Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Education is Great and Sometimes Life

Over the years, I have found wonderful sites for both real-life education, correspondence courses and online education. And the best opportunities there are for all people, no matter where or how they live are those that are at the sites for free online education. You can learn all types of subjects, from gardening, language, health, counseling, arts, music, collage art, power lifting, organizing, publishing and so many more topics, by just going online and doing the search for the topics. You will find correspondence courses, real-life courses at high schools, colleges and private schools and you will also find online courses. You can find religious, spiritual and Bible courses online also. Just keep on searching and you will come up with all the information that you need to take your education one step further than it is already.
Have you attended elementary school, only to have to quit due to lack of resources, money or transportation? Have you started high school but had to quit due to health reasons or family problems? Have you gone to some college but had to leave because the college was too expensive? Usually, during your life, you might have had to quit school at one time or another. And usually what happens is that it takes many long years to go back to be re-educated or for anyone to finish the education that they began already. I am living proof of that since I began college so many years ago but had to drop out due to lack of funds. Yes, I had the dream and the promise to myself that I would one day go back to finish college, but that had not happened for many years after the first drop out happened. And yes, some of us drop out of college, unwillingly, more than once, and usually it is due to lack of funds or lack of time, but never due to lack of ambition or yearnings.
Most who attend college see what an advantage college brings to their lives and they stick with it. And most who have even attended continuing education courses at the colleges or high school evening courses do know and realize that education opens up great doors in one's life. So, are you going to let any inconveniences or any lack of funds or time continue to stop you from getting the best education?
I urge you, if you ever dropped out of anywhere, any school, university, high school, elementary school or college, to get back to education in any form that you can get back there to. Right now, today, enroll in an online course. Or enroll in a correspondence course, or weekend course or in a course given at your local high schools. This is something that you should do for yourself to let your mind continue to grow but also to give your spirit wings and to give your personality a confidence boost. Here are some interesting schools that you might want to look into:
  • Check out the high schools and colleges in your area and inquire about continuing education courses, free courses and free courses at any city buildings, such as CAMBA or others.
  • Apply as paraprofessional in the Board of Education in New York city, any borough, and once hired, you receive your college education paid for by the city of New York.
  • Online courses (do a net search for free online education)
  • Check out the women's groups in your community. Many times there are education courses for displaced homemakers and for victims of violence.
  • Look up CAMBA online and inquire about their free courses in your own neighborhood.
  • Look for free Adobe-PhotoShop courses online
  • Check out YouTube and do a search for DIY (Do It Yourself courses). These are video instructions and most of them are excellent and in all topics.
  • If you live in New York, dail 311 and ask for referrals to free education courses.
Rule number one in your life should be never let anyone else stop you from getting that education. That means put education first and you will be rewarded for that. If you are living with someone who thinks that your education is not important, set them straight, and even if you cannot convince them otherwise, YOU TAKE your steps needed to continue your education. Do not let anyone give you negative ideas about your education. Remember this--it is YOUR education, so keep at it, keep on persisting and you will be successful.
There are many schools that I would recommend; here are a couple of them:
  1. National Institute of Photography
  2. National Radio Institute
  3. People over a certain age are eligible for free college courses in most cities. Ask about the MY TURN possibilities at your local city colleges.
  4. For reference material or more leads check out the page of

  • Check out this link for some online instruction

Your ears, eyes, imagination and mind are your best sources of education throughout your lifetime. Use them together with all the online sources and you will truly have your BEST FREE ONLINE EDUCATION
Sometimes education comes in the form of life experience or from advice from informed individuals. So, in that spirit, I give these little bits of information as part of a free online education quick-course in where to find adequate physical rehabilitation for yourself. Here in these next few lines is the QUICK COURSE:
  1. If you have no family or if you are on Medicare or Medicaid, never, ever take physical therapy inside a residential place such as a nursing home or physical rehabilitation and care center. INSTEAD, opt for having your therapy at home or living at your own home and apartment while going out a few times a week or day for your physical therapy.
  2. Insist onnotbeing admitted to a nursing home or rehab and care center if you have no relatives who will visit or if you have Medicaid or Medicare. (DO only what is safe for you to do; seek advice in this area).
