The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

ISTA News Release

NEWS RELEASE FROM ISTA (Indiana State Teacher's Association)


That’s the question that is likely to be asked of Indiana legislators when they hold their Town Hall meeting on Friday, April 1, 2005, 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the Battell Center. Parents, teachers and administrations are planning to ask very pointed questions regarding the state’s funding for public schools. HB 1001, the House version of a budget bill for 2006 and 2007, essentially flat lines the state’s funding for education. With insurance costs rising at astronomical rates of 15-25% and fuel prices soaring, in reality this is a budget cut. Making the situation even worse, the state has reduced tuition support payments for 2005 starting with the March payment. The Department of Education projects the following reduction in funding for area school corporations.

2005 State Funding Reduction

South Bend -$1.1 million
P-H-M -526,490
Mishawaka -274,304
Glenn -91,523
Union-North -69,033
New Prairie -136,000
Plymouth -169,615
Bremen -75,307
Triton -57,669
Culver -59,444
Argos -37,377
Elkhart -671,912
Goshen -308,609
Wa-Nee -166,145
Knox -102,781
North Judson -80,382
LaPorte -318,988
Michigan City -350,012
Baugo -87,000
Wawasee -175,000

While some corporations have not yet fully assessed the devastating effects of this funding shortfall, the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation recently announced that it faces a projected -$2.3 million budget shortfall for calendar year 2005 and a $4.6 million estimated budget shortfall for 2006 calendar year. This dire situation has led Penn Superintendent, Robert Howard, to recommend to the Board of School Trustees the elimination of 20 staff positions for 2005-06, an additional 22+ positions in 2006-07, the elimination of Summer School in 2006, as well as several regular school year programs and the closing of two schools.

Superintendent, Joan Raymond, announced that South Bend’s deficit for 2005 is expected to be at $4,490,417. According to Raymond, cuts necessary to counter the deficit will rival cuts of $8 million dollars made in 2001 and 2002. That doesn’t touch the shortfall to occur in 2006 and 2007 due to the flat lining.

The real kicker comes with a rash of unfunded mandates recently proposed and supported by Republican lawmakers. If enacted into law these mandates will certainly result in huge funding cuts to public schools and magnify the already devastating loss of programs and resources for public school children.


1. SB 281 - Private School Voucher; Unfunded Tuition Credits
for private schools, and Transfer Tuition Discounts

2. SB 200 - Extension of CORE Curriculum

3. SB 231 - Changes Kindergarten Entrance Age Date Change

4. SB 371 - Increase in Dropout Age; Unfunded Spring I-STEP
testing; Professional Standards Board changes

5. SB 598 - Diverts Common School and Alternative Education
Funds from traditional public schools to charter

Republicans hosting the Town Hall meeting can expect some heated debate as frustrated educators voice their concerns with legislators who increase expectations for public school performance but continue to siphon off money with unfunded mandates and private school vouchers.

Note from Dr. Stock: Wawasee's projected cut in funding over the two-year budget period is $575,000 in ongoing revenue.

No good deed goes unpunished

One of the strange quirks in political financing, is the situation where local school districts as well as local cities and towns, are often punished when they try to save money.

Wawasee schools has been "punished" for over thirty years because it did the right thing. Back in 1973 Wawasee (as well as most Kosciusko county schools) had a very low tax rate. During this time period, your local board had broad control over the tax rates. In 1973, the state passed legislation taking local control away (especially for the General Fund) and replaced it with a state funding formula. The foundation amounts were "frozen" at those levels, and the state formula took over from there. Schools with high tax rates were forever blessed with higher revenue. School districts with lower tax rates were forever cursed with lower revenues.

Now, the state is at it again. This time it affects cities and towns.

The following newspaper article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette explains it.

"We thought it took away some local fiscal flexibility," Fort Wayne Deputy Mayor Al Moll said. "We had been prudent in not raising taxes to the maximum every year and wanted that available but instead we're punished for our frugality."

The state of Indiana continues to push funding obligations to the local taxpayer. Under this scenario, local tax payers will experience property tax increases BUT the cities, towns and schools will NOT be experiencing increased revenues proportionate to the tax increases. It is a shift of responsibility from state - to local government.

Once again, no good deed goes unpunished.

Talking about schools, who are the "rich," and who are the "poor?"

This article from the South Bend Tribune quotes protesters saying, "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer."

I just want to clarify, Who are the poor in this quote?

