Henry Rollins Comments On Steubenville Rape Verdict | Under the Gun Review – My response

Henry Rollins Comments On Steubenville Rape Verdict | Under the Gun Review.

A friend “tagged” me in a Facebook post that linked to this article by Henry Rollins. This a serious enough issue that I want to address it, especially from the perspective of a parent and school board hopeful. My friend indicated in her tag that she would like to see his ideas in our district. I think the spirit of his ideas are right, but I am not sure about the details. I have to say that he did put the blame where it belongs: on the offenders, but also on the society in which they matured. Rollins says that we need “women’s studies in the high schools” and total sex ed where students can “learn how it all works,” and that “rape is rape.” These are the difficulties I have with Rollins’ ideas. I don’t think the problem is a lack of course work or that these men didn’t know “how it all works.” I think it goes much much deeper than that.

In my opinion, the problem is a lack of responsibility, denial of the humanity of others, little respect for human life, and a belief that there are no real consequences to their actions. I could get behind Rollins’ first suggestion, that women’s studies be offered in High School, but if, and only if, the courses were handled with care and in such a way that they avoided any suggestion of the  “male bashing” that is often expected in these classes. By all means, teach about the heroic role of women in all facets of life and in the in the world, but do it while respecting men. These women were successful and heroic – sometimes in spite of men, sometimes instead of men, but often alongside men. We can not forget that we are two halves of humanity, and I think sometimes this kind of course does that. They need to teach that women are true equals – different in their femininity, but equally strong, intelligent, and capable. Will that solve the problem? I don’t  think so – but for those students who DON’T see women in these roles, it might at least present another point of view for them to develop.

As for total sex ed – I really do not believe this is the answer to this problem. Sex ed is a serious issue, but one for another time. Most men don’t need sex ed to know rape is bad, and “How it all works” has nothing to do with an act being rape or not. Society, family, and general humanity should teach all people – men and women – what rape is, and that it is always unacceptable and deserving of the harshest punishment. Anatomy, contraception, and how to avoid STD’s are not going to teach one not to rape, and in fact there are those who would say it would increase the dangers. Respect is what needs to be taught. The value of humanity and freedom of others needs to be taught. Not “safe sex.”

And Rollins’ last (facetious?) point, that equal time be given to male and female peep shots, I could not disagree with more. However, I could not AGREE more with his last statement: “don’t take that…picture.” It boils down to that – regardless of what the person puts out there, show them we live in a culture of respect.  We can begin growing such a culture when photographers refuse to promote “The shot,”  and schools and families demand respect from and for everyone. If we do that, movies will change, music will adapt, and young people will start living it.  THAT is what I think will lead to fewer tragedies like Steubenville happening in the future.

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Education Week: Ed-Tech PD Focuses on Student Learning Needs

Education Week: Ed-Tech PD Focuses on Student Learning Needs.

A very insightful article with a point of view I think get lost in all the hype about new technology. Don’t misunderstand – I LOVE new technology – I am an Instruction Technologist, after all – but if the best technology is a book, then use a book; if it’s virtual reality, then by all means move into the VR world! But how can we know what works if we don’t focus on what we are trying to teach first??

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Four in one……

WOW – I just realized how far behind I have gotten! I actually have FOUR schools that I have visited in the past week that I haven’t told you about. In the interest of time (it’s midnight again, and only 15 days until the election), I’m going to try and tell you about all of them without writing a book. Can she do it? as my daughters cartoon friend would say…. Yes, She Can! I would answer with confidence….So here we go…..

First, on the afternoon of the 11th, I visited with Ms. Ginger Cochran of Ridge View. This was especially nice, since I not only saw the school, I saw so many of my son’s ex-teachers and paras! My middle child, Connor, started out in the Early Childhood program at Ridge View about 8 years ago, and my husband and I swear that it is one of the biggest parts of his progress even today.  I saw his old room, and many of the people who worked there, and who remembered me!  His actual teacher is now at Maple Grove, doing great things there, I have heard, even though I missed seeing her during that visit. (I did just happened to her in Wal-Mart a couple days ago, and we had a wonderful, albeit short, visit in the produce aisle.) The thing I noticed most about Ridge View was the changes in security. Ms. Cochran was very security minded, and even asked if I knew anything about a way to impress upon the parents of such young children the need for internet awareness. I promised her I would look into that, and I will – I love that she is so concerned about such an important topic. Most people don’t think children that young need to worry – but ohhhhh – they definitely do!!