  3. When at all possible and when recommended by a doctor, use a physical therapy place that uses water in the treatment (Some have pools, whirlpools and other water-related therapies to use to help you make progress.
  4. If you are considering being admitted to the New Vanderbilt Rehabilitation and Care Center but would rather have recommendations for other places instead, feel free to write to me (first leave a note here stating that you are contacting me and that you have sent an email to me) . I am glad that you are remembering that the choice of where you do your physical therapy is still your choice, not the hospital's choice. So if there is a place that you refuse to go to,stick to your ideas and choose other places. You can find a list of places on the net. But like I said, the best option is at your home or apartment. I will not answer any emails unless the writer leaves a public note here at this site for me.
  5. Know that if you are going to stay, even temporarily, in a physical rehabilitation and care center, they control every aspect of your life, including what time you get up, what time you have medicine, whether you take medicine or not, what time you can have visitors, what time you can have phone calls--if any, and what you eat, where you go, and what happens with your life in-between physical therapy sessions. Some places will even put you in diapers when you do not need to wear diapers--just because it is more convenient for the staff to change diapers when they feel like it than for them to gather staff to help you to go to the bathroom. So , know that sometimes in those facilities, control is the key issue and most times, the staff controls everything about your life, even whether you get admitted there or get discharged from there. So think twice before you decide to go into a physical rehabilitation and care center and if you decide to do so, even after reading this, please ask for MANY referrals to good places. Word of mouth is a remarkable advertising tool, so use it.
See that? In less than six paragraphs you have just received an education about physical therapy and rehabilitation and care centers. So, one of the ways that anyone can learn is by word-of-mouth, by consumer recommendation and just be listening and hearing the experiences of others who might have been through the same situation that might be in now.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Job Juggling and the Home Educating Family

As lifestyle challenges go, combining earning a living whilst at the same time home educating your children, has to be one of the toughest. I'm assuming, for the purposes of this article, that you're not one of the few home educating families where the parents can afford to go out to work and employ someone to supervise and home educate their children for them. For most families these days, school provides a large chunk of free child-care and this is what many parents exploit in order for them to be able to earn a living whilst raising children. So, what do you do when you do not have access to hours of child-free work time each day? What can you do if you are a single parent and/or home educating very young or disabled children? Tough challenges indeed, but certainly not impossible judging by the number of families I've come across who are, apparently successfully and happily, doing just that. There are many different ways in which families achieve this, although the process of changing their lifestyle has often taken place over several years. How do they manage it?
Balancing income and costs.
In absolute terms, of course, it doesn't matter how much income we have so long as it is equal to or greater than our costs. Most of us can decide, to a large extent, what our costs will be and therefore how much of an income we need, but if our income drops, then it follows that our costs must decrease too.
When I decided to take my two boys out of school in 1998, I was already running a small business from home, but it quickly became apparent that I would not be able to continue with this. My job, though home-based and part-time, took up around 30 hours per week, some of it spent away from home. I wasn't happy spending that amount of time working or being away from my children while they were young (age 8 and 6). So, I quit my job in order to home educate. My doing that left us with one income (I was married at the time and my husband was working) which was not sufficient to cover our bills as they stood. So, we decided to downshift to a part of the country where it was less expensive to live, buy a much less expensive home and lower our sights in materialistic terms.
During the months and weeks that followed, I read many books and websites on home education and, just as importantly as it turned out, I started learning about something called "Voluntary Simplicity". The tenets of Voluntary Simplicity are frugal consumption, ecological awareness and personal growth. However, this change in life path and priorities i.e. my children's education now rated above my quest for material possessions, felt like deprivation or even poverty sometimes. I realised there were seeds of resentment threatening to germinate as a result of our decision to home educate. I needed to stop feeding them. I needed a change of perspective.
It was a revelation for me to discover that taking the path of voluntary simplicity was not about poverty at all, but about unearthing a simpler, freer way of living that gave us more time together. I quickly realised that this was really an opportunity for us to lead a much richer, more meaningful life emotionally, physically and spiritually.
What are your options for cutting costs?
