Chlorine, the Swimmer’s Element

Eau de Chlorine is a badge of honor for swimmers.  It’s a sign of dedication to the sport that makes them happy.  And for teenagers it’s a better smell than puberty or any other sport provides. But such a recognizable bouquet comes with a cost: dry / brittle hair, dry skin and itchy eyes.  As a swim parent, I was interested in the chemistry behind pool maintenance which is where my fairy ninja spends most of her time and works her magic.

Disinfection for pools is necessary when you have humid conditions and humans in the water.   Chlorine is extremely effective at killing bacteria and other organisms by invading the cells and destroying the proteins that keep the cell functioning.[i] The “chlorine” smell that many swimmers and swim parents are familiar with is actually chloramine which forms when chlorine reacts with bacteria and nitrogen containing biological materials.

The most common pool sanitizer chemical is chlorine, but there are others you can use, including[ii]:

  • Bromine: chlorine’s halogen cousin and more commonly used in hot tubs and indoor pools. Bromine works a little differently than chlorine and it’s not as effective when dealing with certain types of algae. It’s not recommended for pools in direct sunlight. Sunlight eats up bromine very fast because it’s not stabilized.
  • Biguanide: It’s an effective sanitizer for swimming pools and even makes the water feel smoother. However, biguanide is provided in a specialized chemical package and is not compatible with traditional pool balancing chemicals.
  • Minerals are introduced to the water by a system that resembles a chlorinator, but they sanitize much slower than chlorine. A mineral system is not a complete chlorine alternative but it does significantly reduce the amount of chlorine needed.

When a chlorine particle attacks and kills bacteria, it floats around in the water as chloramine or other by-products.  To remove the by-products, you must “shock” the water by adding enough chlorine or other oxider to reach breakpoint oxidation. Pool shock is done overnight because free chlorine becomes inactive in sunlight and takes 8-10 hours to complete oxidation.  Oxidation of chlorine by-products by ingredients like Vitamin C is the purpose of specialty shampoos, body washes or sprays for swimmers but the ingredients need to be at a high enough concentration.

There is more to the pool chemistry than killing bacteria and viruses.  The two elements of a clean pool are sanitation and water balance.[iii]  There are three components to keeping pool water balanced: pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.  Water balance also depends on keeping dirt and debris out of the pool.

There are milder alternatives that provide sanitization which eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of chlorine needed.

Salt-water treatment for pools sound likes a non-chlorine option but it is only another means of producing chlorine using chlorinated salts and an electrical unit that breaks it down.  It has maintenance and water balancing issues similar to traditional chlorine treatments.

Ozone systems create low levels of reactive ozone gas in water circulation systems and kill bacteria and oxidize chlorine by-products and organic materials.[iv] Caution needs to be taken that ozone stays in the water long enough to do its work but is removed or degraded to oxygen gas (O2) before reaching contact with humans or open air.  Its reactivity can be more damaging to skin and eyes than chlorine or chloramines.[v]  Well balanced and filtered ozone pools can provide water that doesn’t have the characteristic chloramine smell.

UV systems irradiate water with UV light strong enough to disinfect pool water. The process attacks the microorganism’s DNA — protozoans, viruses and bacteria are unable to reproduce and remain inactive.  Chlorine, at a significantly lower level, is used as a backup system.[vi] Irradiated water needs to be filtered same as other treatment methods.

An alternative system (brand name ClearComfort) uses a principal similar to Ozone and UV systems but create reactive hydroxyl compounds and hydrogen peroxide which are effective enough to nearly eliminate need for chlorine.[vii]

Sphagnum moss is a more recent technology for pools that is as old as nature for cleaning water.  It is not a standalone technology but works better than traditional water conditioning chemicals and is very effective on eliminating by-products of sanitization.[viii]  Pool water is contacted with the moss in line with filtration.  Moss is effective at preventing biofilm and scaling.[ix]

In summary, keeping a pool clean and balanced to avoid illness or irritation is not a simple task.  There are options to minimize chlorine quantities but all treatements need to be maintained carefully.  For more information on what it takes to keep pools balanced, check out the National Swimming Pools Foundation Certified Pool Operator program.

