A Starting Place for School Choice Discussion

I've admittedly ignored school choice until now, probably because Wylie ISD has been such a stellar school district for my sons. However, I have carefully taken the time to reflect upon the topic over the past several heated months since Texas Senate Bill 3 was introduced, and in the end, I must side with school choice.
If the premise of home schooling is that parents get the ultimate say about their children's education, taking that same choice away from others, who are unable to or simply cannot afford to place their students elsewhere, is a travesty.
I hear from my teacher and administration friends that districts will pay the price as they lose funding per head. But as a teacher or administrator, isn't your main goal the education of all children, not just the ones you get paid state funds to teach? We can all admit that some students simply do not thrive in the public school system. What are their choices, then? Has anyone even asked them?
Districts are claiming money will leave their district, but that premise is based upon them maintaining status quo on their balance sheets. Yet, if a district is doing a poor job of educating students, with school choice, the student gets to leave, and the district no longer has any costs associated with educating that student. SB3 goes even further and offers them consolation funds to go toward improvement.
In the real world, we tighten our belt with a lost job, we don't keep our same spending habits. Likewise, school districts will have to adjust their budgets accordingly if their students bail. If districts were doing their jobs, they would not have to worry about loss of funding from students moving en masse.
Honestly, it doesn't say much for school districts, if they have such low faith in their ability to retain students to the point they need to lobby against school choice and competition.
Probably the largest budget issue I see is that spending, especially on administrator salaries, takes precedence at budget time, and districts are forced to spend big money wooing superintendents. Though in line with other districts, you can see how our own Dr. Vinson's salary, coupled with the dozens of other highly paid administrators in the district, take up a large portion of our budget.
Dallas Morning News
These figures don't even include bonuses and other perks, either. Yet the reality is that we live in a world where teachers of 20 years are disproportionately paid compared to their responsibility and far-reaching effects. They earn roughly half what principals make, and a quarter or less of what superintendents and other high level administrators are paid. Districts are run similarly to for-profit businesses in many respects.
I see a lot of flaws in SB3. I dislike that it is not an all-inclusive, all or nothing bill that covers every child with an Educational Savings Account (ESA). Instead, there are students who won't qualify for funds if they are home schooled, or if they live in counties with populations lower than 285K, and it has a cap on households that make more than $75K. Wealthier households will still have available options they can afford to pay for, and rural, low-income areas will still be left with no choices. Talk about leaving kids behind.
SB3 had to be dumbed down in order to pass the Senate and has been threatened DOA at the House at every stage of its life. Not surprising, with Democrat in Republican drag, Joe Straus who acts as leader and chief gravedigger for all conservative legislation.
As long as Straus continues to stall and ignore conservative legislation, and as long as representatives like our own Rep. Jodie Laubenberg continue to vote for him as speaker in exchange for committee chair positions, school choice, and any meaningful education reform at the state level, will remain but a dream.
Though SB3 won't pass this go around, it is the start of a good discussion that warrants the involvement of all stakeholders, including parents, taxpayers and students, not just politicians and lobbyists.
With school choice, I believe we will end up with better educated students who are happier because they aren't forced to struggle in a situation to which they have no options. Isn't this the ultimate goal? Or are our students just immovable chattel to be chained in place?

Evil Cockles of the Soul

I wonder, would voter behavior have been any different had Sen. Ted Cruz been elected for president instead of Donald Trump?

People have always been drawn to a good villain. They are portrayed as dark, shifty and dramatic; sort of how we view the bulk of our modern politicians.

During silent pictures, moviegoers would boo and hiss at the evil villain and his overly-exaggerated, dramatic gestures. They seemed to get great enjoyment out of his badness.

When talkies came about, villains had to speak, and what a better way to depict evil than to give them an accent. The phantom was no different in a tragic story about a hideous looking creature. The Phantom of the Opera attempted to steal the leading lady's heart without her consent.

Through the years, people relish a good dose of evil. From Count Dracula's Transylvanian verbal lollop, played by the dark and brooding Bela Lugosi, to the evil antics of Bullwinkle's Russian accented Boris and Natasha who's attempts at evil were always foiled, to Cruella de Vil and her drawled 'dahling' and sinister motives.

