Archive for the ‘Bessemer Schools’ Category

>I am embarrassed

September 8, 2009

>I am embarrassed for our country.

The fact that school administrators are not allowing their pupils to hear an inspiring, non-partisan message about the importance of education is bewildering. Oh, I’ve heard the right wingers saying he’s trying to deliver a subliminal message to indoctrinate our kids and all, sure – that’s to be expected from those folks. But I would think administrators in schools would have better judgement than to be swayed by the birther/deather/pro-dropouters.

By “pro-dropouters” I mean…well, wouldn’t it be ironic if the president’s speech did influence kids to stay in school, so that as the years go by, the number of kids who heard the president and stayed in school and went on to have productive lives is higher, and of the kids who did not hear the president a greater number drop out and become a burden on society?

Is it so bad that the kids might hear this? (from the President’s prepared remarks):

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

That’s what it’s all about. Promoting education, promoting a learning attitude, to create a desire to better oneself through education.

Here is more from the prepared remarks the president will give.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

I decided to see what the area schools were doing so I made some phone calls this morning. This is what I heard from the person in the office of each school who answered the phone. The answers may or may not be official policy.

In Bessemer I called the superintendent’s office, but could get no further than answering machines. So I called each school.

At Jess Lanier, all students will watch the president.

Davis Middle School – They don’t have access in all the rooms, but some will watch and some will not. The administrator I spoke with then said “I don’t know anything about it.” (3 hours before the speech)

Abrams Elementary School – They are recording the speech to show later. They are going on with their regular instructional program during the day.

Hard Elementary – The person who answered the phone hung up on me.

Greenwood Elementary – They have not decided (3 hours before the speech). Referred me to the central office (where I had already tried but got a recording, I will try again.)

Jonesboro Elementary – I was referred to the librarian who said a decision had not been made, and when I asked when it might be since the speech was in 2-1/2 hours, she said goodbye and hung up on me.

Westhills Elementary – Will be set up so that teachers can show it if they choose to.

McAdory Elementary – No, and when I asked why, I was told “Because the principal said so.”

McAdory Middle School – It’s up to the teachers. They can show it but they cannot make any assignments about it.

McAdory High School – It’s the teacher’s option, and also the student’s option.

Bessemer Academy – Not showing. Then hesitatingly said that only the government class might show it, then said if other teachers want to show it they can.

Let me just add right here that the Bessemer school system needs to have some mandatory telephone skills and etiquette training for their employees, especially at Jonesboro elementary and Hard elementary.

On Fox News yesterday Newt Gingrich and others agreed that the speech is a good thing and that students should be allowed to watch it and then discuss it.

I have read the speech. There is nothing controversial, no policy promotion or anything like that. But even if there was, is it not good for students to hear different views on subjects and then discuss their viewpoints? Is that not what school and education is about?

Then there is this (don’t take it seriously).

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>Superintendent Gets Axed, Obama Gets the Nod

October 29, 2008

>Here in Bessemer we are building a new High School to replace aging Jess Lanier. I wonder who will be leading the system when it opens. I only ask because the Bessemer School Board voted not to renew superintendent Deborah Horn’s contract last night (and to buy out the remainder of her current contract). All Horn did was (1)raise the quality of education in Bessemer so that all seven of our schools make “adequate yearly progress” and (2) bring the financial reserves up to “second healthiest” in the state. Oh, and (3) improve the graduation rate at the “drop out factory” to 81 per cent. What more could you ask?

************************************************

There’s just really not much more to say about the election. Blogging for Obama has peaked, hopefully not too early. But anyone who has halfway kept up knows what the candidates stand for and who will leave you better off four years from now.

Gee Paw, even Opie says so. If the video does not play…watch here . Thanks, Jim.

http://player.ordienetworks.com/flash/fodplayer.swf?59805f5b

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Chaz thinks so too. He says he got detention for writing this song…

This comes from back during the primaries, so there are references to Hillary.

My favorite line is:

“The senator from Illinois should be screaming White House Ahoy…”

Look for more election season music over the next few days.

Clinton Rising, Bessemer’s News and Local Marine Killed

October 3, 2007

After the last Democratic presidential candidate debate I predicted Hillary Clinton would rise in the polls, even though most new people said she did poorly. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken over the weekend shows just that, with Clinton increasing her lead from three weeks ago by 8 points to 48%.

People are seeing her as the one ready to be president,” says Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist. Well of course he would say that. I really think it is that, but also people realizing that they want to support a winner, so they are moving into the camp of the most likely victor. Better get used to it.

Let’s hope the killing has stopped in Bessemer, but one more and 2007 will have seen as many murders as we saw during the previous two years combined. There have been 14 this year, 10 last year and 5 the year before. This is reported in the Birmingham News West News, but again, trying to find a link to it (or the following stories) is near impossible. Just take my word…or buy a paper.

Detective Perry Hurst said there is very little police can do to prevent homicides. Sounds like an excuse, but the sad fact is, it’s the truth. While I still say better police protection is needed, what we need are broader changes in attitudes and to develop a respect for ourselves and others and their property. Those are things that will not happen overnight, but improvements in neighborhoods, and possible changes coming up in downtown, are the types of things that will increase pride and consequently respect in our communities.

