Monday, July 24, 2017

Does Your School Have a Charter?


[first posted to Forum 206]

I just waded through a few Youtubes on the charter versus non-charter school debate.

There's a sloppiness to it all in that everyone starts by saying charter schools are public schools and then a sentence later it's back to "public versus charter". Silly right?

The mainstream discourse seems to have settled on "traditional versus charter schools" or "district versus charter schools".

What an amazingly narrow and ill-fitting vocabulary, is my thought.

https://youtu.be/vhubtPygTcA
Charter Schools Are Overrated, IntelligenceSquared Debates

was interesting, a hosted debate between two teams, an ongoing show that seems to think "IQ" is something real and therefore square-able.[1]

What many debaters miss, in my view, is the passion some have, in every generation, to create new schools, not just join existing schools. Any healthy society has its pioneers and reformists.

We should accept that as a built in feature of human nature, and so the debate should begin with that premise: that the public sector, however designed, needs to facilitate (not stifle) turnover at the institutional level, meaning public schools, charter or no charter, will continue to come and go.

Speaking of schools going, I think it's more than obvious we need to physically close a lot of schools that are simply beyond repair [2]. Trying to coast on clearly broken buildings, full of lead or whatever, is just lazy, the opposite of innovation, and proof we have little imagination.

I'm one who thinks a central government (of any nation), if there's one in the picture, should have the where with all to create its own flagship schools. These could be boarding schools for future diplomats, deliberately open to students from other countries. We might also see more experiments with same-sex schooling, for those wishing that option (choice). Let NASA do more than just summer camps, NSA too for that matter.

But then I'm one who thinks any government worth its salt should run a number of showcase institutions designed to provide work to a nation's citizens, including roadside lodging (motels), an airline, maybe a rental car company.[3]

What better way to stay in touch with the people than to run and manage some example enterprises.

Something other than war machines (and a few camp grounds), which is currently the main endeavor for which the weakest governments (e.g. the US) are allowed a sandbox (the war machine includes government labs such as Sandia and Los Alamos -- not much research on how to help with refugee camps -- just on how to create them in the first place i.e. by turning cities to rubble, per the 1900s, a century of barbarism).

Governments are permitted / coerced into serving as clients to a weapons-oriented private sector (Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin...). That's their major role (subsidizing the most sociopathic). Greece, broke, buys submarines from Siemens. [4]

How we tax and spend today is income redistribution, like they say, from the defenseless and over-taxed to oligarchs with off-shore investments (Russian or otherwise, what does it matter at that level?).

A truly American run boarding school might even teach some of the heritage I'm most interested in, namely this "geometry of lumps" I keep talking about (Karl Menger et al) wherein we experiment with axioms other than those inherited from ancient Greek metaphysics.

http://coffeeshopsnet.blogspot.com/2009/03/res-extensa.html

The way things are going, with Uncle Sam broke, and more a hired gun than anyone's idea of an emperor, I don't think it's a given that these dreams will pan out. We appear to have drifted into oligarchy and plutocracy with democracies fading. The politicians have the job of telling us something different i.e. they comfort us with their fairy tales.

Kirby

[1] (dig way back in the math-teach archives if you can figure out how, takes IQ, and you'll see we discussed the "g factor" for like forever that time).

[2] Beyond repair... or not (in some cases):
http://prospect.org/article/fixing-our-infrastructure-how-about-schools

[3]

Spain has a chain of state-run luxury hotels:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parador
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Government-owned_companies_of_the_United_States

[4]

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.801881
(similar to the scandal in Greece)

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/world/europe/so-many-bribes-a-greek-official-cant-recall-all.html

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Ban Treaty


Per Carol Urner's presentation to Wanderers at the Linus Pauling House, the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty has passed the General Assembly, by a wide margin, as expected.

The loser nations know the ban need not apply to them. Why? Because they have nuclear weapons and no one tells Nuke Head Nations what to do.

Nevertheless, we patriots who care about reputation have some cause for celebration this July 4th, and Tillamook butterscotch ice cream is being consumed in the Urner household.  The draft was actually adopted on the 7th, but we knew it was a done deal so were already waving the flag.

Good job Iran in helping to steer the process.  DC's mythology desperately requires Iran to be desperately seeking nuclear weapons.  Here's another nail in that narrative's coffin.  No one I know expects DC (not a US state) to ever reform its thinking. We expect it to remain a backwater.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Rajneeshpuram (movie review)

Rajneeshpuram was an attempt to found a new town in Oregon, in land zoned for farming.  Oregon has some strictly enforced land use laws.  That said township was so religious, and not Christian, didn't help.  Not that Rajneesh professed a religion exactly.  For years he wisely kept his mouth shut, went for a ride, then he gradually took control back, wresting more steering power to a point where Madam Sheila felt obliged to get away.

The folks of Antelope went to heroic lengths to not lose their cool, and played with Oregon State by the only rule book they could think to follow:  Oregon's.  That starting a Puram in the heart of Oregon by aggressive tactics ends up backfiring is hardly a surprise in retrospect.

I borrowed this OPB Oregon Experience episode from the Multnomah County Library system and today will return it, along with some books on CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and another on SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics, another front end Web technology).

A man who fascinates me even more than the Baghwan here, is/was Father Divine, the short African American king of His jungle, as a God in his own way.  Lavish feasts were provided by the disciples, the fans, and the gatherings were by many accounts convivial and of "melting pot" ethnicity (an all-kinds stew), and all back when MLK was still a young man.

My overlap with the Father Divine community was when I scored a job teaching high school at St. Dom's (Catholic), exactly what I'd been looking for, within walking distance. The circumstances of my hiring were tragic in that Sisters had died in a car crash.  My willingness to dive in under those circumstances was appreciated.

An old Father Divine hotel was just kitty corner and offered a good breakfast served by Sister Grace.  I studied the literature and grew intrigued.  Other faculty would join me from time to time, or go there on their own.  Why not?  Great place.

Maureen (Methodist) and I got to talking on the phone through some of this film, which I screened while folding laundry, pacing about.  But then I've been through the story before, in other media.  I never got to visit said Puram myself, even though I'd returned to Oregon in 1985, having left in the 1960s at the end of 2nd grade (my 3rd grade would be first forum in the Junior English School of Rome).

As someone with a long term interest in student exchange programs, organizing opportunities for faraway urban kids to experience some ranch living, I'm sensitive to locals not wanting to feel invaded.  Our placements will have advance training in sensitivity to community values.

In terms of setting up campuses, the ecovillages (picture boarding schools), I'm interested in what Props has to offer, thinking lower barriers to entry (to year around camping and village building) has everything to do with technology, from transportation networks to radio stations and runways (landing pads or whatever).

I'd like to see more train re-development, for the express purpose of bringing students in to their remote bases, which may not stay put for long in some cases.  Exploring ecosystems means leaving them as they were by default.  However, where railways are concerned, we're talking about a longer term commitment.  Railway work is maybe for college credit, trucking too. That's how it works in the Global U.