Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Historical Misconceptions

Since I teach Art History, which like it sounds is Art AND History, I thought I should enlighten some people about some serious misconceptions. Right now in our esteemed institutions of higher learning, there are some folks that want us to believe that the civilization of Ancient Greece was a peaceful bucolic sort of existence. Having just taught that unit, I can assure you nothing is further from the truth. All those Greek tragedies, so loved by literary types, have their core stories based in the sad, tragic stuff of reality, not legend. In reality, the Greeks were a bloody band of loosely aligned city states that believed men were born for two purposes-to fight in battles and to compete in athletics. When you look at contemporary American society, and the worshipful way we approach all things athletic, can you really say we have advance much at all? While my class was looking at slides of the Parthenon, Erechthion and Knossos, they were puzzled at how we are creating our own iconography of our civilization. It seems that rather than gods and goddesses, we have athletes and celebrities. We honor them daily in our TV and movie viewing. We put their images on our computer screens and busses and billboards. I am sure we all like to think that civilization has advanced in over 3000 years, but except for a few technological aids, we are the same pagan, brutal, mindless folks that wandered and ravaged lands from Persia to China. There's a great deal we can learn from history. Unfortunately, ancient scholars often were faced with death for their deviation from the norm. Today we revel in deviation and scorn the norm. I wonder what sort of future that sets up for our society.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What's In A Name?

This is going to sound strange, but I honestly don't think Barack Obama has a chance of getting nominated. And it's not because of his politics, although it should be. Americans are notoriously shallow when it comes to their elected officials. We have this sterling image of what they can and cannot be. That is in large part why it's been difficult for minorities and women to break the barriers. If Barack had been named Joe Smith, there is no question he would be a shoe in, but when you put the title of President with Obama, it just simply doesn't fit. Any old time ad man would tell you that what works in a small ethnic neighborhood of any kind, often doesn't translate well nationally. That's why you don't hear about beignets in Minneapolis or bratwurst festivals on Oahu. Call me old-fashioned, but I think most people if and when they vote do consider what is the most comfortable. And quite often those choices have nothing to do with politics. A final example. A reknown university did a study a few years back. They took a group of kids and told the incoming teachers that they had names like Fred and Ethel and Myrtle. Then they took the same kids and told different teachers that the children were named Anne and Johnny and Tiffany. The first set of teachers saw the children as slow and difficult. The latter saw them as bright and willing. It was the same group of kids. People do this kind of subliminal judgement every day. If a girl named Melissa made third grade a living hell for you, there is no way you will name your own daughter that or that you will feel safe with anyone with that name. It is simply a characteristic of human behavior. And do you really think someone with a Middle Eastern name, no matter what their platform, is going to make many Americans feel safe?

Another and Different Inconvenient Truth

In "An Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore makes the claim that we are in the end days ecologically speaking. He speaks from the point of view of many scientists that do not actually do the research, but instead simply read and review the research of others. In the scientific arena, as in the political one, there are two or more points of view. No doubt, it would help the American economy to be more independent of international blackmail in the form of oil or energy pricing. There is also no doubt that we all could do more to help the environment. We should all be prudent with resources. We should all recycle and we should all use energy wisely and well. What the problem is that we are ignoring viable sources of cheap and domestically available energy to soothe the savage beast of the Environmental political action groups. They wail and whine every time the subject of using our natural national resources comes to a vote. They bemoan the fate of polar bears and whales and such with the "facts" loosely thrown about by alleged authorities. Facts are only as good as the research that brings them to light. Let me ask you, do you think global warming is a recent phenomenon? If so, they how do you explain the drought that brought about the Dust Bowl in the 1930's or the thirty year drought that resulted from the absorption of water into the polar ice caps in the 1200's? How do you explain that parts of England that grew grapes now cannot sustain that due to a colder climate? And how do you account for the fact that most geologists count us as being in the end of the most recent Ice Age? The simple fact is, we do not know for certain that any of the event perpetrated by humankind has any effect on the earth. We do no know whether the hole in the ozone layer are a recent or recurring event. We do not know even such basic data as temperatures further back than 150 years. In the millenia that the earth has experienced change and weather, we only know the smallest part of the history. And any scientist will tell you that if you only know a little, what you do not know will be what comes back to bite you. I recall in high school during the Carter years, the same groups were bemoaning the return of an Ice Age. Now they are doing a 180 and expecting the industrialized world to pay the price, via the Kyoto Accord, while China and India continue in some very nasty and unsophisticated pollution. You can't have it both ways. Either it is bad for everyone, or bad for no one. In the meantime, you may want to read this article. And next time someone wants you to sign a petition, you may want to ask them what they actually know beyond the name of the organization sponsoring the event.