The quote is referring to schools that have high numbers of students who live in poverty (urban) AND school districts that are at the bottom of the state rankings in dollars per child (mostly rural - but some growing suburban schools as well now).

Because of our county's lake culture, we get unfairly labeled "rich." While we have a significant number of students living in rural poverty, we still lose because the state formula gives most of the money to schools with huge numbers of at-risk students and students with English as their second language. Under the new funding formula, money will be withheld from us, and sent to growing suburban schools. Schools that do need the money badly.

So what is our gripe? Most of those schools get more money per child than we do already. Now we get even less and they get more. Don't blame the growing schools. The problem is that the inequities are growing.

Have you e-mailed your legislators from home yet? Please consider giving them your opinion.


  1. Skim the papers to make sure you know the name of a bill or legislative action you want to comment on. (See short list below)
  2. Hint: Click on The Super's Blog Link on the side of this page and you will see the name of all the main Indiana newspapers on line. Read up on some to make sure you know about the bill or issue.
  3. Click on the legislator web sticker on the side of this page.
  4. Put in your zip code and address and you will find your legislator's e-mail address.
  5. Thank them for their time and sacrifice as a public servant.
  6. State your opinion politely.
  7. Thank them for their time.

A few important bills that affect education:

1. SB 200 – Core 40 Unfunded Curriculum Mandate
2. SB 231 – Unfunded Kindergarten Entrance Age Date Change
3. SB 281 – Private School Vouchers, Unfunded Tuition Tax Credits for private schools, and Transfer Tuition Discounts;
4. SB 371 – Unfunded Increase in the Dropout Age; Unfunded Spring I-STEP testing; Professional Standards Board changes;
5. SB 598 – Diverting Common School and Alternative Ed Funds from traditional Public Schools to Charter Schools.

At least you did your part.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Vouchers and Tax Credits Move Forward

The House Education Committee amended non-public school vouchers and tuition tax credits into SB 281 Tuesday on a party-line vote with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.

Successful students in schools failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) can take a voucher and transfer to a private school. Adequate Yearly Progress is part of a federal law called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which requires 100% of all students in Indiana to pass ISTEP by 2013-2014 or the school and school district is labeled a failure. If a school fails, than even successful students in the "failing" school can receive vouchers to transfer to a non-public school that NEVER has to meet AYP requirements. This would permit the non-public schools to take the better students from failing schools, leaving the failing students behind. Does that sound fair to ANYONE?

Adding insult to injury, the voucher and tuition tax credit schools are permitted to discriminate in admissions not only on the basis of student test scores and student ability or disability, but also on the basis of religion, wealth, gender, inability to speak or understand English, inability to provide one's own transportation or textbooks, inability of the parents to volunteer, and more. Does that sound fair to ANYONE?

The fiscal impact of this legislation is estimated to be $250 Million when fully implemented. Since no funding source is identified, the funds must come from draining public schools, increasing the state deficit, or both. Does that sound fair to ANYONE? Wawasee is currently planning our response to the state's funding crisis already. What will happen if more funds are taken from public schools?

On the surface, giving a student more options doesn't seem to be a bad idea. But giving public tax dollars to private groups with no accountability or obligation to accept all students seems grossly unAmerican to me.

From your home computer, please consider e-mailing your legislators and letting them know your position on SB 281.

The Michael T. Fiscus Memorial Fund

In memory of Todd Fiscus, a memorial fund has been established to help support his family.

The Michael T. Fiscus Memorial Fund has been established through the area Lake City Banks. The money is intended to go towards his memorial and the future of his young girls. Donations can be made at any Lake City Bank.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

ISTEP Spring Test Back on Table

The Indy Star reports that the legislature still seems bent on changing ISTEP back to the Spring.

There is no practical advantage to changing. It is in fact, a colossal waste of money at a time when schools are going to be cutting programs to children.

The current Indiana government wishes to erase any track record of progress made by our public schools. And that is sad. In the absence of any legitimate, research-based rationale, what else could it be?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Anti-school sentiment in Indy

This article in Sunday's Journal Gazette pretty accurately describes this legislative session when it comes to schools.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Tragedy in Afghanistan

We tragically report that Wawasee teacher, Mrs. Paula Fiscus, has lost her husband in a tragic accident in Afghanistan. Paula teaches at Milford Middle School.

Our condolences to the family and to the Milford School Family as well.

Words cannot express...

