The Importance of High-Quality Early Education

For the past several decades, education has served as an equalizer for American society. Pursuit of a higher education created opportunities for class mobility and career success.

After all, the American dream represents societal ideals including equality, democracy and opportunity to obtain material prosperity and success. The American dream represents the constitutional notion that “all mean are created equal.” It means that hard work could defy the restrictions of social class.

What if this ideal was no longer attainable for future generations due to lack of opportunities for the poor? What does that mean for the American education system, the U.S. economy and, most importantly, the future of children born into low-income families?

In the past, racial divides in education was the focus of educational reformists. However, the increasing income divide in the U.S. has shifted the attention to the difference in educational opportunities between low-income and high-income children.

Inequality in educational opportunities and resources threatens to diminish education’s leveling effect.

The Income Gap

Disparities in distribution of resources are directly correlated with the growing income gap in the U.S.

bischoff_reardon_37.3_chart_small

In an article published in The Boston Review, Sean F. Reardon, professor of sociology at Stanford University, focused his studies on the stringent residential divides between high-income, middle-class and low-income neighborhoods.

Reardon stated, “Perhaps most troubling is the possibility that these residential patterns are producing a nation of two societies, parallel and unequal, in which both adults and children have only a limited understanding of the complex nature of our country’s social fabric.”

Although the term poverty cycle may seem cliché, it is an unfortunate truth. With limited resources low-income students receive in their home and local schools, it is difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, for students to break the cycle.

Socioeconomic Status

The American Psychological Association defines socioeconomic status (SES) as the social standing or class of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation. In a social class scope, SES reveals disparities in resources and class difference in privilege, power and control.

Addressing gaps in resource distribution will not only benefit members of low SES, but society as a whole.

Children that are provided the opportunity of a quality education that equips them with academic and social progression skills are more likely to achieve higher levels of education.

Logically, there is a clear correlation between the successes of a country’s economy and the amount of education its citizens obtain.

A push to improve the U.S. education system can lead to fewer citizens collecting unemployment, lower crime and incarceration rates and an increase in qualified candidates entering the work force.

Low SES and Education

Because American society exhibits gaps in nearly every aspect of society, education is not an exception to social divides.

Recent studies have indicated a strong correlation between family resources and academic success of their children.

Low SES correlates with poverty, poor health and lower education. Children raised in low-income homes often develop academic skills at a lower rate than children from high-income and middle class families. This is due to low-literacy levels and poor health.

George B. Kaiser, Chairman of BOK Financial Corporation and one of the top 50 American philanthropists, invested in early childhood education because he believed it provided the highest return for society.

Not only did Kaiser see the investment as economically beneficial, but he also expressed the notion of depriving poor children of opportunities as a moral issue.

In an article in the opinion pages of The New York Times, Kaiser said, “Maybe the reason that rich, smart parents had rich, smart children wasn’t genetics, but that those rich, smart parents also held their kids, read to them, spent a lot of time with them.”

Solutions to the Opportunity Gap

Educators and sociologists have identified several solutions that would decrease the severity of the opportunity gap in the American education system.

“Closing the Opportunity Gap,” a recently published book, identifies various solutions to progress toward equal opportunities in American education.

Proposed solutions vary in costs, degree of involvement, target publics and the timeline of completion. Extensively researched solutions to the opportunity gap include:

  • High-quality early childhood education;
  • End segregation in housing, schools and classrooms;
  • Extending learning time that is not limited to the classroom;
  • Focus on childhood health; improve teacher experience and support;
  • Provide access to libraries and the internet; provide tutoring;
  • Create safe and well-maintained school environments;
  • Improve policies on student discipline;
  • Understand student cultures and how it relates to their schooling;
  • Change the focus of testing and accountability;
  • Address the needs of increasing language minorities.

In a Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education press release, Prudence Carter, Stanford University Professor and co-editor of “Closing the Opportunity Gap,” said:

“Quite simply children learn when they are supported with high expectations, quality teaching and deep engagement, and made to feel that they are entitled to good schooling; the richer those opportunities, the greater the learning. When those opportunities are denied or diminished, lower achievement is the dire and foreseeable result.”

