Educational Leaders Must Strive To Increase Resources Available For Their Schools

Contemporary educational leaders function in complex local contexts. They must cope not only with daily challenges within schools but also with problems originating beyond schools, like staffing shortages, problematic school boards, and budgetary constraints. There are some emerging patterns and features of these complex contexts that educational leaders should recognize. Educational leaders face a political terrain marked by contests at all levels over resources and over the direction of public education.

The vitality of the national economy has been linked to the educational system, shifting political focus on public education from issues of equity to issues of student achievement. States have increasingly centralized educational policymaking in order to augment governmental influence on curriculum, instruction, and assessment. With the rise of global economic and educational comparisons, most states have emphasized standards, accountability, and improvement on standardized assessments. Paradoxically, some educational reforms have decentralized public education by increasing site-based fiscal management.

School leaders in this new environment must both respond to state demands and also assume more budget-management authority within their buildings. Meanwhile, other decentralizing measures have given more educational authority to parents by promoting nontraditional publicly funded methods of educational delivery, such as charter schools and vouchers. Political pressures such as these have significantly changed the daily activities of local educational leaders, particularly by involving them intensively in implementing standards and assessments. Leaders at all levels must be aware of current trends in national and state educational policy and must decide when and how they should respond to reforms.

The many connections between education and economics have posed new challenges for educational leaders. As both an economic user and provider, education takes financial resources from the local community at the same time as it provides human resources in the form of students prepared for productive careers. Just as the quality of a school district depends on the district’s wealth, that wealth depends on the quality of the public schools. There is a direct relationship between educational investment and individual earnings. Specifically, it has been found that education at the elementary level provides the greatest rate of return in terms of the ratio of individual earnings to cost of education. This finding argues for greater investment in early education. Understanding these connections, educational leaders must determine which educational services will ensure a positive return on investment for both taxpayers and graduates. Where local economies do not support knowledge-based work, educational investment may indeed generate a negative return. Leaders must endeavor to support education for knowledge-based jobs while encouraging communities to be attractive to industries offering such work. Educational leaders must be aware of the nature of their local economies and of changes in local, national, and global markets. To link schools effectively to local economies, leaders should develop strong relationships with community resource providers, establish partnerships with businesses and universities, and actively participate in policymaking that affects education, remembering the complex interdependence between education and public wealth.

Two important shifts in the nation’s financial terrain in the past 19 years have worked to move the accountability of school leaders from school boards to state governments. First, the growth in state and federal funding for public education constrains leaders to meet governmental conditions for both spending and accountability. Second, state aid has been increasingly linked to equalizing the “adequacy” of spending across districts, which has influenced leaders to use funds for producing better outcomes and for educating students with greater needs, including low-income and disabled children. Complicating these shifts are the widely varying financial situations among jurisdictions. These financial differences have made significant disparities in spending between districts in urban areas and districts in rural areas common. In this dynamic financial context, educational leaders must strive to increase resources available for their schools, accommodate state accountability systems, and seek community support, even as they strive to increase effective use of resources by reducing class size, prepare low-achieving children in preschool programs, and invest in teachers’ professional growth.

Recently, two important accountability issues have received considerable attention. The first has to do with market accountability. Since markets hold service providers accountable, if the market for education choices like charter schools and vouchers grows, leaders may be pressured to spend more time marketing their schools. The second issue has to do with political accountability. State accountability measures force leaders to meet state standards or face public scrutiny and possible penalties. The type of pressure varies among states according to the content, cognitive challenges, and rewards and punishments included in accountability measures. School leaders can respond to accountability pressures originating in state policies by emphasizing test scores, or, preferably, by focusing on generally improving effectiveness teaching and learning. The external measures resulting from political accountability trends can focus a school staff’s efforts, but leaders must mobilize resources to improve instruction for all students while meeting state requirements. And they must meet those demands even as the measures, incentives, and definitions of appropriate learning undergo substantial change.

Public education is expanding in terms of both student numbers and diversity. An increasingly contentious political environment has accompanied the growth in diversity. Immigration is also shaping the demographic picture. For example, many immigrant children need English-language training, and providing that training can strain school systems. Economic changes are also affecting schools, as the number of children who are living in poverty has grown and poverty has become more concentrated in the nation’s cities.

