Friday, December 31, 2010


2010 was pretty great for my family and myself !!!
Wishing you and yours a great 2011 !!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Choice, Complexity and Payment

I want to discuss this topic in further detail. (RSIS vs STEM) Here are some of the comments that were posted in support of increasing the complexity of the traditional Public School systems. (ie proliferation of Magnets) And reducing the Intradistrict transfer "privilege".

"Kids are fundamentally different in this respect. Each one is, at all times, entirely unique."

"If we want to compete with surrounding districts, and other schools, we quite simply have to open up our schools to out of district kids."

"But the object of the school system isn't to make money for it's owners, it's to provide the education we want for our children. So we have a system that serves different needs, and different things that parents want from schools."

"Sure, if that's what parents want, if that's what our society needs, if that's what gives us a competitive over our neighbors."

"People choose their house based on location, neighborhood, convenience--and they'll choose their school based on the academic equivalents--choices that feel like the right fit for their family."

Now I am stating the following comments as fact, though please feel free to argue them if you disagree:
  • It costs more to create and maintain more different curriculums and classes.
  • The marginal benefit to America decreases the further we venture from the core. (ie reading, writing, math, science, social studies, history, art, etc)

For those that want an infinite number of curriculums (ie school types) and class offerings:

  • How do you believe the necessary higher funding levels should be raised ? Remember that taking kids from another district usually does not raise the state funding level. It justs moves money from one pocket to another. (ie Hopkins to RAS, Beacon to RAS, etc) From the perspective of the citizen paying taxes, there is no additional funding provided to pay for the complexity.
  • Are you willing to cut the Health and Human Services budget to pay for this level of complexity? (ie Education and HHS make up the majority of the state budget. Assuming a fixed budget, one increasing means the other decreases.)
  • If you believe raising taxes is the answer, who specifically would you like to pay more? (considerations: who owes more than they are currently paying... how much of the bill are they already paying... does their paying more make sense... what benefits are they gaining from what they are paying...)
  • What do you think the possible consequences would be of raising the taxes on these citizens? (considerations: lose businesses or jobs in MN, more of these folks move to our state, actually lose revenue, etc)
  • What argument would you make to your fellow citizens to explain your rationale for chasing these declining marginal dollars of benefit with their money? (ie why is cutting HHS funding or raising OUR taxes a good idea in order to offer more variety? why is preventing intradistrict transfer and limiting choice to "in district" families a good idea that they should support, etc)

Note: The "Government" has no money... Other than what they collect from us citizens. So please make a good argument for investing my money wisely... (ie returns to us citizens)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons Greetings

I'll be going "over many rivers and through a couple of woods" as usual. Before I do, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays. May you enjoy this special time of year as much as I do !!! Stay safe !!! John

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spanish Immersion vs STEM

Parents and Citizens of the RAS communities,

You really should make some time to read through the linked presentation and reports. The District is looking into making some pretty drastic changes that may impact you or your kids. A few of interest:

  • Changing who gets first preference, Intradistrict Transfers or Open Enrollees.
  • Considering if siblings should still automatically get into RSIS just because their big bro/sis did.
  • In general: Ear marking more "good spots" for Open Enrollees in general. (remember: they are extra money and you are money they already have...)

Of course from my far off perspective, there seems to be a huge flaw in their logic. Do they really think that RAS families will not leave the district if they are bumped from their preferred RAS school because the District puts Open Enrollees and their funding first. Now remember that Intradistrict Transfer Moms and Dads are already driving their kids to school daily. My guess is that they can just go a few more miles to the S or SW... (Which has more funding impcat? an IDT leaving or an OE joining)

Then we have the Magnet dilemma... Some days I really miss Gary and his excessive details... They have posted cost and payback numbers with minimal information regarding how many kids have to be enrolled to hit those numbers and what the likelihood of enrolling them is. (ie "If we open it, they will come") This is more of a concern with regard to the STEM school, since RSIS has to ramp up slowly from Kindergarten. And they remind us that Transportation costs will be less when they have Immersion in both Middle Schools, yet give us no idea what the marginal cost is of having Immersion in a Middle School. Or what the cost of cross district transport to 2 Magnets is ...

Luckily my family doesn't Intradistrict Transfer, attend RSIS or have any interest in a new Magnet. However if you do or if you are tax sensitive, now would be a good time to learn more and make your thoughts known. RAS Board Contact Info

14Dec10 Work Session Notes
Sun News 281 Magnets
Sun News Magnets Interest Plymouth

Thoughts or additional Info? Have a great weekend !!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Made In America: The Myth ?

I mentioned during the Korea discussion that I would address this in detail. So here we go...

First of all, I buy products from many different Manufacturers from many different countries, so I am not trying to guilt you into buying American all the time. We bought my wife's 2004 Honda Pilot when we were looking for a small 8 passenger SUV. And I bought my Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycle because I was looking for a "Sport Touring" motorcycle. In these cases it was pretty easy to decide between foreign and domestic, since the domestics didn't offer these particular styles of vehicle at the time.

When there is a "True Domestic" offering: I look at all of the options and rate them against my requirements. If the product manufactured by the foreign company dominates, then I buy it happily. However if they are anywhere near close and even if it costs me some extra cash, I make sure I buy from the American company. And here is why...

Where it is assembled really does not matter !!! What matters is where the Corporate Headquarters is, where the Research and Development center is, where the Supporting departments are, where are the expensive components sourced from, etc. Here is why...

Where the car was assembled mattered a great deal back when Henry Ford started, because the vast majority of the car's cost was in the components and assembly labor. And these were near the assembly plant since shipping was expensive. This percentage has steadily declined as cars and other products became more complicated, as global transport costs dropped, as the laws proliferated, as competition intensified, etc. This is because the development, SG&A and other costs rose significantly as the relative manufacturing costs declined.

A couple of the links below indicate that cars take <21 person hrs to assemble, and that Toyota spent ~$1,000,000,000 on the Prius development. (Do you think Henry spent that kind of R&D on the Model T?) And where do you think the WEALTH resides? In the Assembly hours or in Toyota's Intellectual property? And who makes more? The assembly mechanics or development/corprate personnel?

Now if you decide to buy a Honda Accord, please go ahead because it is likely a great car. Just don't go around rationalizing to me that it is "Made in America", therefore you are doing a good thing. The reality is that it is assembled in America, some of its parts are built here, and most of the money and profits go to Japan to develop more wealth in the form of Intellectual property and System improvements.

Then as Toyota, Honda, Subaru, BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, LG, Samsung, Nokia, Hankook, Bridgestone, Michelin, etc, etc, etc get our US dollars to further their WEALTH creation. Our USA companies like GM, Ford, Chrysler, GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, Motorola, Apple, Goodyear, Firestone, etc lose those dollars and their WEALTH declines until one of the foreign companies buys them and their INTELLECTUAL Property/WEALTH...

