Daily Archives: March 30, 2012

Some last-minute filings (and one non-filing)

First, this is not an inclusive list. I did not go down to the election office today to see who had filed to run in state races as of today’s deadline. (I say “election office,” but I don’t know where reporters went to get those lists that they brought back to us editors. Don’t care where they went, as long as the info was right. They’re professionals, or used to be. What, you want me to hold their hands and wipe their noses?)

No, this is just a list of Midlands filings that the candidates chose to bring to my attention over the last few days — it’s an update of this list. If I see any other interesting ones in the paper tomorrow, I’ll write about those, too.

First, Boyd Summers, who had been considering running for the seat Rep. Jim Harrison is vacating, decided not to, telling me in an email, “I am not going to file for HD 75 today.  Timing not right for my family. Be happy  to speak with you.” I’ll ask him more about it at Rotary Monday. But that means that Joe McCulloch is the only Democrat I know of running, which (if that turns out to be accurate) means he will face one of two Republicans in the fall. You know about Kirkman Finlay III. Finlay has competition in the GOP primary from attorney Jim Corbett, who filed Thursday after floating the idea among acquaintances in the district. “The response was extremely positive and encouraging. Serving District 75 as a Legislator would be an honor and fit my experience and interests.”

Kara Gormley Meador says she did file today, and sent me the above photo of her doing so. She didn’t specify in her note, but I assume that means she filed to run in the June primary against Sen. Ronnie Cromer and not Jake Knotts. I’m sure if my assumption is wrong, she’ll let me know… Wait… yes, it is Cromer she’s going after. She has a website now and everything, and it mentions District 18.

Twenty-one-year-old Chris Sullivan made it official that he is challenging veteran Rep. Joe McEachern in House District 77. Chris is young, but he must be pretty savvy — as evidenced by the fact that he is the first legislative candidate this year to purchase an ad on this blog. Hint, hint.

Finally, Walid Hakim — a recurring character on this blog recently — has filed to run against Rep. Mac Toole in District 88. The release does not specify whether Walid intends to challenge him in the GOP primary or in the general — party affiliation is not mentioned in his release. But striking an “Occupy” tone, he did say, “I’ve seen our state struggling to recover from hard times that fell harder on us than most states. Representative Toole, following the lead of Governor Haley, continuously stood in the way of help for those who need it the most.”

Since Walid is back in the news, I’m responding to a request from “Silence,” who asked for a close-up of the trend-setting footwear Mr. Hakim wore to the announcement yesterday at Belinda Gergel’s house:

The big ‘one size fits all’ lie we keep hearing from school ‘choice’ advocates

OK, I’ve let it go about a thousand times, but this was just one time too many:

“Parents have spoken out enough to make lawmakers understand that they deserve choices,” said state Rep. Eric Bedingfield, R-Greenville, a lead sponsor of the bill. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each child is educationally unique in how they learn.”

Of course, that paragraph is chock-full of nonsense (parents have all the choices they could ask for; this issue is about whether they should be rewarded, at the expense of  the public schools, for exercising those choices in certain ways), but I want to zero in on one point we haven’t discussed before: The laughable notion that public education constitutes a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education, while private school education does not.

In my experience, it’s the other way around.

Of course, you don’t really need personal experience to understand the obvious: Public schools take everybody, and therefore have to make teach all types of learners. While there are some private schools that are specifically set up to address different learning styles, the private schools that get the largest numbers of those fleeing public education tend to be of the “keep-up-or-fail” variety.

Our kids started out in Catholic schools — in Tennessee, then Kansas, then here. After we’d been living here for about a year — this was the late ’80s — we decided for several reasons to switch to public schools. (One factor was cost, another was travel time — we had a very good elementary school in walking distance of our home, as opposed to having to drive the kids downtown every day.)

Another factor was that my younger son, who had always been bright — we marveled at his vocabulary from the time he was a toddler — was really struggling in the first grade. He never got to go to recess, because the teacher kept him in to finish his work. He would strain to complete homework late into the night, past bedtime. He was very conscientious, and always applied himself to finish the work, but it was a struggle — and he was under way too much stress for a first-grader. Like his Dad, he had trouble focusing on a task, but there was more to it than that — we would later discover that he had a form of dyslexia.

His teacher at the Catholic school didn’t know what to do with him, except to make him finish his work however long it took.

After he started in the public school, as soon as his teachers saw how much trouble he was having, a meeting was called with us and the teachers and specialists from the district, to draft a strategy for helping him keep up and learn the material. This strategy was updated and followed all the way until he graduated from Brookland-Cayce High School.

Were the methods perfect? My son, who now has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, says no — he believes the schools still had a lot to learn. And in fact, his dyslexia wasn’t specifically diagnosed until much later than it should have been. But the point is, they did something to help him, and kept on working with him. And that gave him the space and the tools to learn how to learn, to graduate and to earn a college degree. As wonderful as Catholic education is for mainstream learners, that just wasn’t going to happen where he was before.

By definition and by necessity, public education is not one-size-fits-all. They have to educate everybody, so they have to stock all sizes. Many of the debates we have over education — such as over the impact of putting children on different tracks — result from the wide variety of learning needs different children bring to school.

(I don’t know what I would do if I had to attend school in my children’s or grandchildren’s generation. In my day, you could get by just on being smart, being good at tests, and class participation. My teachers knew that I knew the material even if I didn’t get assignments done — I aced the tests that were such a large part of my grade, even when I didn’t finish them. Since then, schools have become much more task-oriented, and place a greater emphasis on homework and daily assignments; I’m not at all sure I would have kept up.)

And for that reason, it really ticks me off when people who want to drain public resources from the public schools try to make us think it’s the other way around.

Stiff upper lip, mate: Coping with austerity in Britain

On a previous post, Bud and Silence had an exchange about Britain’s austerity measures, with Bud painting a fairly dismal picture:

Check out the results of the austerity approach in Great Britain. It’s been a disaster with GDP declining a full 2 years after the US began to grow. They’re approach a full blown depression.

Well, I don’t know about all that, but I do know that when I was there at the start of last year, all the buzz was about the steep increase in the VAT, which took effect while I was there. Everywhere I went, businesses had signs out about sales and such that appealed to people’s worries about the tax increase. The newspapers were full of back-and-forth between Labour pols attacking the increase and Tories defending it.

Personally, I didn’t notice the difference — everything was a little more expensive over there than here before the increase, and I didn’t feel a few more few bob here and there. Besides, when you’re on vacation you don’t count pennies the same way — especially since pennies there are different from here to start with.

I did appreciate the sign in front of The Crown Inn in Woodstock (a short bus ride from Oxford). We went in and had lunch, and I enjoyed a couple of VAT-increase-free pints. But then, I would have anyway. It was (we were told) the oldest pub in town, and we got a nice table next to the fireplace. Cheers!