Monday, January 28, 2019

City Goes Au Naturel

Seeking to get back in touch with their true nature the city recently convened at the Dunwoody Nature Center:

Our Very Own Goat Rodeo
As you would expect we have our usual cast of characters...

Terry "Build It All" Nall

Lynn "Section 8" Deutsch

Tom "We're Walking" Lambert

Jim "Red Shirt" Riticher

Pam "Don't Tell" Tallmadge

John "Road Worrier" Heneghan

Denny "Head Butt" Shortal
Not to worry, we're finally safe because they're locked up behind this:

Of Course, YOU Can't Have An Electric Fence

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mexican Standoff

Maureen Downey's recent opinion piece on "It's time to elevate teaching as a career" is in itself a case study on what is wrong with today's school system. There are so many problems with this failed ecosystem it is hard to figure out where to start. But start we must.

Perhaps it is best to recognized that "education" is an industry. An industry with lots of moving parts: colleges; graduate programs; online PhDs; consultants; politicians; bureaucrats; silver-bullet programs; wrap-around-services; and worst of all,  textbook publishers. The origins of this industry may well have been teaching and learning, the cultivation of knowledge and skill in the youth of America, but that is long gone having been reduced to little more than a marketing tool. If there is any learning going on in our schools it comes with minimal retention and at enormous monetary and societal costs.

Then there is the Goebbels-like drumbeat of the "teaching profession." But what is a "profession" and what are "professionals?" Since relativism is educators' lifeblood let's take that approach and define by comparison. Law is a profession and to practice lawyers must have a law degree and pass the bar exam. Admission to law school requires a bachelors degree and a decent score on the LSATs. Medical professionals spend four years in med school after their bachelor degree and passing the MCATs and then spend several years in residency at which point they can apply to the state for a license which requires a test. Professional Engineers* obtain their education, often considered quite rigorous, sit for a test, work under the supervision of licensed engineers for several years before they sit for the PE exam after which, should they pass, they will obtain their license. This is what "professional" looks like.

This is not what teaching looks like. Teaching requires a four year degree, weak on subject matter, like mathematics, to afford time for pedagogical training. So that sixth grade math teacher may know less math than the engineers' daughter** sitting in class. Is there a qualifying exam to teach? Well, sort of. It is called the GACE, and while teachers have to take the exam there are many with long standing in front of a "smart board" who've tried and failed, often multiple times. And teaching does not require an advanced degree or supervised, practical experience to get a license and in fact many classroom "teachers" are not licensed. How "professional" is that?

Sooner or later the conversation turns to money. It always does. And someone always trots out the old  "someone in industry with an equivalent degree and the same years of experience would be making over $100K and I only get $69K." Wow. And that gal in the real world would be working 47 weeks a year (15 days PTO, 10 holidays--maybe) and she wouldn't get annual raises for merely hanging on another 4 quarters. Multi-week, even monthlong breaks are de rigueur  in the edu-industry. Defined benefit retirement, AKA "pension?" You gotta be kidding. Then there are the Edu-industry STEP raises that are completely detached from performance with failing performers getting the same bump as those who struggle and improve. But industry-gal would actually have to produce. And industry-gal has no tenure, and in Georgia as in many other states she can be terminated without cause and without notice. The real kicker is that industry-gal may actually be a licensed Professional Engineer and while this may garner a higher salary it also makes her an easy target come layoff time.

But teachers and their representatives will argue that we should pay better so we get better teachers. OK. Let's run with that. When will these teachers show up? What do we do with the, kindly put, less capable teachers we now have on payroll and on the cheap? And this is the essence of the education Mexican Standoff. We'd prefer that you give us better teachers and then we'll pay more. You'd prefer we pay more, now and to all, and then we'll see about jacking up competence in the classroom.

Is there a way to break the impasse? Technically, yes but practically probably not. Several fairly straightforward, inexpensive steps could be taken.

Focus. If you claim the high ground, the devotion to our future thru the noble profession of "teaching," then teach. Stop with the all the other ancillary, smoke-screen activities often used to obscure that fact that learning was abandoned long ago.