If America gets to the point that all we know how to do better than anyone is pass laws, tax, sell coffee, start lawsuits, fix teeth, etc... How much WEALTH left will the USA have to buy those cool things that others know how to produce?

So don't just automatically BUY AMERICAN !!! But please seriously review their newer offerings and give them the benefit of a doubt when things are close. Us Engineers will appreciate it, and the quality of all of our kid's futures may depend on it... Thoughts?

Zimmerman Trends in Mfg
Motor Trend Most Efficient Plants
Answer Labor to Build a Car
CNN Money Prius $1 Billion
Bloomberg BW Auto Development Time
Bloomberg BW America's Auto Industry
Reuters Foreign Ownership Jumps
US Icons with Foreign Ownership

Friday, December 10, 2010

For the Adults ! And Kids?

Enough serious discussion for now...

Every so often I receive "please forward" emails that are worth sharing with my readers. And this one is so worth it !!! Please make sure you are sitting down when you read it, I would hate to have you fall down while laughing... Please share it with your friends that can relate, and the kids. Though the kids may not understand.

And by the way, if you are an adult who does not relate or understand, you may be too old... Just call YOUR kids and they can tell you what "Sapce Invaders" was... I in fact still have the Atari and its cartridges in my Parent's basement. Maybe I will have the kids play PONG at Xmas, then they will really appreciate their Nintendo wii !!!

The Email...
This is a HOOT !! If you are 40, or older (or close), you might think this is hilarious!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot...BOTH ways. yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of forty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!

And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!

There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY GOD !!! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what's the world coming to?!?!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks!

And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores!

And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place!

See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

Regards, The Over 40 Crowd

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Public School Monopolies and Fairness

I got distracted and didn't reply before this post closed for comment. The upside of being a blogger is that the comments never real close. We just start them up again with a slightly different spin.

Besides, maybe this will entice Hiram/Jon to share his wisdom on G2A. It has been awhile...

Speed Gibson A Question of Fairness: Part 2

First: "The incentive of knowing that they have done a good job serving our kids, and the community as a whole, the same incentive incidentally that I am sure motivates those who teach and administer private schools. Nobody is making the big bucks from operating schools, either public or private."

The challenge I have with Public School self motivation is that they seem to have good intentions and no self control. It is kind of like sending my daughter to the store with a blank check to buy Christmas presents for her friends. She will rightly strive to make as many of her "friends" happy by buying many expensive presents. And it is likely that the quality of the gifts may suffer as she tries to satisfy so many friends with so many presents. She has good intentions, however there is no incentive for her to prioritize, limit, really think, etc.

Using RAS as an example, they have ~2,000 employees, ~11,000 students and ~18,000 parents who all "know" exactly what a GOOD School District should provide. Many of these folks are strongly motivated to ensure "their" viewpoint is supported and funded. Many of these solutions are in conflict, are niche offerings, are expensive, etc. Yet it is so hard to prioritize and say NO... I mean we may lose some students, hurt someones feelings, fail to offer that unique experience, lose some votes, etc.

It is much easier to agree and empathize with everyone while insisting that the schools need more money. The Fed, State, Local Taxpayers, Charter Schools, etc can then be painted as the villains. For instance:
  • We would love to give you a bigger raise, but those cheating Charters stole our students.
  • We would love to offer that program, but the irresponsible Feds are shorting us.
  • We would love to send you to training, but the State mandates these other expensive services.
  • We would love to fix up your school, but the local citizens will not support the levy.
It would be much harder to clearly define content, expectations, limits, priorities, etc and then take personal responsibility for saying no. Being the Manager is a major bummer at times, and often folks don't like your decisions.

I believe that budget constraints and Charter competition do a wonderful job of forcing reluctant folks to prioritize. The lack of funding makes folks overcome their discomfort/inertia and forces them to focus, rank, prioritize, improve quality/productivity and cut non-core or frivolous offerings. The Charters on the other hand make folks really question if they are offering the right things and satisfying their customers. I mean the Charters get students even though their offerings are very limited by comparison.

Second: "Not the kind of behavior associated with competitors, I would note. In any event, those are valuable assets I paid for with my taxpayer dollars, and I don't think they should be just given away. The fact is these schools were closed because, among some other pretty good reasons, the number of students in the district meant that keeping them open would not be efficient. Reopening the schools would simply undo a painful and difficult but very sound financial and planning decision."

The other perspective is that these schools may have been closed because the first Public School did a poor job of satisfying the kids and parents in the community, therefore they pursued other options. And since us citizens have already paid for the building, wouldn't it be wise to offer it to another Public School (ie Charter) that promises to do better for the community. If we don't, aren't we rewarding mediocrity and promoting waste? Yeah go ahead and build those schools, and if you can't keep them full, just take whatever money you can salvage and use it for something else... Sounds fine... We got plenty...

Third: "Near enough for me. To the extent these issues keep me up nights as they occasionally have, I don't worry at all about private schools. They are niche performers who serve small markets which public schools do not now and never will serve. What does worry me is losing kids to neighboring districts which, under the current method of school financing, would be an unmitigated disaster for my local school district. Speed's long ago posting that started off this thread, alluded to Spanish Immersion. Do we have Spanish immersion in order to increase the quantum of fairness in the district? Or because it's cheap? Or because it allows us to compete more effectively in keeping kids in the school district, and quite possibly at some point attracting kids from other school districts?" ""The debate seems to resolve around the fact that each local public school district is a "regional monopoly" on free education." "That isn't true really. With open enrollment, public school districts do not have regional monopolies on public education. Kids can and do enroll in schools not located within their school districts. For schools, it's a very competitive process."

I will repeat that "Open Enrollment" really isn't sincere competition in my opinion, and Lord knows it is not fair. The reality is that it is an escape clause. By this I mean that:
  • Only people that can afford to transport their kids can use it. For better or worse, the remainder remain trapped. (ie usually those that need the best school/teacher)
  • Both Districts are managed in part by Education Minnesota. (limits creativity, variation, staff pruning and improvement)
Now drop a good Charter in your local community that is managed and staffed differently, and accessible to all. Then we have true competition. GM, Ford and Chrysler thought they had competition, yet things really did not improve until Datsun, Toyota and Honda showed up to truly threaten them. That's when they seriously started improving their product, processes, quality, etc. The traditional Public Schools need this kind of motivation or the USA academic capabilities will continue to slide relative to the other developed countries. And that will be really BAD for all of us !!!


Just curious since he speaks in past tense... Where is this nearly monopolistic company now? "Everyone has their own viewpoint, and schizoid personality that I am, I often have several. One of them is from the experience of working for many years for a company, that was one of the most successful monopolies in American business history. It was a company that built enormous wealth for it's shareholders, provided well paid and secure jobs for it's employers, while serving it's customers with outstanding and innovative products that set the standard for the market place." Still thriving, or did it get dismantled after becoming inflexible, arrogant and top heavy? As many of these companies become.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Korean Challenges and USA Wealth

As I listen to all the news regarding North Korea, South Korea and the USA, I sit here and wonder if any of Americans that got us into that War so many years ago had any idea how long we would be engaged there. (~60 yrs and counting...) Then I wonder which country is costing us more?

