The Movement You Don’t Want to Miss

Imagine first grade. Remember how awesome it was? Coloring letters of the alphabet, singing songs to learn how to add and subtract, memorizing poems about 1492 and the ocean blue. Good times. I can’t make assumptions about what happened to the rest of the kids in your first grade class, but most of the six-year-olds I sat with grew up and went on to the college of their choice. It was kind of inevitable where I came from; it was never a question of “if” I would go to college, only “where.”

Now imagine being in that class of 25 first graders in a low-income community. In this scenario, only 2 of those six-year-olds will graduate from college by the time they turn 24. That’s eight percent. What happens to the other 23 students? Where do they go? Could you have been one of those two who overcame the incredible odds to get to a school like F&M? Maybe. Maybe not.

I am going to shamelessly exploit my first opportunity to write a blog to advertise a new club on campus. SFER, or Students for Education Reform for those of you that are not yet familiar with this amazing acronym, is part of a national movement aiming to get college students to participate in the conversation about educational inequity. “Participating” is pretty vague, but that’s because there are so many ways to get involved. SFER F&M is a baby chapter; we’re still trying to establish ourselves on campus, so we’re open to all kinds of ideas.

We are not blind supporters of Teach For America or charter schools or teachers unions or standardized testing. In fact, we’re still trying to learn about all of those things so that we can educate the rest of the student body. We read Wendy Kopp and Diane Ravitch. We get depressed about the statistics, and then we try to figure out how to do something about it. We want to host discussions, debates, information sessions, and job fairs. We want to get this entire campus involved in closing the achievement gap.

If you are interested in education, politics, sciences, or, most importantly, children, I think you should consider reading a little bit more about this issue.  Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities is, in my opinion, a great place to start. Not necessarily an uplifting read, but it will make you think about where you came from and how you got where you are today.

If you decide to join the movement, you will become part of a passionate, national, energized group of people who know that change can happen. I was just at a conference in Washington D.C. focused on getting more college students involved, and one speaker described the struggle against educational inequity as the “Civil Rights movement of our generation.” Yes, that is a big statement. Perhaps even a little too dramatic. But if it could even resemble something that wide reaching, that transformative, wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?

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The actions are designed to ease transmission congestion, which will help lower electricity prices in downstate New York and support the development of clean energy projects throughout the state; plan for possible major power plant retirements to maintain a reliable power grid; and expand natural gas utility service to homeowners and businesses in New York State to lower energy costs.The Energy Highway initiative, introduced in the 2012 State of the State address, is a centerpiece of the Governor’s Power NY agenda, designed to ensure that New York’s energy grid is the most advanced in the nation and promotes increased business investment in the state.”A dynamic, strong economy demands a modern, responsive energy production and delivery system, and the Energy Highway initiative will create an energy grid that will help build our economy and enable New York to grow and prosper,” said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. “In addition, given the significant disruption that can be caused by storms such as Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, these Energy Highway projects will also be designed tojielp create a stronger, more resilient energy infrastructure.”New York State’s Power Grid Upgrades:Following recommendations set forth in the Energy Highway Blueprint, the Commission announced today that it would establish a first-of-its-kind combined proceeding under Article VII of the PublicService Law for consideration of alternating current (AC) transmission projects that meet the Commission’s objectives for congestion relief in the Mohawk/Hudson Valley corridor.The Commission’s actions respond to the Blueprint’s call for investing $1 billion to develop 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new AC transmission capacity, with preference for projects built along existing rights-of-way or involving the upgrade of existing lines, to mitigate environmental impacts. Easing the current transmission constraints will enhance system reliability and supply diversity, and will provide significant economic and environmental benefits by permitting excess power from upstate sources, including renewable energy facilities, to reach the downstate areas of greatest need and reduce downstate emissions. New transmission capacity will also provide regional benefits in terms of the increased reliability and flexibility of the system.To help identify the best path forward in this proceeding, the Commission solicited statements of intent from prospective project developers. The result was the identification of 16 possible projects suggested by six developers, demonstrating the varied and creative possible solutions to the stated goal of reducing transmission congestion. The Commission is expected to grant certificates and cost recovery to the projects that best meet the Commission’s congestion reduction and other public policy goals at the least cost to ratepayers. An October 1 deadline has been set for the initial Article VII applications. [See Case 12-T-0502]Indian Point Contingency Plans:Regarding major power plant retirements, the Commission addressed portions of the plan filed by Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to mitigate the impact that would occur if the Indian Point nuclear power plants were retired. As part of that proceeding, the Commission:. Approved contingency program goals designed to achieve demand reductions from energy efficiency, demand response and on-site generation projects, and directed Con Edison to work with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and in consultation with NYPA, to file a detailed implementation plan.. Directed Con Edison and the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, working with NYPA, to begin development of transmission owner transmission solutions to resolve reliability issues that would develop if Indian Point were to be retired.. Proposed that costs that would be incurred if Indian Point were retired should be recovered from the beneficiaries of the contingency plan who would otherwise suffer from reliability problems if Indian Point closes without the benefit of the plan’s remedial measures.. Directed staff to issue a straw proposal to best identify these beneficiaries. Parties will be able to comment on the straw proposal before the Commission makes a final decision. [See Case 12-E-0503]Natural Gas Service Improvements:Finally, staff reported to the Commission that it is seeking additional comment on how utilities calculate construction costs for pipeline to serve new natural gas customers. Staff is also developing a proposal to issue for public comment regarding additional utility-reporting requirements intended to help the utilities and the Commission to better manage, track and ultimately fulfill customer requests for natural gas service. In addition, staff reported to the Commission that it will be collaborating with the utilities and other stakeholders and interested parties to improve utility websites and other outreach and education tools regarding the benefits and risks of converting to natural gas, as we