Monday, June 29, 2009

Let's Use Our Heads

I've been gone for so long, I have a lot to talk about, but I just want to express my frustration with something I just saw, and that irks me every time I read it. That is the old canard "Baseball/football/basketball players make millions, so why can't teachers/libraries/other good things?" Okay, let's think about this. Does a classroom or a library serve tens of thousands every day they are open? Does a classroom or library earn huge revenues from television? Do classrooms or libraries sell $7 beers and $3.50 cotton candy to their patrons? Do people buy jerseys and hats from their favorite library? Professional athletes get paid so much because the money is there. People pay to have the MLB or other networks to watch their favorite sports. How exciting would the Library Channel be? Yes, stadiums are subsidized by taxpayers, but so are libraries and school buildings. And I'm sure we spend more on state and local taxes than we have on the sporting events we have attended this year, although we watch lots of sports on television. I'm not arguing that teachers and libraries are not worthy causes, just that they don't have the enormous revenue base that professional sports do. Close our state libraries down to two, like we have two professional baseball and football teams in Ohio, and I'm sure those libraries would be the most wonderful since Alexandria. But who would want to drive potentially hours and fight with half of the state to use said library? We need a sense of proportion on this. Unless we're talking forced confiscation of earnings, which I am adamantly against, people should get paid based on what gets brought in. Sports just have a larger fan base and therefore a bigger revenue base.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Grade It an F

Since I emailed my state representative about online charter school funding being cut, I guess I am now on her mailing list. I got an email from her a couple of days ago which is long on style but short on substance. Maybe representatives don't want to go into detail in an email, but this email did not thrill me.

"It is vitally important for our children to have the best education possible. I believe that preparing every student for the 21st century is the only way we can improve our current economic situation." If people really wanted children to have the best education possible, they would go with the methods that have actually been proven to work, instead of whatever is new and shiny. And I can think of many other good ways to improve our current economic situation.
1. Don't spend our money like a drunken sailor and do work on cutting the deficit.
2. Cut taxes so businesses will want to be in your area. (See Cleveland, Ohio for what not to do)
3. Quit trying to hurt small businesses with things like high taxes and inflated minimum wage. Also, don't hurt cottage industries with ridiculous restrictions like CPSIA.
What exactly does "preparing every student for the 21st century" really mean? I can't even say it sounds good any more as I am immune to catchphrases and buzzwords.

"While this is a significant reformation, a transition phase of ten years will make sure school districts have adequate time to adjust to all aspects of the new education plan." Okay, *what kind* of significant reformation are we talking about? That was not made clear at all. And ten years is long enough for schools to weasel out of changes for as long as possible and hope something new gets passed later. What on earth is so difficult to implement anyway that it will take ten years to do so?

All-day kindergarten will eventually be required. That's good. You are already doing a poor job in education, so let's require the students to receive this poor education for longer periods. Haven't they read that "advantages" like Head Start eventually are lost a few years down the road? How exactly will extra school hours for little ones, who should still have more free hours, help?

"We must continue to discuss Ohio's diverse education needs." Again as a good Lutheran I must ask, say it with me, "What does this mean?" All kids need to learn, and to retain at least some of what they learned. I say at least retain some of, because I certainly have not retained a great deal of what I was taught in school over the course of years. This is evidenced by my inability to help the Equestrienne with all of her grade school math, at least off the top of my own head. How much real "diversity" is required?

In the email there is a link to the governor's Conversation on Education. Sadly, my alarm bells are being set off here. For example: "A modern education must be directly linked to economic prosperity. Ohio cannot thrive without understanding that world class schools will produce a talented workforce, and a talented workforce will attract and create jobs." Ding, ding, ding! Yes, let's get that little proletariat started young. I don't think people are fleeing Ohio in droves because they don't have work skills. I think they are leaving because Ohio is doing its best to kill local jobs. (see above)

"We cannot address our education challenges without strengthening our commitment to public education. As a practical matter, the vast majority of Ohio children are and always will be educated in the public school system." Always will be? Goodness, I hope not. There are wonderful options such as homeschooling, charter schools, parochial schools and private schools. Let's think outside the box, people! Okay, charter schools are technically public, but they have a much better track record *overall* than your average public school.

"We must strive to develop a specific, personalized education program that identifies how each individual student learns and use the teaching methods appropriate to that student's needs and abilities." You're joking, right? A homeschool mom can do that, although not so much out of an inherent superiority (giving dues to public school teachers) as the fact that she has fewer students, and she knows them very well. The parochial school my daughter was in years ago offered personalized education. They didn't follow through.

"Our schools must excel internationally in our ability to foster creativity and innovation. Our educators must teach students to think past the limits of what's been done, and imagine what could be done." How about we just give them an education with a solid foundation, and they can grow and imagine from there? D-Ed Reckoning is a good place to go to find out how poorly trying to "foster creativity" works out in actual use. You can also read lots of discussions, as well as collected data, on what kinds of education work and what doesn't.

