Half an ugly meeting’s impartial observer.

September 22nd, 2014

There are some wonderful folks in Duluth and one is Karl Schuettler who I’ve blogged about before. After a short stint back in his hometown Karl is off getting a graduate degree. While he was back he punished himself without pity for the last year by attending school board meetings and blogging about them. Unlike me, Karl is a meticulous and tidy writer. No typos from him. Here’s his email to me and my reply back.

On Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM, Karl Schuettler wrote:

Hey Harry,

I was feeling a bit under the weather this morning, so I decided to check up on your blog for the first time in a while, and I read your account of the miserable meeting and wondered if it could really have been that bad. So I made the mistake of trying to watch the Youtube video, though I did not finish. Ugh, how brutal. 

A few comments here, after I talk about golf courses for a bit:
http://apatientcycle.com/2014/09/20/hey-duluth-politicians-im-still-paying-attention/

Who was the crank in the Annie Harala suit sitting behind the dais? That was ugly, and everything went off the rails after that. I’d mostly liked her before, and I didn’t think your preceding comments were bad at all, especially given what else gets said in that room. At least Marcia Stromgren wasn’t unbearable. All sorts of surprises in the Board Room!

You have my continued sympathy. At least the Board majority’s antics are really upping your odds of finding some allies in the next election.

All the best,
Karl

My reply:

Thank you Karl, Your post will be linked to in my blog. As always its fair and insightful.

I’ll cut Annie some slack. She wants to be part of the happy talk and I don’t blame her. If it was justified I’d much prefer it too. I don’t know if you caught it but when Art was ranting about his treatment again Annie said, off microphone, that she witnessed his behavior. I emailed her a reply that said I saw a lot of it too and it was not worth a bullet point on the list of allegations against Art. I also laid out the duplicitous and unseemly side of Art’s accuser. That could get me in trouble since the info is probably protected in some fashion but the more unhappy I get the more I’m willing to spread the filth. What an awful off-puting thing to admit.

Annie is a young idealist and this can’t be easy for her.

Harry

Its not the colonscopy I hate

September 22nd, 2014

My Buddy is on my case because I’ve posted several title only posts:

Harry:

There is nothing there.

Your Buddy

Yup, A couple nights ago I tried a new strategy to keep me on track. I’ve done it before for a single post occasionally – just typed in a title which I planned to address in the next day or two. Only this time I typed in four or five of the ideas that have been jangling around in my head. The last week’s posts, a fraction of what has been on my mind, have been showing up randomly. I’m trying to follow that idea from my friend who was an expert on organization. She told me that when you have a big project just break it up into little chunks and work on them. Don’t stop just because there is so much left to do. Just keep doing bite sized pieces and whittle the big job down until its done. (Well, that’s my paraphrase of the advice). Read the rest of this entry »

Not sleeping on it any more

September 20th, 2014

I’ve kept this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon on the bulletin board by my computer for ten years judging by how faded it is:

What Jefferson said about equal treatment

September 20th, 2014

A recent email correspondent thanked me and asked me how I make it though school board meetings like our last one. On Fri., Sept 19 I explained how:

I get through the meeting because folks like you give me some hope that I may be an exception to Twain’s appraisal of school boards.

My correspondent replied:

Well, you can throw back at Mern with his insistence of kids filling out the same form with Thomas Jefferson’s quote:

There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”

Later she emailed one more gem:

In the signature of all of my district emails was another quote by George Evans to remind people our students are not little conforming robots:

Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.
George Evans

About that colonoscopy

September 20th, 2014

Read this post.

Axe me no questions….again

September 20th, 2014

When I wrote the first post by this title it was after an hour of waking in bed planning a dozen related posts about minorities and their existence in Duluth and our schools. It was too big to deal with at the time and I never got around to explaining that AXE.

I’ll explain the axe and a new project of mine shortly. I need some coffee and to look at the morning paper. I’ve got to get my debris piles in jigsaw order first.

