2012 was another successful year for us. Some of our major accomplishments for the year were:
The number of unique visitors (15.7 million in 2012; 42.5 million total), schools using ProCon.org (1,310 new schools in 2012; 3,650 total), books referencing ProCon.org (80 in 2012; 192 total), media mentions (285 in 2012; 736 total), government agencies using ProCon.org (6 new in 2012; 39 total), email subscribers (21,795 new in 2012; 79,616 total), and our various social media followers - all went up sharply (see I. below).
60.4% increase in unique visitors over 2011: Our websites received 15,775,324 unique visitors in 2012 compared to 9,832,598 uniques in 2011 - a 60.4% increase (II. below).
Five new websites: We added five new issue websites (in alphabetical order): Corporate Tax Rate & Jobs, Cuba Embargo, Golf, Gold Standard, and Tablets vs. Textbooks (III. below).
3,560 schools: We expanded the number of schools where educators use ProCon.org from 2,250 at the end of 2011 to 3,560 at the end of 2012 (IV. below).
79,616 email subscribers: We started the year with 57,821 email subscribers and ended 2012 with 79,616 (V. below).
98.4% of surveyed teachers would recommend ProCon.org to other teachers and librarians: We received 2,291 responses to our teachers and librarian survey between May 6, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012. 98.8% of surveyed teachers who use ProCon.org reported an improvement in their students critical thinking skills. 98.4% of surveyed teachers said they would recommend ProCon.org to teachers and librarians (VI. below).
Media references up 61% from 2011 to 2012: ProCon.org received 285 media references in 2012 compared to 162 in 2011 (VII. below).
Staff, Volunteers, and Interns All : Our organization began and ended 2012 with a staff of eight full-time equivalent employees. (VIII. below)
25.3% increase in number of donors: We received charitable contributions from 173 donors in 2012 - a 25.3% increase from our 138 donors in 2011 (IX. below)
Select highlights include (see X. below for several more):
A. ProCon.org fully archived by the Library of Congress: On May 30, 2012, the Library of Congress (LOC) announced that it was going to archive ProCon.org for having "materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship.”
B. ProCon.org had an impact on the 2012 presidential election and vice versa: We had 352,874 sessions on Election Day alone (1.8 million sessions total in 2012) ,and during the course of the site's existence, the candidate quiz page was visited more than 650,000 times. The New York Times called our election site "the most comprehensive tool for researching the candidate’s stance on issues." (see VIII. below).
C. ProCon.org National Student Video Contest: A panel of prominent judges evaluated 1-2 minute student production on the theme "Why I Love ProCon.org." We sent over $2,000 in cash prizes plus ProCon.org merchandise to the winners.
Thank you for your continued interest in the information we supply, and thanks to our talented researchers, IT Manager, President/Managing Editor, Board Members, interns, and volunteers.
Thanks as well to our expert sources, the media who referenced us, the tens of thousands of times teachers have used our content in the classroom, and to the millions of ProCon.org readers who helped our organization become so popular. And a big thanks to all our supporters for your helping us continue our work.
Below is a site-by-site breakdown of our traffic from 2004 to 2012 in sessions.
A session is any 30-minute or less period of time in which an individual IP address accesses one or more files from one ProCon.org website. This definition of a "session" comes from Urchin (now owned by Google) - the main software program used to track our website traffic.
(Alphabetical order with parent site first)
(Alphabetical order with parent site first)
Five New Issue Websites: In 2012 we added five new websites, listed below in the order in which they became publicly available:
On May 24, 2012, ProCon.org launched the website Golf ProCon.org to explore the question "Is golf a sport?" The site received 30,499 sessions in 2012.
Our 43rd website explores the pros and cons in the debate over whether golf is a sport. Proponents argue that golf meets the definition of "sport" found in the dictionary, requires physical exertion and coordination, and is recognized as a sport by sporting goods companies, athletic associations, fans, and the media. Opponents argue that golf better meets the definition of "game" than "sport," does not require rigorous physical activity, and can be played professionally by people who are overweight, injured, or non-athletic.
