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Archive for the ‘Plymouth-Canton Schools’ Category

According to an article in the Plymouth Observer, which can be seen here http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20100603/NEWS15/6030605/1032/Plymouth-Canton+School+District+pushes+minority+hiring+plan, the Plymouth-Canton Public School district needs to hire more teachers and is hoping an increasing number of them are racial/ethnic minorities.

The idea sounds noble: the district is ever more “diverse” thus the teaching staff should reflect that.  That, at least, is how the district sees things:

Using “cues” he said were provided by the Plymouth-Canton Citizens for Diversity and Inclusion, executive director of human resources Ray Bihun said widening the talent pool of minority candidates, while maintaining a “hire the most qualified” mantra, is important to meeting the district’s diversity plan.“The issue is having an adult population that helps reflect the demographics of the student population,” Bihun said. “We’re a changing population, and our numbers should reflect that.”

I’ll admit a bias against any type of hiring procedures — in government or private enterprise — that have some sort of racial or ethnic component.  I don’t deny that I bristle, generally speaking, at such policies or practices.  But, I certainly don’t rule them out entirely nor do I think they are always wrong in all circumstances.  I’m open to being convinced on the issue, if that makes sense.

What jumps out at me is what seems plainly to potentially be an enormous contradiction between competing goals.  The school district talks about its supposed “mantra” of hiring the most qualified staff and also of getting a staff that “reflects,” in numbers, the changing demographics of the student body.  Which goal wins out, gets higher priority if they come into conflict?  Will PCPS hire “slightly less” qualified candidates to increase minority numbers on staff?

Perhaps my biggest concern is that it is assumed that “the numbers,” meaning teachers on staff, should “reflect” the ethnic make-up of the student body.  Can someone please explain why this is so?  Are non-minorities incapable of providing a top-notch education to minority students?  Are minorities better qualified to teach minorities?  The subtle racism of that concept seems completely inescapable to me.

Full disclosure: I’m a white, Christian, male who grew up in a (somewhat) bi-lingual Latino-Anglo home, in an all white neighborhood and in an almost exclusively white school district.  I had minority teachers and they were perfectly qualified to teach.  But I learned neither more nor less from them because of the color of their skin or the place from which their ancestors hailed.  Their ethnicity was irrelevant.  My white teachers were neither better nor worse suited to teaching me because they were white.  I cannot imagine that an Asian or African-American will be assured a better educational experience if he or she has a few extra teachers “of color.”   If I’m wrong, I’d like to be shown why…by actual evidence.

Can we just hire the best teachers, regardless of whether they are black, white, brown, green, pink or purple?

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An often misquoted and misunderstood biblical phrase, “out of the mouths of babes,” is loosely used to convey the sense that children, perhaps unfettered by world-weariness, often express wisdom that is beyond (or at least forgotten by) their elders.  Sadly, in my experience, that is not often enough the case.

I read a nice article in today’s Plymouth Observer entitled “Sending a Message: Kids divided on texting while driving ban.”  You can read the entire article here:  http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009910080660

The article is quite an eye opener.  Oh, it’s not shocking that kids would text while driving.  Maddeningly, I see this happening almost daily.  The people who can least afford to be distracted on the road, inexperienced drivers, yack on their cell phones incessantly and text with an alarming frequency.  I’m actually surprised these days when I pass a teen driver that is not on his or her phone. And I’m not exaggerating.

What did shock me in the article is that some of them, knowing the danger they are putting themselves and others in by distracted driving, think a ban on driving-while-texting is a bad idea or it goes too far.  Here are some of the more disheartening quotes from some local high schoolers:

Kristyn Sturtz, a 16-year-old Plymouth High School junior, said she has stopped text messaging while driving, but she opposes a federal ban because “people are going to do it anyway” and she believes the law would be ineffective.

Still, Sturtz said, “I know people who have gotten in crashes (while texting). No one has gotten hurt, but cars have been totaled.”

Ah, the old “people are going to do it anyway” reason for not passing laws.  I suppose we should take the drunk driving statutes off the books because people continue to drink and drive.

This young lady admittedly texts while driving but won’t stop unless the feds step in and ban the practice:

Kara Bongiovanni, a 17-year-old Canton High School senior, said she doesn’t typically initiate texting while driving, but she reads and responds when others text her. “I try to make it to a red light before I respond, but I do read it while I’m driving, though,” she said.

Still, Bongiovanni said she would stop texting while driving altogether if state or federal lawmakers impose a ban — an idea she supports.

Apparently it seems advisable to her only to read texts while driving but not actually respond until she is at a red light.  This is at least a step in the right direction.

This boy perhaps expresses the most startling sentiment of all: he regularly texts and drives but the law should find a “middle ground” to regulate his behavior.  An all out ban, he seems to suggest, would disconnect his poor soul during his commute:

Alex Gravlin, a 16-year-old Salem High School junior, said an outright ban goes too far. He suggested efforts to find “a middle ground” in the controversy, although he isn’t sure what it would be.

Gravlin said he often prefers quick text messaging over formal phone conversations, and he said it’s a practice he engages in “from the time school gets out until I go to bed.” He conceded he texts while driving “every now and then,” but he usually tries to do it when he is stopped at a red light.

