they believe that disciplined effort, hard work, brings rewards. Japanese children go to school for 240 days a year (compared to 180 days here), including Saturday mornings. The average Japanese student does two hours per day of homework, compared to half an hour for the average American student.

Perhaps the least attractive feature of the Japanese system is its nearly obsessive emphasis on the national college-entrance examination. Competition to enter the most prestigious universities is fierce and depends almost entirely on the national examination. Students attend cram schools to prepare, and some take the examination year after year in hope of making it into the right university.

Most of the bad press that Japanese education receives in this country is caused by the negative features of what is known in Japan as “examination hell.” Some Japanese educators attribute the nation’s high rate of youth suicide to intense pressure by parents, peers, and teachers to get into the right college. There is nothing comparable to “examination hell” in the United States, nor is there likely to be. Good students here choose among many outstanding institutions, both private and public (some of which are short of students); and admission to college depends on many factors (recommendations, extracurricular activities, high-school grades), not a single exam.

THE Japanese school system has been influenced by us in the past, and we should not be reluctant to learn from their practices. The most important principle in Japanese education is that all children should receive education of the highest quality. Every year, from grades one through nine, all Japanese children study language and literature, social studies, mathematics, science, art, music, physical education, and moral education. During this period, there are few, if any, electives. Children begin a foreign language in the seventh grade (usually English), and most continue to study it for six years.

Children are not divided into ability groups, or placed in curricular tracks like ours (academic, vocational, general). There is a national curriculum, defined in detail by the Ministry of Education. In every subject, the curriculum is carefully sequenced, like a series of building blocks. What is learned in first grade provides the foundation for what is learned in second grade, and so on through the grades. According to the school principals I talked to, slow learners get extra attention from teachers, both during the school day and after school as well.

The madness lives on.

To an American observer, accustomed to the variations and idiosyncratic practices among our 15,000 school districts, the Japanese approach seems at first startling. But the initial impression that the curriculum is rigid and inflexible is misleading. The Japanese appear to have perfected the idea of a developmental curriculum, carefully tied to the interests and intellectual capacity of children; we sometimes call it “mastery learning.” Nothing is left to chance, although a great deal is left to the teacher’s ingenuity and skill.

In science, for example, the emphasis is not on rote memory, but on observation, experimentation, field trips, and direct experience. In first and second grades, children raise plants and animals; observe the physical principles of magnetism, shadows, and the weather; and perform simple experiments with toys, light bulbs, and other everyday objects. From third grade on, the science curriculum centers on three topics: “living things and their environment”; “matter and energy”; and “the earth and the universe.”

In contrast to this well-planned curriculum, which stresses understanding and inquiry and imparts a solid foundation of scientific knowledge, many of our students have little or no science in the elementary years. In American elementary schools, the availability of science depends on whether there is a specialist available and on whether the regular teacher has any science background. Studies have shown that most are not comfortable teaching science.

The same attitude can be found in Japan’s teaching of art and music, which are treated as basic subjects, required for all students throughout their years of compulsory education. In music, students at every grade level learn to listen and to perform. The object is to encourage a love for music, or as the first-grade curriculum puts it, “to make life bright and pleasant through musical experience.” By the end of sixth grade, every student plays at least two instruments. Beginning in the second grade, children learn to read music. I observed a sixth-grade class where the children were listening to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony and writing its theme in musical notation. In the United States, I would expect to see such a class in a college-level music course or in a magnet school for the musically gifted, but not in an ordinary public school.

Art too is a basic, not a “frill.” Learning to produce beautiful things for use and ornamentation and learning how to look at an object and understand its beauty are integral to every child’s education. Children draw, paint, sculpt, and carve. They are encouraged to express their ideas and feelings about their productions. Developing an aesthetic sense appears to be as much a part of the curriculum as learning about nature.

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Dekalb Schools Set A Precedent

DeKalb County parents, reportedly worried about the possibility of court-ordered busing, have turned to area private schools as safe educational havens for their children. And some of the more worried have considered moving out of the county.

“To some degree we do understand parents are looking to put their children in private schools,” says Andrew J. Olsen, director of communications for the DeKalb County school system. “There’s always the possibility of forced busing, which we don’t anticipate. We don’t see any indication of a mass exodus from the schools yet.”

Dorris Winecoff, a Realtor with Buckhead Brokers, has been selling homes in DeKalb County since 1964. She says that the community – black and white – is rallying behind the schools. In April, the DeKalb Board of Realtors will visit all the schools in the county so the Realtors can better sell the school system to prospective customers, she says.

Winecoff admits the signs she has gotten have been contradictory. “I have had two or three people looking to move out of the county because of the possibility of busing,” she says. “And, I’ve heard that more are doing that. But I have not listed a house for anyone who is moving because of the schools. And, I’ve had people buy houses because they want to be in the DeKalb County school district.”

Westminster Schools, one of the more prestigious private schools in Atlanta, refused to comment on whether applications were up this year.

However, Brother Paul, headmaster of DeKalb County’s Marist School, says that applications are indeed up this year.

