School Update

It seems these days I’m doing more of an online journal thing like I did on LiveJournal. I don’t plan to continue this, but since I have an update from yesterday’s post I guess I will do it.

Yesterday I wrote about the School Limbo we were in where the university emailed about a hybrid version of in-person and online classes. Students will be allowed to live on campus but the number of students living on campus would be smaller than planned.  We then had to wait for an email from resident life to know the status of my daughter’s dorm room.

Early this morning I saw online that they had emailed all students if they had canceled their housing. I woke my daughter up so she would check her email. As we feared, her housing was canceled. Also as suspected, all of her friends who had leases on the campus owned apartments kept their housing. It was possible that she would be stuck at home while all of her friends were on campus.

Luckily, because we woke her up early she saw a couple of posts from people looking for someone to take over their lease on nearby apartments. We are 99% sure that she now has a place next to campus. I guess until we sign papers it could always fall through, but right now we think she has a place to live. If it does fall through she will be out of luck because now everyone is awake and posting in the Facebook housing group asking if anyone has a place open. I guess a last resort would be begging her brother to let her live with him.

So, that was our exciting morning. Hopefully, everything is settled and we can move on with life.

School Limbo

Update – housing has officially been canceled. Everything sucks.

Yesterday was the day we were supposed to hear from my daughter’s college about plans for the fall semester. The day went by and there was no email. Finally, right as I was about to go to bed she gets the email

As expected, the plan is to have a hybrid of in-person and online classes. Classes of more than 50 will most likely lean toward online. Labs and other hands-on type classes will be in person. Dining halls will be open, but set up to allow for distancing and will have the option of food to go. Dorms will be open but adjusted to reduce density. Triples and quads will no longer exist. Some dorm space will be reserved for possible quarantine of students who test positive for Covid.

This is where we are still in limbo. Because my daughter was supposed to study abroad this fall, she missed the deadline for getting a lease at the on-campus apartments. She was finally able to secure a dorm room. The problem now – they only expect to offer housing to around 75% of the people who applied for housing with the emphasis on giving all first-year students housing.  That means there is no guarantee that the room she was supposed to have will still be there. We have no idea when we will know for sure. She was in a single, so we are hoping that increases her odds of keeping the room, but being a junior she might be on the bottom of the list for housing. I hope we hear something soon so we can join others in the mad rush to try to find off campus housing in the area so she’s not commuting to school.

I guess I understand why they want to guarantee housing for freshmen, but it makes things stressful for existing students who were supposed to live on campus. It sucks that we are in this situation because they took so long to tell us that study abroad was definitely not happening and we have no idea if she will have the option in the Spring either. Now we are left in limbo again while we wait for res life to tell her her status. I’m not a fan of waiting.

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

I’ve shifted back to trying to write at night but Mrs. Tater is home and I always have trouble writing with others around. So, enjoy this post from almost six years ago(yes, I’ve been boring people for over six years) on zero tolerance policies. I read it, fixed some typos and I still agree with myself

The World's Common Tater

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you have probably seen the “stupid school” articles I share.  Many of the stupid school decisions are based on a zero-tolerance policy. The most recent one that really made me mad was this one:

http://espn.go.com/boston/story/_/id/9826842/high-school-athlete-massachusetts-suspended-driving-drunk-friend

where a high school athlete was suspended after she went to a party to drive a drunk friend home. She did not attend the party and did not drink. She was only there to get a friend who called to ask for a ride. Instead of thinking and applauding the teen for making sure a friend didn’t drive home drunk, the school used “zero tolerance” to make a really stupid decision. I could post article after article of other schools doing the same thing.

Zero tolerance is supposed to be about “making kids safer”. What zero tolerance does is take common sense and any thought out of…

View original post 139 more words

Tater Talks Teachers

I had another topic in mind for today that I pushed to Thursday when I saw some posts about Teacher Appreciation Week. I decided to use today’s post to write about some of my favorite teachers at each level.

Elementary School –  I have to admit that I really don’t remember much about my elementary school teachers. It was a long time ago. I do remember my 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Reagan, and I remember liking her, but that’s about it. Her daughter was only a year or two younger than me, so I mostly remember her that way. My 6th-grade teacher was also the pastor of my church. He’s more memorable because I knew him from church, not for school reasons. The most memorable person for me from this time was the principal, Butch Canty. He always was supportive and had nice things to say about me to my mom. He eventually became the superintendent of schools for the county. Obviously because of his ability to spot genius. I enjoyed my time at Beaver Dam Elementary School and the teachers prepared me academically for middle school.