Something must be right, because while everyone says Bessemer is being held back by their school system, those who pay close attention say that improvements are taking place. Enrollment is up, with 166 more students in school this year over last year. That is a 4 % increase. More parents would not be enrolling their kids if they didn’t think the schools were getting better. Most of the increase is among the elementary schools, with Abrams showing an increase from around 450 to 499, and Jonesboro increasing from 750 to 830.

When is the last time you heard of an urban school system increasing enrollement?

And local school are doing great in football, with Jess Lanier, MacAdory, Bessemer Academy and Hueytown boasting undefeated records.

Stephen is 15, Daniel is 12 and Kristina is 8 years old. They will live the rest of their lives with only memories of their father, Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Herman Murkerson, killed yesterday in Iraq. He was from Adger, and that counts as a local guy. He also leaves behind his wife Wendy.

He is the 90th service member from Alabama to die in the “war on terror,” which I assume refers to the former war on terror in Afghanistan combined with the war for oil in Iraq. Regardless of the mismanagement of the wars and the validity of the one in Iraq, men like sergeant Murkerson who serve our country are to be respected and are the heroes. But his death is one more indication that we need to get out of Iraq, and soon.

I think after that we need something just for entertainment. If you like Hollywood Movie Stars of old, watch this. 80 Years of Women in Film . Thanks Robert for sending this.

Last, The New Yorker arrived yesterday, and the cover was great.

The cover is titled “Narrow Stance” and is by Barry Blitt. Ahmadinejad discovering the existance of homosexuals.

Here is their site: The New Yorker

>Clinton Rising, Bessemer’s News and Local Marine Killed

October 3, 2007

>After the last Democratic presidential candidate debate I predicted Hillary Clinton would rise in the polls, even though most new people said she did poorly. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken over the weekend shows just that, with Clinton increasing her lead from three weeks ago by 8 points to 48%.

People are seeing her as the one ready to be president,” says Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist. Well of course he would say that. I really think it is that, but also people realizing that they want to support a winner, so they are moving into the camp of the most likely victor. Better get used to it.

Let’s hope the killing has stopped in Bessemer, but one more and 2007 will have seen as many murders as we saw during the previous two years combined. There have been 14 this year, 10 last year and 5 the year before. This is reported in the Birmingham News West News, but again, trying to find a link to it (or the following stories) is near impossible. Just take my word…or buy a paper.

Detective Perry Hurst said there is very little police can do to prevent homicides. Sounds like an excuse, but the sad fact is, it’s the truth. While I still say better police protection is needed, what we need are broader changes in attitudes and to develop a respect for ourselves and others and their property. Those are things that will not happen overnight, but improvements in neighborhoods, and possible changes coming up in downtown, are the types of things that will increase pride and consequently respect in our communities.

Something must be right, because while everyone says Bessemer is being held back by their school system, those who pay close attention say that improvements are taking place. Enrollment is up, with 166 more students in school this year over last year. That is a 4 % increase. More parents would not be enrolling their kids if they didn’t think the schools were getting better. Most of the increase is among the elementary schools, with Abrams showing an increase from around 450 to 499, and Jonesboro increasing from 750 to 830.

When is the last time you heard of an urban school system increasing enrollement?

And local school are doing great in football, with Jess Lanier, MacAdory, Bessemer Academy and Hueytown boasting undefeated records.

Stephen is 15, Daniel is 12 and Kristina is 8 years old. They will live the rest of their lives with only memories of their father, Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Herman Murkerson, killed yesterday in Iraq. He was from Adger, and that counts as a local guy. He also leaves behind his wife Wendy.

He is the 90th service member from Alabama to die in the “war on terror,” which I assume refers to the former war on terror in Afghanistan combined with the war for oil in Iraq. Regardless of the mismanagement of the wars and the validity of the one in Iraq, men like sergeant Murkerson who serve our country are to be respected and are the heroes. But his death is one more indication that we need to get out of Iraq, and soon.

I think after that we need something just for entertainment. If you like Hollywood Movie Stars of old, watch this. 80 Years of Women in Film . Thanks Robert for sending this.

Last, The New Yorker arrived yesterday, and the cover was great.

The cover is titled “Narrow Stance” and is by Barry Blitt. Ahmadinejad discovering the existance of homosexuals.

Here is their site: The New Yorker

Western Tribune and Watercress Darter (Again)

June 10, 2007

I have learned something new. Now when you click on a link in my posts, it will open in a new window. If I can figure out how to change the blogger list to do this, I will, and it should make it easier to navigate around. This is only true for post starting today…I’m not going to go back and change the html on all the old posts. Sorry.

I was reminded that I failed to post my Western Tribune column this week on Wednesday, as I have been doing, so here it is:

Recently the City of Bessemer settled a lawsuit with the Federal government which was brought against the city for non-compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). This act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, among other things requires public buildings to provide access to those with disabilities. A resident of Bessemer was denied access to City facilities because of her disability.

