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SRQ Daily Jun 11, 2016

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Businesses and universities need each other, but they are not the same thing."

- Dr. Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida
 

[Education]  Closely Aligned Though Worlds Apart
Jennifer Vigne

"Our fate can be different; but only if we start doing things differently." Notable author Thomas L. Friedman heeds this warning in his book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century which stirred the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to address this plain truth with a new perspective.

With generous support by Michael and Terri Klauber, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County hosted TED talk presenter Kate Groch this past week. Kate is a passionate visionary and educator who shares similar values with the Education Foundationa dedicated commitment to unlocking the potential of every child. As the founder and CEO of the Good Work Foundation, Kate’s life passion is educating the children who live in the rural countryside of South Africa, and her students are dispelling the notion that one’s birthplace determines one’s future.

At these South African digital learning centers, students are embracing a culture where learning is fun. This culture positions teachers as facilitators, shared learning is supported and connections with the real world are daily lessons. As Thomas L. Friedman continues in his book, "nobody works harder at learning than a curious kid." At schools in places such as Hazyview and Londolozi, this philosophy is upheld by the belief that education is wonder-FUL and wonder-FILLED. 

Kate and I were energized by the conversations we had at our gathering, quickly recognizing that the possibilities to demonstrably show our shared commitment to educating the next generation of leadersthe future doctors, farmers, parents, teachers, artists, scientists, coders and morecould be accomplished together. Disputing an old adage, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," Kate reminded us that if we proceeded that way, the elephant would rot before it could be devoured. If we really want to eat an elephant, we need to invite a friend to join us. That’s true collective impact in action! 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County will be continuing the conversation with Kate and exploring ways to be shared investors and stewards of our planet by equipping our children and our teachers with opportunities they once never before thought possible.

We now live in an information age where automation, computation and globalization has made our world highly connected and smaller than ever before. We are excited about our future and share Kate’s belief that education needs a world-wide shift. "It’s only impossible if you believe it is," says the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. We firmly believe that when we transform the impossible into the possible, our fate will indeed be different.

Jennifer Vigne is executive director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Higher Education]  Metaphor and Baggage
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

I remember sitting in a topology class many years ago, listening to the professor carefully explaining how some sets of numbers are open, while others are closed. He went on to say that many sets are neither, and that the sets that are both open and closed play an especially interesting role. “How can a set be both open and closed?” I asked. He turned, glared at me for a long second, and said in his heavily accented English, “Eez not a door.” Turning back to the board, he resumed lecturing. 

Although I did not immediately realize it, his answer was exactly right. The door metaphor helps one understand what it means for a set to be open or closed, but sets are not doors. To learn a discipline is to learn the concepts and the metaphors that a discipline employs, but to master a discipline requires learning the limits of those concepts and metaphors. Different disciplines, different professions and different languages use different concepts and metaphorsones that provide useful insight into the worlds they describe. 

The professor’s answer made an additional, larger point. Metaphors can bring hosts of assumptions, some of which one is unaware. Sometimes a field cannot advance until it outgrows some of its traditional metaphors and the assumptions they carry. Understanding fire or special relativity requires letting go of phlogiston and ether, respectively. Einstein described how hard he had to work to rid himself, and the rest of us, of the conviction that coordinates we use to locate an object in space have any physical significance.

Grabbing metaphors from one discipline and using them in another context occasionally produces striking insights. Thinking of a rumor as an infectious disease, or of a protein as a machine or of irregular verbs as being subject to natural selection has revolutionized our understanding of rumors, proteins and irregular verbs. More often, appropriating metaphors and concepts from one field to another sows confusion. Thinking of a corporation as a family, cancer as a punishment for misdeeds or a university as a business has consequences.

Universities bring students together with scholars from very different disciplines. These scholars inhabit totally different professional worlds, and the awareness of disciplinary difference fosters a climate where professors and their students, as those students gain experience, question the assumptions that underlie others’ discourse. This reflexive questioning makes universities hard to govern. But it also makes them invaluable to our society and it is one of the reasons for their durability. To use a medical metaphor, universities are our society’s T-cells. At the level of the individual student, questioning assumptions, especially those hidden in one’s own and others' disciplinary and professional discourse, is an important component of critical thinking, an indispensable trait for citizens, employees and leaders.   