On Nov. 20, 2012 we launched the website Tablets vs. Textbooks ProCon.org to explore the core question "Should tablets replace textbooks in K-12 schools?" The site received 24,610 sessions in 2012.
Publishing for the K-12 school market is an $8 billion industry and tablets are a $35 billion industry in the United States. As tablets have become more prevalent, a new debate has formed over whether K-12 school districts should switch from print textbooks to digital textbooks on tablets and e-readers. Proponents of tablets say that they are supported by most teachers and students, are much lighter than print textbooks, and improve standardized test scores. They say that tablets can hold hundreds of textbooks, save the environment by lowering the amount of printing, increase student interactivity and creativity, and that digital textbooks are cheaper than print textbooks. Opponents of tablets say that they are expensive, too distracting for students, easy to break, and costly/time-consuming to fix. They say that tablets contribute to eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision, increase the excuses available for students not doing their homework, require costly Wi-Fi networks, and become quickly outdated as new technologies are released. Our 44th website explores the pros and cons in the debate over tablets vs. textbooks in K-12 schools.
On Dec. 13, 2012, we launched the website Corporate Tax Rate & Jobs ProCon.org to explore the question "Does lowering the federal corporate income tax rate result in employers creating more jobs?" The site received 2,649 sessions in 2012.
Throughout US corporate tax history, Americans have debated whether or not lowering the rate results in job creation. Proponents of lowering the corporate tax rate to create jobs argue that it incentivizes job creation in the United States instead of overseas, encourages increased investment in research and infrastructure, and passes savings on to consumers through lower prices. Opponents of lowering the corporate tax rate to create jobs argue that it results in more profits for corporations without affecting job creation, and that unemployment rates were the lowest in recorded US history during the time when corporate income tax rates were highest. Our 45th website explores the pros and cons in the debate over corporate taxes and jobs.
On Dec. 20, 2012, we launched the website Cuba Embargo ProCon.org to explore the question "Should the United States maintain its embargo against Cuba?" The site received 1,732 sessions in 2012.
February 7, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the ongoing US embargo against Cuba. Proponents of the embargo say that the economic sanctions and travel restrictions should remain until Cuba meets the conditions set out by US law, and that it is an important bargaining chip to pressure Cuba to improve human rights. Opponents of the embargo say that it is an outdated, failed policy that hurts the US economy and Cuban citizens, and that the rest of the world is against the US sanctions. Our 46th website explores the pros and cons in the debate over the Cuba embargo.
On Dec. 31, 2012, we launched the website Gold Standard ProCon.org to explore the question "Should the United States return to a gold standard?" The site received 265 sessions in 2012.
Proponents of the gold standard argue it provides long-term economic stability and growth, prevents inflation, and would reduce the size of government. Opponents argue a gold standard would create economic instability, spur periodic economic deflation and contraction, and harm the fragile US economy. Our 47th website explores the pros and cons in the debate over the gold standard.
Our gold standard website was generously sponsored by Teletrade (online at www.teletrade.com), an online coin and currency auction house since 1986.
ProCon.org for Teachers: ProCon.org expanded the list of schools that use ProCon.org from 2,250 schools at the end of 2011 to 3,560 schools at the end of 2012 - an increase of 1,310 schools (58%). We add schools to this list when we see that an educator (not a student) from that school has referenced ProCon.org online, usually in a lesson plan or suggested resources list. We include a PDF of the lesson plan so that other educators can get ideas and draw inspiration from each other.
Those schools were from 53 different countries including (in alphabetical order): Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, China, Columbia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Ialy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and Yemen.
The breakdown of schools by level is as follows: 756 elementary and middle schools (21%), 1,821 high schools (51%), and 983 colleges and universities (28%).
In 2013, we will continue to make our extensive resources available at no charge to teachers, librarians, administrators, and other educators. We believe that most of the approximate 100,000 schools in America would love ProCon.org if only they knew about it. We would appreciate it if you would tell all the teachers, librarians, administrators, other educators, and students you know about us and our work.