Miscellaneous Weekend Ramblings

The Wawascene goes mainstream. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports on blogging.

The Super's Blog is using satire again. Poking fun at congressional hearings on steroids in baseball and governors with testosterone-infused nicknames.

Tough luck to our NLC friends from Plymouth. To lose on a last second,half-court heave is a tough, tough way to lose. What a season for Wawasee and Plymouth both.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What comes out of the General Fund?

Yesterday we discussed the 6 coffee cans on your countertop that represent the 6 school funds that are used for all educational expenses.

Today we will talk briefly about the largest coffee can on your countertop - the general fund. Ninety percent (90%) of this fund is salaries and benefits. This is because we are a service industry and our operation generally requires personnel instead of machinery and equipment.

The other ten percent (10%) of expenses is made up of materials and supplies (mostly consumables like paper, pens, ink, ink cartridges etc. ), utility costs (natural gas and NIPSCO bills), property and casualty insurance and other miscellaneous expenses.

Who puts the money in this coffee can to keep the operation running?

As mentioned yesterday, 54% of the money comes mostly from the local tax payer in the form of property taxes and excise taxes. This 54% is a little deceiving because the state provides some "property tax replacement credit" to offset this amount. Why? Because there was an outcry from patrons around the state when property taxes were adjusted to represent market value. To offset the increase the state agreed to "replace" some of it with state money. This hasn't gone so well because the state is broke and doesn't have enough to "offset." This is why the state is considering capping the property tax replacement money and telling the local district to add a local option income tax. Here we go again. I view this as ANOTHER shift of state responsibility to the local tax payer.

The other 46% of the revenue for the general fund comes from the state in the form of state support.

So why is Wawasee so far down the state rankings in revenue per pupil? (We are 269 out of 305 school districts).

I will answer this when you are in a better mood! :-)

Have a great Good Friday weekend!! :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How can a school put in new equipment and then cut personnel when money is tight?

Have you ever wondered how in the world a school can defend putting in a new piece of equipment or buying a new school bus at the same time they are cutting teaching positions? If so, you wouldn't be alone.

In the "Alice-in-Wonderland World" of laws that govern school finance, here is why:

Picture 6 different coffee cans, painted white, sitting on your countertop at home . Visualize each white can with the following labels marked boldly with black magic marker:

1. General Fund: This is the largest coffee can on the counter, and the most important one. In most school districts this fund is almost 90% personnel costs, most of which is spent on instruction. In Wawasee, approximately 46% of the money in this can is supplied by the state of Indiana and about 54% from local taxes. Because the state is broke, they are only going to increase the overall money for the state a small amount. This is deceiving because they are actually planning to withhold money from Wawasee and send the money to other school districts. We get cut. It is illegal to take money from another coffee can and put into this one. Because 90% is personnel, there is virtually no way to make large scale budget cuts without affecting personnel. Your school board has no control over the size of this coffee can, or how much goes into it. It is all controlled by the state legislators including how much the state contributes and how much the locals have to contribute from taxes.

2. Transportation Operating Fund: This coffee can is used to pay for bus driver salaries, fuel costs and all costs related to operating the bus fleet. All the money in the can is collected from local taxes with no help from the state. The fund is capped and your school board cannot raise it above the cap. It is illegal to take money out of this coffee can and put into another can.

3. Bus Replacement Fund: The money in this coffee can is also collected from local taxes with no help from the state. It is used only to buy new buses. We replace them after 10 years and put them out to pasture as extras for field trips and athletic trips. Then we take them out and shoot them. I'm sorry, we trade them in. :-) On e-bay you can get one for $1,000. It is illegal to take money out of this coffee can and put into another one.

4. Debt Service Fund: This coffee can contains money that is also collected from local taxes with no help from the state. It can only be used to pay for bond issues and other debts. It is used to pay the mortgage on the building renovations and to pay for the pension buyout. It is illegal to take money out of the can and put it into another can.

5. Special Education Preschool Fund: This is the smallest coffee can of all. It can only be used to pay for special needs children of preschool age. It is mostly funded with local taxes and a small amount comes from the state. It is illegal to raid this coffee can and put the money into another one.

6. Capital Projects Fund: This is a medium sized coffee can. It is used to pay for building repairs, computer technology, computer technicians and equipment purchases. The coffee can is entirely filled with local tax dollars and no help from the state. The fund is capped and the board cannot raise it above the cap. It is illegal to take money from this can and put into another coffee can.

