Friday, August 19, 2005

My Local Libertarian Newspaper?

Last week, I discussed how much I was enjoying the local Hamilton County newspaper scene, and in particular, the Noblesville Daily Times. The sentiment only has grown this week.

Since my comments were posted, they ran another of my letters, which is always a wonderful thing. Yesterday, they also had an article on Social Security by Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute, and another today on the three-party political campaign dynamics by Kenn Gividen, the 2004 Libertarian candidate for governor.

My fellow Hamilton County Libertarians, I urge you to enjoy the local newspapers, and these days, especially the Noblesville Daily Times.
Gratuitous Post

This is a gratuitous post designed to drive website hits. I have to say that it pleases me already that when someone does a google search for the "Geist Annexation", this blog comes up on the first page. Likewise for "Mitch Daniels Sucks". That one's amusing because I have never actually said that, except in referrence to others doing searches on that phrase, and this blog getting hit as a result.

Anyway, I like having the blog come up high on search pages, so here goes!

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Schools Experiment

The Indianapolis Public Schools are undertaking a sweeping change- taking their five high schools and making 20+ high schools out of them. The theory is that smaller is better, that it means more attention for students, more of a community feel, and less falling through the cracks. Indy Star story.
IPS is carving its five high schools into 24 small academies in a sweeping bid to boost test scores and improve abysmal graduation rates.

The wholesale overhaul is the largest of its kind in the nation and one that state officials will watch closely as they consider similar changes for the rest of Indiana's high schools.

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is putting up several million dollars to help fund the project. If you've ever cursed Microsoft and the wealth of Bill Gates, this is what you have cursed, by the way.

On the surface, I think it's a wonderful development. However, I am only cautiously optimistic for results in areas like graduation rates and test scores. Reason? Teachers can give students all the attention in the world, but the real issue is always parents.

If the parents do not hold the child accountable for producing good grades or completing to graduation in a big school setting, the only thing that changes here is the school setting. At the end of the day, the parents aren't changing their accountability standards.

Too many parents take the attitude that educating children is solely an educator's job, and in no way a parental responsibility. Homework isn't going to be done by children who have the distractions of the television, friends, video games, etc., if the parents fail to see to it that it gets done.

Then there's the community. If the community attitude is that brainy = geek, and D+ = cool, then no amount of time in a classroom of 12 students is going to matter. Moreover, no amount of Bill Gates' money will matter, if the parents and the community are lazy or worse.

Sadly, what I've seen of IPS students and community is laziness and worse.

When my son Alex was at IPS, he had a wonderful teacher. She had a cell phone and wasn't afraid to use it. She called me directly any time Alex was out of line. It was great, because I knew exactly what was going on, and what needed to be corrected.

I sat in her class one day, to get a feel for things. It was appalling. The teacher spent most of the time trying to gain order. At the break, I asked her why she wasn't on the phone with the parents of those couple of children who were causing disruptions. She said that she had given up on those, because their parents were unresponsive or worse. Those parents would either throw the call back in her face ("You're the teacher, so it's your job to get him to shut up.), or were resentful of her punishments ("How dare you single out my little angel!").

Where discipline is not a tool in the teacher's workbench, and where parents refuse to impose discipline, there will only be chaos.

My concern is that it will now be spread over 20+ schools instead of just 5. But hey- it's Bill Gates' money and an attempt at improvement, so let's see how it goes. I swore I would never send my son back to IPS schools, and we moved out of Indianapolis for Fishers, where the parents insist on achievement. I still think that latter will always carry the day.
Radio Appearance

I had a nice, lengthy radio interview yesterday, which Hoosier probably missed. The reason? It aired live on WRUW in Cleveland. Fortunately, you can download the streamed signal for the next few days on WRUW's website. We talked about the progress of the Libertarian Party in Indiana, the value the LP could bring to Ohio if it were on the ballot there, and eminent domain.

Big thanks the Stella, who hosts the show; and her husband AP Magee, who scheduled the interview. Thanks also to Alchemy For Dummies, who blogged the appearance and reminded me that the stream is available.
Welcome Fellow Blogger

Welcome to Rob Beck, who recently launched his blog "Shall Not Perish". Check it out.

Rob ran for Hamilton County Auditor on the Libertarian ticket, and showed very well in his debates and in the local media. I will have to invite him to lunch sometime soon, as we had great conversations over chow during his campaign.