Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's a Parent to Do?

As I get older, I occasionally hear stories with a similar theme. They sound something like this:

  • Seemingly normal Parents work to raise their children "right".

  • Sometime along the way, things start to go wrong with one of the kids.

  • Be it permissive behavior, failed relationships, addictions, excessive spending, criminal behavior, etc.

  • Often this continues on into, or starts in adulthood.

  • Often these life choices lead to financial hardship for the adult child, and possibly the grand child(ren).

  • Often the Parents are asked for financial assistance, with a low likelihood that the adult child will change their ways.

  • In your opinion, what should these parents do? How much money should they spend? At what risk to their own financial well being? What should be done about the grand child(ren)? When do the Parents just say no more and break the cycle of co-dependency? Thoughts

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Anyone Can Teach Well?

    Laurie’s last comment included some quotes that seem “oh so wrong” to me that they deserved their own post. Here is Laurie’s comment/quote:

    “A principal's comment shared on Ravitch's blog:

    "He said that we must remember that one has a moral obligation not to terminate someone's livelihood and career without long and hard deliberation; to do so, he said, required taking responsibility for ruining someone's life. We talked about the "reformers" who are almost gleeful in their zeal to fire teachers. He thought that they failed to recognize the moral dimensions of leadership."

    later in the blog post:

    "One of my fellow panelists was John Jackson of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. He said that he had recently visited some high-performing nations, and at each stop he would ask someone from the ministry of education: "What do you do about bad teachers?" The answer invariably was, "We help them." And he asked, "What if you help them and they are still bad teachers?" And the response was, "We help them more."”

    First: When did firing an incompetent employee become equivalent to “ruining someone’s life”!!! Give me a break. It’s a job, and there are plenty of other jobs out there for qualified hard working personnel. In fact, throwing someone out of the nest that does not fit their skills, personality and capabilities may be the kindest thing you can do for them.

    Imagine that 20 yr veteran Teacher that has not improved their knowledge and capabilities adequately, or has become so burnt out that coming to work drains them. Yet they keep coming because the misery they know is better than taking the risk of attaining something better. Who is succeeding or happy in this situation? The Teacher’s students, peers and mgmt are burdened by them, and the Teacher is stressed and bitter…

    Second: According to the second paragraph, the author seems to think that anyone given enough training can be a very good Teacher, which I whole heartedly DISAGREE with. That’s like saying that anyone given enough training could be a good Surgeon, Quarterback or Engineer. This implies that Environment can overcome the power of Genetics, which off course is silly… Or it implies that Teaching is so simple that ANYONE can excel at it, which is silly…

    I do agree that improvement efforts should be taken to help good Teachers that have slipped in their capability or attitude, however the turn around had better happen within a couple months. Not a few years… Can you imagine nurturing and protecting for years a Surgeon that was harming all of their patients? Probably not… Yet you would nurture and protect a Teacher that is harming their students through incompetency or laziness…

    As always, I think Teachers have a very vested interest in getting their poor performing peers fired as soon as possible. These individuals are their passing work and poorly prepared students on to their capable peers. Also, they damage the Professional standing of all Teachers by still being allowed to Practice their Profession. How respected would Doctors be if they protected the poor performers and allowed them to keep treating patients?

    My only guess is that Union pressure, empathy and a fear that they may be that poor of a performer someday are keeping them from doing what is right for the Students and their Professional standing. And if they choose to not self regulate High Professional Stds and Performance, then the customers/citizens will….


    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Teacher Evaluation Forms (pt 2)

    Here is a late comment regarding Class Evaluation forms... What do you think?

    I'll stick with my original opinions. The evaluations would be part of an overall evaluation system. And these are standard in the education industry. Just not in Public Schools... Strange the way that works.