How I solve Jigsaw Puzzles

September 20th, 2014

Every year since my children were little Claudia and I have tried to find a jigsaw puzzle to put together around the Christmas Season. Most of them have been purchased on vacations and show something related to our travels. Last year I bought two while we traveled in the Badlands. One at Mt. Rushmore depicted a map of the US almost obscured by hundreds of bits of info on the 45 presidents of the US their homes and important events and places during their terms of Office. The other was a grand painting of four great Indian Chiefs painted over a background of Mt. Rushmore and representing, for the artist, the Native American equivalent of Rushmore.

That reminds me. We haven’t gotten a puzzle yet for this year. No big vacation just a lot of little excursions. Maybe I’ll go on line and find something. Read the rest of this entry »

An ugly School Board meeting

September 19th, 2014

I’d hoped that last Tuesday’s meeting (youtubed here) would end by nine so that I could watch the third episode of the Roosevelt’s from the beginning. The Meeting took three hours which clipped off the first half hour of the program. It was a pretty ugly meeting. I began it with a question to the Chair asking upon what Parliamentary authority he prevented non majority board members from placing subjects on the agenda for discussion. After a number of minutes of fruitless discussion we moved on with no explanation.

At about 1:22 (one hour and 22 minutes) Member Harala told me that she was tired of my grandstanding and explained that she understood I felt like a martyr. I had just “pontificated” about the deplorable testing results for minorities and complained once again that Art and I had no ability to place items on the agenda.

As I type this I’m listening to the meeting on youtube in the background. Its a kind of torture. I already lived it once. So far 46 people have watched some part of this meeting on youtube. One of them listened to the whole shebang and sent me a couple emails which included these comments:

I just had the opportunity to watch the school board meeting on youtube… 

…the meeting has left me yelling at my computer.  This board takes things too literally and too personally.  Facts are misheard, interpreted wrongly, and talking about the achievement gap does not mean that anyone is doing anyone about it.  Stats don’t lie.  We have ignored minority populations in favor of hoping our white kids can carry the district before you break down the data.  

*Linda Puglisi 3… ago missed my son, who was held under the water in the Morgan Park pool against his will by a sneaky student who was evading detection by the teacher on purpose.  And NOW the board is going to do something just because my son was able to come up to the surface before passing out and did not require medics coming to the pool?   Makes me see exactly how sad our education system continually refuses to see the students behind the spreadsheets and budgets. 

*Someone take away Rosie’s pom-poms to her cheerleader outfit, and give her a shovel and pail.  She needs to show how things are changing…. not just brag about how things are being talked about.  And no, we don’t need to filter what the public hears.  That is exactly what is WRONG with the SYSTEM.  

* Mike can say both schools [East and West] have the same registration forms.  

However, the STATISTICS of a population that is almost twice as big as the other school suggests that the OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A CLASS is GREATER at the school with the bigger population.  
A percentage of students could sign up for the same class at both high schools.  Say 2% want to take Norwegian.  2% of 950 is a lot smaller number than 2% of 1790.  (for those math challenged, that will be 19 students at the smaller high school to 35 students at the bigger school.  The bigger school would get the class because there is enough students to support the cost of a teacher for one period.  The 19 students would lose out because the district cannot afford to have a class with only 19 students.  

It is simple math.  And demonstrates inequities.

I don’t know how you get through a meeting without a maximum amount of Valium.

My trip to Barnes and Noble

September 19th, 2014

School Board work is putting a dent in my book reading this year. At the moment I’m reading a new novel out loud on Claudia’s Kindle to her that was just awarded the Mann Booker prize. Its the equivalent of the Pulitzer for the nations of the British Commonwealth. Its called the Narrow Road to the Deep North. I’ve read several dozen books to Claudia by now. She’s got about twenty books assigned to her this semester for her seminary classes and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off so its a challenge to find time to read. Still I’m about twenty percent of the way through it.