[i] Science of Summer: How Chlorine Kills Pool Germs

[ii] Swim University: Basic Pool Chemistry 101

[iii] Swim University: Basic Pool Chemistry 101

[iv] What is Ozone? ClearWater Tech, LLC

[v] A biased view on the negative effects of ozone but accurate science http://info.clearcomfort.com/ozone-pool-faq

[vi] Here is an article that describes the working of ozone and UV systems and one with UV system technical information

[vii] I wasn’t able to find a neutral source on the ClearComfort system but here is their website

[viii] Information on Moss treatment systems

[ix] Benefits of moss on maintenance issues

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New Year, New Goals

I have promised to myself and a friend that I would write more this year.  Of course, “more” is an easy bar to jump over since last year was “none”. I agree enthusiastically that this needs to happen, but as with all projects, getting started is the hardest part.

I thought I would change the name of my blog page to something other than Fairy Ninjas but I was encouraged not to since it does have meaning and a warm memory associated with it.  It also represents my view that people are never one thing; they can’t be described with one noun or adjective.  I am female by anatomy and identity.  But I am also a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend, an engineer, a knitter.  I could be described as smart, funny, sarcastic, loud, introverted, friendly, book lover, sensitive, conflict avoiding, demanding, and kind.  I call to mind often the TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie about the danger of a single story (it’s excellent, watch it).

In this universe of constant commentary by everyone and everyone else judging the value of that commentary, I ask myself the following:

  • Why would someone care what I have to say?
  • What do I have to say that someone else hasn’t already?
  • How will I react to negative, often hurtful, things are said about my writing?

I don’t have answers yet but realized that I’m asking the wrong questions.  What I should be asking is what I will get out of the exploration and expression.  I pride myself on my vocabulary and choosing the exact word to express thoughts and ideas precisely.  I read previous blog posts or papers written for school or work and I am pleased by what I wrote. I need to exercise that verbal muscle, for no better reason that writing will help clarify and expose thoughts that are rattling around.

So please hold me accountable.  I state here that I will have one blog post of substance per month.  “Substance” meaning it requires research and cited sources.  Other posts may be more rambling and clearing of the mental attic and I will have one of those per month as well.  This one counts for January, of course.

Thank you to anybody that takes the time to read this.  Thank you for sharing your valuable time with me.

Want a Sustainable Future? Educate for it!

Jaimie Cloud, Founder of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, with other education reformers, is looking to change K-12 education to create citizens ready for the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.  She has built principles and curricula supporting Education for Sustainability. The list of school districts that she has helped transform are on the Cloud Institute website.

Education for Sustainability stands in contrast to Educating about Unsustainability: the depressing story of how much is wrong with the world and how horrible we are as humans for destroying the planet and each other.  While many feel that “fear, doubt and uncertainty” is an effective way to wake people up, Cloud believes that it has the opposite effect on the psyche.  The brain shuts down when it perceives a threat and stops participating, leaving the body to fight or flight.  A disengaged brain is not effective if you’re trying to change mindsets. Jaimie tells a story about her preschool daughter coming home sad that “air pollution is bad.”  She didn’t fully understand why or even what air was but while she knew that bad stuff was out there, she didn’t know what she was supposed to do about it. What a burden for a 3 year old!

Educating about Sustainability presents a hopeful view of a new future: good food, community, living within planetary boundaries, meaningful work, and joy.  Jamie feels, however, that prior efforts at this lacked the competencies for building this wonderful future. She has set out to remedy that.

Educating for Sustainability (EfS) is based on the belief that we must create new neural connections.  Cloud suggests “an alternative to the air pollution story teaching children about the reciprocation of plants and humans:  humans breathe out CO2 which plants use to create food and give out O2 that humans can breathe in to support life.”  What student wouldn’t appreciate plants after that type of lesson? Of course this is a very simplistic view of the CO2 problem, as it relates to climate change, but it’s a foundation level appropriate for pre-school that can then support advanced learning in planetary systems as a child progresses through school.

Cloud’s journey toward EfS begins in Evanston, Illinois, as a student in one of the first Global Education schools.  It was 1968, the Vietnam era. The world was in turmoil, and schools were not immune. Global Education was created by professors at various universities with schools of education who came to believe that U.S. schools didn’t prepare their students for the complexity, diversity and uncertainty of the world around them. They came together to create curricula to ready students for the 21st century, which was still 30 years away.

