It’s that time again when our best and brightest get ready to enter the world after 12 or 13 years of public education. So often test scores are what we base much of our success on when describing the effectiveness of our schools. Of course, scores are important and worthy of discussion and concern because various snapshots of student learning do help us determine how best to serve their intellectual needs.
It’s not easy to write about things that most of us don’t want to talk about, don’t know how to explain or just don’t understand. This week began with tragic events that have shaken me to the core and sent my thoughts reeling in multiple directions. I’m hurt, bewildered, deeply saddened and I reach deeply into my faith to try and answer the toughest of questions when people are taken from our community under such excruciating circumstances.
It seems like spring is taking its time getting here as the rain keeps falling, but clear skies are on the horizon. Trying to figure out what’s going to happen with our local economy is a bit like waiting for summer to arrive and hoping that the skies will clear and the lush greenery sticks around for awhile. I speak with many people who have lived in Craig for a long time and each one insists that things will come around again.
Economic development is a huge issue in and around Moffat County these days and there are definitely some ideas that could be considered for making Craig a possible hub for some exciting adventures year-round. A good friend of mine always liked to describe Craig as the donut hole and went on to explain that surrounding our peaceful Hamlet are any number of recreational and tourist opportunities.
I was once your greatest asset and you used me to your benefit. But now you demonize me. Is it because of where I am from? Are your white bladed towers and flat-paneled monstrosities that destroy the natural landscape more attractive and beneficial than I? Together, we were looked upon all over the world with envy; but now you vilify me and have unfairly characterized me as dangerous. Today, I help many countries build economic wealth and freedom but you have determined that I am dirty and disgusting.
We really miss *you! You were such a fierce competitor and we had such high hopes for you as a football player, track runner and student. We knew you had some issues, all of us do, but you worked hard to overcome them. We tried our best to support you but still keep you accountable and challenge you to become something we all saw in you.
It’s interesting to a look at what has transpired in our country, and county, over the past eight or nine months. The conversational tone is vastly different than when we were meeting in June to support the coal industry and fight for the jobs that Moffat County depends on for its economic well-being. We even have a presidential contender who is promising to shut down coal mines and reduce the coal footprint on our entire planet.
Our High School Seniors have been progressing through a unit on the Greek philosophers; namely Seneca, Socrates and Epicurus. Most would be able to tell you that Seneca believed that anger was destructive, Socrates would use a method for determining the validity of an idea and Epicurus thought that what people enjoyed, as opposed to what they had, determined their happiness.
When high school teams are successful, it’s easy to think that the road to winning games and making playoffs is paved with lots of talent and some breaks along the way. Well, it does take plenty of talent and a few breaks along the way, but the road is generally paved by a whole bunch of hard work, chemistry and some guidance so the rough spots are avoided.
Reading the report out of the latest stakeholder forum on our school district budget one might reasonably have a few questions. Of all the conversation that took place by people who genuinely say they are concerned about public education was a passing quote to consider class size increases as one solution to our monetary problems?
Seems like we’re all concerned about how money is being spent these days especially when money is tighter than usual and the economic forecast is hazy. Schools are especially affected by shortfalls in funding and are always balancing various initiatives with the main focus of public education. Viewpoints will differ, depending on where you are standing but as a teacher, I stand in front of kids everyday.
Battle fatigue is a well-documented issue that has become an obsolete term in recent years. Modern descriptions rely more on identifiers such as neurosis or stress to more accurately assess the reaction to something that has the effect of slowed response time, increased indecision, or other symptoms. Fortunately, most of us will never have to experience the effects of a battle because of our military and the soldiers who volunteer to protect our country.
I will readily admit that I soak up as much of the Super Bowl post game interviews as I can because no other sport exemplifies the complete dependence on the “team” principle than football. I hear the word “team” trotted out so often by people who have no idea what playing on a team, with a team, for a team really means. It was easy to see who was a team player after the surprising and gratifying Bronco victory over the heavily-favored Carolina Panthers.
The “urge to purge” will be tested as the election season begins in earnest this month. Many of the electorate are fed up with the status quo and ready for a breath of fresh air, or at least some common sense. Locally, our elected officials are doing just about everything they can to prop up our economy and our spirits.
Last Wednesday evening, a special meeting of the newly-elected school board was convened to present the findings of a review of the superintendent’s performance. It was apparent, based on scores, that the board has issues with leadership and this week will make determinations, which will affect the future of our district after first hearing public comment Thursday evening.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed all over the United States in tribute to an idea that likely needs to be revisited often. Reverend King’s treatise corresponded with the Founding Fathers ideals of character and virtue being more important than skin color.