The only fund that is in trouble at this time is the General Fund, because it is the only one dependent on state support.

If you find yourself frustrated at potential cuts in programs for children, make sure you have done what you can to make your voice heard.

What is that?

Using your home computer, log on to The Wawascene and click on the "Write Your Legislator" web sticker and let them know how you feel. No one is denying the state's fiscal crisis, but it is important to know that the children are the one's whose program is impacted. We will be able to make some progress through attrition, but like most schools, programs are going to be affected eventually.

Exercise the most precious right there is to have as a free American. Participate in your democracy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Politics: Competition for scarce resources

I once had a professor during my post graduate work that defined politics as, "competition for scarce resources."

Let the competition begin.

Read this first short link and you will see an advocate fight for resources for an urban school district.

Read this second link and you will see someone argue for the suburban growing schools.

Read this post and I will fight for Wawasee Schools.

Many of the suburban schools used to be ranked up near the top in the state rankings for dollars per pupil. But due to growing enrollment they have joined the schools in Kosciusko county at the bottom of the list, because their funding increases haven't risen as fast as their enrollment.

While they are all facing issues, schools like Wawasee may end with the worst end of the deal. We are now ranked about 275 out of 310 school districts. The state will be taking money away from us and sending it to the suburban schools. They will move up in the rankings and we will move further down.

Wawasee may end up as the poster child for a great anomaly. We are number one in the state rankings for property values per child and near the lowest in terms of money per pupil.

And...your school board has no control over it. It is the state legislature alone that controls the General Fund revenue.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Thanks for a great season!

The Warriors fell Saturday to a great Plymouth team that matched up well against us.

It was a great season from a great group of young men. Our seniors will do well in life because good people almost always do. We will miss them.

Thanks to the community for coming out in force and cheering them on.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Is Education a Cost or an Investment?

I find one of the headlines in the Indy Star an interesting insight into how people think about education.

The headline is, "Senators urged to keep education costs steady."

No they weren't.

Senators were encouraged by public education advocates to keep education FUNDING steady. If the state can find a way to keep costs steady more power to them. Our rising costs in education are due to five main things.

1. Unfunded mandates. Go back to Jamie Vollmer' website to see the list of those.
2. Rising utility costs and fuel costs.
3. Rising property and casualty insurance rates.
4. Rising health insurance costs - a national issue
5. The state shifting expenses to the local school district and the local taxpayer.

These rising costs require a rising revenue stream to keep programs in their current status. When expenses go up AND revenue is decreased, programs are affected.

What the state sees as COST the schools see as INVESTMENT in their programs for children.

Go Warriors : Win Semi-State!

Good Luck Saturday to our basketball team.

I'll see many of you there.

Go Warriors!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Do You Know Anyone With Nostesia?

Have you ever met someone who was critical of public schools?

Have you ever asked them when schools "went bad?"

I have done this with people from age 30 to age 70. My survey reveals very scientific results. They always say the same thing. The answer? Schools went bad sometime right after they got out!

Jamie Vollmer calls this NOSTESIA. It is 50% nostalgia and 50% amnesia.

Go to Jamie Vollmer's website and then click on the tab at the top marked Nostesia.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Transportation Problems

Because some school districts have had problems with transportation funds being capped, current government officials have proposed a solution.

Click here for the privatization solution.

Public Schools as National Infrastructure

I am a strong supporter of public schools. Granted, I have never worked in a bad one yet, so I am biased. I am optimistic about public schools, as long as politicians back off and allow us time to continue our progress. If they trash the public system, then we are headed to a segregated society once again, and we will sit and wait for the next Brown vs. Board of Education lawsuit. It won't be long. Inequities are growing as we speak - and they may not be where you think.

Separate but equal ends up inherently unequal.

I want to propose a new way of looking at public education, especially for all those who are looking at vouchers and privatization of schools with public tax money.

Try to look at public schools as national infrastructure. Picture the national highway system. The highway system is critical to the success of our nation as products and goods travel the nation daily providing "just-in-time" delivery in a massive network that is the envy of the world. Any business large or small, any individual rich or poor, can access our highway network and travel as they desire. It is built by a combination of federal, state and local dollars and is maintained by federal, state and local employees. There are state and national specifications that help provide quality roadways with mostly standard materials and dimensions. The highway system is a critical part of our country's infrastructure. It is impossible to picture how America would work without a coordinated, standard and uniform roadway system. The first attack point of any military operation is to attack the infrastructure of your country's roadway system.

