Bill Gates Unplugged

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Comprehensive School Completion Plan

Project Prevail is a comprehensive effort to increase the number of students graduating from high schools fully prepared for post-secondary education or gainful employment. We will use what works and we will call upon students, parents and the larger community to support this initiative.

It is time to engage the larger community. The actions outlined here are a starting point, for discussion, for development, and for implementation. High school graduation for all of our students is much more than a worthy goal. The individual, community and societal consequences of an interrupted education are both tragic and costly. Working together, we will prevail.


What Businesses Can Do

Develop and support business practices that encourage school success and completion.

Make school enrollment a condition of employment for school age workers.

Provide employee (student) incentives for school performance and attendance.

Limit employee (student) work schedules to 10 p.m. on school nights.

Monitor school attendance and performance by requesting report cards, progress notes, etc.

Allow hourly employees (non-student) to participate in the education of their children by allowing them to attend school/teacher conferences without penalty.

Participate in outreach efforts such as neighborhood walks and phone banks/telethons to recover dropouts.

Establish, solicit for and award college scholarships for students.

Establish college trust funds at local banks and match student/parent contributions.

Establish internships leading to certifications/licensure and other school-to-work opportunities.

What Parents Can Do

Insist that your child is in school all day, every day, on time – and with homework and materials in hand.

Monitor homework and grades.

Read and respond to progress reports, failure notices and report cards.

Ensure your child attends middle and high school (6th/9th grades) summer transition camps.

Insist on a rigorous schedule or classes.

Communicate with teachers and administrators.

Visit schools.


Insist on the recommended graduation plan.

Review child’s individual Learning Plan every year of school.

Participate in parent training and education classes offered at school.

Be an active member of the PTA or other parent/school groups.

Refuse to allow your child to drop out.

What Students Can Do

Attend school every day, arrive on time and have homework and materials in hand.

Actively participate in class and ask questions.

Develop short and long-term goals as part of your high school individualized Learning Plan and discuss them with your parents.

Take rigorous courses to prepare for post-secondary education.

Be responsible for your own learning through (1)Monitoring your own test results; (2) Attending tutorials; (3) Joining a study group; (4) Asking for help when needed; (5)Participate in extra-curricular activities; (6) Study/read every day, whether there are homework assignments or not; (7) Find at least one adult, other than a parent, who will support your success in school; (8) Say “no” to drug, alcohol & tobacco use; (9) Stay healthy through proper eating and exercise.

What Higher Education Can Do

Waive tuition & fees for high school students taking dual credit courses.

Increase number of needs-based scholarships and work-study opportunities.

Provide middle & high school students: (1) College student mentoring programs; (2) Life-skills/college readiness retreats; (3) Leadership development training; (4) Collaborate with the FWISD in the development of an early college high school; (5) Develop strategies to engage parents; (6) Sponsor campus “VIP” tours to acquaint parents with college options and opportunities; (7) Provide representation at campus-level career fairs, career days and college nights; (8) Give priority to FWISD for student-teacher and intern placements to better equip future teachers for the challenges and benefits of teaching in the urban environment.

What Schools Can Do

Establish District-wide focus and organization for school completion initiatives.

Redirect human and financial resources to support the initiatives.

Establish protocols for early identification, support for and tracking of “at risks”.

Expand prevention and intervention counseling and support services at all levels.

Expand initiative that support students’ pursuit of post-secondary education: AVID, AccuPlacer testing, financial support for SAT preparation, PSAT administration and others.

Design and implement peer study groups.

Enhance truancy enforcement at all levels.

Provide summer transition programs (5th – 6th and 8th – 9th grades).

Expand dropout recovery opportunities at the district and campus level (i.e. Success HS, AdvancedPath, and District charter school).

Implement alternative learning opportunities with flexible schedules and expanded hours.

Actively engage all stakeholder groups: parents, students and families, businesses, social service agencies, higher education and faith-based organizations.

Clearly communicate organization vision, mission and goals.

Evaluate programs and services for outcomes and impact.