Dr. Robert Lowe, a professor of American Education at the University of Marquette and one of the many contributors to “Closing the Opportunity Gap,” studies the evolution of education policy in the U.S.

Lowe has strived to understand the history of educational policy in the broader scope of U.S. social policy.

Lowe feels one flawed area in American education that can be improved with little monetary funding or extensive resources is cultural sensitivity in academic institutions. Children who enter school systems speaking little English are often regimented to learn the prominent language.

It is important that students in America can speak English; however, this notion does not warrant the obliteration of an individual’s culture to conform to the commonly used language.

In high-income education institutions, speaking multiple languages is considered a valuable and marketable skill for students when they enter the workforce.

However, in low-income schools where test scores and accountability are viewed more important than the value of student diversity, students are often separated from their cultural backgrounds.

“This is the exact opposite sort of education that should be going on,” Lowe says about the schools negligence toward cultural sensitivities, “a really good education is going to build on the strengths people bring.”

Lowe says in a country that is language deficient, bilingual students should experience educations that will maintain and encourage knowledge of multiple languages.

High-quality Early Education

In a State of Union address, President Barack Obama said:

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”

Academic jumpstart programs have indicated significant gains in prereading, prewriting and prearithmatic skill development.

Educators and psychologists who have analyzed the effects of high-quality early education say the social developments are just as important as academic gains in young children.

According to research conducted by Zero to Three, national center for infants, toddlers and families, the human brain grows to about 90 percent of adult size by age five. This statistic demonstrates the significance of prelearning skills in determining a child’s academic success for the rest of his or her life.

Progressive social development enables children to self-regulate and productively interact with adults and peers.

Lowe cited the Perry Preschool Project as an exemplary study that demonstrates the lasting effects of a high-quality early education.

The Perry Preschool Project experiment was conducted between 1962 and 1967 in Ypsilanti, Mich. The experimental group included three- and four-year old African-American children in low-income residential areas that were considered at high- risk of academic failure.

The experimental group received an exceptional, high-quality education from certified public school teachers that had obtained at least a bachelor’s degree. Sessions were conducted each weekday morning in 2.5-hour increments.

Because the child-teacher ratio was 6:1, students received ample attention and one-on-one time with instructors. The curriculum focused on topics that required active, engaging learning exercises that promoted involved decision making and problem solving. It was planned, executed and reviewed by the children with guidance from educators.

One of the most revolutionary aspects of this study was its focus on the effects of family structure and environment on academic development.

The Perry Project required teachers to visit student’s homes once a week for approximately two hours. Home visits ensured parent, or guardian, involvement in the education of their children.

It also equipped guardians with various methods of interaction with their children that will implement their child’s school education during after-school hours.

Experiment follow-up indicated substantial differences in educational progression, criminal activity and economic earning outcomes between the intervention group and the control group.

The graph below was derived from data the HighScope Educational Research Foundation collected after a comparative analysis of the control and intervention groups in the Perry Preschool Project.

Perry webFig1_rev2011_02

Two significant differences between the control group and intervention group are students that achieved an IQ on 90 or higher by the age of 5 and the number of students that attained basic achievement by age 14.

The intervention group had 67 percent of children attain an IQ of 90 or above by the age of 5, whereas, 28 percent of the control group was able to achieve the bench mark.

This result indicates the immediate result of Perry Preschool academic and problem-solving preparation.

At the age of 14, nearly half of the intervention group attained basic achievement. Only 15 percent of the control group was able to accomplish basic achievement. This outcome reflects the lasting effects of a high-quality early education.

Results also indicated the economic impact of early education intervention. Sixty percent of the intervention group earned more than $20,000 by the age of 40. A mere 40 percent of the control group earned this amount by age 40.

Despite the program’s vast success, it was unlikely to be implemented in the U.S. because of the extensive funding it required. For one school year, the program costs $11,300 per child.

The Oklahoma Project

The Oklahoma school system has instated a modern day Perry Preschool, referred to as “The Oklahoma Project.” In 1998, the state passed an education policy that allows every 4-year old to receive one year of free, high-quality prekindergarten.

