Sunday, July 22, 2012

What was he thinking... ??

A teacher in Georgia tried to blend math and history and got himself in really hot water.

3rd grader teacher Luis Rivera at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Gwinnett County wrote math questions asking for instance: "If 8 slaves pick 56 oranges..."!  Whoa!! What was he thinking???!!  WAS he thinking?? And, why did this kind of question turn-up on homework without anyone seeking it first??

I understand that every piece of homework cannot be reviewed by the principal or department chair before it is put in a kid's backpack, but whenever a teacher is trying something "new", might it be a good idea to at least run it past another teacher to see if it sounds right?

This is what I call another example of "ignorant racism". People can say things that sound acceptable to them about other people, and are shocked when the response is negative... or at least not what they were expecting. The best avenue to take is: think before you speak...or write,  about how the person recieving the message might take it.  Yes, that takes time and may not seem necessary, based upon how you were raised. But, in this multi-cultural world we all need to learn more about others before we bring them into our conversations.  The teacher has apologized and resigned his job in the school, but as many teachers ask of their students... what have WE learned from this?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here we go again... the state legislature has created the Special Committee on Improving Educational Opportunities in High School.  The committee met for the first time on July 16.

It has an impressive list of members and invited speakers who know what they are talking about when it comes to what employers want vs. what high school students (and sometimes graduates) have to offer. All the "right" players are at the table... but, will this just be another game of "let's talk about it and get nothing accomplished"?

Committee chair State Senator Luther Olsen was on Wisconsin Public Radio talking about this first meeting and he had some interesting things to say.  For instance we are teaching "today's students... for tomorrow's world... in yesterday's schools". Yes, he is right. Now what?  He also said of the curriculum offered in Wisconsin's high schools "... if it doesn't interest them (the students) they are not interested in learning it."
Makes sense, right?

So, I called in to the radio station and asked if... among all the people on the committee and in the room for this first meeting of a really important topic... where there any high school students, or recent graduates or anyone under the age of 21? His answer: No.

It just seems to me that if you are talking about the current high school systems and the future of high school education, it might pay to talk to those sitting in the classroom.  If Senator Olsen is correct... if kids can't learn if they are not interested in what's being taught... maybe we should ask them.  Maybe the committee should hold it's next meeting at Milwaukee Area Technical College and invite any recent high school graduate, any student studying for a GED, any first or second year student at MATC to give their thoughts, too.

It couldn't hurt to ask...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

As you may or may not know, I LOVE hot weather. My theory is: I was born in the spring and my first awareness of weather came during the summer therefore, my whole metabolism prefers hot temperatures.  Sounds OK, right?

However, THIS summer with temperatures above 100 and humidity in the 60's is pushing even me to say... Mother Nature, turn down the dial! When it is too hot and muggy to play tennis, it is too hot.

I'm going to try hitting a few balls this afternoon (current temperature- 100 degrees) and see how it goes.... stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We are counting the days until my son begins college more than one-thousand miles away from home. Exciting for him... not so much for me.  Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled that he will be attending college in another large city, filled with wild nightlife, drugs, alcohol, beautiful co-eds, a massive football stadium, Major League Baseball team and occasional  classes. But, I'm wondering how much contact I will have with him during the year??

When I went away to college, I wrote my parents every week (for at least the first 2 weeks!). Should I demand he write me weekly, monthly, every semester, quarterly, at all?  Hmmm.

Better yet, we can text each other constantly! He does that now with friends here at home and new friends he has made via facebook.  He is already "talking" to people in other states who will be joining him on campus in only a few weeks!! He has already found a roommate!! Yes, that sounds like a plan. I will text him everyday and he can give me a detailed update on what he did that day!! Right! That will work!!

EVEN better yet... we can Skype once or twice a week.  That way I can see if he is gaining or losing weight, growing a beard, or had any body parts pierced or tattooed. He can see the same with me (except for the beard). That should not be too much of a hassle for him, right?!

OK, that's the plan... letters, texting and Skype.  Boy, this is gonna be fun!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

ARRGG!! OMG... what have we done??

Well, I am planning to send my baby off to college in a few weeks and while surfing around the web today (do we still say that?) I came across the TIME Magazine list of the state colleges with the highest tuition increases.  Lo and behold, there was my son's new university home listed at #4!!  ASU had a 44% tuition rate increase in the last two years!!! It is tied with the University of Georgia (ironically another college to which he applied but was not accepted).

What have I done?? He received one scholarship, but the rest of the tuition is going to be covered by student loans, work study and my selling aluminum cans for recycling.

But, the bright side is... I am going to loose weight and be a lot slimmer and trimmer by 2016, when he graduates.  That is because, with him at ASU and his brother here at MATC, I don't plan to eat for the next 4 years.

I'll let you know how that goes... stay tuned!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

I love to begin things, but I really hate it when things I like, enjoy or love come to an end.
So it is that I have ended my 90 stint as a Loaned Executive for the United Performing Arts Fund. the full-time, temporary job taught me a lot of things.

Like: I don't enjoy working alone, I need office-mates and co-workers to make me feel productive and connected. I don't like working from home.  Many people love it, some would prefer that to going to a job every day, but not me.  When I'm at home, I want to leave the J.O.B. in the office.  Maybe that comes from more than 35 years in the news business where you do your story, forget it and go home.  We tend to do that because often they are not stories we want to remember. Fires, murders, politicians... things we want to leave at the desk at work and not have to think about at the dinner table at home.