America considers them so important, that we have decided to provide government oversight, government funding and government support to keep them operational. Are they perfect? No. But we work to improve them. And...When we do turn them over to independent contractors and private firms, they are held to the same standards and accountability as the government employees so that the quality of the "network" is high enough to maintain high and similar standards throughout the highway system. Won't do much good for the highway to disappear at the state line! Try to imagine a private system of roadways that only allows access to those with certain vehicles, or certain religious beliefs or certain wealth or status. Public transportation highway systems are accessed by all without discrimination.

Now, think of public education as a massive network across America that provides access to knowledge, information and skill development to all communities, large and small, rich or poor. It is the information highway. It is a network that combines federal, state and local efforts with fairly standard specifications for curriculum and standards across America. This coordinated, standard and fairly uniform system provides access points for every American to have a chance at the American dream.

All of our important infrastructures are supervised with public and governmental standards. Highways, railways, airlines and the military. All supported in some measure by the public tax dollar. These infrastructures have created and supported a country that is the greatest ever known. Wealth and a standard of living unprecedented in the history of the world.

I fear that through privatization and vouchers, some state and national politicians intend to break it up for two main reasons. One, their reported dislike of the NEA, and two, the selfish notion that the only child that matters is their own.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Record Number of Visitors to The Wawascene

On Monday, The Wawascene set a record for visitors to this site. There were over 3,000 page loads yesterday and over 1,400 separate visitors to the website.

Considering we only have a few hundred employees, it seems like people are catching on.

Welcome to all community people. Feel free to pass the URL on to anyone you meet. Put it on your favorites list and check it for updates every day.

Academic Warriors Place High in NLC

We placed 2nd overall in the NLC Academic Super Bowl meet last night. Individual teams placing 2nd were math, science, and interdisciplinary.
Individual teams placing 3rd were social studies and English.

Way to go Warriors!

If I ran my business the way you people run schools...

The Super's Blog posted this Monday evening.

Read The Blueberry Story from a businessman turned public school supporter. This is a brief but excellent story that points out one major difference that is difficult to argue about.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Why Public Schools Feel Burdened

To see why America's educators feel burdened, The Super's Blog has suggested that you go to Jamie Vollmer's web site.

Click on these words : Jamie Vollmer Website At the top of the page click on the tab marked "The Burden." Then scroll to the very bottom of the page and click to download the animation. It only takes a minute.

Academic Super Bowl

Our athletes aren't the only ones competing.

Tonight at 5:00 PM in the Wawasee High School gymnasium, our academic competitors square off in the Northern Lakes Conference Academic Super Bowl.

If you have never seen one - stop by and watch our scholars go head to head with the NLC"s best.

Wawasee Academic Teams finished 3rd out of 16 teams at the Warsaw Invitational recently.

Congratulations to them and good luck tonight!!

Details on Semi-state

The Wawasee Basketball team will play in the IHSAA North Semi-State against Plymouth at Huntington North High School in the second afternoon game.
Saturday, March 19 Two Semi-State Championship Games:
Game 1 Class 2A FW Harding -vs- John Glenn Game time 1:00 PM
Game 2 Class 3A Wawasee -vs- Plymouth Approx 3:00 PM

The winner of each Semi-State game advances to the IHSAA State Championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse the following Saturday.

Tickets will be $7.00. There is no charge for a pre-school child seated with their parent throughout the contest. Presale tickets will be made available in the Wawasee Athletic Office in the following order:

Tuesday, March 15 7:00 a.m.: Students at Wawasee High School, Parents of Players and Cheerleaders, and Corporation Faculty 12:00 Noon: Green and Gold Ticket Holders and Season Ticket Holders, until 4:00 PM.

Wednesday, March 16 7:30 a.m.: Open sales until 4:00 PM

Related athletic announcements:
Wawasee Basketball coaches and players will be available for a media night Tuesday, March 15 at 5:45 PM.
The Winter Athletic Awards Program is rescheduled to Wednesday, March 30th 6:15 PM.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Warriors Advance to Semi-state!

Wow. Another good game by quality athletes and students in front of quality fans and Warrior supporters.

After the game another superintendent came over and congratulated us for our students and fans and acknowledged how much respect he has for our student body and the way they conduct themselves. The word he used was "class."

We are proud of our students and fans and the way they support us .

Now we get to take on Plymouth in the semi-state. We have a score to settle! A triple overtime loss!