We’re an untidy bunch, but along with the messiness comes a whole bunch of human complexity. Data proves this election cycle has been thrown out the window and the “experts” are scrambling to determine why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are so popular with primary voters. To the great majority of us, the answer is simple: for too long, too many politicians have taken advantage of the American voter.
It didn’t take long for the New Year “mad bomb” to go off! The news is full of people and groups who are mad and we all know that anger has no respect for New Year’s resolutions. A group in Oregon is proposing that the federal government needs to change its thinking on matters with regard to how ranchers manage the land they use. Groups concerned with police shootings and how colleges teach are also mad and have taken to the streets (and social media) to make their case.
This year Christmas and the New Year worked really well on Friday but next year could be a difficult. Not that I am looking forward to next Christmas, but each will fall on a Sunday! That’s going to be really weird unless our employers do some creative calendaring between now and next year. Imagine going back to work the day after Christmas or starting school the Monday after New Year’s Day! It would be really weird and mostly depressing.
Santa is checking his list, the reindeer are ready and soon, we’ll be celebrating gifts, holiday cheer and a few days off. Santa has quite a few “helpers” this time of year and as one of his many confidants; I made sure the bearded wonder wouldn’t forget some really important presents this Christmas Eve as he makes his appointed rounds.
If you watch television at all this time of season, you can’t avoid the old classic, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Dr. Seuss was a storyteller whose ability to spin a yarn and a rhyme were unparalleled. I’ve seen the old cartoon many times but it wasn’t until this weekend that I found myself asking questions about Max. Yes, Max, the Grinch’s loyal sidekick (sometimes literally) who finds himself part of all of the diabolical plans in store for the town of Whoville.
Stop reading now if your humerus bone has been neutralized by political correctness and any discussion of platform (Mac or PC), politics or religion makes you desire a “safe space” (currently available on college campuses only, but coming soon to every arena of expression).
Suppose we all agreed that climate change and saving the world from itself was much more important than possible terrorists emigrating to our homeland. If we all agreed then we would meet for the next two weeks in some foreign country (what happened to conference calls, Skyping, or Facetime — especially if we all agree that climate change is an immediate, must-solve, issue) to hammer out an agreement to reduce our “footprint” on mother earth so she could breathe a little easier, cool down, then suddenly peace and tranquility would break out all over the planet.
Giving thanks is the theme of the week as Thanksgiving approaches, and families, friends and relatives begin thinking about who they’ll visit and what they’ll be eating.
It’s a debt we can never repay. We have history to look back on but recent times offer up scarce examples of a loss of freedom in our country. Sure, it’s election season, and I could rant and rave about any particular group whose political bent either confuses or defames my traditional sensibilities. But, regardless of my particular identification as an elephant or a donkey — it’s because of our veterans that I get to choose.
I’ve been following demographics around the world and especially in our country as a pastime for many years. It wasn’t until the lack of students in our schools began negatively impacting our operating budget that I really began to pay attention.
Halloween is a few days away and all kinds of kids will dress up in all kinds of costumes to celebrate the scary time of year. Dressing in costumes at school has fallen out of favor in many school districts for fear of something scary happening. I remember kicking off the Thanksgiving season by dressing up as an Indian or a cowboy or maybe even a clown so I could glean a little extra candy out of my teachers. My parents frowned on the whole scary thing so I would marvel jealously at the cool kids who had blood dripping from their mouth or a hatchet taped to their skull or the one kid who went all out to dress in a cape, slick back their hair and wear some pointy teeth.
Time and time again, it’s the story that really matters. The most effective communicators tell stories every chance they get to drive home their point.
Time and time again, it’s the story that really matters. The most effective communicators tell stories every chance they get to drive home their point.
On the heels of a great homecoming week, we’re in the mood for celebrating. Thanksgiving isn’t too far away, Christmas is on our radar (at least at Walmart) and in a few weeks it will be Halloween.
If you teach or parent you’ve have heard the expression countless times and experienced the frustration level of a student or child who say they don’t understand. Couple frustration with a “drive-thru lane” mentality and you have a recipe for learning resistance that can get the better of even the most seasoned educator. It isn’t really that kids just don’t get it — it’s often that they aren’t willing to spend the time working through the steps and struggles of understanding concepts and calculations that add all those new wrinkles to their brains.
It’s been a good two or three weeks with various government and judicial rulings making life in an energy town a little less worrisome. The mining lawsuits seem to have slowed down but more will be on the way, I’m certain. The sage grouse will not be listed as an endangered species but other regulations may make energy exploration and development fairly laborious and difficult.
It’s difficult to look around the world and not think that it is changing radically. There are very real issues of human suffering and border security not just in the United States but also in Europe where countries are being literally overwhelmed by political and economic refugees. Most are escaping ISIS and the tsunami of radicalization that is taking place in the Middle East, Syria and Northern Africa.
