Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Choice is yours

When you have children many people decide to live in certain areas based on the school district and of course much can change in their local school in the 5 years their little precious snowflake comes of age but overall the district itself is a large factor in home purchases. And this may explain white flight or the move to suburbia to defend or explain why many families end up moving out of urban areas other than the just having bigger homes.

The factor that weighs heavily is the issue of "school choice" and this issue seems to confuse people even those in education. I had to explain this to a young man (yes a Barista) who is studying to be a Teacher as he fully did not understand the concept.

Well Clarissa let me explain that to you. School choice allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs—whether that’s to a public school, private school, charter school, home school or any other learning environment parents choose for their kids.

Here in Tennessee that choice runs to 80. Yes 80 and we have yet to add vouchers to the mix. And as I explained this to the future Teacher that causes a brain drain, competition and in turn funding problems that lead schools to compete, do less with less, force PTA's to do fund schools or schools to close as they fail to meet enrollment and in turn expectations to reach State level standards for funding.  And here in Tennessee that means that they are then turned over to charters under the law or that of the Achievement School District for the purpose of turnaround. What that means is unclear but supposedly the same Board that oversees the public schools are to do so with Charters up to a point, the point being that the approve them and that is the extent of oversight. Any charter despite being funded with public taxpayer dollars is exempt from oversight and compliance to federal and state laws regarding education standards, such as those regarding disability or other issues that federal state schools must comply with in regards to their own State Constitutional standards.

The Red Queen, Betsy DeVos, supports this idea and is well largely a lunatic with an agenda.  An oddly seemingly standard that defines the Trump Cabinet. so at least there is one thing consistent with Trump - a willingness to work with crackpots.

This article may explain the concept of school choice in ways that show how confusing and in turn debilitating it is to a community to have this much confusion when it comes to providing education for its young.

What taxpayers should know about the cost of school choice

By Valerie Strauss The Washington Post January 26

School choice proponents often attack their critics by saying that anyone who doesn’t support choice programs — charter schools, voucher programs, tax scholarship credits — love the status quo and don’t care that children are trapped in failing traditional public schools.

So let’s stipulate from the start:

*There are some perfectly awful publicly funded traditional public schools and some severely troubled districts, especially in America’s cities. Kids shouldn’t be trapped in them.

*There are some great charter schools, which are publicly funded but run privately, some of them by for-profit companies. In some cities, some charters provide better experiences than the traditional public school.

*All choice supporters aren’t interested in destroying the traditional public system, and no supporter of the traditional public system that I have ever heard of thinks the traditional schools don’t need improvement.

Now let’s move on.

School choice proponents say that the programs they support do a better job of educating students and that parents have a right to choose the schools they want for their children. Some choice supporters have voiced support for more oversight of charter schools, but the overall thrust of the movement is for expansion of choice, not oversight.

Critics say that charter and voucher schools do not do a better job than traditional schools overall, that they reduce resources traditional districts need to improve and educate the vast majority of America’s schoolchildren who attend them, that they are not held to the same standards as traditional schools and that they are not accountable to the public.

President Trump has promised to expand school choice — and the Republican-led Congress wants to do the same. Trump has nominated a choice advocate, Betsy DeVos, as his education secretary, who is seen by critics as seeking to privatize public education, though her supporters say she isn’t.

This is School Choice Week, a time when organizations that promote charter schools and/or vouchers and/or tax scholarship credits stage literally thousands of rallies (21,392 to be exact, according to the week’s own website) across the country to let Americans know how great school choice programs are. Do not expect to hear, at any of these, about this:

From the Los Angeles Times:

Federal agents raided the offices of a network of Los Angeles charter schools Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement. The charter organization, Celerity Educational Group, opened its first L.A. school more than a decade ago, but it has recently drawn the scrutiny of the inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. It currently manages seven schools in Southern California, and has ties to four more in Louisiana. …

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security confirmed their involvement in the raid on the charter organization’s headquarters, as did a spokeswoman for the FBI’s field office in L.A.

The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Education is also involved, according to well-placed law enforcement sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

Or this, from 7News in South Carolina:

An investigation by the S.C. Office of Inspector General revealed fiscal mismanagement by former High Point Academy CEO and Superintendent Lori Manning.

Manning was suspended by the charter school’s board during the investigation in July. She resigned in October.

The OIG began investigating after receiving a complaint of alleged mismanagement and conflicts of interest involving Manning.

Those are just two of many recent stories of investigations into problems at charter schools across the country that underscore big problems with the sector in some states that choice boosters don’t like to highlight when telling the public about their successes. Of course traditional public schools and districts have serious problems, too, but charters were sold to the public — by Republicans and Democrats — as a solution.

In this post, Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal, writes about the costs of school choice that proponents don’t like to talk about. Burris is now executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group, the Network for Public Education. She was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has been writing about the problems of corporate school reform — school choice and standardized test-based accountability systems — and wrote a series for this blog about the troubled charter sector in California.

By Carol Burris

It is School Choice Week, the time that true believers in “free market” education celebrate charter and online schools, home-schoolers and vouchers/tax credit programs that use public money to pay for private and religious school tuition. They don’t talk much about traditional public schools as a choice for parents.

School Choice Week represents PR work at its best. Throughout the week, some politicians will promise parents that any kind of school they want is okay — and the taxpayers will be happy to foot the bill.

The truth is, however, American taxpayers cannot afford to run the multiple systems of K-12 education that the “choicers” desire, nor would it be in the best interest of children to do so.

We have been experimenting with taxpayer-funded choice for two decades, and the evidence is clear. We have wasted billions in tax dollars, with no comprehensive evidence that charters, online schools and vouchers have resulted in increased academic performance of American students.

It is time we have an honest discussion about the true cost of school choice. It is a policy with steep fiscal consequences for our communities and our nation. Here is what every taxpayer should know:

Billions of federal tax dollars have poured into charter school promotion, without regard for success and with insufficient oversight.

By 2015, the federal government spent more than $3.7 billion to boost the charter sector — with millions wasted on financing “ghost schools” that never opened. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Michigan spent $3.7 million of its federal dollars on 25 “ghost” schools. In California, more than $4.7 million federal dollars went to charter schools that shut down in a few years. And the flow has not stopped. In 2016, the federal government poured another $333 million to push charter schools, yet put forth no reforms to prevent waste. The same year the Department of Education’s own Inspector General warned of “the current and emerging risk” that is posed by charter management organizations for fraud and abuse.

Some charter schools spend more tax dollars on administration and less on teaching.

Most taxpayers want their tax dollars to go to the classroom for teaching and learning. Yet time and again, some charters spent far more than public schools on administration. In 2014-2015, Arizona charter schools spent over $128 million more than Arizona public schools on management costs. One charter chain, Basis, spent nearly $12 million on administrative costs in one year, for fewer than 9000 students — all hidden from public review.

Jim Hall, of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability, researched the largest national charter for-profit management chains in Arizona — Imagine Inc. and Leona Group LLC. According to Hall these two chains “have the lowest classroom spending in the state, and spent $28,000,000 more on management fees and real estate than in the classroom last year.” Hall will be issuing a report giving the details of Leona’s $30 million 2007 real estate deal that created huge mortgages on charter schools that are now declining in enrollment. “They have schools where the mortgage is $800,000 and instruction spending is under $200,000. “

Imagine manages charters in 11 states. Leona Group, LLC has charters in five states.

This is not an Arizona problem. In New Jersey, charter school administrative expenses are nearly $1,000 per pupil higher than those of district schools, with twice as many budgeted dollars going to management. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute determined that the dual system of district and charter schools in Newark alone added $10.5 million in unnecessary overhead, a pattern repeated in other cities. A study of costs in Pennsylvania found that charters spend double on administrative costs when compared with public schools.

Charter schools drain tax dollars from your community schools.

In many states, public school districts must pay tuition for every student who chooses a charter, regardless of the quality of the home public school or the receiving charter school. For example, the Rockville Centre School District in New York pays $19,200 per student to any charter a student who lives in the district decides to attend. In Amagansett, New York, the charter tuition rate is a whopping $58,000 per student. You can find the charter tuition rates that New York Districts must pay here.

Exorbitant tuition rates, unrelated to charter costs, are paid in Pennsylvania as well. The New Hope-Solebury School District, for example, pays nearly $19,000 for every general education district student that elects to go to a charter school, and almost $40,000 for every special education student. The superintendent of Bethlehem Schools, Joe Roy, estimated that he could save taxpayers $20,000,000 a year if students in charters came back to the district.

A New York State Education Department funded research study found that the Albany school district lost $23.6 million to $26.1 million, and the Buffalo district lost $57.3 million to $76.8 million, to charter schools in one year alone. Charter school growth cost Nashville’s public schools more than $300 million over five years’ time.

Whether charters receive funding from the district, or directly from the state, the costs of running an additional school system are passed on to taxpayers. In the case of district funding, this directly results in fewer resources for public school students.

Vouchers drain state tax dollars, creating deficits, or the need for tax increases.

When Indiana started its voucher program, it claimed it would save taxpayers money. Not only did that not happen, the state’s education budget is now in deficit, and the millions shelled out for vouchers grows each year. Last year, vouchers cost the taxpayers of Indiana $131.5 million as caps and income levels were raised. Indiana now gives vouchers to families with incomes as high as $90,000 and to students who never attended a public school. Some families had 90 percent of their private school’s tuition cost paid.

Louisiana’s voucher system gives over $5,000 a child to the private school. That money is not well spent. Participating students’ scores dropped “precipitously in their first year of attending private school,” according to the Brookings Institution. The schools had to take the voucher as full tuition, and not every private school participated, making the program a cash cow for substandard, private schools in need of income.

