Monday, April 11, 2011

Is it up to a "Slick Willy" Politician to save our kids?

An unlikely candidate:
Texas currently ranks 51! LAST - even including D.C. in terms of handing out HS diplomas to those enrolled in our public schools. and 45! - 6 from the bottom in terms of the results our students who do receive diplomas are taking away! SHAMEFUL!

Certainly seems rather unlikely that a man who has been in office for a decade accomplishing as little as he has to shape up anything in this state where related to our school systems, would have a very intelligent take on reforming education in Texas, or anywhere for that matter. Instead, I'm more likely to believe politics is just that; and our kids are secondary to any politicians career goals and unmentioned agendas. Not to mention his points about competitiveness in a capitalistic, free-market society, obviously have little bearing on where Texas has ever ranked in education.

Testimonies -VS- Titillation:
Like I always say - it is much better to follow our own testimonies (when evaluating the truth of this typical political rhetoric,) rather than be enthralled by titillation and slick speeches. This advice is especially important when partisan motivations are at hand; such as when a Governor is one party and the individuals plan he is speaking against is being spearheaded by another party. Isn't disagreeing a given in this case, whether or not it is good for our country, state or our children? I wouldn't trust this Governors position on this any further than I can throw him. His results and "reputation" he seems so found of, are what speaks for his ability to assess this topic and be trusted as an authority here.

"Catering to Diversity":
So he doesn't want a "one size fits all" mentality to education in this country. He feels Texas will do a better job independently determining the best education reform and path. Has this been something that our state government has EVER proven it could handle, innovation, disseminate and get results with it's own version of "education reform". After all, we are now simply scrambling to overhaul and reform our own last pathetic reform efforts. Those are after all the same attempts and ignorant movements which have our state pathetically ranked and positioned right were it remains.
  • "the real demographic shift will come when today’s second- and third-graders — who are Hispanic and low-income in higher percentages than today’s Texas teenagers — get into high school. In 2008, the Hispanic population represented 36 percent of all Texans, but 46 percent of births, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The latest enrollment report from the Texas Education Agency, from the 2008-09 school year, shows that Hispanic students now account for 48 percent of public school enrollment — and 65 percent of pre-kindergarten enrollment."
Can't possibly imagine how his "catering to diversity" stance, nor customizing the school system accordingly; whatever that means?; will help us gain any ground in education and the global workforce and economy we are competing with. Since Mexico is not the country who's competition we are concerned with nor wishing to model.

When will he propose a solution -VS- objections:
Would sure love to hear him suggest actual solutions to the mess he has our state in though. Speak directly (rather than politically) at the actually issues effecting our State's finances and VERY dated method of educating! In the ten years he has been in charge what has he learned, and what is being applied? You would think he could go on and on with some sort of intelligence in this matter more directly / specifically.

Certainly, no time to be a party of "No"! It is time to actually use all of his wise experience in office (if I am to believe that is what he has,) and actually apply it to ANY real solutions!

Student Characteristics:
Number enrolled: 4,752,148
Percent in Title I schools: 75.2%
With Individualized Education Programs (IEP): 9.5%
Percent in limited-English proficiency programs: 15.1%
Percent eligible for free/reduced lunch: 48.8%

Racial/Ethnic Background:
White: 34.0%
Black: 14.2%
Hispanic: 47.9%
Asian/Pacific Islander: 3.6%
American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.4%

School/District Characteristics:
Number of school districts: 1032*
Number of schools: 9283
Number of charter schools: 521
Per-pupil expenditures: $8,486
Pupil/teacher ratio: 14.5
Number of FTE teachers: 327,905


Friday, April 1, 2011

Life is too short to not let go! ...outsmart the monkey!

So why should anyone ever leave a steady job, a Church based ministry, a daily or weekly routine you have adopted? The simple answer is, it’s time. Allow me to put it allegorically.

In high school we were taught about a traditional “monkey trap” used for centuries around the globe, consisting of a simple container (or even a clay mound of dirt) with a hole cut into it just wide enough for a monkey to stick it's empty hand into. The container is baited with something attractive to the monkey. Monkey reaches for bait and then will not release the bait and therefor cannot pull it's hand out of the trap with bait in hand. It is then captured. All the while the monkey never realizing it would be free if it just let go of the bait.

The monkey trap is a metaphor for the things in our lives we have innocently reached for and taken on without ever realizing we would be captured or limited by our eventual inability to let go. We all hold onto things which entrap us. It could be a job that you are a little too comfortable with, a friend that drains your energy, anger, or resentment. In my case, an all consuming career based originally on a hobby, represents my monkey trap; and something very hard to let go of because I am comfortable where I feel experienced and competent.

I love tech and exploiting my past education, expertise and experience in my field. I have been proud to be a part teams I have built and studios I have designed. Nevertheless, I feel that it is time to see what else my career, my life, may ability to learn and grow, all have to offer; and I'll never do that while I cling desperately to my favorite bait.

None of this is to say I am not a believer in enjoy the moment, and treasuring each day. Quite the contrary, my hope for anyone I know, is that they learn to use and reap each day as if they all hold an opportunity for individual as well as cumulative experience and growth. When life is stagnant you might just find you are very guilty of taking for granted the days you have been given. We should never justify and defend being “comfortable” and “stable” as an excuse for being lazy or simply lacking in creativity.

While it is each person’s right in this country to be as exploratory or stagnant as they wish. Obviously a healthy moderation of either would lead to a much richer American experience and journey through life.

There is a popular TV show called, “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”, where grown men and women are pitted against 5th graders to see if they possess more knowledge than these elementary school contestants. Wouldn’t it be a very odd TV show indeed, if we were each quizzed towards the end of our lives in order to see if our own story was a shining example of a narrative which far surpassed the wisdom of a monkey passing an age old trap with some attractive bait stashed inside a small hole.

Often when you choose to loosen your grip, you will find yourself free to live again.
Life is to short to not let go.