Eliminate tenure. All the arguments in support of tenure are unfounded in reality but the harm, the fostering, the harboring of incompetence is real and destructive.

Reject relativism in all its manifestations. Doing "better" isn't the same as "doing well." It isn't even doing "good enough." Only in education will an organization get more money or an employee a raise simply because they suck less, or worse yet they managed to suck pretty much the same for another year.

Increase the rigor and preparedness of incoming teachers. Eliminate watered-down, hyphenated education degrees making education programs require graduate studies or at the very least a double-major. Improve the rigor of the GACE and make it an absolute minimal requirement. No exceptions.

And finally we must address the elephant in the room: corporate interests. No school in Georgia should buy another text book or any other teaching or training material from any textbook company or conglomerate. Hard stop. All these materials should come from programs in our public universities where tenure-track and tenured professors contribute their enormous knowledge and pedagogical talents to the greater good.

Give us a better system with better teachers. Put learning back into education. Then our public schools might be worth what we're already paying.

* Unlike law and medicine, Georgia's Secretary of State has long failed in enforcing laws around licensing of Professional Engineers allowing many companies and employees to use the title "Software Engineer" when in fact there is no such thing under Georgia law. 
** Engineers' kids are always forced to "do math."

Monday, January 21, 2019

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

A local police chief was quoted in the AJC saying: "One of the complaints (we get) is 'I never see a police officer in my neighborhood'" and we in daVille can relate. So what's a chief to do? Well in this case they're rolling out half a hundred new SUV's with POST-certified officers at the helm. And they're rolling out a system that tracks the location of patrol cars so when community questions arise the chief can pull a report showing specific dates and times when a location was patrolled. The public safety director provided color commentary: "the vehicles themselves are an element of overall crime reduction strategies."


What is going on here? A police force that is actually serious about serving the community? How does that work and why would any modern day police chief allow this? These days Dunwoody is the gold standard with a top heavy force where majors tool around in their Aeron's costing payroll that other departments (see above) would spend on community patrols.

And where is this "serve and protect" police force? Happens to be the DeKalb County Police. That's right, the very same force that was rejected upon incorporation. Dunwoody is making DeKalb look good and at the same time our little "Smart City" is making Tucker look brilliant. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Free Shave

Not "free" as in "free beer" but "free" as in "liberated." Liberated from the outrageous hysteria that is the life blood of this political correctness epoch. How? Glad you asked. Just ditch that Gillette crap that comes with political agenda (is that really the way you want to start your day?) and get one of these:

The Best ANYONE Can Get!
A thing of beauty, standing proud. Whatever symbolism you prefer it is a statement; an honest statement.

What to do with all that obsolete Gillette crap cluttering the bath? Sounds like something to donate to those who appreciate something for nothing, the message that comes with it and the PC society that promotes it. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Or Days Of Old Legal Sign

Remember when we had ordinances? You know, the kind that were enforced? Or how about when we had a Village Overlay? Or a parkway that actually looked like, well, a parkway? Back when business owners got some training on signage because they had to go get one of these:

That's right, it was before the City of Dunwoody. Back then we had a better quality of life even though the city has had ten years to [dis]prove the mere existence of a city makes everything better. We'll never know how much better it would have been had the county maintained stewardship but we do know it was better before a city stepped in.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

DIY Safety

In the run-up to the rigged referendum city advocates commissioned a favorable report from the Carl Vinson Institute touting the financial viability of the city and providing a platform for these advocates to assert that citizens would see better, more responsive services at the same or lower taxes.

What happened?

Well, taxes have ONLY increased. A ten year streak. Staff, particularly police has dramatically expanded. And yet, we find ourselves without law enforcement, particularly when it comes to traffic violations in school zones.

Some have suggested a reduction in the school zone speed limit to 15 MPH. Doesn't really pass the sniff test even if you disregard the legal side effects. The fact is we have speeders who don't respect the current limit and they're hardly going to respect a lower speed limit.

