Ideas for America Series: Final Release in September of 2019?
The final edition of the Ideas for America series will most likely come out in June of 2019; Ideas for America; Restoring the Middle Class. Previously this site said that this book would come out in 2018. That’s to say that as much as I would like to introduce the book this year, I don’t know that there are enough responsible adults communicating with each other in an effective manner for the book to be used in the right way.I think it’s coming, but I don’t know that we’re there yet. If you were waiting for the book and feel frustrated by that, know that there is no shortage of good things we can do for each other in New England for you to read about in Critical Infrastructure for Children.
We Need Our Local Papers In order to strengthen our communities and effectively integrate new ideas, we’re going to need our local papers to reestablish their strength. I know of a number of local papers that had 4-5 full-time staff reporters ten or fifteen years ago, that now have only 1-2. I’m not convinced that passively allowing the market to decide the fate of this critical part of a community is the best way to go; I wonder if adults need to have adult conversations about what the needs of the community are with regards to their local paper. Then again, that’s just my opinion.
Whereas IFA talks about successful models and ideas, it’s up to the local papers to explore how they might have a positive effect on the community they serve. When the papers are strong and the reporters and writers receive the support they deserve, integrating new, positive stuff is easy. However, without them we are much weaker and positive collaboration becomes hard. Anyway, that’s how I see it from here and it is one reason why I am going to go really slow withe release of the final IFA. In the meantime I will move forward with promotion and presentations of Critical Infrastructure for Children. After all, the audience for that book is parents, students and educators, and I’m sure they will make good use of the information.
If you want to know the full story of the creation of the Ideas for America series, you can read below.
Origins; The Full Version The original decision to write Ideas for America; New Hope Rises came in October of 1997, at which time I was living in Germany. I had taught and studied languages there for three great years, and I would have liked to have stayed longer, but I just knew the United States was eventually headed for some dark times and I wanted to prepare. It sounds strange, but it’s true.
When I began writing, I didn’t even know what I was going to say, but I remember going to the library in Siegburg, Germany and writing; “The two political parties fighting each other is not going to solve any problems.” If nothing else, the past decade has taught us that this is true.
In October through December of ’97 I worked construction in Quincy and studied Chinese at night. In January of 1998 I took a job as a live-in building superintendent in Brighton while I took courses part-time at Boston College. It was then that I took out a notebook and began writing down sentences, which became paragraphs, which became pages. I had learned some things in Germany that I though we should adopt here in the states, such as affordable, high-quality recreational facilities, as well as some other dimensions of community building. However, core ideas came from reading the reports of MassINC., an evidence based research group in Boston. The report I studied most intensely was “The State of the American Dream”, a report that analyzed income, transportation costs, trends in education and other indicators of standard of living.
The Core Principle that caught my attention was the need for greater utilization of vocational education. According to MassINC, whereas only 7% of Massachusetts were enrolled in vocational programs, that number should be around 30-40%, with as many as fifty percent doing a combination of vocational and classical studies. This core insight gave me the foundation upon which to build all other principles.
In the winter of 2001-2002 I was teaching in Waterville Valley, NH, and I used to go for a walk on winter nights through a cemetery to a platform that overlooked a gorge and river. I would bring coffee there and would practice asking and answering questions such as the previous ones. From 2000 to 2005 I taught high school Spanish while landscaping in the summer and building up the essays. And, on August 8th, 2005, Ideas for America; New Hope Rises was introduced.
I should say that the transition from teaching English at European language schools where customers were paying to acquire a skill was very different from teaching high school Spanish, where acquisition of language ability is not so much the focus as is doing well on the test. That’s not necessarily so bad, except for the fact that the tests would often emphasize extremely advanced Spanish grammar when the students often hadn’t even mastered the basics. It is out of this experience that it became clear that maximizing language programs was an option for any school on any budget that was ready to take some new approaches to learning. Part of these new approaches can include emphasizing expression and not pressuring students to do well on a test.
The original raw edition from 2005, simply a series of essays with no footnotes or even attribution.It was the core upon which future editions would be built.
The period from 2005 to 2010 involved a slow but steady expansion of the core concepts in the book. i was in the summer of 2010 that I began to look at “green” initiatives, which was in part inspired by the work of the Salem Farmer’s Market. That summer I read Winning the Green Revolution by David Freeman, and it was the beginning of a new dimension of the book.
One of the core environmental principles I was working with prior to 2010 was that we need to expand our national parks system while we have the space to do so. The addition of an awareness of the importance of local farming led to an integration of of core principle of environmentalism.
It was also during this period that I worked in special education, dealing with young people at the grammar, middle and high school level. If I learned one thing, it was that occupational therapy actually works really well. Later, taking a course in Adolescent Psychology with Professor LaCroix at Salem State taught me a huge amount about how to think about students in special education, not to mention all families. Professor LaCroix is one of those rare, truly gifted teachers with forty years experience that you can find at what used to be teacher’s colleges.
The writing and research from 2010 to 2012 and the publication of this book was the most intense of any time. I spent about five to six hours a day watching documentaries, PBS movie and shows, reading all I could about local economies and farming, and integrating all the different chapters into a cohesive whole. By this time, I had witnessed the fallout from the the bursting of the housing bubble, as well the seeming increased severity of virtually ever problem I looked at. I tried to not just report on the growing income and wealth inequality, but tried to look at how ideas from other parts of the book could help.
Another relatively new theme to this edition was to look at progressive coursework at colleges and universities, coursework that could be imitated and/or expanded upon to best serve the common good. It became increasingly clear that colleges and universities could be huge contributors in many areas, if only they would choose to do so.