Most corporate CEOs understand this. It is deeply ironic, therefore, that the universities-as-businesses metaphor, which views students as customers and degrees awarded as products, is promulgated in the name of having universities function as efficiently as a business. Businesses and universities need each other, but they are not the same thing. Insisting that they function the same way weakens both.

Dr. Donal O'Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

[Under The Hood]  Misplaced Marco-Mania
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

National leadership for the Republican Party has clearly grown anxious about Florida’s Senate race. For some mysterious reason, there exists concern that a divided Republican field will fracture the electorate and produce a candidate who won’t fare well in November, so an effort to recruit retiring Sen. Marco Rubio has begun. The senator would be wise, though, to ignore calls that are tone-deaf to true feelings in the state.

Much of the rush surely comes from a Mason-Dixon poll released this week that reports 77 percent of Republican voters want Rubio to join the race. Yet, I suspect even if the incumbent wanted to run (he so far indicates he won’t), it's already too late. It’s not just that many of the best campaign professionals already committed themselves months ago to the five major Republicans already running, but that Rubio’s ambitious but ultimately fruitless bid for the White House left too many in his own party feeling under-represented far too long.

Consider a trip by students from a Sarasota middle school to Washington D.C. earlier this year. Rubio was supposed to give students a tour of the Capitol, but he was double-booked, so Congressional staffs for other Florida representatives had to take over. The message to many was clear; his constituents were not a priority. Add that to a list of concerns from a Washington Post report that Rubio didn’t even like the Senate much. “He hates it” read a headline that has plagued Rubio ever since. Rubio denies saying such a thing, but the narrative stuck because he hasn't outwardly demonstrated much love for the job. Rubio infamously boasted the worst voting record of any senator in the nation last year, missing 41 percent of votes between March 2015 and this March, according to GovTrack.us.  

Running for president eats your time up, of course, every sitting senator who starts the march toward Pennsylvania Avenue skips votes and opens themselves up to criticism. But this record stood out, and Florida voters felt abandoned. At a Town Hall meeting in Sarasota in January, a constituent suggested the senator had “already given up” on his day job. By the time the March 15 primary rolled around, just 27 percent of Republican voters in Florida backed Rubio’s candidacy over that of Donald Trump.

In the last days before the presidential primary, polls already showed Rubio would suffer a campaign-crippling loss to Donald Trump in his home state, so I asked politicos if it was too late for the sitting senator to change course and seek re-election. I was surprised by the emotional, hostile response. One Republican told me no candidate would drop out to make room for Rubio because every one felt they could “do a better job representing Florida.”

So what of that Mason-Dixon poll? This far out from the August primary, any poll only measures name recognition. Of the Republicans in the race, Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff leads the field, but with just 17 percent of the vote. Tampa Rep. David Jolly polls second at 13 percent. But 43 percent of voters don’t even recognize Beruff’s name, and 57 percent can’t identify Jolly. I’m told Republicans feel rattled because Palm Beach Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic frontrunner, has 31 percent of his party’s support, but he is in a two-man race with Orlando Rep. Alan Grayson. Both of those men are unknowns with more than a third of the Democratic electorate.

All this will change by the Aug. 30 state primary, and after each party picks a nominee, a barrage of ads will introduce all voters to the candidates appearing on a November ballot. Rubio’s only advantagename recognitionwill disappear.

But repairing Rubio’s reputation will take longer. To be sure, most Republicans have hopes for Rubio long-term. Maybe some private sector success or a two-year campaign for governor could change things. But for now, his unsuccessful presidential campaign operation will have trouble building together a coalition. And entering this contest weeks before a June 24 qualifying deadline, after five Republicans spent months building a positive statewide reputation, won’t help.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group.  

[From Kafi Benz]  Hearing County Candidates

On Monday, June 13, CONA—Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associationswill hold its last candidate forum before the primary in August. The forum will present the candidates campaigning for three seats on the county commission: Districts 1, 3 and 5. “All politics is local”—this is as local as one can get in the countywide political races this year. These commissioners are elected by all county voters to represent the districts in which the candidates reside. Due to term limits, only one sitting commissioner is campaigning as an incumbent.

Fredd Atkins, Frank DiCicco and Mike Moran are campaigning for the District 1 seat to replace Carolyn Mason. Since her only opponent withdrew, Nancy Detert is unopposed in her bid for the District 3 seat to replace Nora Patterson. Richard Eaton and incumbent Charles Hines are campaigning for the District 5 seat. The results of this election could provide a significant shift in the direction of the commission.