    Clayton wrote: "An idea that sounds good but is too simplified. Often the highest rated teachers would be the ones that did not push them academically but told a good story. My experience with parents is that they have little idea what is going on in class as long as their kid is doing well. The parents are to busy worrying about traveling soccer and if their kid is getting playing time. Other parents are completely unaware of what there kid is doing in school because they have marital problems or finical problems, etc. Still some teachers are very good with certain groups of students and have high success rate with these students but they may be students who's parents are uninvolved with school I could go on and on with examples, a popularity contest for teachers is an extreme over simplification of who to judge a teacher, in over 20 years of teaching I have never had a parent spend more than 10 minutes in one of my classes yet I have worked with their child everyday for the whole year. I have not had more than 3 parents visit my classroom during class in over 20 years. I have students in school and I listen to what they have to say about the teachers usually positive but not always, teachers make mistakes and some are probably better for some kids than others but the truth is when I listen to my own kids talk about teachers I realize how little they understand about what is going on. What would be the point of a simple teacher evaluation when there are so many variables including how the student feels that day."

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    MN and RAS Education Updates

    You have to read the second paragraph of the Parents United update. As usual it says that the poor will bear the burden of all the cuts. Somehow they miss the point that there are many bureaucrats, systems and public employees that could absorb some of the "slower rate of budget growth. Oh well, the Liberal mantra continues. By the way, they do note that the Ed bill is ready for Gov Dayton to sign or veto !!!!

    Also, it looks like the last RAS board meeting was full of interesting presentations. Any thoughts on them?

    Parents United 20May11
    RAS FAC Applicants Apply
    RAS Minutes 16May11
    RAS Equity and Integration Presn
    RAS Student Opinion Survey
    RAS Rigorous and Fine Arts Courses
    RAS Special Ed Reductions
    RAS 16May11 Mtg Video Access

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    MN Budget Excitement

    Gridlock definitely makes for some exciting headlines... Any thoughts on these?

    My only thought is that all this talk of cuts when the budget is growing is fascinating... It is amazing to me that the GOP can't make better use of that info.

    Parents United: Gov Dayton's Letter

    Kare11 Capitol Blame Game

    Minn Post: Chambers of Commerce want LGA

    Parents United David Jennings OpEd

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Mandates and Consequences?

    During the Pawlenty terms, we Conservatives thought we had the public's mandate to prevent new taxes and spending... Now that we control the Legislature and not the Governorship, we think we have the mandate to prevent new spending and taxes... Can we really expect to have it both ways?

    As I listen to all the news coverage of this budget battle, I wonder what the consequences will be?

    Will the GOP's NO COMPROMISE strategy gain more supporters than it loses?
    Will Dayton's willingness to COMPROMISE gain him more supporters than he loses?


    Star Trib Dayton Offers Deal
    Star Trib GOP $33.8 mil
    Star Trib Blended Solution

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    American Poverty ?

    To follow up on Jerry and my discussion on racism and poorism, I would like to ask 2 very simple questions that likely has some very complex answers.

    • How do you define poor?

    • Why do we have poor people and families in our communities?
    They may seem to you like stupid questions with crystal clear answers, yet I am interested in how my reader’s view this… My guess is that the answers will be very diverse…

    Since the “poor” often work their way into our discussions, it seems some positional perspective may be useful. We live in America, the land of opportunity, yet many seem to be unwilling or unable to claim their portion of the bounty. And this has significant consequences for all of us. Thoughts?

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Education Update

    An interesting note from the RAS LAC. I am not sure why the range is as big as it is, but it looks like the reduction in Integration funding is going to bite us in the Robbinsdale school district. If you support our oppose this, now is probably a good time to weigh in with your Legislator... Thoughts or more details?

    "Legislation being considered in the state house and senate right now could mean anywhere from $300,000 to $3,000,000 in cuts to our Robbinsdale Area School District."

    RAS Legislative Action Committee Request

    Parents United 6May11 Update

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Osama bin Laden and Capital Punishment

    My buddy asked me to post regarding the death of Osama bin Laden. In particular, he is wondering what my more Liberal readers think regarding his death and how it relates to Capital Punishment.

    My simplistic "Conservative Capital Punishment Supporting" summary is:

    • Osama was tried via the media for many violent murders.

    • He was then deemed guilty in large part due to his own recorded testimony.

    • Therefore his execution was ordered, he was then found and executed.

    • Finally he was promptly buried with little ceremony where no shrine can be erected by his supporters.

    • With no trial or grave, a great deal of time, money and risk of martyrdom was saved.

    Here are some links to different views and information. I think the situation was handled very well. What do you think...

