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 !!!