In the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journal, William T. Gormley, co-director of the Center for Research on Children in the U.S. (CROCUS), said that Oklahoma’s Pre-K program has received attention for three reasons: it is universal, it is based within the state school system and it reaches a higher percentage of 4-year-olds than any other state pre-K program.

Not only does this program entail full-day, year-round nursery school, but it also offers home visits to families to teach parents methods of educating children in the home environment.

Home visits are conducted to provide parents with the coping mechanisms for stress, or to simply provide homes with basic learning tools such as children’s books.

Parents are taught the importance of frequent reading and explaining the meaning of various objects and actions to their children.

Educators and instructors that participate in the Oklahoma initiative believe children that receive high-quality early education end up almost a whole year more advanced in their knowledge than they would have been had they received a normal pre-K education.

The main goal of the Oklahoma Project is to eliminate the gap that exists between low-income and high-income students when children enter elementary school.

Education & Family Resources

Many low-income parents do not realize the significance of interaction with their children. They believe that if they are putting food on the table for dinner and roof over their children’s head, they are fulfilling their parental duties.

Frequent chatter and explanation of simple processes and objects can inhibit the mental development of their children.

Several home-visit programs discovered that many low-income homes did not possess a single children’s book in the house.

Anne Fernald, Stanford University psychologist, conducted research that indicated the child of professionals hear 30 million more words by the age of four than a child of welfare.

Fernald says toddlers develop their vocabulary from hearing words in context. This means that habitual word use is essential to advance a child’s understanding of the world around them.

In an article in the Stanford Report, Fernald said, “It’s clear that SES is not destiny. The good news is that regardless of economic circumstances, parents who use more and richer language with their infants can help their child to learn more quickly.”

In “An uneven start: Indicators of inequality in school readiness,” R.J. Coley, a member of the Educational Testing Service, found that in a nationwide study of American children, 36 percent of parents in the lowest-income quintile read to their children on a daily basis, compared with 62 percent of parents from the highest-income quintile.

Education during school-day hours is limited. Therefore, programs that involve family and parent interaction are essential in addressing the barrier between a low-income and high-income child’s exposure to language.

Toxic Stress

Although the stress of poverty cannot be diminished, it cannot be ignored. Early parent-child relationships in which adults are responsive and attentive to the actions and needs of their children can buffer the damaging effects of stress in home environments.

Jack P. Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, examined the physiological effect of stress on children’s health and development.

Shonkoff created the term ‘toxic stress’ to describe prolonged adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence and family dysfunction that negatively affect neurological development and immune system functionality.

In normal circumstances, stress can be an opportunity for child growth. It can serve as a learning experience that equips children with coping mechanisms to overcome challenges in their futures. However, toxic stress is a result of lacking emotional and physical security from parents or guardians.

Several studies have indicated distinct connections between chronic stress in the home environment and slower academic progress.

How can a student gain the confidence and determination necessary to succeed academically in an environment poisoned with stress and lacking in basic resources?

Programs

Since the Perry Preschool Project, several initiatives and programs have been implemented to decrease the lack of opportunities for children at high-risk for academic failure. The goals of these programs are to create a level playing field for all children entering elementary school.

Strong Start for America’s Children Act

Strong Start for America’s Children Act is a 10-year initiative to expand early learning opportunities for children under five years old. The program funds prekindergarten for 4-year old children from families that earn below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The program will require that teachers obtain bachelor’s degree. To entice qualified and motivated educators, teachers will receive salaries that compare with K-12 instructor salaries.

Each classroom will abide by a maximum class size limit and child-instructional staff ratio to ensure children are receiving adequate attention and supervision.

Not only will this initiative focus on the educational aspect of child development, but also the correlation between physical health and psychological growth.

It will offer comprehensive services that include: strong parent and family engagement, nutritious meals and health screening and referrals.

Currently, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., are leading the efforts to enhance funding in state and local communities to increase the presence of high-quality early education programs.

First Five Years

First Five Years focuses on the development children achieve in the first five years of their life. It specifically targets low-income, high-risk infants and toddlers.

