“question everything”

“Basically, I question everything, and I’m always eager to learn new things,” she said. “I don’t ever want to stop learning.”



The girl featured in Jim Dey’s piece has an amazing attitude and outlook on life. I mean, how many people can say that becoming a chess grandmaster is just one goal among many to follow afterwards? Wow.


I cannot add anything to what Mr. Dey has written. All I can do is hope that everyone has the opportunity and courage to adopt a similar attitude towards life. If there are roadblocks that stand in way, how do we obliterate them?



Another uplifting story in today’s paper comes from Jim Rossow about a visit to Unit 4′ READY program:


NG Editor speaks up about the high school siting issue

First, read Mr. Dey’s article:


Update: Also ChamabanaMoms is asking the same question:


And be sure, Unit 4 has already ramped up the “sell”; all the amazing videos coming out, the quotes from current students, reports from current high school officials… I am not saying these are bad things, my point is to acknowledge that work has already started to get people in a favorable mood for passing a tax referrendum. It makes a lot of sense from the school district point of view.

And then we have a number of folks who are giving public comments at board meetings. My hat is off to them for taking the time to attend board meetings and make their voices heard. Tod Satterthwaite has spoken a few times in the past few weeks, members of the Ministerial Alliance and representatives of the NAACP have voice grave concerns, Holly Nelson has spoken against the current direction, as well as other various members of the community that I am not familiar with; all these citizens are saying they do not like the idea of a school north of I-74. I wish the board would react more publicly to all these people. Granted, Jamar has responded directly to a couple points (ie, explaining why Country Fair didn’t work out), but so far, the board has not released a scorecard of all sites, weighing out the various metrics for each site. Even the RPC “analysis” of the various sites that was published late on boarddocs gives only a cursory glance at how schools measure up in travel costs. And why is Centennial used as a baseline? That confuses me to no end – why is not Central used as a baseline if that is the school we are replacing? The lack of trust-building does not bode well. Read the rest of this entry »

"Democracy in action"

Last week, Meg Dickinson got the public wondering about a mysterious person who urged some board members to support one of their own as president. I don’t know how many hits the NG article got, but my own post had over 300 hits, which is on the high end for me. I also had a number of folks contact me privately asking questions and opining thoughts.

This morning, Jim Dey has an editorial (not online as of this writing). I do not always agree with Mr. Dey, but he does make a very convincing point; why all the secrecy? I have quoted one of his statements as the topic for this blog because I think, in general, most of us do not even know what democracy looks like. We have too few role models to follow that can show us what being participatory is all about. Having said that, pointing fingers is not helpful at all, either. All the people mentioned in the editorial have stories to tell. Perhaps they don’t want to tell the NG – and for that I do not fault them. It is frustrating when you want to tell a story, only to have it rehashed at the whim of someone else. Also, I have heard that the “requests for comment” was a bit of s stretch, says those who are “reticent.”

So here is my Monday morning challenge; show me more democracy in action. What does it look like when taxpayers and voters are involved, informed, educated and given a space to deliberate? What does it look like when elected officials are not cagey with knowledge? What does it look like when the newspaper editor talks to all the people involved? What does it look like when a thousand people are letting board members know what they think?

Show me what democracy is.


UPDATE: Editorial now online (no comments, yet?!?)


Challenge for Jim Dey

I submitted a Letter to the Editor tonight in response to a NG Saturday Monday Editorial (“New approach on suspensions“). My challenge for Jim Dey and the rest of the Editorial Board is to go hang out with some of the kids that are suspended (past or present) and learn a little more about who they are, their circumstances, and the classroom environments in which they “misbehave”. I am bothered that editorials can be so “off the cuff” and written without much substantiative backing at all. And I do not understand how Mr. Dey can proclaim to be in support of the program when his article drips with “good luck with that”. Nobody said it was going to be easy. In fact, I can guarantee it will be difficult and laced with trials. As Jamar stated at the Board Meeting on April 8th, it is all about relationships. And that is another thing; Mr. Dey was not at the board meeting and did not watch the video of it. I am now curious if he even read the materials on BoardDocs? Or talked to Mr. Orlando Thomas directly?