Email Updates & Reader Responses:We started the year with 57,821 email subscribers and ended 2012 with 79,616. We sent 24 email newsletters in 2012 (and three more that were strictly fundraising related). Some of the more colorful and interesting emails, respones to our newsletters, and "contact us" form submissions are provided below.
"I first came across Procon.org while writing an argument paper for freshman English about the legalization of marijuana back at Moberly Area Community College. I got an 'A' on that paper and some very complimentary remarks from my professor about the quality and even handedness of my research. I've used it several times since in my college career and I am always able to quickly find the relevant issues from both sides of a question. Even more importantly it gives me a reliable starting point from which to seek additional information about a topic and pertinent opinions from knowledgeable sources. Reading the arguments presented on the site has helped me to improve my writing skills and style as well. I'm sure this site will continue to be a valuable learning and teaching tool. Thank you to all who make this possible, you are doing a tremendous service for humanity." Jim, Dec. 22, 2012
"Thank you some very much for the quiz. Thank you so much for the 'quotes' on the candidates. This indeed helped me to understand their views and how I align. God bless this organization." Sheila, Nov. 3, 2012
"I'm 20 years old and I am a new voter in the state of Delaware. With the information that I have gathered from your website, I am able to understand the pros and cons about the candidates that are runnging in this up coming election. I was never really big on politics but, reading the information I can decide wether or not I want to be (D) or (R), I have always been undecided and now i can really put a stand, an vote for the canadidate that matters in our Government White House. Thank you for the Information that has been put up and gathered to help me make a voice for myself." Veronica, Oct. 31, 2012
"Thank you... for this [State Felon Voting Laws] and all the work you all do at ProCon.org. It is much valued and appreciated. I use and rely on your site as a resource often for information on other states’ voting rights policies…It is the most helpful." Candice Reid, Assistant Director, Rights Restoration, Secretary of the Commonwealth (State of Virginia), Apr. 13, 2012
"I just wanted to thank you for having such a great website with much needed information that is needed to be addressed. I am writing a paper about standardized testing and being able to access all of your articles and even have the presidential candidates view on this debate was amazing. I learned so much about how ineffective and destructive standardized testing has become. I would know because I was a FCAT victim who had a 4.0 GPA in Middle School and a 3.5 GPA in high school and failed the test at least once or twice. Goes to show you how effective testing really is ehh?" Pamela, Mar. 23, 2012
"...[T]he most inaccurate political blog on the web. Also extremely biased." John, Oct. 4, 2012
"I don't think you are 'non-partisan' and I HOPE you folks don't REALLY believe that bulls**t.
Giving right-wing ideologues a voice and calling some of their unconstitutional activities 'controversial' is akin to saying, as the paper read in Harry Potter, 'Dumbledore: Daft or Dangerous?'
The ideas presented only give hate-groups legitimacy.
This is a hideous reich-wing site that would never come within a mile of MY classroom." Jeff, July 5, 2012
"The information was lacking... All of the info was spoon fed to them [my students]. I showed my students what a bad website is. I told them that if there were any websites like this, then they shouldn't use them." Trisha, May 3, 2012
ProCon.org Teacher Survey: We ran a ProCon.org Teacher Survey to get input from teachers and librarians so we could understand how they use ProCon.org and to learn their views on whether or not using ProCon.org improves their students' critical thinking skills. The survey had 2,291 respondents between May 6, 2011 and December 31, 2012.
98.8% of teachers using ProCon.org reported that ProCon.org improved their students' critical thinking skills.
99.7% of teachers using ProCon.org reported that their students found ProCon.org useful.
98.4% of respondents said they would recommend ProCon.org to teachers and librarians.
ProCon.org in the News:ProCon.org received 285 media references in 2012 compared to 162 in 2011. The 2012 references started on Jan. 4, 2011 with American Thinker. President and Managing Editor Kamy Akhavan was interviewed 10 times on radio stations and three times for print publications across the country.