We cannot afford to pay private school tuition. A 2002 conservative estimate for a national voucher program could cost as much as $73 billion. It should also be noted that the vast majority of voucher programs allow participating private schools to reject students based on numerous factors, including religion, socio-economic status, gender, academic achievement, sexual orientation, discipline history and even disability.

Charter schools and voucher schools have minimal transparency and limited accountability. That lack of transparency results in scandal and theft.

While some states such as Massachusetts tightly control charter school growth and have strong regulations, in many states charters are virtually unregulated. Many allow for-profit schools or for-profit management companies of charters. Even when for-profit charters are not allowed, unscrupulous individuals find it easy to steal or misuse taxpayer dollars. Here is a sample of recent charter scandals.

A former Delaware charter school principal was recently charged with embezzlement. Noel Rodriguez used $127, 866 of school money to make personal purchases including a washer and a dryer. He also used taxpayer money to pay fees for sexual harassment lawsuit and to give arbitrary bonuses to staff. In This past November, another Delaware charter school administrator pleaded guilty to embezzling $161,871 from his school.

The Assistant director of Academics of a Lakeland, Fla., charter school stole $100,000 from her school to go on vacations and buy personal items that included a fat buster, a portable urine funnel and an $85 dollar “nit wit” beanie. An Atlanta charter school founder stole $800,000 from his school.

In Texas, Annette and Alsie Kluff were arrested by the FBI for stealing 2.6 million from their three charter schools. In California, a public school superintendent was convicted of a felony for “cashing in” from opening charter schools outside of his district. An Ohio woman used nearly $89,000 she was given to start a charter for herself including the purchase of a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz.

The Las Vegas Quest Preparatory Academy is being investigated for shady real estate dealings between the board and the Chartered for Excellence Foundation, which was the landlord of the property rented to the school. The foundation paid $27,066 for a property it leased back to the school for nearly $42,000. Buying properties at a low price and then leasing them at a high price to charter schools is one of the most common schemes to profit from taxpayer dollars.

A North Carolina charter is being investigated for issuing fake diplomas. An Ohio charter did not repay the state nearly half a million dollars after it lied about enrollment. And the online California Virtual Academy reached what California state officials said was a $168.5 million settlement with the state over claims that it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success (though the parent company of the school said it had done nothing wrong and that the size of the settlement was exaggerated).

I think readers get the idea.

What makes all of the above more alarming is that it is not even close to an exhaustive list. The above is a small sample of charter scandals that have taken place in the past year and a half.

A report on charter fraud, waste and abuse published by the Center for Popular Democracy in May of 2016 concluded:

The number of instances of serious fraud uncovered by whistle blowers, reporters, and investigations suggests that the fraud problem extends well beyond the cases we know about. Based on the widely accepted estimate of the percentage of revenue the typical organization loses to fraud, the deficiencies in charter oversight throughout the country suggest that federal, state, and local governments stand to lose more than $1.8 billion in 2016, up from $1.4 billion in 2015.

Voucher schools are not without their own scandals.

One Milwaukee voucher school that received millions of tax dollars was led by a convicted rapist.

Indiana lawmakers passed a state school voucher program — with help from then governor Mike Pence, who is now the U.S. vice president — promising that it would help poor and lower-middle class families find schools they like for their childrenbut as it turned out, five years after it began, more than half of the state’s voucher recipients have never attended Indiana public schools and many vouchers are going to wealthier families, those earning up to $90,000 for a household of four.

The Washington Post published a 2013 story detailing issues at private schools that accepted public funds from the federally funded voucher program approved by Congress for the nation’s capital. It said in part:

[A] Washington Post review found that hundreds of students use their voucher dollars to attend schools that are unaccredited or are in unconventional settings, such as a family-run K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted Deanwood residence, and a school built around the philosophy of a Bulgarian psychotherapist.

I suspect that Betsy DeVos and her followers would say that all of the above is the price we must pay to keep charters free of regulations. But if regulations are the problem, and deregulation the solution, why don’t the “choicers” push to deregulate public schools? Shouldn’t their creativity be unleashed as well?

The reason they do not is obvious. For “choicers,” the marketplace is the first love. Contemporary, extreme conservatism sees government as having only two functions — policing and defense. True believers do not want communities assuming the responsibility of educating children; they believe that education is the responsibility of the family. And if the child does not have a responsible or wise advocate, or falls prey to a fraudulent scheme, well, Annie, it’s a hard-knock life.

In her open letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander, which questions the senator’s support for DeVos, education historian and public education advocate Diane Ravitch had the following to say:

It seems strange to return to the early 19th century, when children attended religious schools, charity schools, charter schools, were home-schooled, or had no education at all. This is not “reform.” This is backsliding. This is wiping out nearly two centuries of hard-won progress toward public schools that enroll boys and girls, children of all races and cultures, children with disabilities, and children who are learning English.

It is strange indeed. And how outrageous it is that the American taxpayer is footing the bill for this folly.

Take One and Don't Call Me in the Morning

The Opioid crisis has largely been blamed on the rise of prescription pain killers by Physicians as both dealer and enabler in this 15 minute consult/treat and medicate plan that defines care.

We know that in genuine cases those people of color are rarely given the same medications let alone treated and diagnosed the same as those who are white so that may explain that.   However the exceptions seem to be with regards to Medicaid patients, especially those of color and in turn many women who are also pregnant are frequently given medications that are ironically outlawed and often lead to positive in drug tests and arrests for violations in local laws and statutes.  Gender and color are largely a new problem when it comes to the drug war.

Women have long been the drug induced patients beginning in the 60s and especially the 70s when it came to Valium and other mood altering drugs to alleviate "hysteria" "menopause" or whatever other mental illness that they were conveniently diagnosed with.  Not much has changed there. The same with the elderly and over medicating, all paid via Medicare so it covers the bill so why care.

But not all addicts begin through a prescription pad and the growth of this epidemic is akin to the crack one of the 80s and it often has to do with systemic problems in the larger community, be it economics, isolation, abuse that lead people to find ways to alleviate the "pain" of living.

I loathe Doctors, trust them as much as Police and frankly would like to avoid them both. But when I am literally forced to go I want them to listen to me. They don't and that is the first problem. This is just another way of them alleviating responsibility.  It is all just hide the peanut under the walnut when it comes to medical care.

This physician wants her patients to use fewer medications

By Ranit Mishori  The Washington Post January 28

There was nothing unique about that patient encounter except that it was my first appointment of 2017 and everyone at the office was buzzing about their New Year’s resolutions.

It went like this:

Me: “Are you taking all of your medications?”

Patient: “Yes, of course.”

Me: “Okay, let’s review them. Do you remember what they are?”

Patient: “I am not sure, but they are all here.” (Patient hands me a plastic bag brimming with orange pill bottles, boxes and over-the-counter containers.)

Me (in my head): Oh, brother!

That’s when I made my resolution: In 2017, I will try to tip the balance: I will not only try to write fewer prescriptions, I will also try to get more of my patients off their drugs altogether.

[My doctors prescribed pain meds but couldn’t help me get off them]

The “why” was obvious to me: Too many patients are taking too many drugs, for too long, in too-high doses, suffering harmful effects.

The “how”? That was less obvious. Starting in the second year of medical school (course name: Pharmacology) and continuing through residency training and beyond, doctors are taught how to prescribe drugs.

Here’s some of what we learn: which drugs are best for different conditions (for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, pain and so on); which antibiotic is best for which type of infection; what are the most beneficial dosages and how frequently should certain drugs be taken; what is the best route for certain drugs (oral, rectal, IV); what the common side effects of most drugs are; which drugs are better for children, which for adults. There is much to know, and doctors have to stay up-to-date constantly, on old and new medications, recalls, generics, brand names, warning labels.

This is important, of course. Drugs have an important place. But rarely do we teach young doctors — that is one of the things I do now — how and when to deprescribe a drug. Doing so is not as simple as saying “stop.” Deprescribing is its own process, requiring extreme caution and a certain skill on the part of the physician. It is a skill, however, that is not being taught, and it is barely studied to develop best practices.

And that hurts patients, because few drugs are meant to be used forever, and all have potential to cause harm. For some drugs, those harms include addiction — much in the news these days — especially in the case of opioids, some anti-anxiety medications and certain sleeping aids. Cutting down on some of these drugs needs to be done very gradually and carefully.

Some people simply take medications for too long: Take certain heartburn medications (called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs) for more than the recommended two weeks, and you risk pneumonia, intestinal infections, broken bones and vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Some people outgrow their medication: They change their lifestyle, and their diabetes, cholesterol or high blood pressure medications may not be needed anymore. But they keep taking them, because no one told them to stop.

But it’s my patient with the bag of medications who illustrates the situation most acutely: an older adult who is prescribed too many medications, by too many physicians, all at the same time, even if all are given for legitimate reasons.

“Polypharmacy” is the name we give to prescribing patients five or more medications at the same time.

Why is that problematic? First of all, drugs are chemicals that can interact with one another, potentially causing all kinds of complications that may not be apparent if you just take the one medication. Second, the aging process causes the kidneys and liver to be less efficient in processing medications. That often leads to more of the drugs sticking around in the body and magnifying their effects — and side effects. Polypharmacy has been shown to contribute to higher rates of hospitalizations and death and — of course — to higher costs.

The problem is widespread: According to some studies, about 20 percent of adult patients are routinely on five or more drugs, and in people older than 65, between 30 and 70 percent are treated with polypharmacy. In nursing homes and other residential facilities, that rate goes up to 90 percent.

