Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about WHERE SCONE LIVES

  1. The climate here is sunny and dry. Very, very dry. Bleeding skin dry. But it keeps me from getting attacks of seasonal depression. Usually.
  2. People elsewhere usually think we're constantly buried under snow and ice. If that were true, I'd have gone screaming out of my mind long ago.
  3. We do have plenty of wildlife--skunks in particular. I think one has made a burrow under our deck.
  4. Houses around here are fascinating. Some are tiny little gingerbread houses, some are massive and ostentatious. Some (of all sizes) have bronze statues on their front lawns.
  5. I hear that we're now part of an "X-YZ metro area" (think Dallas-Ft. Worth). Our part of the area (X) is undergoing rapid expansion-- new houses going up everywhere.
  6. The YZ part of the metro area is now full of empty storefronts. It's spooky.
  7. I blame the New Mall.
  8. We have about 10,000 banks here. Of the new construction, about 1 in 5 lots is going to have a bank on it.
  9. We are getting no new gas stations, though, despite the fact that they are at least 5 miles apart in our area. Well, at least we only have one place to sink our money.
  10. We are also getting a new hospital, although our town (X) has one already, and so does YZ. There are less than 200,000 people in the area. Guess the banks were bored.
  11. YZ contains the best school in the state and several other excellent charter schools. X has things that pass for schools, but only barely.
  12. People here are trying to shut down that best school and preferably the other good ones, 'cause it's not fair that some kids get to go to good schools while others don't. Huh?? Tell me in what world that makes sense.
  13. In the medians along the interstate in this area, they've put up barriers made of several steel cables strung along deeply buried steel poles. They can take the top right off any car that bumps into them (I have seen it). But then there are these signs every so often: STAY OFF MEDIAN. Again: huh??

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Momma M
2. Nancy
3. Surrender Dorothy
4. LifeCruiser
5. Yellow Rose

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Chaotic Mom said...

Oooh... I've lived in cold, dry climates, too. Good thing you DON'T have so much snow and ice, eh? ;)

My T13 is up, too.

Nancy said...

I wish we had snow this year. It was just cold. SOunds like too much building where you are.

Great list. I'm playing.

Dorothy said...

Welcome to the TT microcosm. Glad to have you.

My list is up now too.

His Worship said...

Glad those steel cables were apparently unavailable on other interstates at other times or the median could have proven...interesting?

Scone said...

HW: You are correct, sir. We were blessed.

Lifecruiser said...

Great list, always interesting to read what others come up with :-)

My T13 is kind of "hard-boiled" ;-)

YellowRose said...

Reading where you are from and being one who lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can kinda visualize it....kinda, except it was extremely hot and humid in Texas. LOL

Happy Thursday! My 13 is up!

Jen said...

That is really weird about the schools. And the medians, too! But, we have plenty of weirdness here, too, doesn't everyone?

That's cool that you are able to avoid SAD by living there. I'm not against medicine, I loves me my pharmaceuticals, but I also love it when I can take care of something without needing medication.

Jack said...

I guess I don't know the exact situation with the best school in your state, so maybe what I'm going to say doesn't apply, but I have heard similar arguements about education and understood the world in which they made sense. Of course, in the situations with which I'm familiar, there has not exactly been a call to "shut down" any public school, just redistribute its funding. Or if it is to be shut down, it is only in the sense that it is a charter school that's going to lose its charter - only shutting down if it doesn't have a large enough student body to convert to a standard public school. Though I suppose even then it may entail a significant enough change that it might be equivelant to "shutting down" and opening a whole new school.

In any case, the arguments I've heard are not "it's no fair that some kids get the best and others don't." They're more along the lines of "it's no fair that some kids have access to the publicly provided best and others don't have equal access." It is in situations where the "best" schools receive the "best" funding because it is the "best" families in the "best" socio-economic strata who send their kids there. They pay higher local taxes to fund the school and subsidize it with private donations. For the most part. The result is that these schools have the fewest per student education challenges (especially in a competetive envirionment such as charter schools which can choose their student makeup) yet significantly higher per student spending. I think we can all understand the desire to provide the very best for our own kids and that means if I have more money to spend on my kids than the neighbors do, well . . . I may spend more money on my kids and not apologize. However, when that principle is extrapolated to what is publicly provided in our society, it is more conducive to elitism than the level playing field many of us profess we want in a free country.