But how did we get to this point?

First, where are we? We have a bloated, top-heavy, improperly organized police department lacking in vision, direction and leadership. If you complain enough, you'll get a radar speed trailer for a week or two, a complete show of farce as if a placebo cures cancer. One thing is certain, you're not going to see any actual police work getting done. They're not coming into the community for anything beyond lip sync and donuts-with-dad PR events. In fact, they've done everything they can to shirk what a reasonable person would consider police responsibilities by foisting these responsibilities on citizen patrols who have no actual enforcement capabilities.

And let's be very clear: every speeder is in a vehicle equipped with a Speed-O-Meter and they know exactly how fast they're going. So why do they speed? A better question would be why not speed? The city has no respect for speed limits and school zones so why should anyone else?

Yet we have a bureaucratic machination called a "Crime Response Team." Apparently when you ask this ephemeral CRT about traffic enforcement the answer is "NO!" begging the question: what are citizen's options to a failed government? Is it possible for concerned parents to have a slow motion pedestrian parade thru cross walks? That might slow speeders or divert them to other routes. Suppose a few cars driving five under the limits were injected into traffic that would otherwise scream thru at ten over. Would that have a similar effect?

But really, how did we get here? It started when 19% of the registered voters came out during a holiday week to vote for this disaster. Then we have a police chief, hired in the haste of startup, who has shown more concern for polishing his brass than for safety in our community. And that is because his boss, the city manager, doesn't care about school zone speeders and he doesn't care because the mayor and council don't care either. And frankly there is no reason for them to care as they are more beholding to developers than to residents and these school zones with their speed limits impede the flow of the developers' stakeholders. These are the mistakes that got us here and are the mistakes that will keep us here.

It hurts to admit that you've been scammed; that you've been deceived; that you've been taken advantage of. But the fact is we've been had. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Motha Trucka

Some pissed-off truckers seem to have taken matters into their own hands.

One Truck Over The Line

This sign has been in this condition for a couple of MONTHS and the city is clearly not interested in doing a damn thing about it. They're too busy running all their bureaus, administrations and committees, hobnobbing with well-heeled developers and establishing those relationships that yield lucrative no-show positions for friends and family.

Ten years into this failed experiment and all we have gotten is overpaid, negligent, nay, incompetent,  staff and yet another bunch of elected yahoos who need constant watching.

Honky Tanked

A women's rally slated for the 19th of this month in Humbolt, California has been cancelled. Why? because the rally was deemed too white. It isn't clear what their reference is as the Census Bureau indicates that Humbolt is 74% non-hispanic white. Otherwise known as "lily white." So the rally organizers have chosen to mute vox populi not because the message is unpopular but because the messenger is. And just what is that messenger's sin? Race.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Why Should The Egg Cross The Line

It is called "chick culling" and refers to the extremely short, often mere hours, lifespan of chicken hatchlings. Exclusively male. This ruffles the feathers of many a hungry hominid as the culling process means killing the hatchlings either by gassing or running thru a chipper producing animal feed.

As it gives cause to pause it also gives pause to ponder. Outside of gender what is the difference between the chicks who leave alive and those being recycled? Lifespan comes to mind. But either way the chicks meet the same end: death at the hands of humans. And if you think the chipper sounds cruel you need a field trip to a euphemistically named "poultry processing" plant where you'll see terrified chickens hung upside down, partially decapitated, partially par-boiled, denuded, eviscerated and finally dismembered. A chipper-death is beginning to sound like a kindness.

But the chipper gets all the attention. After all death in the service of animal feed pales in comparison to death for people-feed. So it should come as no surprise that there is one high tech remedy for "chick culling" already deployed with two more in the offing. All are based on determining the sex of the fertilized egg so that the male eggs (sounds odd, eh?) can be destroyed before chicks emerge all bedecked in feathery cuteness.

No Guys Allowed
Is this disturbingly similar to the approach humans take with other humans? Are we over-anthropomorphizing our food supply? Where IS Ted Nugent when you need him?