Why SMU Should Have the Bush Library

I also posted this on a local blog in the DFW area. I think the blatant attempt to inject personal politics into something is and should be an honor is one of the most cynical and manipulative actions since the Amon preists removed the cartouches of Akhenaton. Talk about political assissination de facto. Anyway, here are my thoughts....

Most educated people understand that a presidential library is not just a monument to a person, but a research center and receptical for all documents of a president's tenure in office. As such presidential libraries are of enormous help to historians, policy makers, educators and others who don't accept statements at the whim of a newflash on CNN or a Geraldo Rivera diva turn. Presidential libraries aide their related institutions in terms of research through access, through grants for study and through federal funding for research. As such they are money magnets. While a few self-appointed snobs are trying to drive the opportunity away from SMU through misdirection and sheer vindictiveness, do you think that the Vietnam era alums of UT tried to deny LBJ, reviled for his handling of the Vietnam War, a foot in the door by building the LBJ Library on campus? Not hardly. The UT adminstration looked at the big picture and saw that down the road the facility would add new dimension to its history, government and public service programs. The Bush Library could do the same thing for SMU. And yet we have people so full of hate that they would send this chance away just to look good on paper. These libraries don't come around to universities that often. Forty three presidents in over two hundred years. So if SMU passes on this chance, I doubt another one will come along any time soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is This Our Future?

We in Dallas are suffering through yet another demanding professional sports team's whining about facilities. So in response, rather than having the actual team, which is a BUSINESS, build their own facility, voters bought into a rather tenuous arguement that building a Temple to The Dallas Cowboys would bring wealth to their cities. Just prior to the election, a professor at a local university came out with studies proving that such facilities don't improve the local economy, but instead often depress is due to the burden of local taxes that must be used to pay off the building bonds. In looking at this, I considered what the impact would be when this facility opens. First of all, there are only a finite number of pro games, Super Bowls and college games that any facility can reasonably hold during the year. And you won't get a Super Bowl or ProBowl but about one time out of ten. Although the projections were that for a Super Bowl the amount of money that could be put in the local economy might range as high as $100,000, 000-that isn't all going to be heading to the town where the facility is located. Most of that money will stay in Dallas or Ft. Worth in the form of hotels/motels, car rentals and restaurants. There are also side issue which haven't yet been discussed. Unlike facilities in Chicago, Boston, New York or LA, the facility being built in Arlington for the Cowboys has no public transportation. That forces people to pay to park and further constricts an already tight traffic corridor. Unless the state or federal government come up with cash to wide and improve highways, trying to make it to the game will be a logisitic nightmare. Add to that the location of the stadium far away from the wealthiest fan bases. The Rangers have already experienced the lack of attendance during the week due to a combination of late starts and long travel times, and although the Cowboys play on Sunday usually, there will be traffic issues forced upon the local governments. All this comes down to money. And currently parking is $8, beer is $3, and a hotdog is $3 at the current facility. That is going to have to go up exponentially in order to cover the overhead. I personally consider going to most of the professional sports events as too costly, I can't even imagine how high prices will go. So I wonder, will we continue to have people who claim to have no money to pay for their kids education spending upwards of $200 a week to take the family to a sporting event? And as with the Romans in the linked article, will we start to see even more of the cultural tiering based on status? We already have the luxury boxes, is it too far away for Jerry Jones and his fellow owners to don the purple of empire and give a thumbs up or thumbs down? I'm just asking.........

Is Teaching a Genetic Flaw?

I ask this because of my three children, two are going to end up in the classroom. Luckily one of them is smart enough to also be a Coach and will be ensured of a job for life or as long as his teams are successful. I noticed that many of the teachers in my school have family members or children that also teach. I know that traditionally in the Middle Ages trades and professions were handed down from generation to generation, but that doesn't seem to be the norm in the past fifty years. So why then are so many teachers coming from families that are in education? Is it just a comfortable fit? Do they like working with kids? Do they see this as a means to get more free time? (An obvious mistake since there hasn't been a break, weekend or vacation that I haven't been grading something, planning something or attending a class) I wouls just be curious if it's a type of hero worship or just based on the modeling done by teacher parents that inspire teacher offspring. I am sure some geneticist could get in the works to design the perfect teacher. I would just wonder who is going to have input on the final model. I shudder to think of the difference between what parents would want, what administrators would want and what students would want. Parents would want someone exciting and forgiving and tireless in their work ethic. Adminstrators would want endurance, blind adherence to policy and unquestioning loyalty. Students would want Bozo the Clown or Pamela Anderson. (actually we have had a couple of the latter, and needless to say, in the end-they didn't work out...discretion permits only a few reference words-cheerleader, students, inappropriate behavior..you fill in the blanks.)
It's something that rather scares me in the long run.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dumb Questions That Students Ask