Claudia is a much better book reader than I am. A week ago I was reading the list of the 200 “best” American Novels to her after hearing about them on Public Television. As I read them she ticked off 47 that she remembered having read. She loses track of the books she’s read so I’m sure she passed the 25% mark. She told me of how when she was in grade school a teacher asked her class how many books the children thought they should read each summer. The teacher called on her and she told her thirty books. The teacher was a little astonished. If I read three in a year I was doing well. There has been much fear that kids aren’t reading books but that seems not to be the case in this story I read the other day.

As I have gotten closer to devoting this next year to nonstop school board activity I’ve forced myself to stop and smell the roses a couple times. I went out and hunted for agates last week on Park Point for an afternoon. I used to do this all the time. Now its a luxury. Wednesday I went to Barnes and Nobel and shopped for books. I hadn’t meant to buy any but I just wanted to walk the aisles. I found a marked down book on Prez Coolidge and decided to look on the Amazon site to see it reviewers gave it good ratings. They were so I bought it. Then I looked through the History aisle and found one on Lincoln from an interesting point of view, The Presidents’ War. The point of the book intrigued me. It was about the five living former presidents at the time of the Civil War and how they acted as the war went on. Some were Southerners, some Unionists and most played a role of some sort long after their presidencies. I’ve always had trouble remember the presidents between Jackson and Buchanan and I thought this might help me remember them.

The prize purchase of the day, however, was the complete Calvin and Hobbes. I read these cartoons to my children when they were little. Its time I read them to my grandsons. Claudia scolded me because she thinks the cartoons made our son a cynic. I say Tosh to that…….Actually, I was the first of us to suggest that. I guess I say “Tosh” to the possibility I will turn my grandsons into cynics. Hobbes was so lovable. I had to order them by mail from the store. They arrived today. Its like picking up a bar of gold. I can’t wait to read it to them.

An email I received to get me back on track…

September 19th, 2014

…before I rush off to serve lunch at the Soup Kitchen. It was sent late Wednesday night this week:

Hello Mr. Welty,

Thank you very much for giving me your personal email. I understand that there are a lot of unusual circumstances within the district, and I am certain that at times things are done “under the table”. The unfortunate thing for most of the kids on the west side of town is that these kids are not given the necessary tools to succeed further in life.

A little history on where I am coming from…. my husband and I are born and raised Duluthians and Duluth Central H.S. Graduates. Yet, every one of the schools we attended growing up are now closed.

So, when I see the inequalities between the schools on the East end of Town, versus the West end of town it infuriates me. If the school district continues to go down the path it is going, they might as well just have one huge school because once people find out that their kid is not going to receive the same education just because they “follow the rules and go to the school they are supposed to go to” you will continue to see a mass exodus of families either moving out of the district or transferring to the Eastern schools (which will continue to overcrowd those schools).

I also feel it is fundamentally WRONG to reward the people who are LYING and using other excuses as a means of getting their children transferred to the Eastern schools. If the boundaries were set exactly like they are now, and all of the kids who are “supposed to go to Lincoln and Denfeld” actually WENT to Lincoln and Denfeld, there would not be an overcrowding issue at East or Ordean. But, if the district wants to waste another $42,000 on hiring a new firm to conduct a demographic survey to show where the line should be, I can save them $42,000 by just closing all enrollment and making kids go to the school where their homes are located. The district can make the boundary a 2 block radius circling East High School and it would still be overcrowded, because of the stigma of the western half of the district. Parents will continue to complain and come up with one million excuses why their children nee, by the DISTRICT Office that 75% of the transfer requests are refused….. but little known fact that 90% of those that were initially denied, get granted, if their parents complain, or say that they will move out of the district. So that’s what families do, all because the district allows it.