Middle School – Also mainly a very fuzzy memory as far as teachers go. I can tell you stories about school and the students, but I only have strong memories of two teachers, Mr. Blankenship, the shop teacher, and Mr. Hunter, the art teacher. I was bad at both classes., but loved the teachers. I took every shop class available because I liked Mr. B so much. He was a fun teacher and patient with the kids like me who were really bad at woodworking.  Plus, in one class we got to make and race CO2 cars.  I would have taken shop classes all day if they would have let me. Mr. Hunter was also very nice and patient with me when I was really bad at art. He let me write a paper for extra credit so he wouldn’t be the only teacher to give me a B that semester. I’m sure my other teachers were good, but I can’t really remember them at all.

High School – There are a few to talk about here:

Mrs. Bradley – She was my English teacher and my French teacher. I took three years of French and in French Club, so poor Mrs. Bradley saw me a lot. She was also my friend Jeremy’s mom. She was kind and patient and helped me become a better me.

Mrs. Elmore – English – I think a lot of people have her on their list. She was a great teacher and inspired a love of reading.

Mr. Brown – Social Studies – He inspired an interest in current events and is probably the reason I read the newspaper every day.

Mr. Hale – Last, but not least, the science teacher for multiple generations at Ohio County High School. Probably the best teacher to ever teach at the school and maybe one of the best to ever teach in the state. He is brilliant, funny and caring and we were all better because of him. I also knew him and his family from church, so another one who was unlucky enough to see me way too much.

I would go on through college, but I never experienced the college professor who changed my life. There were plenty of good teachers, but none who really inspired me that much. I found more inspiration with my work friends at the library and my friends at the Baptist Student Union than I did in classes.

Thank you to all the teachers who had a part in making me who I am.

Tuesday Tater Hot Take: Maryland Gets Hot

We are entering another stretch of extreme heat. Temperatures in the 90’s with a heat index above 100. This is not unusual for Maryland. Maryland gets hot and humid in the summer. This summer heat can start as early as May and can extend in to September. The heat is not a shock. This is Maryland weather.

Even though this heat is not unusual, there are several schools in the area without air conditioning. Every year, either at the beginning or the end of the school year, there are closings and delays alerts for schools being closed or closing early due to heat. Every year. For some reason, even though this is an every year thing, the local school systems don’t think putting AC in the schools is a priority. I guess they don’t think school disruptions matter enough to spend money on AC. It seems like a small investment to make sure students and teachers have a comfortable space for learning.

My daughter just moved in to her dorm at the University of Maryland. She, like her brother his freshman year, does not have AC in her dorm. Multiple emails have gone out with advice on how to “beat the heat” and now emails telling them they are putting mattresses in air-conditioned common areas and opening them for people to sleep if necessary. My daughter spent her first weekend at college at home because she couldn’t sleep in her room with temps at 90 degrees. She went back this morning just in time for her first class. We toured a lot of colleges last year. Maryland seems to be the last hold out in updating their dorms. I guess they think other things are more important. I’m not asking them to build luxury dorms. The traditional dorm is still fine, just add AC. We aren’t north enough to not have AC.

I know there are people who think “I didn’t have AC when I was in school and I was fine” but I disagree with that thinking for a coupe of reasons. First, I don’t think “it was good enough for me” is a good argument against advancement or updates. Shouldn’t we be working to make the world a better place? Even if that just means giving our kids a place where they can learn comfortably? Second, the world is getting hotter. These extreme temperatures are going to become more common. We have to be prepared for this. This is not the same world we lived in 30 years ago. Also – I had AC in my small town school in Kentucky 30 years ago and AC in my dorm in Kentucky. You’re way behind Maryland.

Countdown

Today is the first day of May. May means the beginning of the countdown to a lot of big happenings for us.

Today is Professional Development Day at work. The branches are closed and we are all gathering in one place. This is not a big day for me this year as I will not be emcee of the event and will be sitting and listening like everyone else.

Tomorrow I head off to a conference where I will be on a panel presenting about Human Library and then on Friday we will be running a Human Library. I will have a chance to attend some sessions in between and there are some social activities as well, so I will get a chance to relax a little.

