first_imgThe 80 seventh- and eighth-grade students on the Navigator team at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington solve problems on one of four touchscreen SMART Boards in math class, measure and record temperature fluctuations with high tech probeware in science, participate in international Skype sessions in social studies via a large computer screen, and use their laptops to do Web-based writing assignment in language arts.What’s just as impressive as the team’s wall-to-wall technology, though, is the way teachers have incorporated it seamlessly into their lesson plans to powerfully engage students in their learning.Thanks to a $5 million gift to the University of Vermont from the Richard E. & Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation in 2009, many more Vermont middle school students will enjoy Navigator-style learning in the future. The gift, the largest in the foundation’s history, will be used to establish the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education at UVM. The institute’s mission is to put programs like the one at Edmunds, called I-LEAP — the Learning and Engaging Adolescents Project — in place at middle schools around the state over the next 10 years.”Today’s young people are immersed in technology everywhere but in school,” said technology entrepreneur Richard Tarrant. “Instead of asking students to power down the moment the school day starts, we need to bring technology into the classroom where, combined with good teaching, it can be a powerful tool for engaging young minds.” Deborah Tarrant of the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation shows the difference between the technologies students use inside and outside of school at a December 21, 2009, press conference. (Photo: Raj Chawla)”Our goal for the I-LEAP program,” said Deborah Tarrant, “is to help schools bridge to the 21st century with a strategy designed specifically to attract, engage, and inspire tech savvy youth in their classrooms.””This important gift from the Tarrant Foundation will greatly improve educational outcomes in Vermont,” said UVM president Daniel Mark Fogel. “We couldn’t be more grateful for the foundation’s generosity.”Roots in MiltonI-LEAP was developed at UVM five years ago with funding from the Tarrant Foundation in partnership with teachers and administrators at Milton Middle School, where the program was piloted and is now in its fourth academic year. The second I-LEAP site was launched at Edmunds in September.Focused on the middle school years, a crucial developmental period when success or failure can have lasting consequences, I-LEAP has two major components.Schools receive both a substantial suite of hardware and software and extensive professional development for teachers and administrators on how to teach effectively, employing best middle-school practices, in a tech-rich setting.The professional development component of I-LEAP consists of an intensive graduate course at UVM for teachers and administrators, and, of critical importance, frequent, in-school follow-up visits over a period of years by institute staff to support teachers in embedding student-centered, technology-rich strategies into curricula. A website with further resources is also under development.The I-LEAP program targets one team of students and teachers in a school, laying the groundwork for other teams to experience and embrace the model later. At Milton nearly all teachers have taken the professional development course, and the school has invested in 30 netbook computers for each of the other three teams at the middle school.More than a “technology drop”The emphasis I-LEAP places on professional development distinguishes it from what had been the norm in the past: “technology drops” that brought equipment to schools but gave teachers little support on how to use it.”I-LEAP is the polar opposite of that approach,” said Tarrant Institute director Penny Bishop, an associate professor in UVM’s College of Education and Social Services, who directs the university’s Middle Level Teacher Education Program. “The institute’s goal is to not only foster widespread use of technology in Vermont schools, but also to create a cadre of teachers who confidently employ it in service of what we know to be exemplary middle school teaching practices.”I-LEAP’s focus on professional development is timely: falling prices and growing federal, state and community support mean that more new technology is entering schools every year. Vermont will receive $5.6 million in federal funds for K-12 technology investment in the next three years.Podcasts and SMART Board competitionsStudent projects at both Milton and Edmunds demonstrate how technology can be used to foster what research shows are the best ways to engage middle school students, from personalizing learning to bringing real world problems into the classroom to promoting peer-to-peer exchanges.Students in a social studies class at Milton visited a senior center, for instance, then created podcasts featuring narration, interviews, and music that were posted on the Web. The Edmunds math class uses its four SMART Boards to get teams of students out of their seats competing with one another to solve math puzzles and problems.Evidence of successWhile it is too early to have statistically valid quantitative measures of the program’s effectiveness, qualitative evidence that the program is engaging students, including disaffiliated students who are most at risk, is abundant.According to surveys Bishop and her colleagues have conducted, students in I-LEAP say learning is more interesting, meaningful, and relevant to their lives compared with their earlier school experiences, an evaluation shared by many parents.”There’s a point to what we’re learning,” one Milton student said.”My daughter’s grades have improved since being involved in this program,” said an Edmunds parent. “She has always had a problem with focusing, but now with the laptop, I have seen her sit, focused, completing her work. I really see the advantages of bringing our teaching methods current with technology.”Students are also better able to express their own voice, they say.Teachers report having engaged, alert students in their classes