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College Admission Criteria is Changing

Is your high school keeping up?

Finally, colleges are recognizing that GPAs and SAT/ACT scores alone don’t give them enough information to select students who have potential for success in college. 

Rhode Island has recently adopted a new diploma system that requires students to demonstrate competency in the following areas:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Problem Solving
  3. Research
  4. Communication
  5. Decision Making
  6. Interpreting Information
  7. Analytic Reasoning
  8. Personal or Social Responsibility

More colleges are jumping on board as they realize that these portfolios give them a more comprehensive peek at student performance that isn’t only GPAs and standardized test scores. These colleges support and participate in this new movement:

  1. Calif Community Colleges
  2. MIT
  3. Pomona College
  4. Smith College
  5. UC Riverside
  6. Univ Michigan
  7. UT Austin

I’ve watched Merit Academy students do projects throughout their 4 years of high school for the past 18 years.  Doing these individual projects over their entire high school tenure gives students a sense of confidence and pride that they don’t get from working for grades and standardized tests. Brainstorming and developing projects requires research, analysis, public outreach, and creating budgets.  As teens delve into these new and exciting steps, it helps them explore future careers.  Each student becomes interesting and fully vested young people.  I am thrilled that other schools are also giving students access to these opportunities instead of forcing them to take AP classes and bury themselves in memorizing facts for one test at the end of the year.  America needs to provide our youth with skills to compete in the ever-changing world and we need to rethink what teens learn in high school.

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Time to Boycott our President! Here's How:

If you’re feeling helpless and hopeless these days, you’re not alone.  When our own government systematically removes our healthcare, environmental protection, and now safety in our schools, it’s time to fight back.  But, I’m not talking about marching or signing petitions.  Yup, I’ve been to dozens of marches and signed hundreds of petitions, but we’re still losing civil rights and protections that we had before this administration took office.
 
What would MacGyver do?
Cripple the real problem – President Trump!
How do you do that?  
 
Boycott all of the companies that carry Trump products or advertise on The Sean Hannity Show or Breitbart.  Hit him where it hurts – his pocketbook and bank accounts. Now that’s something you can do.   
 
Better yet, email these companies to tell them that you are boycotting them until they stop carrying Trump products or advertising on hateful shows. Click here to get the email addresses and/or phone numbers to let these companies know why they need to dump Trump!  I emailed all of the retailers that I frequent and I plan to boycott them until they stop carrying Trump products.  
 

VIDEO: Pascal Costa's TEDxMeritAcademy Talk

In August, Merit Academy hosted TEDxMeritAcademy at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.

Pascal Costa was a featured speaker, and her TEDx Talk is embedded below.

How to stop overpopulation before we reach 10 billion people on Earth

Overpopulation is a huge problem. We have too many people, and because of our immense growth experienced in the last century, we are experiencing new problems. Because of overpopulation, we have recklessly produced dirty energy and destroyed fertile land to meet the needs of our ever-expanding population. Forests have been decimated in order to make room for farmland and to produce lumber. We have exploited natural resources such as soil, water minerals, oil, and coal because we have grown dependent on them. As a result of our growing numbers and exploitation of natural resources, we have caused the extinction of 130 mammal species, and have endangered 250 species. Today, about 1000 species are now threatened. Through overpopulation, we have increased pollution, consumption, and the deterioration of land. There’s a simple way to reduce the world’s population and I’ll share my idea with you.

About Pascal: Pascal Costa founded Preventing OverPopulation, a non-profit organization that educates child-bearing people about how their decisions to have children directly affect the world. She has presented her project at the Earth Day Santa Cruz festival and she was interviewed on Earth Watch Radio. Pascal recently graduated from high school and plans to continue to advocate for population control in college.

VIDEO: Logan Conover's TEDxMeritAcademy Talk

In August, Merit Academy hosted TEDxMeritAcademy at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.

Logan Cononver was a featured speaker, and his TEDx Talk is embedded below.

Rethinking How We Drive

WHEN natural disasters start to happen is the real question behind climate change, not IF they will happen. People have already started to see the consequences of rising CO2 levels, with the 2-degree temperature rise and global CO2 levels passing 404 parts per million (ppm). Let’s discuss an easy and practical solution that we can all embrace.

About Logan Conover: Logan Conover founded When, Not If…, a non-profit organization that educates people about their carbon emissions, the positive feedback loop, and easy solutions to reducing CO2 in the atmosphere. He stumbled across climate change when he learned that many congressmen/women were denying its existence. This frustrated Logan because he couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t believe 99% of the scientists who state with proof that climate change is real. Logan realized that he needed to do something fast and he needed to make it easy, so he created When, Not If… to share facts with people and get the world to take action against climate change.

Did You Know That People BUY Followers?

