Thursday, July 29, 2010

If It Were Only That Simple: Education Reform

From Obama's speech on education reform: "I want teachers to have higher salaries. I want them to have more support. I want them to be trained like the professionals they are -- with rigorous residencies like the ones doctors go through," Obama says."All I'm asking in return -- as a president, and as a parent -- is a ...measure of accountability."

Cindi: I'm all for accountability...but only if the person being held accountable has more control over success variables...size of class, readiness of students, enough room in a nice space. And preparation like doctors? Would we get to keep peopl...e waiting a few hours before appointments? Would we get education malpractice insurance? Would we get office staff and assistants? Medical salaries -- how are those funded, anyway? I appreciate the ends -- we all share those goals, but the means can be quite elusive. Both careers are too stressful.

Tamera: I'm also for accountability, however in my experience it was very ambiguous. The teachers that were known to be poor teachers were left alone. The teachers who parents and other teachers respected and thought to be good teachers were hara...ssed by the administration. I heard time and time again that the administration didn't used students standardized test scores to determine teacher effectiveness, but then the admin would ask to see the students test scores and complain about the effectiveness of the teacher. To many times the system of accountability is highly flawed. Don't even get me going on support...

Ellen: I am so sad for teachers... and for our students. Such a broken system, and those that are effected the most, the two I just mentioned. So many teachers are hindered by the system, and want only the best for our kids.

Cindi: Back to proposed reforms, it is not the "training" that makes a good teacher, people. If that were true, how would you explain the incredible success of many homeschool situations when the parent-educators are not necessarily credentialed? A good teacher is like the "Harry Potter" of the learner's world...there are powers good teachers have that cannot be taught. They have a heart for the whole person, and eye for the individual student's unique set of gifts and learning pathways, and they wear the cloak of invisibility--those intangible ways of equipping and empowering, providing enough emotional safety for someone to take risks -- always foundational to learning and change beyond memorizing facts in a data dump. I guess I should just make this all a blog post.

And so I did.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis admitted wrongdoing. I had believed he was innocent. I'm now one of the many who in error gave him the benefit of the doubt. Bummer.

I can't imagine why someone would work that hard and mislead so many, and even take so much money. I know he needed to preserve a livelihood, but still. Might have been miserable living with all that for several years. I don't know all the motives and details. I felt betrayed. Now I feel pity or empathy or sympathy or something. I hope he gets help and finds forgiveness. I also don't get why he needs to point the finger at Lance Armstrong from his position. I don't need to explain it all or determine the truth. I just need to leave it all alone and move along, sleeping peacefully.

Weird. Life goes on.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Always Bittersweet -- Finishing in Paris

Today, the 2010 Tour de France ends with the cyclists riding into Paris along the Champs-Elysees. It has been three weeks of thrills and spills, beautiful countryside and cozy villages, sunflowers, cows, sheep, crazy fans, crowded corners, scary descents, cobblestones, engaging broadcasters, and brilliant helicopter camera perspectives. It is a long three weeks that I spend viewing much of the stage of the day early in the morning and possibly again for the replay in the evening. I'm always glad to get back to my regular schedule once it ends, but I am always sad to say good-bye to all the fun I get from watching.

I think this is my seventh year of watching the Tour de France. This year, I felt frustration with the difficulties of the route and the weather at the beginning and the multiple mountain stages. There were so many crashes in the first week. It got very discouraging. I also didn't see very many teams work together as well as I'd seen in previous years. That was different. However, I still enjoyed watching, listening to the commentary, learning, and following my many favorite cyclists. Some of my favorites withdrew, though.

The final day broadcast includes the highlight footage of the beauty and the fun of the Tour de France, always set to music. I really enjoy those summary montages. That is all part of the enjoyment of watching the tour for me. I sometimes feel like I have virtually visited France and a few surrounding areas and had a nice virtual vacation each July.

I do prefer watching on TV. We've learned that to be there in person is a whole lot of standing and waiting for the woosh of the cyclists and cars and motorcycles that often pass so fast you cannot pick out your favorites or even get a good photo. Waiting on a mountain stage catches a view of the cyclists because they tend to be moving a bit slower on a steep climb, but it is a lot of waiting and less than comfortable bathroom facilities. We've experienced all that by watching stages of the Tour of California.

Someday, I would like to be in the starting town for the Prologue a few days ahead, or in Paris for the final day, watching from a balcony. That would be memorable. Several of my friends and relatives have been in Paris on the final day and described it to me. I enjoy those stories.

I still can't completely explain the points and various other score keeping. I understand overall leader and who wins a stage and who wears the yellow jersey. It is a complex sport, and that makes it interesting, especially as I continue to understand strategy.

This year, I again appreciated how it is free to spectators to see the events -- no other professional sport can claim that. The corporate sponsors are where the budgets are met. Very important in this sport. Can you imagine pro football like that? With jerseys with company logos all over? I know we see Nike and other sponsor logos on football uniforms, but not to the extreme like in cycling.

Well, congratulations, Alberto Contador. Again. Thank you Andy Schleck for making it exciting and good luck to you in 2011. Thank you to everyone who provides a great three weeks of watching all this from my home. I will anticipate 2011 with delight.