Currently viewing the tag: "Education"

Yesterday the League of American Bicyclists released it’s ranking of Bicycle Friendly States. Florida moved up the scale to number 12 for 2010.

There was some snafu with the documentation submitted by Florida to the League last year, making Florida rank much lower in 2009 (32) than 2008. If you want to know how well we’ve improved, the accurate comparison would be with the 20th place ranking in 2008, upon which we have still improved significantly.

This year the ranking breakdowns (PDF link) by category are worth looking at. The categories include legislation, policies and programs, infrastructure, education, evaluation, and enforcement. Florida scored third place in policies and programs, but ranked lowest in education and enforcement.

I hope we are all interested in improving Florida’s rankings in these weak areas, but there is no simple solution. It will require extensive partnership and cooperation between different government and law enforcement agencies and even private organizations, advocacy groups, or individuals. The “Ride Right, Drive Right” campaign is an excellent example of such an education campaign in Florida, a partnership between a private company, an advocacy organization, and a government agency. Enforcement will need similar partnerships with local law enforcement agencies.

Perhaps we can learn from this example and build new partnerships for both education and enforcement. Let’s hear your ideas in the comments. We all can work together to make Florida a better place to cycle.

Trying to understand the complicated decision making process in Miami-Dade County can seem daunting at times. Bridging the gap between decision makers and citizens through education is one of the goals of Transit Miami.  To that end we are introducing a new Education page that will act as a repository of information on the major transportation and planning projects that are  shaping our city. I will be updating the pages as time allows, and as always suggestions are welcome!

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Consider the following excerpt from the Herald:

Miami-Dade voters strongly oppose spending tax dollars on a baseball stadium and other projects in a $3 billion public works plan, but would back spending on local schools, a new poll shows.

The survey of 800 Miami-Dade registered voters suggests the public is reluctant to spend local tax dollars for ”luxury items” during an economic slowdown, said Sergio Bendixen, whose Bendixen & Associates conducted the poll.

I’m going to go ahead nip this one in the bud before anyone grabs it and runs with it.  The money (Note: vast majority, not all) earmarked for the Miami Megaplan is allotted for the sole use of the intended individual projects.

If Miami does not utilize the $500 million FDOT is providing for the tunnel project, the funds cannot be diverted to education, healthcare, or any other sector.  FDOT will simply reallocate the funds to another or various transportation projects in other counties within the state.  Our loss.

Now about the stadium.  That funding, 90% of the county’s share according to County Manager George Burgess, is coming from the tourist and convention development taxes.  Tax money, which once again, can only be used for programs that will stimulate more tourism within the Miami-Dade County area.

CRA Money?  Care to take a guess?  Yep.  This money can only be used for the improvement of the redevelopment districts.

Now, before we start crying foul about the Miami Megaplan or any other infrastructure upgrades in these self imposed difficult economic times, perhaps we should stop and consider where this funding is coming from and what we are permitted to do with it in the first place.  I find it rather irresponsible of Bendixen & Associates to perform such a rash survey without considering the complex funding restrictions.

Bendixen noted that the poll didn’t ask voters’ opinions of the projects, just the funding mechanism. ”Voters aren’t saying they don’t like the ideas, they don’t think these projects are good investment for tax money,” he said.

And clearly failed to consider how exactly these funding sources work…

Voters were even more opposed to paying for construction of a new museum park at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami. The poll found 66 percent of respondents found it a ”bad investment” for the county; while 29 percent considered it a “good investment.”

Guess what folks?  We had the chance to vote on this one already.  We approved the bond deal that enabled its funding.  Besides if we’re in such a dire need to improve our education, why not build these institutions of higher learning?  Every great city has large museums to compliment the classroom components of learning…

I was featured again today by the Independent Florida Alligator’s Opinion column in response to an article written by the newspaper on Wednesday. As some of you may recall, a few weeks ago, Jeb Bush was snubbed by the UF Faculty senate for an honorary alumni status. Now, Representative David Rivera, R-Miami, is pushing a plan through the Florida State Senate to name the UF college of Education after the former governor.

I, naturally have issues with this. I think we need to stop rewarding people for doing average jobs, doing what they were elected or hired to do. Roosevelt Bradley touted how he purchased so many buses for MDT under his tenure, but then again, that’s what we expected him to do when we passed the PTP. Under Jeb Bush, Florida’s education system suffered. We’re ranked 47th among the 50 states and our high school graduation rates, teacher pay, and standards are deplorable. Jeb was a strong advocate for the student school voucher program, which was a considerable dis to the Florida Public education system. Naming the UF College of Education after a governor who failed to accomplish any educational advancement would be a disgrace to our Public Education system, UF, and the Faculty Senate who was in the right to snub him in the first place…

To read my reply, click here

Some other noteworthy editorials: Gordon Van Owen, Lee Dykxhoorn

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One of our dedicated readers, Carolyn, informed me of an interesting lecture coming up in Miami:
The U.S. Green Building Council South Florida Chapter and University of Miami School of Architecture present:

MARCH 21
MIAMI STREET CAR UPDATE
7 pm. Refreshments at 6:30 pm, Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, Dickinson Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables Campus. and open to the public.