Most patients — 89 percent, in one recent study of polypharmacy — have told researchers that they would be interested in stopping a medication if their physician agreed that was the right course of action.

So what can we physicians do?

First, we need to appreciate the scale of the problem and the potential harm of polypharmacy.

We need to recognize that there are professional and cultural norms that push us to prescribe (rather than find other solutions) and to overprescribe.

We doctors need to get out of our comfort zone. Yes, it is easier to keep somebody on a medication and just keep refilling it when the pharmacy calls, but is it better for the patient?

We need to get over our fear of causing harm by deprescribing. That’s not an irrational fear, of course. Indeed, many medications (for example, anti-depression medications, some high blood pressure drugs and steroids) need to be stopped gradually because stopping abruptly can be dangerous.

We also need to make sure we are treating the patient, not the disease. That means considering whether and what to prescribe while taking into consideration the patient’s age, other health conditions and overall life expectancy. As doctors, we need to ask ourselves, for example: For an 87-year-old woman with metastatic cancer, should I prescribe a medication to lower her cholesterol level? The answer is probably no: It is highly unlikely that the patient would benefit from this drug and very likely that she would suffer from harms caused by the drug and its interactions with her other medications.

Common classes of medications that are good candidates for deprescribing include:

● Anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines, which can contribute to cognitive impairment, delirium, falls (and related injuries), breathing problems and motor-vehicle accidents.

● Atypical antipsychotics, which are often used to treat psychosis and, in the elderly, dementia.

● Anti-cholesterol statins, which can cause muscle problems, cognitive impairment and a higher risk of diabetes. Statins also have a high risk for interaction with other medications and certain foods. Given that the benefits of statins are long term, they are not needed for elderly patients.

● Tricyclic antidepressants, which are used for depression and dementia. These are not recommended in the elderly but are often used nonetheless, causing side effects or harms that can include low blood pressure (which contributes to falls and fractures), heart arrythmias and other disturbances, delirium, difficulty urinating, dry mouth and constipation.

● Proton pump inhibitors, mentioned above.

Knowing which classes of drugs require special attention is important, but it is not enough. How to do it effectively, efficiently and with the lowest chances of harm is still anybody’s guess. We need researchers to help us by discovering and evaluating the best discontinuation protocols.

There is also a big-picture issue here: Deprescribing requires a lot of thought and planning. There are many more incentives for doctors to prescribe a medication than to stop one. Insurers and payers need to create incentives to allow primary-care physicians to spend adequate time with our patients to get them off drugs and carefully monitor their response when a medication is withdrawn in a supervised manner.

For my part, I am going to try to do that in 2017.

Mishori is a professor of family medicine and the director of the Health and Media Fellowship in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Advice for patients

Before you throw all those pill bottles into a plastic bag and bring them to your doctor’s office, consider posing these questions to your physician:

● What is this medication, and why am I taking it?

● Are there non-pharmacologic options to treat this condition?

● How long do I need to be on it?

● What are the benefits of continuing to take it?

● What are the possible harms of using that medication?

● Do any of my medications interact with any another?

● Can I lower the doses of any of these medications?

● Which of my medications are more likely to be nonbeneficial considering my age, my other medical conditions and my life expectancy?

● Are there any medications I can get off completely?


I recall when Business was the "it" major and today it is STEM and there is some truth in that but just good old fashioned Math, Physics and Chemistry or Engineering are all quality majors that enable an individual to have flexibility in career choices.

The idea that computer science is all that and a bag of chips I think will go the way of business 2.0 in the immediate future as you cannot study a field that changes in such frequency and still think you are relevant. Ask those who are in their 40s and are being cut from jobs with that as the "reasoning" behind it. Well actually it is age and in fact salary, the irony is that the largest growth in technology came from those who never had said degrees or even related fields of study but they were good with math, design and this thing called ingenuity. Things that lack in our supposed creative entrepreneurial class. I am always shocked at how kids don't even understand the symbol for division nor can perform basic math and multiplication. Oh that is right it is the Teachers fault and technology can fix that. Sure.What.Ever.

The fake claim that a degree gives you "x" when you do "y" is well math. Just that whoever came up with that formula put in their own variables to determine x and y. Gee an aged old equation that has no substance in actual data is always relevant right?  Maybe it is time to do a new study as it looks like the M.B.A is going the way of Liberal Arts.

Wonder what Betsy DeVos thinks?  Does she?  And to think that is the same major that our current "President" has.  Well that might explain it. Well no it doesn't.

Business is the most popular college major, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice

By Jeffrey J. Selingo
The Washington Post
January 28 2017

A few weeks ago, a young woman approached me after I gave a talk about my book on finding a job after college. She was in her mid-20s and unemployed despite applying for dozens of jobs and taking on several unpaid internships. “I majored in business marketing,” she told me, “because everyone said it would lead to a job after graduation.”

She’s not alone in that line of thinking. It’s why business is the most-popular major on college campuses these days. The academic fields that make up undergraduate business — finance, accounting, marketing, management, and general business — account for about one out of every five bachelor’s degrees awarded each year.

But not all business majors are created equal in the job market. Research shows that students who major in general business and marketing are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, meaning they hold jobs that don’t require a college degree. They also earn less than those in more math-focused business majors, such as finance and accounting.

Those gaps exist for all kinds of reasons, but perhaps the most telling is that math-focused business majors tend to work harder while in school than do those pursuing a general business degree. Students majoring in business spend less time studying than anyone else on campus, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement. They also spend less time reading and writing than other majors. One analysis of 10 public four-year universities in Texas found that of the 40 courses needed for a business degree, only one required a writing assignment of 20 or more pages, and only three required assignments of at least 10 pages.

What’s more, the results of national standardized tests, such as the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus, given to freshmen and seniors, found that students who major in business made significantly fewer gains in college in critical thinking, writing and communication, and analytical reasoning than those who studied mathematics, science, and engineering, as well as the traditional liberal arts (philosophy, history, and literature).

Everywhere I go, parents and students ask me for advice about choosing a major. Here’s what I tell them: Find a major that will challenge you to work hard and spend time on specific tasks, such as writing, reading or math programs, and one that will present you with opportunities to learn from the best professors and be surrounded by peers who will constantly challenge you.

Students today are commonly told they should follow their passions and find a mission in life, but very few 18-year-olds or even 22-year-olds have enough experience in the world to know what truly excites them. Pick a major that interests you, but allow it and external experiences to help shape, not dictate, your mission in life.

While you should consider different majors, and you should keep your options open for a while, don’t think you can do anything you want or have all the time in the world to make a decision. Talent and drive matters to success in most majors. You can’t major in physics if you’re terrible at math.

If money is your goal, Tony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, will tell you that a certain group of majors provide a bigger return on investment over a lifetime. The Georgetown center has found in its research that of the 25 highest-paying majors, all but two (economics and business economics) are in STEM fields.

Even so, Carnevale warns students who pick their majors solely on the basis of the expected paycheck not to count their money too quickly. Salaries for specific majors can differ greatly, too. The top quarter earners who majored in humanities or the liberal arts make more than the bottom quarter of engineering majors. Just 22 percent of graduates with degrees in science and math actually get jobs in those fields and utilize their training.

Another study by the Brookings Institution analyzed the market value of the 25 most commonly cited skills listed by alumni of each college in their LinkedIn profiles. It demonstrated that skill development, not your undergraduate major or the college you choose, is most critical to your earnings potential.

Picking a major is not like buying a new car. You can’t easily test-drive a major, unless you plan to stay in college for many more than four years. A major reflects your interests at one moment in your life. Where you end up in a career is the result of a meandering pathway that most college graduates are destined to take after graduation. Some graduates apply their majors to their careers more than others, and some not at all.

Ask anyone working today if they knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives at age 18, and they will probably say they had no idea (if they’re being honest). The longer they have been in the workforce, the less likely it is that they are in a career directly related to their college major.

And if you’re majoring in business and think the undergraduate degree doesn’t matter anyway because you’re going to business school, remember this: business students score lowest of all majors on the GMAT, the entrance exam for most MBA programs.

Close the Door

Within 24 hours after a meeting with the un-elected PM from Britain, Theresa May, Trump went ahead with is ban on Muslims entering the country.

Now I could go on about May's invite to Trump next month for a State visit and my horror of Trump meeting the adorable Prince George let alone any of the Royal Family, but one wonders what actually transpired during their conversations about the "special relationship" between America and Great Britain and if it included banning certain "types" of people, faiths, genders, colors and the idea of seceding from the Global Economy in ways that Britain is attempting to do with regards to the European Union.  It is has to be a coincidence that immediately after her brexit (pun intended) from the White House the next call to be made was to Putin, the lifelong Dictator Autocrat of Russia or what will likely become the U.S.S.R once again that Reagan was so proud of dissolving.  I bet that convo was a lively one. 

I have said we are back to the 70s with a touch of the 80s and none of the good parts - disco and grand nighttime soaps.

I am afraid very afraid.  This is nothing I have ever seen or experienced.  For the first time in my life I think we are living in a third world nation, and the carnage and evil that Trump declared in his inauguration speech was speaking in future tense - an America he desired -  not one in the past or present but one in the future.

I read this yesterday and thought Mr. Cohen speaks the truth and the truth is something that Americans wrestle with.  A trip by the UK Guardian reporter in county's that voted for our new President seemed oblivious to any actual realities with regards to Trump and his team of advisers or as I call his Brain Trust that truly run the country.  They don't read the news, have distrust of the media and well are as ignorant as most Americans are thanks to a consistent under-funding of Education both K-12 and Post Graduate institutions.  Americans are stupid, yes we are.  And by we I mean the royal "we" right Ms. May?