Next I visited the Middle School – my oldest son’s current stomping grounds. I didn’t get to see him, much to his relief, I’m sure, but I did see a lot of the school and had a really good visit with Mr. Elliott. WMS is broken into a block schedule, which I have to admit I haven’t really liked.  Mr. Elliott’s explanation did make sense – because of this scheduling they have smaller class sizes and can offer more classes. This is important. Mr. Elliott is very aware of the possibilities that the future brings, encouraging flipped classrooms, hoping to try BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and waiting for improved WiFi.  Like many of these facilities, WMS needs space – space for Art, and space for Tech. They have social workers, process coordinator, and instructional and literacy coaches. Their SpEd prgram has 11 paras, and although most kids don’t need the one-on-para, if they do, it is available.  They have a Solutions room and a safe room (for rare occasions), and a certified teacher in the focus room!  This school seems very focused on progress – progress in security, performance, and in the personal development of their students. I have to say I’m glad my son is in this school; it may not be perfect, but it’s much much better than many many others I have heard tell of!

On to the Career Center – a place for both High School and adult learners. Mr. Rusty Sproats, Director of WACC told me about the programs they offer – Health Sciences (PN and CNA), Cosmetology, Auto Technology, Construction Technology, Auto Collision, and Computer Repair and Networking. Some of these programs even offer services to the public – cosmetology (I’ll be heading there for a facial after the election) and the Auto shops specifically (and I’m sure I have work that needs to be done on my car!). This not counting the programs that are handled off site at the High School (Agriculture, Business, etc.). The programs in these buildings are exceptional – in fact, there was a little justified bragging at one point – Their brand new, first year, Nursing instructor had 100% of her class pass the CNA exam – that is IMPRESSIVE!!!! and definitely deserves our congratulations!

Before I move on to Martin Warren, I have to add couple other plugs – the Auto Tech program has some really wonderful equipment – computers and a top of the line alignment machine. These are obtained through grants – no easy feat, and demonstrative of the care they take. And last – next year they will be hiring a Math/Com Arts teacher (very interesting combination, says the English teacher in me). They will be working on the Common Core just like everyone else, strengthening that sense of cohesiveness that I have seen through out our district so far.

And last but definitely not least (to use a cliche), Ms. Lorna Cassell took me through another of the boys’ old schools – Martin Warren. This was the one I was probably most familiar with next to Sterling, but I couldn’t get over how much brighter it looked. Ms. Cassell has placed student art work in very conspicuous parts of the school – and it looks amazing. Not just professional, but lived in – like the kids really do love their school. She told  me of some of her other plans for adding even more personality, and I am anxious to see it myself! Ms. Cassell seems to really be about affirmation and support. These kids, and her staff, are family. She has morning assemblies every morning, with happy birthdays and shout outs, and she is excited about the upcoming concert that will be held in her auditorium with its new bleachers and sound system. I have to say, this was my last tour, but it was a good one. I’m glad I finished here – her enthusiasm was contagious, and while I was still finding it interesting, her enthusiasm made it fun as well.

So, ladies and gentlemen, readers and voters, and Warrensburg parents, that completes our tours of the Schools of Warrensburg. I have learned so much about our district in these past couple weeks, and I have really just reaffirmed why I want to be a part of it. I will be back, hopefully tomorrow night, to post some more serious content. I am also hoping to get another project started soon, specifically for our Special Needs community – but rest assured – I know ALL our families need support, not just those with unique challenges, and I look forward to being there for them.

So – upcoming events you might be interested in – on March 27, there will be a Teacher’s Forum in the afternoon and a Meet the Candidate in the evening. If you are a teacher, come hear us speak at your forum at 4:00 at the High School. If you’re not (or even if you are)  – come say hi at 5:30 in the American Legion Hall. I look forward to meeting you!

Until then – have a great week!