I hate to sound like a finger-wagger, but this is a safety issue.  Drivers that feel this way could kill themselves or others.

There’s another issue at work her, too.  People just can’t seem to unplug even for a few minutes, teens in particular.  This thinking is lost on me.  Why is responding immediately to some inane teen jibber-jabber more important than paying attention to the road for a few minutes?

Now this kid gets it.  She seems to have a head on her shoulders:

Amy Paladino, a 17-year-old Canton High School senior, said she has completely stopped sending or reading texts while she is driving, and she supports a ban.“I never text while I’m driving. I just let them pile up until I’m done driving,” she said, adding that she became fearful after seeing stories about people who have died while texting and driving.

“I don’t want that to be me,” Paladino said.

See how simple that is?  If only more of her peers would listen to her.

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A 16 year old student in the Plymouth-Canton School District has tested positive or probable for “Swine Flu.”  The school district is closing all schools May 4 and 5.

I can just imagine that panic is going to start setting in around town.  I’m personally not too worried about this, but if you are I do understand.  Just wash your hands religiously and you’ll cut down the risk of infection.  Get some hand sanitizer and carry with y0u.  Use it after you handle money or touch door knobs and stuff like that in public places.

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The March 15, 2009, Plymouth Observer reported that officials of the Plymouth-Canton School District are trying to get their hands on millions of dollars in federal stimulus money.  The funds wouldn’t got to keeping teachers employed, anything to improve the curriculum or even balance the budget, but would got to several so-called “green” initiatives.

Superintendent Craig Fiegel enlisted the aid of a pair of consultants who have helped the district craft some $13 million in renewable energy projects slated for buildings across the district.The two drawing the most attention are a plan to cool off the gymnasiums, particularly at Plymouth High School, which can reach temperatures as high as 95 degrees during the summer, and covered, solar-heated walkways to provide cover for students moving between the Plymouth Canton Educational Park’s three buildings.

http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009903150529

The school district wants to spend the money on heated sidewalks and cooling a gymnasium during the summer — when are school gyms used in the summer? — while the district is looking to be $7.4 million in the red next in 2010-11.

If the Plymouth-Canton school board does nothing else and the numbers crunch the way the district’s financial team has planned, there will be enough money in the district’s projected $2 million deficit in 2009-10.

It’s the following year that really presents problems.

As budget predictions sit now, the school district faces a potential $7.4 million deficit in 2010-11, when it will have only about $2.5 million in its fund equity.

http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20090319/NEWS15/903190691/1032

What kind of sense does any of this make?  Our leaders want to cover and heat sidewalks while the school district is about ready to start hemorrhaging cash?

Maybe the argument is that stimulus money is supposed to be spent on projects that create jobs, not balancing budgets.  Even so, I see the school district’s proposals as madness — stupidity — in light of anticipated massive budget deficits.

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Maybe I wasn’t paying attention last year, but I believe this is a brand new event.  The Downtown Development Authority, with the participation of the stores and restaurants downtown, is throwing a Mardi Gras celebration starting noon the 2/21.

Plymouth-Canton student art will be on display.  Merchants will give out beads. Steve King & the Diddlies will play at 5:00 p.m. There will be “kid friendly” events in Kellogg Park as well.

After the concert you are invited to “hang out as partygoers converge on downtown for a night of fun and late night parties. The party continues into the night at any of over 30 shops, bars and restaurants.”

More info, if you really need it, is found at http://www.downtownplymouth.org/CivicAlerts.asp?AID=103

I’m not sure an outside party will have a lot of draw in late February here in Michigan.  There again, the ice sculpture shows are well attended, even when it is deathly cold.  This is clearly just another event to draw people into the downtown area.  Plymouth certainly doesn’t have a Mardi Gras tradition.  I hope it goes over well and people have a great time (and the businesses downtown make loads of cash.)

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Anticipating this morning’s mini-blizzard, knowing that the roads would be too lousy to do my 6:00 a.m. gym routine, I stayed up late reading, putzing around the ‘net, etc.

5:30 a.m. sharp our phone rings…and rings…and rings. Stops. Ah, silence. Ten seconds later the phone rings again…and rings…and rings.

The phone calls I’ve gotten over the years between 2:00 and 6:00 a.m. have almost all been bad news. I remembered that my mom tried to call yesterday and my half asleep mind imagined she was calling to tell me something horrible had happened like my uncle dying. The nearest phone to me is in our dining room so I sprung out of bed and trotted downstairs.

“Hello,” I said groggily, but worried.

Pause.

The sound of the hiss from a recording was all I could hear. Finally, a pre-recorded female voice said, “Due to inclement weather, Plymouth-Canton Schools will be closed…” Click.

It’s great that there is a school closing alert that we parents in the district get. It’s also good that calls are made early so that parents have as much time as possible to plan for a snow day.

5:30 a.m. is too early, though! I’m a morning person and that’s even about half an hour before I like to wake. Besides that automated message should go to voicemail. If the first call is not picked up, the recording should just go to voicemail — a recording talking to a recording; not sure if that’s ironic or fitting. The automated calling system shouldn’t call the same house that early more than once.

Now I’m writing instead of sleeping. I’m putting off feeding the cat and shoveling the driveway. I’d rather be in bed.

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