Sunday, September 27, 2009

No More Summer, No More Breaks, No More Fun, Obama States

Yet again, Netscape has provided me with some current news.

After reading the article Obama Seeks to Curtail Summer Vacation, I have to say my level of outrage and disgust with President Obama and our current government officials has reached a new peak. I know I’ve ranted about this before, around the start of the year, but I feel compelled to do so again.

Let me respond directly to this article. First off, I don’t care what people in other countries are doing. Yes we can learn something from others, but we don’t, as Americans, have to do everything the way everyone else does it. If people in other countries want to give their children away to public education, then by all means let them. We don’t have to follow their example. You know, it used to be us leading the world. I guess maybe that time has passed.

A ten hour school day? Really, Mr. President? I mean, I know you have a long workday yourself, but ten hours, five or more days a week, almost year long is waaaaaaaay too much time to be dedicated to learning in school. After just eight hours my mind is tired and ready for a break. Kids usually, that I’ve been around, start losing focus and attention after about six hours. And what about what’s outside of school to learn? What about learning to play sports, or developing social skills, or spending time with family? What about high school kids who need that summer job, or part time job, to save up for a car, gas money, college tuition, etc.? What about all of that?

And what’s more, why won’t anyone in our government take a serious look at why education has weakened in this country? The reason isn’t that we aren’t spending enough time at school. People in this country used to spend far less time in school, and yet we were then considered the smartest, the brightest, and the most prosperous nation on earth. The reason is that we no longer teach to the basics. We have students who rarely even get a glimpse at the times table, or who ever do any math without the assistance of a calculator. We don’t teach reading to be fun, but we teach it to be a chore. We barely even cover the fundamentals of grammar. We teach all these theories that look good but don’t work that are presented by people who have never even been in the classroom. There is little authority given to teachers to be able to discipline their students. High school is being transformed into college, causing all the basics to be shoved down our kids throats so fast that they just barely have time to grasp what they’re taught. If they get behind at all, it’s just their tough luck. And I could go on and on.

It just burns me up that our government screwed up education in this country, caused us to get dumber as a nation, and rather than actually attempting to correct their mistakes made over the last few decades, they just want to add more time to the school year and rob our kids of their youth.

Frankly, Mr. Obama, you just lost any support from me you may have otherwise had. I took you to be a fairly intelligent person. But now I’ll simply presume you are just as arrogant and ignorant as every other politician and a puppet to those leaders from other countries. Let me just tell you, if you dislike America so much, why the hell are you leading us then? If every other nation is better than America, then get the hell out and go lead someplace else. We can manage without you. Goodbye and good luck making the rest of the world as dumb as you.

Sorry for the rant.

Let me just make clear on a few things, after having some time to reflect. I don't want to make it sound as though I think we can't learn from others. We can. I think it's a good thing to consider the accomplishments of others. And there are good ideas we can get from other countries. The problem I have is that I think there are better ways of improving education in this country without having our kids live at school, learning without a break. And I don't see why we should always have to strive to be number one at everything. It's a good goal, but not one worth killing ourselves for. If the Chinese and others want to stress themselves to death to become the smartest people on earth, then let them. We can still be a smart and prosperous people without necessarily having the highest test scores. And what's wrong with that? Why do we have to give up our way of life in order to be like everyone else, particularly when there are better options available?

Here's an idea. Why not give kids summer projects to do that are goal oriented toward their next year of school? This would allow kids time away from school, but still give them specific opportunities for learning. And I'm not talking about non-stop homework projects either; just something that students can spend some of their time focused on, preparing them for their next year of school.