OK - Staff and community. What should Wawasee put up for one of those friendly wagers with the Plymouth superintendent? Dr. Hill reads this site every week ( when he isn't getting yelled at for snow or fog) - so I know he'll see this!

What should it be? A Dave Butler designed shirt? A dinner trip on the USS Lillypad? How about a custom designed sandwich at Pat's Chicago Dog's. I can see it now - it will be a sandwich called "The Blueberry Stomp!" It will be a chicken sandwich with a stomped blueberry glaze on it. We'll name it after Dr. Hill and put it on Pat's board next to the "Bill Dixon" and "Tom Thornburg" under the heading "Locally Famous Sandwiches."

Any ideas? Post a comment.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Warriors Advance to Regional Finals!

What a game. The Warriors avenge their regular season loss to Tippy Valley with a gutsy performance. The game was called so tight that our normal quickness and full court press didn't get as many transition points as usual. Over 50 fouls called.

Everyone stepped up and worked hard - then hit the free throws when it mattered.

Good luck to the Warriors in the finals at 8:00PM. See you there.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Mudders and Fodders

This is a 1992 newspaper article reprinted from the late Mike Royko, a Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist famous for his satire.

School solution near as your home
Mike Royko

“So, I’m listening to the radio this morning, and they’re talking about the schools being a mess,” said Slats Grobnik. “It’s the public radio station, and the egghead girl who runs the show has got on a lot of egghead experts.”
Yes, the usual suspects.
“Now, one of the experts is in favor of giving people vouchers worth some money and letting them send their kids to any private school they want. Or at least any school that’ll take ‘em.”
An idea that is growing in popularity.
“Right. Except for the experts, who said it’s a lousy idea because it will ruin the public school system if people are hauling their kids out to send them to private schools. And that would be bad because public schools are as American as apple pie or pizza.”
Yes, this noble view is widely held, especially by public school teachers and bureaucrats, who fear they would lose their jobs or have to take lower-paying jobs in the private-school sector. “
“Then another expert says this would discriminate against minority kids because they couldn’t get into the fancy private school that rich white kids can go to.”
There is some truth in that, although many minority kids go to Catholic schools that have low tuition and provide excellent educations.
“That’s what the pro-voucher expert said too. But the anti-voucher expert said that’s all a con game because the Catholic schools don’t have to take kids who bite other kids’ ears off or point guns at teachers but the public schools got to take every gangbanger, and so the public schools get a bum rap.”
Also a valid point. By law, the public school can’t be selective. Which is why Catholic schools can spend money on computers, while Chicago’s public schools have to put in metal detectors.
“Anyway, I listen to these experts, and they must have been going at each other for almost an hour. And then I notice something. Or I notice something that I didn’t notice.”
I’m not sure I understand that statement.
“I notice that I didn’t notice nobody saying nothing about mudders and fodders. Not once. They talked about this study, that study, this statistic, that statistic. But nobody talked about any mudders or fodders.”
“Hey, that is what it’s all about.”
That’s what what is all about?
“The school crisis that never goes away. It ain’t about vouchers. It ain’t about money. It ain’t about dumb teachers or smart teachers. It ain’t about computers. It ain’t about if the school is a fancy building or an old building. It ain’t about if they’re gonna play football or not play football.”
It ain’t? I mean, it isn’t?
“No, it ain’t, and it ain’t never been. It’s about mudders and fodders.”
Mothers and fathers.
“Yeah, that‘s what I said. But nobody wants to talk about mudders and fodders. Those experts talked about implementing and expediting and facilitating and all the other jargon they learn when they got to expert college. But they’re afraid to even say the words, mudders and fodders, and that’s what the whole thing is about. Nah, they want to talk about implementing and facilitating and expediting. They won’t talk about the kitchen table.”
The kitchen table?
“Yeah. It works this way. A kid’s got a mudder and a fodder. Or maybe only a mudder or only a fodder. Or in a pinch, a grandmudder or a grandfodder doing the job of a mudder or a fodder. And one of them, it don’t matter which says: Junior, turn off the TV and sit down at the kitchen table and do your homework and let me see it when you finish.’ Anybody ever say that to you?”
Yes, my mudder. I mean, mother.
“Yeah, mine too. So when you get a kid that’s got a mudder or a fodder or somebody who says he got to do the homework, and who says he got to get up in the morning and eat a bowl of oatmeal and get his butt to school, and who tells him to read a book and learn one and one makes two, then you don’t need a lot of expediting and facilitating. That’s why the public school system always worked, even in the poor neighborhoods. Because there was a mudder and a fodder or one or the other, and they said: “Sit down at the kitchen table and show me when you’re done.”
You are talking about the family unit.
“I hate that sociology talk, but I guess so. But if the mudder and fodder are dumb palookas themselves and don’t care if their kids are running loose, then the kids are gonna be dumb palookas no matter how much expediting or facilitating anybody does. “
Isn’t that rather simplistic.
“Maybe. But you went to the public schools, right?”
“And I went to the public schools, right?”
“And we got the kitchen-table routine, right?”
“If it works with a couple of yo-yos like us, anything is possible.”
You could have a point.
“Sure. But the first thing they got to do is take a look at what the problem really is. Look at the kids who make it and look at their mudders and fodders. Then look at the kids who ain’t making it and at their mudders and fodders. Them’s the statistic that’ll tell the story.”
Yes, but if your theory is correct, what can be done?
“I dunno. Ask the experts.”

