Monday, August 18, 2008

I am one sick broad.

I currently have that peculiar malady known as a summer cold, which has manifested itself in the worst way possible for me - a sore throat. Describing it as "sore" doesn't quite cut it for me. "Raw esophogeal", maybe. "Cough drop O.D. inducing-throat" is more like it. That and my reoccurring fear each time this happens that I will get bronchitis again. I had a sore throat like this when I was pregnant, and the OB/GYN told me what one of his instructors in med school told him - all I needed was "a little rest, a little cigar, and a little bourbon".

"Thanks, Doctor," I said. "Two out of three of those things I can't have."

Advice to all: when society is seriously het up about its pregnant women having any sort of alcohol or tobacco products in their systems, don't even suggest those as treatment options for whatever might ail us.

Speaking of treatments, in the comments to this Gambit post, Charlotte alerted me to a mobile mental health care clinic making its rounds in New Orleans. Of course the biggest problem with the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital is that it shares an unfortunate acronym with the much discredited New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program. Forget about the good folks like Karen and Sarah possibly "hurting the recovery" of this city - think about the stigma any agency in this town will carry if it has those four letters - NOAH - anywhere near it.

Advice to all: Noah was a good man in the Bible who didn't know squat about hammer and nails before God called on him to build a huge boat and put two of every animal on board in order to ride out a storm that flooded the globe. Don't go 'round messing up his name like this.

And finally, before I collapse for a bit, school has begun.

Cliff commemorates this auspicious day with a stellar post containing his thoughts on his daughter's first day of kindergarten. Go wish them both well. My son just walked into his first day of kindergarten as well. Nobody's getting any younger, and it can be more than a little scary.

The Urban League contacted me last week to tell me of a meeting on Thursday concerning No Child Left Behind and what it means for our kids. I can give them 17 reasons why it ought to mean absolutely nothing for ourselves and our kids.

Today is an unveiling of the RSD's Facilities Master Plan at the Contemporary Arts Center at 2:30. Oh, it sounds so nice...until I remember who has been hired to oversee most of it.

And today features another article in the Times-Picayune about how all the schools must now market themselves like crazy just to get a certain number of students enrolled:

The city's schools are no longer competing as fiercely for teachers -- faced, in some cases, with a glut of candidates. Yet they are increasingly competing for students. Traditional public schools as well as charter schools now realize their survival depends on student numbers. Simply sitting back and waiting for children to walk through the door on the first day does not cut it anymore.

"I've told all of our schools . . . that they need their own promotional campaign," Recovery District Superintendent Paul Vallas said. "They need to be out there selling themselves."

Vallas has been one of the main contributors to this sad state of affairs. When one does not put his foot down as the district's head administrator and agree on one application for all the schools, one time for all schools to be accepting those applications, and some sort of contingency plan for those who might have moved here just after the deadline, then one gets a situation where the schools have to pimp themselves to the parents. I am happy to see that "the city no longer allows nonprofits to post neutral ground signs, at the request of many citizens and elected officials". Mr Vallas, don't put this on the schools - the teachers and administrators there have more than enough crap to deal with from the likes of you.

Some choice words on a "choice" of elementary and secondary schools:

Of course, we can choose to withdraw our children from the school system and homeschool them. But this is not really a choice, given the options. It's really a matter of necessity. With some degree of sadness and a great deal of disappointment, my wife and I decided to homeschool our daughter this year. We believe we had no other choice. Homeschooling will be fun and rewarding, and we're looking forward to it. But it often feels like we're making lemonade from lemons.

So does making the "choice" schools available to all parents make the other schools better? Absolutely not. Do all parents and children benefit from the "choice" schools? Absolutely not. Rather, other parents and their kids become your competition as you scramble and beg for the few crumbs thrown out. It's a sickening and heart-breaking process. It is morally and ethically stinky. You know that if you are lucky and get in, your kid is going to make it. You know that other kids will not get in. You are aware of this. And still you participate in the "choice" process.

I never liked "choice" because it's no choice at all. What "choice" does is effectively defang the opposition, as the few most vocal opponents of the status quo branch off and start their own charters and then attract others. The kids that make it into these schools are lucky, indeed. But the rest are not so lucky and must play the hand they've been dealt. My wife and I are in a postion where homeschooling is possible -- this year. But who knows about next year? And most parents are not in a position to be able to homeschool. They are stuck with the test-centric schools and must choose between them and nothing at all.

Some choice . . .

Thinking about all of this is sickening me some more.

Off to bed for a bit.

Update, 6:03 PM: E weighs in on the RSD's plans.:

The result of the facilities master plan was finally released in Sunday's Times-Picayune.

The schools' master plan, provided to The Times-Picayune before its widespread release Monday, calls for the construction or complete renovation of 28 schools in about five years, including eight new high schools. Six of the projects included in the master plan's first phase are already under way as part of the system's "quick start" construction initiative.

Just as important, officials say, the plan would close or liquidate dozens of buildings -- for instance, cutting the number of high school campuses in half -- to create a more efficient system housed in state-of-the-art environments. All told, more than 50 existing buildings would be sold or put to new uses as part of a $1.8 billion, six-phase facilities plan designed to span three decades.

To reiterate, 52 of 125 campuses will be sold or "repurposed". Twenty eight schools will see construction. The Times-Picayune labels their map of buildings to be renovated as a 'Building Boom.' The plan is better characterized as a 'demolition depression' and might be more accurately illustrated if closures were also plotted on the map.

There is currently funding for the Phase I construction and renovation of 28 schools over the next five years. Beyond that, there is no funding to expand to more facilities, thus there is no concrete Phase II.

Students at Carver High School in the upper 9th ward, will remain in trailers until 2013 without any assurances that new facilities will ever be built on-site. Frederick Douglass High School, housed in a very solid facility on St. Claude Avenue, will close in 2011.

Thus, there is to be no high school located in the Upper or Lower Ninth Ward by 2013. There is no planned high school construction in Gentilly either. Mid-City is left out of Phase I almost entirely.

These are sustainable neighborhoods. These are culturally significant neighborhoods. But, they sustained significant damage from the Federal Flood.

Read on over at We Could Be Famous.

Anudder update: 6:25 PM: And don't miss Rising Tide III education panelist Christian Roselund's Guide To Avoiding Public Input In Public Meetings.


saintseester said...

I am sorry you are feeling cruddy. But, it sure hasn't slowed you down in the writing department!

saintseester said...

PS - thanks for the No Child LB link; I have a friend I am passing that on to.

NOLA radfem said...

I hope you feel better soon, Leigh