I mean we keep ~29,000 USA military personnel in South Korea. While South Korean companies continue to develop and build products that are imported into the USA. (fewer American jobs?) Some include these common names: Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, LG, Hankook, Daewoo, etc. So though I am against trade barriers, I find this use of soldiers and dollars puzzling at best and disturbing at worst. (ie pay to protect our competitors?)

Then we have North Korea... We continue to provide them with food so that their disturbed leadership can afford to continue developing weapons and paying an army. Wouldn't there be a greater chance of the citizens throwing out their leaders if they were hungry and angry?

In summary, it looks like USA tax dollars are being spent to keep a country secure, so that it's businesses can continue to compete against American businesses and take American jobs. I realize it is not that simple, yet it may be worth some discussion. Especially after LG and Samsung started going after the American home appliance market. (say good bye to Whirlpool, Maytag, etc?) Thoughts?

USA Assistance to North Korea
USA Forces in South Korea
North Korea meets with USA (food shortages)
Multinational Korean Corporations

Here are some writings regarding manufacturing and trade barriers. Remember that America's wealth only grows when something is created here that someone else in the world values and is willing to pay for. Most of the transactions in the USA do not increase the wealth of our country. Inventions, Unique Knowledge, Production and Agriculture are the key wealth builders. Unfortunately the first 3 seem to be rapidly declining as the world catches up. This can not bode well for our standard of living in the long term.

Now if you work in a service industry and think this does not apply to you. Who do you think will be able to pay for your service as the wealth shrinks? It is like being in a balloon that is losing helium very slowly, everyone starts to drop... So remember to buy American when they offer a comparable product. Even if it costs a bit more. (your income and your children's future may depend on it)

Star Tribune Protectionist Instincts on Rise
Frederick M Zimmerman Writings

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ready for Kindergarten?

There was a very important question asked during the candidate forum. Then we discussed it over at 281 Exposed, and now RAS is noting it in this article. Yet I am torn regarding how to accomplish it...

3. What strategies and investments will you support to ensure all children enter kindergarten prepared to learn?

Many Conservatives want Government to stay out of the Early Childhood Education business. They seem to think that if you can make a baby, you should be qualified and capable of raising a child and ensuring it is ready for Kindergarten. (ie Parent's Rights) Also, they seem scared that those Liberals will brain wash those young children into the Liberal fold. Finally they claim that the programs like Headstart are not successful...

I on the other hand believe in Geoffrey Canada's: A Child's Conveyor Belt. I mean how is "Headstart" to succeed when it starts too late and has the kids for so few hours. The question is how can we educate Parents, promote the nurturing of infants and toddlers, and prepare pre-schoolers in households where the Parents have been trained wrong by their own Parents ??? How do we help Parents to fight their own resistance to learning, and changing their ingrained beliefs and behaviors? (ie it was good enough for me...)

If we don't find a way, many of the uneducated poor will stay uneducated poor. Trapped by their own limiting beliefs, attitudes and behaviors... Which they will continue to pass on from generation to generation, by brainwashing their child during the most impressionable pre-K years. Remember, all pre-K kids think their house and Parents are "normal". It is all they have seen.

By the way, though poverty and poor parenting are often linked. I am very aware that poor parenting can exist in any household. (ie few folks think they need Parenting classes) The advantage middle and upper class homes have is that their pre-K kids are often in activities, higher end daycares, pre-schools, etc. The Kids and Parents are therefore exposed to many ideas and learn through exposure. Also, these Parents often truly believe the American Dream is attainable if you study and work hard enough. (ie they are living it) This brainwashing of HOPE and CONFIDENCE also sticks with those pre-K kids !!!


Sun Sailor Achievement Gap Starts Early
281 Exposed Questions for Candidates
U of MN Ready for Kindergarten
Scholastic Ready for Kindergarten
Family Education Kindergarten Readiness Checklist
Education What your child should know...
Ready 4 K Ready4K Policy Doc

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So, what would you do?

Over the years we have known people who have provided organs to their children, grand children, siblings, friends and others. They even had an episode of ER where a Father shot himself so that his child would be saved by using one of the organs he could not live without.

Also, we have heard of or known heroes that have intentionally sacrificed themselves for their children, grand children, friends, strangers, etc. Sometimes they succeed in saving the other person and sometimes they failed. The important point is that they were willing to make the sacrifice because of a deep love or sense of duty.

During the TSA Scanners post I proposed an unlikely scenario in order to explain why "safe to fly" cards may not work out so hot. The gist is that a terrorist takes your children or grandchildren hostage and demands that you carry out a terrorist act, or they will die in a painful manner. It certainly seems plausible if a certain group of people were free to board without security screening. I mean the terrorists are certainly creative, motivated and ruthless enough to try to use this opportunity.

So, what would you do?

I truly do not know what I would do, and hope I never have to find out. Thoughts?

Or is this just too scary to even consider. It is probably more fun to watch these events play out on 24 than to put yourself in the situation. I mean they only can happen on TV. Right????

Friday, November 19, 2010

Education/RAS Links

Well this is the result of procrastinating since May.... Next time I WILL NOT wait so long... Hopefully this gives you and myself a quick way to look things up when needed. Or to catch up on the ones we missed. Comments encouraged as always.

