Texas hold'em: what are they thinking?!?

re: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/texas-republican-party-2012-platform-education_n_1632097.html

Wow. I have to agree with Arne Duncan on this one:

In March, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Bloomberg he felt “very, very badly” for Texas students.

However, feeling very, very badly for someone never really helped them out, I don’t think. What is he going to do about those bad feelings? I mean, I feel very, very badly for the taxpayers and parents in Texas, but my bad feelings do not amount to a hill a nano-particles in terms of easing their pain.

The irony is written into the Republican Party’s own “principles” [*gag*]:


We, the 2012 Republican Party of Texas, believe in this platform and expect our elected leaders to uphold these truths through acknowledgement and action. We believe in:
  1. Strict adherence to the original intent of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
  2. The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.
  3. Preserving American and Texas Sovereignty and Freedom.
  4. Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
  5. Personal Accountability and Responsibility.
  6. Self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman.
  7. Having an educated population, with parents having the freedom of choice for the education of their children.
  8. Americans having the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities,and the unalienable right to defend themselves.
  9. A free enterprise society unencumbered by government interference or subsidies.
  10. Honoring all of those that serve and protect our freedom.
  11. “The laws of nature and nature’s God” as our Founding Fathers believed.

Right. Whatever dude. Perhaps Texas Republicans should try practicing what they preach. I must have missed the part where “white washing” and being a hypocrite was codified.

What am I going to do about this? I am going to pursue “critical thinking” for our local education system as much as I can, and make sure I instill it in my family to my utmost ability. I might fail, or I might do a lackluster job. But I am not going to wave my draconian scepter around and bang people over the head with it. Instead of telling people what is best for them, I will listen. And yes, there are problems even with that intent and that approach. I intend to learn about those problems as an exercise in being reflective and adaptive.

Latino Community Forum

I have teamed up with Ileana Saveley to organize a Latino Community forum at Shadow Wood on Friday, June 29th, 7:pm (at the Community Center, which the locals call the “escuela”, or school). This came out of a desire to help advocate and empower voices that sometimes have difficulty being heard. Prior to our efforts at organizing this particular event, I had been really impressed by what I perceived to be unity and closely knitted nature of this group; last night I was blessed with the opportunity to walk the streets of Shadow Wood with a growing number of parents who care about their community and want share their concerns. It is very eye-opening for me to see how other folks band together and join their hands. In some selfish aspect, perhaps this was one of my reasons for organizing this event – to witness how people do this.

During the past 7 days as we have ramped up our efforts, I have had even more opportunities to learn fascinating facts and bits of history surrounding Shadow Wood and the local Latino Community. I was on the phone with Champaign County Board Member Giraldo Rosales, who regaled me with 20 or so years of historical context and gave me a bigger lens through which to see. Yesterday at Houlihans, Dr. Eugene Barnes zoomed out to the national level and talked about all the legislation he was involved in changing, and then zoomed back down to Shadow Wood and the efforts with his Metanoia Centers and Bristol Place. I have had the opportunity to meet the Shadow Wood park manager, Zig. But perhaps what stands out most are the conversations involving a Shadow Wood parent, leaning heavily on Ileana for translation – it is amazing to watch a few key players within this community who are already organizing events (like the recent Father’s Day march from Shadow Wood to St. Mary’s – not small trek in and of itself).

As many have already stated, we are trying to take the long-haul perspective; we are building relationships, and while we are trying to fix our aim on real changes, we realize it will take many steps to get there. I think we have two main goals we want to accomplish:

  • open the doors for communication: this means building trust, learning and guiding others on what works, and standing with each other
  • improving life for this small community, which in turn improves life for the larger community: we are all in this together, whether you acknowledge it or not

I am very much excited about what is going on.


Update: Meg wrote a nice brief for the NG


No Houlihans tomorrow (June 27th)

I will be meeting with Dr. Eugene Barnes, Founder of the local Metanoia Centers and a big player in the Illinois People’s Action (aka Central Illinois Organizing Project).

Another perspective on American Education

re: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57455011/why-my-child-will-be-your-childs-boss/


First thing I have to acknowledge is that there is no silver bullet – we will never find one system that does everything perfectly. Having said that, I personally really like the story (both the anecdotal and the non-fiction) – it strikes a chord within me. When I looked, there were 53 comments all over the map, some of which even point out that this personal experience cannot be generalized for everyone. So my point in posting it is merely to say that I like it. You might not. Others certainly do not.


On a general level, it seems to me that one can determine what is really important by what characteristics, virtues and disciplines are taught, conveyed, imbued and instilled. Not merely what is pitched from the front of the classroom and written in our books, but what the final outcome is. A part of that picture is the travesty of how we raise a significant portion of our children to spend time in jail. And I say “we” very much intentionally – this is a responsibility we all share and we all need to think more seriously about.


Or in other words, “the proof is in the pudding.” The rubber is hitting the road.

A new twist on an old story: "education" the new national export

re: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/06/20/china-needs-american-education-heres-how-to-bring-it-there/

Whether it is true or not, I am always reminded that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. I am also reminded “haters gonna hate” and “stupid is as stupid does”. We will always be able to poke holes in the systems around us, while there will always be zealots that cannot stop singing praises of the very same thing.


Let us acknowledge that which is good and do good for everything else.

Review of June 21st Board Retreat

It was hard to know what to expect from the Board Retreat; the agenda certainly covered some interesting topics, but what was the format going to be like? Who would be in the audience? Who would be allowed to speak?

The retreat was held at Parkland’s brand-spanking new Applied Technology Center; this place was so cool it almost deserves its own blog post. 🙂 Suffice it to say that I wished I was a young college student taking automotive classes. Aside from the Board, most of the Mellon staff was there as well as a goodly number of school principals (my guess would be about 85% of all the school principals). Meg was there representing the NG and I was there merely being me – no other community members other than those already mentioned.

We started off with public comment, which was funny in some ways. I was tempted to fill out a comment card, but then I thought – we are supposed to be having a discussion, right? So I rolled the dice and skipped the comment card. Probably a good thing. Dr. Wiegand gave a little intro, and while we waited for Board Member Sue Grey to arrive, the Board acted on the two items tabled from the previous Board Meeting. I thought I heard that we have $39,000 in outstanding food fees. Wow, really? Surely I heard that wrong – I need to go back and look at the BoardDocs when I get a chance.

We jumped Read the rest of this entry »

Houlihans today: 11:30 – until I get tired :)

Anyone planning on coming today? Some topics to help seed conversations:

  • What Board policies really need to change?
  • Should any topics be introduced during “open comment” at the Board Retreat tomorrow? (I have heard rumors that Bullying might be added)


I’ll be sitting outside and reading a book. I can share some updates from what I have learned in the past few days if anyone is interested. The discussion you all are having about Garwood/Bristol Park is fantastic! 🙂 Not to mention the whole racial talks.