"We must educate the whole student. Education must be viewed as a joint responsibility of families, educators and communities." I'm all for a family being invested in its own children's education, although many teachers and schools really don't appreciate parental input. However, what are communities to do to help educate "the whole student"? I'm afraid "provide money" is largely the idea here. Maybe not.

Lastly, "we will reduce the property tax burden on local taxpayers by increasing the state share of school funding to 61 percent when the reform plan is fully phased-in." So, you're reducing local taxes only to increase state taxes. This helps me how?? Not to mention creating another layer of unneeded bureaucracy.

Children get the best education right now because parents either have enough knowledge in a subject to help their child out, or because parents are wealthy enough to afford tutors. For story after story on this subject, check out Kitchen Table Math. Is this fair? No. Should we depend on bureaucrats to fix everything? Definitely not. Honestly, I don't know for sure whether parental investment is necessary in a child's education. If so, there will always be children who just have parents who aren't willing to put in the effort. Yes, some parents did not get a good education themselves, and obviously most families can not afford to hire tutors. But there will always be some parents who just don't care. For those who do care about the education of children, I think I would tell them to look to the example of homeschoolers. Many parents teaching their children at home are doing so on a shoestring, without a fancy curriculum or lots of field trips. There is such a wealth of free information available to all, that those who want to learn can do so. And this goes along with my whole philosophy of not depending on the government. Why trust a suit in the capital building to take care of you? Nobody is as invested in your child, and what is best for them, as you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Too tired after the game to post and put pictures up. Sorry Scottius.

For now I will just put up this picture from our wedding that took place sixteen years ago, yesterday. We celebrated quietly.

Monday, June 08, 2009

For a Daughter and a Doll

I'm getting over the cold I've had to the point where the Dancer and I spent extensive time in the sewing room yesterday. I finished up a pair of shorts for her. Please do not look at the clutter on the stairs behind her. I need to get photo editing software on this netbook. :)

We also worked on a doll dress for the Dancer's American Girl doll. It's a Simplicity, which is not one of the best patterns, but please rest assured I paid no more than 99 cents for it. I bought it in my early sewing days. Next time I will send her searching elsewhere in my pattern stash. The only thing that really has irked me so far is the fact that I had to gather the head of the sleeves although the pattern doesn't call for it. Sewing gathered sleeves into a teeny little armseye is a pain. I should have basted the first one in, like I ended up doing for the collar. I have to fix the first sleeve only a little; the second sleeve will be basted first. At least the Dancer is learning a lot about sewing! It's fun to be sharing this with her.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The List Keeps Growing

It seems to me that people used to get together most often in winter during olden times, and barely saw each other in the summer. I imagine that was due, at least at first, to all the farm work necessary in summer, and later, to the Victorian/Edwardian propensity for going to the country in the summer. Now it seems that people hibernate during the winter, at least after Christmas, and do all kinds of things during the summer, at least in the greater Cleveland area where the winter can be long and tough and the early and late summer can be very pleasant.

Tomorrow a fellow church member is having a garage sale to raise money for a youth group trip. I would have liked to be there today so the Equestrienne could help get things ready, but she has school to do, and I am still not feeling one hundred percent. Not only do we have the garage sale tomorrow, but one of the Dancer's friends is having her end-of-year recital right in the middle of the afternoon.

Tonight the Equestrienne is going to a birthday party, with an 80's theme. What fun! I remember years and years ago some girl saying she dreaded having her daughter come home and tell her that tomorrow was 80's day at school. It's the circle of life!

Next Saturday is a work day at church, for which we will not be able to stay very long, because we are going to an Indians game with a tailgate party beforehand. It's a birthday get-together for a local geocacher.

Here's a picture of the Equestrienne from last weekend, which was a busy one also. I really do wish there were close to as many activities in the winter as there are in the summer! Winter is when I am at my bluest and need human interaction!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Online Virus

Well, actually I'm the one with the virus. I'm finally going to have to give in and admit that I am sick. I'm disappointed and frustrated, as there are things I want to do and I just don't feel up to doing much! I think I will be resting a lot instead. I suppose I became susceptible with how busy the weekend was. Too bad this weekend will be just as busy.

Monday, June 01, 2009

It's June Already

I spent all of May looking forward to the Equestrienne's confirmation, and the month just flew by. Her big day went very well, with lots of family and good food and talk and baby-holding. I hope to post pictures soon, as well as a few more baseball pictures for Scottius. I was so tired today that I even took a nap. The weekend was so busy that my sleep was compromised, so I suppose it's not surprising. There are lots of fun things coming up this summer, so there's still lots of things to look forward to. I need to get blogging more. I'm on track to blog more this year than I did last, which was a goal, but I only posted nine times in May!