Sunday, February 21, 2016

Keep the choice for public charters

Not everyone likes Charter Schools.  Not every one should, they’re not perfect but the reality of the charter school is that they are 100% public schools.  A charter school may have a slightly different focus to their educational programs but most, and I emphasize the most, are just like your local elementary school or your local high school, having the same oversight and same requirements that every other school has in the state.

So the question of why some don’t like charter schools becomes more of a question of why they don’t like certain public schools.  The answer is actually very simple.  Charter schools usually excel at educating their students.  It is true that charter schools are schools of choice, meaning that parents have to make a choice to attend a charter school where as the local school is mandated to accept those within its boundaries making some believe that the charter system is picking and choosing its students, leaving the left over’s for the local schools to deal with.

When parents have a choice they are more in tune with that choice and are therefore more involved with the education of their children.  The issue is with choice and the few selfish politicians who want to legislate those choices away, forcing everyone to attend the local schools only, without any regard for the quality of education within that local school.

Let me be open and honest, I am a teacher and have been for some time.  My wife and I have sent our children to the local schools and to charter schools; I’ve worked for both and currently work for a charter school.  I teach special education and I can tell you first hand that we do not, I repeat, do not pick and choose our student’s, nor can any charter school.  They must accept those who enroll and who are accepted though the enrollment process.

The charter only allows the school to educate along pre-determined and agreed to mandates.  Charters may design a curriculum around the arts or math and science, very much like Magnet Schools operate, except the managing authority is not the local school district.

The current feud between local public schools and public charter schools is mostly about the money.  Public Charter schools are currently allowed in 46 states with California being the leader in the number of open and running schools with a combined enrollment of over 471,000 students or approximately 6-8% of the total students enrolled in k-12 schools.

With the ADA (Average Daily Attendance, the funding source for all schools in California) being about $9,300 per student, per year, the amount of money in question is staggering and the real reason for the legislation is completely understandable.  We’re talking about 4 billion dollars.  Four billion dollars that used to be under the control of the local school districts, no wonder they want to sponsor legislation to get it back.  

Not all public charter schools are equal and not all local schools are bad.  The reality of the situation is a bit more complicated than simple black and white statements but more often than not the public charter has a better track record than the local school.  The reason is the choice the parents make to educate their children, a choice anyone could make but only 8% of the population decides to make.  It’s only 8% and the local schools are clamoring and complaining that the public charters are hurting their schools.

The public charter has just as many individual issues as the local schools, the difference is we care more, we use uniforms and we have a program that we follow that mandates how we teach, what we teach and then we follow though with what we teach and make sure the students have actually learned what they were supposed to have learned.

I know what you’re thinking…don’t all schools teach like that?  There supposed too but very few actually do, that’s why the public charter does so well and why the proposed and ongoing effort to stop the public charter school movement should be defeated. 

There are representatives gathering signatures, they need over 300,000, we should let them know up front that we want our public charters to stay and to let the local schools know that if they want those students back, start teaching, start caring and stop complaining. 

Last thing, it’s not the teachers in the local schools that are at fault, it’s the top heavy and burdensome administration that stifles the creativity and abilities of the teachers, let them teach and I dare say the students and parents of those students would be back.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentines Day

There are a lot of holidays.  I think we need more.  But I’m not in any position to demand a Taylor Day (that is my name by the way).  As a teacher I observe every holiday with a thankful heart that I can take a well deserved day off.  Holidays are supposed to be day of reflection but in most cases they are simply an extra day to catch up. 

Some of our holidays are not sanctioned, meaning they have no specific day to commemorate or reflect.  One such holiday is Mother’s Day.  It is a great day to reflect on our Mothers and it is a day that has been set aside for that purpose, making Mothers Day a staple of the weekend holidays, I think it’s the only one in fact.

Halloween is a little bit different it occurs on the 31st of October and is subject to the rotating day of the week.  Like Halloween, Valentines Day is another day that has no governmental sanction also falling on the same day each year.  If you want to take that day off you will have to pay for it yourself. 

Unlike Halloween, Valentines Day is a mostly manufactured holiday that greeting card companies created to sell more cards.   I don’t remember the last time I bought a greeting card for any occasion and to my wife’s chagrin I think I can only remember buying one or two Valentines cards.  Oh well, life goes on….

