Monthly Archives: February 2014

The soft bigotry of low expectations

Admittedly it’s been more than a decade since I’ve been inside a public school classroom — not as a guest or guest speaker — but as the holder of the grade book.

True, after retirement, I taught a smattering of classes at Luna Community College and the United World College, but that doesn’t qualify me as one with all the answers. I wonder how much has changed since I taught high school, for example, and even more specifically, what’s changed since the ‘40s and ‘50, when my presence (and that of others) probably made the nuns at Immaculate Conception School clutch their rosaries tighter in anticipation of retirement.

What caught my attention on this topic was an article written a few months ago by a Kevin Donnelly, director of the Education Standards Institute in Perth, Australia.

Donnelly’s premise is simply that students today are laden with so much praise that when they enter the real world, brushes with failure disillusion them. Donnelly writes that at St. Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, “the self-esteem, care, share, grow movement in education has had its day and . . . students must be taught how to cope with failure.” Continue reading

Those bloomin’ abstentions

It’s time for a clearance sale. All transactions are final, and there are to be no refunds or exchanges on the information. However, any comments you may wish to submit are entirely welcome.

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Those bloomin’ abstentions: Only recently, as the Luna Community College Board of Trustees was taking a vote on long-time President Pete Campos’ future, two members abstained. Members of every policy-making board are elected to represent the public. Their job is to vote, not to abstain.

Abstentions have often been cast when a yea or nay vote might affect the members themselves, possibly to avoid a conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of such. But let’s not be abstaining through the length of the term.

Vote! The public expects it.

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OK, I’m on my soapbox again, but Continue reading

Your computer’s toast

Deep in the recesses of my files rests a photo of ‘60s vintage showing a gentleman inside a lab that has a dismaying similarity to Frankenstein’s workshop. The man looks like a scientist surrounded by huge rolls of paper (remember the perforated paper we used to feed through printers?); there’s a TV set with a tube the size of the Llano Estacado (no flat screens in those days), and an array of blinking lights in a control panel that rivals the Starship Enterprise.

The gist of the photo is the layout of what computers soon would look like. Even by ‘60s dollars, the layout must have cost millions.

Let’s do some math: The computer Highlands provided my journalism lab around 1990 featured a heavy, oversized green monitor, a central processing unit, and a standard keyboard. For the $2,400 my department paid for it, for a few days it was “high tech,” even though it lacked the ability to save files, unless we fed it a 5-1/4 floppy disc.

So proud of my acquisition, I dragged my oldest son, Stanley Adam, a Highlands student at the time, to my office to show off my new toy.

My first-born’s comment, uttered without haughtiness: “Dad, that computer’s already toast. Wanna see what they have in the regular computer lab?” Well, nothing he could have shown me would have registered, as, at the time, my only use for computers was word processing. Continue reading

Colorado green chile? Nah!

An alert user of the social medium, Facebook, posted something brilliant:

“I sure wish we had some of that green chile from Colorado.”

Said no one.

Ever.

I spotted this post on the Facebook page of former Las Vegas and current Seattle-ite Ileana Gonzales. She said in 16 words what takes me several paragraphs to express.

You may have read in past columns my unceasing praise of green chile. My youngest son, Ben, spent his summers working at Lowe’s on Seventh Street. He indicated early in his tenure there that because he was the new kid on the block, at 16, one of his duties was to roast the sacks of green chile in the store parking lot.

It’s a messy, smoky job, but something in the fruit/vegetable from Hatch, N.M., triggers the olfactory system of the chile buyer and makes him/her generous. Several times, a customer, intoxicated by the aroma of the chile, tipped my son. He liked that. Continue reading