I emailed Mr. Thomas and requested student responses to his questions. He wrote back with a small list of replies to “What do you need to succeed?”:

  • A job
  • A tutor
  • More time do to my homework in school
  • More help from my teachers
  • Another resource period to complete my homework
  • More clubs, activities and sports
  • More school dances
  • A job for my mom
  • Somewhere to go after school
  • Cable tv at home
  • Longer hours at Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club
  • More black male teachers
  • Ms. Lane-Rose (AP on active duty)
  • Someone to help me to get into college
  • A stable house, tired of moving

Wow! Some of those really tug at my heart. Obviously, “cable tv at home” kinda sticks out like a sore thumb (*grin*), but I give the kid kudos for being honest. Some of those other ones… I just have to ask, what can we do to provide those things? Perhaps TALP addresses some of those needs. I will remind you that these are responses from kids who have already been suspended at least once. I cannot help but wonder what would happen to these 15 students if they received what they said they needed. If you had the power to provide for these needs and you had the knowledge that it would counteract a suspension, would you consider that a fair trade?

No, seriously, I am asking. Even if you only chose to do, say, five from the list.

What’s stopping you?


EDIT: I said Saturday’s Editorial. *facepalm* I meant Monday’s Editorial.

The Purpose of the School Board

This post started out as a deeper review and research of the recent Urbana School Board Policy 2:82 that got Jim Dey’s and Jim Turpin’s attention. But as I dug, I started asking bigger questions. Questions about the purpose of the school board and political engagement. But let me start from the beginning…

A few days ago, NG Editor Jim Dey wrote an editorial that stung the Urbana School District Board of Education and I started exploring his article in a post. Over lunch today, I took some time to dive into this whole thing with both feet.

First I contacted USD 116; I emailed the Board, Superintended Dr. Preston Williams and Assistant Superintendent Don Owen (and various administrative aides), asking where Policy 2:82 was published on the USD website. I must have missed it the first time looking through the Board Agenda, but the policy is indeed on the Board’s Agenda website:


As I was reading through it, I tried to ignore Dey’s perspective and form my own (which is rather difficult, actually). In reading through it, I can definitely see a sense of control being exerted. Control, in and of itself, is not inherently bad; I say that explicitly because even though it is obvious, we seem to want to escalate any desire for control into the realms of “bad” and “evil”. Certainly it can be used for bad. Is it? Also, I had to remember that these are expectations – when I read this, I did not see any ramifications stated if expectations are not met. Some call that kind of thinking devious, others call it thinking outside the box. (*evil grin*)

I also Read the rest of this entry »

Urbana School District Board puts themselves under an "interesting" PR policy

Jim Dey of the News-Gazette takes a very interesting (and somewhat harsh) spin on new policies adopted in Unit 116:



Jim Turpin talks with Jim Dey on “Penny for your thoughts”: http://assets.news-gazette.com/sites/all/files/audio/2012/07/02/penny_7-2-12.mp3


The general stance from both Mr. Dey and Mr. Turpin seems to be that this is really bad news, and a bad precedent for School Boards to be taking. Both gentlemen seem surprised that the Urbana School Board had the guts to put it in black-and-white – there is speculation that a lot of Boards seek this kind of “controlling the message” in an effort to unite the voice of the body.


More later.

For myself, I would want to read the said policies for myself before I form my own opinion. I have often wondered how best for a body to fulfill their purpose as a middle-man between the body of registered taxpayers that votes them into the position and the administration for whom they are ultimately responsible. Having one, unified voice (I hear “Lord of the Rings” in the background) certainly makes sense in one direction; but how does it help engage the public and “do discussion”? Obviously, in practice we have a hard time finding a balance.