who take more pride in their work and personal responsibility for it.Edmunds language arts teacher Kathy Gallagher said all students are now turning in their homework, compared with an average of about three-quarters in the past. Edmunds social studies teacher Brent Truchon reported a marked change in classroom participation. “For the first time in the history of my teaching career, every student’s hand was raised,” in a recent class, he said.Growing reachAs technology prices drop, and school districts share in technology costs, the institute should be able to focus more on professional development and spread its resources to more schools in the future.It will also look to partner with others to extend its reach. The Tarrant Foundation and UVM recently formed a consortium with the Vermont Principals Association and VITA-Learn, a statewide organization supporting technology in education, to deliver the I-LEAP professional development program to six schools throughout Vermont with $200,000 in funding from the Department of Education. Those schools will in turn train other teachers in their regions.”We want to reach as many Vermont middle school students as possible with this innovative program,” said Richard Tarrant. “We think it’s a game-changer.”Read more about why middle school is a crucial stage for intervention.Source: University of Vermont.last_img read more

first_img December 15, 2004 Letters December 15, 2004 Letters LettersSettlement Disbursements Those who are suggesting that we interpret the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar to prevent attorneys from allowing their clients to receive the entire settlement proceeds and pay their own bills (See Proposed Ethics Opinion 00-2 Reconsideration) must not be dealing with our state’s upstanding citizens. Attorneys are already thought of suspiciously in our society. (Witness the passage of Amendment 3). Who is going to be the one to tell a client, “The Bar has decided that you cannot be trusted to pay your bills. So I cannot let the business/person/insurance company defendant who harmed you pay you everything they owe you. I must insist that the defendants pay me that portion of the settlement that you owe to others. No, no, that isn’t because we think we’re more trustworthy than you. Yes, we know that there was already a rule that prevents our participation in fraud (as though we need a rule in order to prevent us from doing so). But the Bar decided (for some reason that is unfathomable to me, unless pure greed for IOTA) this is just to make sure that third parties get paid what they should. Sorry.” Doesn’t anyone else have honorable clients who pay their bills and will be absolutely outraged by this stealing of client funds and evidence of complete lack of respect for them? Interpreting the rules this way will only persuade those who remain firmly supportive of attorneys that their confidence may be misplaced. Please don’t do this. Rosemary N. Palmer Tallahassee Amendment 3 Amendment 3 limiting attorneys’ fees in medical malpractice cases was sold to Floridians as a cure to the state’s so-called malpractice crisis. reducing attorneys’ fees, more money would be put into the hands of victims of medical malpractice instead of the greedy lawyers. There would be no more frivolous lawsuits and those really injured get more money. Doctors would stop leaving the state in droves. Sounds good, right? Consider these facts: • The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report in 2003 — Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care — that examined this issue in nine states. The GAO concluded that there is no exodus of physicians from Florida. The number of new medical licenses issued in Florida increased from 3,239 in 2000 to 3,577 in 2001, while the numbers of physicians per person has remained stable. • The same GAO report also concluded that jury awards of any size were rare, and big jury awards (greater than $1 million) were rarer still. The GAO concluded that the rising costs of malpractice premiums were the result of insurance companies’ investment losses as well as extremely competitive pricing for insurance premiums in the 1990’s. • There is no such thing as a frivolous medical malpractice case. Florida Statutes require that before a health care provider can even be put on notice of a potential claim by a lawyer, an opinion must be obtained by a physician in the same specialty area that malpractice has occurred. This opinion routinely costs thousands of dollars that the lawyer must pay before any claim is filed. Lawyers are business people like anyone else; they do not invest in cases that do not have merit. • Lowering attorneys’ fees in medical malpractice cases will deny injured people access to the courts. Amendment 3 limits the amount of money a victim of medical malpractice may spend on his/her attorney but places no such limitation on how much can be spent on the defense of a malpractice case. • There is no malpractice crisis. GE Medical Protective, the nation’s largest medical malpractice insurer, admitted in filings with the Texas Department of Insurance that caps would not result in lower premiums. • Medical malpractice payouts are less than 1 percent of total U.S. Health Care costs. All losses (verdicts, settlements, legal fees, etc.,) have stayed under 1 percent for the last 18 years, according to Americans for Insurance Reform. The bottom line is Amendment 3 will not result in anything but less accountability for those health care providers that are hurting Floridians and make it more difficult for those injured Floridians to take them to court. America has prided itself on the jury system for more than 200 years, and the statistics show it works. Floridians have been fooled into giving up their rights. Lawrence J. Marraffino Gainesville Medical malpractice and contingency fee tort lawyers need no financial assistance from other members of The Florida Bar, especially sole practitioners like myself and small firm lawyers who struggle to make a living and pay for their children’s higher education. I find it incomprehensible and a probable dereliction of duty, no matter how many self-serving legal opinions were obtained, that The Florida Bar Board of Governors had