By Francis P. Koster Ed. D.

Do you know why "important people" are called "bigwigs"?   You hear it often - like when your brother-in-law said "So I sat at the head table with all the bigwigs" when he was bragging about his recent success.

This subject actually links to the Ebola epidemic .

Start back in 400 B.C. in Egypt, and scroll forward until the 1800's in Europe, and you will find records of important people wearing wigs. One of the several reasons they wore wigs was because they shaved their heads to avoid infestations of lice and other vermin which carried disease like typhus.[1], [2] [3]

Razor blades were primitive, straight, dangerous, expensive, and used on you by someone you hired, because you could not s…

Read more: Seizing the Ebola moment to teach hygine

Creating the Bottom 10 Percent

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.


The phrase "Mad as a Hatter" is falling into disuse - I suspect many of the kids wandering around with ear buds dangling think it refers to a character in Alice in Wonderland. They are wrong.

Back in the 18th century, top hats were made out of felt, which was rinsed, pressed and shaped using a rinse containing mercury. The mercury entered the hat makers body little by little as they worked, causing what we would today call an occupation related illness - they went mad.

While "Mad as a Hatter" and the underlying cause has faded, it has been replaced in modern society by other ways people get damaged while working. Back in the late 1960's, modern medicine told us so many people…

Read more: Creating the Bottom 10 Percent

Note:  This column was first published in the Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte Observer on October 5, 2014.  An impressive explaination of how community metrics can be used to improve eduction, it is reproduced here with the permission of the paper and the author.

New Approach Tackles Dropout Rate
by Mary Lynne Calhoun Ed.D.

The “united” in United Way of Central Carolinas has taken on a new, powerful meaning with the adoption and implementation of the Collective Impact model of philanthropy.

We’re all familiar with the essential work of United Way in raising funds to support the work of human services agencies to address our community’s most pressing needs. Collective Impact intensifies the power of th…

Read more: New Approach Tackles Dropout Rate

Chronically-Sick Kids Helped by Electronic School-Based Monitoring Systems 

by Francis P. Koster, Ed.D.

In national rankings, North Carolina ranks high for our number of sick school children, and low for our number of school nurses.

The numbers are amazing - 1 in 5 school kids has a medical diagnosis that must be managed to facilitate maximum learning[1].

1) One in three North Carolina kids aged 10 - 17 are "Obese".[2] Obese children have their life shortened between four and ten years, and for citizens of all ages obesity accounts for one dollar of every ten spent on healthcare in the United States.[3]

2) Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death in North Carolina, and skyrocketing. As a nation we are headed toward a future w…

Read more: Chronically-Sick Kids Helped by Electronic School-Based Monitoring Systems