Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Magic is afoot...

Here it is Monday (Tuesday); I'm still jazzed from the School Committee meeting, with lots of good stuff to share- but I'll wait til tomorrow to do that.

On Saturday, the progeny and I ventured into the realm of magic. Twice, in one day. Actually, as Leonard Cohen said, Magic is afoot. It abounds, it is everywhere; we need only open our eyes, or in simply lift them up, and look skyward. Sometimes, with just the right amount of seed, faith and patience, magic will gently land right on our palm. My daughter Linnea, and her friend Sarah, equal parts faith, patience, and sunflower seeds were rewarded.

Later that night, the progeny and cub scout friends spend a few hours at the Plum Island Aerodrome, playing flashlight tag, making somors, and watching the skies for shooting stars.
Again, a football field of magic, of kids running and laughing in the dark, stalking coyotes and howling at the gibbous moon, and occasionally managing to catch a blazing meteorite, when they stopped playing to rest long enough.

We have problems to work out as a municipality. But faith and magic abound, and there will be solutions that will require us to make sacrifices.

Magic/sacrifice. The wonder on a kids face when a chickadee lands on their hand, when a star breaks free from the firmament and streaks across the sky; that is why we need to leave this world a better place than we found it. And there is only one way to do that, now. Ensure that we raise children who are critical thinkers, who understand that with rights come responsibilities. We need to ensure that our children are wiser, and smarter than we are.

Parents, the community and the schools can make that happen.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully, your daughter is learning critical thinking at the expensive PRIVATE school that you send her to, since it certainly isn't being taught to children in the Nbpt PUBLIC schools. Nor is it modeled by the school committee.

At least one definition of critical thinking means to give "due consideration to the evidence," and the SC and school administration only listen to "evidence" that supports their pre-conceived opinions.


Anonymous said...

Thought you and your readers might want to check this out:


Talk about inspiring--and on so many levels!


Bruce Menin said...

FB, you paint with a very BROAD brush that seems to LACK the ABILITY to fill in the DETAILS.

The DEVIL, or as I prefer to consider it, THE LACK OF INTELLECTUAL RIGOR, is in those DETAILS, of which you provided exactly zero. Nada. Zilch. Piss and moan to your heart's content, and I'll print it until it gets less stupid and more personal, but bring a little more to the table than a narsty little peevishness.

For the record, I have already responded on this blog and in the Current to what seems to be an issue for you, and very few other people, something to do with the decision we made to send our daughter to a school operated by the Episcopal Church.

I was unaware that the decision to send a child to a private school for religious, special needs, or any other reason was anyone else's business, frankly. Clearly you believe it is part of your purview.

Are there any other aspects of my family life you would like to weigh in on or judge? Our meals, the sports we play; where and how we worship? Why we don't allow our kids to watch commercial television? Just let it rip, my friend, by all means. Our life is an open book to you.

Not to read anything into your comments, but I think you allude to some kind of hypocrisy on my part for making a schooling choice on behalf of my daughter.

My role as a parent and my role in the six years I've already spent on the School Committee are actually very similar. In both cases, I work my ass off to make sure that our educational system is one that meets the individual learning styles, challenges, and support needs of every student, meeting them where they are, and provides the support for them to reach the maximum potential they have.

If you can work with abstractions, consider this-- if our decision had been based on her having special needs not being met by the current school system, and we were shouldering the full cost of those services, you'd be way, way out of line in even bringing this up. And since you really don't know what factored into our decision, your point lacks both integrity and intellectual rigor. You should have tried for the trifecta, and done it in a mean-spirited way.

My responsibility as a school committee member is to work my ass off to ensure that there is an academic vision that promotes student achievement, and that we fight for the funds necessary to do that. I see no inconsistency, or conflict with getting our daughter what she needs now and working as hard as I have on the School Committee for as long as I have to ensure that what every child needs is there for them.

The School Committee you seem to think exists now is the one I served on six years ago. But, since you believe that a School Committee as cantankerous and opinionated as the one currently serving fits your description of the Committee of 2001, it appears obvious to me that you have preconceived notions of the SC and the Administrators that may not be accurate. Have you noticed that there is a new Superintendent, whose approach to student achievement, an issue I advocated for six years while you were apparently out there grumbling in the night, is making things happen?

I know the definition of critical thinking. Part of it is evidence, which even you and I might agree would occasionally mean "facts." I have stated for the record that I made votes that were choreographed by previous chairs and Mayors, and were based on the withholding of relevant facts form the Committee.

That does not happen any more.

Since our family decision is frankly not your business, rest assured that it makes no statement about our current school system; in fact running for re-election for what appears to be by community consensus the least thankful, most difficult job in municipal government is a better barometer of where my commitment lies.

I continue to pay full taxes to support your kids and my son who is at the Bres (I still have a SON in the NEWBURYPORT SCHOOL SYSTEM? Ouchie, that punctures a wee hole in your narsty little rant, doesn't it!).

I'd prefer to go nose to nose with you on facts. Opinions are everybody's right; whether or not they are based on facts is up to the individual. I know a lot of people who have opinions that are based on absolutely nothing that connects to reality; some of my best friends; in fact, I proudly hold some of those very same opinions.

But I don't do it on this blog. So here's the deal. You provide me factual evidence to support your assertions, and I'll respond. You could be right; but I'd like to hear exactly the basis for your vague claims, something that reaches beyond beyond vitriol and pissiness.

I've worked hard to make this blog as transparent as possible. Meet that threshold, my friend, and we can have a very interesting conversation.

As for critical thinking, neither my daughter nor my son depend on the schools to teach it, although I want to make sure that those skills are being taught there, and the kids are getting a chance to practice it. But just in case it isn't happening (and I've seen a lot of evidence in my visits to the schools at every level that it is), WE TEACH IT AT HOME. We kinda see it as a parental responsibility, with the school supplementing the work we are doing. I know, it's anachronistic, but hey, there are still traditional ideas that work.

If you have some data that indicates that isn't happening, by all means, lay it out here or in an e-mail to the School Committee.

And BTW, I can appreciate the desire for anonymity, but please come up with something better than "FB"- a nickname, other letters, your real name.

"FB" just allows me too much creative freedom to consider what the initials stand for.

Oh, and one more thing. So far, I've printed every single (both of them) comment that is critical of me and the system; I reject most of the ones that are effusive in their praise, not to disrespect the senders, but I want to make sure that if a dialogue needs to take place, it will happen.

Have a good night, FB. I have no pre-conceived notions that you will, but darn it, I just hope you do.