Now back to why I was at the meeting last night. I am a 6th grade parent. My son honestly LOVES Lincoln, he does not want to go anywhere else, which makes me very proud. However, so far I have not got the feeling that my child is being Challenged by his teachers. I can only hope that he is getting the same education at Lincoln as his friends who are at Ordean. I would like to see an exam from two comparable classes at each of the schools to see if the expectations at both schools are the same, or if there is a disparity. I would also like to see a full academic schedule of both of the schools highlighting each class that is in session each hour of the day at both Lincoln and Ordean, and also to compare at East and Denfeld. I have heard from some parents that say the schools will not release such information. I would like to know why, it should be public information. What are they trying to hide?

Finally, I would like there to be a formal meeting any time a class is not offered at one of the schools. I know this seems ridiculous, however, the parents at Lincoln were blindsided this past year with their students not be allowed to have Spanish, and getting put into a class that is FACS (Family and Consumer Science-basically home economics for a culturally diverse population in its description) for an entire year. These families should have at least had an opportunity to sign their children up for a different language, or choose a different elective. I have a Masters Degree in [**********] and I worked very hard for that, but one of the things that gave me an edge on other applicants was the fact that I was Bi-lingual because I was able to take 5 years of Spanish (one year in 8th grade and 4 years in high school-with my final year as a Senior at Duluth Central over an Interactive Television class at DCHS that was a CITS type of class that gave me 5 college credits from UMD) I feel that stripping these children of such an opportunity should not be taken lightly, especially since their parents are the ones who are following the rules, and the boundary lines of the district. When my child ask’s me why I care so much about spanish, its not just about Spanish, it is because some of our neighbors, who are also supposed to be attending Lincoln, but have transferred (“For a better education and better opportunities”-their words not mine) have 8th graders who are in Spanish 1 at Ordean Middle School, and I don’t think this is the way we want to educate our children. I am not a believer in lying just to get what you want. I want the schools in the Duluth District to offer equal opportunities, so when a new family comes into the neighborhood the first thing they hear isn’t how they need to get on the list to transfer to an Eastern School. This is an equality problem and it needs to be addressed immediately.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you,

******** ********

I returned a hastily composed reply with a request to put this email on my blog with identifying info removed. I was given permission to post this:

************

I’m delighted you sent me this email. I’d like to write a much more detailed reply, however, at the moment I am about to play Grandpa and pick up children from school for their night with grandparents. After that I’ve got church choir and tonight I hope to get a good night’s sleep after waking up stewing about how messed up things are in the District and getting out of bed to write a long email to a fellow Board member who chastised me at last night’s school board meeting for not being positive. Oh yeah, and I want to watch the next segment of the Roosevelts on PBS. (I need a positive example of accomplishment to get me through my sentence on our dysfunctional school board.)

A couple quick thoughts. I don’t trust much of anything some administrators in the District tell me. I supposedly sit on the District transfer committee so if you are right about all the folks you say are lying to get their kids sent east, I have not been shown evidence of that. Last night our Board chair kept insisting that Denfeld students have access to the same classes that East kids get because they get the same class sign up sheets as students in East High. I have to try to reconcile that statement with your email and the potent column written by Susan Johnson in Monday’s Duluth News Tribune.

I have a request. I have a blog called www.lincolndemocrat.com. I would like to include your letter minus anything that would identify you in my blog along with my insufficient reply. Would you be comfortable with that?

PS. Are you any relation to ******** ***********?

Harry

Lost hour

September 19th, 2014

I just spent and hour writing a post on a tangent that had nothing to do with the twenty other posts I wanted to write about. I need more sleep.

Friday, 1:24 AM

September 19th, 2014

Always, my preoccupation with sleeplessness. Woke up around midnight. Listening to Rhapsody in Blue on Pandora as I type this. If I thought I was going to go back to sleep anytime soon I’d keep my earplugs in but no, I want to listen to some contemplative music as I try to enter some of the twenty or so post worthy ideas swirling around in my brain.

to the next post:

Crazy Numbers, Priorities, the Silent Treatment

September 18th, 2014

It was 6:21am when I began opening up this blog to begin this post. It will be a simple post but I want to impress upon my readers just how long a simple post can take to write. I can work for hours on particularly long ones especially when I embed links to other stories and webpages within the post. I’ll report the time at the point I upload or “publish” it.