The shift to a knowledge-based economy and demographic changes accompanying the shift challenge the schools that are attempting to serve area economies. Given such demographic challenges, school leaders must create or expand specialized programs and build capacity to serve students with diverse backgrounds and needs. Leaders must also increase supplemental programs for children in poverty and garner public support for such measures from an aging population. Educational leaders must cope with two chief issues in this area: First, they must overcome labor shortages; second, they must maintain a qualified and diverse professional staff. Shortages of qualified teachers and principals will probably grow in the next decade. Rising needs in specialty areas like special, bilingual, and science education exacerbate shortages. Causes of projected shortages include population growth, retirements, career changes,and local turnover. Turnover generally translates into a reduction of instructional quality resulting from loss of experienced staff, especially in cities, where qualified teachers seek better compensation and working conditions elsewhere. In order to address shortages, some jurisdictions have intensified recruiting and retention efforts, offering teachers emergency certification and incentives while recruiting administrators from within teacher ranks and eliminating licensure hurdles. In these efforts, leaders should bear in mind that new staff must be highly qualified. It is critical to avoid creating bifurcated staffs where some are highly qualified while others never acquire appropriate credentials. Leaders must also increase the racial and ethnic diversity of qualified teachers and administrators. An overwhelmingly White teacher and principal corps serves a student population that is about 31% minority (much greater in some areas). More staff diversity could lead to greater understanding of different ways of thinking and acting among both staff and students. This survey of the current context of educational leadership reveals three dominant features. First, the national shift toward work that requires students to have more education has generated demands for greater educational productivity. Second, this shift has caused states to play a much larger role in the funding and regulation of public education. Third, states’ regulatory role has expanded to include accountability measures to ensure instructional compliance and competence. Educational leaders must take heed of these features if they hope to successfully navigate the current educational terrain.

Tips For Creative Home Garden Landscaping

If you’re looking for a way to make significant changes to the look of your outside space you want to first look at the bigger picture of the area with which you have to work and consider the factors that you need to take into account such as things that you can/ cannot change and do/don’t want to change. Factors would include geographical location, buildings, large trees or bushes, rocks, water placement, shape and gradient of the outdoor space, etc.

Once you armed with this information you can work out what you need to do to bring about the look and feel you want to achieve. You might not always need to carry out major landscaping changes. Minor changes can give you stunning effects.

Adding an outdoor water feature to your garden area can give your home a whole new look and feel. There are water features that will fit any size area and installation limitations with which you may be faced. It may be a modest or prominent outdoor water feature but either will add a whole new dimension to the space and although moving water might be needed for some outdoor water landscape designs, it’s not required in all instances.

Fountains are a good choice in water features if you are looking for something that will require minimal work, Fountains come in a variety of themes, shapes, sizes and complexities. You can select something simple for a small patio space but if you have the space you can position a large complex piece to create a focal point in the center of a large garden. Fountain and pond installation is relatively simple if you already have water connected and running to the spot. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions to build the fountain and attach the water supply. Not all fountain kits come with extra hose or connectors which may be required to attach the fountain to your water source. These connections would probably differ according to your water supply.

If you already have a body of water such as pond on your property, you can just add a fountain kit to it to change its look.

Ponds are simple to add to your property whether you have a small odd sized outdoor space or an acre of garden. All you need for a small area is a basic pond kit, some stones and a small plastic pond from the home improvement store. For larger ponds you might need to excavate the space with a backhoe.

In a typical small space like a home garden, features like whether the garden is flat or on an incline, its layout and the position of the house and outdoor buildings can affect the whole feel of the garden. Additional factors to consider would be climate and availability of water or whether you are trying to recreate a garden theme that is outside the norm for the area (which will be a lot of work) such as an English style garden in the desert or a cactus garden where there can be ice and snow. For more practical and less radical garden recreation your garden space can be enhanced with strategically placed planters, garden stairs, and a water element.

Around the outside border of your patio area place planters to give the feel of a boundary between it and the great outdoors beyond! Consider creating a concrete, stone or other sturdy patio structure if you do not have an outdoor living area and position planters strategically around the edge. Collect and use interesting and unusual containers such as wine barrels or more conventional concrete, terracotta or glazed ceramic planters. Arrange them in decorative clusters at the edge of the patio. Grow decorative grasses, ferns, peace lilies and other lush, bushy plants to bestow a more natural feel to your patio and give it a soft border.

A steep grade is a challenge in any home garden but it can also be an opportunity for stunning visual landscape. Put in a twisting narrow stairway down the hill surrounded by terrace garden beds that are separated by retaining walls. Select plants and stagger your planting to create the impression of descending from a hill or mountain top into a lush forest. Plant flowers and low hedges in planters near the top of the hill. The advantage of planters here is that if they can moved for a “holiday” when they are in their off season and replaced with plants that are in full growth and flower. Follow these with plants that increase in size, such as hedges, fruit trees, and bamboo. At the bottom, install large trees that are appropriately sized to your home garden space.