This may sound like i"m whining, but I really enjoyed working for UPAF and wish there had been some role I could fill with the organization, full- time.I will miss working in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and having that spectacular view of Milwaukee from the windows (even the window in the ladies room had a great view).

So, this ending is bitter- sweet. No more driving from downtown Milwaukee to Pewaukee twice in one day.. no more wrestling with UPAF balloons in the wind... but, no more chatting and enjoying the company of my fellow LE's and UPAF co-workers, either.

But, I'm keeping hope alive... this ending will lead to a new beginning that will take me iinto the directions I love and never end.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where did the "t" come from?

In the most recent past, maybe the last year or so, I have noticed that more and more people are pronouncing the "t" in the word "often". I understand that English is a living language and constantly adjusts itself to the introduction of new words, like "internet" and "Web site", but when did it become acceptable to pronounce the "t" in "often"?

It's not that I'm a pronunciation geek or anything... it's just that I have become a stickler for language because I had to say it out loud for so long.  Below is the definition and pronunciation of the word from an online dictionary. "Online", another new word!  The use of the "t" comes only in the third suggested pronunciation. The first and second are the ones that should be used.  I think the third is just there to make all the "t"- sayers, happy.

When you look this up in the dictionary, you will also find a little speaker symbol that lets you hear the word pronounced... off-en.

So please, just to make me stop cringing, take the "t" out of your speech and pronounce the word correctly, often.


[aw-fuhn, of-uhn; awf-tuhn, ] 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Too many parents miss one of the great joys of their kids high school days... watching them participate in sports. There is nothing more fun on a Saturday afternoon, than squeezing yourself into a bleacher next to other parents who are just as loud and enthusiastic as you and screaming until your voice gets hoarse, as your son/daughter competes against other kids.

Soccer moms can be overly- excitable... football parents get to watch and winch as their child gets smacked into the ground... basketball moms, dads and various relatives watch junior run up and down the court with dreams of the NBA/WNBA in mind.  Tennis parents... well don't get me started on my own sport!

But, swim families are special. Somebody has statistics that show that swimmers get better grades and are more successful in school than other athletes. That is because swimming is all- consuming. If that cute little boy or girl who used to belly- flop into the pool develops the passion to compete... they have no other life besides their books and training. They will also eat their families out of house and home.

An ordinary woman of my height, weight (don't go there!) and age should eat about 2,135 calories a day. A website calculation figures that a teenage boy in rigorous exercise daily, should eat about 3,500 to 4,000 calories daily! And, they do! Check out the refrigerator of any swim household..

But, back to the swim families. I just spent about 4 hours, jammed shoulder- to shoulder and hip- to- hip with parents stuffed into over-crowded bleachers, watching our sons swim. I have found these parents to be polite, sympathetic and very tolerant. After all, it gets really hot and humid at a swimming pool. We all wanted OUR boy to be the best... but, we also wanted him to DO his best. At a swim meet, the kid who comes crawling through the water... long after all the other swimmers have finished their laps and left the pool... gets as much applause as the winners. Swim parents also have to be understanding of swim traditions, like the kids bleaching and cutting their hair before big meets. Other sports have similar activities, I guess... but you can always tell when it is championship time in the high school when all the boys on the team, even the Black swimmers whose hair usually turns out red when bleached... come to school looking like Q-tips.

Parents, if you don't want to come to parent/teacher conferences... let your child get into a sport and go to the contests. That passion for winning can be turned into a passion for learning... and, you may even learn something about the school and other parents, too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

That was all I could say when I heard that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in favor of the Milwaukee Public Schools and tossed- out the 11- year- old "Jamie S case."

I remember the day the suit was filed against MPS. It was September 13, 2001. I remember it well because of what had happened two days earlier. I covered that lawsuit for 7 years! Doing a story every 6 months or so at first, then only when something big was happening, like when the Department of Public Instruction settled with Disability Rights Wisconsin in 2008.

The suit claimed that  "Jamie S." who was only 8 when the fight began, and other special needs students did not get into special services in the district.  Later, it added that the DPI did not do a good job of overseeing MPS so that it would give appropriate services.

Over the years, I interviewed the mother of the plaintiff and talked to the law firm that MPS hired to defend its case. We probably can't add high enough to figure how many millions and millions of dollars were spent on this lawsuit. MPS said it was all covered by its insurance, but a lawsuit that lasts for 11 years is more than suing for somebody slipping on the ice in your driveway.

MPS has claimed victory and Superintendent Gregory Thornton told the media “We will continue to provide quality special education services for Milwaukee’s children”.

OK, well in the time it has taken for the lawsuit to crawl through the courts, thousands of students have come and gone through the Milwaukee Public Schools. Hundreds needed extra attention because of their special needs. Plans were created and things got a little better. Now, without a lawsuit hanging over its head, will the MPS give the kids with special needs all the help they deserve? Let's hope it doesn't take another 11 years to find out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Senior Moments are Funny

OMG! I just watched the first episode of Betty White's new show "Off Their Rockers" and laughed til I cried!
Every old person joke you have ever heard (or told, admit it, you did when you thought they did not apply to you!) is in this show.
It is Candid Camera on Geritol!