Now like I say, it may not be the case that your state's best school is publicly funded yet exclusively pupiled. But that's the situation in which it makes sense to make some drastic changes, perhaps even drastic enough to effectively shut the school down.

Scone said...

Ah, I see. It seems to me in this case as though the objectors believe this elitism is going on, despite the facts. That is, yes, it is a publicly funded charter school-- which receives less money than the other schools in the area and pays its teachers significantly less than the average, too. Admission is by lottery, not merit or money or other elitism-- but to remain in the school, students have to conform to a strict behavior code that some people may view as unfair. For example, they must turn in homework on time, must not cause unnecessary disturbances in class, etc. Repeated violations, not failure to measure up academically, may be cause for expulsion. In fact, the academic model is so incredibly good, I wish other schools would adopt it, but they won't because of the pressure for social promotion or worse, holding back the bright kids until the slow kids "get it". #1 Son was one of the more advanced kids in his class previously; when he switched schools, we discovered that he was working at an "average 4th-grade" level instead of advanced 5th grade.

One reason I think that the people who oppose this school are not doing it with the most rational of motives is that although, yes, there are a limited number of seats for new students each year, the school is expanding as fast as it can and taking on as many new students as it can (currently the average class size is around 33)-- but these same people are opposing the expansion of the school. So OK. What do they really want?

Jack said...

On time homework? No classroom disruption? Wow, how unfair . . . LOL!

You know, in the USA we have a strong tradition of very decentralized education, i.e. the community, via school boards and neighborhood schools, controls most aspects of education including how or even if standards defined at remote levels (State/Federal) will be implemented. That lends itself well to tailoring curriculum and standards to local needs or values . . . not so well to social phenomena outside the local community, or specifically in this discussion, not so well to objective comparisons across locales. Charter schools are even one step further outside any normative structure. Variable admission criteria and classroom or testing standards make it difficult to establish any sort of "fair" comparisons with schools "in the system".

Take your son's school, for example. Strict criteria to remain a student in the school will mean that students which stay in the school are, as a whole, better disciplined, harder working, higher achieving students. Part of that will be the school inculcating it, part of it will be the student's own inclinations (natural or family-taught). That adversely selects against students that don't have those qualities. Where do those students go? In the insurance industry we want to do that - get good risks to do business with us and force our competitors to accept worse risks. It means they end up spending more of their resources dealing with those risks (investigating, arbitrating, paying claims) while we free up our resources to expand/improve and take away even more of their best risks. It sets up a vicious winner/loser cycle that's just accepted as part of the business world.

In education, adverse selection translates to some other schools in the area absorbing a higher proportion of difficult students that require more of their resources to work with appropriately. That doesn't have to mean your school should lower its standards to be fair. However, it is an issue which should be recognized and accomodated, perhaps by giving those other schools more resources, for example (as it sounds like your district does). It's also the type of thing which drives people to object to charter schools on principle alone. Those people don't need "rational motives" specific to any given school, even though they may pretend to them. It is objectionable enough for such people that it is a charter school.

Education is complex even with clearly defined standards. As more non-standard options are recognized, the complexity increases exponentially and along with it the opportunity to abuse that complexity - or more likely, unintentionally hamper some subset of the student population. Personally, I'm okay with complexity as long as it remains within controllable parameters. I think charter schools are fine so long as the community has the infrastructure to support all the issues they raise. In application, it means that most of the time I want my tax dollars spent on non-charter schools (especially here in WI which has a great education tradition), but there can be exceptions. It's not a simple issue. Maybe raising the next generation of well educated, well socialized, responsible citizens shouldn't necessarily be an easy task.