The Closing of Trump’s America

Roger Cohen
The New York Times
Jan 27, 2107

Donald Trump is an ahistorical man. He knows nothing of European history and cares less, as his cavalier trashing of the alliance and union that ushered the Continent from its darkest hours demonstrates.

He knows little enough of American history to have chosen as his rallying cry “America First,” a slogan with a past clouded by allies-be-damned isolationism at the start of World War II. (Or perhaps that’s why he embraced it.)

The president does not even know the history of the C.I.A., as his self-regarding speech before the hallowed Memorial Wall showed. This was desecration of patriotic sacrifice through advanced narcissistic disorder.

He called the speech a “home run.”

Great. Terrific. Phenomenal. Tremendous. Fabulous. Beautiful. How Trump has hollowed out these words. How arid, even nauseating, he has made them. They mean nothing. They are space-fillers issuing with a thudding regularity from his uncurious mind, and in the end of course they are all about him. Emptying words of meaning is an essential step on the road to autocratic rule. People need to lose their bearings before they prostrate themselves.

From Trump’s White House there now seeps a kind of ignorance mixed with vulgarity and topped with meanness that I find impossible to wash from my skin. I wake up to its oleaginous texture.

This is worse than had seemed possible: Trump’s inexhaustible obsession with the crowd size at the inauguration; his constant untruths; his perverse inability to accept that he won the election, to the point that he wants to investigate the popular vote that he lost; his startling lust for torture, walls, banishment and carnage.

“The world is a total mess,” he told David Muir of ABC. Funny, I travel the world and that was not my impression a week ago.

The president does not like Muslims. That, too, is clear. It was obvious when he called during the campaign for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. It was obvious when he showed contempt for the parents of a fallen Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. It is obvious now as he attempts to justify a planned suspension of visas for Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis and citizens of four other majority Muslim Middle Eastern and African countries, as well as a temporary ban on almost all refugees.

A rough translation of “America First” is Muslims last. “It’s not the Muslim ban,” Trump insisted to Muir. No. It’s just a ban on lots of Muslims.

Trump said, in the ABC interview, that the people to be barred “are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.” He declared: “They’re ISIS.”

There is no credible evidence for this wild claim, a smear on entire populations. (Saudi Arabia, the source of most 9/11 terrorists, is unsurprisingly not on the list.)

In their overwhelming majority refugees are fleeing violence in their homelands, not plotting it against the United States. They do not put their little children in dinghies on the high seas because they have a choice but because they have no choice.

Screening to get into the United States is already rigorous, one reason only a tiny fraction of some 5 million Syrian refugees have come here.

A Cato Institute study of refugees admitted to the United States between 1975 and 2015 found that the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion.

This is policy fed by anger and prejudice, not reason. The wall announcement has already provoked a damaging clash with Mexico. The proposed visa and refugee measures are not about keeping America safe. They are conceived to nurture an atmosphere of nationalist xenophobia.

Trump has been right to call jihadi Islamist terrorism by its name. But conflating a religion of 1.6 billion people with it is no way to fight it. As for his promise of safe areas within Syria, we will see.

I am lucky enough to live in Brooklyn Heights with a view out over the East River to lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. So while watching President Donald Trump’s dark inaugural speech a week ago I was able at the same time to glance out at the torch that symbolizes American openness and generosity of spirit.

As Trump’s “AMERICA FIRST,” “AMERICA FIRST” echoed across my living room I thought of Emma Lazarus’ words inscribed on the pedestal of the statue:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Friedrich Trump, a penniless German immigrant, was one of those “huddled masses” back in 1885. Lucky he did not attempt to enter the America taking shape under his grandson.

Over time, but not without struggle, I believe the ideals represented by the torch will prove stronger than Trump’s fear-filled jingoistic darkness. America cannot be itself without these ideals, and Americans will fight to preserve them. It is, after all, how they became who they are.

I think Mr. Cohen says all what I could say about this and does so without the language and vulgarities I use to describe what I have seen and heard this past week.  I have actually never in my life managed to get a full work out in during a press conference that lasted all of 11 minutes and took all of 4 questions.  It was a farce and this Presidency is turning out to be one as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


My brief time in the Nashville Public Schools has not been good.  I take some of that as clearly I was unprepared if not naive to believe I could come in do a job and leave without commitment. I was truly in denial about what people were saying about the schools and simply decided that I knew best and could pretty much deal with it as I had the last decade doing the same job in Seattle for the past decade.  I was wrong.  I don't do well with wrong and that has been the hurdle in which I had to jump and I have fallen more times than I can recall.

I think my real problem is with how I am treated. It falls between utter oblivion to sheer disregard. I am rarely greeted in a positive friendly PROFESSIONAL manner by the Adults so when the kids step into the room I am already in a defense posture.  I am quick to judge by looking at the room, the lack of materials, the disarray, the lesson plans which are largely junk so when I do walk into a room that reflects preparation, organization and is conducive to learning I expect something wonderful to happen then the children walk in and it all falls away.   The damage to them is so severe that they are beyond my scope and scale of experience.  So I fall between utter shame and tragedy to sheer anger and resentment as they are the most unkind, cruel and angry children I have ever met.  So I shut down and hate myself for that response.

I so long for one day to have exchanges with kids that matter, to learn together and find that kid or kids that seem open to learning and want to be more, do more that perhaps that is my problem as it will never happen here.  Those children go to the Private Schools that dominate the landscape here so I must be satisfied with my shitty wages and my shitty treatment until I finish my medical procedures. That can't come soon enough.

And when I read that there is a block of Senators determined to stop the Betsey DeVos Cabinet appointment I was relieved that someone gives a shit as Lamar Alexander, Senator from ironically Tennessee who refuses to see this woman as she is - an exploiter and dilettante - that at least there are some who do realize that our Education system deserves better.

And I read this letter from a Teacher and thought "wow there are good Teachers here who do care and do get it."  I have not met them, okay I have met a couple but that isn't saying much.  Again Tennessee is 47th for Ed funding and the lowest in the nation for Teacher compensation so why they are here makes me think they may be crazy!  This place does that to rational people you ask yourself and question every decision as it is as if I am living in another decade and I have travelled via the Twilight Zone to a new dimension.   It is that bad here.

Her words are right on the money and she says what needs to be said.  But they don't listen here.  They truly don't.  We are fucked without dinner.

Great teachers work best when they work together. TNTeacherTalk is a place for Tennessee teachers to connect, share our stories, and learn from one another. Join us as we discuss the issues affecting Tennessee students, teachers, and communities.

Amanda Arnold

Dear Mr. President: As you begin this journey, please take to heart that education is critical to the success and future of this great nation. “Making America Great Again” is a goal rooted in the future, and that future lies within the students of this nation. Education is one of the most versatile and powerful tools that government possesses. History has relentlessly proven that nations can be built and destroyed by how a government educates its people. Appropriate and effective education empowers the people, but education without clearly defined purposes, ethics, and goals can destroy the same people. Please act upon a vision of education that recognizes the following:

Education can break the cycle of poverty.
Impoverished communities need equal access to quality education, resources, and opportunities.
Students deserve safe, clean, and well maintained schools. Many of our impoverished communities have schools in a state of crisis.
Educational policy should be a problem-solving model based on demonstrated needs and research based results.
Every student is capable of growth, but all students do not academically grow at the same pace.
All students do not reach proficiency at the same rate. Some students need more than four years to achieve high school proficiency. Some students need more challenges within that four years. Schools should not be punished for meeting a student’s needs.
College and career readiness has two parts. Students need career and technical training. Educational policy has abandoned training and educating students for blue collar jobs. Our country needs blue and white collar jobs.
College is not appropriate for every student, but every student who has a desire and the academic ability to pursue that route should have equitable preparedness and the opportunity to do so.
Equitable does not mean equal education. Different students have different needs. Different school districts have different needs. Want to make them great? Meet their demonstrated needs.
Parents want success for students. No parent wants to see his or her student struggle or fail. Strengthen the parents to empower the students.
Hold educators accountable, but give educators the proper support, resources, guidelines, and tools to meet the needs of the students.

Education must prepare a diverse group of talented, well-educated students. The nation needs electricians, business professionals, mechanics, blue and white collar workers. Diversity in talent and developing the skills to meet the needs of those talents can make students successful contributors to society. Successful contributors make a successful society.

Making any country great begins with expectations: the expectation that every student can be successful, the expectation that poverty does not have to be a cycle, the expectation that the right tools in the right hands can change lives. Greatness does not manifest itself the same in every person; it is unique—just like our students. If you want to make America great, make educational opportunity great.


Amanda has taught English at Dobyns­ Bennett High School for the past five years. In that time, Amanda has served as the English 9 Co­Taught Team Leader, English 10 Co­Taught Team Leader, Co­President of the Alpha Zeta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Honor Society for Women Educators and on the Tennessee Digital Learning Team. Throughout her career she has served as a school­-wide Title I coordinator, school-­level testing coordinator and 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant coordinator. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from East Tennessee State University. In 2010, she earned an Educational Specialist degree in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.

Friday, January 27, 2017

And Onto the Next

I wrote in the last post that I took a couple of days off as I was struggling with my views towards children and especially those of color as well as Teachers,  particularly women and those of color during my encounters in Nashville Public Schools.

I have said these are schools of such dysfunction and disorder that I kept thinking that if I tried harder, was more open minded and simply just stopped walking in the door on guard it would be different.  I cannot as I simply do not trust the people here.  There is a type of rage that is so surpressed that you feel it the minute you walk in and with one who is working through their own personal anger it is a formula that simpy doesn't work.