I used to say there were no dumb questions. I would like to qualify that remark. There are dumb questions. And they usually come from the various slackers that fill the ranks of my elective class. First of all, there is the broadbased assumption that since my class is an elective, that means it doesn't count. This isn't helped by the fact that to shush parents, the school board devised a means of calculating GPA for student rankings using only core classes-math, science, English and history, along with foreign languages. This is largely because some parents are just a wee bit competitive on their student's behalves about where their kiddo is ranked. You can only imagine what panic ensues when I lower the boom on these kids and tell them that many competitive universities refigure GPA's. The result is that often highly competent and otherwise qualified students take my class to screw around. And by that I mean, I have some very intelligent students that take many advanced and challenging classes who choose to do as little as they can to pass the class and get the credit. It's not all of them, I also have kid who work like crazy, but then again, I think those particular students are the Truly Gifted, not the My Parents Complained Until I Got Into AP Classes Gifted. What continues to amaze me is that these otherwise much lauded and coddled advanced students can ask some of the most annoying and downright dumb questions. Below are just a few:
"Does this assignment count?" -No I had nothing better to do than assign work that I throw away.
"Do I have to do this?"-In reality, nobody HAS to do anything. I don't HAVE to give you a grade, I do it because of my undying respect for your intellect and popularity.
"Am I finished?"-Of course you are, you were finished before you started. In one time space realm you haven't even been born yet and in another you have never taken this class. Everything is relative....
"Is this test open book?"-Yes, in fact to save time I wrote the answer in the blanks for you...
"Can I use my notes?"-Surely-just fold them like this, and this, and this and you have a nifty hat, or a pterodactyl, or a brooch (apologies to the makers of "Airplane")
"Are you finished grading yet?" (this is usually accompanied by either the hip-cock/eye roll or the loud exhale/sneer and happens about one hour after the test, or after the late paper is turned in.)-[Blank stare.]
"Do I have to......."(fill in the blank-take this test, pass this test, do this assignment, finish this assignment, sit down)-Yes.

There are more. I think one of the most astounding ones was from the kid who turned in literally NOTHING for nine weeks, who asked me if there was anything he could do to bring up his grade.........I couldn't think of a thing to tell him......

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Diversity and Mistrust

I was directed to this article from another blog. I read it and found it fascinating. And in looking at how modern society is evolving, I found it fairly accurate in its conclusions. Trust is something that occurs when two people have shared beliefs. This doesn't necessarily mean religious or political beliefs, but common ground or at least common aspects of the same culture. With the push for the American Salad approach to society over the Melting Pot, we have entire sectors of society that cannot even carry on a conversation with each other. That doesn't make a society and it surely doesn't inspire trust on any level. Is it any wonder that people are so resistant to the erosion of American core shared traits such as language, culture and social issues? Can we really feel assured of our safety when we have people in charge at large corporate and social institutions that seem intent on tearing apart families and neighborhoods in the name of diversity. Let me give you an example. Our first house was a smaller three bedroom in a blue collar suburban neighborhood. People planted trees and bushes, mowed their grass and maintained their homes. That was the wordless contract that neighbors shared. Four years after we bought the house, several neighboring house were bought by an absentee landlord. Repairs weren't made, painting wasn't done, lawns weren' t mowed and roves of unknown people drifted in an out of the houses leading to a series of police incidents. Our street was still pretty nice when we left. We had just painted the house, landscaped the yard and replaced all the indoor flooring and carpeting. It wasn't fancy, but it was a nice house. Five years later, I can't even drive by the house. Our former neighbors told us the nice Mexican American couple that bought the house almost immediately sold it for cash to their relatives, of who eight, four under twelve, live in the home. Cars are parked on the lawn. A porch covering was made of plywood and two by fours. The house is painted a different color on each side and the thirty foot live oak and landscape was pulled out . The carefully tended St. Augustine lawn is dirt. I won't drive by there because it makes me cry, but honestly, this house was a nice house and the lack of shared values destroyed it and is dragging down home values on all the houses around it. Sure, the neighbors can call the city and get them to cite them for flouting the laws, but in the previous situation, neighbors didn't have to do that because we shared the values of keeping our homes in order. Plus, the neighbors are older people who have been threatened by these folks. So what was a bucolic suburban retirement for our former neighbors has become a nightmare. Do they distrust their new neighbors? Of course, after seeing the neglect and the utter disregard for local customs, what do you expect? And that is the crux of the matter. If someone comes into your home and smokes without permission, you ask them to leave. Why then, when people come here and damage our local communities, AND they have no legal right to be here, can we not ask them to leave too?