the audacity to donate $100,000 of the members’ funds and another $100,000 from a fund whose objective, as its name states, is to promote the Maintenance of Excellence (of Florida lawyers) in an attempt to defeat a constitutional amendment that affects a small percentage of the most affluent members of the Bar. Incidentally, as I assume everyone on the board had known, our re-elected president’s platform included a cap on awards to medical malpractice and the contingency fee tort lawyers. I trust the board members are familiar with what John Edwards and his team of contingency fee tort lawyers, and others like them, did to the affected physicians’ liability insurance rates in North Carolina. Fortunately, the board’s ill-advised donations were not successful in defeating Amendment 3. But, the $200,000 that was morally, ethically, and perhaps legally wrong to donate can never be returned. If the board had to seek legal opinions in an effort to protect itself, that alone should have prevented the board from going ahead with the donations. I trust that no members of the board, Legislation Committee, or other persons of authority that were involved in the decision to make the incomprehensible donations do not have any possible conflict of interest. If so, such lawyer(s) that may have a conflict of interest should immediately resign their positions that involve trust and fiduciary responsibility with a public apology to the general Florida Bar membership. John W. Field Deerfield Beach At a recent Spellman-Hoeveler Inn of Court meeting, a prominent plaintiff’s attorney spoke regarding Amendment 3. He began by discussing the exorbitant costs associated with medical malpractice cases and mentioned that in most of the cases his firm handles 25 percent of the fee immediately goes out as a “referral fee.” The primary argument was that attorneys would not take some cases because it will not be financially feasible, thereby restricting patients’ ability to bring suit. That argument really has little weight because Amendment 3 allows for costs prior to calculating the attorney fees. What the amendment does is prevent a lawyer from making a windfall. We, as a Bar, are looking to place blame on doctors for offering an amendment to the “easily misled” public. This is not where culpability rests. The responsibility for Amendment 3 is squarely on our shoulders. We have allowed our image to degrade to the point that the general public views lawyers on par with traditionally mistrusted occupations such as used car salesmen. We have allowed what is a noble profession to become a business. The “business of law” cannot survive as a self-regulating practice; we must maintain it as a profession, or expect to be regulated by others. We hold a particular grasp over access to the courts — to justice. Meanwhile, a small number of lawyers have turned that position into a monopoly used to make unreasonable profit at the expense of our reputations. Our failure is allowing this conduct to become the norm. For example, when did it become acceptable to pay out referral fees? Amendment 3 could have been predicted years ago when polls were coming out reflecting public opinion that held lawyers in such poor regard. We attempted to respond and the Dignity in Law campaign was launched in early 2002. The miscalculation on our part was viewing the problem of public perception as one that could be remedied through a PR-styled attack. The $20 million spent opposing Amendment 3 should be a wake-up call that this strategy will not work; the problem must be dealt with at the source — the sisters and brothers of the Bar. Physicians are not to blame for Amendment 3; we are responsible for failing to maintain the practice of law as a profession. Marshall Dore Louis Miamilast_img read more

first_imgTrueBlue, the €465m Dutch pension fund for the ICT sector, said it will place accrued pension rights with both the sector scheme PNO Media and the consolidation vehicle De Nationale APF as of 1 May.It said it will transfer €436m of pension rights accrued under average salary arrangements (DB) to De Nationale APF, which has been established by NN Investment Partners and AZL, also part of NN Group.The remaining €29m of pension rights accrued in a defined contribution plan will be placed with the €6.7bn non-mandatory industry-wide pension fund PNO Media.Rob de Ridder, secretary of TrueBlue, said the DB pensions will be placed in a multi-client compartment – also open to other pension funds and employers – within De Nationale APF. Margreet Theunissen, executive chair of De Nationale APF, said TrueBlue also used the services of NN IP and AZL.“Also because our flexible administration platform, we could offer a smooth continuation of services,” she added.According to De Ridder, PNO Media was the preferred candidate for taking over the DC pensions “because of its responsible investment approach as well as the possibility if offered our participants to choose their risk profile based on lifecycle investment”.Last year, TrueBlue had decided to continue further pensions accrual with PNO Media.Nelly Altenburg, chair of PNO Media, said TrueBlue’s move gives its new hybrid pension plan DC lifecycle, “which combines the benefits of DB with DC”, a flying start.Under this plan, both the worker and the employer pay an age-dependent fixed percentage of the pensionable salary for individual pensions accrual through lifecycle investment.At retirement, participants can buy a pension from PNO Media, which enables them to continue collectively investing the remaining assets in the pension fund.Altenburg told IPE that many employers and other pension funds were showing much interest in PNO Media’s new hybrid plan, but that none had committed to joining yet.TrueBlue has 2,700 active participants, 5,100 deferred members and 600 pensioners, who are affiliated with 99 employers in the digital sector. At year-end, its funding stood at 97.4%.De Nationale APF implements the pension arrangements of 27,000 participants and pensioners for five clients. Its assets under management total €3bn.PNO Media is the provider for 17,000 workers, 31,000 deferred participants and 10,000 pensioners affiliated with 400 companies in the creative sector.last_img read more