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.

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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.

Montgomery County’s Stupid Move

The big news in schools locally is Montgomery County’s decision to remove all references to religious holidays from the school calendar. This move was prompted by the local Muslim community’s request to have one of their holy days off. It was a reasonable request. Most local school systems are closed for the major Christian and Jewish holidays, the precedent has been set. What can they do? Oh, I guess they can make a really stupid decision in response. I have two problems with this decision.

1. Do they think people are too dumb to know what they are doing? Do they think people are so stupid that next year when they are closed on Yom Kippur that people won’t realize why they aren’t open because Yom Kippur is not specifically stated on the calendar? A lot of systems already say winter holiday or winter break when they close at Christmas. I don’t think anyone is blind to the fact that they chose that time frame because it’s Christmas just because they call it something else. Don’t insult your public’s intelligence. This only makes people mad and does not even address the request.

2. As a public institution you can not promote or endorse one religion over another. If you set the precedent that you will close on certain religions major holidays, you are setting yourself up for requests to close on other major religious holidays. If you say no, you are discriminating based on religion. You can’t say that we won’t open or hold activities on x religion’s holy days, but then be business as usual on another’s. I’m not saying take away the religious holidays. I’m very happy that I get the day off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’d be perfectly OK with being off on Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur (apologies is spelled wrong. I’m too lazy to look it up). I’m just saying that once you start down that road as a public institution you can’t throw up a stop sign when another religion wants to join in.

More school rants

I have once again made the mistake of engaging in discussions on Facebook about school calendars. I will try to be more coherent than normal by ranting in a numerical, topical order.

1. “You can’t make X change to the school calendar because I can’t/don’t want to find child care” – It is not the school system’s responsibility to worry about your child care issues. It is the school system’s responsibility to educate your children and to adjust the calendar in the way they feel best accomplishes this. It is YOUR responsibility to deal with YOUR child care issues. Be prepared. Have arrangements in place at the beginning of the school year so you know what you will do if there is a 2 hour delay or 2 hour early dismissal. If these are built into the calendar, it is even easier. Talk to your friends and neighbors. I’m sure you can find someone who will help you. Don’t tell the school system it’s not fair that you have to do this.

2. “I’m mad that you are extending the school year due to bad weather even though the calendar clearly stated that is what would happen. I ignored this and planned a vacation for the day after school was supposed to end” – You are not very smart. Read the calendar. Make your plans accordingly. If school will be extended because of winter closings, don’t make plans too close to the last day of school. You are asking for trouble. It’s not the school systems fault that you can’t/won’t read or just don’t care.

3. “If the school year is extended I will just not send my kids the last week. Nothing happens anyway” – Maybe nothing happens in elementary school, but that all changes toward the end of middle school and especially in high school. You should prepare your children now to expect to stay in school until school is actually over. Also, what kind of lesson are you teaching them if you pull them out of school early because you weren’t smart enough to plan your vacation properly?

4. “We should not even consider school start times because they will have to get up early when they are adults” – Adult and teen sleep needs are totally different.  When they are adults, their sleep cycle will change and they will be better able to deal with this. Why don’t you be honest and admit that you don’t want to mess with school schedules because of #1 above? Many people who argue against late arrival for high schoolers are just afraid they will lose their free babysitting.

I’m sure there were more, but this is all I can remember right now. Now I need to stop reading comments.

