Why the outrage, racism and rallies, the Amish up close, a pill to erase bad memories, and lessons from the slang of teenage girls.
If you read nothing else today, you'll want to read Tom Weber's story about the school district in Rushford that wants to fund new school construction in a state bonding bill.
If allowed, it's a huge shift in philosophy and one that could lead to some of the most cantankerous floor debate we've seen at the Capitol in awhile.
Traditionally, new schools are funded by property taxes. There are two segments of a school district's budget: operating expenses and capital expenses. New school construction falls into the latter category and it's often accompanied by a levy -- taxpayers get to vote on whether a new school should be built.
By all accounts, the one that's there is a dump. According to Weber, the administrator in the school system has dismissed the idea of asking local taxpayers to foot the bill, because it would require a 48-percent increase in property taxes and there isn't enough wealth in the district.
There is a loophole in the current law allowing bonding money to be used when school districts consolidate. But Rushford consolidated 20 years ago.
"We do have districts out there in a similar situation as us; the buildings are literally falling down around them, and despite everything going on, we're making the best we possibly can, but there's no light at the end of tunnel for us," said district Superintendent Chuck Ehler. "And we need our state and we need our elected officials to be aware of that and be willing to be risk-takers, along with us, and say, 'Absolutely, schools are part of our infrastructure.'"
That may be, but it's not hard to see what the reaction will be in communities that just tagged taxpayers for new schools. Why should they not get other taxpayers in the state to help pay for what they're now paying?
It's also true, as a person on Twitter told me today, "we're all in this together and we all benefit from an educated population." That's true, which is why the state assumes responsibility for paying for a good deal of the "former" in the budget divisions above. But isn't it also possible that if some districts get state taxpayer help, more districts will have failed levy votes for new building construction, assuming the state taxpayers will help out?
If the Rushford proposal gets very far, that's the question that the debate will orbit.
One postscript: In July 2008, I toured the area of Rushford hard-hit by a 2007 flood that killed a half-dozen people in southeast Minnesota. My tour guides were readers of NewsCut. When we get to the part about the school, note its importance in the town's recovery from a traumatic disaster. It's a good testament that a school in a community is more than just where you learn things.
We haven't had any cases of white death from an overblown storm yet, so let's refocus our attention to something that actually is going to occur: Leap Day. Tomorrow.
As usual, all good science includes a passing reference to our eventual extermination at the hands of the sun.(1 Comments)
Two vastly different items in the news in locations 800 miles apart have both led to the same question: Where does parental responsibility start and stop in matters of school life?
On Monday, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill eliminating seniority as the guiding yardstick in deciding which teachers should be cut.
The move earned an "attaboy" from the editorial board of the Star Tribune today:
To be sure, experience matters. The proposal doesn't throw out seniority altogether -- rather, the changes are limited to the role tenure plays in layoffs. And even there, teachers with the same effectiveness rating will be laid off in reverse order of seniority. But the plan rightly recognizes that the number of years on the job is not the only or best way to judge who should remain there.
Teacher union opponents of the change say it would encourage districts to lay off older, more highly paid teachers to save money. And there is concern that without state seniority protection, layoff decisions would be left to the whims of administrators who might not be very effective themselves.
If a student doesn't learn, it's the teacher's fault. But what about parents? What are they held accountable for?
That question is also being asked in the wake of yesterday's school shootings in suburban Cleveland, where a third child died today. How, an educator and psychologist ask at Time.com, can we talk about school violence without any recognition of where the violence was conceived and nurtured?
Politicians and taxpayers like to hold teachers accountable for their students' failures. Most of the public's dissatisfaction with education seems to circle back to what's wrong with teachers, and the assumption that drives our endless rounds of flagellation and reform is the belief that a child's fate rests largely in the hands of the teacher in whose care he or she spends approximately 1,000 hours per year.
Yet the remaining 7,760 hours are on someone else's watch: the parents. That's right, children spend on average only about 11% of their childhood lives in school.
But we rarely talk honestly about what can happen during the other eight-ninths of their waking and even sleeping hours. Children arrive at school poorly nourished and too fatigued to work. They spend too much time on television and too little on exercise. They are poorly socialized in ways that inhibit learning and kindness. They also bring unsecured weapons to school and use them on innocent people, including, sometimes, themselves.
There's an eerie void in our discussions of school violence. Where are the adults? Where is the same cry for accountability in parents when things go wrong at home that we have for teachers when things go wrong at school? We aren't suggesting that one human being can be responsible for every misstep a child makes. Nor are we suggesting that parents shouldn't be allowed to make their own, often serious mistakes without fear of being criminalized.
Is there anything better for your company than having your vehicle burn on national TV? It's was all about branding last night at Daytona, The Social Customer blog notes.
Often times misfortune is followed by opportunity. As the ServiceMaster truck sat on the side of the road burning from the rear, it garnered a LOT of attention. All eyeballs were on the fire, the cleanup and the beautiful ServiceMaster logos on both the side and hood of the truck. The side of the truck was dented yet you could still see the logo. The logo on the hood looked 100% intact.
So as millions watched them clean the track millions also were reminded of the strong, reliable ServiceMaster brand. The yellow color combined with the strong stature of the truck appeared quite bright and bold. It was a positive brand image. I can guarantee many will wake up in the morning with the image of Dave Blaney's spinning car, the yellow truck and of course the ServiceMaster logo in their head.
Tide was able to catch some of the action as well since the clean-up team was using Tide to clean up the fuel spill. There were tens of boxes of Tide lined up on the track.
(h/t: Kyle Thill)(2 Comments)
An investigation into why the remains of some war dead were sent to a landfill in Virginia was met mostly with a shrug today until someone determined that the unidentified remains of victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon were sent there, too.
According to the Washington Post:
At a news conference, (retired Army Gen. John P. ) Abizaid said he could not quantify how many remains of Sept. 11 victims were disposed of in a landfill. He said his panel was directed to examine current operations at the Dover mortuary and make recommendations for improvements, not investigate past problems.
"You'll have to ask the question elsewhere," he said when reporters pressed him to elaborate on how the remains of Sept. 11 victims were handled, as well as other incidents of malfeasance at Dover that were flagged in his report. "What we didn't do was go back and take a detailed look at the records to see what went on."
Still, an appendix to Abizaid's report lists several previously undisclosed incidents of mismanagement, mishandled body parts and other botched cases at the Dover mortuary, dating back for a decade.
"There was no indication that remains from the attack on the World Trade Center in New York were involved," the Associated Press reports.
Maybe not there, but remains from the World Trade Center were sent to a landfill. I reported on that as far back as 2004. The remains were eventually moved and now the controversy is over whether some of them should be placed in the new 9/11 museum in New York.
But lost in the interest of 9/11 victims, are the mistreated remains of soldiers returned home.
Stars and Stripes reported the people in charge of the work weren't very skilled or professional:
Among the initial findings: body parts packaged in plastic bags were mislabeled and lost; cremated remains wrer thrown in a Virginia landfill; and one fallen Marine's mangled arm was sawed off, without family notification, so the body would fit in the casket.
Today's report concluded that embalmers should have the most up-to-date training. The new version should make clear that the remains of people killed in the service of their country should not be treated like the trash.