Next week begins AP testing for my daughter which means this is her last week of a regular schedule of high school. The end of AP testing coincides with prom. One week after prom is the last day of high school for seniors. One week after that is graduation.

The Monday after graduation we fly to London and will be in London/Paris for almost two weeks.  That is followed by college orientation and then in July another trip, this time to India.

End of summer means the beginning of the empty nest for me. I need to work on finding some hobbies soon.

A Short Rant

The Youth Media Awards were announced this week. The book Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly won the Newbery Award. I saw one person on Facebook comment that the one review of the book mentioned that the r word is used a lot in the book. I don’t know what review that was, but I found one on Amazon with the same complaint. Is the r word used in the book? Yes, but you have to look at context. It is used multiple times by the bully against a kid who goes to the resource room for special help. I know that we would rather not see the word, but if you are writing realistic fiction you have to be realistic. I guarantee you kids are still calling other kids retarded no matter how many times we tell them the word is hurtful. It is real for the bully to use the word. Nothing about the book makes it seem this is OK.

In the fall there was a big controversy over the book The Black Witch. There was a review online that pulled several racist comments out and used them to say the book was hurtful and should never have been published. People piled on and posted negative reviews on Goodreads without ever reading the book. I read the book. What they fail to comprehend is that those racist statements in the book were said by racist characters. Some were said by the main character, but the entire point of the book was to see the growth in a character who was raised to believe her race was superior only to realize how wrong that was once she goes to school with other races. Context matters. It was a very good book.

I keep seeing over and over again how books are being pulled from schools because parents complained about language or other content without thinking that this language and content is what makes the book real. Why do you want your kids to read sugar-coated realities? Why are we judging books on a few words instead of on the entire content of the book? Why can’t we read challenging and difficult stories anymore?

Also – there was another school shooting today. We seem to be more active in removing “dangerous” books from schools than we are in keeping actual danger out. Maybe we could fix that?

College…Or Not

I recently read this article in the Washington Post –

Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees

A Trump supporter explains rising conservative anger at American universities.

I don’t agree with the people quoted that colleges are brainwashing young adults and turning them into liberal elites, but I do agree with the premise that college is not for everyone. Some people should not go to college and that’s OK. Some people should go to college and that is also OK.

I am the only one of my siblings to graduate from college. It doesn’t make me better than them. It doesn’t make me smarter than them(that happened naturally). I am better looking than them, but college had nothing to do with that. I needed to go to college to get where I needed to be in life.  They didn’t need to go to college to get where they needed to be in life. Both situations are fine. We did what was best for us. That’s what everyone should do.

Both of my kids will attend college. I hope they will both graduate. They have aspirations for careers that require a college education and the aptitude to be successful in college. Some kids have aspire to careers where a degree is not necessary. Some kids are not in a place where they would be successful in college. This is all OK.  I think everyone deserves a chance to go to college. I think we should continue funding for grants to help those in need attend college. I just don’t think everyone should go to college.

We need people to become tradesmen. We still need plumbers, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, etc. These are good jobs. These are good jobs that do not require a college degree. Unfortunately, these are becoming jobs that are considered “lesser” and parents try to push kids away from them and into college. There is no shame in these jobs. We should stop trying to force kids into college just because we have all decided that everyone needs a college education.

We should let kids go in the direction that will allow them the most success. Why pressure a kid into college if that is not where they will be successful? Why not guide kids toward the path in life that is best for them instead of the path that makes the parents feel good about themselves?

 

Tater’s Tuesday Musings

Today is another one of my hodge podge, list posts about various topics.

2017 – I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions. If I had the ability to decide to work out more or lose weight just because I said so I wouldn’t still be fat. New Year’s Day is not a magic day that changes that. The closest I come to a resolution is my reading challenge on Goodreads where I say every year that I want to read 100 books. I did decide, though, that this year I will try living without regret. I’ve had way too many times in my life when I passed on an opportunity for various reasons leading to the “what if” scenarios in my head for years. If opportunity knocks I owe it to myself to open the door and listen. This also applies to spending time with family and friends. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and regret not finding the time to spend with people I love. This does sound like a resolution. Hmm

Your Job Has Ne Bearing on Your Speech – Meryl Streep has been in the news because of her speech at the Golden Globes. I have seen several articles with people saying actors should shut up about politics. I see the same in the sports world. Athletes speak out and people say “shut up and play.” Sports writers speak out about a non-sports topic and their Twitter mentions are full of “stick to sports” comments. I might not agree with what they say(or maybe I do) but that doesn’t mean they should stop talking. Their career has no bearing on their speech. Being famous does not mean you have to be quiet. I think it is the opposite. Being famous means you should speak out. I can write something here and a handful of people will see it. Actors, athletes, singers, etc. can reach millions.