When we take our children out of school (or decide not to start sending them) and home educate, it can appear that we have lost the time necessary to earn a living. So one of the things we need to do is re-gain that time some other way. How do we do that? One option is to view our time spent with the children as a time to practice frugality. At the same time we can be educating our children. Here are some examples of the sort of activities I mean:
1. Home education eliminates the need for the school run. This reduces the number of miles travelled and therefore the cost of transport (although some of these miles will be made up by families travelling to events and social gatherings). Perhaps you can find a way to reduce your car use further by walking, cycling or using public transport. This can be much more interesting for the children and lead to many questions and discussions about what you all observe during your journey.
2. By being at home more, all the family have the opportunity to take part in daily cost saving activities such as recycling, composting, growing and cooking their own food, maintaining the house and garden, learning how to reuse and repair items rather than just throw them away. (Thus learning about how things work and about the materials from which they are made.) You can learn how to make necessary everyday items, from sweaters, skirts and scarves to soap, plant pots, bird-tables, garden tools and even computers. There are further savings to be had by buying your food locally and through farmers' markets and by forming a food co-op with other local home educating families. All of these are much richer in interesting experiences, human interactions and problem solving opportunities than a quick trip round your local supermarket.
3. If you decide to cut your costs by minimising your expenditure on "educational materials" you can actually find yourself presenting information to your children in a way that promotes a more holistic perspective. For example, using real money instead of plastic money, real items to weigh instead of artificial weights and measures, items from your kitchen or garden for science experiments rather than science kits. Many materials used in schools are produced with the assumption that consumerism is the norm. Some are sponsored by private enterprises that have a vested interest in encouraging children to start using their products from an early age e.g. worksheets on dental hygiene produced by a leading manufacturer of toothpaste who promote the use of fluoride. At home, parents may point out all the alternatives of which they are aware. E.g. the pros and cons of using fluoride as a means of protecting teeth.
There are many other ideas on the internet if you search on "frugal living". For single parents and for those with very young or disabled children, using more than a few of the above examples is likely to present more of a challenge. In this case, it can be beneficial to get involved with other home educating families or to engage other members of the extended family for mutual support.
Many cost-saving measures are healthier for us as well as providing our children with interesting educational opportunities. Maintaining good health, after all, is also a cost saving exercise.
What are your options for generating an income?
I find it uplifting to hear of the many resourceful and imaginative ways in which home educating parents choose to earn money. During my time as a "stay at home mum" when my boys were young, I watched the freedom with which they chose what to learn and how to spend their days. I decided to emulate them and choose a vocation that my heart was in and that I absolutely enjoyed. Also, having felt the twinge of resentment at the thought of reducing our income and our buying power at the outset, I was determined not to head down that route again. Rather than take any job that would earn us a decent income, my aim was to use the situation as an opportunity to re-train in something I loved. For me that job was life coaching. Here are some examples of what others have done. These are taken from the experiences related to me by friends and acquaintances or else by parents I've coached:
A married couple with 4 children who both teach musical instruments. When their children were too young to be left unsupervised at all, they took it in turns to teach. As they got older, they increased their teaching hours.
A single mum who, in return for food and accommodation for her and her two children, carries out voluntary work for a charity in several different countries.
A married couple where the mother is a journalist and technical author and the father looks after the children.
A married couple with 3 young children where both partners are business consultants and take it in turns to work. When they occasionally have to work away from home together for a day or two, the children's grandparents provide childcare.
A single mum who re-trained as an herbalist and sees clients at her home.
Other jobs that I've know home-educating parents to do, either as a couple or alone, are:
Running a franchise business selling clothes or books in people's homes or running an after school club.
Making and selling specialist foods, home-made clothes, soap, and jewellery.
Providing accommodation for foreign students who are in the UK on school trips.
Bed and breakfast accommodation
Travelling with the children and being employed in a variety of casual or temporary jobs.
Performing (e.g. music, circus skills).
The Benefit Dilemma
Something that I've had considerable trouble facing since starting home education is the idea of being dependent on someone else for my income, whether it was my ex-husband or the state. The latest efforts by the Government to get single parents "back to work" under the mistaken impression that all single parents of over 7 year olds must have nothing constructive to do with their time, has not helped to quash this social stigma.
