Showing posts from August, 2013

Biggest Threat to Public Schools

Office Depot would seem an odd place for friends to meet, but not for Cindy. Coupons, both mine and hers were firmly in her grip. She was easily navigating the paper supply aisle despite her cart already stacked full of paints, pens, pencils, erasers, folders, multiple sized binders, rolls of colored paper, and spiral notebooks. 
This was an annual event. Knowing students, both her former ones, and the new ones she’d soon meet, Cindy was gathering the tools of the trade—the stuff kids would need to face another year of school.

Cindy saved all her spare change, so when the August back-to-school sales hit, she’d be ready. No student of hers would be without a binder, pen, and paper. 
This ritual is just part of Cindy. It’s as premeditated as her daily planner—where she organizes lectures and assignments. I’ve seen that planner mid-year. In different colors are student names with ideas to help them through their school challenges.

Cindy’s car is the first one to arrive at school and th…

Football: No Game is Worth a Brain

Hard physical contact is a gridiron reality. But many are questioning if more changes need to be made to protect football players—specifically the player’s brains. 
Former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman’s career was cut short due to numerous concussions, and he declared that no son of his would ever play football. 

His sentiment was echoed by President Obama, in an interview in The New Republic, “I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football.”
According to the Center for Disease Control there are over 300,000 sports-related concussions each year. 

Concussions aren’t merely bruises or bumps—they can lead to serious issues. Enough NFL players have suffered the effects of head injuries that medical experts are linking concussions to subsequent maladies such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of other neurological disorders. 
With thousands of players lining up to sue the NFL for negligence, …

Ban Smartphones at School?

Attention students: leave your cell phones at home. Getting smarter means less smartphone time. 
South Korea, the nation boasting the smartest students on the planet, is concerned about keeping their #1 status. Troubling research revealed a steady decline in cognitive abilities due to smartphone use.  
The South Korean researchers compared overuse of smartphones to what they see in patients who’ve suffered head injuries or psychiatric illnesses.
South Koreans are a mobile bunch. Slightly more than two out of three people use smartphones and more than 18% of their children ages 10-19 use their phone more than seven hours a day. Doctors speculate that smartphones cause the underuse of the right side of the brain—the part where our concentration happens.
Germany, another academic powerhouse, is also concerned with smartphones impacting students. Manfred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist, believes that irreversible damage can occur in children’s brains that are still developing. He’s peti…

Rearview Mirror Goodbyes

Even after a dozen years I can still remember it clearly. Looking in my car’s rearview mirror, I watched my daughter standing on the sidewalk, looking after me as I drove away from her college campus.

Like many other parents have done, I’d checked her in, got her settled, and with a flight to catch, I’d left her to figure out how to make it on a campus thousands of miles from home. We’d seemed ready for this moment. But what teen is completely ready to move away even though they think they are? What parent can actually let go?

She got smaller as I traveled further down the road and I wondered if she was feeling as bereft as I was. I realized my life as a parent had just experienced a paradigm shift. I was going home and she wasn’t. My rules and curfews would make no difference now. Her new freedom came with the highest level of personal responsibility she’d ever faced. She’d answer for herself now.

Our final hours together were a blur of moving boxes and my jumbled advice about laund…

God Bless the IRS

God bless the IRS? Sounds weird, I know. But the IRS is peopled with working Americans—many are moms or dads. Some probably coach their kid’s teams and volunteer at their schools. They go to work, pay bills (and fill out tax forms just like the rest of us).
The IRS workers are not the problem—we are. It’s our government. It’s grown beyond its ability to manage itself.  Just as when too many kids are crammed into one classroom with an overworked teacher—and students don’t do as well, our government suffers the same malady—too many programs and too little oversight to manage it all. Creating new programs and spending more money hasn't helped—it just made the problem bigger.
Experts think we should allow the states to take over some of the federal duties. Makes sense. I have no clue what issues people are facing in rural Georgia—but I do know what we face in the rural parts of Washington State. Americans understand their own communities and most have some good ideas how to make need…