Deregulation Pro and Con

This is actually a post I made on another local blog, but it bears a good number of ideas that I have been kicking around recently.

This is supposed to be a free market society. As such, the price of commodities is supposed to be driving by supply and demand. The lower the supplies, the higher the demand, the higher the price. The higher the supplies, the lower the demand, the lower the price. These concepts are important to our way of life because they affect many different important social and political events in our society.Illegal Immigration-The key phrase here is that employers claim that there aren't enough workers. Illegal workers come and work for pay under assumed identities OR for less off the books pay. This keeps the cost of goods low but erodes the need to increase the minimum wage because without the demand for workers the pressure to raise the wages weakens. In addition, with less workers paying into the tax system through property or income taxes, the pressure to raise taxes on the individuals to make up the difference in local expenditures for services increases. Supply and demand.College tuition-Without regulation, boards of regents seek to defer foundations and other means of income and instead pass the bulk of economic increase onto the undergrads. They do this in many ways other than just tuition-there are fees some of which go to support programs that the avaerage student never taps into such as athletic programs and higher level grants. If you look at the state universities, their tuitions without the guidance of a regulation has far outstripped economic growth. There are students currently enrolled in UT or A&M that will graduate with the economic equivelent of a house payment in loans. And since many of them will not be getting those juicy jobs that pay six figures, they will either defer moving out of family homes, marriage, childbearing or default on their loans entirely. Look at the number of young people declaring bankruptcy. And that number will only grow. The state has been naive to think that these institutions work in favor of any student. These schools are solely in business of sustaining themselves by whatever means possible. Since students have to go to college it means that loans are at a premium, classes are crowded and jobs hard to come by in college towns. Supply and demand in this case failed because there was no true access to ANY college and since college select the students, they are by and large captive payers into a corrupt and manipulative system.Electricity and Power and Water-I would say that this along with water should be regulated by a state board and that ALL communities should be equal partners in the creation and paying of facilities to serve communities. In this past year the drought pointed out some communities such as Plano, McKinney and Allen that overbuilt for their water supplies. Instead of building lakes and reservoirs, they spent their money in building roads and giving large employers tax subsidies. That is irresponsible planning and makes the futures of these communities suspect. Do you really think ANYONE will move into a $300K home if they can't legally fill their swimming pool or water their lawn? Water supplies and demands are linked and higher prices will be the result.Likewise, we have a group of people armed with incomplete information that have restricted nuclear and coal powered electric generation facilities no matter how many safety features are put in place. Never mind that gas and oil are becoming increasingly precious to obtain and that they are often subject to the whims of unbalanced dictators. We could have been far down the road to independence from oil through developemnt of a wide range of sources including wind and solar along with coal and nuclear, but there are well meaning but ignorant groups that want to believe every solution from the state is the Beginning of the End. And since there are only limited sources for electricity, and groups keep limiting options, power will become harder and more expensive to come by.There are downsides to every solution, but sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two evils in order to survive. Saying we will have options down the road will not help us right now. Start looking for supply and demand in the issues and think about how it applies to most situations on the news and you will have new insight as to how our nation can and should work.

But What About the Cheerleaders????

