Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Back To School Advice—I’m Sorry You Have To Go Back

Not that I know many children, but for kids going back to school in Texas and anyplace else–I’m sorry your vacation is over. I hope you got time alone and time away from adults.

Though you should really be going to school year-round. I say this with a heavy heart, but so many people seem to know hardly anything at all.

Though that might well be the fault of your parents. Or maybe some combination of your school and your parents.

(Above–Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Providence, R.I. I attended this school.) 

For whatever number of you who might grow up to be decent adults–Don’t let school ruin you if it is a place you can’t stand to be, don’t listen to the other kids, and learn as much on your own as you are able.

August 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Four Day School Week/Could Our Kids Be Any More Ignorant?

The Wall Street Journal reports that some school districts are considering a four day school week.

From the article—

“In North Branch, Minn., school Superintendent Deb Henton said her 3,500-student district, facing a $1.3 million deficit, is simply out of options..”We’ve repeatedly asked our residents to pay higher taxes, cut some of our staff, and we may even close one of our schools,” she said. “What else can you really do?” Despite a “lot of opposition” from parents, she said, the district is set to adopt a four-day week for next school year…A new law in Georgia allows schools a choice between a 180-day school year “or the equivalent.” Hawaii officials last October introduced 17 mandatory “Furlough Fridays” for state public schools. In Minnesota and Iowa, districts are drafting proposals for their state boards of education in hopes of implementing four-day schedules next school year….”

Here is the link to the North Branch, Minnesota school district referenced in the story.

From the web home of the district, here are proposed cuts in North Branch beyond the four-day week planned for next school year—

“Director of Finance and Personnel Randi Johnson presented the 2010-11 budget recommendation to the school board. It calls for $1.34 million in reductions, the majority of which are non-instructional. In brief, roughly $850,000 of the cuts are non-instructional, while roughly $222,000 are use of one-time funds. There are cuts to administrative, support, custodial, transportation, and classroom teacher staff. However, though teaching staff comprises roughly 50% of the overall budget, they account for 19% of the reductions, and most of those reductions (roughly 4 of the 6 full-time equivalent positions) were accomplished through attrition – retirements, leaves of absence, etc.”

Can you imagine our children being any more ignorant than they are? The length of the school year needs to be expanded.

Can you imagine that parents, taxpayers, teachers, business leaders, and elected officials in these school districts can’t work out a solution?

All I can say if that these kids were really needed to fill high-tech jobs and if the future really had value, a solution would be found.

You can bet that a way will be found for wealthy kids to get the education they need to get good jobs.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 6 Comments

You Never Know Who Will Link To Your Blog

A good thing about having a blog is that you never know who will link to one of your posts.

Earlier this week I was linked to by Mr. DeMink’s social studies class.  Mr. DeMink linked to a poem I ran on the blog by a Japanese immigrant who came to Hawaii to work on a sugar plantation.

Mr. DeMink’s class is a seventh grade class somewhere in Hawaii.

( Above–Hawaii.)

Here are Mr. DeMink’s grading policies—

  • You Must Pass Both Semesters to Pass Seventh Grade:  Yes you heard that correctly, if you fail the first semester you have to repeat seventh grade–even if you get an “A” in the second semester.  You will earn a half a credit for each semester and if you don’t pass the first semester you will be half a credit short of moving on to the eight grade!
  • All Projects Must Be Completed and receive a Passing Grade:  If you decide that you are not going to complete a project you will not receive a grade for social studies class.  YOU MUST DO AND COMPLETE ALL OF YOUR WORK AT A QUALITY LEVEL TO RECEIVE A GRADE!
  • All Projects Turned in Must Be of Quality:  Every project that you turn in must first pass a quality checklist in order to be graded.  If it does not conform to the quality standard then it won’t even be graded.
  • Parents Must Sign off and Explain why each Project is a Quality Piece:  One of the steps in each quality checklist is parent approval of the project.  For each project you must have a parent sign and explain why they think that your project meets the quality expectations required.

You see here that Mr. DeMink is not playing around. Parental approval is required of work before it is submitted.

Good for Mr. DeMink.

Last week Texas Liberal was linked to by blog called Awearness.  This is a blog run by fashion designer Kenneth Cole. It is written by Mr. Cole and a number of contributors. My post that was linked to was about the oldest candidates who have been nominated for President. The Awearness post considered the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for President in 2016 when she will be 69 years old.

Who knew I’d ever be linked to by a fashion designer. It really is not so likely. 

Below is the Kenneth Cole ” New York Hole Hearted Satchel.” This bag will run you $258.

I’m not sure I need one of those bags, but if it is your thing more power to you.

