Friday, February 20, 2015

Jesus Take the Wheel

Here's an article about proposed legislation in Mississippi that will allow church bus drivers in the state to not be required to have a commercial drivers license.

Its author says it is to allow small churches, where maybe no one has a CDL, to still use the larger transport vehicles.

My questions:
1) Just because a small church might not have a member with a CDL, couldn't someone go and get one? 
2) I wonder what insurance companies will say about this?

It would be like someone saying, "just because I'm a single parent working 2 jobs, I'm going to let my 8 year old drive and pick up their younger sibling from day care while I'm at work.

I have a CDL from work in a church with one of these large buses. It took hours of study and practice to pass the written and driving tests. I learned there are many laws (in my state at least) about the responsibilities of a high capacity transport vehicle (over 15 passengers) that I would have known about except for the licensing requirement.

Will drivers of church buses also be exempt from following any applicable traffic laws, like possibly stopping at train tracks?

Not having to pay sales tax as a non-profit is a pretty sweet perk for churches. I don't see how this proposed law makes sense.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unfulfilled Promise

Somewhere between "ambition" and "arrogance", I forgot that I had intended to post much more frequently. Well that hasn't happened. Lots going on. Preoccupied with teh internets. Christmas. Sorry.

In other news, I just spent a bunch of money on my health insurance. I enrolled for coverage for me and my 2 kids through the healthcare marketplace. And I GUESS it saves me money. Except that it's not. It's like buying a couch on discount - they tell you that you've saved money even though you've just dropped several hundred on a couch you were told you needed because they were taking away your old couch that worked just fine.

Case in point: my current health insurance plan (which expires Dec. 31st) costs about $360/month. BCBS is canceling that plan.

Thanks jerks.

I can enroll in a new plan through BCBS that is comparable to my soon to be extinct plan, and the cost of that new plan is over $600/month. I can enroll in that same shiny new plan via the healthcare marketplace...

*saves the day?*

...for just over $425/month. See what they did there? I've got mad savings! But not really because my current plan is just right and it's not broken - so stop trying to fix it. So I'm paying $65 more a month for a new insurance plan that I didn't need.

My family makes too much to qualify for any subsidies or rebates. So yay 2nd job to cover my health insurance!

I get what the Affordable Care Act is trying to do, and I do believe that in a society that we should all look after one another's well being. I believe that basic healthcare is a human right. But today I don't believe that the only way to get it done is to make it so the insurance companies can squeeze consumers tighter for that last dime.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Advent Blogging

After a lengthy break from posting, we here at the 'Bytes are gearing up for an active holiday season. We'll post pictures from our events and decorations, and we'll share some "explainer" posts that help understand things like Advent and the liturgical year.

We're planning several posts during the Christian season of Advent, and will offer reflections on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. We hope you get as excited about this as we already are - it's a time of year that we can't get enough of!

To get started, here's a few reflections anticipating the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend:

While Giving Tuesday (Dec. 2nd) isn't specifically tied into Thanksgiving directly, it does fall within the post-Thanksgiving consumerist appeal. The important thing to notice is the scheduling. The major shopping day of Black Friday and the huge discounts of Cyber Monday are book-ended by two days of gratitude and sharing. We're conditioned these days to quickly chow down on the turkey and dressing then rush out the door to stand in line at Best Buy in hopes of getting a deal on a TV. It says a lot about our willingness to appreciate the holiday when we're preoccupied by ads and incentives for showing up at the big box store on Thanksgiving night.

So maybe Giving Tuesday is a way beyond the short-lived pressure and anxiety of the shopping frenzy. Maybe Giving Tuesday gets us back to the genesis of Thanksgiving - that we are indeed thankful for what others have done, and we're moved to give in support of that work.

I hope to participate in Giving Tuesday, and plan to donate to Heifer International . I trust that you'll find some meaning in Giving Tuesday as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reading and Retention: 201

I wrote yesterday about a recent Oklahoma legislative measure that would provide for secondary reviews of some 8,000 "unsatisfactory" scores from Oklahoma third graders. The test was for reading proficiency, and Oklahoma Law mandates that students be retained if they fail the test.

This reminded me of the role of reading education in the history of the Church. The modern "Sunday school" program has its roots in mid 19th century England, where poor and low-income children whose families couldn't afford tuition to private school received free lessons and tutoring in churches. Sunday school really was all about academics in the beginning. Today's children's Christian education programs aren't even a shade of their ancestry.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reading and Retention: 101

Today Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a bill (HB2625) that would have given special permission to a select committee of parents and specialists (educators) to review the scores of nearly 8,000 Oklahoma 3rd graders. These students scored "unsatisfactory" on the state's reading sufficiency test and are faced with retention - being "held back" to repeat the 3rd grade next school year. The special committee would have had the authority to review each individual test score and make a determination if that child should be advanced or indeed be retained.