Hope For The Hopeless: National Infertility Awareness Week

This isn’t the normal type of post for this blog, but it’s not a normal story, either. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and to recognize it, Mrs. Blog submitted a video of our story for a local contest.

We didn’t win the contest.

But we have one beautiful consolation prize.


Education, Media, Politics

This Ruins the “Failing Schools” Narrative

For what it’s worth, U.S. News & World Report (it used to be a magazine, kids), ranked 9 West Michigan schools in Michigan’s Top 25, including my home away from home for the past 19 years. What’s the criteria, you ask?

The rankings methodology is based on “the key principles that a great high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college-bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.”

Yep, we’re failing alright. Somewhere, the Mackinac Center and its statewide mouthpiece the editorial staff of MLive are trying to figure out how to spin this so Governor One Tough Nerd can add more “skunk group” approved, for-profit charter schools.


Education, Literature

Happy World Book Night 2013 (And Shakespeare’s Birthday)!

A sampling of books given way by Lowell High School students and staff for World Book Night 2013

Methinks The Bard, born this day in 1564, would appreciate the tens of thousands of people heading out today to share their love of reading on World Book Night. This year, five students and two teachers at my high school will distribute 140 books to remind reluctant readers that, as William Nicholson wrote, “We read to know we are not alone.”

Education, Politics

Something’s Rotten In The State of Michissippi: Skunk Groups

As much as I’d love to drive traffic with posts about the GR floods and natural selection, the raison d’être for this blog is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, especially the miscreants with education reform profiteering on their minds.

Enter Michissippi Governor Rick Snyder, a.k.a. One Tough Nerd, and his merry band of aides who’ve met in secret – calling themselves a “skunk group,” no less – to discuss how more public school dollars can be spent on unproven online schools known as “value schools.”

Value schools! It’s the Walmart of education! What could possibly go wrong?

Other records distributed to group members indicate they want to explore using fewer teachers and more instruction through long-distance video conferencing. Each “value school” student would receive a “Michigan Education Card” to pay for their “tuition” — similar to the electronic benefits transfer used to distribute food stamps and cash assistance for the poor.

Folks, this is a voucher program meant to profit from taxpayer dollars, pure and simple. And have I mentioned it being formed in secret? That’s no problem, according to Governor Nerd:

“That’s what I would view a group like that — just working together to say they want to come up with new ideas and throw them out there. That’s how you come up with new ideas. Most of them don’t go anywhere, but you don’t want to discourage people from trying and being creative.”

Four state government employees, including the state’s chief information and technology officers, were directed to use private email accounts to correspond on the project, according to records obtained by The Detroit News.

There’s the rub. Government employees using private email accounts so any correspondance couldn’t be checked via a FOIA request. Nice move, Gov. Nerd. Fear not, Michissippians, for Gov. Nerd tells us the “skunk group” isn’t an “official project.”

The Nerd also told us Right to Work wasn’t on his radar, until it was on his desk for his signature. But please, Gov. Nerd, continue to comfort us with your soothing nasal tones:

“I don’t view it as a controversy necessarily,” the Republican governor told reporters. “As a practical matter it’s not an official project that I have going.”

Need more reassurance? How about this?

Snyder also said: “I haven’t been part of this process at all.”

Said One Tough Nerd, channelling his inner Pontius Pilate, washing his hands.

Skunk doesn’t come out that easy, Governor.




Quote of the Day: Grand Rapids Flood Edition

gr kayakA few foolhardy types have taken to their kayaks for a closer view of the surging Grand River. The GRPD isn’t going after them, however, as one officer explains:

“We’re referring to that as natural selection,” said Grand Rapids Lt. David Schnurstein. “If we could arrest people for being stupid, we’d need a jail ten times as big as we have.”

Amen to that.

UPDATE: GRFD called to rescue kayaker from Grand River at Riverside Park (not the guy above). Stupid is as stupid does, people.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE! Whole lotta stupid flowin’ downstream. A couple had to be rescued in Grandville after somehow losing their canoe:

(A Grandville police sergeant) said the couple, who had been in the water about 30 minutes, were “very cold,” and unable to tell police exactly what happened. The woman was in chest-deep water.

Not all kayakers are vying for the Darwin Awards. It turns out that the kayaker who noticed today’s floating couple was the kayaker pictured above.

Education, Miscellany

When is a school closing not a school closing?

If you happen to be reading this from someplace other than the great state of Michissippi, we’ve got a whole lotta flooding going on in these parts, so much so that some West Michigan schools have already closed their doors for Friday, thereby giving students a very, very rare flood day.

One closing strikes me as odd. How does West Michigan Virtual School – or any virtual school, for that matter – close its doors? Does it have doors to close?