Conduct annual transcript audits to monitor students for on-time graduation.

Insist on annual Parent/Student/School review of the high school individual Learning Plan.

What the Faith Community Can Do

Assist in locating and registering all students within parish or attendance boundaries.

Support school-aged students and parents in school success, character development and church attendance.

Provide homework help/tutorials at the place of worship.

Host school events and community forums and key dates to include open house, report card dates, test dates, etc.

Announce school events and key dates to include open house, report card dates, testing dates, etc.

Celebrate academic and school accomplishments at church events and in newsletters.

Develop community-service and work opportunities that provide financial support for college.

Establish scholarship fund for aspiring youth members.

Assist with school clothing and supplies.

Set annual and long-term goals for increasing youth attendance at worship service

What Social Services Can Do

Expand campus-level and Family Resource Center collaborations and services.

Expand medical/health services through the Family Resource Centers and campus-based clinics.

Include information about educational requirements and opportunities during service delivery.

Sponsor back-to-school events that include provision of school clothing and supplies.

Collaborate with school to make educational outcomes a part of the agency’s service plan.

Consider on-site tutorial and homework support.

Thanks to the Fort Worth Independent School District
The District has reviewed the literature and best practices, conducted an audit of existing programs and services, and prepared a report and recommendations for action. Already, human and financial resources are being identified and redirected to accomplish this goal.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mind over Matter to the Outer Limits

Don’t go there, because I don’t even want to hear it. You cannot offer me a better standard less than perfection. If being the best that I can be means what I think it means, then it agrees with the Bible. Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Who would argue against Perfection being the highest standard to which to aspire? Bring on the standard bearers of low expectation, and I will fight them head on. Indeed, I welcome the challenge, rather than lose their friendship.

But no one is perfect, and no one can be perfect, they say. And, who are you to judge, seeing that you yourself is not perfect.

I know, I know. But it is kind of like what Paul said: “I press towards the mark”.

It’s all about pressing to be the best that you can be.


On the television set of my mind, our society looks like Cartoon World. I cannot turn it off, even if I wished. When I came out of a prison death chamber, being given a reprieve to see the light of a new day on the outside, the world has looked different to me, ever since- kind of two-dimensional like a cartoon.

I had experienced the world in a different way during my incarceration. You see, in prison, I saw the human will do some amazing things. I saw a man fake his own death by willing his heart to stop beating. The doctor declared him dead, rolled him into the morgue in El Reno, Oklahoma, where he later escaped.

On another occasion, I saw a man’s stomach cut open “like a can of beans” (so said the victim). I saw him fold the separated layers together and walk to the prison infirmary without dropping a single drop of blood on the gym floor.

To will is to do. It’s all a matter of mind over matter, setting your sights beyond the physical realms in life. Similarly, goal-setting is a matter of looking up, not down- looking beyond mediocrity.

No man knows what goes on inside the minds of men. Some people hear voices. I hear singing. Some people’s thinking runs the full gambit, through a complex maze of meandering, through layers of logical assumptions and still come out babbling idiots. My words of wisdom can only increase the current level of idiocy. That is why I try not to lean on my own understanding.

Even so, whatever a man thinks in his heart, so be he. And, if he thinks he is living in Disneyland, so be it.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" The Shadow knows!

The old 1940s radio and 1950s television show made me afraid to sleep at night when I was a child. (Think no evil. The Shadow knows what you think. What a strange way of saying that God knows the hearts of men?) What a strange way of saying that God knows the hearts of men?)

But when I was a child, my thinking was that of a child. My understanding was that of a child. And, just because I could use adult language, my profane words were the words of a child. (Something teachers often forget)

The human mind is a delicate thing. Although we are all part of the same species, some people are still living in caves- carved out as a refuge in their minds. This is why Mr. and Mrs. America looks like the Flintstones and the Simpsons.

Ultimately, Cartoon World will come in conflict with Reality TV. You need not adjust your sets, Reality TV comes live from the Outer Limits.

Promethean Board demonstration