Friday, February 09, 2007

Shell of an Answer Man Tackles Various Topics

It's Six O'Clock on a Friday morning, it's dark, I have a sore throat. Still, I'm excited for today in my little classroom corner of the world we begin our annual "mock trial" process. Today students find out which of three trials they will be working upon, and in what capacity. In an educational world of dittos, worksheets, word searches and cafeteria food served on Styrofoam trays, kids really seem to respond to lessons that rely on their ability to think and outthink others. Especially if it involves a murder, even an invented one. Not every student digs it, but just about all of them will treat the posting of trial & placement (attorney/witness) somewhat like a bunch of medical students crowding around each other to see a list of residency placements. It's pretty cool.

And buoyed with today's educational pleasantness, Burque Babble will try to briefly tackle a few questions/ideas before the sun rises. By the way, questions/ideas are taken both from comments posted in earlier Babble entries (see below) and ideas that have flitted through my coffee-addled mind while fuming at red lights while surrounded by stupid drivers who will not get off their cell phone or use their turn signals. By the way, none of these answers/ideas will be exactly Einsteinian in meaning, scope or applicability.

  1. How can we get voter turnout in APS Board elections higher? The simple answer is to stop separating school elections from other governmental ones. I know this scares the bejeezus out of many, but splitting APS Board elections from "political" ones is a setup for six percent turnout like we had this week. This is especially true when the Board election so closely follows a hotly contested political season that left many voters burned out (I know, talking "burnout" about having to vote twice in four months seems silly, but voters are some lazy, lazy folks in this country). One solution would be to move School Board elections to match the City's Mayor/CC cycle. This would still mean a short ballot, so APS wouldn't get lost amid a bunch of judgeships and obscure Constitutional amendments, and might even give a little boost to the piddly turnout for City races. We could also tie Board races to the Primary cycle, but that would require a Party aspect that would be tougher to overcome.
  2. How can we get younger students interested and more proficient in reading? Admittedly, I have no magic wand for this situation. I also admit that my solutions tend to blame parents more than teachers for the situation. That's because intellectual socialization, just like political socialization, is far more powerfully embedded by parents than school. Really. I think everybody knows that, but how do you intellectually regulate parenting in a democracy? Let me know if you figure that one out. Meanwhile, here are some ideas we've all had and know would help immensely if they could only be implemented:
  • Parents read more aloud to their young kids
  • Parents have more books in their house
  • Kids see their parents reading at home
  • Kids do not see their parents regularly watching TV
  • And the same goes when the student gets to school: teachers read out loud, have more books in the classroom, are seen reading those books themselves, and do not show movies regularly as a teaching pacifier
  • Just like North Korea and nuclear weapons, text messaging technology is rolled back and no longer offered on cell phones. Hell, get rid of cell phone technology altogether. Admittedly, this last solution is more of a personal rant on my part and might not do as much to address the reading problem. It can't hurt, though, I say.
3. (out of proper formatting because I can't figure out how to get back to a numbered list in Blogger): Why can't ABQ use those new red light traffic cameras to create a web-based traffic news system for motorists like you find in every other city in America? Let's face it, ABQ's traffic has worsened to the point where we need traffic cameras like those found in Denver, Seattle and such. Also, recent snowstorms have illustrated what a piss-poor information source is the NM DOT "NM Roads" site. In fact, interestingly enough, I was going to link to NM Roads this morning...but it's apparently down. It's time for us to use these new red light cameras as an excuse to join the late 20th Century and setup a statewide system of traffic cameras. I'll be first in line to click on the webpage with the camera in Chama, and I'd be clicking every work morning just before leaving the house to see how backed up things already are on Rio Bravo and I-25.

Speaking of which, I gotta go hit that traffic at Rio Bravo and I-25. I got some middle schoolers desperate to find out whether they will be an attorney in mock trials. Cool....very cool.


Ched MacQuigg said...

i think it is actually against the law to combine aps elections with general elections. i'm not sure why, but it isn't as simple as just making an intelligent change. it would have to go through the legislature

frannyzoo said...

Ched: That's what I've heard as well, but that doesn't seem to a major hindrance to me. A legislative act would also be interesting for the debate that might arise on the subject. Those scared by higher school board turnout (and those folks do exist) might have to break out some pretty funny argumentation to keep the six percent solution going.

mike said...

Hello 'Burque Babbler,

Keep up your articulate and entertaining rants. School board members and other interested folks are reading and thinking. You have a unique perspective, and are in a great place to share it. And mock trials are such a wonderful way to teach bright kids - enjoy!