Hole Hearted Satchel - Handbags - Kenneth Cole

October 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Thoughts On Texas Legislator Who Suggested Asian-Americans Change Names

Republican Texas State Representative Betty Brown of Terrell has said Asian-Americans in Texas should change their names to something more easy to pronounce and understand. 

This issue has been written about by other Texas progressive bloggers and I’d planned to ignore it. It’s just so dumb and predictable from a Republican member of the malignancy known as the Texas legislature.  Blogging about it had a shooting fish in a barrel quality. 

But my friend Diane in Maryland asked that I write a post about the issue and I don’t like to disappoint the blog reading public. I guess what’s expected in Texas is not how things go in Maryland.

Representative Brown’s comments reminded me of my elementary school and middle school years in Providence, Rhode Island. This was in the 1970’s.

My last name is spelled A-Q-U-I-N-O.  It is pronounced  “A-queen-o.” It’s Italian and I’m pretty certain that people of Italian descent are the largest single ethnic group in Rhode Island. In any case, many Rhode Islanders are Italian.

At the beginning of each school year, at least a few of my new teachers would trip over my last name and ask me what kind of name it was.  While I did go to school on a side of town in Providence that had fewer Italians than other parts of the city, we were at the same time electing in Providence a Mayor named Buddy Cianci.

In the years since I left the Providence schools, I’ve looked back and wondered how these teachers could not figure out my name when I was part of the state’s largest ethnic group. Had the teachers been living on a boat out on the Atlantic and just sailed in for classes each day? Did they not grasp that they were in Providence, Rhode Island?  

Texas is one of four states in the nation with a majority-minority population. (California, New Mexico and Hawaii are the other three.) How could Ms. Brown have missed this fact? Though, more likely, what she is trying to do is wish that fact away.

There’s often a presumption by some that they are the true Americans and that others are somehow alien. Expressions of this presumption can be based on a kind of benign ignorance such as what I got from my teachers in Providence, or they can take a more malignant form when expressed in an insulting way by an elected official.  

In any case, no matter how long America draws immigrants from all over the world, this kind of thing still goes on. Sometimes it’s best ignored. Other times you have to speak out. The good news is that we have a President named Barack Obama and a younger generation that seems more open to all of America’s diversity.

The Betty Browns of Texas and these United States will never fully go away, but even they may realize, or may have already realized, that their numbers are dwindling.

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Texas | , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Reason I Disliked School & Notes On Art And Sharks

My in-laws are in town and I’m busy being a good son-in-law. This post will just be some notes. Still—even on busy days— I make time for the blog reading public.

At the Houston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday I got a reminder of why I disliked school so much. Some kids, maybe fifth or sixth grade, were on a field trip to the museum. They were touring the galleries. The chaperons were repeatedly telling the kids not to speak. I’m not sure if the adults were teachers or parents. Though it makes little difference. (Above— One room school in Alabama 1935.)

Why not instruct the kids to offer reactions to what they were seeing? Why not ask questions of the kids? Why not tell the kids to talk to each other about what they were seeing? Other visitors to the museum were speaking in the galleries. If the adults did not feel they could control the kids, then they should not have been leading the trip.

I can remember field trips like that when I was in school in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d go to the Boston Science Museum or the Boston Aquarium–over and over we would go to those places—and get no input from our teachers about what we were seeing.  The high point of the day would be the visit to the gift shop. It was just a day to screw around.  

If you have kids, maybe you could tell them to listen to teachers who have something to say, and tune out the others. There is possibly nothing at all wrong with a kid who does not like school and who is wary of his or her teachers. Maybe the only thing wrong with that kid is that he or she is smarter than the teachers and the other kids.   


At the art museum today I bought the book Movements In Art Since 1945 by Edward Lucie-Smith. It looks like a good book.  I’ve lately been wanting to learn about Alex Katz.Above – A sketch by Katz.)

The first paragraph of the book, as far as I’ve read so far, talks about contemporary art as more widely popular than was art before World War II. I would imagine that this wider popularity comes with the usual trade off  a bigger public following against a more uncertain level of quality. Depending on my mood, I’m generally in favor of the wider public acceptance. People can make the effort to find the good stuff if it matters to them enough.

I read yesterday that fishermen in the Philippines caught a very rare Megamouth Shark and went on to eat it even though they were asked not to eat the creature.  Below you see a picture of a Megamouth Shark. The picture was taken by a Tom Haight.   Here is  some very good information about this sea beast from the Florida Museum of Natural History. It says that Sperm Whales have been known to attack this type of shark. I’d sure like to put film of that taking place on the blog. 

Time now to go pick up my in-laws and go to the deli to pick up the food for Passover.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Art, Books, Houston | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments