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Thursday, February 26, 2009

12 States & Cities to Preserve 70,000 Affordable Rental Homes with MacArthur Support

Seizing the opportunity to make needed long-term investments in the face of a weak economy, 12 states and cities are launching innovative projects to preserve more than 70,000 affordable rental homes.

The new projects will assist military families in Maryland, seniors in rural Iowa and Vermont, low-wage workers in Florida and Oregon, and people who have been homeless in Los Angeles. They will promote energy efficiency in Pennsylvania, save distressed buildings in Minnesota, improve management of rental housing in Washington State, and ensure that rental homes are available in gentrifying areas near public transit in Denver.

With the stock of affordable rental housing disappearing at an alarming rate, MacArthur’s $32.5 million investment – $9.5 million in grants and an additional $23 million in low-interest loans – will leverage more than $147 million in other funding. The news was welcomed today by federal, state, and local housing officials across the country.

“These grants have spurred state and local innovation and leadership in the preservation of affordable housing,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Shaun L. Donovan. “At each grantee site, a representative of HUD has participated in developing the strategies and aligning efforts. It is my goal to make HUD a strong partner at the state and local level. The MacArthur Foundation should be commended for supporting partnerships across the government, private and nonprofit sectors.”

State and local governments in 40 states competed for MacArthur’s support, indicating broad, national interest in preserving affordable rental housing. The Foundation’s funding for these 12 projects is a part of MacArthur’s Window of Opportunity initiative, a $150 million, ten-year effort to preserve affordable rental homes across the nation. By investing in public sector initiatives such as these, the Foundation hopes to help create a wave of policy reform in cities and states that will make it possible to preserve one million homes this decade.

“For many years, the goal of home ownership has been emphasized in the U.S. and as a country we lost sight of the value of rental housing in a balanced national housing policy,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “The end of the housing bubble and a wave of foreclosures have underscored the importance of affordable rental housing. We now have an opportunity to reset the policy agenda, restore rental housing to its proper place, and reshape the policy environment so that it both encourages rental housing preservation and makes it easier to do. State and local governments are at the forefront of this effort, showcasing innovation and trying fresh approaches.”

Almost all Americans are renters at some point in their lives. Today, about one in three households – home to more than 75 million people – rent their homes, a number that is rising because of the foreclosure crisis and overall weak market for home sales. Yet, the supply of affordable rental homes is shrinking. Over the last decade, more than one million affordable rental homes were lost due to demolition, conversion to condominiums, expiring government subsidies, and rapidly rising rents. An additional one million homes are expected to be lost in the decade ahead. For every affordable home built each year, two are lost. This means there are not enough affordable homes for millions of Americans all across the nation, not simply in urban areas.

Now, while housing prices decline, acquiring multi-family rental properties is becoming more affordable, enabling cities and states to use scarce dollars more efficiently and effectively. The average cost to preserve a home is half that of building a new one. Preserving affordable housing also provides a stimulus to local economies. For instance, each job supported or created through affordable housing development in Oregon generates another one and one half jobs, on average.

“We’re leveraging our mass transit expansion and ensuring that Denver residents of all income levels have access to affordable housing near these critical transportation corridors,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. “This creates important economic opportunities for our workforce and further strengthens the character and vitality of Denver’s neighborhoods.”

Examples of the 12 creative state and local projects include:

Denver – The City and County will establish a new loan fund for transit-oriented development that preserves affordable rental housing near existing and planned regional public transit stations. This investment will also help residents access job centers throughout the region. The Denver metropolitan area is undergoing the largest expansion in the nation of its public transit system.

Maryland – Military base closures and the related relocation of 40,000 households will increase pressure on rents in eight counties. The State will ensure that rental housing preservation is a key element of the region’s response to the base closures by identifying preservation opportunities and creating a compact among state and local housing leaders to align efforts.

Oregon & Portland – The City and State are expanding the Oregon Housing Acquisition Fund, a revolving loan fund created to finance the purchase of at-risk properties until permanent financing is available. Over the next five years, federal subsidy contracts will expire on 80 percent of Oregon’s privately-owned rental housing. Nearly one-quarter of these homes are located in Portland, where more than 2,700 families are waiting for rental assistance.