On another note, I will conceed that more school time is probably in the best interest of some students. But I think this should be a choice. Right now, in a lot of places, summer school or summer programs are offered as a choice for students. Afterschool programs, likewise, are offered as a choice. And these programs can certainly help to improve a child's education. Having worked in an afterschool program myself I can verify this. My problem is not with these particular programs. It is the arrogance on some to suggest that these programs are needed by all students, when they are not. It is the desire that we should always be number one at all costs, even if that cost is to rob our children of time that they need (not just want, but need) away from school. That is where I have a problem and conflict with the opinions of our current leaders.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Something Promising

Below is a link to an article I read off of Netscape. It discusses a breakthrough in AIDS treatment--a possible vaccine.

I read this article and wondered how many people in the world would benefit from a cure for AIDS. Thousands, millions, all? I think all people. Some people want to point to homosexuals and say that this is their disease. But it's not. AIDS is something that has claimed the lives of millions of people all throughout the world, not only homosexuals, but heterosexuals as well--moms, dads, children, whole families. The people on the continent of Africa have been particularly hard hit by AIDS. And it's not just limited to there.

I watched a movie a while back and one of the characters was asked about how many friends he'd lost during the 80's because of the AIDS outbreak. He responded over half. I think about what it would be like if half of my friends died because of a disease so few knew anything about. During the 80's, so few really did know what was going on. I can't imagine the panic or worry or concern so many people must have felt back then, and the sadness of losing so many loved ones.

I hope the possible vaccine treatment mentioned in the above article will help eventually lead to a cure for AIDS. When that day comes, I'll rejoice alongside of all those whose lives has been affected by it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Still Calls Me Son -- John Waller

Happy Labor Day!

Last week I was listening to a cd I'd burned a year or so ago and the following song came on. It had been a long while since I'd listened to it, and I'd actually forgot it was on the cd. It's an incredible song based upon the story of the Prodigal Son. I hope you enjoy it. This wasn't the best video to accompany the song (there was a better one I'd like to have included, but it wouldn't let me embed it), but still this will let you hear it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Walking With God

I once went walking along a sandy beach shore, with God standing by my side. I looked at him periodically, and down upon the sand and out at the ocean, turning to look ahead as we continued to walk forward. But I wasn’t really walking; it was more of a float, as if being pulled along. All I could hear was the roar of the ocean as the wind swept past us. The sky was grayed with clouds and the air was cool and damp.

I turned to look at the older, wiser man beside me. His gaze was always steady, always looking forward. I looked ahead, up the beach, at the horizon—the sun setting just behind a distant dune that seemed forever away.

Suddenly, he stopped. He said nothing, but continued looking forward. Then he glimpsed out at the ocean. He looked back to me with a smile upon his face—the smile reassuring and warm. Then he turned to look ahead at the horizon once again, but did not move.

Slowly, I moved nearer to him. I put my arms around his right and held onto him, pressing the rest of my body to him. I couldn’t face him though. I couldn’t look up. I couldn’t move or think or say or do anything. Finally, I felt his other hand close round upon mine, embracing my hold upon him. I looked up at last, fearful, ashamed, guilty and crying, tears rolling down my face. He looked down at me and smiled, nodding finally and then looking once more to the horizon. I looked at the setting sun too and, together, with his leading, we began to move forward once more. Each step I took was made possible only by him.

* * *

As you probably noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. I just haven’t really felt like writing anything much lately. I just wanted to take a moment though to say thank you to a few people. I don’t want to name names because… well, I’m not sure it would be altogether appropriate, but you’ll know who you are. Since my last post I’ve received many encouraging and uplifting emails from some of you. One of you actually offered to fly me out to visit you so that we could go on a church trip together. This offer coming from a friend that I trust, it was something that nevertheless surprised me—just that someone would be willing to do something so nice for me like that. Another of you has written back and forth to me several times. You have been there for me in some lonely moments, whether I admitted that to you or not at the time. You told me I was loved, and a blessing. You remind me there are good people out there who truly do care about me. You have each reminded me of that. And I thank you.

Some of the things I mentioned in my last post still have not yet been resolved. But I know God is still working in my life, and I think I can say I have a bit more hope now than I did.

I’m not alone.