Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One for Each Decade

Three Cheers for the US Passport Office and the US Post Office! Today my expedited renewed passport arrived, a mere 12 days after I mailed it off in an overnight mail envelope with a return overnight mail envelope.

Now, this kind of service is not free. I could have saved myself $60 for the expediting fee, plus the overnight mail fees, had I paid attention to the expiration date on my 10 year old passport. But it's nice to know it can be bought!

When my sister called 2 weeks ago to tell me she had an extra ticket to see Bruce Springsteen Nov. 26th in Vancouver, BC, of course I say yes to a sister adventure!!! Until I checked my passport, which had expired on Sept. 23rd. There was no time to lose, especially with the Veterans Day Holiday and Thanksgiving in the mix.

However, without a passport number and expiration date, one cannot book a flight. That was OK, too expensive anyway. One cannot book Amtrak either. That was not OK, as I watched all the possible trains become sold out. Thanks to friends Tom and Leila, who live near the Canadian Border in Blaine, WA, who read of my plight on Facebook and offered a place to stay bookending the Canadian excursion, should I decide to drive. And thanks to the new Bolt Bus routes in the NW. I was able to snag a Bellingham/Vancouver round trip for a mere $10. Much cheaper than hotel parking fees.

So Sunday, I will be off on another adventure. Looking at my old passports today was a trip down memory lane. They may not be cheap, but they sure do open the door to the world!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Wrong Lesson Indeed

Yesterday's Oregonian had a mind boggling front page article on what Beaverton schools' budget cuts have done to the teachers and classrooms. It's a lesson in What Not To Do, lest you appear to be really really stupid.

Beaverton School District of 51 schools slashed its budget and cut 344 positions resulting in nearly 400 transfers to fill holes as the layoffs created a domino effect. In late July they laid off 204 teachers, and have since returned 106 to full or part time positions.  Important info here: the teachers union and district have no rules for transfers other than licensure. Competence, experience, grade level, or subject don't have to be considered. Say what?

Here's what some of the changes have wrought as "about 160 teachers were placed in significantly different positions":

  • A high school government, world history and economics teacher the last 5 years was moved to 7th grade math. She had never taught math before, nor middle school.
  • The top district librarian was moved to elementary school. She's since taken a leave and is subbing.
  • A high school language arts teacher moved to elementary English language development.
  • An elementary teacher to middle school science.
  • An elementary music teacher to English language development.
  • A middle school art teacher to 4th grade.
  • A German teacher to Spanish.
Teachers trained in IB and AP were moved to schools without these programs and teachers lacking IB and AP training were moved in, costing 1/3 of the district's training budget to get them up to speed.

Here's one of my favorites:
A teacher who was working with seriously ill students at their homes was laid off, and a high school math teacher was assigned the job. The first teacher was called back and put into the math teacher's position.
 The district wouldn't allow them to swap back because it would cause even more disruption in the classroom and cost the district two days of pay.
I think they've disrupted the classrooms past the point of reason.
Teachers had no choice in the moves, and principals had no say in who came and went. 
Some of the teachers have resigned or taken unpaid leaves of absence rather than be put in a position to fail the students.

Can we please have a discussion about treating teachers as PROFESSIONALS??????

Back to AB Normal

It took a while, but the house is pretty much cleaned up, almost all the Big Blue Box is packed up, signs are down, and the laundry is caught up. I think everyone was ready for election season to be done with. We had great participation from local Democrats, making our office, phone banking and signing successful. I hope they don't all disappear now until the next time around. We need to be channeling our energies into our pet issues, and keep on top of our elected officials to be mindful the will of the people they represent.

On Halloween Night, at the White Salmon downtown trick or treat event, our visitors included County Commissioner Dave Sauter and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. Both are Republicans. Commissioner Sauter is well known as a person who listens, considers the facts surrounding an issue, and who can work with people of all political persuasions. Congresswoman HB is a new face to us, after redistricting delivered our county into her hands from Doc Hastings. We stood on the side walk in front our our HQ and spoke about communities needing to work TOGETHER (emphasizing together) to solve our big problems. Sadly, she is one of the Congressional Representatives who has signed Grover Norquist's pledge. Taking something like taxes off the table is not the way to solve our problems together. So my first email/letter of the new season will go to Rep. Herrera Beutler. I tried email, but even though redistricting took effect many months ago, her website STILL doesn't recognize my zip code as being in her district. So she'll get a snail mail letter.

I'm not sure which issue I will focus on first. There are so many. But as a County Chair, I still have work to do by the end of the year. It's reorganization time!!! No rest for the weary.