School has gotten off to a furious start this year and technology is in no small part responsible for the rapid expectations students have with respect to their work and the feedback that informs their learning. Gone are the days of students waiting for a couple of weeks for a major assignment to be thoughtfully graded by their teacher. These days students ask me the next day, or sometimes the same day if their work has been considered for a grade.
Summer has come and gone, at least according to our local school calendar. Students will begin classes on Monday and most parents have already been busy attending meetings and filling out the ever-increasing volume of paperwork.
Many politicians are accused of operating within an echo chamber. It’s a comfortable place where their thoughts, opinions and ideas are never questioned and always supported — usually by paid staff who benefit greatly by agreeing to never disagree. After a time, they are accused of being, “out of touch” with the average person on the street. Then eventually, depending on the political bent of the organization, the politician has no hope of gaining any traction in the hearts of the main street voters.
It’s time for Craig to take some bold steps if we want to revitalize the prospects of our local businesses and attract people to our self-described “historic” downtown. Living here for almost 18 years, I have always been somewhat flummoxed by our system of one-way streets that gets people through Craig as efficiently and quickly as possible. Most towns that want to draw you to their local businesses, services and attractions make certain that guests who might be passing through will, at minimum, be exposed to what downtown businesses and our cultural centers have to offer.
Coal and the energy industry are taking some big hits this summer. Most of the body blows are courtesy of the federal arm of our government and their supporters. But the great thing about this fight is that we are only in the early rounds and the opposition’s corner may change in the coming months. If you remember Muhammad Ali’s famous “rope-a-dope” fight, you know that the battle is won in the late rounds if you can just hang on.
What makes you proud to be living in Northwest Colorado? Looking around at the rest of the country, it’s easy to contrast our small-town life with the societal shenanigans some of the bigger cities are experiencing.
Yes, the climate debate is important. The latest satellite imagery shows no warming over the last 11 years and the Arctic Ice shelf is expanding. However, worldwide, it appears that global temperature has risen a collective 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 (that’s 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit for you imperialist degree deniers). By some estimations, the rise of ISIS is directly attributable to our treatment of the planet. High-ranking government officials tell us that pillaging the planet has lead to disenfranchised climate victims lopping off heads, blowing up innocent people and causing general worldwide mayhem.
Our freedoms allow us to debate tough topics in society. Various issues provide more than enough potential emotional ammunition to mow down any type of rational debate. Agree or disagree, the discussion is blunted when personal accusations are made that put the brakes on what our country has always valued — the free exchange of ideas.
No, I don’t support Donald Trump for President. I don’t stand by all of his comments about immigration. I don’t think building a physical wall is necessarily the best solution to secure our southern border.
What a week! Obviously the Supreme Court knows how to give us all some talking points over the July 4th weekend. Skipping the obvious disagreements that people have regarding the (mostly) 5-4 decisions, we have become a nation whose identity has become sharply divided along lines of personal choice and beliefs. If our country reflects the Supreme Court (and it seems to), hot weather locally will be the least of our high-temperature discomfort. We did get a mild reprieve in the EPA decision, which instructs the agency to consider the cost of their decisions on the public they serve.
When budgets are tight and declining student enrollment is a reality, it can be unsettling. When I was hired to replace an English teacher 18 years ago, the high school boasted over 850 students. When we went on field trips or sporting contests, coaches were given money to defray the cost of student meals.
You’ve heard about Bruce Jenner transitioning to Caitlyn status because you can’t get away from all the media coverage.
In staying current on actual events that affect our lives and shape our future, I find a mixed bag of hope for our beleaguered local economy and school district budget.
If you follow politics, you likely identify yourself as conservative, liberal, or maybe even libertarian. If you vote, you are likely to look for either Republican, Democrat, or a third party choice.
As the academic year wraps up, it has been a tumultuous time for teachers in our district who have taken on the burden of carrying the heavy load of financial insecurity, academic scrutiny and leadership adjustments. As teachers enter a second year of pay freezes and continued budget cuts, it can be difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Finances can be arranged a number of ways, but one thing is certain: teachers were expected to do much more with less and less this past year than at any other time during my 17-year tenure.
Asked by members of the community to deliver a short address to those attending Baccalaureate this year, I thought back to one of my favorite books written many years ago that taught me some life lessons that have carried me through both good times and bad.
Graduation season is upon us and people want to know what to tell those who are preparing to go off to college, find a job or experience a little rest and relaxation. After the flurry of fist bumps, endless hugs, countless celebrations and a few speeches; graduates will be left, just as we were, to figure out how their years of education can pay dividends.