2 Hour Delay Friday

2 Hour Delay. Roads are better than they were last night - but still slippery underneath. County trucks are out early. Giving them 2 more hours to sand and salt intersections should help.

Will it ever end?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Japanese Schools vs. American Schools

In the early 90's, I visited Japanese schools to see how they were different from U.S. schools. I don't know about how it may have changed since then, but these are a few of my observations from the schools I visited.

Students go to school around 240 days a year. They take several weeks off in the summer but they have homework to do and must return with it completed. (On a side note - this link tells about one judge's view of summer homework in America) If you multiply this out, you will find that a Japanese student may have up to 720 additional days of school over an American student. This divides out to 4 years of American school - all in the same 12 year period. Folks - it isn't apples-to-apples when people make comparisons.

They have a one-week break in the spring when they change grade levels. There is a New Year's Break as well. The teachers were year-round employees in the schools I visited, with two weeks vacation.

Crime and violence were non-existent for the most part, and disrespect was never tolerated. Students were even expected to be respectful to their underclassmen. Discipline seemed more direct than here and parents were more concerned about their children's "responsibilities" than their "rights."

Every grade level in the nation had the same textbook and followed the same curriculum. If they want to do better on an international exam they just align the texts and the entire country gets new materials. Presto - instant alignment. No wonder Asian nations always do well on international tests.

Students are tested into high school and college. Good scores and you go to college prep high schools. Bad scores and you go to blue-collar career-oriented high school.

Lifetime employment with a company. Good news - you may have a job. Bad news - it's your lot for life.

Japanese students are taught conformity to group norms. This does lead to respect for peers and constant worry about what others think. American students are taught individuality and creativeness.

My observation? This is why we lead the world in creating new products and services, but when it comes to manufacturing, it gets built overseas.

It isn't as simple as comparing scores on a test.

PS. If any teachers have course standards that would fit this topic, I have a slide show that I can do to discuss these differences with students. I would be willing, schedule permitting to do this for a class or grade level.

For community members, this could also be a service club program.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Teacher Blogs About Passing on Costs to Consumers

Darren, a teacher in California, blogs about ways to pass along educational costs to consumers.

I thought you might enjoy it.

Right From the Left Coast

Board Meeting Review

The school board meeting was held last night. The board minutes from February and the agenda for February and March are posted here. We cannot post the actual March minutes till April because they are not official until the board approves them. Minutes become the official and legally binding record of what happens in a board meeting.

The board meeting for April has been moved to Tuesday, April 19, 2005. The board has often moved the April meeting to allow the extra week after spring break.

I reported that Wawasee has currently approved 6 teacher retirements for next year. As those retirements continue to come in it will allow the school district some additional flexibility for staffing decisions to lesson the likelihood of RIF's (Reduction In Force).

The board approved the final step in terminating the old 401(a) pension plan. Letters to that effect have or will be going out soon to those affected.

I reported on the state's financial crisis and it's effect on Wawasee Schools. The state legislature will not pass a budget bill until April, assuming they don't go into extended session. It is too early to tell, but we anticipate we could be cut up to $575,000 over a two-year period. It could be more it could be less, depending on the budget bill that gets approved.

Do not be fooled by the press releases that say, "Public Schools Will Get New Money." Many schools like ours will be losing money due to flat enrollment. Growing schools will receive the money we lose. Just because enrollment is flat doesn't mean the utility bills, insurance bills and property and casualty bills are flat too. This concept is often ignored in all the legislative confusion and political rhetoric.