The organization believes greater school success and a better-skilled workforce will result from a focus on children that are high-risk for academic failure at the youngest ages.

This program focuses on how home environment and parental interaction contribute to the social and academic growth of youth.

Child First

Child First began at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut focusing on the challenges of children that receive social services. The creators’ main concentration was to improve child-parent psychotherapy and home-based parent guidance.

Child First was created to address language problems children experience in schools and to prevent aggressive and defiant behavior of children as they mature.

The main goal of this program is to stabilize the home environment. It is a preventative, home visitation program that that works on the creation, or maintenance, of parent-child relationships.

A mental health professional and care coordinator work together to equip parents with a ‘reflective capacity’ to understand their children’s behaviors and actions.

Those who intervene in the home recognize they cannot change family living conditions or exposure to resources, but they can equip parents with coping methods to counter the negative effects of stress on children.

Methods such as video recording parent-child daily interaction reinforced the crucial role that parents play in the psychological, social and emotional development of children.

High-Quality Education: A Moral Obligation?

Extensive research has indicated a clear, positive correlation between high-quality early education and likelihood for academic success.

Studies such as the Perry Preschool Project and the Oklahoma Project demonstrate the importance of academic readiness, social skill development and problem-solving abilities gained while enrolled in high-quality programs.

It is the responsibility of education policy-makers and government officials to instate programs that create equality in education as children enter school. It is the duty of those that represent the U.S. education system to provide American children the opportunity to utilize education as a mobility tool.

Low-income children become weary of trying to catch-up to peers throughout his or her entire elementary and high school education. Implementation of high-quality early childhood education gives children equal access to the academic starting line.

Providing children born into low-income families with an opportunity for mobility through education is not just smart economically, but it is a moral responsibility to provide all American children with an opportunity to fulfill their potential.

College: a Time for Growth

By: Amanda Ramirez

College has been a truly rewarding and unforgettable learning experience, not only in the classroom, but also in every other aspect of my life. When I was a senior in high school preparing to enter college, my relatives would tell me, “College is the best four years of your life.” Normally, that would only make an eighteen-year old excited for the quickly approaching experience. However, this made me incredibly nervous. I felt pressure to be certain every aspect of my college experience was perfect for the next four years. I found myself anxiously wondering about the potential difficulties college life could entail. What if the courses were too difficult? What if I chose the wrong major, and I do not discover it until my junior or senior year? What if my shyness prevents me from making new friends? Will I make the softball team, and if I do, will I even have a chance to play? Despite my nerves, freshman move-in day arrived. I distinctly remember thinking, “This is it. I’m a grown-up. And I’m not nearly ready.” I started crying when my parents left because I was afraid for all of the life changes the next few months would bring.

Despite the nerves I experienced before attending college, I found myself quickly adjusting to my new environment. I lived in Wells West on an all-athlete floor where I quickly developed close friendships. I enjoyed most of my courses, and I was performing at softball tryouts and practices. After a week of adjusting, I did not know why I was ever nervous for the excitement of college life.

I chose to study journalism because I love writing. Because I often have difficulty verbally expressing myself to others, writing has been my form of expression for as long as I can remember. Since I was five years old, I have religiously kept a journal. I use to update my journal everyday, but now I just write down the experiences or lessons that I never want to forget.

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I was paging through a book that listed different college majors and the various careers one can obtain with that particular degree. Eventually, I found journalism. It was not a career path I had considered before, but it made me think about the importance of journalism in today’s society. Journalism is the vehicle that delivers vital knowledge to people so that they can make informed decisions and understand what is happening in their communities and government.

The aspect of journalism that made me ultimately choose my major was the privilege of storytelling. Every person does not have the ability to eloquently and effectively tell a story. It takes a special talent to touch a person with words and leave a lasting impression about an event, a particular cause or a person. After I considered these points, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Since my freshman year, my career plans have changed. Now, my desired career is an athletic communications director for a university. I want to work in collegiate athletics because I feel there is more pride for the game than there is in professional sports. Although I no longer plan to be a journalist, I am still so happy with my decision to declare journalism as my major. I feel confident in my writing abilities and I know I will utilize the skills and techniques I learned in my writing courses throughout my career.