Gardening is one of the most popular pastimes everywhere in the world. There seems to be a very special magic that is woven by daily puttering in their yards, expressing their creative colorful outdoor home garden landscape. For those with limited space, there may be restraints that you need to overcome but beautiful outdoor spaces can be created on even on the smallest balconies. You do not need complexity to landscaping a small outdoor space for it to be beautiful. The simplest effects can look stunning.

Plant border plants around your garden beds or use some landscaping feature like a rock wall or planters. Use stone, small evergreens or ground cover perennials that you can train into the desired shape. English thyme is a useful fragrant low-level ground cover that can create beautiful borders. Creating borders give a more formal feel but also gives a feeling of “difference” between inside the area and out. Even if the garden itself isn’t planned, the border creates a simple and easy landscape feature.

At the end of the day, landscaping your garden is going to depend on your preferences and availability of materials. If I can give you only one tip it is this: Once you have taken stock of the land and its features, Plan. Come up with a theme for your garden before you plant. Unless you have enough space for clearly defined garden “rooms” have an overall theme. Maybe you would like a garden featuring mainly plants with yellow flowers or leaves, for example. Other theme ideas include a butterfly garden, a knot garden and a herb garden. None of these require much space, Plan them on paper first so that your garden goes in correctly the first time and you don’t have wasted materials and plants, or time.

MoS2 Low Friction Coatings – Not Just For The Aviation Industry Anymore

MoS2 low friction coatings (also known as molybdenum disulfide, also spelled, disulphide) are regarded the most widely used form of solid film lubrication today. What makes them unique (with the other dichalcogenides) is the weak atomic interaction (Van der Waals) of the sulfide anions, while covalent bonds within molybdenum are strong.Thus, lubrication relies on slippage along the sulfur atoms. All the properties of the lamella structure are intrinsic. No external form of moisture is required. In fact, best performance from MoS2 low friction coatings is attained in the absence of water vapor, which are prone to surface adsorption. This makes them ideal under vacuum.There are a number of methods to apply MoS2 low friction coatings, including a simple rubbing or burnishing, air-spraying resin-bonded or inorganically bonded coatings, and more recently by sputtering through physical vapor deposition (PVD).Thickness will vary, depending on form of MoS2 low friction coatings, but typically ranges between 5 to 15 micrometer. Sputtering techniques can produce thin films of 0.2 micrometer. While plasma sprays will result in higher builds, beginning at 0.003 inch or more.Friction coefficient less than 0.05 is attainable, but will also vary with humidity and sliding conditions. Tests show friction decreases with increasing vacuum strength. Friction also lowers with higher load, faster surface speed, or both. In fact, MoS2 low friction coatings are superior to both graphite and tungsten disulfide (WS2). Friction with MoS2 low friction coatings is independent of particle size, though the larger particles can carry more load.Dry lubrication for MoS2 low friction coatings remains superior at higher temperatures, with oxidation rates remaining relatively low at temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. And in dry, oxygen-free atmospheres, lubricating performance, even with oxidation products, is stable to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit.Higher air flow can affect oxidation kinetic rates in atmosphere. Molybdenum oxide products (MoO3) and sulfur dioxide. Since MoO3 alone offers dry lubrication, based on its relative softness, molybdenum disulfide coating are ideal in higher temperature environments. At higher temperatures, though, they are better suited under vacuum. In atmosphere, they are prone to water adsorption from air based on their hygroscopic properties.As with the other dry film lubricants, while differences may prove negligible, you will have to determine which is better for you: longer wear life or better performance, using MoS2 low friction coatings. Generally, friction will be slightly higher by coating both surfaces, rather than coating one surface only. But wear life will increase coating both surfaces.Friction can be good in so many areas of life. Without it we could not easily stop and start our motion, or change direction. But in moving machinery, friction causes considerable loss of energy, poorer performance, not to mention limiting wear life.As with many non-lubricated systems, the static coefficient of friction is higher than the dynamic coefficient of friction. The resultant motion is often referred to as ‘stick-slip’. Basically, the two surfaces stick together until the elastic energy within the system has accumulated to some threshold, where a sudden, forward slip takes place. Under magnification, it’s apparent the union of two surfaces is often limited to intimate contact only at the tips of a few of the asperities (small scale, surface irregularities). At these point areas, pressures relating to contact may be near the hardness of the softer material. Thus, plastic deformation occurs on some localized scale. This is known as cold welding. Where bonded junctions are formed between two materials.For lubrication to occur, these bonds, this adhesive component of friction, must be broken. And this is where products like MoS2 low friction coatings serve well.So, where are these products used today? Consider aerospace, automotive, marine and electronic, for starters. There, you’ll find MoS2 low friction coatings, again and again.