CRAZY NUMBERS:

I have a head for numbers. That is not to say I have an easy time with math especially accounting to the penny. I was always very undependable back forty years ago trying to balance a check book. But I have never had any trouble with forests of numbers. If I have roughly ten grand in the bank I can go for a year rounding off numbers of deposits and withdrawals and keep a good approximation of the balance in my head, usually withing ten or twenty percent. I have always avoided credit like the plague. Its the hemophilia of bookkeeping. Its a slow leak of money that over time will dry a bank account to the bone.

So, I’ve added a couple new statistics to my thinking. The first is not terribly different than the one that has been in my head for years. It probably came from and NPR story so I have little doubt about its general accuracy. It is this: Roughly 1 in 3 “black” kids will spend time in jail. For Latino kids its 1 in 6. For whites its 1 in 17. I could and no doubt will, and probably already have, written about this in this blog. After worrying about the question of human potential among the various collections of humans artificially divided into a anti-scientific myth called “race,” I’m severely annoyed that something as benign as melanin should be the determining factor in assigning people to costly, damaging and degrading atrocities like prison. It tests my faith in apple pie, motherhood, the statute of liberty, the constitution and the stars and stripes. Not nearly “nuff said,” but I’m in a hurry.

The next number is one I heard today on another NPR story I half listened to about, I’m not sure, Daycare I guess. I was only half listening. It is this. The average daycare providers in the US earn $22,000 a year (a pittance). The requirements for providing daycare are roughly equal to the qualifications demanded of prison guards. Prison Guards in the US earn an average of $72,000 a year. I could pontificate about this at length and as noted in the previous paragraph probably already have or will at some point in the future. Again, not nearly “nuff said.” If the juxtaposition of these two figures doesn’t set your mind into the spin mode what the Hell are you reading my blog for anyway?

PRIORITIES:

I’ve posted about this often in the last year. For me right now its Family first, Saving the Duluth Schools second, Getting a writing career started, or something like that……It will probably change the next time I write about it.

As this construction season has bled away from me I find myself with one putzy project left I paid someone else to do the last time it was attended to – painting the woodwork on my brick house. It needs to be scraped, spot primed, and painted. I don’t have enough time to do it now. I started but I’ll end up finishing up the little I started and then resume the majority of the work next spring. I may do that grudgingly or hire someone to finish it because next spring I hope to attend to two other non family tasks. 1st Electing a sensible new school board in November of 2015 and fixing up my attic into a place where I can commence my writing career with all the documents I’ve collected over forty years and the couple thousand books I’ve put together to make sense of the world. I’d hoped to do that this year but first I sacrificed a 40th year anniversary river cruise through Europe and then the building project itself when we were hit with a huge tax as we altered our retirement financing.

Life……its so two steps forward, one step back.

Meanwhile I’m still attending to the first priority. I had the grandkids over last night as per Wednesday’s usual and I got myself signed up to be a chaperon for half a day on a field trip with the little dickens who crawled into bed with me at 3am this morning to steal my heat. Last weekend we took both of them to Iowa for a family reunion with Claudia’s farming relatives. The boys got to drive a tractor twice as big as anything I ever saw in a farm field when I was little and roll around in several tons of corn. When they got back home their mother dislodged a corn kernel from the old boys hair at bath time. I facebooked the pictures but I won’t be putting them here because of my priorities. It will take too much time to do it with all the other things I’d like to blog about whenever I find the time to get to them.

THE SILENT TREATMENT:

This, of course, refers to the last post. My buddy sent me this nudge yesterday:

On Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM, [Harry's Buddy] wrote:

From http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=11636: (Sometimes when I go silent…)
I have the most to say.

Oh, come on, Harry. Jump in. The water is deep.

[Your Buddy]

To which I replied:

It sure is. Oh my roof’s got a hole in it but I might drown…..