Notable 2012 media references included Al Jazeera, USA TODAY, New York Times, TIME magazine, Forbes, Yahoo! News, National Geographic, Associated Press, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, CBS News, ABC News, Bloomberg, Fox News, The Guardian, Education Week, and the Wall Street Journal.
The New York Times recommended our 2012 Election website as a teaching tool in several articles, including a Sep. 5, 2012 article by Michael Gonchar titled "Great Free Websites for Teaching Election 2012." Michael wrote, "The most comprehensive tool for researching the candidate's stance on issues is the nonpartisan nonprofit ProCon.org."
An article in School Library Journal by Joyce Valenza titled "Election Resources to Share" said: "Procon.org's 2012 Presidential Election is perhaps the most comprehensive portal for election issues research. It is my students' favorite."
The Santa Monica Daily Press wrote an article about our organization, stating, "ProCon.org is a nonprofit with headquarters in Downtown that puts new meaning into 'just the facts, ma'am.' It's been plugged by the New York Times and is used by classrooms across the country to enhance students' understanding of the American political system."
Staff: Our organization ended 2012 with a staff of eight full-time equivalent in-house employees, the same number we had at the end of 2011. Our 2011 end-of-year staff included five full-time Researchers, one part-time Associate Researcher, one part-time Schools Outreach Coordinator, one full-time IT Manager/Webmaster, one full-time President & Managing Editor, and me, our Chairman (unpaid). We also had four Volunteers, three Interns, and three Senior Interns contribute roughly 1,000 total work hours during the year.
Financials: We received charitable contributions from 173 donors in 2012 - a 25.3% increase from our 138 donors in 2011. For our latest financials, including charts and graphs, please visit the "Financial Info" section of our "About Us" page.
ProCon.org Fully Archived by the Library of Congress:On May 30, 2012, the Library of Congress (LOC) announced that it was going to archive ProCon.org for having "materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship.” ProCon.org had been partially archived by the LOC on April 20, 2008, and this time they opted to archive all of our content.
2012 Presidential Election Drove Major ProCon.org Successes: We broke 100,000 daily sessions for the first time ever on Oct. 4, 2012 with 107,760 sessions. We then surpassed 200,000 sessions on Monday Nov. 5th with 241,779 sessions. Then on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, we surpassed 300,000 sessions with 352,874 sessions. What an amazing run!
Since its launch last year on Oct. 24th, our Presidential Election Quiz page has been visited 654,591 times. Its busiest day was Monday Nov. 5th, the day before the election, when 64,229 people visited the quiz page. This quiz has been mentioned in major media including the New York Times and International Business Times.
On Sep. 5, 2013, the New York Times called ProCon.org's 2012 presidential election site "the most comprehensive tool for researching the candidate’s stance on issues.”
ProCon.org Receives Prestigious Nonprofit Award:On Apr. 25, 2012, for its second year in a row, ProCon.org received the "Top Rated" designation from GreatNonprofits.org. We had previously been selected as "Partner in Trust" from Guidestar and the "Best Nonprofit To Work For" by Opportunity Knocks.
ProCon.org Exhibits at American Library Association Annual Conference:On June 22-25, 2012, ProCon.org exhibited at the American Library Association (ALA) 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA where we personally met and interacted with over 400 librarians at our booth. It marked our first ever paid exhibition.
Dr. Jason Glass, Iowa Department of Education Director, Calls ProCon.org an "Invaluable Teaching Tool": On Oct. 29, 2012, Dr. Jason Glass, Iowa's highest elected education official, sent us a wonderful testimonial and offered to notify educators throughout his state about ProCon.org. He wrote:
"Both as a classroom teacher and as a state education chief, I’ve always found great value in honestly weighing an issue from all sides before taking a position or making a decision. The toughest questions we face rarely come with easy or simple answers and the ability to see things from multiple perspectives, and clearly articulate competing ideas, solidly improves the probability of making the best call. While our students need a solid foundation in academic basics, they also need the kind of critical thinking and decision making that is fostered through looking at issues with the methods demonstrated at ProCon.org. This website is an invaluable teaching tool for educators, and more importantly, future citizens."