For now this has to work.  I have yet to schedule surgery and have had so many varying problems with regards to health that the flexible schedule works and I have to somehow figure out how to let go and just show up, babysit and walk out.  And on many days I do.  But then I heard about this and thought "there by the grace of God go I."

The incidents of violence and troubles in these schools are just a Google search away. I have been accused of hyperbole when discussing the schools here but then again who actually looks at endless police reports and news on schools in their city?   I do as a matter of recourse and did the same in Seattle for the same reasons I do here, to protect myself.  Clearly one cannot protect oneself enough.

This story is again a demonstration that all the school choice reformers have no clue on how to fix but hey Betsy DeVos maybe they just need more Jesus.  Or that gun that would be used on the errant Grizzly can be used on the crazy kids.  We have seen many Security Officers wrestle, strong arm and taser kids so why not a handgun.  Makes perfect sense.

Then this came today.   The irony is that this was a charter school and that they are supposedly so on task with their kids unless they aren't. And how did the kids have the weapons?  Again gun control an issue in Florida seems to be not one unless it is a terrorist or a lunatic or a kid.  Then again their Governor talking about the shooting at the airport said "these things don't happen in Florida."  Well unless they are in Gay bars or on the streets, Trayvon, or parked cars, or movie theaters. Sure.

The kids were 13 and 14 respectively. They told kids to wear white under the guise that they would not be shot while telling others to remain home. The white shirts were not as signs to exempt them as potential victims,  they were flag.  The kids later told authorities that as blood shows up better on white. Yes its time for me to get the fuck out education. I want nothing to do with it.

Jan 27 2017
Students Sound Alarm and Avert Florida School Massacre

Students at The Villages Charter Middle School in Sumter County, Fla., told educators about a rumor that potentially averted a school shooting.

by Corky Siemaszko
NBC News

A potential tragedy at a central Florida charter school was averted when students sounded the alarm that two of their classmates were planning to "shoot up the school on Friday."

The whistleblowers alerted authorities that the accused teenagers had warned certain students at the Villages Charter Middle School to wear white shirts and say the safety word "Eugene" to avoid getting shot, according to a police report released by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office.

A 13-year-old suspect "was intercepted by authorities as he attempted to arrive" at the school on Wednesday, the sheriff's office revealed in a press release.

"At the time, he acknowledged conversations involving the plot and referenced the mass shootings at Columbine High School," the sheriff's office said.

The teenage suspect also implicated a 14-year-old boy who was "quickly" located at the school, which is located in the town of The Villages, about 60 miles west of Orlando.

"The student informed officials that the two students had planned an attack which included what they would use as a signal to open fire," according to the sheriff's office. "No weapons were found on either of the students or in their bags or lockers."

But firearms were found in the Fruitland Park home of the 13-year-old and in the Wildwood home of his alleged accomplice — one of them an AR-15 assault rifle, according to the police report.

Both students are now charged with conspiracy to commit murder and local law enforcement is breathing a big sigh of relief.

"The Sumter County Sheriff's Office is grateful for those students brave enough to speak out about the plot," the sheriff's office said. "Their heroic actions may have prevented a deadly tragedy and loss of precious lives."

The sheriff's office did not identify the students who went to authorities and the school referred all calls back to law enforcement.

Under questioning, the suspects gave a tearful confession during which the younger teen said he had been depressed, according to the police report.

"I just want to die," he told investigators and insisted he had been joking about staging the shooting.

But under questioning, the teenage suspects also admitted they were supposed to meet at the gym and start shooting.

The signal to open fire? A dropped pencil.

The April 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado by two disgruntled students has been the inspiration for other massacres.

Among them the murders of 20 first-graders and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by another troubled young man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle.

Dumb Broad

I am taking a few days away from Nashville Public Schools as I am having health issues that may be related to them or I am so exhausted from the endless dysfunction I experience it has placed me in a precarious position of asking myself "who am I and what kind of Woman have I become?"

I moved here to find myself again after years of horror in Seattle and I thought miles of country would be one way to accomplish it, as putting distance is one measure, time the other.  It has only been six months and the transition has been challenging, exhilarating and frustrating. 

But as I have said before I do not like the women here at all.  The younger women I have found to be kind and progressive and accepting, that is youth. I have found the young men the same but they share one thing - most are transplants.  And it becomes an almost badge of honor to say, "I'm not from here."  My discussions with most of the locals I find lack in intelligence and in turn humor that one needs to have a vibrant dialog and in turn friendship.

I said to a Barista yesterday that these next few days I just am focusing on my health and writing. I need to step away and out of the schools which I believe distract from the latter and affect the former so it seemed as if it was a good time to do so.   And largely it was because of the two schools I was at earlier this week.  Thankfully I was at a high school on Tuesday and I did not speak other than to get attendance and that ended my encounter and responsibility for the day.  I then walked out and left without the usual stain of rage on my soul.

Monday was the school of horrors that I have already written about where the two boys in "jest' picked up a book and/or chair to fling at me when I offered to be the class pinata in order to move forward.  In 20 years it is something no class has ever done until then.  The two boys were of color, the girl that said I needed a nose job was white but the girl who ratted her out, black.  Then we have the middle school that is down the street from me where a Teacher spoke to me like I was a moron and even the other sub who was black herself even rolled her eyes in response.  It escalated as the Teacher I was covering for was late returning and in turn making me late to cover her class.   So she then yelled out the door to a student to find out where the Teacher was, then yelled to me not to leave until she arrived and that to get a student to get that Teacher out of the bathroom. Okay then. I had to ask to speak to an Admin and sure enough the Teacher kept up the berating in her presence which led to shrugs and nothing more. 

 This was not the first time as this happened at an Elementary school where again a black Teacher late for a meeting arrived to her class, saw me, berated me like a dog in front of her Students and stomped out. All of this was witnessed by the School Secretary who called an Admin to talk to me about this encounter. 

I have repeatedly spoken to Admins about their odd policy of Substitutes both black and white, male and female and a few have concurred that there is a major problem in their schools and little to no support regarding Substitutes, much of it training, experience and of course compensation. When you are paid shit for wages expect shit and that is another reason I need to extricate myself from this farce.

But when I begin to actually analyze and digress over the day I break it all down to race and that is something I have never done before.  I truly see all kids as kids and then I came here.

The most troubling kids are black males followed by Latino ones.  The endless talking, walking around, constant need for attention and disruption is a pattern that is consistently exhibited and seemingly normal as I ask children if "they are always like this."    And then there is the sexual component.  It is nothing that I have ever heard or seen outside a porn film and that crosses gender and age but again largely children of color. 

And by the way all of this is done while smiling, be it adult or child.  I am frequently asked, "are you crying?" by children of color as they are so used to this fake contrived smile that is affixed to their faces as they insult you it is as if you are in a horror film starring Jim Carey.  Again, it is something you have to experience to fully understand.

Girls are a whole other story and often depends on the school. They have asked me if I have had a nose job and disappointed when I said no so to black kids my nose is perfect to white not.  I have been visually dissected  down to the color of my nail polish. A girl faux attempted to sucker punch me, another opened the door and said "I am going to get you you fucking bitch" another who said "you're so cute" in an almost sexually provocative way that at the end of the day I ask myself if I have become a racist as this is something I have never in my life experienced at this level or is this regional/cultural and perhaps I am simply not getting the dynamic here?

I do think it is a little of each. It is raced based and the kids feel compelled to do this to the white lady that is a stranger as there is little to no repercussions. I have had white children do this to some level but nowhere near the same as the kids who are black.  Latino girls simply ignore me and Latino boys the same or they try to posture but rarely direct anything at me personally.  I have had children tell me point blank that the school is this way due to the "black kids" and another say that anyone white who does this is because they are afraid of the "blacks."  So yes this is racism and sadly I find myself agreeing with them but I also know that this because they are poor and that comes first in my thought process. Poverty is the first and primary measure of why children have behavioral problems and the schools here are filled with poor kids to about 85% of their population being kids who qualify for free or reduced lunch. 

But you can only make excuses so long. I truly believe the problems here are systemic and deeply rooted both in culture, economics, race and gender.  This is the old South and nothing will ever change it.  And then I read this and thought well at least this view is everywhere I just chose to ignore it.  We hate women in this country.  We really do and it explains the election, the view of Ms. Clinton by women and the reality is that when women reach a certain age they have already decided your worth and it is unforgiving one. 

And people wonder why I distrust women so much and why I have spent most of my career focusing on young girls.  This is something we really need to understand and what it means to self hate. That is part of this problem and it crosses race and economics.
I am not sure this comforts me but it at least it allows me to forgive myself for being so guarded.

Research shows young girls are less likely to think of women as ‘really, really smart’
By Nick Anderson
The Washington Post
 January 26 2017

Girls as young as 6 years old are less likely than boys to label people of their own gender as “really, really smart,” according to new research that raises questions about how stereotypical notions of male and female mental abilities shape the paths students take in life.

The findings, published Thursday by Science magazine, also show that 6-year-old girls tend more than boys to avoid games said to be for children who are “really, really smart.”

Researchers said their experiments suggest that gender stereotypes about brainpower take root at a pivotal point in childhood — around first grade — and can profoundly influence academic and career choices long afterward.

Small differences in daily choices about games and activities, starting at age 6 or 7, could accumulate over years, leading to life-changing gender gaps in experience and knowledge.

“That might put girls at a disadvantage when pursuing fields that are perceived to rely on brilliance,” said Andrei Cimpian, an associate professor of psychology at New York University who was one of the authors of the study. “That’s worrisome. These beliefs that seem to be present even in young children are the beginning of what might exclude girls from some of the most prestigious jobs in our society.”