Many forums allow candidates to launch into well-rehearsed platform speeches, but CONA makes an effort to provide our members and the public with a more thorough understanding of the positions of each candidate on the topics of interest to our members and to cover as many of those topics as possible. Video of the entire forum is posted quickly at www.conasarasota.org/meetings.html for those who are unable to attend.  

A social gathering precedes the meeting, which will be held at the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, south of the Municipal Auditorium at the intersection of Tamiami Trail. Parking and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way.

Bring written questions to contribute to those selected for the Q&A that follows the forum, meet the candidates at the 6:30pm social and pick up literature, promotional materials and yard signs. The forum begins at 7pm and the meeting is free and open to the public.

Kafi Benz is president of CONA—Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations and the president and founder of Friends of Seagate. 



[SCOOP]  Art in the Dark Results

The Lighthouse of Manasota held its inaugural benefit “Art in the Dark” on April 16 at Michael’s On East. Approximately 200 attendees enjoyed interactive experiences with art, such as painting while wearing glasses simulating macular degeneration and sketching artwork through spoken words rather than sight. The Lighthouse partnered with local artists and art groups to create experiences, including The Ringling, Julia Hyman and Alfstad & Contemporary Gallery. The event raised more than $83,000 to support the specialized training the organization provides for the visually impaired residents of the Sarasota community. The second annual benefit will be held on Friday, March 24, 2017. 

Lighthouse of Manasota

[SOON]  Fur Fun Summer Camp

Childrens ages 7–12 will have a blast at The Humane Society of Sarasota County’s (HSSC) animal-themed camp. During the week-long sessions, campers will meet shelter pets and other cool animals, play games, create animal-themed crafts and learn from exciting speakers. Camps take place Monday through Friday from noon–4pm in the Education Center at the Humane Society of Sarasota County. Snacks will be provided. The cost is $200 per session, with a $15 discount for additional siblings. 

The Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  Embracing Our Differences Presents "Embrace Courage: Bullying Prevention in Schools"

Embracing Our Differences has partnered with the curriculum and instruction department of the Sarasota County school district and Facing History and Ourselves to present “Embrace Courage: Bullying Prevention in Schools,” a three-day workshop designed to give area educators the skills and tools they need to take a stand against bullying on and off campus. “No community is immune to the devastating effects of bullying, including cyber bullying," says Michael Shelton, executive director of Embracing Our Differences. "Surveys of Sarasota and Manatee county students show that nearly 40 percent of them fear bullying and that nearly 11 percent have skipped school to avoid it.” The workshop is June 8–10, 8:30am–4pm at the Suncoast Technical College.  

Embracing Our Differences

[KUDOS ]  Manatee Memorial Hospital Receives Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award With Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll for the Eighth Year

Manatee Memorial Hospital received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll for the eighth year. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. 

Manatee Memorial Hospital

[SOON]  Selby's Splashin' Saturdays

It’s time to pull out those summertime pool floaties and bathing suits because Splashin’ Saturdays at Selby Gardens have returned. Join the Marie Selby Botanical Garden on Saturdays for fun-themed water activities, water slides and games. Enjoy the cool shade and Bay breezes under the banyans and around the lagoon and the waterfall of the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden from June 11 until July 16 from 10am–noon. 

Selby Gardens

[KUDOS ]  Sarasota Memorial Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary Awards College Scholarships

Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Auxiliary volunteer organization awarded the 2016 G. Duncan Finlay Health Careers scholarships this month to five outstanding high school students who plan to pursue careers in health care. Each student received $10,000 to help offset the cost of college tuition and expenses over four years. Congratulations to Riverview High School senior Daniela Martinez, Sarasota Military Academy senior Carly Sepessy, Venice High School senior Leidy Carvajal, North Port High School's Nina Rivenson and North Port High School's Aliyyah LaRosa. 

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[KUDOS ]  192 Graduates Ready for Kindergarten

The end of the school year means that it’s time for many Children First students to take the next big step into their young lives: kindergarten. This year, 192 children from Children First’s 13 locations throughout Sarasota County will be moving on to elementary school. While their smiles and laughter will be missed, Children First celebrates all they and their families have accomplished. Some children started as infants in the program and now they will graduate having learned to write their names and say the alphabet, to draw pictures and enjoy reading, to do math problems and play together. 

Children First

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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