Students, even as early as 6th grade, began to track data about the planet: the loss of languages and biodiversity, the changes to the atmosphere.  The data they collected showed that many aspects about our planet were in decline. Cloud felt like “the boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.  Didn’t anybody else see the problem?”

In 1987 with the Brundtland “Our Common Future” report that there was a name for this: unsustainable.  The 1992 Rio Summit then created Agenda 21, a roadmap for sustainability.  Within this was Chapter 36 delineating the first set of competencies needed to educate young people for the future.  Using her early schooling and the UN’s new competencies, Cloud began collecting and collating curricula for Educating for Sustainability from around the globe: working with NGOs, University Centers, Ministers of Education, local schools.

Today, there is more pressure for schools to reinvent their curriculum through the lens of sustainability.  The Center for Green Schools from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has a goal that every school becomes a green school in this generation. The U.S. Department of Education has set 3 pillars to define a Green School: 1) health of occupants, 2) green building and 3) curriculum and instruction.  The first two pillars have more data and better defined standards. The third pillar is less defined and caught in the trap many feel that that EfS, Educating about Sustainability and Education about Unsustainable are equivalent. Outcomes of these different pedagogies need field analysis.

A three issue series in the Journal of Sustainability Education, seeking to bring the field together in a coherent manner, is being guest edited by Cloud.  The first was issued in late 2014. The theme is an invitation to scholars and thought leaders to weigh in on the essentials. A matrix of their work was created that spanned nine competency categories. The second issue, currently being edited, is a meta-analysis of the information received using grounded theory methodology to create benchmarks and measure impact.  The third issue will call for exemplars based on the nine competencies matrix and the meta-analysis.

What Cloud is doing is somewhat risky. Even Cloud Institute’s framework could need to change based on the creation of the new pillars. “But it’s worth the risk so that there can be a meshed framework”, says Cloud.  She believes that “one big area that needs to be included as a standard now as a result of our consensus process is the epistemology of thought: cognitive frameworks or ‘thinking about thinking.’ ”. It is difficult to shift mental models if you can’t recognize them or have language to describe them.

With all this is exciting work, there is still frustration.  Many sectors—government, business, energy, food, design—are addressing global un-sustainability, but to date, K-12 education has not been invited to the discussion table. There is little investment from the corporate or philanthropic worlds. Cloud has three ideas for why this is the case:

  • Education, for good reason, is not considered innovative. For many, school was the least creative experience of their lives and they’ve had to unlearn mental models that keep them from building a sustainable world. To transform society we need to transform education. This is a daunting task.
  • Investment in education is considered a 20-year payback and there aren’t 20 years to make the shift. “This is a classic misunderstanding of the power of youth leadership,” says Cloud. Young people are not afraid of innovation and their minds are creative, as long as they are given permission to use them. Adults who will not change their mindset for their own sake will break through mental brick walls for their children. See organizations like Teens Turning Green or Two Angry Moms.
  • On the school side, branding as “Education for Sustainability” sounds like there is an agenda. However, once educators see the curricula and programming they realize it is a curriculum based in meta-cognition, science, math, humanities and everything that goes into a good education.

The biggest barrier is understanding what EfS is all about. The EfS standards complement and can help make come alive the non-negotiable standards being imposed on school districts.

Some of the most enthusiastic supporters are underserved communities. The whole idea of sustainability is built around a positive reinforcing loop of justice, community health, and elimination of poverty. For teachers, it’s not just another set of standards they need to meet; teachers are remembering why they became educators.

I can’t help but be excited every time I talk to Jaimie. It is “joyful work” for her.

How can we all help her bring the vision of EfS to life? As a parent, you can encourage your local schools to engage in the EfS revolution. As an educator, build the competencies into your curriculum.  As a sustainability leader, bring educators to the table. As a citizen, support and advocate for systems that make a difference.

Can we replicate Silicon Valley of the 90s in the internet era?

The reading I’m responding to is Regional Advantage by AnnaLee Saxenian, specifically Chapters 1 and 2.  Since this was written nearly 20 years ago (1996), I have a few questions:

  1. Is the entrepreneurship and spark of collaboration seen in the Valley still there with companies like Google and Apple dominating?
  2. What is the next Silicon Valley? Not in computing but in paradigm-busting innovation.
  3. Do Google and Apple, like IBM before them, run the risk of being eaten alive by groups of hungry start ups?

