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Thursday, March 27, 2008

On vacation -- hurrah!

I'm off on a well-deserved vacation through April 7. I need all the rest I can get. Just to take time off I've been putting in long hours to leave everything done.
I don't dare think about what it will be like when I get back!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Salary comparison is faulty

A UM business prof says that Miami-Dade's public school spending on top administrators' salaries is in line with private businesses. He made these remarks after a list of adminsitrators making more than $100,000 was released. It turns out that the number of people who went over that figure has almost doubled in one year. Some of them also get company cars. The UM expert says they would be getting that kind of payout if they were in the private sector.
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I am sure that many of these people more than earn that pay. For instance, the principal at my children's high school must put in some long, long hours. Not only is she at school during regular hours, but I also see her at every function I attend -- games, PTAs, etc.
On the other hand, these administrators do NOT work for a private business. If they did, they would not get the kind of retirement benefits they now get. They also would not get the number of holidays. Forget the pension and retiree medical coverage. They'd be lucky to have a 401K.
One more thing: I'd like to know how their salaries relate to the salary of an average teacher. Is there as much of a discrepancy in the school system between the top dogs and the peons as there is in the private sector?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Moving on out

For the first time in a long while, more people are moving out of South Florida than moving in, according to a new report using Census data.
So why does traffic get worse every year? And does that mean that our roads will eventually be less congested if the moving on out trend continues?
Some of our city fathers may lament the exodus, but I'm cheering it on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Staying true

Revelations about infidelity continue in New York. The new gov said that he actually had more than that one affair he admitted to earlier. He has had several, including one with a state employee. Yep, he's been busy.
His admission is a good thing, I think, because it stops the media frenzy and allows him to do what he has been elected to do: run the state. However, I find it troublesome that he -- and so many others in power -- take their marriage vows so lightly. Are they a reflection of the rest of us? Sure hope not.
A story on the Today Show this morning said that as many as 25 percent of all marriages eventually deal with adultery.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bed-hopping takes time, doesn't it?

The new governor of New York -- the guy who took over for Eliot Spitzer -- has admitted that he had an affair with another woman when his now-solid marriage was going through a rough patch. The couple has since worked it out.
If recent news is any indication, lots of people, especially those in public office, are bed-hopping. I can't figure it out: Where do they find the time to lead this secret life? When do they work? How do they meet the demands of family and another relationship?
I think it's hard enough balancing work and family. Add a romantic second to the mix -- yikes!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Can't afford a brain drain

Developers are buying up trailer parks to build more housing, but the people who live in them can't afford to go anywhere else. Miami desperately needs more affordable housing -- and not just for lower income people.
I know plenty of college graduates who can't afford the rent on the money they take home. They either move back with their parents or move very far, sometimes traveling more than an hour or two to work.
Many of my friends' children don't even return to Miami after they graduate from college. The jobs don't pay enough to have a decent standard of living here.
We're facing a brain drain, folks.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Exchange of ideas, customs?

I'm a big believer in student exchange, particularly of ones like this one with Saudi students coming to MDC. I think getting to know people opens the door of tolerance a little bit.
I wonder what these Saudi students will say about Miami and the classmates they met when they return home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

School cuts need to be fair

The school system is cutting even more from its budget. And Superintendent Rudy Crew warned there may be more trims, including administrative bonuses.
Say what? Does he mean adminsitrators are still getting bonuses while the kids are suffering in the classroom? And believe you me, the students and teachers are feeling the pinch.
Several teachers have e-mailed me with suggestions, some of which are very interesting:
1) Adjust the thermostats in the schools. Classrooms are freezing -- a fact I've confirmed with my children and with my own visits -- and the temperature should be set at a cost-saving 78 degrees.
2) Regional superintendents and other big cheeses are issued SUVs. Why not give them Civics or Priuses instead?
3) Have Crew forego his hefty bonuses, some of which are more than what a beginning teacher makes.
Are these doable?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Too much FCAT

The last of my kids, a ninth grader, is taking the FCAT today. He usually does well, so I'm not worried. But he said something last night that echoes what a lot of teachers tell me: Everything around school is set up around this test.
So the question remains: Are we teaching our kids to think or bubble in answers?

Monday, March 10, 2008

A sip of medication

Is that water you drinking making you happy? Turns out there are places where the water is medicated with traces of chemicals that ward of such illnesses as asthma and high blood pressure.
Are we being secretly drugged? (I love a good conspiracy) Or is this much ado about nothing? (That's the journalist in me.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Foreclosures: should we bail people out?

Was it mortgage fraud or stupid greed? Foreclosures are at an all-time high and they continue to threaten the health of the economy. Debate rages about how best to shore up these homeowners.
I'm sure there was mortgage fraud involved in some cases, but I suspect the majority of people got in over their heads because they wanted what they couldn't afford. Should the American taxpayer be responsible for his neighbor's market gamble?
I don't think so.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Cutting into our future

The state's cost cutting has begun. So who do we slash? The kids. Our elected officials have voted to cut hundreds of millions from schools in the first round of what will likely be a long battle. How shortsighted can we get?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spelling it out for the next generation

If you've lost hope in the next generation, read this story about Miami's champion spellers. A couple hundred of them duked it out yesterday, and once again I was the emcee for the event. These kids were incredible. Some fourth graders were spelling out words I had never heard.
Every year I say that this event is my annual lesson in humility. Hats off to these bright students who worked so hard to make it to the Herald's 68th annual Spelling Bee.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Discipline before teaching

The Edison High School community is trying to patch things up after a student demonstration got out of hand. From what I've read, there are 101 versions of the incident, and we may never know the truth.
But I know this: It's going to be more and more difficult for that school to hire teachers. If discipline can't be maintained, teaching can't be done. I know of two teachers who have left Edison in the last three or four years. Maintaining discipline was one of the reasons they transferred.They wanted to be teachers, not babysitters.
How often does this happen in other schools?