If I did not choose to study journalism and public relations, I would have studied education. There are several teachers I have had over my academic career that have shaped the way I think, learn and grow. I would love to have the opportunity to provide someone with knowledge and share valuable advice I have gained over my schooling, and life in general. I think if I could somehow have two full-time careers, I would choose an athletic communications director for a university and a high-school English teacher. Either way, I know I would love to work in an academic setting.

I do not think I can limit all of the important things I have learned to just one statement. Academically, the most important thing I have learned is to ask questions. It’s okay to admit when you don’t understand a topic or assignment, and most likely there are a handful of people willing to take time to help, but only if you ask.

Softball has been a huge part of my collegiate career. During season I dedicate at least three hours per day to softball, and I would not have had it any other day. I have formed lasting friendships that have challenged my perspective on life. The type of relationships formed with teammates is unexplainable. It was not until college athletics that I learned that the star of the team is not always the most important part of the team. It could be those that play a total of two innings over a four-year career that have the ability to help teammates through a slump or settle the sometimes frequent conflict that occurs when 25 girls are together so often. I think that can apply to life, too. Just because your position in a company or organization is not the most glorious or high-paying job does not mean your work is not important.

Although this sounds cliché, and often overused, I learned the importance of a good family. Because I attended a private grammar school and high school where my classmates had similar experiences to mine, I was not exposed to the extreme difficulties people can experience with family members and friends. After hearing the experiences of friends in college, I learned that, unfortunately, not every person has family willing to do whatever it takes to make one another happy. My parents have both worked extremely hard just to give my siblings and I every opportunity necessary to succeed. I now know that not everyone can say the same. I learned how blessed I am to have the opportunities that many people are not given.

I have changed, at least a little, in every aspect of my life. I have become much more outspoken and willing to express my opinion. In high school, I was painfully shy and spoke only when necessary. Now, I realize the value of sharing an opinion or thought, even if it differs from the person I am speaking with. Throughout most of my high school career I have struggled with confidence in sports and school. However, now I can honestly say that I have completely transformed in that area of my life.

In the introduction, I stated that I was not nearly ready for move-in day my freshman year. However, I quickly learned that many people are not necessarily ready for large life changes, but working through the changes, good or bad, is what makes a person grow. I have grown in more aspects than I can count over the past four years, and I can honestly say that attending UW-Whitewater is the best decision I have ever made because it led me to the experiences that have shaped my outlook on life.

Jefferson County Board Votes on Budget Amendments

JEFFERSON – The Jefferson County board began its budget-amendment process at Tuesday night’s meeting by voting on several department budget amendments for the 2014 budget.

County government provides several state mandated services for its citizens including: health, human services, sheriff’s department, highway maintenance and parks.

Tax levy and levy limit 

Jefferson County has a $27,004,367 tax levy for 2014. The increase from this year’s $26,906,209 tax levy is mainly due to the construction of a new highway shop.

Jefferson County’s 2014 mill rate is 4.27. This means a home assessed at $100,000 will pay about $427 in county property taxes in 2014. 

The county cannot increase its levy due to the state legislated imposed levy limit, a law that prohibits any county tax increase.

The law states a county cannot increase tax rate anymore than the growth rate of its county. Because Jefferson County’s increase rate was 0.6 percent, the county is provided $150,000.

Jefferson County mainly receives its funding from property tax. The rest of the county’s revenue comes from fines, fees and state shared revenue. 

Budget Amendments 

Several amendments were declined because they decreased funding for programs that increase the quality of life for Jefferson County residents and tourists.

Because the towns that constitute Jefferson County are small market, elements such as good parks and opportunities for recreational activities are utilized in the economic development of local businesses.

These factors also provide appeal for business owners seeking a location for his or her company.

▪ Supervisor George Jaeckel proposed the elimination of capital equipment expenditure of $40,000 for a trail groomer/drag and $15,000 for a UTV. Jaeckel suggested these funds be used to purchase two detective squad cars for the County Sheriff’s Department.