[Buddy],

Some of these entries are little literary tricks meant to keep people looking. But it is true I’ve got a lot of distractions. I don’t want to metamorepose badly too often or readers will get the idea I’m trying to miseducate their children. Besides, you always beat me up when I get sloppy.

Harry

This started out as a post to let me mention a couple stray statistics before they evaporated from my head. Its now 7:06am. 45 minutes. Sheesh!

Gotta go make breakfast for the grandkids and see if there is any useful news in the Tribune which may be waiting me on my front porch.

PS. I haven’t proof read this post but I did decide to add that I added a colon (:) after PRIORITIES. That and this addendum added another five minutes to the posting.

Sometimes when I go silent…

September 17th, 2014

I have the most to say.

Axe me no questions …

September 13th, 2014

Nudged by a sleeping but heat seeking grandson in a hotel bed this morning I woke to an hour’s restless thinking. I left the room to post my thoughts on Duluth’s growing black population.

Its about time they returned. The lynching in 1921 had the same effect as a drop of penicillin in a bacteria filled petrie dish. Most blacks left town and never looked back. They didn’t return until the Cold War and the twenty years that we had our big military air base. Even then it was in modest numbers. Our first home had been previously occupied by one such black family. 

A few military men, like Joe Gomer, retired to quiet little Duluth before the base closed. The new black population is a little grittier and more inner city. There is a self conscious quality about many of them not unlike any newly arrived immigrants huddling together in unofficially designated neighborhoods. Only they aren’t immigrants. Their black ancestors, those not thrown over the boat as shark chum, got here at least three generations before the Finns, Serbs and Jews of Duluth. 

You will find these much latter arrivals scattered securely through out Duluth. You could only pick these latecomers out if they told you their family name.

Not so the ancient American black newcomers. Anyone sighted could divine their background in an instant. America has not been fated to be a color blind society.

I heard a demographer once say that most people world-wide are comfortable with newcommers in their midst up until the newcommers population hits 7 percent.  The black population of ISD 709′s schools is 8.5 percent.

That is close to the nation’s share of the black population which is 10 or 11 percent.

I was given a slug of business cards by the school district when I came on board. I rarely pass them out. This morning when I woke up it occurred to me that I ought to make use of my color sighted affliction to pass them out to all the black resident I see in Duluth. 

The Welcome Wagon faded from Duluth 40 years ago, about the time Claudia and I moved here. Maybe I could make ir my personal crusade to welcome back this long scarce population now that they are cresting that problematic 7 percent. 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

The Trib’s ed contents today

September 11th, 2014

To my delight and frustration the Trib over the past several months has had more stories worthy of my attention than a couple of years ago. The tend not to be local but if they are worth reading I appreciate it.

Today I read three things with interest.

In the bygones there was a second mention of the Bryant Elementary School being closed. That is the first thing I remember reading about when I moved to Duluth 40 years ago. It was located at the foot of West End, today’s Lincoln Park. We sold it for a truck mall for $1 dollar. That one dollar was worth more in 1974 dollars than the $1 dollar we sold Lincoln Middle School for last year.

On page 3 there was a story about folks in their fifties and sixties still paying off student loans from their college years twenty and thirty years ago.

While student debt is not the prevailing type of debt among senior citizens _ most common are mortgages and credit cards _ about 706,000 households headed by someone 65 or older carry debt from their education. That’s 3 percent of households headed by someone in that age groupI c

According to this story this debt has soared in recent years:

The GAO also found that in 2005, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group was about $2.8 billion; by last year, it had climbed to more than $18 billion.

All this leads me to wonder at what our current young people’s student debt will look like if they find themselves, as thy most assuredly will, in the same boat once they’ve set off out to sea. It will be trillions upon trillions of bad debt.

Which leads me to the third item, yet another plea from one of my predecessor’s on the Board, Tony Stauber, for Duluth to consider the value of vocational education. He notes:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72 percent of Americans older than 25 have not received a bachelor’s degree, and the Department of Labor reports 37 percent of employed college graduates are working in jobs that require only a high school diploma. Yet we have education decision-makers sitting behind desks in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., requiring programs like No Child Left Behind, STEM skills, Common Core and more, including excessive testing and, now, more science. From what I have heard, few educators support this or find it adds much to students’ needs, interests and abilities.