Time again for a change in perspective, I think. By home educating each child, we are saving the state several thousand pounds per year and yet we receive nothing from the state to fund our home education. We can view social security benefits as a way in which the state (i.e. society at large) is supporting us for fulfilling this vital role. This is especially true, I believe, for those of us who home educate young or disabled children, since they require a large degree of supervision, commitment and specialised care. To expect a single, home educating parent to work at some other job too in these circumstances is beyond belief and yet this expectation is a situation we are going to have to accept and deal with until such time as the Government sees reason.
The benefit that home educated children (and therefore society as a whole as they grow up) receive from being nurtured in this way is something that the rest of society finds it hard to acknowledge and value at the moment. In the meantime, if you're in the situation where you're reliant on benefits, my suggestion from personal experience and from talking with others is to do everything you can to acknowledge to yourself the value of the "unpaid work" that you do. Also remember that as your children grow up so your life and work situation will change. Being at home with your children is a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and broaden your horizons before returning to work or re-training if that's what you choose to do.
My experience during my 9 years of home educating so far is that home educators are a feisty bunch and not people to be too daunted by a challenge or two. Combining earning an income with home education requires above all an open and creative mind, capable of thinking outside the box. If parents don't have those perspectives when they first start home educating, many learn to cultivate them as a result! This puts them in the perfect frame of mind to create a means of income generation at the right time, that meets their needs and that they enjoy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Future of Public Education According

For years there has been a public outcry to "fix" the PUBLIC educational system of the United States. First of all, this will be impossible, because "fix" cannot be defined.
Some say that "fix" means to have better and more modern buildings. Some say to "fix" mean to pay teachers more. Some say to "fix" means to have our students pass progress tests. Some say to "fix" means to be able to have our students more effectively compete in the world arena of science and business. Some say to "fix' means give our students a better education in the basics of reading, writing, and math. Some say to "fix" means to give our students a more progressive, liberal education so they can live fuller and more complete lives. Some say we need to "fix" the educational system so students can choose what "they" want to do in life sooner and enter college with direction and focus. And the reasons for "fixing" the "broken" PUBLIC educational system go on and on.
I think the PUBLIC educational system is broken and cannot be fixed. The system is so bogged down in political bureaucracy, red tape, special interests, union politics, under funding, misuse of funds, misdirection, non-focus, status quo thinking, social rhetoric, unfunded programs, broken political promises, and under staffed, under qualified, and under paid administrators and teachers that the PUBLIC educational system can never be fixed. It is an impossible task.
It is no wonder that PRIVATE schools, alternative learning programs, home schooling, and online curriculums are becoming more and more popular with the "affluent" of our population. If you can afford a good education for your student, parents are pulling their students out of PUBLIC schools and enrolling them more and more in private programs of education.
It is my opinion and the opinion of many concerned citizens that from elementary school to college, our educational system, at its best, often drives the natural love of learning out of our kids and replaces it with such "skills" as following rules, keeping still and quiet, doing what is expected, cheating or procrastinating. And that's why, in most schools, being on time and sitting quietly are more important than critical thinking and innovative production. To prosper in this economy, students need to develop and master different skills - lifeskills such as resourcefulness, curiosity, innovation, as well as logical and verbal proficiency.
Most progressive educational professionals would agree with Bill Gates who told our nation's governors last year that the traditional urban high school is obsolete.
The reality of education is that the system for the most part is outdated, too expensive, and ineffective. Many educationally progressive countries offer PUBLIC funding for education from Kindergarten through University, where as in the United States most states don't offer Kindergarten classes, and all Public Education stops at the end of High School.
The primary reason we send our children to school is to enable them to choose the career of their choice, earn a good living and enjoy all that life has to offer. We all want to give our children the opportunity to prosper and provide well for their families.
Here is what has to be done if we are to give our citizens a better education which in turn gives our country more productivity in the world economy.
1. We need to PRIVATIZE all education in our country.
2. Education will be "funded" but not controlled by our government.
3. Each family will be given a certain amount of money (voucher) for each student of each age.
4. Parents can use this voucher to educate their students as they choose at any school or institution of their choice.
5. The government has NO say in the choices parents and students make. Our tax dollars only go to "fund" PUBLIC education in the PRIVATE sector.
6. When schools and institutions are made to "compete" for tuitions based on the performance of the teachers and educators, the quality of education will increase. If schools don't offer parents and students a quality education, parents and students will go some place else, and the school is out of business.
7. We need to also include a government funded college education or trade school education for all who want it. Most parents can't afford to send their students to college. Only about one in 17 (5.8%) young people from the nation's poorest families, those earning less than $35,377 a year, can expect to earn a bachelor's degree by age 24. For those from the nation's wealthiest families, those who earn about $85,000 or higher, it's better than one in two (50%.) This University funding would also be on a voucher basis also. There would still be private colleges who might not need the money (vouchers), but for the most part most colleges would welcome the money as a way to increase enrollment and increase the quality of the education they offer.
8. The obvious results of PRIVATIZING education is that not only schools would have to compete to get the student, by offering a quality educational program, but teachers could now offer their services in a FREE market. The fact is, the good teachers would be paid more. Schools would have to offer the good teachers more to keep them. If a good teacher could make twice as much at another school, because they are better qualified and had a "parent following," schools would have to get serious about offering teachers more money. More people would want to become teachers if they could get paid more. And just like in every business, in order to get the best, you have to pay them more.
9. Online schools would become more and more popular and accepted also. This is especially great for the "inter-city" areas and "rural" areas, where education has been hard to fund, and quality teachers hard to find.
10. On the "one student, one voucher" system, all communities are now able to compete equally for the best teachers and educators. Because of population (demand) in large cities and communities, some schools would have to hire more teachers. In the small cities they would need fewer teachers, but the "money" is the same per student.
11. By PRIVATIZING education, funded by the government with our tax dollars (as we currently do) we would be able to save money. The United States could keep the PUBLIC education budgets at a manageable level. Schools would have to compete for the funding and just like the "price wars" of car dealers, furniture stores, and all businesses, schools would have to continually strive to give parents and students "MORE education" for their money. This is Capitalism at its best.
12. The less government "control" of our PUBLIC education, the better. Government would have NO say or control whatsoever on the type of education parents chose for their students. Government would only FUND educational choices based on the government's education budget. The PRIVATE sector would have to compete just like any other private business for the money by offering a better, quality education to its customers (the parents and students.) The PUBLIC education system for the most part now is a MONOPOLY and doesn't have to "try harder." Just like the deregulation of the airlines, the telephone companies, etc., prices would go down (or in this case stay down) based on the economic rule of supply and demand. PRIVATIZING our PUBLIC education answers ALL the problems we currently face in our current PUBLIC education system.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Importance of a Complementary Educational

In September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That document served as the launching pad for the public declaration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - which include everything from goal one of halving extreme poverty to goal two of providing universal primary education; all to be accomplished before the year 2015. Progress towards the first seven goals are dependent upon the success of goal eight - which emphasizes the need for rich countries to commit to assisting with the development of "an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries."1
At first glance, the recent actions of Central American countries and the United States to liberalize trade seem to support, at least partially, successful realization of MDG Eight. However, upon closer examination, the picture blurs and the outcome seems uncertain.
Following only a year of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States in 2004. The agreement, committing each country to reduce its trade barriers with the other DR-CAFTA countries, was ratified by the United States Congress on July 28, 2005.2
Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing trade in Central America, this brief aims solely to cast light upon the overlap between countries' efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to implement a complementary CAFTA agenda.
Specifically, this document highlights the importance of educational priorities if economic development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by Central American countries, multilateral organizations and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs resources towards education infrastructure, CAFTA will never succeed in assisting these countries in reaching an ever elusive state of "economic prosperity." In fact, it may deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.
With the need for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us examine the current status of MDG Two implementation and broader educational reform in Central America:
Over the past fifteen years, most Central American countries have implemented at least basic forms of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. On an aggregate level, the larger Latin American and Caribbean region has made considerable progress toward the goal of universal primary education enrollment and according to the most recent UN Millennium Development Goals report, "Net enrollment rates at the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001. The region's pace of progress in this indicator has been faster than the developing world average (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 countries of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent." 3 The reality is that, large scale disaster or other unforeseen event aside, all six countries are on target to reach the MDG enrollment targets.
Unfortunately, progress towards the target of completing five years of primary education has been slower and few countries in the region can boast success in this arena. The lack of progress towards completion of this target is most directly related to inefficiencies in the education system and the socioeconomic conditions of poor children - both situations that result in high repetition and desertion rates and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is to succeed. Furthermore, while the number of children initially enrolling in school has increased, the poor quality of education throughout Central America is also certainly a factor in children's failure to complete their primary education. Quality must therefore also be taken into account when considering educational infrastructure needs.
While not necessarily relevant to MDG Two but quite possibly relevant from the CAFTA perspective of needing a skilled workforce, Central America's educational woes most definitely extend beyond the primary school environment. In response to the recent Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote "It is difficult to avoid the impression that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind with regard to secondary education. Although this is not included in the MDGs, it is the single most important educational indicator separating upper and lower income groups in the region." 4
When less than one third of a country's urban workforce has completed the twelve years of schooling that your or I take for granted, how can they hope to compete in today's technology-dense free trade environment?
Upon an examination of the Mexico of today as compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise in the Mexican poverty rate over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being directly due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty rate is attributable to Mexico's failure to simultaneously implement a complementary agenda; specifically, the inability of Mexico's poorer southern States to improve their poorly trained workforce, infrastructural deficiencies and weak institutions in order to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states lost even as the northern states benefited from the liberalized trade environment created by NAFTA.
Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-author of the World Bank report entitled "NAFTA is Not Enough" (and issued ten years after NAFTA was originally enacted) explained in an National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico's financial crisis in the 1990s was bound to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman said:
Mexican income dropped in one year, 1995, by six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican workers, on average, fell by 25 percent in less than a year...Still, NAFTA helped Mexico limit the damage, lifting per capita income at least 4 percentage points above where it would have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico would be poorer without NAFTA today. Clearly trade alone won't alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the right investments, especially in education, the next decade should be better. 5
As was the case in Mexico, it is likely that the majority of households in Central American countries stand to ultimately gain from the price changes associated with removing trade barriers for sensitive agricultural commodities and other goods. However, in order for this to happen, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, each country must now make appropriate investments in development efforts (most especially in education) in order to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.
Simultaneously, it is of critical importance that each country provides for the needs of their most at-risk citizens. In order to guarantee that the children of these families are given the opportunity to be counted among those in school, countries must identify resources, both internally and externally, to provide incentives for families "to invest in the human capital of their children." 6Examples of such incentives have been implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social). Most immediately, these incentives (often in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to increase food consumption, school attendance and use of preventive health care among the extremely poor. In the long run they are intended to assist with poverty and malnutrition reduction and to improve schooling completion rates. As reported by the IDB, "results are proving that it is possible to increase a family's accumulation of human capital (measured by increased educational attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also raise potential labor market returns for the beneficiaries, as well as overall productivity. The programs have had a substantial positive long-term impact on the education, nutrition and health of its beneficiaries, especially children." 7
In the World Bank's expansive document analyzing CAFTA's potential impact on Central America, entitled "DR-CAFTA - Challenges and Opportunities for Central America" the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to each country's stage of development and innovation. For example, "for those countries farthest away from the technological frontier -such as Honduras and Nicaragua-- the best technology policy is likely to be simply sound education policy... in the more advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, where adaptation and creation of new technologies is more important, issues of education quality and completion of secondary schooling are more important." 8 In fact, without ever making specific reference to the MDGs, the authors recommend that the former countries focus on the goal of achieving universal primary education while the latter countries focus their energy on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure in the open market.
Ultimately, rather than seeing CAFTA as a first class ticket to a better economic end - with no strings attached, countries must acknowledge the critical importance of first implementing MDG Two - target three. This target, which says "by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling" 9 is a critically important step towards guaranteeing the emergence of a workforce that can respond to increased marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without immediate investment in that future workforce via the education system, CAFTA will surely flounder and drag MDG Two along with it.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, educational infrastructure must be put into place now that will not only guarantee a higher quality education but will also be made accessible and desirable to Central America's most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico's experience, the likelihood of a positive outcome for both CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet the possibility of economic success does exist if we agree to truly choose "Education For All."