Boys and Girls Club of America

(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)

This is my home, this is where I need to be, and now, they might want to ask me about starting a national program from an idea I had.

Are they fucking nuts?!

I’d seen some of the teen programs where they were preparing kids for college.  Usual college prep type of course.  Nonetheless, I took notes and thought of a few ways it could be better.

Recently, i’ve been helping their technology department with certain issues and along with other members we’re like a multi-cultural on-site Geek Squad.  Computer Associates had sent a few boys over in 2005 to get the Hempstead BGCA up and running with a computer department.  Then they left and were never heard from again.  That left the department as-is for almost 5 years now.  It’s a mess, but we’re taking care of it.

Going in-between both rooms/programs I started to think, “why the fuck are kids doing their homework with computers, but taking college prep courses that aren’t computer based?”

An idea was born.

I pitched the idea to the director and he was floored.  I wasn’t expecting a reaction like the one he had, I was expecting a “yeah, that’s a good idea, talk to Chris (tech dept) and see what he wants to do” response.  Got the opposite. The meetings from what I had in mind are pending.

The Idea

Recently I have been familiarizing myself with many eLibrary Management programs.  I started “finding” books online that would help with papers and after TD Bank fucked me I had to drop 2 classes because I couldn’t afford the books before mid-terms.  That was a declaration of economic war and i’m currently breaking out the WMD’s on the for-profit University Bookstore (Hofstra’s is owned by Barnes & Noble) as well as the education book industry as a whole.  

After a few trial and error runs I found this one:…

It’s a resource hog that maxes out my CPU’s while it runs but the features that have allowed me to go on with a few projects are amazing.

Using this in conjunction with the LEGALLY PURCHASED EBOOKS! (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more) I have shaved off, literally, a day and many hours off my papers.  Also, my grades haven’t been less than a “B” with most being higher. Having 15-20 sources from books on the subject you’re writing on makes older professors think you physically looked through books at the library as well as show a grasp on the subject that is, quite frankly, unfair to other classmates in terms of grading.

It’s easy, fast, in PDF format for copying and pasting sources to cite rather than type them out, and bookmark everything so you can go directly to what you wanted to include.

So why the fuck aren’t we showing kids to use this shit?!

Combine this with exercises of 2 page papers for college bound teens where you have them practicing every form of MLA format and what you have is a kid that will breeze through papers in college.  Truthfully, the only thing I learned in college is financial aid/bureaucracy 101 and MLA format to write papers.  I don’t remember much else save for a few classes that I felt were actually worth remembering.  

The potential for these kids to be less of a “charity case” for colleges and more of a “Gold Standard” for which all other applicants will be held to meet is too great to not give a program like the one I had in mind a try.  

Thankfully, others agree with me on this.

The program consists of three parts.  

Part 1:

A lesson on how to use the many eLibrary systems available for free online with emphasis on the two I have found to be stable and most effective for what’s needed.  If the kids find other programs then we’ll explore and learn together (learning while practicing horizontalism can’t hurt ya know?). They’ll become familiar with the eLibrary programs and know how to use them while conducting research or just wanting to learn about things they might be interested in.

Then we’d teach them how to download torrents (as if they don’t know already) of Creative Commons licensed materials.  Getting them familiar with bittorrent clients will allow them to have the tools necessary to get the materials they need for college. Creative Commons is legal to download so we’ll only use those as examples.  We’ll familiarize them not only with how to download and upload but even go further into configuring the bittorrent client if we think that it’s necessary.  Otherwise, if they’re just interested in knowing the most there is about the client, we can go further into it with each kid.  Hey, maybe there’s a career in it for them 🙂

Part 2:

The exercises in MLA format to cite the sources they’ve downloaded and put in their library will give them the tools they need for any college.  Since i’m at the end of undergrad and know what grad is gonna entail, I can confidently say that it’s the only fucking thing you need to know.  As long as you have MLA format and basic study habits for tests you’re golden.  You just need to then adapt to the material being taught and that’s possibly the only “learning” aspect of college i’ve ever encountered.  

The papers will be light (1-2 pages in length) and consist of whatever subject interests them to write about.  It’s not the content necessarily that we’d focus on, the main purpose is to practice each type of “form” of MLA format to familiarize them with how to fill up their papers when they get to the 4-6 pages and 10-15 pages later on. Then they can pepper the forms like I eventually learned how to do in order to give the professor the 20 pager that he’ll skim and count the pages to then give you a grade according to how much he likes you because the administration is coming down on him for having his class GPA higher then the University’s average GPA (OH WHAT! BURN!).  

And of course, proper training in how to do a bibliography for works cited:

That should about do it.

Part 3:

The third is internet research.  All the kids know how to do it already with the almighty “google” but we feel that it’s just as important as Part 1 and 2.  

It’ll first be in the form of a game, like a treasure hunt. But since we’re talking about 16-17 year olds, the “treasure hunt” will only be expressed as an analogy so as to not make them feel like they’re 10 or something.

We’re thinking political in nature like using, Open Secrets, Legistorm, Project Vote Smart, Open Congress, etc. Not in a biased way but just as a tool with a stated objective of the information asked of them to find on their government representatives.


The exact cost of all this?


I’m not accepting any payment EVER from this group (ok, maybe for sandwiches again) and it won’t cost their organization anything but paper and ink cartridges, but that’s all stuff they have anyway.  The programs are free, the books are free, so just man-hours and supplies that are at what we currently have in stock.

This week starts a week of talks and meetings (been doing a lot of other things and planning for the past 2 weeks) but they’re just really briefings on what we all had in mind.  

If it gets popular we’ll fight the good fight to ask the schools in the district to offer computer based learning as the rule and not the exception. The teachers (and librarians even) are worried this will mean their jobs but I argued that the complete OPPOSITE is needed.  Librarians would be trained in using the systems/computers needed as well as to scan and protect the physical copy of the book.  

The teachers will still be needed and new teachers can be assigned to classrooms that have teachers that don’t know how to teach using computers, but the school can use the money saved not buying books to hire the extra teachers I suppose.  

These are just thoughts though.


Skip to comment form

    • TMC on November 17, 2009 at 10:15

    Just don’t turn down a good paying job if they offer you one

    • dkmich on November 17, 2009 at 12:14

    I think I’ll send this to my 15 yo AP grandson.   He’s constantly writing papers.  

  1. Way to go! Good work for good people. Nothing bad will ever come of this. Way to kick the corporate feudal state’s ass, dude – HELP THE POOR KIDS who are being disenfranchised and left out in the cold. Fucking awesome.

    Computer Associates, TWITCH. Yeah, I could see them leaving Hempstead swinging in the breeze. CA is so pwned by DoD it’s not funny. I found out a few years ago that Sterling Software, the Nebraska based assholes who were maintaining the classified message handling system I was in charge of at USAFE in the ’80s, got sold to CA in yet another “rename the company so that it’s corruption and social irresponsibility continues to be hidden from the general public” move. CA has also written the most inefficient SNMP monitoring software I ever had the displeasure to have to run at any site, evar.

    If you do any work for Glen Cove’s B&G Club let me know when you’ll be in the area and we can hang out. Depending on how good the client base is being to me that day, I’ll even spring for the King. You haz earned cheezeburger!

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