Pioneer Press Magnets/Integration (Burnsville)
NPR Tough Road for ED Reform
Star Trib Mpls North HS
Star Trib Identifying Good Teachers
Star Trib State Levy Results Mixed
Star Trib Tired of Blame
Star Trib $8.6 Billion Too Much?
Star Trib Online Charter needs to Shape Up
Sun Sailor Olson Elementary's Future
Sun Sailor Achievement Gap Starts Early
Sun Sailor 287 North Education Center
Sun Sailor Enrollment Up Slightly
Sun Sailor High Schooler Opinions
Sun Sailor Class Size a Priority
Sun Sailor Man Arrested at PMS
Sun Sailor Phase out Transfer Busing
Sun Sailor Book for Teachers
Sun Sailor $55.5 Mil Levy
Sun Sailor Smaller Learning Communities Grant
Sun Sailor Academically Challenging Classes
Sun Sailor Sites to be Sold
Sun Sailor Northport Questions
Sun Sailor Where did the Money Go?
Sun Sailor Education Jobs Fund
Sun Sailor Welcome Back
Sun Sailor School Supplies Needed
Sun Sailor 11,600 Students Expected
Sun Sailor Red Carpet at Providence
Sun Sailor 281 Open Houses
Sun Sailor Divestiture Committee
Sun Sailor RAS ACT Scores
Sun Sailor Eliminating Gap Top Priority
Sun Sailor 2 RAS Schools make AYP
Sun Sailor Driver Feedback Signs
Sun Sailor Supt gets Positive Review
Sun Sailor Dooher Re-elected
Sun Sailor Test Scores Drop in RAS
Sun Sailor RAS looking for Financial Advisory Reps
Sun Sailor Target Plans Lapse
Sun Sailor RAS Preliminary Budget
Sun Sailor RMS IB
Sun Sailor 287 North Education Center
Sun Sailor Thank you to RAS
Sun Sailor Most RAS Srs meet State Grad Reqts
Sun Sailor Seven Dreams Prizes
Sun Sailor Graduations
WP Kline on Ed Policy
MPR Minorities in AP Classes
MPR Mpls/St Paul School Leaders Worried
SG Game Reset
SG Mpls North goes South
SG Superman and The Kids are All Right
SG Tugging on Superman's Cape
SG Public Schools Correct Choice (M3)
SG Orwell would be Proud (MN Miracle)
SG Plop, Plop Fib, Fib? (Eden Prarie)
SG Public Schools Correct Choice? (M2)
SG Public Schools Correct Choice? (M1)
SG Education Job Fund
SG Public Schools Correct Choice? (prologue bumped)
SG Question the Questioners
SG Public Schools Correct Choice? (prologue)
SG Ready for 2011-12 Epilogue
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P6)
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P5)
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P4)
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P3)
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P2)
SG Ready for 2011-12 (P1)
SG Supt: A Solid B Plus
SG Schools: Healthy Fat
SG Schools: Apocalypse Not
SG Betting Against the Chalk
SG New Deal K-12 (P2)
SG Inside Info: Teachers keep jobs
SG Class Size
SG Tenure Alive and Well
SG New Deal K-12 (P1)
Houston County News Online Academy
MP MAPs Help Charter Schools
MP Kline says Fed Ed programs can be Cut
MP Dayton and Emmer on Education
MP Improve MN Education
MP Reclaim Ed World Leadership
MP Battle over Ed, Rhee
MP Tired of Bashing Ed
MP Ed MN Campaign Financing
MP Give Them a Better Job
MP Superman Reactions
MP Recession induced achievement gap
MP Waiting for Superman
MP Science Scores
MP Ed Jobs Funds
MP Emmer ED Redesign

Since these 3 Deal almost Exclusively with 281/Schools I'll let you flip through them.
281 Exposed
281 Exposed Exposed
Community Solutions

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TSA Scanners and Sexual Assault

I was scanned a couple of weeks ago and I really have no idea what all this noise is about. And I am pretty certain that women that have been sexual assaulted would find this comparison insulting. A 30 second over the clothes pat down by someone of the same sex, as compared to a violent assault... I mean give me a break... Don't blame the TSA, blame the idiots that continue to find creative ways to hide explosives, drugs, etc.

TSA Blog
TSA Imaging Overview
TSA Frequently asked question
TSA Pat Downs and Sexual Assault

I was told once of an old woman who didn't lower her blinds too often. When asked about this, she answered something like this. "If they can see more than God created , more power to them."

And we should feel sorry for those poor scanner operators. How would you like to look at negative images of people all day? Do you really think they are going to find you interesting and memorable after the last 3,000 people that passed across their screen. You must have something really special...


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shameless Request for Advice

Now I love my readers and am amazed that so many check in to see what we are discussing. However since I am a unrepentant "Achiever" that always wants more. Any thoughts on how I can increase my readership? ~200 unique readers is great !!! However there are 60+K adults in the RAS communities, ~2+ million in the Twin Cities, 400+ million in the USA....

Below are my current monthly stats, they do not include my facebook readers. All thoughts appreciated, as long as they do not cost too much and do not me require to align with any particular "platform" or ideology.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Voucher's Promote White Flight?

I am going to delay my change management discussions for a few more days. I owe 281E an explanation of my anti-voucher position, and I am sure J would love to share his position on this topic...

Though I definitely see the potential advantages of vouchers. (see links) I mean how can anyone argue against Parents being given the freedom to spend their "kid's" education dollars at the best school. Also it would greatly weaken may motivate the incredibly change resistant Teacher's Union, and wouldn't that be a good thing? And for many kids and the system, it may bring about wonderful results. Unfortunately I think this gain would likely cause irreparable damage to the kids that are most at risk ... (at least for awhile)

Here are some paradigms that I believe are relevant to this argument:

  • Different children come with significantly different starting points, capabilities, resources and challenges. Due to these differences the cost of teaching kids can vary from ~$7,000/yr to >$40,000/yr.
  • The majority of ~$7,000 kids consist of "Lucky" and non-special ed students. These kids come to kindergarten ready to learn, they have parent's that are their advocate/tutor, their homes speak English fluently, they have funds for computers/school supplies/activities, etc.
  • The majority of the expensive kids are the "Unlucky" and special ed students. They need a lot of services and additional support, this is why they are expensive !!!
  • The outer surburban rings have far more "Lucky" kids than "Unlucky" kids, therefore their results are better and costs can be lower. The urban and first tier suburbs have many more "Unlucky" kids, therefore their costs are much much higher. I mean the schools are trying to help these kids "catch up" in academics, behavioral skills, etc (ie teaching) while trying to keep them fed, clothed, safe, etc. (ie social work) This is the burden we have placed upon the public schools. If you don't believe me... I have some sad stories for you of where the public school staff is serving as the last line of support for these kids with "deadbeat" or abusive parents. Besides we now feed the kids breakfast as well as lunch.
  • The voucher would likely be a fixed value per student, and set at or below $7,000/yr. We would not want to pay above the minimum cost, otherwise Parents may pocket the extra and the voucher would not pressure the education costs down. Besides this is not a "tax refund" for the parent, this is funding to ensure their child gets a good education. Not to buy the parent a new TV, cigarettes, etc...
  • The pro-voucher argument is that the Parents will be more responsible because "they" are spending $7,000 for their child's education. In my opinion this is unlikely because the voucher has no real financial value to them, it is just a ticket for admission. Only those that choose to add personal dollars to it would see it as money... (ie reduction in their cost)
  • The public schools would still have to take all students that showed up at their door. (for a $7,000 voucher) Whereas the private schools would continue to be free to only take the students that meet their criteria. (ie grades, health, behavior, "active/good parents", etc) The private schools will therefore get even more of the low cost "lucky" students while the public schools will be burdened by even a higher percentage of "unlucky" students. As the public school cost per student increases, of course the Conservatives will use this to complain about those darn Unions and those terrible Public schools... As they do today with the high cost urban schools that have a higher percentage of "unlucky" kids, because the "lucky" families have already used their affluence to run.
  • The funding would make it easier for parents and communitees to set up their own schools. These would include folks that do not want to be part of the American Melting Pot. It will promote segregation and separation instead of community and tolerance, be it for religious, political, racial, cultural or other reasons.
With these paradigms in mind, what would happen to the RAS communitees if vouchers were implemented? Well in my opinion, it would promote additional White/Affluent Flight from the local Public schools. I mean Providence Academy may seem real expensive at $15,000+ per student per year, but if all I have to pay is $8,000+ it may become more attractive. Or Blake, Breck, etc.

