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Stepping Up as a Volunteer

tt54.jpgI confess that this week I was slightly disappointed in my fellow New Jerseyans. If you read my blog, I hope you have learned how much I love this state, even if I feel the need to occasionally remind my fellow citizens that we need to do just a bit more to create that “more perfect society” we hope to achieve.

Maybe it’s the Easter season, but this is a time when we hear from the pulpits a version of the need to share our time, talent and treasure. This blog is about time, but not the one on the dial of your wristwatch (if you still wear one).

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A Possible Solution to a Fragmented Health Care System

tt_53.jpgImagine for a moment that you could have a team of medical professionals dedicated to your health and well-being. A group of folks whose primary mission is to keep you from having to go to the hospital by engaging in preventative medicine and chronic disease management, while not sacrificing quality of care and bringing down the cost of health care. Sounds too good to be true right – well it isn’t. The promise of patient centered medical homes (PCMH) is all that and then some!

The PCMH model is often described as a comprehensive medical services delivery method that is centered around the patient and focused on quality of care and patient safety. The overarching objective is to develop a centralized setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, and their primary care physicians.

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Women’s History Month: It’s Everyone’s History

tt52.jpgI’ve been really looking forward to writing this week's blog post. It is women’s history month and a time that we set aside to celebrate the contribution women have made to our country. This special month is not a light-hearted tribute. No less than the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined in paying tribute to the generations of women committed to making this world a better place.

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Why We Shouldn’t Consider a Bachelor’s Degree a Luxury

tt51.jpgIt’s becoming a luxury for many; yet failing to have a college degree can have significant financial repercussions.

I’m referring to the need for a college education and its first cousin, the ability to pay for that education. A few simple facts. Having a college education results in huge, lifetime dividends.  A person with a college degree, on average, will earn $1.4 million more than someone with only a high school diploma, according to a 2011 U.S. Census Report. That bears repeating:  $1.4 million more. To put it in even more unambiguous language, if you started working at 22 and retired at 62, that would mean $2,916.66 more each month during that 40-year career.  (Of course, this advantage is slight if at all at the beginning of a career and increases later as one advances professionally.) For anyone pondering why they should go to college, the numbers provide a stark reality.

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Patriotism in Today's America

tt50.jpgRecently, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani challenged publicly whether or not President Barack Obama loves America.

The back-story occurred last week when Mr. Giuliani was attending a dinner for potential Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the swanky New York 21 restaurant. According to New York Magazine, Giuliani said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. ... He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."

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The PARCC Test: The Countdown Begins

tt49.jpgThe discomfort over educational testing in New Jersey is increasing as parents ponder whether or not they should allow their children to take the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). What is adding urgency to the debate is that the first round of the PARCC is in March. The name of the test reflects its intended purpose: to ensure that a student is both prepared for and successful in college. The results of the test also play a role in a teacher’s evaluation. The more students who score well would, as expected, reflect positively on the teacher.

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2017 Gubernatorial Rumbling

It will be hard once again to avoid 2017 gubernatorial politics on the New Jersey Chamber Train’s Walk to Washington on Thursday.

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You Have Only Three Days to Protect Your Health and Your Family’s

tt48.jpgThis is serious business. There appear to be 216,000-plus New Jersey residents who have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, but about 500,000 who have not. (Some estimates place the number at 900,000 New Jersey residents who are eligible and uninsured.)

The deadline for 2015 enrollment is Feb. 15, a short three days before the deadline. You can sign up NOW by visiting www.HealthCare.gov.

Please enroll. It is your right under the law. If there has ever been a reason for participatory democracy, I can hardly think of a better one than participating in the Affordable Care Act.

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Black History Month: The Color of Everyone

tt47.jpgThis month is Black History Month. Throughout this period, we will be exposed to the dreams, struggles and achievements of African Americans, often highlighted by their quest for truth and justice. (We should note that Canada and the United Kingdom also have a Black History Month.) However, Black History Month is much more than a historical reflection for African Americans. It is a reminder that it is history for all of us. While I’m certainly proud of the individual achievements of my ancestors, as a legislator who represents people of every color, creed and ethnicity, this month points to an even greater reason to celebrate.

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When’s the Last Time You Mentored Someone?

Jantt46.jpguary is National Mentoring Month. This is an ideal time to think about the impact that each of us can have on one another by giving our time to offer guidance and counsel. Too often, we shy away from the chance to do this simple act of positive encouragement. When I was young, my parents had a picture of a man reaching back over a wall pulling someone else up to achieve the same goal he had done. This picture embodied this ideal perfectly. It's not enough for one to "make it" themselves. It is our responsibility to bring someone else to the same achievement.

Research shows that young people who interact with mentors on a consistent basis are less likely to abuse drugs and engage in violent behavior, and more likely to graduate from high school and continue their education through college. Furthermore, a mentor's position as a positive role model can inspire children to strive for success, and instill a sense of confidence that will allow them to achieve their full potential in school, their communities, and in their future careers.

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