Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't follow the leader

Lori Klein, an Arizona State Senate Republican, pointed her “cute” pink pistol at a reporter that was interviewing her and demonstrated how the laser aiming device works by pointing it at the reporter’s chest.  Klein did this while the .380 Ruger, that has no safety, was loaded. 

Let’s follow the leader.  All of us should pull out our guns and start pointing them at people just to show how fun it is.  After all, the leading proponent of the Second Amendment in Arizona did so it must be the right thing to do.

Before anyone thinks that I am a liberal that wants to take away all guns, leaving only criminals with guns, think again.  My father was a police officer and hunter.  He had guns in the house for his profession and his hobby.  I was taught gun safety just like being taught to say please and thank you.  When I was 14 years old I went through the NRA’s gun safety program.  For many years I was a hunter.  I am personally in support of gun ownership, if that is something people want to do.

There is also a little thing called the Constitution.  Regardless of the debate about a militia, it does, in some form, guarantee the right to own guns.  Citizens of any Responsible Community should not be required to give up the right to own guns. 

None of the above means that the right to “bear arms” is absolute.  When the authors of the Constitution wrote in a few of our rights, it was never intended to mean that communities could not place reasonable restrictions on those rights.  The reason we live in a community is to come to terms on the laws that provide for a safe environment.  To allow just any crazy person to have a gun because it is a right is wrong. 

Speaking of crazy people, Senate Klein from Arizona is not only out of line by pointing her gun at the reporter, she should be arrested.  While it is not illegal apparently to point a gun at someone in Arizona (I can’t find where it is anywhere in the country) it could be considered an assault.  The reporter was not acting threatening and was not carry a weapon.  Yet, a loaded gun was pointed at him for no cause other than to allow the Senator to have a little fun with her “cute” pink pistol.  By the way, “cute” is her term.

People follow leaders.  That is just the way humans work.  While some leaders shouldn’t be followed, like Senator Klein, it is certain that someone will do the same thing because the senator did it.  Next time, there may be an unintended firing of the weapon and someone will be dead.  That is why the senator needs to face the consequences of her action.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Charter Schools are not the answer

It is suppose to be the quick fix for everything that is wrong with Detroit Public Schools and public schools in general.  Open many more charter schools in the Detroit district, let parents select where their children attend school and they will do so much better that everyone will want to shut down the city’s school district.

Or, at least that is the promise.

After all, charter schools have everything going for them.  Let’s go down the list.  First, since parents have to be motivated to enroll their children in the schools, the children would come from families that have higher expectations than those that don’t make any changes.  The charter schools can demand that parents attend meetings at the school, volunteer time and be involved in the education process.  Charter schools have greater control over the staff, especially the teachers, so they can discharge those people that are not performing well.  Charter schools are usually operated by a market based philosophy, with accountability standards that are higher than public schools.  Failing students or those that are disruptive can be released from charter schools and set back to public schools.  This list is not all inclusive, but it is the primary reason given in support of charter schools.

Well, guess what?  A new study conducted by a Detroit newspaper demonstrates that charter schools in the city of Detroit overall, are worse then the public school district.  Only 17 percent of the students that attend charter schools in the district perform better than the average public school student.  (Understand here, that half of the public school children do better than average, only 17% of the charter schools students do better.)  But, there is more.  Only about half of the students in the charter schools are on par with public school children.  Finally, about 33% of the children that attend charter schools did worse.   

The difference is what many involved in education know too well.  Until the student, the family, the institution and the community work together, education will not do well.  The student must be engaged and excited about getting a good education.  The family must be fully functioning and prepare the student for school.  The institution must be given the authority to make demands of the student, the family and the community.  Finally, the community must step up and make a full commitment to the future.  (The community in this case includes the private and public sector.)

An analogy here that people in Detroit can understand is what it takes to build a quality automobile (the student).  We can have great people working on the line (teachers/institution) but if the parts they install come from vendors (families) that are shipping defective parts, it will not matter.  If the company doesn’t pay its bills (community), vendors will stop shipping parts.  Until everyone involved in the building of the car is held accountable the product in the end will be sub prime. 

If has been a long held belief of mine that if one part of the quadrangle fails; the student, the family, the institution and the community; the other three have to work twice as hard to make up the difference.  If two parts fail, it will be nearly impossible to make up the difference. 

Detroit schools are not doing a good job at educating the youth of the community.  They do need to be held accountable for their failings.  But, until the other three parts are also held accountable, children will perform poorly.