Archive for April 2009

White House on Flickr

April 30, 2009

Interesting stuff.

[LCSD] In Brief

April 30, 2009

I am really busy this week, and thus do not have time to comment on the live coverage of the forums or all the candidate coverage.  All I have to say is that you should read the paper.

Oh, and ask why neither Wineteer nor Alexander decided to go to the second forum.  I would like to know, at least.  My opinion is that yes, to a certain extent they simply didn’t want to face any questions about their past behavior – but more than that, they feel like they simply don’t have to show up to win their respective elections.  And you know what?  I think they are probably right.

Specter Goes Dem

April 28, 2009

From Yahoo:

WASHINGTON – Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania disclosed plans Tuesday to switch parties, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year that also will push Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

I think the story hit it on the head in the first paragraph:  Specter wants to stay in the Senate, pure and simple.  He’s moving to the side of the ascendant party.

Also, he knows that Pat Toomey will kill him in the Republican primary this time around, so he’s staving off facing him until the general.

That said, I think he’s an opportunistic sleazeball.  He wants to join the party, he needs to make sure EFCA passes.  I say that not only because he came out against it, sort of, but because without the support of unions, he won’t win.  And to get the support of unions, he needs to work on getting EFCA passed.

This is EFCA:

Also, I bet he makes institutional Democratic Party support a condition of his joining, which I think is a mediocre move for the Dems.  They could beat Toomey, which means they COULD run a candidate who is actually liberal for that seat – not to mention new blood.  Instead, I bet they back Specter because he’s part of the good ol’ boys club.

Oh, and Specter has to be rubbing his hands at being vote #60 in the Senate – that’s a lot of power.  He’s got to get in on all that fun Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman have.

What do you think?

Tracking the Swine Flu

April 28, 2009

Yay pseudo-open-source software!

[LCSD] Book Deals!

April 27, 2009

OK, so I almost can’t believe I did this, but given the asinine comments that were made about the book co-authored by Hess and Robinson, I felt a little compelled to figure it out.

So I called one of the parties and asked (I am working on contacting the other party).  Here is what I was told:

1.  Both authors signed separate deals with the publisher; as a result, royalties were sent to each author separately.

2.  The two authors had agreed beforehand that Hess would be the senior author.

3.  Senior authors traditionally get a bit more in royalties.

From this, I can conclude that it is likely that Hess got a bit more in royalties than Robinson, but not much more.  This generally tracks with LT’s comment (claiming that Hess got 5% more, a reasonable estimate under the circumstances) but NOT with the comment made by Anon @ 6:59 that claims that Hess got nothing.  That particular comment is just flat-out wrong.

We’re done with this topic, right?

[LCSD] Gutters

April 27, 2009

From RLT:

The only reason I allowed this to be posted was because of Tom McHills close ties with Jennifer. Like I said anyone close to Jennifer is fair game as well as their children. Sorry thats what its like down here in the gutter with the rats.
Once again I learned so many things on Jennifer, Tre’ and Dennis’ blogs about freedom of speach, so thats the way it goes. If any kids who have parents close to Jennifer were at the party their names would be on here as well.

1) Clearly spelling and grammar aren’t priorities in the gutter.  How hard is it to use spell-check?  We ask it of high school students – so what’s wrong with expecting it of adults?  And again, it’s modeling – if we are going to claim it’s important for adults to use proper spelling and grammar, but students see adults doing the opposite, then why should students feel like teachers are telling the truth?

2) I don’t think reiterating the claim that the children of anyone who has any tie to Jennifer Walter is fair game is going to help RLT’s case.  In fact, I would think it would have the opposite effect – again, going after unrelated kids doesn’t seem like either a good idea on the merits (especially in the context of a school district), nor does it seem like it would be especially popular with, oh, parents.

3) Again, what RLT is doing is (probably, though IANAL) legal, but it’s very, very unethical.  It’s that pesky can vs. should distinction again.

[LCSD] Spiraling from one comment to something much more amorphous – oh, and I get a little pretentious along the way, and fall just short of endorsing any candidates

April 26, 2009

So the new blogger has a post pointing to a comment on their blog.  This comment – in a truly byzantine fashion – goes after an otherwise squeaky-clean student and attempts to link them to LT.  This is on the belated heels of several other aggressive posts and comments.  I’ve been mulling over this particular comment, as well as the whole blog, for several days, and never quite felt like I needed to say anything.