Hate in School – Friday a racist petition was circulated at my daughter’s high school by a group calling themselves the “Kool Kids Klub.” Yesterday someone set up a Twitter account under the group name and posted that they would attack today. I have to assume if kids are spouting this hate they are probably hearing the hate at home. A lot of people jumped on the “freedom of speech” train when the petition was passed around. Now that they have moved on to direct threats I am curious how the same people will justify it. Interesting how easy it is for some to justify hate as long as it is not directed at people like them.

Winter – I can tell I’m old because, while I love a relaxing snow day, I would be perfectly happy to see no snow this year. All snow means for me now is shoveling snow not spending hours playing in the snow with the kids. It’s time for me to retire to the south.

My Unpopular Opinions

A friend posted his 10 non-political unpopular opinions on Facebook recently and then I saw someone else ask the question on Twitter. I’m not sure I can think of 10, but I decided to post some of mine.

  1. Elvis over the Beatles – It is probably because I grew up in an Elvis house and didn’t really know the Beatles’ music until late teens, but I’ve always liked Elvis more than I like the Beatles. If I had to make the choice to never listen to one of them again I would choose to keep Elvis. I do like the Beatles. I just like Elvis more.
  2. Pineapple on Pizza – My friend had this in his list as well. I also didn’t realize it is as controversial as it is. I love pineapple on pizza. It is one of my favorite toppings. Ham and pineapple, bacon and pineapple, chicken and pineapple. It all works and works well. Why would you not want pineapple on your pizza?
  3. Benching High Priced Players – I hear all the time “They can’t bench him. He makes too much money.” This makes no sense to me. The purpose of a professional sports team is to win games. If your high priced, QB, RB, point guard, pitcher, outfielder, etc is not playing well and there is someone on the bench who might be better why would you not make a change? Is this like the Wall Street bailout of “too big to fail”? If I thought Ryan Mallett would give the Ravens a better chance to win(he wouldn’t) I would be fine with high priced Flacco on the bench, It drove me crazy when the Braves would play Dan Uggla. I don’t care they you overpaid for him. He is not good and shouldn’t be on the field. I also think there are times when you should be able to bring in a “relief QB”. If your starter has thrown 3 picks in the first half and can’t get anything going, go to the bullpen. It works in baseball.
  4. Various Education Opinions – College isn’t for everyone. Instead of pushing all kids in to a college prep curriculum schools and parents should work instead on removing the idea that non-college work isn’t good enough. You can make a good living as a plumber, carpenter, mechanic, police officer, etc. but no one is working toward those careers because we are insisting that everyone go to college. College isn’t for everyone. Similarly, why are we requiring kids to take 4 years of math but not offering a variety of math courses for those who aren’t going in to a field where they need calculus. There should be business or “every day” math available for those students who don’t want or need to move on to higher math just to get the 4 years done. There should also be English classes that teach practical writing skills for those who don’t want or need to take AP Lit. Of course schools get money for the number of kids who take AP classes, so they will keep pushing kids to take them to get the money and the rankings.
  5. I Like TV – This one isn’t as unpopular as it used to be as we are in what they call the golden age of TV, but I’ve been a big TV guy since I was a kid. Working in libraries I got a lot of the “I don’t own a TV” over the years said in a way that made it obvious that the person who said it thought it made them superior. I still read books. I’m at 92 for the year right now and that is below my average, but I love TV. Not just “quality” TV, but sitcoms, cheesy dramas, Survivor, etc. One of the things that makes me sad about my new work schedule is that my weekly daddy/daughter night watching Survivor gets pushed to tape delay. Every Wednesday night for years we have popped popcorn and watched Survivor together. I’m sad about Alan Thicke’s death because watching shows like Growing Pains was a big part of my younger years. I even wrote a poem for English class in high school where I turned the TV Guide in to a poem.

So, that’s all I can think go for now. Feel free to add your own in the comments or make fun of mine.