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In Common Core, Teachers See Interdisciplinary Opportunities

In Common Core, Teachers See Interdisciplinary Opportunities.  So much opportunity here. I see the difficulties in Common Core, and with interdisciplinary teaching, but the idea of Project based learning is a good one (although I do believe in grades, unlike one of the instructors here).

Posted in Education Week Teacher by Liana Heitin

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Millennial Students and Middle-aged Faculty: A Learner-centered Approach | Faculty Focus

Millennial Students and Middle-aged Faculty: A Learner-centered Approach | Faculty Focus.

A very interesting bit of insight from a “Digital Immigrant”   English teacher facing “Digital Natives” every day. I think we can ALL relate to this in some way, regardless of the level we teach!  Posted in Faculty Focus. March 18, 2013

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I have had a great few days – but very busy ones!

Since I last posted, I have visited The Warrensburg Career Center, the Warrensburg Middle School, and Ridge View. Every one of them was interesting and showed its own unique personality, points of excellence, and individual challenges. I apologize for not getting these posted sooner, but as I said, it has been a time! 🙂 I can’t wait to be able to sit down and just write – like tomorrow night – but until then, please remember I am still out here, and I so want to hear from YOU – please send me questions, comments, or observations. How can I be the representative YOU would like to see on your School Board? I know a school board member is only one of many, but if I can be a voice for parents, teachers, or administrators, that is what I want to be.

Thanks so much for your consideration – and take care! I’ll be back tomorrow night!!

OH – And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  🙂

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Thank you to Ms. Grelle…..

I just learned the name of the woman responsible for Maple Grove’s “Autism spectrum classroom” – Ms. Sheree Grelle.

(To be honest,  Mr. Finnane did tell me her name, but in my hurry to take notes, I did not get it written down, and I owe her an apology for that. I guess I would never make it as a reporter! )

So, to rectify my oversight, I have to say I wish I could take  all the parents (not just those with Special Needs kiddos)  into this room and show them the wonderful work she has done. I only got to see it very briefly, but I hope that my other projects (an online information “hub” for Special Needs families) will allow me to see more of this, and maybe even visit with her a bit in the future. In Mr. Finnane’s words, ” She has so much knowledge and passion[; she]  is really the individual responsible for this great initiative.”

And a great initiative it is – Thank you, Ms. Grelle, our kids really need your insight.

Now how do we clone you for our other schools…. 😉

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From one to the next…

I know – two posts in one night – But I didn’t want to put off sharing the wonderful visit I had prior to visiting Maple Grove on Friday when I was able to spend some time at Warrensburg High School with Ms. Simone Dillingham. Even at 8:00 in the morning, her enthusiasm and passion for her school came through with every word she uttered. Although there were a few areas where more funding would certainly come in handy (a new fine arts center, more science labs, and athletic fields, for example), what they have out at this facility really is very exciting. Warrensburg High School students are able to study agriculture, video production, foreign language (French and Spanish), drafting and production, and stagecraft, in addition to the more traditional subjects. The Career Center (which I will be visiting tomorrow) supports a number of classes that the high school takes advantage of as well, including a full working shop, personal finance, and web design. These are courses that will help students further themselves professionally as well as help them succeed in their personal lives.

In addition to these educational options, there are some newer facilities that are quite impressive as well. There are two fully functional computer labs, one Mac, one PC, a working Greenhouse, CAD computers, and a new auxiliary gym with a weight room and an aerobics room. There is also a distance program through WeMet, but the logistics of this program need a little support. Due to the fact that the classes are often full to capacity and beyond, and a teacher would have to be pulled from a full classroom to serve the WeMet class, it can not always be utilized to its fullest. There are a couple summer offerings of personal finance, and Plato is available for at-risk students, but there is so much more possible with this kind of program. This is something that I think should be addressed. Distance education, even at the High School level is very important. If nothing else, the ability to collaborate with other schools needs to be realized. It was clear to me that Ms. Dillingham would like to take advantage of such an opportunity if it were presented, and I hope some day I might be able to work to help make it happen!