Mary Conway, P.E., Chief of Operations, City of Miami

In recent years, the City of Miami has seen an unprecedented wave of urban infill and redevelopment in a compressed downtown core area, and in adjacent neighborhoods. Miami Streetcar Project has emerged as one essential component of a transportation network that will entice Miami motorists out of their cars, into convenient mass transit, and onto city (and County) streets. Miami Streetcar Project is a direct response to the challenge to provide improved mobility options for users of the transportation network throughout the downtown core. This presentation provides an update on the Miami Streetcar Project, and an overview of the roles that streetcar systems play in shaping cities, by fostering pedestrian-friendly urban environments, and re-invigorated downtowns across the United States. This affordable mode of mass transit is emerging as an increasingly popular application, because of its cost-effective and time-efficient construction, its financial affordability, and its ready adaptability to active pedestrian-focused environments. City of Miami has responded to the local mobility challenge by pursuing multi-agency partnerships and innovative project delivery methods to build the single transit investment that could make a profound difference in re-shaping downtown Miami, in record time.

Mary H. Conway, P.E., currently serves as the Chief of Operations for the City of Miami and is a prominent Civil Engineer and Project Manager with more than 18 years of experience in the industry. studied briefly at Harvard University and the United States Naval Academy before earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Miami. was the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Graduate” award from University of Miami as well as a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, engineering honor societies. Prior to joining the City, Mary worked with the Florida Department of Transportation for over 10 years, where she oversaw major transportation projects in Miami-Dade County as well Broward to Indian River Counties. She also worked with FPL as a service planner and Beiswenger, Hoch and Associates as a production and project manager. served as Director for the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Transportation (CIT) Department for approximately two years. Mary’s hard work and results were recognized and she was promoted to Chief of Operations and is now responsible for overseeing the following Departments: Parks and Recreation, Solid Waste, General Services Administration (GSA), Public Works and CIT. Mary has also continued her involvement with CIT,responsible for overseeing the planning, coordination,implementation and monitoring of all construction related capital projects and transportation projects in the City of Miami. projects include street infrastructure and flood mitigation; park improvements; public facilities including fire stations, police and other city buildings; marinas; the Orange Bowl; and a state of the art urban streetcar transit circulator project. City’s current Capital Improvement and Multi-year plan encompasses over 1100 projects valued at over $675,000,000 through the year 2010 and will certainly increase as Miami continues to grow. experience, professionalism, dedication and drive have earned her the respect of her peers in the City, with other government agencies and within the engineering community at large.

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We’ve got issues folks. Big ones. We have to find a way of lowering our ranking on this list, while raising our ranking on this list. That’s right Miamians are apparently a very uneducated breed of individuals when compared to other major cities across the country. As I like to refer to it, lack of education is the big elephant sitting tucked away in some nondescript part of the city. Nobody likes to bring up the subject although we all know it’s there and it’s the likely source of many of our regional problems. Perhaps things like this (or this) wouldn’t be so commonplace in our city if our literacy rate, graduation rate, or higher education percentages were all higher.

The recent education rankings don’t even mention Miami. In fact I had to search here, to find our measly 16% of adults aged 25 and older with Bachelors Degrees. 16%? That’s half what NYC has and more than three times less thank Seattle, the highest ranked city. It’s also no coincidence that the cities with higher levels of educated citizens also have more major companies headquartered in their respective regions and higher median household incomes than Miami. It’s a catch 22; should we be concentrating on educating our citizens to attract better and bigger industry to our region or should we entice and provide incentives for companies to move to our region and hope that the better educated masses follow? Either way, things have got to change or else we’ll continue to see the city’s middle and lower classes continue to be priced out of the area.

With regards to the crime: I’m glad our ranking has fallen in recent years, but, if you look at all 371 cities, way too many greater Miami area cities are also ranking fairly high on this list. I assume if our educated population base was higher, our rank on this list would decrease substantially.

Florida cities as a whole are at a grave disadvantage in attracting large corporate headquarters to our region. Our entire state education system also ranks somewhere near the bottom, alongside Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Gov. Jeb Bush has done little to nothing throughout his tenure to improve our national education rankings and thus improve our state’s appeal to major employers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t attribute Miami’s education woes to the state’s education deficiencies, but, it is definitely a contributing factor.

According to national figures, Florida‘s graduation rate was 55.7 percent in 2002, putting it at No. 48 nationally, ahead of only Georgia and South Carolina.

As MVB also points out, our local government agencies and organizations in charge of recruiting and enticing companies to relocate to our area is ineffective to say the least. The inter-county/municipality competition alone is terrible.

Anyone have any education reform/business generation/crime reducing solutions?

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