Monday, Mar 11, 2002

Lost Weeks

Dear Political Diary, 

I hate getting out of the habit of writing to you. For over two weeks I've been unable to upload or make changes to my web page and had other writing assignments and emergencies drain away my time to keep you timely. Well, lets see if I can get back in the swing of things.

After three long days of playing with my computer, web server and the good folks at Microsoft tech support have apparently got a clean web page on my server. After uploading my entire site to the server yesterday I ran the scan disk overnight. It wasn't able to finish and my son told me it was because some "sectors" on my hard drive were corrupted. Now he says he'll have to inquire after some of his buddies for the best way to put a fence around the problem so it won't cause me further problems. Blech!

I spent the day checking and repairing broken links and waiting to update them while going over a week of newspapers which I had only marginally read through. Every so often I would look out on all the recent snow and remind myself that my public would be expecting some sort of sculpture. I have no idea what to build. They entire day escaped without my finding time to move snow from out back to the front yard. Whatever I make ought to be big. With the warm weather coming it won't last long.

I also sent a little email. Several alumni of Central High have been reading about its imminent demise and have emailed to protest. I answered several emails and then checked on the Internet for a website that one of our students has put up. Matt Hannula, a Central student, has taken umbrage to the Target Market campaign to convince kids not to smoke. 

I read about him in today's paper. Matt doesn't smoke himself but he is irritated with the campaign which he has concluded is claiming all the credit for recent reductions in student smoking rates. He also thinks the tobacco settlement money ought be spent differently and he says the accounting of its spending is being hidden.

I visited his site to send him an email suggesting that I have little sympathy for the tobacco companies.

At 4 I hustled over to the CAB for all three standing committee meetings. Usually they are spread over two days but because we are having another Committee of the Whole tomorrow we scheduled them back to back. Human Resources took all of a minute. We then met fifteen minutes early for the Business Committee than we had posted it. We were all there even if the press wasn't.

We had a rather long discussion about our ten year plan and potential changes to it that our upcoming facilities decisions will make necessary.

Pati, the Education Chair wasn't at the meeting when we were finished so after a brief wait we went ahead without her. Unlike HR which was posted as meeting at 4:15 or Business which was posted to begin at 4:45 Education was posted simply as following the Business Committee. Pati showed up after a long discussion about MCI test scores. 

The MCI's are the reading and math tests we give our 3rd and 5th graders.

The portion of the test presented to us compared four years of progress by our minority children. It was stunningly good news.

Children taking the test are broken into three groups the first are those who are woefully behind their peers the third are those ahead of their peers. I'll leave it to your deductive powers to tease out the status of the kids in the second group.

The percentage of Native American and black kids third graders who were in the lowest reading level decreased two and three times respectively faster than non minority children. By the same token  Black kids were entering the highest reading levels at a rate twice that of non minority children. Native American kids were entering the higher reading levels at the same level as non minority children. All of the data that we were shown was like this. We're doing something right.

Pati showed up in time for another extended discussion of data this time for the annual Minnesota survey of student trends. The first one was handed out when I was still teaching in 1987 and it asks students to tell us about every conceivable pathology. Sexual activity, drugs, alcoholism, cigarette smoking and many more. Some trends were encouraging. Instead of huge quantities of kids doing stupid things some small but noticeable reductions were apparent. Whoopee ding.

We met until seven and I gladly headed home. WDSE has abandoned its usual programming for pledge week. Claudia and I watched some vhs tapes of Rumpole of the Bailey instead.

As I expected Matt Hannula had replied to my email. Cool, not Kool