Even if we can avoid major RIF's this year, it does not mean it doesn't impact our programs, our students or our staff. Just because a person doesn't lose a job doesn't mean the job itself didn't disappear.

We continue to look at staffing patterns and as the picture grows more clear I will post our thoughts on the Wawascene to keep everything out in the open. Hopefully into April, we will begin to see how this will shake out.

Thank you for your patience.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Snow on Tuesday??

Russ Mikel asked me to let everyone know that if we do get the snow that is being forecast and we end up with a two hour delay on Tuesday, the early release activities/inservices will be cancelled and students will stay for the entire day. The snow is lake effect and may or may not bring snow to our area. We wanted everyone to know ahead of time what the plans are either way so you can make the necessary adjustments.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Over on The Super's Blog , Indiana Super is using satire again. This time, to point out that Governor Daniel's new educational policy advisor, David Shane has never worked in public schools but still gets to influence education policy in a big way.

Dr. SueEllen Reed has been totally out of the picture. She got 8,000 more votes than the governor and she is a Republican. But, because she supports public schools and worked closely with a Democrat governor that worked hard to improve public education instead of disband it, she has been put out to pasture.

Put The Super's Blog and The Wawascene on your favorites list and stop in whenever you are on the internet. Send it to any friends or parents that have interest in public education. We are also putting up other school blog sites as they pop up. You will also notice Whitko and Plymouth on the Links section of this page now.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Does The Way We Dress Affect The Way The Public Sees Us?

Over on the Whitko Blog Site, Superintendent Jeff Hendrix has posed an interesting question to his staff. Click on the link above (or on the side of this page) and scroll down to the article about work attire in different professions.

He is not opposed to dress down days (nor am I) but he just reminds us that we should use them carefully.

Why? There is a school of thought in education, that over the years we may have unknowingly eliminated ourselves from the more elite and respected professions.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What Do Most Parents Really Want?

There was a recent Wall Street Journal article with the headline, "When High Schools Try Getting Tough, Parents Fight Back." The premise of the article is that across America it seems that parents are resisting the efforts to make high school more rigorous. The authors list numerous examples where parents fight the school districts attempts to raise standards and provide more application oriented assignments. It seems that many of those complaining simply want their children to get good grades and have a good GPA so they can get into good colleges. They weren't bashing parents, just explaining that most parents didn't want high school to be more difficult.

This article appeared before the recent national governor's conference was held. At this conference the governors decided that making high schools more rigorous throughout the country was a major initiative for each state.

This article preceded the recent Speakout Columns in the newspaper complaining about the extra pressure students are under to read books and take quizzes in the Accelerated Reader programs operating in many schools today.

My question to the staff and community is....."Do you think the majority of parents really want the rigorous standards and constant testing that the national and state leaders are pushing?"

To post your response to this question just click your mouse over the word "Comments" and you should be able to type a response.

One purpose of blogging is to create interaction and dialogue. Please join us.! Post your comment.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

There will be school today - on 2 hour delay

Conditions are better than yesterday even though there is more snow. The county trucks have been out since 4:00 am plowing and putting down sand and salt. However, there is still ice underneath the snow covered roads so caution is in order.

There is not much accumulation down by North Webster or west of Milford in places so we must have been on the edge of the lake effect.

Have a good day.

2 Hour Delay Wed.

2 hour delay alternate K schedule.

More of the same. Hope we can get a day in - we'll see.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sectional Change

The boys Wawasee sectional will be moved to Wednesday evening.

Boys Basketball Sectional

Since the sectional basketball tournament is an IHSAA sponsored event and the other three schools in the opening games tonight had school today, it is highly likely that the tournament may go on as scheduled.

On the other hand the opening track meet may not go on because there are 80 kids involved, traveling a long distance in an event that is easily rescheduled.

I thought maybe some explanation might help. Sometimes the public doesn't get to see some of the issues involved in these things.

The decisions will probably be made close to 11:00 AM.


Wawasee is closed on March 1. We might have been able to handle the snow accumulation, but the high winds keep glazing over the roads. We slid through numerous intersections and missed several turns in our journeys this morning.

With 20-30 hour winds, conditions are not likely to look different in two hours so there is no point in calling a delay to see if things improve. Sometimes that will work....probably not today.

Make-up days get added on at the end of the year now. :-(