The Art of Walking


Have you ever braked to let someone cross the street in front of you only to have them stroll or sachet, taking their sweet time while your knuckles clench the steering wheel as you rapidly lose patience and grind your teeth?  We all have.  If you ride with my friend Eric you will hear him say (not-so-under his breath), “Knees to chest, friend!  Knees to chest!”

Recently I attended church with Eric’s girlfriend, Lora.  As we were making our way out of the sun-filled parking lot, we found ourselves stuck at an intersection witnessing what Lora described as The White Woman Waddle:  The Ultimate Display of Entitlement.

Continue reading “The Art of Walking”

Rules, Shmules!

rulesToday is the last day of the Georgia legislature, and I am ever the optimistic populist.  So if you are watching from home, or from the galleries and have a bit of confusion about what’s going on, I thought it might be helpful to have your own copy of the Rules.

House Rules

Senate Rules

Click on the links above and you will find the rules governing the chambers.  The Senate Rules are online at, but the House Rules were updated back in 2013 and never made it back online.  With the gracious assistance of a transparency-loving House member, I scanned and copied the above for your reading pleasure/assistance before you head to sleep.

While these are the Rules governing the chambers, it would also be helpful to note that the House’s parliamentary procedure most closely follows the American version of Robert’s Rules of Order and the Senate more closely follows Mason’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure.  I’m a fan of Robert’s, but Mason’s was explicitly designed for state legislatures.

Here’s NCSL’s take on the differences.

Now the key portions to pay attention to are terms like “germane”, “engrossment”, and paying attention to which floor votes are performed by a show of hands.  These procedures are what make the action on the floor more interesting and volatile.  Transparency is not the populace’s friend on Sine Die, and so I would encourage all Georgians to come out after work to watch the floors, if you want to really know what happens.

Want real time floor notes?  Twitter is your friend.

Senate Press

House Floor Notes

You can also get feedback from individuals and media on legislation by following #gapol on Twitter.

Happy Sine Die, all!

Young Harold Hills in Education

Think men....thinkI’ve been in the education biz for 23 years.  Now that I have officially called myself out for being really old, I have a point to make.  What is UP with districts hiring educational experts who have little to no classroom experience?  We got a bunch of Harold Hills coming into school districts with really nothing more than pretty talk, big ideas, and “The Think System”.

Doctors put in a bajillion hours of field experience, and lawyers work like dogs and tote partners’ brief cases for three to five years before they get a good case.  Business men and CEOs, accountants and others really do pay their dues before they are afforded the corner office with a window.  Even the McDonalds worker has to run the cash register and empty trash before s/he goes into middle management.

Somehow, though, someone decided that school and district leaders don’t really need that.  Someone decided that theory was enough; that The Think System is really going to work in closing the achievement gap.  That’s all it is, too: theory not steeped in practice because no one sticks around long enough to actually make the plan or the practice work. But that is the trend.  Spend, oh, I don’t know, three years in the classroom, and you are qualified to run a school.  And after you run that school for, oh I don’t know, three years, you are then qualified to run a school district, and not even a small one.

Fulton County Schools is doing just that, hiring a superintendent from Oregon with three years classroom experience…in one school and at one grade level.  This guy, Dr. Jeff Rose, is taking the helm at the second largest school district in the state of Georgia with three years classroom experience.  And he’s been hired to close the achievement gap with those three years of experience…in one school and at one grade level. I wonder what Alvin Wilbanks, the patriarch of Georgia Superintendents, thinks about this.

I haven’t asked Dr. Wilbanks, but I’m wary.  No, I’m reticent.  When I was coming up, the principal’s job was something that was awarded teachers who did their time, were excellent in content and pedagogy, and who were steeped in the community.  That’s where the best teachers, who did their time, went to die.  They had the experience in the classroom to understand that teaching is hard, and kids are different.  They had the experience in the schools to know that some parents are just more difficult than others, and the experience to know that some teachers can be straightened out with a stern conference, not a letter of direction.  They knew that central office was only for those who retired and were wooed back from retirement into the fold.  They had the experience to see education for what it is, warts and all.