My first question is this: why did it take 17 years and a federal lawsuit before Bessemer took notice that it was out of compliance with this law? Quitman Mitchell was mayor, and for the next twelve years he was unaware, indifferent to or willfully negligent in not adhering to the standards outlined. The passage of the act was big news at the time; I don’t see how the mayor could have been unaware of it. For the last five years Ed May has been mayor and still nothing has been done to bring the city in to compliance.

The city has three years to remedy the situation downtown, things like curbs and sidewalks and ramps. The Bessemer Civic Center will have seven long years to make changes in access to the stage. There is my second question: why do we have to wait seven years before our citizens with disabilities are allowed to access all of the civic center facilities? Surely an acceptable design and necessary repairs can be finished in a much shorter time.

This is really an embarrassment for our city. If a city can not provide equal access to facilities and services for the disadvantaged in the city, how do we know that the city is looking out for any of us?

Schools are public buildings and are subject to ADA regulations as well, and I wonder if Bessemer’s schools may be out of compliance also. Do disabled students have full access to all of the facilities? While Bessemer school officials are thinking about compliance with the ADA, they should consider this IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975 and amended most recently in 2004, was enacted to assure that children with disabilities have every opportunity to receive a free quality public education that other children do. Are our schools compliant in this area as well, providing the teachers, resources and support to provide what is required for every student?

This might be a good time for our Board of Education officials and principles to review the current ADA and IDEA regulations and make sure we are compliant with all of them. Let’s not wait until another costly lawsuit arises, or until a caretaker of a disabled person has to file a complaint.

********************************************************************

Remember our friend the Watercress Darter that I brought to your attention months ago. Today Pat Byington has an editorial in the Birmingham News about the history and the importance of this little fish. Read it here: We must preserve God’s vibrant tapestry in this state As Pat brings out in his piece, Alabama certainly has a huge amount of bio-diversity, and we do have a responsibility to protect it. I especially liked his quote of the discoverer of this rare colorful fish in describing his find, “A visual treat that does something to the spirit – like a beautiful sunset.”

But its not just about the Watercress Darter, and Pat understands this. It’s about the world we live in and climate change and sustainable energy and noise pollution and smoke free public buildings and more

Then go visit the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge here in Bessemer.

>Western Tribune and Watercress Darter (Again)

June 10, 2007

>I have learned something new. Now when you click on a link in my posts, it will open in a new window. If I can figure out how to change the blogger list to do this, I will, and it should make it easier to navigate around. This is only true for post starting today…I’m not going to go back and change the html on all the old posts. Sorry.

I was reminded that I failed to post my Western Tribune column this week on Wednesday, as I have been doing, so here it is:

Recently the City of Bessemer settled a lawsuit with the Federal government which was brought against the city for non-compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act). This act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, among other things requires public buildings to provide access to those with disabilities. A resident of Bessemer was denied access to City facilities because of her disability.

My first question is this: why did it take 17 years and a federal lawsuit before Bessemer took notice that it was out of compliance with this law? Quitman Mitchell was mayor, and for the next twelve years he was unaware, indifferent to or willfully negligent in not adhering to the standards outlined. The passage of the act was big news at the time; I don’t see how the mayor could have been unaware of it. For the last five years Ed May has been mayor and still nothing has been done to bring the city in to compliance.

The city has three years to remedy the situation downtown, things like curbs and sidewalks and ramps. The Bessemer Civic Center will have seven long years to make changes in access to the stage. There is my second question: why do we have to wait seven years before our citizens with disabilities are allowed to access all of the civic center facilities? Surely an acceptable design and necessary repairs can be finished in a much shorter time.

This is really an embarrassment for our city. If a city can not provide equal access to facilities and services for the disadvantaged in the city, how do we know that the city is looking out for any of us?

Schools are public buildings and are subject to ADA regulations as well, and I wonder if Bessemer’s schools may be out of compliance also. Do disabled students have full access to all of the facilities? While Bessemer school officials are thinking about compliance with the ADA, they should consider this IDEA. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975 and amended most recently in 2004, was enacted to assure that children with disabilities have every opportunity to receive a free quality public education that other children do. Are our schools compliant in this area as well, providing the teachers, resources and support to provide what is required for every student?

This might be a good time for our Board of Education officials and principles to review the current ADA and IDEA regulations and make sure we are compliant with all of them. Let’s not wait until another costly lawsuit arises, or until a caretaker of a disabled person has to file a complaint.

********************************************************************

Remember our friend the Watercress Darter that I brought to your attention months ago. Today Pat Byington has an editorial in the Birmingham News about the history and the importance of this little fish. Read it here: We must preserve God’s vibrant tapestry in this state As Pat brings out in his piece, Alabama certainly has a huge amount of bio-diversity, and we do have a responsibility to protect it. I especially liked his quote of the discoverer of this rare colorful fish in describing his find, “A visual treat that does something to the spirit – like a beautiful sunset.”

But its not just about the Watercress Darter, and Pat understands this. It’s about the world we live in and climate change and sustainable energy and noise pollution and smoke free public buildings and more

Then go visit the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge here in Bessemer.