Tony takes me mildly to task (without naming me) for being one of the three Board members to respond to his emails but who referred him to administrators in the District who would be able to answer his voc. ed. related questions rather than answer them ourselves.

I do think Tony is right on. I think the same folks who have put a premium on college prep classes are the same crowd who thought spending half a billion on new schools would make ours a fully functioning school system. How sad that the results aren’t what we would wish.

I’ve actually thought about these ideas for a long time. Before I was finally elected I ran three times for the Board. During this early period I recall writing a letter to the editor suggesting that the early 1990′s school boards attempt to take kids out of study halls and put them in additional classes was excessive and was not really student friendly. For this I was roundly criticized by our area’s Juvenile Court Judge in a withering reply letter to the Trib.

I didn’t respond again to the Trib, which wouldn’t have published my re-reply anyway. I did write the Judge a personal letter explaining, as I recall, that with a high drop out rate already the idea of burdening more kids with classes they couldn’t cope with wouldn’t make his job any easier. He sent me a thoughtful and rather apologetic reply which I appreciated. I kept voting for him until his retirement.

I still stand by my Dad’s old notion that learning ought to be a joy rather than a drudge. Our nation is all too eager to lean in the latter direction.

The missing…

September 11th, 2014

syllable.

My Buddy takes a break from critiquing my analysis and evidentiary standards to attend to something a little more prosaic:

Harry:

“metamorphis”? What are students in Independent School District 709 going to think of their academic leaders when they can’t find that word in a dictionary?

Your Buddy

http://lincolndemocrat.com/?p=11603

My limp reply:

That I’m being inventive?

Thanks for the note.

Harry

In my defense I did conclude the post with this disclaimer:

(POSTED AS FIRST TYPED – meaning there has been no attempt to proof read this post yet)

And in my further defense I’d note that while my blog software does automatically spell check the contents of a post it does not allow me to spell check post titles. When unsure of the spelling in titles I often embed them in the post itself for a quick check before putting them back in the title box.

Civility – and ancient history

September 10th, 2014

During the height of the Red Plan fight some of my allies were perplexed at my divided loyalties. In particular there was my fondness for Mary Cameron. Someday I’ll write about this in more detail. Another old friend I crossed swords with was Bevan Schraw who passed away last year from some dread disease. I once passed out campaign literature for him in the far western district in the thousands in what was then a futile attempt to elect him to the Board.

I’m grateful that I’ve got a long history of writing down my thoughts because when I poke around in the archives I can surprise myself. I just found a long forgotten column from the Duluth Reader. Its about that old war horse “civility” which I sometimes suspect is being paraded around as a weapon to smear the allegedly non civil.

PS. The critic of my column suggested I needed a “shrink.” NO, No, No! I’m not crazy. I’m an idiot. I’m a school board member after all and good ole Mark Twain knew his elected officials. He said, (and I’m quoting him for the millionth time) “First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he created school boards.”

Geez, that Twain was an uncivil SOB!

My current metamorphis

September 10th, 2014

I am in another of those recurring periods where I have 1. oodles of ideas for posts, 2. a great reluctance to shoot my fingers off so as not to muck up my ongoing work, 3 lots of other things to do which I refuse to ignore just for the sake of spilling the beans.

That said, I’m gratified that so many readers are hanging on my posts every word despite the current paucity of posts. Thank you for your indulgence.

Among other things I’ve been ignoring are emails from my Buddy who has things to say relating to recent posts of mine in which I use him as a foil to keep my fingers busy. I haven’t been reading his email because I just know I’ll go to bed stewing about what he says and thus have a hard time sleeping. Sorry Buddy. I will read them and perhaps reply. Every self proclaimed gadfly needs his own gadflies lest his/her self righteousness gets the better of him/her.

