One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Education

Forty years ago, one man took a small step that inspired a country. The Apollo 11 mission to the moon was a great moment for America as viewers across the nation, in unison, watched one of our own step foot on an otherworldly body for the first time. America's potential was limitless.

I still remember the journey of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I had just returned from my own life-changing adventure: a two-year stint serving Ethiopia in the Peace Corps. I served in a country that could not afford to feed its population, let alone educate them, and this loss of human potential still slows progress there today. A quality education is important not just for the betterment of individuals but also for society as a whole. In my decades of public service, I have worked tirelessly to ensure that we provide our children with the highest quality education, because I know that our economic growth depends on their intellectual growth.

The success of Apollo 11 would never have happened without the work of America's best and brightest scientists. They were the product of our country's commitment to STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math education. America led the globe in science education, but due to funding cuts and increased international competition, we're falling behind the curve.

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Wreading, Writing, and Writhmetic

Have you ever wanted to take a class with a Nobel laureate, listen to the classic works of Shakespeare on your way to work, or take guitar lessons? You can start today, and the only cost of admission is a computer with an Internet connection.

With Internet access rising at an exponential rate, opportunities to further one's education have ballooned. Here's a small sample:

  • iTunes U offers hundreds of lectures from universities large and small, including UC Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT;

  • Speaking of UC Berkeley, their lecture archive is arguably the best in the world (Go Bears!), including courses from as far back as 2002 (my appearance at Professor Alan Ross' Election 2008 seminar is here). They also webcast special events hosting some of the sharpest minds alive today;

  • LibriVox offers hundreds of open-source audio books;

  • PodCast Alley hosts thousands of podcasts on just about every subject you can imagine; and

  • YouTube is home to a number of users who contribute instructive lessons on thousands of subjects, including guitar lessons, cooking lessons, math lessons, and more. Ever wanted to learn Thai? There are videos for that too.
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    CA-10: On Independence Day, Let's Celebrate Service

    Happy Independence Day!

    On the anniversary of the birth of our country, I wanted to take this moment to first thank all the men and women who proudly serve our country in the armed services. I also think it's important to acknowledge Americans who have found other ways to serve our country - the Teach for America and AmeriCorps volunteers who work in America's most desperate pockets to help create a more just and equitable society, the volunteers from community, religious, and non-profit organizations who selflessly devote time and money in their local communities, and the volunteers in the Peace Corps and NGOs who generate goodwill the world over while presenting America's best face to allies and adversaries alike.

    Forty-three years ago, my wife Patti and I heeded President John F. Kennedy's call, left Berkeley, and embarked on a journey that would shape our outlook for the rest of our lives. We joined the Peace Corps and spent two years working on the eradication of small pox in rural southwest Ethiopia. We witnessed unimaginable suffering on an almost daily basis, but we understood that the work we were doing was not just vital to good people desperately in need of help but also served to demonstrate to the world abroad the goodness of America.

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    CA-10 Special Election Dates Set

    The Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has set the electoral calendar for the special election to replace former 10th Congressional District representative Ellen Tauscher who resigned to take an appointment as Undersecretary of Arms Control and International Security in the State Department. The primary is set for September 1st and the general election is November 3rd. The CA-10 encompasses the suburbs of Contra Costa county in the East Bay and stretches into the Sacramento River Delta area covering parts of Alameda, Solano and Sacramento counties.

    More from the Contra Costa Times:

    Per special election rules, the primary is an open ballot, meaning that all candidates will appear on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation. The top vote-getter in each party plus the nonpartisan candidates will advance to the general election unless one candidate receives in the primary 50 percent plus one vote. If that occurs, the candidate will win the post outright.

    The deadline to file petition signatures in lieu of a $1,740 filing fee is Monday, July 6, 2009. There are to date six announced Democratic candidates: Lt. Governor John Garamendi, CA State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, CA State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, Attorney Anthony Bothwell, San Francisco City Attorney Investigator Adriel Hampton, and Iraq War veteran Anthony Woods.

    John Garamendi is a political institution in the state serving currently as Lt. Governor and previously as Insurance Commissioner. Boasting 34 years of public service, he certainly has the most name recognition of those running. Adriel Hampton and Anthony Woods are both making their first runs for public office. Anthony Woods boasts a very compelling life story. He was raised by a single mother, a West Point graduate with an advanced degree from the Kennedy School of Government, served two tours of duty in Iraq earning two Bronze Stars before being discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell. At 28, he's the youngest person in the race but he grew up in the CA-10 and knows the district well.

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    CA-10: I Received the Endorsement of the SEIU CA State Council

    Yesterday I was excited to announce that the SEIU California State Council has endorsed me in my race to represent California's 10th Congressional District, a Northern California district encompassing parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. With 700,000 members, SEIU is the largest labor union in California, and their ranks include a broad cross-section of working Californians, including social workers, nurses, classroom aides, security officers, college professors, homecare workers, janitors, and more.

    Why I'm motivated to lead on single-payer health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, and green-collar jobs over the flip...

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