It is interesting that Apple and Google are studied for their unique work environments that seem to keep the feeling of the scrappy youth of Silicon Valley.[1] They have brought the external collaboration that identified the Valley within their walls.  However Google seems to be more open and collegial than Apple.  Apple is well known for its secrecy to the outside world and peer review is more checks and balances than open collaboration.  Information about the working atmosphere is only from people who no longer work there[2].  Google has even pollinated east[3] and works to create the same atmosphere in all of its offices around the world.[4]

Searching for “the next Silicon Valley” – yes, I Googled it – has various cities vying for the interest of tech-minded companies and employees: Chicago, Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas.[5]  But in the push to be next, the highlights are about the infrastructure support and local amenities not the corporate culture, or lack thereof, that created the valley in the first place.

Where are the upstarts now?  Who is fighting to be David to the Goliaths of tech?  There are many small specialized groups and often there is collaboration but it is mostly virtual.  The myth of the pen, napkin and a beer to create the “next new thing” is based in truth.  Even when no alcohol is involved, your brain shifts and is freed when you are in a social environment; something you can’t get in an office or through video chat.

It appears that the grownups of Silicon Valley have a comfortable seat but disruption will happen and it will be interesting to see what collaborative culture will come with it.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-employees-really-love-about-working-for-apple-2012-6?op=1

[2] http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/10/10/apple-employees-dish-secrets-quora/

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/business/at-google-a-place-to-work-and-play.html?_r=0

[4] http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/10-insights-from-11-months-of-working-at-google/

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/upshot/what-is-the-next-next-silicon-valley.html?abt=0002&abg=1

Reblog: The Problem With Girls In Math And Science

I wish there were fewer blogs like talk about these types of personal experiences.  But there are SO MANY and this voices the frustration of parents of girls particularly those who are in STEM fields themselves.

Originally posted on Drifting through my open mind:

The Problem With Girls In Math And Science.

Thoughts about RGGI

In 2009, 10 states ratified the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which caps the GHG from power generation in these states and puts on the market the fees collected for those 25 MW or higher power plants. NJ left RGGI in 2012 and the cap was reduced then and in 2014.

Critics of the program, like Americans for Prosperity branch in NJ, framed the whole plan as a cross-border state tax that fueled “an unachievable, utopian vision of a 21st-century economy powered by expensive and inefficient solar panels and wind turbines.”[1] Opponents have quickly forgotten how broken the fossil fuel system was in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and even “inefficient” clean energy would have been better than the gridlock of no fuel or power caused when supply was cut.  Clean energy would have brought NJ back online almost immediately.  Of course, efficiency of solar power in particular has made amazing strides and anyone who has lived through this particularly brutal winter would have appreciated any alternative to the high cost of fossil fuel for home heating.  Even on the coldest days, sunshine makes a massive difference to how much fuel is needed to heat homes.  Anyone who has raised their face to the sun to soak it in while shoveling snow understands this.

I choose to focus on are the success stories. State and local budgets are slashed year after year, particularly for schools, so the proceeds from a market based approach are a windfall for communities to build new infrastructure of energy-efficiency and independence for old, weather beaten buildings.   The power created by clean energy projects funded from RGGI reduces costs for citizens and businesses that would be taxed to build new fossil fuels power plants.

RGGI is not the final solution to GHG emissions or conversion to renewable energy economy. It shows what can happen at the State and Regional level, how efficiency can be driven by the market and that penalizing the inefficient and fossil driven to pay for renewable can upgrade communities and drive state and local economic growth.

[1] http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/08/10/commentary-reject-push-nj-rejoin-rggi/13836589/  – COMMENTARY: Reject push for N.J. to rejoin RGGI

The True Cost of Education

Over the past few months, I have been increasingly frustrated by the rhetoric in the press and government debate around science in the context of climate change and natural resource scarcity. It comes from all sides and even, insidiously, from “supporters”.  The National debate, on this and other topics, has been reduced to slinging sound bites of rhetoric from all sides.  Our citizens do not critically assess their points of view or the data being shared on the national stage.