Cimpian teamed on the study with Lin Bian, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, and Sarah-Jane Leslie, a philosophy professor at Princeton University.

The findings were based on a series of experiments conducted with hundreds of randomly chosen children in Illinois aged 5 to 7.

In one, children heard a story about a person who was “really, really smart” and then were shown images of four unfamiliar men and women. They were asked to guess which image represented the protagonist. Many of the 5-year-olds, girls and boys, chose an image corresponding to their own gender. But 6- and 7-year-old girls were significantly less likely than boys to do so.

In another experiment, children were presented with two games — one for players who are “really, really smart” and the other for those who “try really, really hard.” Questions about their interest in these games found no gender differences in the one geared toward persistence. But girls were less interested in the one that relied on smarts.

Cimpian said the findings were revealing about young male attitudes. “There’s also an element of boys being overconfident in their smarts,” he said.

The findings could help illuminate the challenge schools face in combating gender stereotypes, even though girls often outperform boys in school. Girls drop out of high school at a lower rate than boys. Women are more likely than men to enroll in college, and they earn more college degrees each year than men.

But educators, business leaders and policymakers are seeking to draw more women into higher-level studies in fields ranging from physics to philosophy. To varying degrees, stereotypes about brilliance, genius or brainpower can hinder girls and women in those and other disciplines.

Images of Albert Einstein or bearded ancient Greeks, reinforced by other notions on gender and braininess conveyed in media, can loom large in the minds of children, adolescents and young adults.

Andrew N. Meltzoff, a psychology professor at the University of Washington who has studied gender stereotypes, likened them to a disease that kids can “catch” through observing other people. He said the new study is “an excellent paper” that contributes to the quest for a cure.

“The stunning fact is that we are role models for our 6-year-olds,” he said. “They want to be ‘like us.’ If we hold stereotypes or biases, they are induced to hold them too. Our children are ‘taking data’ on how the adults in the culture act. Our stereotypes become their stereotypes.”

The Brain Trust

I spend most of my sleepless nights listening to BBC on the wireless as they used to call the radio and it is fitting as we seem to be traveling back in time and not in any good way.

1984 by George Orwell is on the best seller list but I suggest Andrew Jackson by Jon Meacham and Nixonland or Nixon's Secrets or any of the books by Robert Caro about LBJ (sadly there are some relevant comparisons but at least LBJ understood governance);  throw in Animal Farm to balance out the fiction portion.    And of course read any material on Alzheimer's or Dementia as I truly believe that our President is exhibiting some of those symptoms.

So now you have a reading list and it should keep you busy in the next 4 years as both a lesson and distraction as watching or listening to news in real time is akin to living in the Twilight Zone.

I have never heard or seen anything like this and it is simply bizarre to the level of discourse, the contradictions, the blame seeking, bomb throwing, and deflections passed as "alternate truths" I have a sense of foreboding that rivals any episode of said show as at least we had Rod Serling to remind us that fiction was always stranger than truth, until now.

The UNELECTED current Prime Minister Theresa May arrives today to model isolationism and protectionism to the newly elected President who seems to think that despite the fact that he won is there despite his oddly unsubstantiated allegations of Voter Fraud and that his most largest concern was crowd size at this Inauguration, a very important measure of success in office clearly, polls and opinions not so much or then again he would not have won so go figure.  Again a contradiction in terms that somehow explain, validate or excuse what will be the most unusual Presidency in history.  And she arrives despite an internal briefing memo that misspells her name three times  confusing the PM with a  Porn Actress.  Hmm coincidence?

I have tried to understand who is the brains behind this operation.  The Trump Organization was easy as the constant stories of how those finally met the deal maker, passed a gauntlet of his children as the keepers of the gate.  Then when finally admitted the meeting was brief and largely about Trump showing them his trinkets, prizes, awards and what have you then they were promptly ushered out and all deals were then in the hands of the children and Trump's legal crew.  All very in house and very small scale despite the fact of the grand scale of which he bellows or belies to the media.

This pattern emerged this week with David Muir of ABC and his interview with the President in the White House. The grand tour followed by the waving of the letter Obama left as is custom but this is the new trinket du jour and clearly beats Shaq's shoe.  But the actual interview was again short on specifics and long on accusations and promises that will go as many have before under-delivered.

I have tried to figure out the Brain Trust in the White House and the children are rarely in the picture or in prominence as we have seen through the very travels of his first week unless they are the ones clapping at varying speeches, another clear departure from custom - the applause meter.

In Nixon's administration we had the "mans" - Halderman, Erlichman and his personal relationship with Bebe Rebozo.  There were more voices in Nixon's ear than his head which may have been a part of the problem there.

LBJ relied on ego but he had perhaps a more complex and complicated relationship with advisers than many have had before or since and hence why Caro's books are in fact books on LBJ as it takes more than one to understand that man.

Reagan had the most essential guardian, Nancy, but he too had a trust of advisers who were called the Kitchen Cabinet.  Some did move onto and into White House jobs but they were clearly protective and guarded about how those who met Reagan and diligently protected him from exposing the truth about his health to those outside of the inner circle.

Then we have of course the Bush's which we know with W. it was Dick Cheney, with Obama it was Valerie Jarrett but with Trump it is not the in house family, it is the White House family which seems largely Pence. 

I think that Trump's larger group are a confusing lot already in conflict with themselves and their place at the table and in turn with how to run a Government.  Add to that a man who the word "no" is akin to that of a two-year old and the subsequent temper tantrum that follows when the word is issued.

This is the new America and it is not great.

Mike Pence Pulls President Trump’s Strings

Gail Collins
The New York Times
JAN. 26, 2017

Do you think Donald Trump is just Mike Pence’s puppet?

Interesting idea, right? Particularly since the very idea would make our new president totally nuts. Hehehehe.

And it’s possible. Trump is not a man who concentrates on policy issues. So far, the parts of the job that have obsessed him most are crowd size and vote size. And yeah, the wall. But there has to be somebody behind the scenes deciding the non-ego questions. Pass the word that it’s Pence.

The best early evidence is reproductive rights. Not an issue Trump seemed all that interested in during the campaign — you generally had to sort of poke him to bring it up. Yet one of the first things he did as president was to sign an order that will eliminate American aid to international health programs that provide information on abortion.

Every Republican president since Ronald Reagan has issued the order, which is often referred to as the global gag rule. But Trump’s seems much worse. The Reagan-Bush-Bush version covered family planning programs. Trump’s targets global health in general.

So when it comes to combating the Zika virus in South America, we’ll only be helping organizations that are willing to order their staffs never to bring up the fact that abortion exists. We’re talking about a potential loss of billions of dollars in American aid.

I know some of you are having trouble giving the president credit for anything right now. But this doesn’t sound like him.

If a woman Trump knew was pregnant and learned she had a virus that could cause terrible brain damage to the fetus, his immediate reaction would not be barring everybody from mentioning the word abortion. The only politician who would behave like that would be someone who had spent his entire career trying to impose his deeply held conservative religious values on people who had different beliefs.

That would be Mike Pence. This is the guy who, as a member of Congress, co-sponsored a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women who would die without the procedure. Whose war against Planned Parenthood when he was governor of Indiana led to the closing of five clinics. (None of them did abortions. They did, however, provide testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and one of the counties where a clinic was closed suffered a big H.I.V. outbreak.)

Pence, by the way, also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter act for equal pay for women. He once argued that having two working parents would lead to “stunted emotional growth” in children. In 2006, he said same-sex couples were a sign of “societal collapse.” I am just mentioning this for you to remember the next time you hear people say they hope President Trump is impeached.

Trump was once very vocally pro-choice. When he became politically ambitious, his attitude went through a dramatic change — in terms of evolution, it was as if a little amoeba floating in the ocean suddenly turned into a killer whale. In 2016 he went all the way over the deep end and told Chris Matthews on MSNBC that he thought once abortion was illegal, women who got them should be punished.

He backtracked on that one. “I’ve been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on a, you know, basis of an older line from years ago on a very conservative basis,” he explained.

Obviously that doesn’t make any sense, but you do get the general idea that Trump was getting his talking points from someplace other than his deepest heart.

The early Trump administration, however, looks as if it’s being run by somebody who can’t wait to jump into the abortion fray. Republicans in Congress are working away on defunding Planned Parenthood — an organization Trump once said he admired. And the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees women’s right to get birth control coverage in their health insurance, is of course target one.

“Women who are economically stressed and counting on those benefits are so frightened,” said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. Richards said Planned Parenthood clinics are fielding desperate calls from women who want to get birth control while they can — many of them opting for IUDs under the theory that they’ll need something that could last four years.

They also ask what they can do to fight back. She’s telling them to call their senators, or member of Congress, and show up if their legislator holds a town hall — possibly wearing one of those pink hats.

All that makes perfect sense. But given the kind of guy Donald Trump is, I propose you also spread the word that the president has only gone on this anti-reproductive rights bender because he’s under Mike Pence’s thumb.

How do you think he’d feel about being referred to as Lap Dog Trump? Let’s go for it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Knitters Twist

On Saturday the day of the Women's March, I chose to go to Franklin to sip great coffee, buy a cupcake and shop at the Whole Foods in Cool Springs on my way home.  I have said repeatedly that Nashville is not a liberal bastion and the numbers of the supposed participants of said march here has grown to now 20K.  I hate to break it to people that number marching in "downtown" Nashville would freeze the city core to immobile.  My buses had no reroutes or problems and I asked my drivers about it and thought that with spectators that it would be close to 10K.  That would more reasonable as here it the South, everyone prefers to sit back and watch versus actually do anything.