So people like myself leave the district to upgrade to a high end private. Which reduces the percentage of "lucky"/low cost students in RAS, therefore making those parents even more nervous. So these worried parents find the new group of lower end privates to escape to. And the private schools accept them because they are "lucky/low cost", and if they are not the school just expels them. (can't risk a financial "loss" on a student, we are in the business to make money...)

RAS Public is then left with the parents that can not or will not spend the money or time on their higher cost kids. And the kids whose parents lack the knowledge, ability or desire to do anything about it. When there are only "unlucky/expensive" kids left in the school, who will donate time and money? who will be the good role models in class? How will these kids succeed? Will we turn our backs on them, even though they are the children that need us the most?

Now Open Enrollment, Intradistrict Transfer, Charter Schools, Private Schools, Families Moving, etc already promote white/affluent flight and people deserting their communitees instead of fighting for them... Do we really want to make it easier and promote it? Do we want to promote separation. instead of community building through our schools? I think not...

By the way, it may work if kid's could be assigned a specific voucher amount based on their situation. And if most schools had to accept and keep the child for that reimbursal. However price setting seems hard to do, especially on something as challenging as this... Maybe schools could "bid" each student, we take the low bidder and then they have to deliver... How would the government hold them accountable? Because remember it is the tax payer's money that is being spent, not the parents.

I think Charters provide enough competion in Minnesota. The question is how do we get them access to vacant public buildings in our local communities? Therefore help them thrive.

NELRC Voucher Pro/Con
Balanced Politics Voucher Pro/Con
Essortment Voucher Pro/Con
Educationbug Voucher Pro/Con
Askville Voucher Pro/Con
SarahBarrett Pro/Con

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Community Solutions Mtg

Being an equal opportunity advertiser for RAS and Educational events. Here is an invitation from Community Solutions. Like the RAS LAC, CS is truly interested in improving education for the children of our communitees. CS is often looking for solutions that do not require more taxes and spending, whereas typically the RAS LAC lobbies for additional funding. Probably a good idea to attend both when you are available, because my guess it will take some systemic changes and some money... Unfortunately I am unavailable this time...
"I believe that discussing these issues is good, but "WE" also need to put action to "OUR" words. Therefore, below is a "PLUG" for an up coming meeting.

Hello Everyone,

Before the holiday season gets going, I want to get our group back together after the election. We need to get started on the 2011 agenda and planning.

The meeting is at the Fieldhouse Sports Tavern, 5632 West Broadway Avenue, Crystal, MN 55428-3510, (763) 533-3400,
Meeting will be from 6:30 - 8:30 pm on Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

The topics to cover include;

* the possible formation of a Legislative Committee of citizens to promote eduction policy changes & improvements at the MN Legislative. I envision this group coming from the whole metro area and covering multiple school districts.
* Planning on organization structure long-term and funding needs.
* Local races - Openings in 2011 or 2012 in City, Park District or County.
* Other items from attendees.

Please RSVP me back at (by Monday night 11/15/2010), so I can give a estimated number of people to the Fieldhouse. Everyone is welcome and guests that you think would be interested in our group.

Check out our blog at Community Solutions

Best Regards,
Ron Stoffel, Executive Director

Monday, November 8, 2010

Change Management (1)

Newton's First Law of Motion seems to apply to people as well as it does to classical mechanics.

"Every body remains in a state of rest or uniform motion (constant velocity) unless it is acted upon by an external unbalanced force."

Most people seem to settle into the comfortable status quo and are very reluctant to change. In fact some will put far more energy into resisting the change, than it would take to just conform to the new method. Now here is the problem though, change is our ever present reality in this very modern, global, connected, competitive, technological, etc world.

With this in mind, how do we help the change resistant to:
  • Understand the system, process, equipment, etc that is in question and how it relates to them?
  • Understand the key inputs, efficiencies, productivities, quality, outputs, etc that are in focus?
  • Understand what the current state is?
  • Understand what the desired future state is?
  • Understand the gap that needs to be overcome?
  • Understand and sanction that the current state no longer acceptable? In fact the current state could lead to disastrous results...
  • Help them to address the normal fear and resistance to change that they are encountering and feeling?

Some of my favorite books on the topic are these fictional light reads. Two of them even have pictures...

  • Who Moved My Cheese (Spencer Johnson)
  • Who Killed Change? (Ken Blanchard, Britt, Hoekstra, Zigarmi)
  • Our Iceberg is Melting (John Kotter, Rathgeber)

During the next couple of days, I'll be posting regarding the topic. I'll likely use Public Education's resistance to change as the topic. Since I got the idea during our discussions regarding, if "starving budgets" was the only way to change the status quo system? However, please join in with any examples you have. (ie kids, family, work, etc) I love hearing Chg Mgmt stories, large and small. (especially techniques that really worked or totally failed)

Change is almost never easy, and it is much worse when the Change Agent is an idiot that just thinks everyone will CONFORM because they are in charge... It is amazing how creative resistant humans can be. Better if the Change Agent involves the folks early and prepares to manage the resistance that is so very natural.

Especially with those strong minded toddlers, tweens and teen agers...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Prejudice, Racism & Effortism

Myself and a commenter named ConcernedCitizen55441 are exchanging views on the topic of racism over on this post. 281E Security I think this would be an interesting topic to expand on with my readers, so let's see where this goes...

I whole heartedly acknowledge that I am prejudiced:
  • When one of our Corporate Executives comes to visit, I form an opinion regarding what they will be like before they show up.
  • When I start a conversation with a stay at home Mom, I have some ideas with regard to what they will be interested in discussing.
  • When I start a new project with a new team, I have some ideas regarding what the Procurement representative will be like.
  • When I collaborate with assembly personnel, I believe I understand some of their concerns.
  • When I work with team members from France, Italy, Brazil, India, China, etc, I have some thoughts regarding what to likely expect.
  • When I contribute on a Liberal or Conservative blog, I think I know what I am getting into...
I believe the key to managing prejudice is to acknowledge that it is there, because it is. With it out in front of you, you can then actively dispel the myths that don't apply to the individual(s) you are dealing with. And you can accept the knowledge that is correct to more effectively and politely deal with the individual(s). (ie honor their culture, style, etc)

Now racism is a foreign concept to me, because I interact with people from almost every race at some period during my day. And personally I am totally indifferent to their color, religion, sexual orientation, sex, etc.(must be the analytical engr in me) All I care is that they are interested in working hard to attain results that improve things for themselves and others. (ie personal, company, public, etc)

So I have decided to label myself an "Effortist".... I have a pronounced bias against people that want to sit on their butt, and live off the labor and efforts of others. Some examples could include:
  • That team member that procrastinates and makes the rest of the team carry the burden.
  • That rich trust fund person that lives off the efforts of their ancestors and gives nothing back to society.
  • The individual(s) that choose welfare and other social programs over working and striving to get ahead.
  • The voters that did not get out to vote on Tuesday.
  • The politicians and bureaucrats that seek to stay in power by growing government and creating pork, instead of optimizing government and improving its efficiency.
  • The couch potatoes that live for their television all the time, instead of reading something they could learn from.
  • etc, etc, etc
So I guess I am guilty of Effortism. My definition is that "lazy people bother me". No matter their Race, Sex, Weight, Hair Color, Wealth, Income, Career, Religion, etc.