Evan though I am not a fan of the process of creating a holiday out of greed the idea of setting aside a day of reflection for those we truly love is not a bad idea.  In our hurried and harried lives we often need a specific excuse to excuse ourselves from the mundane and ordinary in order to act a little romantic, putting aside the every day in order to focus our attentions in an extraordinary way.  Men are in some ways forced to close off the Neanderthal sections of our brain (OK most of our brain) and let go of the practical and spend the time toward lofty and more grandurious (new word) endeavors; thinking of those we love and care for, for the purpose of letting them know that we actually do love them, by buying flowers, chocolate or maybe even splurging and buying a greeting card.

Like other Holidays, we often forget about the importance attached to those specific days and need to be reminded to focus on the message that was created by that Holiday.  Valentines Day is no different; we need to be reminded to tell those we love that we actually really love them, so in this regard having a Holiday about Love and Devotion is not a bad thing.

There is some history taken in part from a mysterious St.  Valentine of Rome which started when this Valentine person (he was not a saint yet) was imprisoned for marrying soldiers who were not allowed to merry.  He was imprisoned and while incarcerated healed the daughter of his Jailer, Asterius.  Before his execution the thankful girl wrote a letter and signed it “your Valentine”

No one really knows if this is true but there are numerous older examples of Love invoked accounts with most agree that the day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century from a poem: 

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

(Those are not misspelled words, they are the original words of the 14th century, and maybe they were just bad at spelling)

There is a fairly strong indication however that due to the many martyrs during the purge of Christianity that had the name of Valentine and through the story of St. Valentine the holiday has a fairly strong historical foundation as well. 

But the holiday never had a future without the advent of the greeting card.   With approximately 145,000,000 cards being sent each year the holiday is alive and well.  The problem is that 85% of purchases are by women. 

The bottom line is that even though we have a holiday about love and devotion women keep it alive as they have always done, shaming men in all areas of romance. 

Is it too late to run to the store, they may still have some cards left, maybe a wilted stack of flowers? 


Sunday, February 7, 2016

When the entire nation and many parts of the world are wondering who will claim the top spot against the “incumbent” Hillary, the universe was shaken by another missile test by the North Koreans. 

In researching for this blog the coverage of this event was overshadowed by which political figure would trump Trump and which spoken word would be used to flail the speaker into non-existence, all the while the North Koreans were planning and firing the very real instrument that could be the antecedent to future world destruction.

Do we really care that much about what a few political hopefuls spout in response to inane questions in an all to worn out forum of advertising?  Do we  really wonder why we’re in the state we’re in when the coverage of news, real news, overshadows those events that might, in a real sense threaten our way of life?  What is most important and what has become important in the face of the realities of our current political arena? It’s obviously not the threats of despots around the world.  It can’t be that the super bowl and the 578th Republican debate are really more important. 

I mean don’t we care what North Korea is developing, or what we’re allowing the Iranians to do with their Nuclear Power?  Ooh ya I almost forgot, since we have it, every one should have it…Right?  Since we are such a bad example of colonialism and war mongering we should simply hand over the reigns of world power so every one who wants the bomb should get it. Great Idea….

When millions are sitting back and getting bombed while watching the Super Bowl, we ignore the real issue of getting nuked by North Korea and Iran and a host of other   terrorist style governments that will be supported by our two “friends” and create a scenario of peace and tranquility while our team is vying for gridiron supremacy. 

Maybe it’s not in the politics at all but in our inability to see the violence through the violence of every day life.  When two teams are head banging their bodies in mass toward each other and spectators are betting, screaming and siding for one over the other the real issues of global death seems somewhat inconsequential. 

Go Dallas, or is it the Raiders, I know it’s not the Rams…maybe it would be easier to enlist teams of specialist to fight on a real battle field with the winner taking all…No, not a good idea, the real winners must be those who are focused on the truth, the righteous and the free.  Spending our time with football is fine but should it really take precedence over the reality that is our life, NO, it shouldn’t.  So maybe after the game take a few minutes to remember how the freedoms of our country allow you and the rest of the millions who watch the Super Bowl to Watch the Super Bowl. 

Go Denver….