#ICParkSM Farewell

As our last blog post, the #ICParkSM class was asked to write about their experiences in the course and what they have learned according to the course objectives.

The first thing that I can say is that the course helped to guide my decisions in applying for future careers. Although I don’t want to stick to journalism, I’ve become cemented in the fact that I want to pursue a job in the digital spectrum, dealing with social media and marketing across social media platforms.

And this course has given me several helpful lessons:

  1. Branding – Whether it be personal branding (or branding for an organization or company) I now know how to put forward a collective front through social media.
  2. Analytics – How would you know if something works, if you can’t look at any of the numbers involved? Through weekly audits and our social media analysis, #ICParkSM has given me the tools necessary to scan social media statistics.
  3. Engagement – Perhaps the best lesson was the power of engagement through social media. Capture an audience, involve the audience and build an audience were what we focused on as a group of journalists, but this strategy can easily be applied to marketing. Tweetchats are definitely becoming one of my weekly tools in expanding my network and knowledge.

A truly powerful lesson that also comes along with learning about social media platforms is the awareness of the ever-evolving field of communications.

As a a soon to be graduate, it should be set in stone that I never have to sit in a classroom again and learn new skills and techniques. BUT if this course has taught me anything it’s that you have to constantly be updating yourself and teaching yourself new things. And I think that perhaps will be the guide to keeping me at the top of my game.


The fight for arts education

In the recent years, as nationwide school funding has struggled to keep up with the prices of education, their has been many cuts in school district’s budgets. Where have the biggest cuts lain: in the arts.


Because of the changing focus to standardized testing in the early 2000s, schools began to focus on the “core curriculum,” meaning that subjects like English and math were considered to be more beneficial for a student’s education, and their likelihood of passing the test. (Although the No Child Left Behind Act considers the arts to be a core subject.)

In 2014, the New York Times reported that 20 percent of public schools in New York City don’t even have an arts teacher on staff.  The year before that, the Chicago Public School system laid off approximately 105 arts teachers (ten percent of the lay-offs they made that year) on their payroll.

The diminishing of arts, especially in the public school systems across the United States, has been received to significant criticism.

Most argue that while administrators are cutting the funding of arts programs, they are forgetting the benefits of arts educations to academics. In a Washington Post article, research is presented that states students with an arts-rich academic experience are more likely to continue their education.

Just this week, the Huffington Post posted a profile on an arts institute in New York City planning on bringing dance classes to all public schools.

The National Dance Institute, the main focus of the article, has been teaching about 6,000 students different dancing techniques and choreographies. The institute and its partners hope to expand their programs and bring the arts back to schools across the nation.

New York passes law to raise minimum wage to $15

In a city like Ithaca, where the cost of living is roughly thirty thousand dollars a year, workers are finding it difficult to live off the current minimum wage of nine dollars an hour.

Last year, there were protests throughout the country discussing the need for the minimum wage to catch up to the living wage, which is estimated to be approximately $14 across the state.

In New York City, the #Fightfor15 movement began when fast food workers all over the city went on strike last year, demanding an hourly wage that would cover their living costs.

Janice Singleton, store manager of a Dunkin Donuts in Ithaca, pays at a higher rate than minimum wage but she realizes that even this is not enough.

“We start our workers with an extra seventy-five cents on top of minimum wage but even my full-time employees struggle from check to check,” Singleton said. “Ithaca is an expensive place to live, and when you’re working 40-plus hours a week and still have to choose which bills you’re going to ignore this month…something needs to change.”

Since the first minimum wage protests in NYC, the movement has spread over six continents and hundreds of cities, and there has been legislation changes in places like Los Angeles and Seattle to raise the minimum wage to be closer to the cost of living in the respective areas.

In Tompkins County there are currently 106 employers who participate in a living wage certification program run by the Tompkins County Workers Center.

Pete Meyers, coordinator at TCWC, said that these employers are just an example that a higher nationwide minimum wage is possible.

“We have plenty of participation just in the county with businesses and companies getting living wage certified, and there’s certainly companies who haven’t completed the training who pay a comparable amount to their employees,” Meyers said.

“But there’s also a lot of human service workers who are funded by the state and federal government, and in order to be paid a living wage, [the government sector] needs to figure out their funding,” he continued.

New York joins the $15 minimum wage trend

On April 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that will raise the minimum wage in New York State over a period of time.The plan, which was included in the 2016 – 2017 state budget, would eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 across the state.

According to the governor’s website, the increase would be made in different phases based off of the location in the state:

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A brief outline of Governor Cuomo’s action plan to enacting the $15 minimum wage. (Image provided by https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-15-minimum-wage-plan-and-12-week-paid-family-leave-policy-law).

The plan has already received criticism by the public, particularly for the different pays in the different regions of the state.

As seen in the outlining of the plan, while New York City and adjacent areas would reach $15 in the next few years, other regions would only be reaching a minimum wage of $12.50. It would then be determined off of the available state budget to see how long it would take to level out with the rest of the state.

“The rationale behind those places reaching the living wage earlier is because the cost of living is generally higher in areas like New York City,” Meyers explained. “And while some of Upstate and Central New York do have lower costs, there are also areas like Ithaca where the cost of living is about the same.”

Cuomo’s plan also included a 12 week family paid leave which would become “the most comprehensive family leave program in the nation,” according to the governor’s website.
California had a similar law signed by Governor Jerry Brown on April 4, raising California’s minimum wage to $15.