Today is rainy and I need it for it to be inclement to stay indoors and whittle down the growing piles of paper in my office. My latest project has been to scrape loose paint on my eves for spot priming before the autumn gets too cold. To my great irritation I discovered a couple days ago that last year’s gruesome ice dams led to water getting behind the eves and the summer long rotting of the wood on one corner of, if not both, eves. I spent most of one day on ladders with limited handyman skills and insufficient tools trying to patch this up. When the rain goes away I’ll be back at my painting. Its the last major detour before I resume full time politicking.

There is one other possible detour, and its would be a big one. I’d like to fix up my attic as an office to consolidate forty plus years of paper detritus which I consider archival and which Claudia keeps nattering on about tossing into a recycling bin. I’d like to have it in one spot before going on a book writing binge. I have blogged about this before haven’t I?

The first book I’d like to tackle is a history of the Red Plan leading up to today. At the moment I still have been frozen out of the loop which could help me make sense of it. That is spurring me to think about next year’s election and my determination to elect an inquiry friendly Board majority. I’m fed up with stonewalling masquerading as a bandage which only serves to cover up old unhealed infections. My Buddy has challenged me to explain why the District needs a “colonoscopy” and I’ve not really answered that question in a blog post yet. In some ways the millions of words and hundreds of questions this blog has trumpeted for seven years is an answer to that. It would be nice not to have so many skeletons rattling around in the closet before we move on to our future. For a second there is trust. I don’t trust the keepers of the Red Plan finances. They also manage the books of the District today. If I can’t expect candor from them how can I trust that any financial decision I make today will make sense? I want a colonoscopy to see if there are any cancerous polyps in the system.

The spur of writing a book to be completed for next year’s election has some competition. I’m not sure I’ll get my new attic office built anyway because of some financial considerations. If I could talk the school board into electing me the next chairman I’d have a reason to hold off on the book. Considering that my ally on the Board, Art Johnston, is persona non gratta to the point that the board has authorized a bum’s rush to remove him that would be a tall order. Still, I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility.

We spent forty five minutes at today’s Education Committee meeting dissecting the deplorable testing results for Duluth which are about to be dressed up as hunky dory because we did marginally better than the state. As I told my fellow board members at the meeting these results don’t satisfy me because we have been doing a lousy job educating kids since I got elected eighteen years ago. That’s a lot of water and little bodies over the dam. I’m damned if I’m going to put up with more of the same for the rest of my term on the Board. Perhaps as Board Chair I could help move us in a new direction and away from more of the same.

All this leads me to this renewed reticence to spill beans. I got a phone message from one of the majority members on the Board last night after the meeting wishing to explain why this board colleague had attempted to short circuit my questioning of the lousy testing stats. My goodness! An attempt at communication. Cool.

(POSTED AS FIRST TYPED – meaning there has been no attempt to proof read this post yet)

The condition of African Americans in Duluth

September 8th, 2014

Its not great.

First there is this in the Trib today.

On the reading test, black students, who make up 8.5 percent of the district’s enrollment, were 27 percent proficient while white students, making up 80.5 percent of enrollment, were nearly 64 percent proficient.

Then there is this on the opinion page. The “conservative” view. The “liberal” view.

Then there is the still lingering question of whether Duluth police, like so many of their brethern in other US cities, are more prone to pull over African American drivers than European appearing drivers. The Chief of Duluth’s police did not dispute this when he replied to my buddy after my buddy sent him this post from my blog. The chief simply said that there is more to the story. I my find about this “more” soon. My new black friend Tim apparently intends to invite the Chief and me to a sit down over a cup of coffee. I told Tim I’d welcome such a get together. Since we can’t seem to give our black kids a decent education maybe we can at least speed their progress though Duluth’s streets.

Ah, There is so much I’d like to blog about right now but its a sunny day and I don’t have much time left this year to clean out the dry rot under my eves which sprung up after last year’s ice dams.