In more recent times there are Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Jafar in Aladin and even Beauty and the Beast's Gaston. The characters range from supporting roles to main characters and are often the most memorable part of the show.

I cannot help but wonder, when it comes to electing our officials, have we moved into the smacking-good villain stage of voting?

What were some of our presidential options? Bernie Sanders and his New England grumpy old Muppet, Hillary Clinton and her evil cackle and "What difference does it make?" screech that will forever be entwined with her, and Donald Trump's freakishly orange complexion and shouting nature. Can you still hear his tart, "You're fired!" exclamation running through your head?

The constructs built in my mind of these characters are truly evil to the core. Evidently, the constructs in others minds are equally as sinister. I wonder if it is the humor these images evoke, or if, perhaps, we simply love to hate people. Just look at the memes.

Nothing would be different, even if, horrors, Clinton had been elected. Just as with Obama, people would have continued to circulate plenty of demeaning images of her.

The point is, we seem to be embellishing our wild imaginings as ways to somehow relate to the people we are voting for, whether good or bad.

Does this do permanent damage to our psyche? I believe it does, as we assimilate these images, and what we know about the characters, with those we are attributing them to. Though it might be funny and provide hours of raucous entertainment online, we are dehumanizing the very people we are supposed to be selecting to lead us. Not to mention, from a Christian perspective, how this plays out with our souls when done not in jest, but out of spite.

It is clear that people like and remember the unlikable, even going so far as to publish images of Cruz, comparing him to Grandpa Munster. Because of this, I doubt Cruz would have suffered less a fate than Trump has.

Still, I cannot help but consider that we secretly desire a good villain that can take our attention away from the mundane and allow us to pile our daily annoyances upon.

We must remember, however, that with new media, we can share our creativity and ultimately bare the deepest part of our souls to the world.

AHCA is Obamacare in Republican Drag

Golly, I love Rep. Louie Gohmert. Now there's a man that consistently sticks with his conservative principles. Why couldn't he be my representative? Instead, I'm stuck with that stale, old Re-Pete Sessions. Two decades worth of that man and the unbearable D.C. carbuncle just won't go away.

As if on cue, all of the usual Texas suspects have piled-on to this spiffy Obamacare regurgitation, as if they know better than the rest of us. You know, those of us who have to work and pay for crappy insurance plans, as we watch our premiums and prescription costs skyrocket. 

The ones to blame if this bill passes include reps such as John Ratcliff, Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions, who are extolling AHCA's merits. 

My guess is the Republicans in D.C. are touting much ado about nothing when it comes to RyanCare. Word on the street is that there aren't enough votes to pass it as of this late date. The vote is tomorrow.

Good thing, too. The reality of the beast is that this healthcare plan will no longer be owned by the liberals. If it passes, the Republicans will own this one, and Obama and liberal village idiots such as Nancy Pelosi will be relieved of the onus. When this thing fails, and it will, the GOP may as well not bother running for president in four years. So too the next midterm election will be difficult for anyone who votes in favor of this bill. We will not let anyone forget who voted for this Obamacare plan in Republican drag. 

Closer to home, this looks terrible for Sessions who crammed our mailboxes for years with mass mailers claiming he wanted to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it. I would sure like to understand why he has picked up a guitar and is writing an AHCA ballad. 

This isn't your 2015 repeal bill either, and it's funny that people like Sessions, who previously voted in favor of full repeal, instead has opted to support this bill, claiming erroneously that they cannot do a full repeal. Amazing, truly amazing.

This is proof that Sessions' past votes to repeal Obamacare were purely show votes, just like we said they were. How many times did I call Sessions out for that? I honestly lost count.

This is infuriating, too. People voted for Trump because they are angry over past Congress capitulation to Obama. They were angry over congressional show votes too, but in their stupidity, they kept a large number of establishment Republicans in place. This is precisely how a moratorium election  on Obamacare and SCOTUS can ultimately give us Obamacare Lite instead of full-on repeal. 

Then again, there's Trump, running the fools errand, claiming he'll rid the House of anyone who doesn't vote in favor of this bill. So much for his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. Pinky-promise the wall goes the same way. 

I've read this bill. It holds many of the same Obamacare regulations and mandates in place that have caused healthcare costs to skyrocket. Costs will continue to increase, too. We'll also go back to hoards of people opting for no coverage and worse yet, those with employer sponsored plans will be penalized for having them, as the plan you used to have is suddenly considered income and is taxed that way. Oh, you can have your Cadillac plan, but you'll pay for it, by God. 