Members of the board argued the groomer is essential for maintaining trails used for cross country skiers in the winter months. Attentive maintenance of parks and recreational facilities are crucial to Jefferson’s tourist appeal.

▪ Supervisor Gregory Torres recommended to remove the entire Farmland Preservation fund. The amendment was declined due to the major influence of farming in Jefferson County.

▪ The County will fund the installment of a nine hole disc course at Carlin Weld Park. Disc golf is increasing in popularity and will draw a variety of ages to learn the game.

The course was supported by the county because it offers citizens of Jefferson County a recreational activity that does not require expensive equipment or extensive maintanence by the county.

▪ The county confirmed it will designate funds for well installment at Garman Nature Preserve.

New Highway Shop 

The board approved a bond issuance of $1.1 million for the construction of a new highway shop located at the former Countryside Home site. The bond will be spent tearing down the present highway facility at Puerner Street. The property will later be sold.

Due to past factories and businesses located on the Puerner Street property, the soil will be sampled for chemicals and other contaminants.

The highway shop will be about 90,000 square feet. It will contain a vehicle storage, welding shop, mechanic bay and office space.

The facilitiy will feature a heated storage area to ensure the proper maintenance of snow plows and various winter maintenance machinery. A power-wash facility will be available to vehicles for all departments to save time and money employees use to spend cleaning county vehicles.

“In order to get the highway facility done, that should be a stand alone bond issue and not add on all these other issues because it complicates the decision,” said Chairman Joe Molinaro.

Molinaro compared the county budget amendment process to the fedearl government because there is never a clean bill. If the budget is viewed and voted on collectively, it is easier to make decisions, rather than if the budget is viewed in individual projects and issues.

For more information about the 2014 budget, visit the county’s website at jeffersoncountywi.gov. The next meeting will be Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

UW-Platteville Pioneer Football defeats UW-LaCrosse Eagles, 20-10

rvcttkvlnbhn6u6sPLATTEVILLE, Wis. – UW-Platteville Pioneers football team defeated the UW-LaCrosse Eagles 20-10 on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Ralph E. Davis Pioneers Stadium improving their overall record to 8-1.

Senior Celebration

Senior day at Ralph E. Davis Pioneers Stadium proved a success for the 11th ranked Pioneers with impressive performances from several senior players.

Starting seniors for the Pioneers included:

  • Quarter-back John Kelly
  • Wide receiver Ryley Bailey
  • Wide receiver Paul Reit
  • Defensive back Kevin Ybarra

John Kelly, senior quarter-back from Chicago, completed 250 yards. Kelly tied the Pioneers’ single season passing touchdown record with 29.

Paul Reit, senior from Stanley, Wis., lead Pioneer receivers with 90 yards. Senior Ryley Bailey, wide receiver from Elburn,Ill., completed 66 yards.

Despite the senior spotlight, Junior Andy Puccini lead the Pioneer offense. Puccini recorded 221 rushing yards averaging seven yards per rush. He also accomplished 25 receiving yards and completed a touchdown in the third quarter.

Puccini was named WIAC football offensive player of the week.

The Pioneer defense gave up a season-low 216 yards of offense, limiting the Eagles to just one touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Devon Vance led the Pioneer defense with nine tackles.

A slow start in the first quarter left the Pioneers and the Eagles tied at 3-3.

The first touchdown of the game was accomplished by Puccini in the third quarter with 59 seconds remaining. UW-LaCrosse Joe Kracht scored the Eagles’ first touchdown with one minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Pioneers now hold a 5-1 record in the WIAC Conference.

Fight for Playoffs Seat 

Next, the Pioneers will travel to UW-Oshkosh for their last regular season game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 2 p.m CST.

The Oshkosh Titans and Platteville Pioneers hold identical records, both teams are 8-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play.

The winner will likely determine which team will earn one of the five at-large bids to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Whitewater Participates in Water Conservation Efforts

Tuesday night at the Whitewater common council meeting, McGee Young, a political science professor at Marquette University, proposed a water conservation services agreement between H2Oscore Software and the city of Whitewater.