Finally I promise to actively and continually fight against any stereotypes and prejudices that I carry based my past experiences when dealing with new individuals, because I know that they are individuals with their own hopes, dreams and beliefs.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Liberals and Conservatives?

I recently posed the following questions and comments during our discussion of Physician Assisted Suicide:

Is this what a true Conservative would say?
"Don't tell me how to spend my money, but let me tell you how to live properly and righteously..."

Is this what a true Liberal would say?
"Don't tell me how to live my life, but let me tell you how to spend your money properly and righteously..."

I was reminded of this again as I received my Voter's Guide from the Religious Right.
MN Voter
MN Voter's Guide - Metro

Since I see Government as a Continually Growing Inefficient Wealth Destroying Monster that will surely overwhelm our Capitalistic Wealth Generating Machine if we do not reign it in, I will most likely vote straight Republican as usual. I really want to ensure that our citizens and country stay globally competitive and continue to maintain an extremely high standard of living. This is going to be really hard to do when fewer and fewer in the private sector, have to drag along the more and more anchors from the Governmental sector. (ie regulations, bureaucrats, taxes, public employee unions, free loading citizens, lawyers, etc)

Now this is going to be frustrating for me as usual, because it means that I need to vote for a bunch of yahoo's that want small government on one hand. Yet they want Government to intrude, control and limit all kinds of personal freedoms. (ie no gay marriage, no gay partnerships, no medicinal pot, no gays in military, no paid surrogacy, etc) The contradiction still amazes me.

Then their is the other contradiction... We don't want to help pay so that poor girls can get parental planning, information and abortions like the middle class and rich girls, however we will happily support using tax dollars to blow up and kill hundreds of thousands of people in Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan... I assume this is the same logic that was used during the Crusades... And look how well those turned out.

Ironically I support the work in Iraq and Afganistan, something had to be done with Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. (ie they went beyond the normal crazies...) However, if Conservatives get to use a large amount of tax dollars to "improve the world". The Liberal should get to use a small amount of tax dollars to help "improve the world". (abortion and crime reduction)

Now it is likely I have insulted both sides of center, so please reply with your thoughts. And whether you are Liberal or Conservative....

Get Out and VOTE !!!

A lot of people have died to secure this right and responsibility for us !!! Make the most of it !!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Polticians and Teenagers

As J asked… Do we drive accountability by passing referendums or defeating them? I gave some thought regarding this question and it reminded me of my teenager and one of my favorite comics.

The following is one of my favorites from the comic strip named ZITs. A must read for any parent with teenage kids.

Now I love spending on my children, seeing them so happy and having them truly appreciating me. (or at least my wallet) How can someone not want to do this? I mean, they think they really need those events and items, don’t they? Won’t I harm them by limiting them? And I love that great feeling!!!

Then reality hits and crashes my party!!! It is at this time that I remember we have ~3 years to turn this typical teenager into a functional early adult. And therefore as a responsible parent, it is my job to say no and play Scrooge often. How else will she learn the value of work, budgeting, responsibility, etc?

The simple reality is that a normal teenager could very happily spend an unlimited amount of cash on things and activities that they think they really need!!! In this way I think they are very similar to Politicians...

The simple reality is that a normal Politician could very happily spend an unlimited amount of cash on things and activities that they think they really need!!! With this in mind, maybe the only way to hold politicians accountable is to limit their funding. Imagine the extreme alternative... If the politicians had unlimited funds from us citizen's (ie Parents), do you really think they would run out of programs, projects, buildings, wars, parks, museums, etc.... Do you think they would work to be productive, efficient, responsible, etc or would they just try to make everyone happy?

It is likely that J has made a very good point, though of course are we willing to have kids lose programs, equipment, Teachers, etc while the Politicians, Boards, Admins and Teachers (ie Union) struggle to become mature responsible "adults"??? Thoughts?

Legislative Candidate Forum Notes

I attended the LAC Legislative Candidate Forum last night. There were ~16 candidates and ~70 attendees. The diversity and similarities in answers were fascinating and pretty well along party lines.

How to improve funding? (ie need to prioritize education funding, improve accountability, repay shifts and stop borrowing from schools, etc) How to close gap? (ie teach parents to be better parents, improve accountability, early education, more school for at risk kids, smaller class sizes, etc)

After about an hour, they broke us into small groups by District. This was great because it allowed us to have some more direct face time with our particular candidates. I am in District 43, so mine were Sarah Anderson vs Audrey Britton, and Norann Dillon vs Terri Bonoff. Since I love psychology, it was fascinating watching the 4 candidates interact this close to the election. You can definitely tell the stress level is pretty high, and they are on edge. The good news was that there were no wrestling matches, though that would have been interesting. It also reminded me that I will never become a politician. (ie too much soft talk to avoid alienating some constituency)

Some hot topics discussed in the breakout were tenure, bullying laws, how to get kids ready for kindergarten, etc. Though Terri is much smoother and more experienced than Norann, I found Norann a refreshing change from the typical politician and she will likely get my vote. Audrey was way too passionate about passing additional anti-bullying laws for my taste, I’ll stick with Sarah. I am sure that they are the GOP candidates had nothing to do with my decision. (wink wink nod nod…)

More thoughts?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Your Vote Matters for Schools

Don't forget to attend... Whether you are inside or outside the RAS community... Below is the info and link...

The Legislative Action Coalition (LAC) of Robbinsdale Area Schools will host a public forum featuring area candidates for the Minnesota State Legislature on Tuesday, October 26 from 7 to 9 p.m.

This free forum will allow voters to hear candidates’ views on education, to consider their proposals for funding education in the face of a $5.6 billion projected budget shortfall, and to prepare for the upcoming election by meeting the candidates face-to-face. All legislative candidates from senate districts 43, 44, 45 and 46 who represent Robbinsdale Area Schools have been invited.

"Strong schools are the key to healthy, vibrant communities," said LAC co-chair Kami Aho. "Minnesota’s students traditionally outperform the nation’s schools, but decisions made by state leaders are putting this tradition in jeopardy. This year’s election will be critical for the future of education in Minnesota."

The Legislative Action Coalition is a group of community members (both parents and nonparents) established by the Robbinsdale Area School School Board to be an advocate for our public school district and the learners, families and communities it serves.

The forum will be held at Robbinsdale Area Schools' Education Service Center, 4148 Winnetka Ave N in New Hope. For more about the LAC, go to and click on Legislative Action Coalition, or contact Andrea Wiley at 763-504-4087 or


Friday, October 15, 2010

Better Public Education

Work has been crazy of late, so I am running a bit behind on my blogs. However this one is worth discussing. Historically 281 Exposed has been a bit controversial, in my opinion they have been improving their content and tone. And this post marks a great turning point, they discuss some excellent ideas.

