Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kids Need Discipline and Infrastructure

Hats off to acknowledging the need for vocational education, or votech as we used to call it. (Although I do have to say I cringed when I read the line in the MAJ, "The idea is to give more options to students who are unsuccessful in a traditional environment...") However, this is 2012 and not 1982. What will be put into place to insure a steady and engaged, enthusiastic and willing group of students, and enough so that this investment is maximized, as well as justified? What will the offerings be that will make it seem a viable option and worth the while of the students? Will certain students be tracked into it, or will the curricula and offerings put the demand for an opportunity to be a part of the program on par with the demand for a slot in some of our area magnet schools. Any input forthcoming or expected from our area's largest employers, e.g. the State of Alabama or Hyundai, which is the size of a small rural or northern city in itself? Our district is being inundated with options, ideas and examples of new avenues and venues for education--new schools, charter schools--all within the day-to-day workings of a Lee, minimum standards not being met, and the addressed knowledge that many of the system's current students are not on track to graduate. And further, what is enrollment currently like overall? How are birthrates and population shifts trending? There doesn't seem to be a tremendous amount of household growth in the more established parts of the city. I mean I could be wrong, but it seems that the only thing we have to contend with as far as population growth and shifts are the sprouting up of neighborhoods in the outlying areas of our MSA, I.e. Hampstead, the Waters etc... For me, that appears to be an advantage, possibly allowing us to focus our attention and our funds on addressing and investing in the improvement of our current facilities and programming as opposed to embarking on an overly ambitious and possibly not expedient building plan. Quite often, our strategies seem like a zip drive, as opposed to a Windows patch. They address, gather and store without actually providing an executable in the form of a solution or a fix. However, much like a zip drive, fortunately, they don't appear to add to it. Be mindful, K-12, plus seven to eight years is a career. In about 20 years there will be a need for quite a few people to work on that $94 million (?) airport expansion. We saw the turn out for that, and that's just one example of what I can only hope is not a growing sense of apathy or active disassociation regarding what goes on in our city. The epiphany and ah ha moment: realizing today's schoolchildren are the future's employees public and private, small businesses, employers with 50+ employees, and initiatives that get completed on time, within or over budget. Yes, that group of second graders at Winton Blount Cultural Park is a part of your future. One kid at Montgomery Academy could be the determing factor of whether or not there will be a Jubilee. It's time to get selfish. A commitment to their future is a commitment to yours. So shop, spend, get involved. It is all about the jobs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Noblesse Oblige and the Beatitudes (or Be Attitudes, Phonetically Speaking)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Matthew 5:3-11
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you for my sake.

The Church and the State are separated…really. Or, is it really?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stereotypes Exist for a Reason

I have to admit, I don’t know much about the details regarding the Trayvon Martin case, if that is indeed what it is now.  Unfortunately, regardless of how it is resolved, there will still be one less black male and another other race male that will have to live with the fact that he took a life.  No, this is not about Trayvon.  It’s about our level of responsibility relative to how we are viewed, perceived, judged and treated.  I’m not going to address the exceptions, those adverse issues, incidents and prejudices that arise despite our best attempts at civility towards our fellow man, and those that are not going to like or have an affinity for you no matter what.  This is strictly about holding ourselves to a certain standard, and being honest about our actions and manner.

Relative to honesty, perhaps it was easier to navigate through behavior and attitudes during the Jim Crow era because you’d know exactly where you stood. The phrase politically correct wasn’t even in the lexicon. And please don’t take offense to the Jim Crow reference. This is in no way intended to denigrate or lessen the importance of the Civil Rights Movement. Again, it’s about honesty.
It seems the more we try to regulate and legislate civility, the less we strive to be truly civil.

 The previous example may be a little extreme, but think of others. Today’s schoolchildren don’t have to experience not getting a valentine from everyone, or being picked last for the team. There is no stigma relative to the teenager walking around pregnant in middle school or high school.  What is the expectation, or what can we aspire to if we can’t truly acknowledge how we feel because everything has to be right and fair?  It’s like affirmative action and set asides in relation to behavior and standards.

Perhaps we’ve expended so much effort over the last few decades telling our children what they can do, that we neglected to tell them what they can’t.  Is it possible to make others feel that certain options are accessible without imputing a sense of entitlement?  Is that how we cultivate a work for it ethic?  Again, how can we talk about raising the bar and reinforcing positive, acceptable behavior that allows one to progress when attempts to be just have all but taken the bar away?
You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but some of them don’t end up on coffee tables by happenstance.