Warrensburg High serves just under 1,000 students, with approximately 100 special needs students and a number of gifted individuals. Because I had recently seen the presentation on the gifted program that I mentioned in an earlier post, I asked Ms. Dillingham if the current method of serving gifted high school students was adequate. Her true passion for her job immediately showed as she told me about the dual credit, AP, and honors programs. She described how the university works with the students, even offering independent study when it would benefit them. She made it very clear that not only is there a very good gifted program at Warrensburg High, but that she is very proud of it. In fact, when I asked what a new Board Member could offer her, her response was communication – encourage people to ask questions of those that have the answers. There is good communication among the members of the district; I have seen numerous examples of collaboration between faculty, administrators, and schools, but communication between the parents and the schools could probably be improved. I have seen this myself, and my questions to Ms. Dillingham about the gifted students was a very good example how miscommunication can happen.

In closing tonight, I want to reiterate one of my primary goals – building an maintaining communication – I hope to keep this avenue open right here, with Positive Connections. We may not always like what we hear, but we like not hearing a lot less!

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I promised I would catch this up, and here it is!

I promised I would catch this up, and here it is – my accounts of my very interesting and enjoyable visits to Warrensburg High School and Maple Grove Elementary. This was truly a day of opposites, as I got to see both our students’ first and last stops on their journey through Warrensburg’s school system.

First, Maple Grove is, well, cool. There is no other way to say it – it’s just cool. It’s our newest building and appears to have been built with safety, sustainability, and, of course, usability in mind from the very first brick. As a testimony to its success, the building was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council 2012 LEED Gold Award. From the rain-fed water feature to the sustainable paint choices, this is by far the “greenest” building in the district, and the pride that the k – 2 students and staff have in their building is evident from the very first step through the doors.

Mr. Finnane, the principle of Maple Grove, met me at the entrance with two absolutely wonderful and very energetic children who were to serve as my guides. As they showed me around, he explained how they choose the shyer children, the ones who need that little extra support, as their student ambassadors. The whole philosophy of this school is that kids need to be kids, and that is the most effective way to teach them, so the hallways are active, the children and teachers are smiling, and hallways and even Mr. Finnane’s walls are absolutely covered in well-labeled artwork done by the students.

If I had to pick two things that really stood out to me, they would have to be the “magic mentors” – the policy that each adult (not just teachers, but staff as well) are discretely assigned to a child with whom they then connect daily, quite often just saying “hi.” The whole point is for the child to ask “why is this person always so nice to me?” and the answer is always the same – because you are you. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The other thing I saw that just amazed me was the classroom that was designed to be the most effective for Autism spectrum students. As the parent of a special-needs child, this impressed me. The blue lighting, padded floors, and sensory integration have led at least one non-verbal young person to become vocal during his time at Maple Grove. That is nothing short of amazing.

When I asked Mr. Finnane what he would like to see from a new board member, he responded by saying support for a continued policy of “broad-spectrum autonomy” and trust for the administrators and employees of the district to try new things. I think that the record at Maple Grove and the success of the children there is clear evidence that they should have that freedom, and I would absolutely support that kind relationship. My own teaching background leads me to value academic freedom – I think that teachers, and administrators, have to have leeway to express themselves so the children can express themselves, thereby become the best that they can be. At the same time, he asked that the board maintain it’s support, especially during the tough times like we see today. There are often unpopular changes that have to be made, especially in economic times like these, and it is imperative that the board support its schools with, as Mr. Finnane said, “fair-minded and practical assessment of the situation,” and a willingness to share the information quickly and accurately. Freedom is a great thing to have in a job, especially in one that tends to be so regulated as education, but when that freedom can not be had, support and communication are absolutely essential for an effective district.

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Such a great few visits….

This past Friday and today I have had the pleasure of visiting three wonderful schools: Warrensburg High School, Maple Ridge (our newest addition), and Ridge View. Unfortunately, I have also had an incredibly busy weekend into today (Monday). It’s now midnight, and since I really want to do justice to these three facilities and the people who populate them, I am going to put it on hold for one more night and catch it all up tomorrow. I hope everyone will bear with me, and tune in tomorrow night when I will fill everyone in on my latest adventures, what I liked, and what I think I might be able to help with.

Have a good evening – and remember, the election is coming up!! April 2, only 21 more days to go!!

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