“For the past several years we have averaged about 600 applications for 200 slots,” he says. “This year, we received between 700 and 750. We recently held an open house and it was one of the largest we’ve ever had. When the court ruling about possible busing came down back in September or October, we were absolutely deluged with inquiries.”

Brother Paul says the school is going over the applications and will start the interviewing process.

“The word around town is that applications at the private schools are up because of the court situation,” he says. “Now we’ll be going through the process to find out which applicants are applying because they want the kind of Catholic education we offer or whether it is for other reasons.”

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Mike, It Was Really Nothing

Education is all the rage among the presidential candidates this year. It’s the one-word answer to every tough question — how America can boost its productivity and competitiveness, how to stop the AIDS and drug, plagues, how to uplift the underclass. George Bush, desperately looking for ways to distinguish himself from the Reagan administration, says he wants to be known as ‘the education president” (borrowing a line from Lyndon Johnson) and asserts that “education can be our most important trade program, our most important urban program, our best program for producing jos and bringing people out of poverty.” The Democrats are making similarly lavish promises. Michael Dukakis vows that he’ll “work to make America first in the classroom, first in the workplace, first in the research laboratory, and first in the world.”

His war was lost, sadly.

These sentiments are laudable, but the candidates’ records and position papers don’t indicate that they are really very serious about education. Dukakis has signed two major education reform bills, in 1985 and 1988, but most observers give the credit to the state legislature. On the national level, he is not known as a pioneer of education reform — not in a league with Tom Kean of New Jersey, Jim Hunt of North Carolina of Arkansas. Dukakis’s current education adviser, Bob Schwartz, is considered one of the best in the nation, but his predecessor, Gerard Indelicato, give a lackluster performance that ended with an indictment for conspiring to siphon off education funds. He is awaiting trial.

Dukakis’s numbers are mixed. Between 1982, the beginning of his present tenure as governor, and 1986, the Massachusetts high school rate stayed flat, at about 76 percent, and its rank among states dropped from 13th to 18th. The pupil-teacher ratio fell from third in the nation to fifth. But teacher salaries did improve — from 13th to tenth — and so did SAT scores, fromn 11th to seventh. At the very least, the Dukakis record shows signs of effort. For the last two years Massachusetts have led the country in percentage increase in public spending on higher education, though this still leaves the state in 30th place in per capita expenditure.

There is no comparable evidence of effort by Bush. For seven years the Reagan administration has been trying to slash federal education spending. If Bush had any objections, he confined them to his weekly luncheon with the president. As a presidential candidate, Bush is proposing more spending — amounts unspecified — but even some of his supporters admit to being embarrassed by the unimaginativeness of his ideas. Bush speeches do nod in the direction of issues that Secretary of Education William Bennett has brought to the fore — higher academic standards, more parent involvement, and tougher principals — but his actual proposals stop at loan guarantees and tax exemptions for college students. He told the Los Angeles Times that his educational policy consists of “general support for the whole concept of educational excellence. I can’t say I identify with any specific educational goal.”

Dukakis, on the other hand, does have an agenda. Its centerpiece is a $250 million National Teaching Excellence Fund that would provide scholarships for prospective teachers, create a National Teacher Corps modeled on the Peace Corps, and help states expand merit pay plans for gifted teachers. Dukakis also favours some less novel ideas — expanding the war on illiteracy, working harder to stem the dropout epidemic, and expanding loan and grant programs for college students. He places no price tag on the whole program.

What neither of the probable nominees has put forward is what America most needs — a specific strategy for making our education system the best in the world. The country has improved its education system during the Reagan years, even if Reagan’s own contributions have been merely hortatory. Thanks to state and local governments, total expenditures have risen by $25 billion per year since 1980, up to $300 billion. There have been major quality-control improvements as well, including certification testing for teachers and merit pay. but the room for further improvement is immense. If Dukakis or Bush wanted to be a true education president, he would put forward an agenda for wholesale reform, and promise to be its constant national advocate.

Last fall all the candidates were handed such an agenda by David T. Kearns, chairman of Xerox, but not one of them even bothered to respond. It is about to be published as a book, Winning the Brain Race (ISC Press), by Kearns and Denis P. Doyle, an education specialist at the Hudson Institute. If Bush and Dukakis don’t respond this time, the press and public should demand to know why.

“Public schools have failed to protect monopolies,” Kearns and Doyle write. “They should succeed alies,” Kearns and Doyle write. “They should succeed in a free market governed by supply and demand, where individual schools compete with each other for faculty and customers.” This sounds vaguely like the idea championed by Bennett and other conservatives — pitting private and public schools against one another through tuition tax credits or education vouchers, so the parents could “buy” the best education available. But the two approaches differ in an important way. Critics have cast the Bennett proposal as a cynical ploy to shrink slowly the role of the government, relieving upper-class, private-school families of the tax burden that now goes toward the education of the masses. The Kearns-Doyle proposal isn’t vulnerable to this charge, because it confines the state-sponsored competition to the public sector. Kearns and Doyle would give parents the opportunity to sent children to any public school in their town or region, with the child’s allotment of state funding going to the school chosen. Teachers, similarly, would be free to market their talents to any school. Good schools wouldn’t attract pupils and teachers; bad schools wouldn’t and local or state school officials would have to do something about it — such as finding a new principal.