    • Should he have been given a trial?

    • Should his people have buried him?

    • Was it a legal action?

    • Did his actions justify Capital Punishment, or should he have spent life in prison?

    CNN Castro slams Assasination
    CNN Killing of bin Laden: Was it legal?
    Fox News: Within Reach of 2 Weapons
    The Australian: Al-Jazeera Mourns
    PBS: Many Angles

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    MN Gay Marriage Amendment

    Here we go again... The GOP is faced with academic achievement gaps, sky rocketing medical costs, a looming MN budget war, etc... As if that isn't enough, they choose now to throw their Religious views back into our supposedly secular Government.

    I personally do not have any Gay friends that I know of... (or none that are out of the closet to me, or possibly to themselves) However I do have close friends that have had to deal with the reality that some of their closest friends were Gay. Most took it in stride, however it was quite a blow to my Right Wing Christian friends. They really had to weigh the friendship against their beliefs. The good news is that they chose the friendship, and rationalized their beliefs...

    You can probably guess my views on this one:

    • If you want "Marriage" to be defined as a domestic union between a man/woman, then keep it as a subset under "Domestic Union". (DU)

    • Then immediately change all legal documents to specify "DU" instead of "Married". (As in "Are you in a DU?")

    • Then immediately allow M/F, M/M and F/F Domestic Unions.

    • Of course, all 3 types of these Domestic Unions should be given equal benefits and constraints under the law.

    • There is no good reason that only M/F couples should be allowed the trials and tribulations of a legally binding long term relationship.

    • If you naively actually still believe that they freely choose this life style, wouldn't you want them to be constrained in a relationship? Then it would be less likely that they would corrupt someone else?

    MinnPost: Gay Marriage Amendment
    MN Independent: ... Aren't Bigots
    LezGetReal: God and Gay People
    MN Independent: Kreisel Opposes
    G2A C,F,S,C
    G2A: Abortion War - Proof of Fascism

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    EPI Teaching Penalty

    First: Parents United 29Apr Update

    Next: Laurie posted this interesting link and comment the other day. I printed it, read the whole thing and really do not know what to make of it. So I'll make some comments and let's see where this goes.

    EPI The Teaching Penalty

    "Teacher earnings have fallen below that of the average college graduate in recent decades, losing considerable ground during the late 1990s,as earnings of college graduates grew 11% relative to the much lower 0.8% growth in teacher earnings........Trends in weekly earnings show that public school teachers in 2010 earned about 12% less than comparable workers."

    My random thoughts are as follows:

    • A typical employee with a business degree often starts with some lowly Buyer, Assistant Manager or Line Supervisor position. Though many will argue, often these pay less than starting Teachers. (w/o the time off benefit) However, as their experience grows, they begin to be responsible for more employees, products, projects, customers, etc. Thus their compensation goes up accordingly with their growth in responsibility and influence.

    • Now a Teacher starts their career with one classroom full of students, and typically ends their career with one classroom full of students. Teacher's that choose to increase their sphere of influence and responsibility work and study their way into an Administration positions. Thus they are now an Asst Principal, Principal, District Administrator, Superintendent, Head of the MN Dept of Education, etc... Which means they are no longer a Teacher... The questions then are:

    • Did the EPI data include all people with Teaching degrees (including School Administration, Union Officials, Dept of Ed, Consultants, etc) in their evaluation or did they just pick Teachers? This would skew the results terribly...

    • Should the difference in income between starting and 30 yr Teachers really be 2 to 3 times? Since their responsibilities are not significantly different? (ie 1 classroom full of students...) I think starting Teachers should make somewhat more and experienced Teachers should make somewhat less, just for this reason.

    • If you want to make more as an Engineer... You have to become a Consultant, Project Mgr, Spvr, Executive or a Specialist that works on ground breaking research. You don't get a lot more for just being a 30 yr experienced Engineer. In fact, as an experienced Engr you will probably only make ~60% more than an entry level engr.

    • Then for the next question... What college grads should Teachers be compared to and who was in EPI's sample? People in the Arts, Bus'n, Sciences, etc?

    • Finally, they use compensation per week... How does that adjust for Summer's off ?
    So what thoughts do you have regarding this?