Alright, it was a cheesy lead in, but once again our glorious state has been subjected to some unflattering shades of limelight due to yet another in a series of Bad Afternoon Drama Cheerleading Incidents. I am frankly, as a Texan, a mother, a teacher and a person sick and tired of hearing about aimless cheerleaders getting themselves into trouble due to the misconception that they are infallible and immune to rules and /or laws. Yes, I know this may come as a shock, but cheerleaders, just like football players are HUMAN. And that means they have to honor every single law on the books including gravity. Let's review some of the more stellar moments in Texas Cheerleading History, some of which were publicized and others which I observed as a parent.
1. The Mom who tried to Kill a girl that beat her daughter out for a spot on the squad. (I think this may be a reality series of some sort now...)
2. The two PREGNANT cheerleaders that sued an East Texas school to be allowed on the team. (What were their parents thinking, I mean, REALLY THINKING? That around the third trimester their little darlings were going to defy gravity by doing aerial stunts while sporting a belly out to there???)
3. The Cheerleaders Who Drank While Performing at the Game. (This became a national story at the time. I was actually AT the game-it was my own kids' school. A JV cheerleader was selling programs in the stands and staggering up and down. A security guard saw her nearly fall and stopped her. When he stated "You're drunk." She replied "well the Varisty squad has vodka in their waterbottles." I want you to imagine and soak up the scene-full stadium, close game, the superintendent on the field watching since it was a district rivalry and cheerleaders being hauled off by police from the sidelines. Ah yes, memories......)
4. The McKinney "Fab Five" (Could anything be more pathetic. They run off five sponsors in three years and NOBODY THINKS THERE IS A PROBLEM??? The sponsor tries to get action and is stonewalled. She goes to the media. The girls post suggestive photos in uniform on MySpace site. And the parents STILL want them to be on the squad. I am sure there is more to the story, but I don't like soap operas.)
5. This is one I knew about-my daughter's junior year two cheerleaders, girls who had been catty and nasty and horrible to most of their peers, but managed through fear and loathing to remain at the top of the Food Chain, ambushed a girl who was dating one of their former boyfriends. The guy (who incidentally got off scot free) dropped the girl off at a house where they girls beat her with a baseball bat. She got a skull fracture and the girls should have been arrested, but one of them had an attorney for a father. Instead of the alterantive school and jail time punishment they deserved, their punishment was (drumroll......wait for it)to be kicked off the squad. Oh the humanity.....
6. One girl, who was in a class I had, was beautiful talented and had the most abrasive, self-centered attitude of any person I have yet to meet that wasn't in political office. She disrupted every class and due to the favors she blessed upon select elite jocks, was powered into Homecoming Queen in a very disputed race in which several suspicious ballots turned up. She's gone now and I am glad to not have to deal with her anymore. Her parents supported her nasty attitude. She's at OU now. I hope they enjoy her up there....

Finally-a comment
Not all cheerleaders are the sleazy models that the NFL, Maxim and news stories would have you believe. I have known some wonderful kids that were excellent gymnasts who took their position as cheerleader very seriously. The two things that influence a student organization are the parents and the sponsors. If you have parents who condone, support and provide spaces for bad behavior such as drinking and sex, then it is difficult to reel the kids back into normal behavior at school. Also, when you have a sponsor who is out of control or delusional, as we did one year at our school, the squad can get into a bad place very quickly. And finally, I think this generation of parents has been far too overprotective of their children in regard to failure. While I don't necessarily like the competition for such things as athletics, cheerleading or drill team, I also don't like the situations where "everybody wins." In real life, that just doesn't happen. Everybody doesn't win every time. Sometimes you lose. You lose due to lack of preparation, lack of skills, bias or any of a number of causes. This generation's parents want an insured "win" for every situation. So they argue for grades, for placement and for leniency. There comes a point when kids need to learn how to handle defeat gracefully. And when they learn how to do that, they will also be able to more aptly handle the perq's that come with success. Along with this obsessive overprotective attitude, there is also a strangely distant interest in how children are really doing on a daily basis. I have kids that show up in my class just to talk. Some of my children's friends do the same. These kids, these six foot tall children, are desperately lonesome. And without a family that gives a damn, they turn to sex or drugs or alcohol or gangs to fill the void. I don't think it's a far cry from a group of out of control cheerleaders to a gang? The mentality of invincibility and lack of respect is already in place. People always seem so shocked that cheerleaders would do something bad, but I am here to tell you that just because kids appear to be functioning socially and academically doesn't mean that the kids are alright.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tuition Bites

I am currently a proud parent of two, nearly three, college students. All through their lives my husband and I have harped on the importance of a college education. We made sure that they had goals, made their grades and made plans. And we followed through by investing in our kids as much as we could reasonably afford through a state tuition plan. Imagine our dismay when as my daughter's senior year in college, the money simply ran out. The tuition that we thought we were paying for only lasted three years thanks to a system that seems to think everyone has access to amply financial aid. According to FAFSA, the governing body that assesses income for colleges, my husband and I are "rich". Not rich like The Donald, but rich in the same terms that Democrats talk about when they want to raise taxes.