School(parents) Drama Club

I was already irritated with parents in Anne Arundel County due to my membership in the AMS PTA Facebook page. It is generally just a stream of constant complaints. Nothing is ever good enough for these parents and they want everyone to know it. My irritation once again expanded county wide(see hurricane aftermath post(https://theycallmetater.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/a-note-to-anne-arundel-county-parents/) when AACPS announced last night that they would wait until this morning to assess conditions and make a decision on opening schools.  Parents jumped on the announcement on Facebook to complain bitterly that the school was actually waiting to make an informed decision. They wanted to know RIGHT NOW! They had to know RIGHT NOW! They had to now RIGHT NOW mainly because they were too stupid and/or lazy to have a plan in place for what to do with their kids on a snow day and couldn’t make one then because they were too busy posting on Facebook. They had to now RIGHT NOW because 5am is too late to make alternate plans and also too early in the morning to get a phone call from the school. They also wanted a decision RIGHT NOW because if their kid went to school tomorrow they would likely DIE because it is ICY RIGHT NOW.  The school held their ground, waited and made the proper decision to open 2 hours early. This prompted another stream of complaints. My kid is going to DIE because you are making them go to school and our sidewalk is ICY. Do you want my kid to DIE? Why are you so HEARTLESS? As far as I know, now children were harmed on the way to school today.

This drama was followed by the news that AHS was without power when the kids arrived at school today. It was announced that power was out and that no decision had been made about early dismissal.  This announcement was followed by more posts from the drama queen parents. No power?!  It’s cold outside. If you don’t send my kid home he will DIE from hypothermia! No power?! That’s dangerous! It’s dark in there. If you keep my kid there she will likely be assaulted, murdered, robbed, etc and DIE. Why are you so HEARTLESS? Why can’t you think about the children? Power was restored within 30 minutes of school starting. As far as I know, now children perished during this difficult time.

We wonder what’s wrong with kids today? Look at the parents.

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

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 a process that needs common sense and thought. If we are going to suspend, arrest, expel, etc a student I would like to think some thought was put into the decision to ensure that it is the proper decision. This isn’t happening. Anyone using any sort of thought process can’t possible believe it is right to suspend a student for making sure a friend got home safely. Would the school rather the friend drive drunk? Are schools really safer because kids are suspended for pretending their fingers are a gun? Wouldn’t we feel better knowing school administrators have the best interest of the kids in mind when deciding on punishment instead of just following an excessive, blanket zero tolerance party? If they aren’t required to think, can’t we at least replace them with computerized VP’s of discipline to save money?

Recess, Respect and Middle School

I recently joined the Facebook group for my daughter’s middle school’s PTA. There have been a large number of posts recently about how hard it is to get substitute teachers to come to the school because of behavior issues in some of the classrooms. These behavior issues include entire classes ignoring the teacher, Kids dancing on the desks cussing, talking back and the sub crying because they have lost control. There has also been a recent incident of a teacher being assaulted by a student. The group is full of excuses as to why this is happening. They blame the administration. They say the poor little babies have too much responsibility thrown on them in 6th grade. The recent hot topic is the belief that giving them recess will cure all of the behavior ills. The two things I haven’t seen mentioned: better subs and parent responsibility.

I do agree that many studies show that giving kids time to play helps them grow as people and build a variety of skills. I agree that letting kids be active will release some pent up energy and might make the students less fidgety and talkative in class. I agree that some sort of physical education needs to be a standard for every student as it is as important as the other skills being taught. Do I think recess for middle school is the answer? I’m not sure. I think just daily PE classes would be helpful. I think less strict rules about talking, walking around, etc during lunch would be helpful. I don’t think any of this will fix the issues mentioned above.

Students who dance on desks, cuss out teachers and assault teachers won’t become model citizens because they got to go to recess.  These issues are not the result of a little bit of pent up energy.  Most times it is the result of too little parenting happening at home.  Too many parents either aren’t around to parent or are so lenient at home that the kids learn nothing about restraint, respect and just generally how to act in public.  Kids are coddled and given everything they want.  They aren’t punished for treating their parents in an uncivil manner. How do we expect them to learn to treat others with respect. Instead of looking around for others to blame, parents need to first look at themselves.

Also, if a sub loses control of a classroom and is crying in the front of the class it is probably not the right job for them. Someone needs to be willing to have this discussion with them and encourage them to find another career choice. Teaching is hard work and not for everyone.

Finally, actually punishing kids who misbehave in school is not a bad thing. If we allow kids to act this way with no repercussions, why are we surprised when the behavior continues and sometimes escalates?