281 Exposed A Way Forward

They seem pretty rational and business like to me:

  • We can’t spend more than we have
  • Get out of defined pensions
  • This is a tough one, but perhaps we need to consider making some cuts permanent.
  • Negotiate Merit Pay
  • Get rid of steps but not lanes
  • Shorter referendums
  • End tenure
  • Simplify the formula
  • Level the playing field and end some mandates
  • Get rid of some school districts
  • Competition
  • Federal Funding

On an unrelated topic, I owed folks a list of some key things I would change in order to improve public education. Here they are:

  • Ensure Teacher's are evaluated based on subjective (ie Principal, Peer & Parent/Student feedback) and objective (typical student academic improvement during the year as compared to other similar classes with similar demographics/challenges) criteria. Then set their compensation and responsibilities accordingly. No steps or lanes, since advanced degrees and experience hold no value if they do not improve capability and performance.
  • Discontinue tenure and provide serious Employee Opinion Survey and Upward Feedback systems. Actively use these to address the employee's concerns and improve their engagement. Bad managers, peers, systems, processes, etc must be removed or improved if the employees are to be highly motivated and highly energetic. (ie one questionable Mgr can stifle a whole school) The Mgr must value and compensate the best Teachers, not just try to meet the budget. Besides who needs tenure, that's why we have age discrimination laws...
  • Me and 281E part ways here. Create ~20 std national curriculums that work for different situations (ie economics, population, culture, etc) and get rid of at least 50% of the districts. We live in one country, let's get some common education and economies of scale going on. We do not need 360+ different districts, boards and admins creating unique curriculum in Minnesota alone... Give me a break
  • Schools need to embrace competition instead of fearing it. The motivation, energy and creativity it can create within your organizations can be incredible. Besides the "burning platform" may help you sell required changes to the status quo folks. And the community's kids can only gain from adults who are working harder to improve and teach them. (ie instead of resting on their laurels)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Healthcare Cost Control (4)

Well everyone wants to talk about old folks, and Annie's thinking I am voting for roving death squads to wander the Old Folk's Homes freeing up beds, so let's move to part 4 and meet the reader's needs. This should be interesting.

While taking an MBA course, the professor had us practice a technique that is used to resolve differences between people's beliefs, and to help them understand the other's perspective. The technique was named the veil/oracle of ???... (anyone know?) He divided the class into 2 groups, and assigned one to the PRO side and the other to the CON side of a topic. Then each student needed to write a one page paper in support of their view without putting their name on it. (just an ID code) The instructor then collected the papers and redistributed them to students with opposing view. I think we repeated this cycle a couple of times.

The result of this process was an interesting consensus. Even though many of the people had religious, ethical, societal and other concerns. By the end, each of these students fully supported the concept that Physician Assisted Suicide should be their legal right. Note: this was during the Dr Kevorkian time period and it was highly publicized.

Now, it may have been that these Type A High Achievers were just Control freaks. Because the factor that overwhelmed all others was that they did not want the Government preventing them from dying on their terms, when they chose.

With this in mind:
  • Why in the world does the government prevent it's citizens from committing suicide? I can understand the anti-abortion argument, since that is someone else's life. But if an adult wants to end it, who are we to interfere?
  • If it was legal, a person could pull the plug before incurring all those end of life health costs that we just discussed... Also, life insurance would be required to pay out in most cases. If my prognosis is terminal and I am in pain, I would rest in peace much better if I did not wipe out my spouse's nest egg.
  • Wouldn't it be nice to invite your family to be with you at the end? While you can still recognize them and they have pleasant memories of you just drifting off.
  • Would your God really want you to lie in severe pain and dementia waiting for death?

An interesting twist on the topic was addressed in Star Trek The Next Generation "Half a Life". In this episode, the crew interact with a race whose culture believes that it's citizens should end their life before they get old and infirm. David Ogden Stiers (Charles from MASH) agonizes over if he should stick with the cultural norm, or if he should rebel and live on. If I remember correctly, he honors his people's culture and submits to the end of life ceremony...

So what do you think, is Physician Assisted Suicide:

  • a good way to cut healthcare costs?
  • a violation of God's rules?
  • an unnecessary governmental interference in a very personal matter?
  • a step on the slippery slope toward roving death squads?
  • a way to promote dignity and peace in the dying process?
  • Thoughts?

Wiki Assisted Suicide
Ethics in Medicine PAD

Over the years I have spent a great deal of time in various nursing homes. I always wonder what some of the residents would do if they had a choice? What if they could have put a Physician Assisted Suicide order in their Living Will before the dementia hit?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Helathcare Cost Control (3)

Posting those Healthcare slides has given me a lead into something I started early in the year when the topic was hot. The posting of pointed thoughts and questions about healthcare cost, and our own contribution to the escalating problem. Here is the background:

G2A USA Spending Priorities
G2A Healthcare Cost Control 1
G2A Healthcare Cost Control 2

Today's topic: The weakening of the Human Race and the Growth of Long term Care Costs...

Darwin's Evolutionary Theory is based on Natural Selection. My simplified definition is that the weak or those no longer suited for the changing environment die. And the strong or well suited to the changing environment, live and propagate. So what happens when modern medicine is used to unwisely prevent natural selection?

I propose that we pull many babies, kids and adults back from the natural course of things and subject them to a life time of care centers, nursing homes, group homes, etc. The cost of which is carried by society. With this in mind, should we "save" everyone that we can?

Now let's compound the problem. The weakened human is not institutionalized, yet they require significant healthcare. Then they choose to propagate, thereby passing along and spreading the genetic defect. Thereby growing the population of those that require extensive healthcare intervention. With this in mind, should we "save" everyone that we can?

Stop and think. How many kids, adults and senior citizens do you know that have a low quality of life and are driving up the cost of healthcare?

I had a ~95 yr old Great Aunt who was ready to pass, she had lived a full life and could no longer get around. She was ready... Yet a nurse tried to convince a family member to use heroic measures to save her when she got sick. Thankfully the family member held their and my Great Aunt's ground. Enough is enough... You may want to make sure you have a living will in place, or they will turn you into a zombie...

Of course it gets harder with younger people or when it your friends/family, however the situations are often similar. Now as usual, I do not have an answer. What are your thoughts on the topic? When is saving someone a really BAD idea? Who should make the decision? Who should bear the cost of the BAD decision?

Now on the lighter side. Movie Trailer Movie Trailer 2 Stunt1 Stunt2 With this in mind, should we "save" everyone that we can? Do we want these people propagating? And do you really want to carry their healthcare costs?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun Keeps You Healthy

Sometimes I get very lazy... And these are so cute... Thanks to those that sent them in and who ever created them...

Let me get this straight. We're going to be "gifted" with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don't, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president who also smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.

What the heck could possibly go wrong?

