Sunday, March 23, 2014

School Board Meeting - March 24 2014


Wow, gang, this is a big meeting coming up!  Please come on 3/24 at 7 PM!  If you can't make it, there will be an audio recording available on the school board website (there is one up there for our last meeting).  Agendas and supporting docs are all available online - here are the highlights (in my opinion):

1) Public Hearing: 2014-2015 School Hours Calendar and Early Start Date.

Lots of people have been sharing their opinions with me - this is the official conversation.

2) Update/Discussion on 10-Year Master Plan
     Discussion of Architect and Design Team Recommendations Pattee/Nefzger/Estes

This is a big deal.  As you are sick of hearing me say - very soon we will not have enough seats for the butts we want to put in them.  We are currently turning DOWN state funding for preschool because we don't have enough seats for butts.

And we want to do this right.  This project belongs to all of us.  Everyone will have a chance to provide input.  And everyone who believes in the importance of education in Cedar Falls is part of the process. There's a link to the first draft on this page, and we will see where we are at after this update.

3) Discussion of Built to Last

We are reading a book about PLC's (professional learning communities) called Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work.  You can get it here.  Read along with us - last week an educator described how the PLCs process is allowing us to provide an IEP (individualized education plan) for every student.  Including yours.  I've gotten to watch this happen on a tour, and it is amazing hearing teachers talk about each student as an individual, and how he or she can best be served.

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If you haven't checked out our facebook page lately, you should! It's gotten REALLY good.  tinyurl.com/CFSDfacebook

I hope to see you all soon.  If you have good stories to tell about your students' school, these are a good few months to share with as many people as possible.  Everyone knows "Cedar Falls has good schools" but most people are short on details.  We have a lot to be proud of - let's share!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bullying

I am not going to rip on anti-bullying programs.  I'm glad they are there.  My K-12 education (actually, my 2-10 education) would have been a lot better had they been in place decades ago.  And they are doing good.  So please don't read this as "Board Member Disses Anti-Bullying Efforts."  Because I'm not.

And we all know the next word.  So take a breath and say it with me.

But...

I've noticed that the anti-bullying culture seems to divide students into three groups.  Bullies, Targets (what we used to call "victims") and Bystanders.  And we talk about what to do if you are a Target, what to do if you are a Bystander, and if you are a Bully - stop being one.  (Which would mean logically, "become a Bystander or a Target")

In my 2-10 education... I was all three, at various times.  Some more than others.  And when I was a Bystander, sometimes I was a Good Bystander, a brave bystander, and sometimes I was a coward.  And of all the roles I've played, the one I regret most was the coward-bystander.  I didn't play them all equally often, but I have been each.  And here's the thing, so have many of you.  No nice adult wants to think s/he was a Bully.  Most adults don't want to dwell on times they were a Target.  So we rationalize and forget.  But think back...  all three.  Even You.

In my opinion, "bully" should be thought of as a verb more than as a noun.  A person can bully others.  Some people bully others a lot.  But when you make them into a different species - Bullies - homo salaco, you are not only sending the message they cannot change (my dog can't become a cat), you are also... well... telling a dangerous lie.

Here's the big lesson about bullies that many people never learn, but those of us who have done our time as victims (no, I won't use the word "target" for what happened to me) understand, a lesson so valuable that you can argue it is part of God's plan...  Someone can bully some people savagely, but also be a kind, caring, charismatic friend to other people.  This is a key piece of information to being an adult, and it is obscured by the Bully, Target, Bystander trichotomy.

It leads to thoughts like, "John can't beat his wife!  He came out in the rain to help me change my tire, and still got up at 6 AM to flip pancakes at the fundraiser!"  "You must have done something really bad for Dana to treat you that way; she is the sweetest, kindest, manager I know."  Politics is lousy with people who are friendly and charismatic on camera, and then you hear tales of savage bullying that are hard to swallow... they seem so nice!   

When you are an adult, you have to deal with issues beyond the Good Bystander/Cowardly Bystander dilemma.  What do you do when your best friend is a real homo salaco to people he is not friends with?  What do you do when your ally in an argument gives your opponent a look of contempt that makes them feel like total garbage? What do you do when, on the third date, the person you are falling in love with threatens and berates the waitress because she forgot to put the salad dressing on the side?

What do you do if you are a nice, wonderful, person, but the project is going to go down the tubes if your employee Jason doesn't step up his game, and being nice just isn't working, and if you don't make him a little more frightened, things are going to be bad?

I don't have the answer to these questions.  But in my life they haven't been hypothetical.  But at least I am prepared to deal with them, because in school, I've seen how nice, gentle, considerate, and loving a savage Bully can be.  And, as I have never admitted in any forum before, I've been one of those people.  Not a lot.  Not often.  But yeah, if we are labeling people, save one for me.  Take one yourself, maybe.  And now what do we tell the children?