So when I heard about this woman, did laugh. I said that my peer group here are people I have nothing in common with and I have no intention of integrating myself into the community any more than I have to.  The deep red sea is polluted and I need to stay healthy.

Yarn shop won't sell to 'women's movement' supporters
US Today

NASHVILLE — A knitting shop in Tennessee is asking those who want yarn for any project relating to the recent "women's movement" to go elsewhere.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, The Joy of Knitting asks that "if you want yarn for any project for the women's movement that you please shop for yarn elsewhere," and said the "vulgarity, vile and evilness of this movement is absolutely despicable."

On Saturday, more than 2 million people across the country and around world marched in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington in support of social justice issues.

Pussyhat Project is sweeping nation ahead of the Women's March on Washington

What began as a Facebook post by a Hawaii grandmother the day after Hillary Clinton's loss in November's election blossomed into a massive protest uniting people of all ages, races and religions who crowded downtown Washington. They called for a "revolution" as a bulwark against the new administration and the Republican-led Congress they fear will roll back reproductive, civil and human rights.

The Facebook post, signed by the Franklin, Tenn., shop's owner, Elizabeth Poe, had more than 2,100 shares and more than 2,000 comments by Wednesday morning.

Some responses on Facebook offered support, while many did not agree with the post and went as far as to call for a boycott.

Many marchers from Saturday wore pink knitted hats as part of the movement.

"You are an example of a strong woman with strong beliefs voicing a strong opinion and I applaud you for it," one comment posted by Facebook user Kristy Hoevener Hall read.

"Thank you Elizabeth, I'm sure some people will have a problem with this, but they are the same ones who were gleeful when certain celebs and congressmen boycotted the inauguration," Facebook user Linda Perfetti Vashlishan wrote. "It's ok for them, but not for you. There are plenty of us out there who respect your beliefs and your right to follow what is in your heart."

Women's March movement: What's next and can the momentum last?

Other comments were not so supportive.

Holly McCall, a former Democratic candidate for a state House seat in Williamson County, Tenn., also commented on the post.

"Franklin native here. Resident still. Knitter," McCall wrote. "I'll spread the word buyers must agree with your narrow judgments."

On Yelp, the response was much of the same from users. Prior to Tuesday, the shop's last review came in 2013. There were more than three pages of other reviews by Wednesday that cited the post as reasons to shop elsewhere.

In her shop Wednesday, Poe said her phone has been ringing nonstop since Tuesday and she has received "more positive private messages" than were on her Facebook post.

At 2.6 million strong, Women's Marches crush expectations

"This is starting to undermine their efforts," Poe said about the movement. "The topless women? I think if you want to get your point across you need to do it the right way and I just think that walking around dressed as a vulva is gross. Hatred is not acceptable speech."

Poe said she views her knitting shop as a place people can come and find friends and family. She said she decided to post on her shop's Facebook page because she was upset with things said recently, particularly Madonna's speech in Washington on Saturday.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, Elizabeth Poe, the owner of the Joy of Knitting in Franklin, Tenn., asked that supporters of the "women's movement" shop elsewhere.

McCall, while saying she likes to see any type of political participation, said in a phone interview Wednesday that Poe's kind of post and reaction could be indicative of the future.

"She has the right to sell to whoever she wants to," McCall said. "I think she will lose some customers but also gain some customers.

"But what I think is more indicative, is I think we’re going to see a rise in the progressive movement much of the way the Tea Party came about during Obama’s presidency."

Despite the negative response Poe has received on social media, she said she doesn't plan to take down the post.

"I'm pro-rights, but I have to draw the line with the trajectory this movement has taken," Poe said. "They're alienating their supporters. I'm not going to stop (supporting women) but I'm not going to condone that."

A Trumpkin Family

The irony of this story/profile it was relegated to the Style section of the Washington Post and not one of human interest in the national section where this belongs. That is my first complaint, my other is that once again we just let people talk and we do little to nothing to enable them or allow them to hear and in turn learn and understand another persons perspective. How would it have been had WaPo invited this family to meet another family there for the Women's March that happened the day after? If we actually listened and spoke to others who were different, just like us, we might have the ability to have rational discourse and find common ground on which to agree and work together to resolve common problems and concerns.

I had said that in my post the Pinterest Movement how I hoped there would be a long term resolve to actually take the momentum and do real activism to bring about positive change and there is some hope that this may be accomplished but again I spoke to a young woman who attended the local one here in Nashville which like Trump's counts has now escalated to 20K marching but again that is irrelevant when you realize it has to go long in order for the pass to stick or whatever sports metaphor works here. And yes she admits that she went with her husband so to not feel alone. Again, I have said many times MElinneals do not like to be alone, that is there entire existence - being with a like minded cohort who can support them in the bubble. She is a super nice girl, a Barista, (again that is my connection to the world my coffee pourers) but she works for minimum wage, she is educated and she and her husband moved here in the same belief that this is the city of "now." Her cohorts are also immigrants, literally one from New Zealand who is terrified that she will lose her long awaited place in the line for permanent residency, the other woman a black woman from the area. So their perspectives are as diverse as they are but they all are afraid and angry but that is the extent of their effort. Writing letters, demanding answers and joining an established organization that supports their beliefs is not something they have the time or resources for, which I support and understand completely. What I don't understand is that they do not read any Newspapers, local or national, nor watch or listen to news of any kind. This again reaffirms that living in the bubble is not exclusive to any political allegiance.

I was quite clear why I elected to not participate here as I don't fit into any easy box in which to categorize me.  As I have said frequently if you wanted to put me in a room to meet with with my peers I would be in a room of one.    And I have lived in both liberal Seattle and now conservative Nashville (and yes Nashville is actually quite conservative).

So as I read this family and their story and reasoning behind voting for Trump there was one thing that was not asked and that was regardless of who the Republican nominee was they were voting for that person REGARDLESS. And at no point were they asked if that previous support of George W. Bush or or any other Republican in their own local elections had done any of the things that they promised. And I would have liked to hear what they had to say about both Obama and Clinton and if those veered from the talking points that are rammed down the throats of those who listen to the respective conservative news and radio. And yes Liberals are the same espousing the wisdom of Rachel Maddow as if she is the Guardian Angel to the left protecting us from the sword bearing Gabriel, Bill O'Reilly, over there on the right. Using religious metaphors and sports really work with the swimmers in the red sea and this family is also deep in the same sea that shares our border.

When you meet people like this family they are nice and that is the extent of it. I live in Nashville and I meet their children and I meet families like this of many colors. I have met the Egyptian kid who espoused clearly his parents views regarding Hilary Clinton and they were not good, I have met many kids who are Black or Latino that are quite conservative and I have often said that if the GOP actually knew that they would be at every church and mosque in the area recruiting. Immigrants are largely conservative and they are quite religious which are two things that truly matter to the wing of the right.  I find it interesting that the Souls to the Polls is something they fear.  Big mistake.

Which is why when I am teaching I do not talk about my politics nor tell anyone whom I voted for.  I do express concerns that are very generalized such as war, economics and any falsehood I demand them to prove to me where they heard/read/saw it and ask them to support it in their own words not those from a family member or secondary source.  That usually ends the discussion and we can move on.  I was working at a very diverse school in South Nashville and only one student, a Muslim, asked to watch the Inauguration and I sent her to the Teacher that was showing it.  That was the end of it and I was glad I was out in a shitty portable that day and had long breaks in which to watch alone on my phone and what I saw and heard was clearly distinctly different than this family's version.

So we hear even with our own filters and blinders on. Hence the idea of alternative facts that came out of an interview with Ms. Conaway, the Thoroughly Modern Millie of the Trump Administration, given that outfit she wore on Friday.

The Razmus family are the epitome of what defines the classic American Nuclear Family - white, church goers, small business owners, conservative. They even sport the necessary hip beard that hipsters and conservatives alike share.  They drink wine and watch movies, well they run a movie theatre and it seems that they enjoy movies, other than those with Meryl Streep clearly.  I did not hear any demands for censorship or weird other oppressions that this crew usually espouse when decrying a loss of America's values.

This division does center on bathroom rights, gender identity and of course race and religion.  In other words - sex and god - those are the two issues that regardless of race we share a common ground or a great divide.  Race falls into it when we find out that we might have something in common and then it is a matter of surprise but rather than bond it too divides as in math, like likes like so you need to put the variables together that are similar in order to find the value of x.   I will never have close friendships or relationships with anyone too different and hence that room of one as I get in ways that most people don't.  Growing up with a deeply damaged family you see it in ways that makes one very guarded. 

I am sure I would go to the Razmus movie house, speak to them warmly, teach their kids and walk away utter oblivious to how religion and fear dominate their world.  Religion is all about fear and from fear there is control.  It is why Trump evoked such a dangerous dark view of America, from that he can dominate and control and insert himself as the Patriarch in which to save the family from the dangers that exist outside the door.  The irony was watching the Prayer Service Trump looked utterly bored and at one point I wondered if the religious leaders collaborated on a theme of charity and generosity to remind Il Douchebag of the goodness of others.  But he looked so bored that I agreed with a Tweeter that the only God he worships is the one he sees in the mirror.

But this matter of faith is projection and in turn regardless of facts, alternate ones or not, these are people who have vested interest in whatever the Republican party says, no matter who is saying it. This is where the problems lie as we don't want to see or hear the "others" point of view and look at the Democrats they can't even agree to two or three issues as they think that is what matters - all or nothing.   Think again, think simple, think small.  Find one thing that brings us to common ground and try to find a Trumpkin family to listen to and not only listen and hear and then try to get them around to see one view, one point that you share and work within that.