Nowadays, counties are hiring these young pups who have little to no classroom experience and the same degree pedigree that I have, except my degrees came from real live universities (they didn’t have online education back in the day…and the Broad Institute for Superintendents is sketchy…sketchy I say!).

How are these youngins going to know the ropes or deal with the real life things that happen in school?  How can anyone without boots on the ground, nights in trenches, late practices, rehearsals, mock trials, rivalry games, or open houses know what it’s like in education?  They don’t. They think they do.  They have the theory, the think system.  They come in, make grandiose promises, and then high tail it out of town for the next Professor Hill to come in with a new plan, some new system, with little experience, and with no plans to stick around.

And the achievement gap remains.  And the kids still suffer from grown folk Harold Hills and hubris.

Teach Your Children Well


Last week, my boy child brought home a flier in his very boy backpack (i.e.: smelly, unorganized, with snacks from before Christmas in there) about bullying and a school-wide effort to stop it.  After smoothing the flier out and flicking jelly off of it, we sat down at dinner to discuss what bullying. We talked about using our kind words and gentle hands and feet; we discussed that everyone is different and special…yes, even his sister.

The next morning I heard a voice from the television that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I wasn’t sure if it was Sponge Bob or The Donald, as both have the same effect on me.  So I go to the source, and it’s a news piece depicting some pretty heavy vitriol from The Donald.  The television went off immediately.

After some bickering about being allowed to watch the news on weekdays, I had to explain that it wasn’t appropriate viewing for said weekday.   A pair of big brown eyes looked at me, and a precious little mouth said, “Is Donald Trump going to get in trouble?  I got sent to Mrs. Winters’ office for not using my kind words.  She fussed at me forever! What’S HE gonna get?”

Parenting moment number 875,000 that’s not in books:  How to explain the horrid behavior of an adult who wants to lead the free world but doesn’t use his kind words?  I told my boy that Mr. Trump may not get into trouble like kids do, but that his words would come back to haunt him. “How will that happen?”  I had no idea.  “I’ll get back to you on this, okay?”

The more I thought about my boy’s questions and the actions of the men who want to be the Grand Old Party nominee, the less sage advice I had.  All I could think of was that these men are ruining our kids! And I was party to it by allowing them to watch the news.

We preach being kind, but these guys are bashing each other.

We have no tolerance for violence in our schools, but the news is filming adults hitting each other over politics.

We ask that our kids be kind, but they see adults hurling insults at each other like the neighborhood boys in a pissing match.

I never, in all of my life, would have thought that having my children watch political newscasts would turn into a moral lesson on being kind. I understand music videos, violent movies, and all the other stuff that we shield our kids from, but a political debate???

All of them need to be sent to Mrs. Winters’ office for a stern talking to because they are breaking all the rules that we teach our children in school and in life. We have moved from the POTUS being a position of class and deportment to being a position of thug, to a classless schoolyard brawl, to a debate on the size of one’s penis.

Children hear this, and they see this.  How can any of these Republican Candidates even take themselves seriously if a six year old thinks they are a bunch of bullies who need to be sent to the principal? So I called Mrs. Winters; maybe she can help get these boys in line.

Mike Griffin: The Baptist Who Will Call You Hitler at the Liquor Store

white patentIt seems that Mike Griffin has finally pissed off Baptists other than just me.  Even the white patent shoe wearing, floppy-Bible-toting stock get irritated when you compare them to a totalitarian.

Aaron Gould Shenin of the AJC quotes members from the floor in his post, identifying his comparison of lawmakers to Hitler as beyond the pale.  There are many more Baptists than those quoted at the Capitol, many who have long considered Griffin to be Satan incarnate, but I am rather glad to invite others to the party.  All are welcome at this table!

On the matter of being Baptist: I have been and cannot imagine myself to ever separate from the title of Baptist, no matter how many Mike Griffins, Jerry Falwells, or Westboro Baptists there may be.  In addition to that preference, I also have always loved my scotch neat, I rarely miss a chance to break it down on the dance floor, have been and will forever be solidly pro-choice, and as for my card playing abilities? My middle school girl friends can vouch for the repercussions of our serious games of five card draw.