H2Oscore is a program that allows utility consumers to track the amount of water they use per bill cycle. Users can receive incentives from local businesses in exchange for residential and commercial efforts to conserve water.

In an effort to address the current water crisis, Young and a group of his students developed H2Oscore. Because of the substantial strides Young and his students have made toward community involvement in water conservation, Young is currently collaborating with five universities to address the water usage crisis in America.

Faculty members from UW-Whitewater contacted Young to learn more about the program. Since then, Young and a team of software developers have created an enhanced version of the dashboard for the past 18 months.

Whitewater will be the first community to try the new H2Oscore software dashboard. The program includes: a tracker for residents to track their individual water usage, a neighbor comparison feature and incentives for significant decreases in water usage.

Program users enter their utility account number found on their most recent bill. With this little information, H2Oscore displays how much water the resident used that bill cycle. It can also indicate if residents or business owners have a costly leak in their property’s water system.

H2Oscore not only allows residents to compare water usage to previous months, but also, provides an opportunity to see the amount of water their neighbors utilize. The dashboard presents residents with a bar graph to compare their usage to the water usage of neighbors and the city average.

As residents reduce water usage, they are able to unlock different incentives from local businesses.

Young will present the H2Oscore dashboard at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference, an urban-water efficiency conference recognizing various progressive organizations, in October.

The common council plans to establish a one-year agreement with H2Oscore. For more information about H2Oscore, visit h2oscore.com.

In other action Tuesday:

  • Common council member Stephanie Abbott discussed the Discover Whitewater Series half marathon this Sunday, September 22. The city partnered with several local charities including: UW-Whitewater Athletics, the Whitewater Aquatic Center, Whitewater Unified School District, W3 and the Bethel House. To locate maps of the course and road closures, visit runwhitewater.com.
  • Whitewater city manager, Cameron Clapper, announced that smoke-testing for the city’s sanitary sewer system will commence Sept. 23 on the west side of the city. Smoke tests are a result of an increase of clear water flowing into the sanitary sewer collection system. The tests are a preventative measure to avoid overwhelming the existing system, sanitary sewer overflows, increased operational costs and quality treatment concerns. Clapper recommends that residents pour water down rarely used drains such as an old wash sink or basement floor drain to prevent smoke from entering their home. If residents notice smoke in their backyards or homes, they are asked to contact the city’s wastewater utility unit at 262-473-5920. A map indicating the dates and times that smoke tests will be in progress can be found on the city website’s front page.
  • Whitewater library director, Anne Hartwick, presented a new, innovative system the library offers to community members. The new mobile app can be downloaded through iOS app store or Amazon to mobile devices. App features include: catalog search, electronic books, digital audio books and barcode scanning ability to see if particular book is in stock.
  • Brown Cab Service, Inc. will extend its hours to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There will also be an additional driver available during afternoon hours. These changes will only be effective while university is in session.
  • In a preliminary 2014 city budget, Clapper discussed short-term and long-term goals established during the strategic planning workshop in August. Clapper will discuss the official 2014 city budget at the common council meeting on Oct. 1. This will highlight anticipated revenue and spending for various city departments.

For more information about community events, upcoming meetings and detailed announcements, visit whitewater-wi.gov.

My Summer

Hi, everyone! For my first post, I thought I’d write about my past summer. I sat down and began planning out my last summer as an undergraduate college student. Because I had decided to juggle two internships, it seemed to consist of many long work days. However, I found the summer of 2013 to be filled with educational and rewarding experiences.

My primary internship was with a political consulting firm in downtown Chicago. I was mainly assigned to compliance tasks such as managing clients’ finances, approving invitation designs and contacting client constituents for monetary contributions. Our client base included Chicago Alderman, State Representatives and Congressmen. This internship provided me with a behind-the-scenes view of the extensive process of political fundraising.

This summer I also worked as a media relations intern for Chicago’s WNBA team, the Chicago Sky. The tasks varied for each game including: compiling stats and player biographies for media packets created before each game, updating social media accounts, writing the online post-game story, conducting interviews with players and coaches for post-game notes and quotes and assisting various local media with needs during the game. This internship showed me the exciting, and often chaotic, experience of working in professional sports.