Therefore, I was pleased to hear the announcement of the “Free Community College” plan from President Obama during the State of the Union.  I understand the long, difficult political road a federally funded education plan is on.  At the elementary and secondary level, 87% of education funding comes from non-Federal sources.[1] There is precedent for the Community College program in Tennessee but it is funded at the State level and the funds are a gap filler, after Pell and other grants, for students carrying a 2.0 GPA or higher and who do community service.[2]

The GOP is opposed to any additional federal spending on general principles.  In the Libertarian response to the State of the Union, Arvin Vohra, vice chair of the National Libertarian Committee, states that making community college free to all would cheapen the market value of such an education and “without subsidies and costly mandates, competition will force colleges to decrease their tuition or go out of business…Massive student debt would be a thing of the past.”[3]

I don’t have such a simplistic belief in the power of the market.  The dynamics of technology advance make Associate Degrees in technical fields even more important to increase the home grown talent for corporations and small businesses alike.   In fact, a scarcity of technical trained workers will drive corporations to sponsor education for their employees and put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.  The unintended consequence is a market for skilled workers which does not operate under the conditions of perfect competition required for a truly “free” market.

There is historical precedent back to Thomas Jefferson – the Libertarian Founding Father – for federal funding of education.  In Jefferson’s Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, and in Ordinances predating the Constitution, educating the citizenry was seen as the responsibility of the federal government to “promote the general welfare” and to have voters that can make adequate assessments at elections.[4]

There are more powerful reasons to make community college education available to all.  For many, pursuing 4 years of college is a financial fantasy.  I was one of those students: bright, motivated to work, but not willing to go into massive debt that would follow me even after I entered the workforce.   A technical Associate Degree provided me with highly skilled employment at low cost and my employer subsidized the remainder of my Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.   A larger financial consideration is the high attrition rate of college freshman who enter a program they are unsure of and waste time and money to learn they don’t want to be there; a debt with little to no ROI or employment as a means to pay it off.

Dogma from the economic right is predicated on removing government funding that interferes with the market so that the natural economic forces can do the job of stabilizing our democracy.  However the crises facing our society – food and energy supply, waste management, water availability, lack of jobs at a living wage – also interfere with a truly free market and are at a stage where intervention from government and businesses are necessary for solutions.

[1] From the U.S. Dept of Education website

[2] http://www.governing.com/topics/education/gov-state-responses-community-college-plan-obama.html

[3] From the Libertarian Response to Obama’s SOTU Address January 20, 2015

[4] See A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge (1779) and the League of Women Voters website “The History Of Federal Government In Public Education”

Financial Genius of Place

One of the underlying principles of Biomimicry is the Genius of Nature and that, as Janine Benyus is often quoted as saying, we need to quiet our intelligence and let Nature tell us what it knows.

When I first watched the Shaffi Mather TED Talk “A New Way to Fight Corruption”, I didn’t have a positive reaction to the idea.  Paying a service so that you don’t pay a bribe?  Can’t that level of corruption just be dealt with?  But I was reacting with my suburban New England background and understanding of “how things should work”.  When I thought longer about it, I realized that it was beating the corruption by empowering citizens with tools to fight.  Having to pay for this service was valuable because the research was done and they had a representative to help them stand; more empowering than charity.  I needed to listen to those that are suffering in that community come up with a brilliant and innovative solution to free themselves.

Similarly, the idea of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (roscas) and other community based microlending (Biggart, 2001) is the community building something that works for it based on the social constructs that they have.  Formal lending institutions are constructs often based on colonialism and don’t fit the cultural norms of the communities they are supposed to be serving.  Female based microlending groups are a primary example of this because, even though they run households and businesses, they can’t participate in formal banking except through their husbands.

Sometimes the best way to help a designated “underserved” community is to listen when they describe the solutions they already have created and amplify them.

Reference:

Biggart, Nicole Woolsey, “Banking on Each Other: The Situational Logic of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations”, Advances in Qualitative Organization Research, volume 3 pages 129-153, 2001.

A Living Wage?

For my Political Economy class this semester, we need to write 2-3 paragraphs each week based on our readings.  This is the first of 8.


