Friday, 30 April 2010

Destiny in DC?

We have a strange sort of event unfolding in DC. There was this long chat between the teachers union, the city management folks, and the school management folks.

Basically, there had to be a pay raise of sizable proportions.

There is this provision to hand the teachers an extra $20,000 to $30,000 a year for student improvements on test scores and other measures. You can imagine the teachers and their satisfaction to agree to this whole deal.

However, the money that was involved in this deal....well over $20 million...hasn't been found in the DC budget. The mayor has no extra funds to cover this.

So what's the deal?

Well...there's this very dislikeable school management gal...Michelle A. Rhee. She's on the top level of being somebody big within the Obama administration. The problem is that half the teachers dislike her and a vast portion of the city's residents dislike her. She's out to change the school system....in a massive way.

Ms Rhee has this "friendship" with several foundations. They are prepared to donate the money....yep, up to $20 million....to cover this entire pay raise. One problem....they demand she stays.

So, there's this election in November. The current mayor likes her. The candidate to oppose this current guy....hates her. If she is fired by the other guy....the whole pay raise is gone.

So enter yesterday....the chief financial guy for the city and he kinda admits this is awful dumb to promise a bunch of teachers something that isn't concrete.

She absolutely has to survive the mayor's election, for this raise to occur. So it's up to the teachers to find ways to be nice to Ms Rhee...or lose $20k a year in bonuses.

So, you have to be scratching your head. Here's someone that some foundation is willing to toss $20 million as bonus money toward teachers...and is tied to an election....and Ms. Rhee has to be around not just this year, but next year as well.

Funny...2011 comes to an end.

Then 2012? The timing of this game...makes you kinda wonder about the real purpose of Ms Rhee and the success of the DC school system.

The foundations involved? the Walton Family Foundation. the Robertson Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation.

There was this point in 2008...where Caroline Kennedy was starting to generate a huge interest and was destined to get Uncle Ted's Senate seat. There was a strong belief that she'd sit there for four years and then become the VP when Joe Biden stepped down. Then they learned she was a lousy speaker.

Is Ms. Rhee the next VP candidate? Hmmm. It's strange how this deal hinges on foundation money for the teachers and she keeps her job for the time being...when half the city wants her gone.

The Bogus Story


Ok, I don't usually consider stories like this for my blog, but I'll give in this one time.

There are these Indian specialists, studying this old dude in India....an 83-year old guy....who says he hasn't eaten or sipped water in seventy years.

Yeah. I know....stuff like this doesn't happen.

He also says he hasn't gone to the bathroom much either. I paused over this for a while....if you weren't eating, then there's not much to ever come out the other end....at least you'd like to believe that.

Some military doctors are involved in this....because they'd really like to prove this to be factual and use this "technology" for development.

So they've got this guy in a 24-hour observation situation, with a team of 30 specialists watching for three weeks.

Yes, they did think he was strange and they've put two cameras up in the room to make sure he's not sneaking food.

There's a guy like this in Germany....religious cult dude....who claims the same thing. His story goes along the line of twelve to fifteen years of no water or food. I didn't ever ask about bathroom trips, but obviously, it'd be hard to dispose of anything....if you aren't eating.

Bogus? Yeah. Absolutely. I'm already betting the crew watching the crew is completely bogus. The military claim? Bogus, I'm betting. And yeah, he's probably sipping bacon fat through some straw every hour to sustain himself. If it was hot enough, like you'd have in India, then you'd just sweat the bacon fat off. Sustaining yourself? Well...nobody from Bama will swear sustainment off bacon fat, but it'll do for three weeks if you have to.

Sorry, it was a story I hate to blog on....because I know it's bogus. The sad thing is that four thousand folks in Bama will stand around tomorrow....chatting about the Indian dude who hasn't eaten in years, and hasn't touched liquor or water.

Forty Years and A Lesson Learned

Forty years ago today.....four students were killed by National Guardsmen at Kent State University, Ohio.

For the anti-war front and the media at the time....this was a major turning point. There was to be a major confrontation at the university. The university....the local town, and the state....basically put up their arms and then asked the National Guard for protection.

There is a legendary story here.

Sometime around 1992, I came work with my boss....who was a Kent State graduate. He attended Kent State six years after that episode. He spent four years there. And he had different prospective than you'd expect.

First, an entire generation had come and gone in six years. Few if any of the students there at that point....knew anything much about the episode. It took exactly six years for the whole legend to start fading.

Then came the nature of the students by the late seventies. The war was history. Sports made a comeback. Parties became the norm. Life switched back to a norm.

Then he started offer a unique analysis. Prior to 1980, campus security consisted of a couple of wannabe cops. They gave out parking tickets and arrested drunk students. There was rarely any arrangement with the local town or county on police support.

By 1990....every significant town had folks for riot-control. They started buying body-armor and preparing for assault episodes. Campuses worked out agreements and had relationships with city and county police departments.

As he noted....a Kent State anti-war group today....wouldn't face National Guarsmen....they'd face some fairly rough characters from the police department. The clobbering method would have replaced the Guardsmen techniques. Only hardcore protesters would have played out some game as they did forty years ago.

Imagine yourself a campus administrator. You've had damage done to the buildings and some fires, with various radical students talking tough.

So you start to worry that parents will come to fear this violence and remove Johnny or Melissa from their campus. You'd like to ask your cops to help but they don't handle this kind of stuff easily. So you call the governor and you get Guardsmen.

Things go from bad to worse...as the Guardsmen use what they know to fix the situation and protect themselves.

By the next summer, after the deaths....a number of parents have the decision made to remove Johnny or Melissa...to protect them. Or if they were high school kids considering Kent State....they dropped that idea and found safer accommodations.

Could any of this happen today? No. Most administrators would gather up problem folks....and bring them into a board session very quickly. There's a point of no return.

If you invite trouble....then the potential for the university to have lawsuits tossed at it for unnecessary harm or death is major. So out on the street you will go.....and as you try to enter another university....they might just ask a question or two and deny you access at the next place.

And then? Pima County Community College....where you learn diesel mechanic skills or basic accounting, and just forget those protest skills.

So forty years have passed. We've learned a valuable lesson. Committing violence to fix a problem...usually just screws up things even more.

If dad was stupid enough to pay $65k for you to attend some facility for four years....pay for all your beer, pizzas, condoms, chap stick, room & board, and gave you enough date money to get high class babes....why the hell would you screw this up by hanging out with a bunch of loser protest dudes?

Maybe, just maybe....dad got smarter over the past forty years....even if you didn't.