In effect, every school in a participating district would become a “magnet” school — of the type of the parents in some school districts have camped out in the rain to get their children into. Principals and faculties would choose the school’s curriculum and specialities, and thus its distinctive character (they would “buy” the necessary support services from the district office), instead of having policies dictated by higher authorities. The district would be responsible for maintaining academic performance standards and ensuring racial balance.

The Kearns-Doyle plan includes a number of aspects not essential to this “universal magnet system” but nontheless worth pondering. In addition to the obligatory toughening of standards for students and teachers, they propose that schools stay open all year round. (American kids now attend school 180 days a year, and Japanese children, 240.) Schools would also be open longer to provide flexible scheduling and healthy place for children of working parents to spend time. Students would graduate when they had accomplished set academic tasks, rather than after a set number of years; the idea is to let brighter and more diligent students graduate early and to dilute the stigma of repeating a grade.

Taken as a whole, the Kearns-Doyle plan would be quite expensive. But the core of the proposal — the public school voucher system — might not be. The authors suggest federal grants of $50,000 as an incentive for school districts to design and implement these universal magnet systems. Granted, if all 15,500 districts jump at the chance, this will prove a pricey experiment. But if, as Doyle and Kearns contend, the program winds up saving states money through thriftier management at the level of individual schools, it may eventually proliferate without aid.

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Education Listens To Industry In The UK

The national curriculum is a brave and important reform, but even when it has been implemented the UK educational system will not provide the kind of education needed by modern industry. In his new work, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Harvard’s Michael Porter succinctly describes the faults of the British system of education: |The result of such an educational system is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, there is a pool of outstanding people well qualified for professional services, consultancy, software, publishing and the like. The upper tier of the human resource pool remains well trained and low-cost compared to other nations … On the other hand, there is a serious problem confronting the bulk of industry. The British workforce is well behind in education and skills compared with that of many other advanced nations.’

British industry needs, therefore, to say clearly what knowledge and skills ought to be developed. We should not be tempted to formulate educational provision in terms of specific occupations, but there are some general statements that can be made. First of all industry must say forcefully that it does not need just a small, well-educated elite but a mass, well-educated labor force. Studies by Professor Prais and his team at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research have provided plenty of evidence to show that productivity on the factory floor is directly attributable to the knowledge and skills of the workers.

Secondly, the point must be made that if industry in the UK is to regain its technological edge we are going to need more people with managerial and financial responsibilities who understand the technological potential of their industry. If we don’t, we won’t get the applied innovations which are so essential for world leadership. Thirdly, industry needs to have a greater supply of people in its middle ranks with strong vocational skills.

British industry needs also to say what further reforms it would like to see. There are four areas where I would like to see action. Firstly, to compete industrially we need to raise the level of literacy and numeracy of our young people. Maths provides the foundation for modern technology and for much commercial and office work. A high level of attainment in this area will mean that vocational training given within industry will be more effective and worthwhile. But what do we find? While only about a third of our school children achieve the equivalent of a maths O-level pass, roughly twice this proportion achieve a comparable standard in West Germany, and Japan appears to be even further ahead. The national curriculum should help here, but it will only do so if definite targets are set to raise the average level of attainment and narrow the expected spread.

A second area of concern for any industrialist, given the shortage of people with an intermediate level of skill, must be the number of young people who remain in full-time education until 18. In the US, Japan and South Korea, more than 85% of 16-year-olds stay on; here the proportion is less than 50%. Of the other European countries only Greece has a lower proportion of 16-year-olds in education. As soon as possible we should seek to move towards a situation where between 80% and 90% of our school children voluntarily continue in some form of further education or training until 18. But what form should this education take?

The cheap and simple answer would be to copy the apprenticeship systems of West Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which combine training in companies with further education. An alternative is the French route where less academic children go to vocational schools from 14 to 18 and end up with craft-level qualifications, or attend various higher-level vocational baccalaureat courses for 16 to 19-year-olds, which produce technician engineers with managerial skills.

A third model is provided by Denmark which has been moving towards a system in which all young people remain within the same college between the ages of 16 and 18. If they choose the vocational route, they go into a two-year apprenticeship at 18, having done preparatory work for it at college.

There are arguments for each of these systems. We need urgently to chose one or a mix of them. We must then work hard to create a technical stream in our schools which will capture the interest and enthusiasm of pupils who excel in practical rather than theoretical subjects.

The third area where I would like to see change is in A-levels. The single-subject system is very different from that of other countries where a broad mix is compulsory. In Japan, eight to 10 subjects are studied for university entrance; in France it is seven. As a result of our premature specialization we get the absurd situation of many arts graduates giving up maths at 15, and many scientists and engineers going into industry who have given up English and foreign languages.

Finally, we will need to increase the number of students going to universities or polytechnics in the next decade. But we need universities, along the lines of the German Technische Hochschule or the French Grande Ecole, which will have the clear goal of educating and training the next generation of British managers.

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