I just can’t get over how blatant the republican politicians around the country are being about how much they don’t care about their constituents – including those that voted for them.
There’s of course those in the federal government trying to ram things through as fast as they can before people notice what they’re doing. But there are also problems at the state and local levels.
One main example is South Dakota – one of the most corrupt states in the country. On election day, voters passed the South Dakota Anti-Corruption Act. The purpose was to stop the bribery going on in their government. Within days of the new legislative session starting, the South Dakota GOP used emergency powers to repeal the new anti-corruption law. I read through some of the finer points of it and the only problem with the law was that it made it difficult for politicians to accept bribes.
The GOP government in Iowa is acting the same way – proving again and again that the voters are irrelevant. A couple recent items are 1) their net reduction in funding of public schools (again) and 2) their work to remove workers rights on collective bargaining.
At a recent hearing on the collective bargaining bill, a police officer stated, “Half of law enforcement folks I work with are Republicans. And we voted for Republicans because of conservative values. But we didn’t vote for Republicans to get stabbed in the back while we’re trying to dodge cars and bullets.”
I don’t personally have a horse in the race on the collective bargaining issue, but I do care about education, a lot. Education is one area where this country (and Iowa) has been slipping recently. I feel for those in the public education system in Iowa since these two issues combined must feel like a personal attack. Teaching is hard enough. People say, “we could always use more good teachers.” Are these legislative choices going to help or hurt the education of our children?
Iowans have been showing up in large numbers at hearings at the capitol, and at a legislative forum in Ankeny, IA. It doesn’t seem to be doing any good, however. They’re being pretty brash about saying they won’t make changes no matter what their constituents think.
A reason for the GOP’s actions? Money. Plain and simple.
At the Ankeny forum, Iowa state representative Kevin Koester indicated one sure fire way to fight back, saying that he’s “on the ballot every other year, and that’s one way you hold me accountable.”
In this last election cycle, a way higher percentage of registered republicans went and voted compared to other groups. So if you don’t like what’s going on with our government, get your ass to the polls next time!
NestMint is a new “idea-stage” equity fund for startups in Iowa.
I was recently asked about my thoughts on NestMint. Specifically: “Do you think it’s valuable to the community? Why? What impact do you foresee this investment fund having on the overall economic health of our startups in Iowa?”
I’m no expert on the subject, but here are my thoughts:
I definitely think there’s value to the community in NestMint. To me it feels like the money portion of a startup accelerator.
Prior to business validation, most entrepreneurs use their own money and possibly money from friends and family to start building their company.
Before NestMint, the standard advice to startups (in Iowa) thinking about raising money was to “build it first and prove the business (via traction, etc.) and only then seek angel investment”. That’s still good advice (and that’s what I’m doing with Locusic), but doing it that way usually means building the startup part-time. That’s because you still need to keep your day job to earn a living – unless you’re fortunate enough to have three to six months worth of living expenses in the bank. So, because you’re only working on the startup part-time, things take a bit longer. And because you still have a day job there’s less of a sense of urgency to make your startup succeed, so things take a bit longer still.
Contrasting with an accelerator:
I’m interested in or curious about:
- what kind of additional mentoring, if any, that NestMint financing recipients will receive from the people backing the fund.
- which kinds of businesses, besides high growth potential startups, will receive funding.
- what additional burden does taking this funding put on the entrepreneurs (e.g. paperwork, reporting to the partners, a board seat?).
- for the more successful startups that receive NestMint funding, will the people (managers, investors) behind NestMint help those startups secure additional (A round) financing?
- terms – as I write this, the investment terms for entrepreneurs hasn’t been posted to the NestMint site.
- Are there restrictions on how the founders can spend the money?
It’s called the Iowa Student Learning Institute (ISLI). It’s a conference that was totally spearheaded and organized by students – specifically Ian Coon and Jack Hostager. I think they did a pretty impressive job getting it all setup. I’m also just impressed that they did this at all. It really shows some great initiative. The idea behind it is to get input from students on what’s happening (or should be happening) in transitioning schools to 21st century teaching/learning practices.
In their own words: “ISLI is like an edcamp- except for students. ISLI is a day being planned by a group led by two Iowa teens designed to enable students, with the support of their teachers, to make their voice heard by sharing ideas about improving education. ISLI will combine presentations from education leaders with edcamp style breakout sessions.”
Next Saturday, follow the #isli hashtag on twitter to join the conversation.
Here’s the full schedule.
I (Jake Kerber) will be on a panel from 12:25-12:50 (during lunch) entitled, “What I Wish I Knew in High School”. I’ll also be giving a talk that I call, “Put Students in Charge for Success”. (I originally thought of calling it “What Monkeys, Marshmallows, and Games Can Teach Us About Education”.)
Here’s what my talk will be about:
I’m a businessman, technology entrepreneur, parent, and researcher on the psychology of education.
In my talk I’ll enumerate the problems I see in the current education system:
– Students aren’t properly prepared for college (or careers)
– Students aren’t happy
– Some students are held back from achieving and others are forced through the system
– Student creativity is crushed
I’ll explain the science that tells us what schools should be doing instead and present a possible comprehensive solution.
Finally, we’ll discuss how we can work together as a group to make the change to a better system.