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.

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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 now 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 in to 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 plumber, 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 in to college. There is no shame in these jobs. We should stop trying to force kids in to 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 in to 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.

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.