Dr. Jonathan Haidt Calls ProCon.org the "Best Antidote” to Bias: On Oct. 21, 2012,Dr. Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind and famous TED conference speaker, send us this wonderful testimonial: "Among the biggest obstacles to good thinking is what we psychologists call ‘the confirmation bias.’ It’s the tendency to seek out only information that confirms your existing beliefs. ProCon.org is the best antidote to this bias that I have seen. It’s not just that it puts disconfirming information right there on the page, where it can’t be missed. It’s that ProCon.org models open-mindedness, respect for the complexity of truth, and respect for the sincerity of people on both sides of controversial issues. ProCon.org is a boon to our ailing civic culture."
ProCon.org Workshop for Students at UCLA:On July 25, 2012, for the fourth year in a row, ProCon.org gave a workshop titled "Using ProCon.org for Critical Thinking about Illegal Immigration" to about 100 Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) high school students attending JSA's "Gene A. Burd Symposium on Los Angeles Media and Politics" on the UCLA campus. The students' amazing thank you letters inspired us.
ProCon.org Honored by the Laura & John Arnold Foundation: ProCon.org was one of 500 national nonprofits invited by the Laura & John Arnold Foundation to participate in their Giving Library project. The result, launched on Aug. 14, 2012, was a high-end video production explaining ProCon.org, our origin, our strengths, our funding needs, etc. Thank you to the Laura & John Arnold Foundation for generously funding the production and related expenses.
ProCon.org National Student Video Contest: A panel of prominent film celebrities and education leaders judged 1-2 minute student videos on the theme "Why I Love ProCon.org,” and their winners in the ProCon.org national student video contest were announced. Watch seven wonderful student films about ProCon.org.
Winners were selected in three categories: middle school (grades 6-8), high school (grades 9-12), and college/university (undergraduate and graduate) students. There were not enough eligible entries in the middle school category for 2nd or 3rd place winners. All winners receive cash prizes and ProCon.org merchandise for their schools.
Congratulations to all the winners and thank you so much to our esteemed judges.
VIP Correspondence: We've received beneficial feedback and/or content from many VIPs. Here's a random sample (in alphabetical order):
Michelle Andrews, Washington Post/ Kaiser Health News reporter
Ashley Archibald, Staff Writer for the Santa Monica Daily Press
Justin Baeder, Director of The Principal Center
Tom Barnidge, Columnist for the Contra Costa Times
Bruce D. Budnick, Producer for Cannabis Times
Chase Cain, FOX Orlando News Reporter
John Carr, California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Public Information Officer
LeiLani Cauthen, Vice President at the Center for Digital Education
William N. Eskridge, Jr., John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School
Richard C. Eyer, Director Emeritus of Concordia Bioethics Institute at Concordia University Wisconsin
James H. Fowler, Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science at UC San Diego
Virgil Goode, 2012 Constitution Party Presidential Candidate
Joe Hunter, Communications Director for 2012 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson
David Cay Johnston, Reuters Columnist and Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize
Ron Kahlow, Founder and Director of Vote-USA.org
Alfie Kohn, Author of The Case Against Standardized Testing
Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry
Sydney Lupkin, Reporter for ABC News
Raheela Mahomed, Interview Producer, News, Al Jazeera English
Alysoun McLaughlin, Public Affairs Manager, District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics
Stephen H. Miles, Professor and Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics for the Center of Bioethics and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School
Patty Murphy, Voting Systems Specialist, Elections Division, Office of the Secretary of State of Washington
Ian Mylchreest, Senior Producer for KNPR’s State of Nevada
Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
Monty Neill, Executive Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing
Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press reporter
Karen O'Keefe, Director of State Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project
Shawn Lawrence Otto, Cofounder and CEO of ScienceDebate.org
Greg Palast, Writer for BBC, Rolling Stone, and The Nation
Candice Reid, Assistant Director, Rights Restoration, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Jonah E. Rockoff, Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research
Deborah Rubin, Associate Producer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
Sam Schlinkert, Reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast
Erin Young, Editor of Educational Horizons and Go Teach magazines