Oddly, one of the reasons I never felt compelled to say anything is that for the most part (the Olsen/Finch thing is an exception), nothing that RLT alleges to be true would bother me if it were true.  Do I believe any of it?  No, not without some shred of evidence, and given the tone of the comments and posts over there I’m not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I mean, when you announce an agenda to go after someone no matter what it takes, up to and including dragging people only marginally related through the mud, then you’ve sort of set up a disincentive for people to believe that you’re telling the truth, haven’t you?

Oh, and I should say that I do believe in the right of anyone to blog about whatever they want.  (However, I am not saying they should have the legal right, just that I don’t think it’s my place to tell them they can’t do something.)  That said, I tend to separate “can I?” and “should I?”, and it is on the latter question that I think the RLT falls flat.  In other words, I have the right (I can) do a lot of things that are not necessarily smart, like (I shouldn’t) jump off a bridge or (I shouldn’t) bang my head against a wall until it bleeds.  Frankly, if the goal is to get LT to stop blogging and/or out them, this is precisely the wrong way to go about it.  Besides, it is only going to harden everyone’s resolve and create a lot more ill will in the LCSD, when it seems like the district is very close to really turning a corner on all the acrimony.

Let me be clear:  I am upset by the RLT, but not because it’s getting to me or anything stupid like that (sorry!).  No, what upsets me isn’t even (again, for the most part) the specific things that RLT is alleging.  What upsets me is the tone, the idea that the ends justify the means to such an extent that RLT has no problem going after HS students whose lives are just barely related to the political goings-on in Lebanon and who have not placed themselves in the public sphere.  That is a line that, as far as I know, has never been crossed in this whole pathetic affair, and should never be crossed.  It is not OK to go after someone’s children because you have a beef with someone who you think might know their parents. Can we stop and consider how out-of-bounds that is?

I want to try and wrap up this post by noting there is one common thread that I think needs to change in the LCSD for things to get better, and that is this:  Process matters. A lot.  The means are not justified by the ends; the means determine the ends (and if anyone wants to question this, I only need one example to prove my point:  Iraq).  A community torn apart and filled with people, say, going after the children of others is not going to result in a solid, well-performing school district that is supported by the community, because the community is going to be too busy imploding to support its students (see the LCSD School Board circa 2006-2008 or so).  A school board member who still, after years, chooses to ignore the rest of the board and try and bend others to his will through brute force is not going to result in a district that runs smoothly; instead, said board member’s intransigence is going to result in the board chair – a former ally/disciple, in this case – spending time at almost every meeting talking the board member down from trying to push another half-baked idea, and the rest of the board ignoring the board member who can’t or won’t work with others.

Instead, as has started to happen in the district (and I actually credit Steve Kelley and his recent hiring processes for providing a good example of this), people talk to each other, communicate about their differences, and collaborate to reach agreements that have buy-in from everyone.  This has resulted in much smoother board meetings, a serious decrease in nasty audience comments (with one other really notable exception besides Alexander*), and me feeling like I have to drop a lot fewer F-bombs in posts about the LCSD.

All that said, the way forward seems clear:  Collaboration and compromise to build power, not competition to wrest it from the hands of others; communication to reach a common understanding, not cliques that spread rumors; and a focus on the needs of the district, not character assassination.  The RLT blog is most definitely not on this page.  They seem to want to drag the discourse in the district down into the lowest possible gutter, and I think the community would benefit a lot from a serious case of social condemnation and shunning in this case.  Again, RLT can say whatever they want, within the bounds of the law, but that doesn’t mean anything they say is a good idea, or helps the district (and frankly, this is a suggestion we could all take to heart a little better).  So, Lebanon:  What’s it going to be?  Can you manage to leave behind those who aren’t willing to work together and to commit to making the district a better place?  Or, despite the the removal of Robinson and the hiring of Rob Hess, are you still going to struggle along, mired in petty politics and old grudges?  You want to complete the changes that have swept the district in the last year?  The election is a great way to do that.  Which candidates are willing to work with others, and which candidates seem like they think the district should be their own fiefdom?

*The notable exception, of course, is Kim Fandino.  For some reason, she seems unable to move beyond a simplistic good/evil conception of the district, where all the teachers are good and every administrator  is bad.  And while her most recent audience comment indicate that might be changing, I am skeptical enough to need more evidence than a few nice words.  Besides, the few interactions I’ve had with her suggest she doesn’t really understand collaboration as anything other than a ruse to get her way.