Corporations are chartered by states, and a historic body of law makes clear that all company directors and executives owe their shareholders is profits, profits and more profits; their fiduciary duty is their only duty.
If you do expect company’s officers to take into account other goals—like environmental sustainability, the well-being of their workers, or general public benefit—conflicts with the profit motive can expose even well-meaning executives to legal difficulties.
The Benefit corporation movement has laid out a set of social impact standards for companies that seek to embrace both profit and impact. It requires privately held B corporations to amend their articles to reflect a commitment to those standards, protecting officers and directors from legal repercussions for their decisions and giving shareholders the power to hold them accountable, by lawsuits if necessary, for protecting the public interest. It also protects customers from deceptive marketing—greenwashing—by forcing corporations to submit public reports that conform to independent benchmarks.
August 30, 2011
August 12, 2011
July 29, 2011
The scientific and mathematical literacy of students in the U.S. consistently ranks poorly compared with the rest of the world — in the most recent international comparison, American students ranked 23rd in science and 30th in mathematics.
China and India each graduate 5 times the number of engineers than the U.S., and 60% of the students at the top American computer-science departments are foreign-born.
Business growth across industries and businesses is tied strongly to their levels of innovation. Levels of innovation are tied strongly to high levels of scientific and mathematical literacy.
Success in motorsports is built largely on exploiting science and mathematics to maximize speed and performance. As a result, motorsports provide(s) a natural and compelling link to real-world math and science.
In December 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OSCD, 2010) released the results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The results continued the trend of American students dropping in their international ranking. Equally important, PISA also published an extensive description of its assessment framework for mathematics, which defines “mathematical literacy” as the:
capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgments and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.
The assessment framework provides additional context for this definition, saying that it “is the ability to pose, formulate, solve and interpret problems using mathematics within a variety of situations and contexts.” Scientific literacy is described similarly. In other words, both math and science have many real-world applications. Those involved in the real-world of the motorsports industry know firsthand how important mathematical and scientific literacy are to success.
Recognizing the ability to leverage motorsports’ excitement, real-world relevance, and depth of application of math and science, we have developed a concept for increasing the interest and abilities in math and science among students in the middle grades and are actively promoting this concept to drive action in the industry.
The world of motorsports provides an excellent platform to engage students and teachers. Plenty of research in teaching and learning supports the power of real-world relevance, demonstrating that students learn more and learn more easily when immersed in contexts where mathematical and scientific facts and processes are used to achieve actual needs, not theoretical ones. (“Video Games and the Future of Learning,” Shaffer, Squire, Halverson and Gee, 2004.)
Additionally, academic literature reinforces our focus on students in the middle grades. Middle school is a crucial growth opportunity for students. When nurtured and channeled well, a middle school student’s cognitive and emotional development enables greatly expanded depths of mathematics and scientific learning and understanding. Too often, this opportunity for growth bypasses students in the middle grades. Their emotional need for greater intrinsic reward and purpose is unsatisfied, leaving them unmotivated. Moreover, it is often the point at which a student decides whether or not he/she is a “math person” or a “science person” — a self-designation and self-fulfilling prophecy that is difficult to reverse when a student feels math and science are uninteresting, unimportant, and/or unnecessarily difficult. (What’s Math Got to Do with It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject, Boaler, 2009. And The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child, Mighton, 2004.)
April 26, 2011
That's why I'm so proud that we were instrumental in helping bring Dan Habib and his son, Samuel, to Charlotte. Dan is a documentary filmmaker who created the film, Including Samuel, an intimate look at inclusion in schools and the community at large.
The film, which has been on public TV and has had 300 screenings in 30 states, will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday at UNC Charlotte's Student Union Theater. Karen Garloch wrote about the event in her weekly column at The Charlotte Observer. Check it out here.
April 25, 2011
Why is it that the phrase “throw money at” seems to be applied only to school funding or education in general? I can’t imagine that anyone believes “throwing” money indiscriminately at anything will have much of an impact. The phrase is so dismissive — it’s a cop out to having a legitimate discussion or debate about education funding and priorities.
Clearly, our community (like so many others around the country) needs to have some difficult conversations about our priorities. There will be shortfalls in education funding, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. My request is that instead of, uh … throwing an empty phrase at the situation, everyone will take part in a constructive way.
Some fodder for discussion:
- As a society, we place much of our value on compensation/earnings. (Unfortunately, wishing it weren’t that way won’t do much to change that.) What does teacher compensation say about the real value (i.e., more than lip service) we place on teaching?
- So much of school funding comes from local property taxes. Do people equate their property tax bill with the quality of the school system? Is there political pressure to keep property taxes as low as possible?
- Companies that increase their capacity with major facility or equipment upgrades often finance those improvements through loans (including leasing equipment) — the rationale being that the improvements will increase profits such that the temporary debt is viewed as an investment. Colleges and nonprofits have capital campaigns and have employees who cultivate an ongoing donor base to provide financing that falls outside of operations. K – 12 schools are not designed to earn profits, nor do they launch capital campaigns and have Development Directors. Bonds typically finance major upgrades. PTAs often finance equipment upgrades. However, how much of the operating budget goes toward these types of capital expenses? Is bond-funding every five years or so the best way to do it?
- Are we still locked in a mindset from way-back-when when being a teacher was among the handful of choices for women and minorities – i.e., a time when we could underpay many teachers because they didn’t have many employment options?
- Do society’s values reflect opportunities to nurture and educate children before they start kindergarten? How does that correlate to the average pay of those who work at childcare & preschool facilities?
I can certainly get into the nuts and bolts of the budget (and plan to). Hopefully, this particular fodder for discussion will help frame the conversation. I also hope that it will make it harder to dismissively say that throwing more money at education won’t solve anything. It won’t, nor will throwing out an empty phrase.