Thursday, August 19, 2010

The pen is mightier

Refraining from any "Celebrity Jeopardy" SNL jokes, here in the real world - the pen is certainly mightier than the sword. Or in my case, the keyboard.

Earlier today I posted a response on the Facebook page of the Mid-Del school district. The comment I was responding two was a call to action by another community-aware citizen who was asking what could be done to improve the quality of education in the district. In the comment, the individual mentioned that in the elementary classes, some teachers have up to 30 students per class, and questioned if the students were receiving adequate instruction.

Here's the pull quote:
"School has been in session for a week now. You cannot have an effective learning environment with 30 kids in an elementary class. Parents are being patient, kids are getting distracted, teachers are going above and beyond to try to teach our students and our administrators are continuing to evaluate the numbers & dol...lars. Our kids are "safe". Their current "challenge" is they are only getting a fraction of the instruction time needed. If they spend an entire school year (or even a month) in too large of a class size, they will not be "ready" for the next grade. How can Mid-Del parents and patrons help?"

[note: "Safe, Challenged, Ready" is the byline on the District's Facebook page.]

So I respond by suggesting that maybe parents and patrons should encourage a decrease in administrative staff and let that money funnel into hiring more teachers for the classrooms.

Background: Mid-Del received Federal Stimulus money and created a bunch of new positions in the educator and administrative areas. Great teaching positions like Literacy Coaches are being funded by this stimulus money. But as that money dries up, those positions are on the chopping block, whereas newly created administrative staff positions are not.

In some instances, there are not enough teachers in the classrooms, as the commenter points out. Conversely, there are some administration-level positions that have additional secretary-level staff under them, which were also jobs created by stimulus.

One major problem I have with all of this is that if the teaching positions are allowed to expire but the admin positions are not, how will they be paid for?

Oh yeah, the district has canceled its commitment to teacher retirement - that's how.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can You Find It??

See if you can find:

* Skittles
* Air Hockey puck
* Wall-E
* Sweet Potato baby food
* Diamond "Strike on box" matches
* Carmex
* Food Markers
* The National's "High Violet" CD (courtesy of ModernSuburbanite author, Michael Ross)

First prize gets an e-five. Good job!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back in the saddle, again.

Today marks the return to work for Mid-Del teachers. They have 1 week to prepare classrooms for the impending onslaught of students.

It also marks my return to being "Daddy Day-Care" minus Eddie Murphy of course. Though I wouldn't mind if Kevin Nealon stopped by.

What was once a place of relative productivity earlier this summer, has now been once again transformed into a wasteland of sorts with Goldfish crackers on the floor, dirty diapers in the trashcan and [finally], a sleeping 7 month old on the floor.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

what I did on my summer vacation

Imagine, if you will that you had all the time in the world. What would you do? That's right - you'd remodel your in-law's bathrooms!

The first step is to remove the strange 12" knockout above the sink area, just to realize that there is nothing separating you from the 6-10 inches of blown fiberglass insulation in the attic. This is where plastic trash bags come in handy.

Step 2 is to realize that there is a 3 or 4 inch PVC sewer vent pipe that angles out away from the wall just about 4 inches from where the ceiling meets the wall, which was the reason for the larger 12" boxed area above the sink.

Step 3 is to come up with an ingenious plan to both hide the PVC Pipe and still conquer the big intrusive knockout from the ceiling. 11" long and about 7 inch wide 45 degree partitions that still raise the ceiling above the sink.

Step 4: Sheetrock it all up.

Step 5: let the wife scrape all the popcorn crap off the ceiling so that the new Sheetrock ceiling and the old one can blend together with a new hand made ceiling texture.

Step 6: Paint new wall portions and hang new track lighting.
Step 6.5: install support beams and hangers for new granite and porcelain sink top.

Step 7: Glue down granite sink top and backer-board for porcelain side pieces.

Somewhere in there the vanity got a coat of mahogany stain, and the wall cabinet units got a coat of white paint.

More pix and the rest of the story once the porcelain, tile, sink bowl and faucet go in. The plumbing might be tricky.

Quest to Questa!

Each summer, I plan a week-long mission experience for the youth of our church. This year the adventure took us to Questa, NM where we worked with Habitat for Humanity of Taos, NM.
While we were there we put a roof and the scratch-coat of plaster on a house, preparing it for the smooth-coat surface treatment, and making it much more weather-resistant. Doors and windows won't be in until mid to late August, but this was a major start to getting it winter ready.

While we were in the area we decided to do some great outdoorsy stuff like hang out at some hot springs in the Rio Grande river gorge.

And do some horseback riding in Bobcat Pass, just east of Red River, NM.

And finally we hiked 2 miles up to Williams Lake, near Wheeler Peak. The elevation climb is about 1500 feet and seeing as we started at about 10,100 it was a challenge for most of our group.