I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker Nan,
I do not like this 'YES, WE CAN'.
I do not like this spending spree---
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free.
I do not like your smug replies,
when I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it.
Nope, nope, nope!

Go green... recycle Congress in 2010!
One serious question: What was the rationale behind Congress opting out of the National Health Plan ??? If it is good for us... Isn't it good for them ???

Thursday, September 30, 2010

RAS Pairing Schools & more

I don't pay attention for a few weeks, and nearly miss some very interesting topics from the 13Sep10 Work Session. RAS Board Work Session 13Sep10

The budget committee update had some fascinating concepts contained within it. RAS Budget Committee Updates The 4 most interesting to me were:
  • A revisit of Pairing Elementary schools. (K-2 & 3-5) To me this is an excellent idea that many parents are vehemently against. They dislike having to deal with multiple schools. (ie volunteer, drop off, pick up, staffs) Also, there was a lot of concern regarding how the bus schedule and process would work. The idea was thoroughly trounced by vocal parents a few years back. I am a fan because schools, libraries, equipment, staff, etc can be specialized for the age bracket and it is much easier to optimize the number of kids in a classroom if you have more classrooms of a given grade in the same building. (ie less volatility and a few less teachers) What do you think? (Forest & Lakeview, Northport and Meadow Lake, Neill & Noble, Sonnesyn & Zachary Lane, RSI1 & RSI2)
  • RSI1 & RSI2 ??? What do I mean by that? They are also reviewing the possibility of expanding the popular immersion program. I assume in the Pilgrim Lane or Olson building.
  • Which would leave the other building available for a possible STEM magnet school. This possibility is also under consideration.
  • Do we really need all those TOSA's? Is their funding source covering their true costs? Is it a worthwhile activity that aligns with the RAS priorities? (fyi TOSA = Teacher On Special Assignment... Not in the classroom... I think...)
Now for the big questions: Would the new Magnets bring enough Open Enrollees and Money into the district to cover the costs? Or will they allow more folks to leave/escape their community schools? How many more buses would pass by my house each morning? (ie currently 6)

The challenge of renovating Northport with "free/no vote" Alternative Facilities money was also discussed. I still think we should build a new larger Northport and close Lakeview... Now, how do we get the NE residents to vote for it? And those frustrated SW residents?
RAS Northport MDE Letter 27Jul10
RAS Northport Budget 9Sep10
SUN MDE has questions... Northport

And the GAP goals & plan was reviewed. Looks like they are focusing. Let's hope they can find ways to succeed.
RAS Achievement Gap Plan

Thoughts on any of these?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Blood Letting

As I signed in this morning for my regular date with ALYX, I noticed the sign that was hung to remind the employees at the Plymouth Memorial Blood Center of the urgent need for O+ and O-. And the reminders to promote the benefits of giving via ALYX. (ie give more, while giving less often) Being both O+ and a regular ALYX donor, I felt good and chose to spread the word.

I started giving regularly about 5 years ago, it was silly that I delayed that long. Think... I get to give something that people really need and appreciate without spending a penny... Okay, that is not quite true. I have to drive 5 miles and donate ~1 hr of my day a few times a year. However, remember that you get free treats and drinks after donating!!!

Now, I do have one regret about donating... Ever since I started my mid-life crisis many years ago, I have contemplated getting a tattoo. Unfortunately, I can not give for 12 months if I have it done... And I have not been willing to delay donations for this basic animal urge... Though having the following outrageous words on me sure is tempting:

First: Seek to Understand
Second: Seek to be Understood
Conquer Fear !!!
Behold Wonder !!!
I am sure these tough tats would help me to fit in at the biker bars...

Now make some time and make blood donating a habit !!! Many people are depending on you !!! Maybe even yourself !!! MBC Home MBC Centers

If you are a regular donor, please share your stories and help these scaredy cats understand that it doesn't hurt a bit... (well... maybe just a little prick...)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teacher Compensation

Well folks,
I have been curious about how Teacher compensation increases with experience and education, so I finally took a few minutes to graph it out. I wanted to understand if the younger teachers got bigger raises, how well additional education was rewarded, etc. I know... I am a nerd...

The table data came right off the 2010-2011 RAS Teacher's compensation table.
RAS 281 Salary Information

Also, we have been having a lively discussion regarding the adequacy of Teacher compensation at:
281EE Another Letter

Overall, the system seems to reward newer Teachers faster. Which makes sense since they are learning faster. (everything is new to them...) And the system really rewards continuous education and learning. Since I am an education junkie, I think this is a good thing. Now the question is whether that education can be correlated to "improved results" in the classroom. (ie worth the money?)

What do you think? Do they make too much or too little? How should the graphs be adjusted? Please join in at either site...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting for Superman

This sounds very interesting... A self proclaimed leftist liberal reporting on the challenges with the Teacher's Unions... (ie not necessarily the Teachers...) Besides, the portion of the trailer regarding the confidence of American kids is hilarious and so true...

Waiting for Superman home page
Fox News Story
Oprah Coverage
Politics Daily
Education Week

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Balanced Life & Giving

I believe that being self aware and monitoring our choices is critical to living a fulfilled life. For me there are 3 aspects to accomplishing this:
  • Knowing the Principles that are important to yourself
  • Knowing the various roles and activities that are important to you
  • Monitoring your thoughts and actions to ensure you are achieving balance
Imagine the work centric person who spends too much time at work, and sacrifices their spouse, family, health, etc. Some people may die satisfied when they look back at their choices, however I am betting most will have regrets and may even harbor resentment toward their employer.

Or imagine the adult child that lives to care for their aging parent, even if this requires sacrificing friendships, hobbies, etc. Isn’t it more likely that the adult child will at some point feel burdened, burnt out, and possibly grow to resent the parent.

I truly believe that one must take care of themselves in order to freely and happily give of themselves. I learned this the hard way… My previous priorities were Family, Work and then John. This went along fine for many years, however I finally exhausted my energy reserve and ability to give, resulting in my needing some significant help. This helped me to truly understand that my priorities must be John, Family and then Work. My batteries MUST be charged if I am to effectively help others.

Since most of us play many roles and engage in many activities, here is a tool that will help you identify them and keep them in balance. I learned about it in some training by the Pacific Institute, however all it requires is a blank piece of paper and 5 minutes to create…(see below)
  • Draw the lines
  • Label them with roles/activities that you think are important
  • Score how you think you are doing against your criteria
The challenge is then to start spending some more time or effort in the areas that you have determined are coming up short. The goal is to create a round circle. This may require you to say no to some things. And isn’t it good to say no proactively, rather than waiting until you are fried…

And once you have the balance under control, you can begin improve your capabilities and increase the diameter of the circle.

Below is an example of the one I did today… It looks like I have some work to do. (ie exercise, volunteering and hobbies) However remember that it is okay to go out of round once in awhile. LIFE HAPPENS… It is just nice to have a simple way to start managing our life rather than having it manage us. Thoughts?