I have looked at my kids' tuition bills. There are several curious entries. There is the per hour tuition of course, but then there are a plethora of tacked on fees that are added with little fanfare and less information. There's the "building use" fee. I know they use buildings. This isn't Plato's Republic with the balding elder sounding forth on the village square, but then again, it would seem that most colleges have used buildings to conduct classes for quite a long while. Shouldn't this charge be part of the tuition already? Then there's the student activity fee. This is a fee based on the assumption that students use all of the facilities, including all gyms, all programs and all perq's on campus. It also assumes that the student will attend all athletic events. In short, it's welfare for the already rich-the athletic programs. And please, spare me the arguements that "they pay their own way" and "they bring recognition and money to the school" because while that may occasionally happen, there are very few T. Boone Pickensian millionaires out there throwing money around. And then again, he only gave money for the stadium. How much good is that going to do a Chemistry major? Our state supposedly enacted a program where public schools had to offer transparent budgets that not only listed, but itemized their expenditures. While that kind of action can't be pressed on private colleges, as a taxpayer I certainly have the right to know what the heck they are doing in Austin or College Station or Lubbock or El Paso with the dollars that flood their way.

Since my daughter entered college in Fall 2003, tuition has gone up twice. Fees have been added and the money has little meaning because for the average student, the quality of campus life has not improved. She previously worked for her university in Housing as an RA. As such she was paid in room and board and for that they commanded 24/7 work hours. The excuse that the college has given is that they are paying higher wages, but the question I have is to whom? Students on work/study are certainly not making any more and programs such as job placement or assistance have been scaled back. Add to that advisors that don't know what they are doing when they sign off on kids enrollment forms and colleges that change their direction and eliminate entire programs without warning, and you have a frustrating recipe for failure. And it costs money, which doesn't matter if you are there on a free ride, but matters quite a bit if you personally have to write the check.

Personally here are some of the things that I have witnessed as a parent:
-Selection of students based on who they knew over students listed as eligible for work/study in jobs that were meant for work/study students only.
-Students having to fight to get their diploma after spending five years completing the requirements for a degree, only to have the program closed.(One girl completely dropped out and is working at Home Depot)
-Precipitous and unexplained degree plan changes, such as requiring Dance majors to take Calculus in order to get warm bodies in the seats to provide jobs for grad students.(Actually happened to my daughter, who has a 4.0 and is double majoring in Psychology)
-Student grants not appearing in accounts for days or weeks after they were issued. (When this circumstance was called to the President of the University's attention, they avoided their usual two week delay and emailed me that day.)

I could go on, but it's all just too depressing. The basic problem is that colleges have overloaded their curriculum with cutsey, unnecessary programs and classes that look good in the newspaper, but don't provide much for the average student. I know students at our Flagship University that as seniors are looking at payback for loans in the area of $100000. That's a house. And it's ridiculous that we are talking about bailing out a system that is so slanted towards political correctness that it often subsidizes grants for students that in previous days would have never been allowed in college due to their dismal high school perfomances. Sure, some of them will succeed, but in the meantime taxpayers are supporting kids who have no will and no intention of ever doing anything to get their degree. It's party time. And somehow it feels like they are dancing on my financial grave. I often wonder how things would have been different if my kids had been star athletes, or if we had been of the Minority Persuasion of the Week. And please, don't get me wrong, any kid of any color who makes high grades and hits 1600 on the SAT's deserves to be in school. What bothers me is this broad based assumption that everyone is ENTITLED to be in school. And that, although colleges won't admit it, it the problem. In their liberal mindset to change the world one kid at a time, the colleges will do whatever it takes to get a kid from a bad background and marginal academic skills into college. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see them look at the academic middle of the class kids who are evidently wanted by no one, and boost them up with support and classes and mentors? Instead this group flounders around on their own, with quite a few ending up on academic probation due to the need to work in order to stay in school.

And don't get me started on this idea that college is four years. It may have been in the past, although I took four and a half due to the cycle of classes not being offered when I was ready for them. My kid who is a junior has tried since last year to get into a foreign language class, which is required for his major. They only start the cycle in the fall. So if you miss fall of sophomore year AND fall of junior year getting into a class, then you end up hanging around for year another year waiting for a slot. And the irony of this is that underclassmen and freshmen who are seen as "at risk" for failure, are permitted to enroll first, taking up most of the spots in the class. So let's put our hands together and clap for the kids with all the support, because they may end up the only ones that will graduate under a system that is so slanted and so bureaucratic that getting a response from the registrar is like getting caviar in the Kremlin. In other words "all things are possible, but not for YOU."