 Life is a checklist and you go through one at a time. Focus on the matters of import and the rest will come along but you cannot do this when you find issues that divide you, if abortion is a concern focus on health and focus on ways to teach those that it is about health and sex education and then only then when all else fails keeping abortion safe and legal is better than committing a real murder. They will never understand but allowing them to have their hysteria about this is not working so find a way that will.  Climate change focus on the air and water that the Razmus family drinks and breathes, show them in history what happened when those regulations were not there and how it harmed lives.  You have to spend time using true information over time and done with intent but done so in a manner that is not a scold, a rebuke or a criticism. Teaching is hard really hard and it is funny that the GOP hates Teachers, maybe that is why as it enable s people to learn and from that comes change.

Good luck. I have no intention of participating. I have decided to pursue my own agenda here in Nashville - sidewalks, buses and having a silent zone declared.  These are for the good of all and the rest I will be watching alone from TV.  But it can be done, I have seen it and done it once before. It is hard, it is divisive and it is scary.  But it can be done. 

‘I feel like this is the last shot’: A Kentucky family greets the Trump era
By Monica Hesse
The Washington Post
 January 24 2017

The Razmus family from Corbin, Ky., have came to D.C. to watch the inauguration of a man who they are both optimistic and slightly worried about. From left: Suzie, Shane, Henry, Saylor and Greg. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

This is the first in an occasional series of stories dropping in on families in the first year of a new presidency, and at a time of societal change.

They were an American family, at the beginning of a presidential term in which the biggest clarifying lesson was that there were many different kinds of American families trying to share the elbow-space of one country.

There were the ones who hated Donald Trump from the beginning and made it clear. There were the ones who loved him from the beginning and made that clear, too. And then there were lots of ones like the Razmuses, for whom moments of clarity were centered on subjects that were considerably less divisive.

What Suzie Razmus was sure of: how she loved her husband and their three sons. How she was to devoted her faith and her community. How Shane, 13, really needed to eat more breakfast. How that inane “Pen-Pineapple­Apple-Pen” song got stuck in her head every time Henry, 17, sang it. How the low, green mountains surrounding Corbin, Ky., could be breathtaking to newcomers but banal to lifelong residents, which is why, every morning when she drove to the movie theater her family owned and operated, she worked hard not to take the view for granted.

The Razmuses were the kind of middle-class family whose support the new president’s success would live or die on. And one thing Suzie was not always 100 percent sure of was how she felt about him. She’d voted for John Kasich in the primary. But Kasich dropped out, and Marco Rubio — whom she and husband, Greg, had also looked at — dropped out, and Ted Cruz, whom their oldest, Saylor, had grudgingly voted for, dropped out, too. Finally, Greg looked around, acknowledged there were no other options, and decided it was “time to get on the Trump train.”

Suzie, who believed in witnessing history as much as she believed in individual politicians, called up their senator’s office and requested tickets to the inauguration.

“If we pass a souvenir stand, do you all want some memorabilia?” she asked her boys, as they walked in front of the U.S. Capitol. It was two days before the inauguration, and the family had just arrived in Washington. “Maybe a Make America Great Again hat?”

They’d never bought any Trump paraphernalia, but now seemed time to commit. “I’d take one,” Henry said.

Suzie knew that the inauguration would be important. She hoped that it would be inspiring, although she feared — at least a small part of her did — that the man they had decided to bestow their votes upon would careen off-script during his inaugural address, the way he was prone to do, and she would want to close her eyes in embarrassment.

Past the Capitol, on the Mall, speakers were rehearsing for the swearing-in.

“We live in a challenging and tumultuous world,” a voice boomed into a microphone. “But the American people always rise to the occasion.”

“That’s right, we do,” Suzie said to herself as she marshaled the boys into a museum. “We definitely do.”

A tumultuous world, but also, they hoped, one ready for change. “I feel like this is the last shot,” Greg had said ruefully a few times. “Like if this doesn’t work, nothing will.”

Corbin. When Suzie and Greg explained it to people who had never been there, sometimes they talked about Colonel Sanders, who opened his first fried chicken stand in the north side of town. Greg, tall with a salt-and-pepper goatee, occasionally pulled on a white suit to play the Colonel at social occasions, and Suzie, a petite brunette who’d recently finished a term as a city commissioner, had lobbied for and won a commemorative park to draw tourism to the area.

Sometimes they talked about how they wanted tourism to increase, because the railroad jobs that used to run the economy had disappeared. The poverty rate for the surrounding counties was about 30 percent. The opioid epidemic had hit Corbin like a hammer, and the place was beautiful but it was also suffering.

“Lord, please bless this food and nourish our bodies,” Greg said on the morning before the inauguration as the family bowed their heads at a restaurant breakfast. “In your name we pray, Amen.”

“You know, you’d like to think the whole world will change after an election,” Suzie cautioned, “but we can’t expect huge changes.”

The small changes she wanted: deregulation, which would hopefully bring back coal and manufacturing jobs, which would hopefully bring back railroad jobs, which would hopefully help the drug problem because, as Suzie believed, people “were not meant to have too much time on their hands.”

On these issues, the Razmuses had collectively been persuaded that Donald Trump was the right choice. Saylor, 20, had listened to the man from his dorm at the University of Louisville, where he picked his way through anti-Trump protests daily. Henry listened, chlorinated and tired, on the ride home from high school swim practice. Shane listened in his middle-school social studies class.

Suzie and Greg listened as they worked in the cineplex, a tiny intersection of liberal Hollywood with the conservative Southern locale that had gone 82 percent for Trump.

It’s not that Suzie couldn’t understand some of what Meryl Streep meant when she got onstage at the Golden Globes and chastised the now-president.

But at the same time, she and Greg saw how people in Corbin treated trips to the movies as the vacations they couldn’t afford. How patrons cleaned up their popcorn boxes on Saturday night, then returned a few hours later on Sunday morning to attend the church that used the theater as a chapel. This was why she told her boys, when they worked at the refreshment stand, “You better have smiles on your faces, and the popcorn better be hot and buttery.” She wanted patrons to be able to focus on the movie experience, and not how the woman on the screen looked down on them because of who they voted for.

It’s not that they didn’t want people to make decent wages, but the 35 people their theater employed were mostly high school students in after-school jobs. A 16-year-old living with his parents surely didn’t need $15 an hour, they thought; paying it would mean raising the ticket prices that people already complained were too high.

“It bothers me,” Greg said at breakfast, “that because we supported Trump, we get lumped in as racists, or bad people.”

It bothered Suzie too, she said, but it was important to always try to remember how other people might be feeling.

“There’s that line in ‘Hidden Figures,’ ” Suzie said, referring to the movie about African American NASA employees in the 1960s, which their theater had recently run. “And there’s that line — what’s Spiderman’s girlfriend’s name again?”

“Kirsten Dunst,” Greg supplies.

“Kirsten Dunst. There’s a line Kirsten Dunst says to one of the main characters: ‘You know I don’t have anything against you people.’ And the character says, ‘I know you think that’s true.’ ”

She had been thinking about that line. Trying to see other people’s truths and perspectives, and wondering whether the coming year would finally bring the country together.

It was still dark when they got up the next morning, Suzie ushering the boys into their jackets and ties and then sending them down to the hotel lobby for coffee.

“This is it, the big day,” she said when she joined them a few minutes later.

“I’m excited,” Saylor said.

“I wonder if when we get off the Metro we’ll start seeing protesters,” Suzie worried, but then reminded herself that it was people’s right to protest, just like it was her right to come to the inauguration.

They didn’t see any protesters, though, at least not obvious ones, and their seats by the Capitol were a sea of Trump buttons.

“This moment is your moment,” Trump said from the podium. “It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today.” The Razmuses liked that message. It was what they were hoping to hear — a rebuke to big government, a promise that he would work for the people.

“Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red of patriots,” the new president said, and Suzie and Greg felt pride and relief in their hearts, feeling like Donald Trump had gone out of his way to try to speak to all Americans. He hadn’t ad-libbed, as Suzie had feared. He hadn’t taken detours to insult Democrats or Hillary Clinton — he’d even thanked Barack Obama for a smooth transition.

The speech sounded unifying, to them. It sounded how Suzie had always hoped Trump would sound when he gave speeches. “Of course, he was preaching to the choir,” she acknowledged, because they were already conservatives — but although she tried to picture other people’s perspectives, she believed that anyone who truly listened to the speech would feel the same way.

When it was over, they made their way back through the crowds, walking until they ended up at a quiet Greek restaurant.

“Let’s celebrate,” she said, deciding to order a glass of wine with her lunch. “Trump is here. He’s our president now.”

“If what he said comes true, we’ll be all right,” Greg said. “We’ll all be all right.”

“You know, you’d like to think the whole world will change after an election, but we can’t expect huge changes.” Suzie Razmus said about the inauguration. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

The next morning, as they piled back in their car to leave the city, they would see that not everyone had responded to the inaugural address the way they did. Hordes of protesters walked the sidewalks outside of their hotel. They would see footage of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer give a news conference that Suzie found “bizarre,” lambasting journalists and inflating numbers for inaugural attendance.

She would feel a small pang of anxiety, before reminding herself that she didn’t have to like the brash, belligerent way the new administration delivered messages, as long as they were making progress on the policies she found important. She would vow to ignore the nonsense and focus on the bigger picture of the country.

For now, they finished their meal, and the boys pulled on the Trump wool hats they’d bought a few days before, and they left the restaurant into gray day that had finally stopped drizzling.

The year 2017 stretched out before the Razmus family, and here at the beginning of it, they thought the future looked bright.