What happened to the litany of campaign promises of repealing Obamacare? Republicans took the easy way out, that's what. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and actually owning an epic piece of legislation, and showing the Democrats how it's really done, they would rather recycle the massive failure that is Obamacare, and simply stamp their name on it. 

Dumb, really dumb. 

Menopause: Satan's Plan V

I've always had bad luck. Well, where I call it bad luck, the hubster calls it klutziness. I swear, I'm like the kiss of death when it comes to stubs and sprains. Sometimes I feel like Rosanne Rosannadanna, because it's always something. If it's not one thing, it's definitely another. Did you know, there is only one toe left that I have not broken? Now, that little nugget of useless information does sweeten the pot. Seriously, don't engage me because it will only get more graphic.

To my credit, it's not always my fault. Two weeks ago the dog spit up on the kitchen floor and I traipsed through it in flip flops. To be sure, it was one of those slow motion moments, as I slid sideways and hit the floor. I tell you, a couple more pounds around the middle and I could have bounced. Too bad, because my elbow is still sore.

If I'm not breaking something, or stubbing something, this stubborn body refuses to cooperate. Well, let's just call that "Plan V".

Still, I always like to think of myself as tough as old boots. You know, someone who soldiers on. When I was younger, I broke a toe (little surprise there) while working a job that required me to stand and walk a lot. Later, I had temporary pain, tingling and numbness in my fingers during a job where I needed to type a lot. Oh yes, then there was that time I cut my finger off in the door and had it sewn back on. I probably don't need to expand upon just which hand it occurred. Recently, there has been the outright refusal and strike of my body to store something as simple as vitamin D, and lethargic and arthritic-like symptoms ensue. Of course, aging couldn't possibly be any different for me in this realm. The old bod just continues to delight as Plan V has set in.

I used to think women who opted for hysterectomies were just plain sissies. All of my friends have had one, making me feel a bit superior. Well, that is until this aging carcass adopted its own set of rules. Oh no, I couldn't just make it through to menopause without the petals falling off my flower power. Heavens no. It has to be my luck that during the glorious moment when I thought I was nearly free of the V, the female plumbing had to go awry. What a cheerful way to end the series, if you know what I mean.

If I haven't been personally wrangling with hemorrhaging, doctor's trips and a biopsy, I might have found it all terribly amusing. No seriously. Peri-menopause is like a bad comedy of errors. Just when you think you are nearly finished with wildly fluctuating hormones, child-bearing, hot flashes, the terror of missed periods and spotting, Satan, himself, makes a debut.

I guess I can see why so many women opt to have it all ripped out. O-M-G I want to rip that ram out, but hells bells I've made it this far. I had sensibly and somewhat stoically managed to tame the 'coagulation of evil' women joke about, without much effort on my part. To be honest, I thought myself one of the lucky ones.

I can probably count the number of hot flashes on my fingers and toes, and I thank regular exercise for that. To think I planned to get away nearly scot-free with only an extra 12 lbs. of water weight gain every month, which would spike my blood pressure, and only relieve itself with one of those handy water pills that brings seventeen trips to the toilet.

I should have known not to pat myself on the back so hard for lowering my blood pressure to the rather mundane 120/80 range. I even went so far as to ace Cramps and Grumpiness 101, Intermediate Hot Flashes and even Advanced Bloating and Weight-gain.  I've played the trooper for years, and after all that it would be almost sacrilege to opt for surgery now. Damned sketchy uterus.

I don't know what's worse. The utter bullshit that is periods, cramps, tampons, labor and a virtual monthly blood-letting, or the fact that there are actually men who want to turn into women? For the love of God, why?

I'd like to see them bleed heavily and gush chunks, while stuffing a cotton wad up their hoohay every 20 minutes for 36 hours. Oh yes, all this with no sleep and without wailing like an infant and falling into the fetal position. How does anyone think we can even hold down a job during this? For the love of God, somehow, month after month, we do.

As I finished up with my ObGyn this morning, she said what I've been lamenting over for at least five years, "Can you hurry up and just enter menopause already?" I'm trying, believe me, I'm summoning the will.