In an era of fake news, it comes as no surprise to me that a thousand or a million likes on social media platforms are actually fake.  Celebrities and politicians buy fake followers to boost their popularity and to move political agendas.  Yup! Companies like Devumi offer Twitter followers, views of YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, and endorsements on Linkedin – often for as little as a few cents per follower. It doesn’t just stop here in the US, this is happening in China, Ecuador, and all over the world. According to Rami Essaid, founder of Distil Networks, a cybersecurity company that specializes in eradicating bot networks, “Social media is a virtual world that is filled with half bots, half real people.”  What you see on social media may not be what you think it is.

What’s wrong with insecure people buying followers – kind of like buying friends?  It makes the rest of the population feel insignificant by comparison.  So many young people suffer in silence as they see how popular others are.  Aspiring artists and musicians feel depressed when their follower stats are low. 

I hope cybersecurity companies can reveal true numbers and shame abusers of the system so we can establish some sort of semblance of real facts and real news.

No Snow in Tahoe in January?

We take an annual ski trip in January to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.  The timing was always perfect because we knew there’d be snow on January 7th.  Except for last year’s blizzards that brought us powder and so much snow it actually closed all Tahoe ski areas for several days, our weather patterns have changed. 

This year, we skied on 100% man-made snow.  It seemed odd to ski down tightly-packed and carefully-groomed runs carved out from the green shrubbery and dirt that surrounded each run.  To plan future ski trips, do we need to go to ski areas much further north – like say, Alaska? As of Feb 1st, we’re at 27% of normal for California… Hmm.

Climate change is happening and we need to stop using fossil fuels now!

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Another Oil Spill? 30% Tariffs on Solar Panels?

The Iranian oil tanker, Sanchi, sank on January 14th, after colliding with a Chinese cargo ship in the East China Sea. Over 135,000 tons of condensate, a ultralight crude oil, has been pouring out and burning for over a week. This may be the worst oil spill in 35 years, and it comes at a time when the Trump Administration is trying to open up drilling for oil on the east and west coasts of the United States.

IS ANYONE LISTENING?

Why are we drilling for oil when there is a finite amount of crude oil left in the world and it wreaks havoc with air quality, pollution, and climate change?

Better question: Why did Trump slap a 30% tariff on solar panels produced outside the US?

Answer: Trump is supporting the oligarchy by protecting the oil and coal industries’ bottom line -- PROFIT.

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Imagine There Were No Transcripts - It's Easy If You Try

Do GPAs and SAT/ACT scores reflect a student’s ability to succeed in college?  Umm. NO!  We’ve known this for decades, yet schools keep ramping up pressure to get good grades in AP classes and colleges use rubrics that heavily weight GPAs and SAT/ACT scores when admitting incoming classes each year.  But, this is beginning to change now that over 100 elite private high schools plan to replace traditional transcripts with competency-based, non-standardized documents without grades using the Mastery Transcript Consortium. 

The goal here is to change the way colleges admit students by eliminating the traditional transcript.  Yup!  The Mastery Transcript Consortium will evaluate students based on levels of proficiency in various areas:
1.  Analytical and Creative Thinking
2.  Complex Communication: Oral and Written
3.  Leadership and Teamwork
4.  Digital and Quantitative Literacy
5.  Global Perspective
6.  Adaptability, Initiative, and Risk-Taking
7.  Integrity and Ethical Decision-Making
8.  Habits of Mind

By creating portfolios to demonstrate projects, experiments, and works of art produced by students, colleges would get a more comprehensive look at the student.  But this movement intends to eliminate grades and standardized test scores completely, which I doubt colleges will accept or adopt anytime soon.  I think that a combination of GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, and projects would be the better option because it checks to see if students have the academic foundation (skills needed to enter college) and the creative and entrepreneurial prowess (skills to think outside the box and become innovative leaders) to become successful students in college.

I believe that students who do independent projects (ProjectMERIT) become confident innovative thinkers – the kind of young adults we need to solve the many problems we as a society face today.  I am pleased to see other high schools challenging the institutional evaluations and hope that colleges welcome new ways to efficiently select their new incoming class of students.

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Trump Can't Stop Climate Scientists!

I have renewed faith in humanity.  Albeit, I’m grabbing for straws, but, when I hear terrifying stats on melting ice caps, sinking ocean floors, and rising sea levels, I’ll take it!  A year ago (can’t believe it’s only been a year since Trump took office – it feels like four!), the Trump administration FIRED the top climate scientists in the world. Seriously?  But the amazing news is that Richard Moss, the former member of the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, has pulled together several of the scientists who were fired last year to continue their research. 

MUSIC TO MY EARS!

Even though the team is not funded by the federal government, they are banding together to continue their research to find solutions to our climate change problems. New York’s Governor Cuomo plans to help fund this research, and others will hopefully follow suit!  I think that their research will probably find “real” solutions quicker because they won’t be fighting an uphill battle with a president and administration that doesn’t believe climate change is real. 

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