“Poverty is about more than not having enough money.  It’s about not having hope” – Jennifer Garner

I’ve been watching A Path Appears, a documentary by Nick Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn and this week’s episode was about living in poverty and a few solutions that have been created.  Ms Garner’s quote is a great summary of the themes that ran through the film and through the articles that we read this week.

The reality of our country is that there is a large group of people living on a financial precipice:  One unexpected car expense, one cold snap where the heat and electrical goes up and they are falling into the pit.   There is little view to getting out of the hole, climbing out via a sandy, crumbling wall.

Throwing money at the problem isn’t the full solution.   Education and skill building are the way to get out and get up.  A controlled study from the state of Pennsylvania, paying for preschool educational programs in at risk communities, there was a 59% reduction in arrests at age 15. The cost of the education is lower and it can break the cycle of poverty.  The cited study suggest a savings of $100MM per year in Pennsylvania.

Even if the intervention is later in the cycle and incarceration or other damage has occurred, skill building and providing alternate housing can reduce recidivism and be less expense.   The roots of recidivism are in poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Knowing this, I was shocked and frustrated to see that in the Living Wage tables, Community and Social services jobs do not pay a living wage in CT.  How can we expect these workers to have hope for their clients if they are unsure how they will pay for their own future?  Maybe it’s time to look for new solutions because the old ones just aren’t working.

Science without Representation

My government doesn’t represent me.  I am a female scientist and engineer who is working to help business combat the disruptive results of climate change. I help companies engage in practices that can limit the environmental and social damage caused by addiction to fossil fuels.

My lack of representation is exemplified by the senate appointments to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The subcommittee appointments of Ted Cruz on Science, Space and Competitiveness and Marco Rubio on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard are especially insulting.  These two committees oversee NASA and NOAA, the agencies that authored of the State of the Climate Report. This confirms that global warming is real, and that the planet had its warmest year on record in 2014.   Both of these politicians chosen are climate deniers who claim to not be scientists but  feel qualified to devalue the opinion of 97% of the scientific community who agree that climate is changing and that human habits are the cause.

Our societal science literacy is suffering. The language used in the climate change denial is an insult to scientists.  The mistrust of science is high.  The ability to critically assess information and challenge data is rare to non-existent. The fact that the U.S. is 20th in science education among the 34 OECD countries doesn’t help citizens to elect people of learning and those who respect the scientific disciplines.  Many people stay away from learning more because, “it’s too hard.”  But this is wrong: the basics of scientific inquiry and engineering problem solving are reachable for anyone and can be taught without complex math or advanced science topics.

It is embarrassing that those who uphold the Founding Fathers as their guiding light in the political path have neglected their education on history.  Thomas Jefferson, the father of the GOP and the concept of minimum government intervention into personal lives was an advocate for education. He made this clear in his A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge.   

“It is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this [tyranny] would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes.”

He further states that education needs to be for all “without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance”.

It is important to acknowledge that Jefferson was a product of his time. He was primarily concerned with providing education for those that would participate in government, which was white men.  A commentary by Nichole Blackwood from 2012 at states “Jefferson’s treatment of gender and race also complicates his message.”  However, most of his fellow Founding Fathers, notably John Adams, later Jefferson’s rival, understood that mothers had the care and education of the sons, who, given that they could eventually go into public service needed mothers educated sufficiently to educate them, as well.

Mr. Adams was likely influenced by his wife Abigail, whose correspondence with her husband and friends opens a window into early feminism.  She was a strong advocate of education for women beyond the basics of reading and writing.She and her friends created a virtual book and education club where they shared, via letters, what books and topics they were reading. Their learning expanded into Latin and other classics that were only accessible through their male relatives who were off at school. (Source: Abigail Adams by Woody Holton, Free Press, 2009).  Cokie Roberts covers this topic as well in Founding Mothers (HarperCollins, 2004) and mentions it in her Kahn Academy video series from the Aspen Institue.

If we are to address, seriously and successfully, the food supply, energy, waste and water issues and the social injustice that faces humanity, we need an educated and accurately informed populace.  Only then we elect officials who are educated, informed and can think critically about complex problems.  Our Founding Fathers recognized this need. They would be ashamed of the dismissal of science and education from their hard won political system now advocated by those who claim to be their successors in party and principles.