Monthly Archives: June 2014

Charter schools: In the beginning

Charter schools were relatively new when I first learned about them and visited one in Akron, Ohio. It was during the time I was in Leadership Akron, and education was the month’s focus. I went on a tour of a charter school that was just west of downtown, operated by White Hat Management.

By way of background, my husband spent his K-12 years in a Catholic school in Memphis. I attended public schools in California and in Memphis. Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.46.25 AM

I feel strongly about public education. Always have. I believe we have a responsibility to teach the next generation and the ones that follow. We decided early on that our child would attend whatever was the best option available.

Our son attended public schools in Stow, Ohio, and in Akron. He graduated with a strong resume, a National Merit Scholarship and an International Baccalaureate diploma.

Of the three of us, our son made the most of his K-12 education.

I noticed pretty quickly, many of the most successful students had supportive parents who stayed in touch with the teachers and principal. So we did.

I remember people grousing about inner-city public schools. The teachers were bad. The kids were bad. The buildings were bad. So it was easy to deny funding via tax levy. And, boy, did Northeast Ohio know how to deny funding public education. Wowza!

But then these “charter” schools starting popping up. They were supposed to be the saving grace for those poor, sad inner-city kids. People bought into it without even asking for details. I didn’t know much about the concept until my tour, which happened during the 1998-99 school year.

The building was old. Really old. I think it had probably been built initially for apartments or offices, 50 or so years prior. The inside of the building was a jumble of small rooms, smaller hallways and steep staircases.

I wondered to myself why the school wasn’t ADA compliant. Surely they couldn’t get tax money to run a school that couldn’t accommodate someone with a physical disability.

Because it’s a public school, right? The staff from White Hat loved talking about the good they were doing. I asked a few questions – and left with more. Like, how can something be for-profit and nonprofit? I had two different White Hat staff people tell me contradictory information.

As much as I dislike the whole charter school scam today, I truly didn’t know much about it when I took that first tour. My gut was telling me something wasn’t right.

When my gut tells me something isn’t right, I should listen.

Next post: Too good to be true?

 

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Tea Party post five: Our downward spiral

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Eric Cantor was defeated in yesterday’s House primary. Oh, the cliches bouncing around my brain…

“Be careful what you wish for”

I have never liked Eric Cantor. Not that I know the man. All I know is what I read or see on TV. He seems like a sincerely douchebaggy person. He has a snarky demeanor that gives me the creeps. Like our former president, he grins inappropriately in a way that mocks everything.

And I disagree with his politics.

That should be enough, but his personality is too icky for words. Yes. I said “too icky.” I had dinner with a friend last night, who told me he wishes Cantor wasn’t Jewish because it makes all of them look bad.

I’m somewhat satisfied to know I am not the only one who dislikes Cantor. I’m surprised at how many of them are members of his own party.

Cantor was defeated by a Tea Party puppet named “Brat.”

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”

Congratulations, Virginia Republicans. Your Congressman won’t be taking over as Speaker of the House, a real option with so many opposing current Speaker John Boehner. I’m not a fan of Boehner, either, but I’m kind of ok with him continuing as speaker. At least I know the b.s. he spouts tomorrow will be pretty much the same as the b.s. he spouted yesterday. He’s the devil I know.

The role of House Speaker is important. The Speaker presides over House sessions and acts as a spokesperson for the entire body. The Speaker of the House is also second in line to succeed the president in the occasion he or she is unable to serve.

You want to be really frightened? If our democratically elected president and his or her vice president are unable to serve, the job goes to the Speaker: A man or woman elected by a single district in a single state and chosen to be Speaker by his or her peers in a completely partisan process.

“If it looks like a duck”

What we won’t know until November is whether this was a ploy by Virginia Democrats to oust Cantor. Virginia has an open primary, so any number of Democrats could have voted for Dave Brat just to tip the scales.

Media reports show Brat winning with largely grassroots support and no money from Tea Party PACs. I would bet money the Tea Party PACs are writing checks right about now. They won’t want a Democrat taking Cantor’s place in the House, and, who knows, maybe a few million well-placed dollars could convince Brat to become the Koch brothers’ new best friend.

What happens in Virginia politics affects all of us. The U.S. House and Senate are fashioned from men and women throughout the country. Virginia isn’t the only state with a Tea Party candidate heading into the mid-term election. The existing caucus shows no inclination to vote with the rank-and-file GOP. As the caucus grows, we will see even less agreement between legislators than we have today. That’s actually kind of hard to fathom, but I believe it is our fate.

Technically, we continue to have a two-party system. Until the fractured party heals, we will see nothing but gridlock in the legislature. And it will heal, but we are going to have a helluva bumpy ride.

Sources consulted: Real Clear Politics, Politico, Fox News, The New York Times, NBC News, Wall Street Journal

Catching up and shifting gears

The last couple of weeks have been a mixed bag of tears, laughter and massive frustration. The tears and laughter are entirely personal, so I’ll begin with my frustrations, as they are directing my next few posts.

Has the world gone mad? No… not the world. Just Americans. Have Americans gone mad? I think I’m beginning to lose count of the number of mass shootings. Las Vegas, Seattle, Santa Barbara. These were just the ones that made the national news. Thirty people were shot in Chicago – JUST THIS WEEKEND. Four of the victims died. Chicago had 30 shootings the previous weekend, with seven dying from their wounds.

I get that a dude going bonkers on a college campus because he can’t get laid is different than gang violence. What I don’t get is that so many people have so little respect for human life. If you don’t like what someone else is doing or how someone else looks at you or makes you feel, shoot ’em. This, in the greatest country in the world?

I’m frustrated, too, with this brouhaha over Bowe Bergdahl. First of all, if there is criticism to be leveled at our elected officials, I’m all over it. (Especially if the right needs to be criticized.) But why are there so many people blasting tirades all over Facebook about how President Obama should be impeached? I don’t know what happened with Bergdahl or how or why he was held captive. The Commander in Chief of the United States has a responsibility to bring soldiers home.

And then there’s my frustration with the chipmunks tunneling through my yard and garden. Oy vey.

Regarding the tears and laughter… Tears because I lost the alpha female of my kitty pack. Wylene was a member of the family for more than 17-1/2 years. She had been in renal failure for the past six months, and, at the end, her body was just shutting down. She had two strokes in two days and wasn’t eating at all. We chose to have her euthanized. Thankfully we have a kind, conscientious vet who came to our home. A box of her ashes now sits on a shelf with six others we’ve loved and lost.

Before I start to bawl again, let me think about the laughter. I had two terrific days in Orlando with my sister, nephew and brother-in-law. Being able to go was definitely bittersweet – I planned to be at home until Wylene died. The miles and distractions helped my mood immensely. And now it’s time to shift gears. I realize I need to do another post on the Tea Party. Primary season is over, and a lot of money has changed hands to replace a Republican with another Republican. “A house divided…” and all that.I also owe many, many blog posts to charter schools, aka, the destruction of the American public education system. Stay tuned.