Posted By: Francis Koster Published: January 17, 2023
I am the oldest of six kids. When I was growing up in Lakewood, Ohio, our (large) extended family would gather to share Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, reconnect with uncles, aunts, and cousins, and drive my mom nuts with the bedlam created by a dozen or so primary school aged kids racing our small house around …
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: January 10, 2023
On one of the most significant public policy issues of our time, the major split in our society is not between political parties – it is between the young and the old, regardless of political party affiliation. The issue they disagree on influenced by their age is Climate Change. Recent surveys show twice as many young adults aged 25 – …
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. …
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: December 28, 2022
Students change classrooms at Mariam Boyd Elementary in Warrenton on Dec. 7, 2021. The school opened in 1957 and needs renovation. In 2019, the Warren County school board closed another elementary school due to concerns the aging heating system could fail. The writer heads a nonprofit called the Pollution Detectives, which lends electronic equipment to …
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: March 9, 2021
Schools are often the heart of communities. My own memories of primary school included time spent playing dodgeball on the playground, my excitement when I was asked to bring my favorite book to school and tell my classmates why I liked it, and too many times having to carry a note home to my parents about some action I did or did not do. (That never ended well.) Like some members of our community, some school buildings are getting old. Like some of us, their plumbing does not work as well as it once did, and friends and loved ones notice peeling paint, deteriorating roofs, and breathing issues (in the schools). North Carolina’s schools rank 37th of all 50 states in student learning. Our disappointing ranking is driven in part by old and loved school buildings which do not breathe well.
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.  Many years of failure to adapt public policy to scientific findings is causing great pain and suffering.
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 15, 2020
I am one of six kids. My father was a very good man – but he was not what you would call “warm and huggy”. He expected us to pitch in and carry our weight in household chores from about the time the broom was twice as tall as you were, and heaven help you if you didn’t. One of his favorite lines was “All behavior has consequences – good behavior has good consequences; bad behavior has bad consequences”. When a bad consequence arose, he would often remind me and my brothers and sisters of the behavior that got us to it. Didn’t do homework? When report cards came around you were reminded of “All behavior has consequences….” Didn’t tie your shoe? Didn’t check your backpack for your lunch? Late for school because you didn’t keep your bicycle tires pumped up? “All behavior has ……”. I must confess I heard it a lot.
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 4, 2020
Imagine an evening (pre-COVID-19) where you take your family out to dinner and all order a family-sized meal of seafood gumbo full of clams, shrimp, and other delights. Yous. You may get more than you bargained for. Turns out that when someone throws a plastic bottle into the ocean, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes invisible to humans – but it does not go away. Most of the plastic made in the world winds up in water where it breaks down into invisible but long-lasting pieces which gets eaten by wildlife. The bodies of fish, clams, crabs, and other water critters consume these microplastics contain plastic they ate. Bigger fish eat the little fish, you eat the big fish and when you eat the seafood, you also get a dose of plastic. No charge will appear on your bill - but you will pay for it in your healthcare bills. If you ordered hot tea with dinner, things could get worse because a surprising number of brands of tea have plastic in the teabag dissolving astounding amounts of invisible microplastics into the hot tea water which wind up in your tummy.,
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: August 30, 2020
We pride ourselves for being a wealthy nation. It may shock you to learn that in this elite group, we rank 35th in life expectancy.  Invisible things in our environment are dramatically impacting our citizen’s health. A major contributing factor to our nation's awful life expectancy is that 72% of all American adults are either overweight or obese – and the percentage is rising. Since 1960, the weight of the average American adult increased by 28 pounds! , , 
Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 26, 2016
How to Raise an Environmentalist Encouraging children to form an emotional attachment to nature may be key to protecting our planet’s future. by Jill Suttie as posted in “Yes!” magazine Sep 24, 2016 Originally posted by “Greater Good” We read it in the news every day. From climate change to overfishing to deforestation, it seems …
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