Youngster seems to know politics

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

“How about making hands on, experiential, community-based teaching as easy bureaucratically as it is to lecture and have kids do workbook pages?” — from Schools That Work

Jeanne and I journeyed north/northeast again last Friday to participate with Skyler at his school setting with a great number of other parents and their freshman students.

On the drive there we had the luxury of listening to the first debate of Obama and McCain on the radio. I find it much easier to understand what is being said without watching the debate on the television. I don’t like television.

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I didn’t think it was a deciding debate. There were certainly some explicit facets that occurred when watching a replay later where it was obvious McCain was not going to look at Obama. This was a strategy according to a commentator implying that McCain was not acknowledging Obama as a qualified candidate by avoiding eye contact.

We arrived in time to spend time with Skyler and three of his new friends. We then toured some of the campus running into another Austin student, Ms. Erickson, who was managing an information booth. Skyler’s greatest enjoyment, at least for the time-being is partnering with a friend to do a one hour radio show on Wednesday mornings where they chat and play music without giving away their identity. Skyler pointed out the recording studio before settling upstairs in an open lounge to discuss his academic life and thoughts so far and passing along my cousin’s regards.

Skyler passed along his likes and dislikes. He seems to be enjoying his classes; however, getting at his assignments seems to be somewhat cloudy. Overall, he seems satisfied with his progress and that is good to hear.

The following morning at the motel’s mini-breakfast bar I read the Metro/State Form and discovered an opinion by Anjali Lall, an eighth-grade student at Fargo’s Discovery School titled: “Democrats can repair the damage.”

I was quite impressed with his writing considering he is an eighth-grader and decided to pass on a few portions of his opinion: “Education, he says, is a good example of why Obama and Joe Biden should run the nation, and should triumph over Sarah Palin and John McCain. The first component of education lies in the education of candidates, Obama graduated from Harvard Law at the top of his class. Biden graduated from the Syracuse University of Law. However, McCain and Palin didn’t do so well. McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy, ranking 895th out of 899. Palin, also known as Alaska’s Barbie in the world of politics, attended five colleges, only to graduate from the University of Idaho.

“The second part to the issue of education is the actual policies. A bill that has a big role in politics involving education is No Child Left Behind, a policy that failed. McCain just happens to support No Child Left Behind, a bill that uses test scores to determine how smart a student is. Just the concept of this is a failure. Answering multiple choice questions and using a), b), c), d) and e) may be a useful measurement of intelligence if you are on a game show, however, this process does not positively reflect the intelligence of students. Many students find that test scores don’t resemble their grades and how intelligent their teachers tell them they are. I know this because I am a student myself.”

He supports Obama-Biden “because they care for our education, our troops in Iraq and our environment. Obama’s record also shows amazing leadership and a lot of community service.” He concludes that Obama  “clearly is attempting to change old-style politics and to prevent another four to eight years of a conservative regime that will scare this country.”

It seems obvious that Anjali’s “Discovery School” is most likely that of a charter school.  And we remember that the groundwork for charter schools was the work of Austin’s own Tom Nelson when he served as the Commissioner of Education under Gov. Rudy Perpich.

I think charter schools are slowly changing the course of education, in most cases for the better.

While preparing this column, Marv Dauer called from California, prompted by our friend John Murphy to share that Marv golfed this past weekend with Barry Bonds who in one season Marv tells me hit 73 home runs. Marv said he was a nice guy.

I caught a barehanded line drive at a game I attended years ago in the Metrodome, my claim to fame.