Pennsylvania – In the largest such effort in the nation, Pennsylvania will conduct comprehensive energy audits to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective improvements for increasing energy efficiency in rental homes. Results will help reduce anticipated 40 to 60 percent increases in utility expenses in affordable rental housing for some of Pennsylvania’s neediest families.

The MacArthur Foundation has a long history of commitment to affordable housing. Last year, the Foundation announced a $68 million investment in foreclosure prevention and mitigation in Chicago. The Foundation also supports a $25 million research program on how housing matters to families and communities. More information is available at www.macfound.org/housing.

iSkoot Brings Real-Time Twitter to Consumer Handsets

iSkoot Kalaida(TM) Platform Helps Mobile Carriers Activate Twitter on Consumer Phones Along With Social Nets, E-Mail, and News

iSkoot, a mobile software pioneer known for groundbreaking mobile Internet calling solutions, today announced it has added support for the popular Twitter community to its innovative Kalaida mobile services platform, which can deliver real-time Internet functionality to almost any handset sold today.

Twitter's rapid updates and "micro-blogging" format have made it one of the world's fastest-growing social networks. By concentrating processing in the network, iSkoot's Kalaida platform lets consumer handsets connect to Twitter and other communications tools the way PCs do: all at once and in real time. A single sign-in activates all services to keep the experience simple while preserving handset resources and battery life.

"The Kalaida platform works with today's devices and networks to make even the simplest handsets smarter," said Mark Jacobstein, CEO of iSkoot. "We designed Kalaida to incorporate new services as quickly audiences engage with them, and we're very pleased to now make mobile access even easier for the millions of people who actively use Twitter worldwide

"Twitter is a dynamic and engaged community that's both online and mobile. We're excited to make it easier for all people to participate in the Twitter conversation wherever they go, no matter what type of phone they have," said iSkoot Senior Director of Product Management John Beckmann. "We've started with something simple, but will be adding new features soon and supporting more handsets, including BlackBerry."

Other services enabled on the Kalaida platform include full-time, real-time connection to social networks, personal e-mail, instant messaging, and leading news, sports, and entertainment feeds. Kalaida delivers a full spectrum of Internet services to a single live screen on the handset, eliminating the need for users to open a browser or application to access one service at a time. All services are delivered over available data connections, without requiring 3G or WiFi for optimal performance.

The iSkoot Kalaida platform currently supports more than 20 handsets from leading manufacturers including LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and SonyEricsson, with more to be announced this year.

For more information on Kalaida visit www.iskoot.com.

About iSkoot
San Francisco-based iSkoot, with offices in Cambridge and Israel, brings leading Web services like Skype(TM) to mobile handsets around the world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Orthopaedic Surgeon Shortage Predicted-Due to Soaring Joint Replacement Procedures


Two studies find patient demand will soon surpass the number of orthopaedic surgeons available


In the near future, there may not be enough orthopaedic surgeons to provide joint replacements to all who need them. According to two new studies presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the number of patients requiring hip or knee replacement surgery is likely to soon outpace the number of surgeons who can perform the procedure.

According to a study co-authored by Thomas K. Fehring, M.D., if the number of orthopaedic surgeons able to perform total joint replacements continues at its current rate:

In 2016, 46 percent of needed hip replacements and 72 percent of needed knee replacements will not be able to be completed.


“I was somewhat shocked at the shortfall that we predicted,” says Dr. Fehring, an orthopaedic surgeon at OrthoCarolina Hip and Knee Center in Charlotte. “This is life-changing surgery, offering patients the chance to be mobile, and a very high percentage of patients may not be able to receive it.”

Joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty, is considered by many to be one of the most successful medical innovations of the 20th century. Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which the patient’s natural joint is replaced with an artificial one.

More than 700,000 primary total hip and knee replacements are performed each year in the United States, and demand for the surgery is expected to double in the next 10 years.

A second study co-authored by Steven M. Kurtz, Ph.D., found that a major reason for the growth in patient demand for joint replacement is the increase in younger patients.


Projections show that by 2011, more than 50 percent of patients requiring hip replacements will be under the age of 65; the knee-replacement patient population will reach that threshold by 2016.


For primary total knee replacement, the fastest growing group of patients is in the 45-54 age category; the number of procedures performed in this age group is projected to grow from 59,077 in 2006 to 994,104 (an increase of 17 times) by 2030.

“Joint replacement is generally thought of as a procedure for older people, over 65,” says Dr. Kurtz, corporate vice president and office director at Exponent, Inc., in Philadelphia. “Our projections show that younger people make up a big piece of the pie, and that is only going to increase if historical trends continue.”

Both researchers believe that the key to stemming this supply-side crisis is for policymakers to reconsider the rates at which total joint replacements are reimbursed. The reimbursement rates have consistently gone down over the years, even as the costs of providing health care have gone up.

However, Dr. Kurtz notes that the possibility of new technologies may offer a glimmer of hope. “It’s hard to predict what changes will come about in the next 20 years,” he says. “Hopefully, we will have some new tools in the future to help address this problem, which could be of epidemic proportions.”

Disclosure: Dr. Fehring and Dr. Kurtz and their co-authors received no compensation for this study.

Friday, February 20, 2009

National Office of Urban Affairs

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The U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting held this week in Washington D.C. was highlighted by a meeting with the President and Vice President of the United States on Friday, February 20 inside the White House East Room.

President Obama announced that he signed February 19, an executive order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs, where former New York City Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion will head up the agency. The office was created to, ”provide leadership for and coordinate the development of the policy agenda for urban America across executive departments and agencies;
(b) to coordinate all aspects of urban policy;
(c) to work with executive departments and agencies to ensure that appropriate consideration is given by such departments and agencies to the potential impact of their actions on urban areas;
(d) to work with executive departments and agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, to ensure that Federal Government dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs; and
(e) to engage in outreach and work closely with State and local officials, with nonprofit organizations, and with the private sector, both in seeking input regarding the development of a comprehensive urban policy and in ensuring that the implementation of Federal programs advances the objectives of that policy.”

In short, the office will coordinate all federal urban programs. The President said he is getting letters from constituents across the country about the problems they are facing. He acknowledged that mayors cannot deficit spend and that is why the recovery plan will create 3.5 million jobs and aid state and local governments to stem municipal cutbacks. He reiterated that 18 million will get health insurance and seven million taxpayers will receive financial help to get insurance after job loss.

“What makes this recovery plan so important we are putting America to work in what needs done in critical areas…it lays a new foundation,” the President said.

He said 400,000 people will be put to work across the country in infrastructure improvement based jobs. Infrastructure improvements include roads and highways, bridges, high speed rail, early childhood education, modernization of medical records and laying broadband lines

“We’ve done more in 30 days to advance health care reform than has occurred in a decade,” he said. He also said, what is required in returned is unprecedented accountability and responsibility to the taxpayer.

“They expect to see their money spent in its intended purposes without waste or fraud,” President Obama said.
He said this means he will hold both federal and local municipalities responsible for its use.
“We will use the new tools to watch the taxpayers money with more rigor and transparency than ever. If a federal agency proposes something that will waste money I will put them on notice,” President Obama said.

He said the same goes for local municipalities.
“I will call them out on it.” No compromise or shortcuts, he said.
He said the stimulus plan does not mark the end but the beginning of what he plans to do to attack urban challenges.
The President said he thinks about his start into politics when speaking with mayors--community outreach. He said citizens frequently look to local municipalities in times of financial trouble.

Reporters speaking with the mayors during an impromptu news conference on the white house driveway, after the meeting, asked about this accountability.
The mayors collectively said they welcome having their feet being held to the fire because it is what they have been going through everyday anyway. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagen, said the money the cities will receive will go through the states to be disbursed. He said it took about three years to get hurricane victim monies. He said the legislature of each state can vote whether to take the money or not.

Questions then centered around making sure that the cities could receive the economic stimulus if the money was voted approved by each state and how they would like to see it spent.
After hearing from Democratic mayors, reporters on hand called to hear from Republican mayors.

A Republican mayor from Minnesota said, “one of the things we are now recognizing are the tools being put on the table to put our people back to work. The reinvestment act makes sure people are back to work and infrastructure is repaired and amenities offered, enriching the lives of each city’s citizens.
Another Republican South Carolina mayor said he was against the stimulus package at first but now that the recovery bill is law, he thinks, “we need to put as much of the money in long term projects as possible.”
It was apparent that the mayors who attended the meeting were on board with the President's plans.

Vice-President Joe Biden reminded all in attendance about the web site that could help shed light on how the recovery money is spent.

“Only after one month, laws have been signed to strengthen the American people. The results are clear and ready for the people to see it involves patient outreach," Vice President Joe Biden said, during an introduction of President Barack Obama.
“There is so much more to do,” he said.

Biden spoke of how for years America’s cities have been neglected and the concerns of its mayors unheard.
“We know how important cities are. Seven out of ten jobs are in (our nation’s) cities.” They haven’t been paid much attention to thus far.

He said the recovery package signed into law will provide “unprecedented investment in American cities."
“We have to make this work for our people,“ Biden said.
He acknowledged that taxpayers are trusting the government to spend the money in a way that it was intended. He said taxpayers can go to Recovery.gov to see how the money is being spent and make their concerns known.

He asked the mayors to highlight projects that need private investment and growth.
“The world is watching to see how well this will work.” Biden said.


###

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Media Seen as the Primary Cause of the Depth and Length of the Global Recession, According to New Research From Frost & Sullivan

Companies Must Ignore Fear, Make Smart Moves to Emerge Stronger

In a recent survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, 91% of CEOs blame the breadth and depth of the current economic situation on the media.

"The media's manipulation of statistics, negativity, exaggeration, and doomsday forecasts have driven fear and panic among consumers and businesses alike," says David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan.

Economic statistics are often twisted and exaggerated. The fear of total economic collapse is perpetuated in the media to grab attention and sell more copies or attract more viewers or listeners. Because of this, consumers and business have frozen spending, canceled projects, sold investments, and laid off workers. This has caused a downward spiral in demand and pricing that has now caused about 20 trillion dollars of damage globally.

"As the media continues to perpetuate fear, uncertainty and doubt, there is a growing chance that it will result in a self-fulfilling prophecy," adds Frost & Sullivan Economist Sandeep Maheshwari.

What clearly started out with financial mismanagement and fraud on Wall Street has now escalated into a major global recession exacerbated by the media. According to Frost & Sullivan's research, CEOs cite how the media has continued to drive fear through efforts to gain more readers, viewers, and listeners. The ironic turn is that the media is also being victimized by the current recession, with declining audiences and falling ad revenues.

In the responses portion of the study, CEOs made several interesting comments:

-- "Several newspapers have compared the overall job losses to the Great Depression without taking into account the huge increase in U.S. population since that time. These comparisons only generate more fear and are counter-productive."

-- "Economists miss every turn in the economy. Why do we rely on their forecasts today when they are so unreliable? They move like a herd of antelope -- their current forecasts all fit nicely into a pack."

-- "I recently read a headline that said Microsoft will lay off 5,000 workers. At the end of the piece it mentioned it would be over a three year period. Compared to the overall size of Microsoft, this is not newsworthy."

We are now at a turning point. An unprecedented global stimulus plan and guaranteed programs are now in place. More than 8 trillion dollars globally is being pumped into the economy, along with trillions of dollars in guarantees. Retail sales, housing prices, existing home sales, and used car sales are all showing signs of strength. Interest rates are at historical lows and mortgage relief is in sight.

"All of these trends could signal the turning point if we change our outlook. The media, economists, politicians, bankers, and business executives could collectively turn the economy around by working simultaneously to restore confidence back into the system -- in turn, calming the public. It's time for us to give up on the doom and gloom," concludes Frigstad.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

America's Emptiest Cities

Vacancy rates in these spots spell lots of empty neighborhoods.
Call it a modern-day tale of two cities.
For decades, Las Vegas, ripe with new construction and economic development, burgeoned into a shimmering urban carnival. Detroit, once the fulcrum of American industry, sagged and rusted under its own weight.
Blog Pictures | acobox.com

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Riot

...But when a riot breaks out and the prisoners take him hostage, a lifer (played by Nicolas Cage) is forced to help the young man out. xXx director Rob Cohen was originally attached to the project when it was set-up at New Line.

First Look: Nic Cage in Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass

September 10, 2008
Source: TheBadandUgly.com, Millarworld.tv
by Alex Billington

"If I absolutely have to go to jail for a comic-book movie then I accept no substitutes. This is the one. I hereby declare Kick-Ass as the greatest movie of 2009." That's how author Mark Millar starts out his blog on the production of Kick-Ass, the comic book adaptation directed by Matthew Vaughn that's currently shooting in London.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Urotherapy Works?

LA PAZ, Bolivia – A Bolivian woman has died from an injection of urine allegedly administered by her friend as a form of health therapy, a prosecutor said Tuesday. Investigating prosecutor Oscar Flores told The Associated Press that 35-year-old Gabriela Ascarrunz died Saturday of an "infection caused by urine that was injected by fashion designer Monica Schultz."
I cannot imagine how this works but apparently it does. I would like to know why it did not work in this woman's case but it did work in the clothing designer who allegedly gave her the fatal dosage.
I read a little on this topic and saw on Wikipedia that Madonna used it to cure athelet's foot fungus.
Apparently this urotherapy has been around for thousands of years.
Growing up I have heard old wives tales that say wipe your face or the baby's face with infant urine for healthy skin. I saw the end results of this but the person was not using cloth diapers but the modern kind. Maybe that was a factor but the baby's face was rash upon rash. Maybe as time went on it cleared up--I dunno.
Anyone else know about urotherapy?

Urotherapy Works?

LA PAZ, Bolivia – A Bolivian woman has died from an injection of urine allegedly administered by her friend as a form of health therapy, a prosecutor said Tuesday. Investigating prosecutor Oscar Flores told The Associated Press that 35-year-old Gabriela Ascarrunz died Saturday of an "infection caused by urine that was injected by fashion designer Monica Schultz."
I cannot imagine how this works but apparently it does. I would like to know why it did not work in this woman's case but it did work in the clothing designer who allegedly gave her the fatal dosage.
I read a little on this topic and saw on Wikipedia that Madonna used it to cure athelet's foot fungus.
Apparently this urotherapy has been around for thousands of years.
Growing up I have heard old wives tales that say wipe your face or the baby's face with infant urine for healthy skin. I saw the end results of this but the person was not using cloth diapers but the modern kind. Maybe that was a factor but the baby's face was rash upon rash. Maybe as time went on it cleared up--I dunno.
Anyone else know about urotherapy?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Women in the Workforce Link Cosmetic Surgery to Success

Faced with news of increasing layoffs, straining economic times, and a belief that hiring is based on looks, millions of American women are looking at cosmetic medical procedures to give them a competitive edge in the workplace. In a new telephone survey* compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) of 756 women between the ages of 18 and 64, many reveal cosmetic plastic surgery procedures now appear to be an important rung on the success ladder.
-- 13 percent (more than 1 out of 10 of the 115-million working-age
women) say they would consider having a cosmetic medical procedure
specifically to make them more confident and more competitive in the
job market.
-- An astounding 3 percent (nearly 3.5-million working women) say they've
already had a cosmetic procedure to increase their perceived value in
the workplace.
-- 73 percent (almost three out of four or, 84-million working women)
believe, particularly in these challenging economic times, appearance
and youthful looks play a part in getting hired, getting a promotion,
or getting new clients.
-- 80 percent (four out of five or 92-million working women) think having
cosmetic medical procedures can boost a person's confidence.



Insurance Broker Janice Axelrod, a baby-boomer, recently had a chemical peel and fat transfers from her abdomen to her face. "Time has given me the professional knowledge. But time can take away the youthful sparkle of my appearance if I let it. When you look good, you feel confident. That gives me a competitive edge and something my clients have come to expect from me," says Axelrod.

ASPS Member Surgeon Loren Schechter, MD performed Axelrod's cosmetic procedures at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. He says "Not only do the women believe youthful looks help in the workplace... they're acting on that belief."

John Canady, MD, president of ASPS says, "Consumers need to remember that while cosmetic procedures might help them in the job market, they're still medical procedures." Canady says women still need to proceed with caution. "Patient safety is ASPS' number one concern. Women need to do their homework. Go to the ASPS website at www.plasticsurgery.org to find an ASPS Member Surgeon in your area."

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 6,700 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stimulus means jobs in Indiana

Community leaders of Northwest Indiana and Chicago's south suburbs have big ideas for how to stimulate the region's economy in these trying economic times.
Many want to build the Illiana Expressway, extend the South Shore commuter rail line in several directions and undertake multi-million-dollar flood control projects.

The problems we have today started many years ago

chicagotribune.com — This is an archived Chicago Tribune article that is more relevant today that it was last year this time. Its topic? Crippling unemployment, a crumbling city and how blacks are disproportionately affected. Recession and unemployment started a couple of years ago within the black community and is an ongoing issue. Now what? Go tell the GOP.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Don Lemon of CNN is interviewing someone who performs grassroots HIV education and she says 18-24 age group is a growing aids problem in aa community amid the down-low brothers.
Wrap it up please!
www.livingquilt.org

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spotlight 29 Casino Laughs It Up With Rita Rudner

March 5 Concert is Benefit for Gilda's Club Desert Cities

"Comedian of the Year" Rita Rudner likes to shop. "I love to shop after a bad relationship. I don't know. I buy a new outfit and it makes me feel better. It just does. Sometimes I see a really great outfit, I'll break up with someone on purpose." Now the top Las Vegas headliner is coming to Spotlight 29 Casino on March 5 for a one-night-only concert benefiting Gilda's Club Desert Cities.
Tickets for Rita Rudner are $125, $75 and $50 and are available now at Spotlight29.com and at the Spotlight 29 Casino Gift Shop. Tickets are also available at StarTickets.com or by calling (800) 585-3737, or at Gilda's Club. Proceeds benefit Gilda's Club Desert Cities.

Rudner began her career as a dancer and appeared in the original Broadway productions of "Follies" and "Mack and Mabel." While appearing in "Annie," she realized there were many more female dancers than there were female comics, and she began to study the New York comedy scene and comic structure of Woody Allen and Jack Benny. Her work resulted in countless television appearances, four books, plays, sell-out concerts all over the world and one of the most in-demand shows on the Las Vegas Strip.

She is married to husband/manager Martin Bergman. Rudner has said, "Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times. When I eventually met Mr. Right I had no idea that his first name was Always."

Rudner and Bergman spend their time between their homes in Las Vegas and southern California. "In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk," Rudner has said.

Gilda's Club Desert Cities is part of the national Gilda's Club network. The organization's mission is to provide a place where people with cancer and their families and friends join with others to build social and emotional support as a supplement to medical care. Free of charge and nonprofit, Gilda's Club offers support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events in a non-residential, home-like setting. For information or to join Gilda's Club, call (760) 770-5678.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get Involved in Your Schools
I found this on an e-mail list and feel that it is worth passing along to you who are concerned. This is the best way to get vital news out to the public.
These decisions have been made by the school board. No one likes change, but it is necessary in our district for us to proceed with change and progress.
Many Wirt students, special needs students included, come from the Horace Mann area. Wirt students are not exclusively from the 1st District now.
The themed high schools will launch in the fall of 2009.
At Emerson, the student has one class/school day in their major. The rest of the school day is academic work as usual. Emerson is the only Gary high school which made AYP again this year. Emerson's ISTEP scores are the highest in Gary and are competitve with other schools in NWIN. Much of the arts activity is done after school, again requiring heightened parental and student involvement. The performance aspect of Emerson alone is community outreach. The auditorium at Wirt is beautiful, and it will be fully utilized by Emerson. Emerson hasn't had a place of its own in which to perform for years.
West Side will be taking on middle school students as will each of the four themed schools. (Emerson is already 6-12 because of its charter. It's ready-made for this configuration and is ready and anxious to expand.) This all is happening this fall.
The 1st District is not sacrificing its school. Emerson has always been a 1st District school. As it has been for years now, all the Gary high schools have been schools of choice. The kids are bussed all over the city. I have some of the same students I taught at Wirt now at West Side. At least now the movement will make some sense.

