An increasing number of states are turning to “micro credentials” for teachers, shifting away from more formal large-scale continuing education requirements toward a system based on providing teachers with specific skills that they can use in the classroom. These “little courses” are usually offered online and allow teachers to take incremental steps towards fulfilling the requirements needed to renew their licenses while providing them with useful instructional tools. Critics observe that these mini online courses might not be subject to the same academic rigor as traditional teacher education courses, which typically run a full semester.
New York City is looking to expand efforts to encourage landlords to give tenants the ability to opt in to reporting their rent payments as a way to boost their credit scores. Although many renters dutifully pay their rent on time each month, those payments are never counted towards their credit scores, leading to an issue of inequality with respect to approvals for loans and interest rates. Observers note that the plan could backfire if tenants miss their payments and that information is also reported or if it disenfranchises those tenants who withhold rent to pressure landlords to improve living conditions.
Maryland has launched a program that will notify drivers of open, uncompleted recalls for their vehicles. Under the two-year pilot, funded by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle owners will be notified that a recall is in effect and be provided with a brief description of the recall when it is time to renew their registration. An open recall will not prevent a driver from registering the vehicle. About 30 percent of recalled vehicles are not repaired.
Finland has been using blockchain technology to help unbanked asylum seekers get on their feet faster when they come to live in the country. Instead of traditional cash disbursements, the Finnish Immigration Service distributes prepaid MasterCards stored on a blockchain, the same technology that supports the digital currency Bitcoin, which allows value to be transmitted without an actual bank account yet still remain secure. At the same time, the Immigration Service can use the technology to keep track of the cardholders and their spending.
The Tennessee state park system now offers gift cards. Available at supermarkets and online retailers, the gift cards can be used toward offerings such as lodging, camping, and dining, as well as fees for courses and seminars that the parks offer. Tennessee intends to keep admission to all of its state parks free of charge, with officials observing that free admission ensures that access is available to all communities in the state.