If you are of the misconceived notion that Baptists are unilaterally characterized by the opposite of the above mentioned actions, I am here to tell you Baptist is a big, broad tent that welcomes sinners of all stripes.  Like all Christians, we believe devoutly in the salvation of our souls given mercifully and unconditionally by God.  There are some who believe in the sacrificial atonement of sins in the death of Jesus the Christ, and there are some who do not.  Yet Baptists go further beyond the belief of merciful salvation and are somewhat unique in our deeply held convictions around full immersion baptism and regarding a term called congregational polity, where every church is self-governed, autonomous from the fold as a whole, and independent.  Quakers, Puritans, and many of the congregational churches created in the American colonies were cut from this cloth.  Unitarian Universalists, some synagogues, and mosques employ a version of this as well, but Baptists are often the denomination to be identified with this in mainstream Protestantism.

For this reason alone I have deeply held convictions against ANYONE saying they represent all Baptists.  We are organized differently for this VERY reason.  So for Mr. Griffin to assert he speaks for “us” is to be not only challenging to comprehend, it is organizationally impossible. Continue reading “Mike Griffin: The Baptist Who Will Call You Hitler at the Liquor Store”


Ah, March!  The trees are blooming, the grasses are greening, the azaleas are getting ready to pop, and the dogwoods are budding. There is nothing more beautiful to me than spring in Georgia. But now I have little people, and with the pretty stuff comes the really ugly stuff.  Testing Season (n):  that time of year when all learning stops, when kids have to be quiet all the time, when the “drill and kill” begins, and when students, teachers, and parents shed many tears and gnash many teeth.

There has been so much demand for teacher accountability and teacher blood, really, that our legislators have literally thrown the baby out with the bathwater when it comes all these tests and what they do do to our students and their love of learning.  Does testing make teachers accountable?  Maybe. I believe it shames them more than makes them accountable.  Does it do anything to instill the love of learning in our kids?  Not. At. All. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it makes them hate school.

I believe that on any given day, teachers are doing the best that they can with the materials they are given (students are materials in this, too…blah blah blah; they are).  There are some children who wake up on the morning of test day, pencils sharpened, with visions of sitting for hours on end so they can click some buttons on a test that has not been proven reliable; I haven’t met any of these fine children yet, and I doubt I will.  They may exist…somewhere.

But, what happens if a normal child wakes up and feels badly?  What happens if the alarm goes off late, and the whole house is in chaos just to catch the bus?  What if the milk went bad, the dog is sick, the grandparent is sick, or, god forbid, the parent is sick? What if the goldfish, Sushi, died?  All of these things affect how a child performs on a test, which, in turn, affects how the teacher is evaluated.  And this doesn’t include the apathetic testers like the ones borne to me.

Some personal experience as to how a child can skew ruin a lovely teacher’s test average:  See, the girl child is what educators call “average”.  YES!  MY KID IS AVERAGE.  She’s in the 50th percentile in just about everything when she takes her tests seriously.  When she doesn’t, she pops down between the 2nd percentile and the fourteenth percentile (meaning that pretty much everyone in the free world is doing better than my kid is).  And her poor teacher, who I believe to be one of the best teachers I’ve encountered, is going to be punished because my changeling child may or may not take the test seriously.  There aren’t any repercussions for my kid, either.  Summer school?  Excellent!  Free day care!  That may prove to her that she should try harder next time, but as the wind blows, so does her apathy, and she may decide this summer that she’s not interested in trying then, either.

Who gets punished? The teacher! The student should be punished, really, with those nasty natural consequences, but the state of Georgia won’t punish the kids; they just want to punish the teachers. “The parents vote,” they say (I think they forgot about that little piece of voting in the 90s when Roy Barnes was all but tarred and feathered, but I digress).

While we ponder on testing variables, unreliability, and apathetic fifth graders, we could also bring up the fact that America spends 1.7 BILLION DOLLARS on testing.  That is a boat load of a lot of zeros.  In fact, if we took all that accountability blood money and divided it by all of the states, we would have 34 Million in Georgia’s coffers.  So there’s all this money tied up in testing, and for what?  So that my kid can decide whether to take the test seriously or not?  So that we can put a Scarlet F on teacher certificates and publicly shame them?

I’d just as soon take some Claritin and go outside…with my little people…and let them play the way little people should play.