Subject: get involved in your schools


First District parents are being told that a student does not have to be a prodigy to attend Emerson. That may be true, but when I went to the Indiana Department of Education website, I did not find any teacher for students with special needs at Emerson.

Not counting Learning Disabled and those with Emotional Disabilities, there are 296 special needs students at Wirt. Where will the special needs students from the 1st District go?

Another concern is where will the students who have no desire to major in the arts go? There is not going to be a new themed schools until 2010 at the earliest, if ever.

I do agree with Nora that it takes parental and community involvement for any school to succeed. I also believe that if this community puts as much effort into making its local schools work as it does for other issues, any school in the 1st District will be successful.

Here are a few more questions:
Will the education of the children in the 1st District be advanced when the majority of them are transferred to Roosevelt, Lew Wallace or West Side? Will the majority of children in the 1st District have the same opportunity to succeed as the students at Banneker and Emerson? Should the board wait until all the schools are themed schools before closing Wirt? Why is the board asking the 1st District to sacrifice its school when West Side is a larger facility and has a state of the art auditorium? Should the school district be subsidizing the Gary Theater Guild with our taxes? Should the students have to compete with the theater guild for West Side High School's auditorium? Should the board be spending money on reconfiguring the high schools or fixing leaky roofs?

Ask questions. Get involved. Here is the link to the school board committee meetings.
http://ping.fm/Gze60

Check out this link to see the number of students at Emerson and the cost per pupil:
http://ping.fm/0Rpat
You will have to scroll down to the bottom of this page to find this information,

Then check out this link to see class sizes and courses offered at Emerson:
http://ping.fm/CYRvp

Now click on this link to see the number of students and cost per student for Wirt High School. http://ping.fm/8yz6W
Again, you will have to go to the bottom of the page to find this information.

Then check out this link for class sizes and courses offered.
http://ping.fm/zsglz
There are 14 special needs teachers at Wirt.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pet Dental Claims Skyrocket

Pet advocates are encouraging pet owners to focus on their dog's or cat's oral health during National Pet Dental Health Month this February. And it appears more Americans are paying attention, as national pet insurance provider PetFirst Healthcare saw claims for illnesses related to oral-health increase 179 percent during the past year.

"Many pet owners don't place as much emphasis on dental health as compared to other aspects of their pet's wellbeing," said Brent Hinton, CEO of PetFirst. "It's just as important, though, because oral disease can lead to serious health problems for both dogs and cats."

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3.

Without proper care, plaque and tartar build-up can lead to periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Left untreated, it can cause oral pain, dysfunction, tooth loss and complications with the heart, liver and kidneys.

"Pets cannot speak up to tell their caregiver they are experiencing discomfort, so pet owners should pay extra attention to warning signs of dental issues," Hinton said.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include yellow and brown tartar build up along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath. PetFirst saw the most significant increase in claims related to periodontal disease, which increased 200 percent last year.

Common indications of oral disease for pets include bad breath, a change in eating habits, pawing at the mouth and depression.

Hinton said the best preventative plan is to schedule regular teeth cleanings for pets and for pet owners to work with veterinarians to establish a dental-care regimen at home.

Some pet insurance policies reimburse pet owners for costs related to preventative care. Mirroring the rise in claims related to oral disease, the amount PetFirst reimbursed for preventative oral care, increased 132 percent in the past year.

Newspaperproject.org