Posted By: Francis Koster Published: January 22, 2023

One in six dollars owed to the IRS are not being paid.[1] An astonishing number of wealthy Americans do not pay the taxes they owe.  What is also astonishing is that some members of Congress appear to have that as a goal.  You will see their efforts play out over the next few weeks in the very …

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Posted By: Francis Koster Published: January 1, 2023

Several badly designed teacher’s pay proposals now before the N.C. Legislature claim they will pay teachers more if they do their jobs well. They will not. The proposed new laws would have educators’ pay raised only if their student’s learning improves year-after-year on state-wide tests. This is profoundly unfair to teachers in older school buildings. …

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Posted By: Francis Koster Published: February 8, 2021

When I was in school, one of the most dreaded sentences my teacher uttered was “Close your books, we are going to have a pop quiz.” Over the past few months, I have written a number of columns each teaching little-known facts. Have you been paying attention? Surprise! Here is your quiz: 1.    How much more does the average American adult weighs now compared to 1960? 28 pounds. [1] 2.    What percentage of American school buildings have unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution? Nearly half.[2] 3.    How much invisible microplastic does the average American eat each week? Equal to one credit card.[3] 4.    Is our life expectancy getting longer or shorter? Shorter [4] 5.    Of all the nations of the world, where does America rank on the happiness scale? 35th.[5] One of the major obstacles to improving our society is that a large number of things that need fixing (as you saw above) are not well known. We have to make the invisible visible. One way to do that is to measure indicators of Quality of Life.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: February 4, 2021

Do you remember when you were given your first goldfish?  The gift was probably a little bowl of water containing a few tiny fish and some fish food.  I remember receiving mine when I was in grade school.  It was probably the first time I was officially made responsible for caring for other living creatures.   I also remember how sad I was when weeks later I found them floating in cloudy water, dead.  As a child, I felt my failure deeply.   I still remember when my brothers and sisters and I buried them in the garden with a little ceremony overseen by my mom. I will never know what killed that fish, but the range of possibility is large – the amount and kind of food, jimmy germs from failing to wash hands before putting them in the bowl, not enough or too much light, high or low water temperature, and acidity – the list can go on and on.  Just like the list of things that impact the quality of life and health in our cities and towns.  We all live in a ‘human aquarium, and the lives of our friends and neighbors in our cities and towns are just as vulnerable as those little fish.  Any number of elements in our local aquarium can encourage or stop a wide range of physical, emotional, intellectual, and financial growth for our citizens, and impact our collective quality of life.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: December 27, 2020

My mom and dad always ended the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period exhausted. They took six kids and grandma on a holiday schedule filled with choir rehearsal, church events, pancake breakfasts, and fundraisers. There were serious moments - as kids, we were asked if we had been naughty or nice, and by the time we entered high school we were reminded of our obligation to become a role model for others. We were often asked, “Are you walking your talk?” I have been thinking about this. Are we, as a country, being "naughty or nice?" Does our behavior reflect what we proclaim are our values? I do not think so. Across our country, our life expectancy has been falling, particularly among the poor, even before the Covid epidemic.[1] [2] Many years of failure to adapt public policy to scientific findings is causing great pain and suffering.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: November 1, 2020

We can look at the state of our nation through two lenses – The state of our economy, and the state of our happiness. The United States has the #1 ranked economy in the world.[1] Turns out this does not have much to do with our state of happiness. For almost a decade, researchers have been studying annually the happiness of 156 countries, looking at citizen’s perceptions of their happiness in many areas including their sense of freedom, their economy, education, the ability to improve oneself, healthcare, life expectancy, and lack of public corruption. Using these indicators, our United States ranked only 18th for happiness. [2] Among all the countries in the world, we rank number 35 for life expectancy and falling. [3] Even among just the richest countries in the world, our life expectancy ranks 12th in the world and is falling.[4]

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 3, 2016

The Other Housing Crisis: Finding a Home in Rural America Thirty percent of rural Americans have substandard housing—and it’s expensive. But these communities are finding ways to give low-income residents homes of their own. by Melissa Hellmann posted on “Yes! Magazine” Sep 22, 2016 For Debbie Green, purchasing a home was a dream come true. …

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Posted By: Francis Koster Published: February 26, 2016

  Is Barcelona the Smartest City in the World? as appeared in “FutureStructure” by Laura Adler  February 19, 2016 This story was originally published on Data-Smart City Solutions. Cities around the world are beginning to understand the huge potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). In Barcelona, those possibilities have started to become the reality. …

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Posted By: Francis Koster Published: April 26, 2015

Polluted Schools Damage Brains by Francis P. Koster, Ed. D. Since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, America has become much healthier.   According to the New England Journal of Medicine, our average lifespan increased almost three years between 1978 and 2001, and as much as 4.8 months of that can be attributed …

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Posted By: Francis Koster Published: April 16, 2015

Rebuilding America's Aging Downtowns Needs to Anticipate the Future by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D. 14 smaller “mom and pop” stores died each time Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart opened a new store.[1]  Between 1962 and 2013 alone these giants established more than 8,000 stores.[2] Most of these “car accessible” big box stores were located on interstate …

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