Yeah, I'm not touching Boston, Texas, ricin, China's earthquake, gun law reform, chained CPI, or immigration reform today.
I'm thinking about those things– and a host of others– but I'm not touching them in this post.
Welcome to Saturday. I'm, erm, percolating on a number of things and would rather not write until said things are fully, well, brewed.
So, what that leaves me with is random bits of the following (oh, you lucky three blog-readers, you):
The Indianapolis Star and the Washington Post, in an Associated Press article, on Monday, April 15, reported that some states are dropping the GED because the new, digital-based replacement in many states is too expensive and too onerous on test-takers than the previous paper-based GED. This may be a fair point. Those seeking the GED are, generally speaking, probably going to find the $140 fee for the new GED a little steep (at minimum wage, that would be 70-plus hours; difficult to manage when minimum wage keeps a person in American-style poverty). But on top of that, some of the test-takers are expressing concern with the computer-based format of the new GED. “You've got to learn how to type, use the computer, plus your GED. That's three things instead of just trying to focus all on your GED test,” said one test-taker, a mother of three.
Here's the thing: one could argue that the typing, the familiarity to use a computer to take the test– these actually are, now, skills that are themselves part of General Educational Attainment. At this point, you basically have to apply online at little computer kiosks for the most entry-level of entry-level positions at Target, Walmart, Kroger. Putting pen to paper is increasingly less useful in terms of getting a job, with or without a GED.
First-graders, second-graders are expected to be able to hunt-and-peck words on a keyboard. They can certainly answer test questions that don't come on pristine white sheets.
In some ways, it is completely appropriate that the GED is moving to an exclusively electronic format: it is a basic level skill, the ability to communicate by and navigate the medium. Maybe, arguably, you should not in this century and at this time, be able to earn a GED without being able to demonstrate a modicum of digital practical ability.
It's part of what should earn one the right to say one has a GED, if a GED is to have any meaning.
Now, that would include: incorporating basic computing skills into the GED curriculum (good god, is it really not?) and not charging extra or, say, more than a week's worth of minimum-wage pay for the actual test (though, maybe it should cost something so as to be worth something, but that's a different debate) just because it's not on paper.
Reading the article, in this strange tango between GED test takers, states, and the educational assessment industry, it's difficult to think the only people who are coming out ahead in the entire world of GED-ness aren't the inventors and peddlers of “alternative” tests. Because, earned digitally or on paper, a GED is necessary without being especially helpful in the long-term; the tests are not the point so much as the educational attainment and skills represented (again, a different debate)– but somehow, one can't help but feel, none of it matters in the face of the profits to be gained by the lower-priced alternatives developed by Educational Testing Services and CTB/McGraw-Hill.
“I hit him,” said the sixteen-year old, “because he was the closest teacher, and I was mad…I got in trouble yesterday for talking back…and wearing some jewelry. When I got home, my mom took away my Xbox, my Beats, and my cellphone…I was mad because all my stuff was taken away.”
The sixteen-year-old in question clocked a teacher in the face.
Well, in fairness, it does really, really suck when your mom takes away your $90 dollar headphones.
So…this was the same week in the greater Indianapolis area as a 15-year old torched a teacher's car and (AND!?!?) a ninth-grader punched another teacher's jaw so severely the recovery time is 6 weeks long.
But let us focus instead on teacher assessments and needing to attract the “best and brightest” in the need for educational reform.
After all, the responsibility for the entirety of the educational problems in the U.S. should clearly be laid at the feet of our teachers– but just the grossly inadequate ones.
Who may or may not be in need of dental work, reconstructive surgery, and/or a rental car.
(And seriously, $90 dollar-plus headphones? What the hell is your kid listening to that he needs costly sound- definition and noise-canceling technology? Please tell me it's at least news or really good music and not total crap. And if he's going to face-plant a teacher at the loss of them, please tell me that this year's birthday gift will be Anger Management Counseling. Or, what the hell, a circa-1989 Discman with $3 Radio Shack headphones. Maybe your kid's just got a little too much to lose. At 16. Headphones?)
I propose a program, let's call it “PATCH.” This program would assist citizens applying for benefits (unemployment, SS Disability, VA, TANF, SNAP, housing assistance): it would help direct them to the correct benefit program based on need and eligibility and expedite the process when the need is severe.
I think of it as “Public Assistance to Coordinate Help.”
In my head, it would fill the “holes” between benefit programs and direct people in need to the programs that could actually assist them. It would help benefit workers (and people) by coordinating the various programs so people in need no longer fall between the cracks.
This should exist, but doesn't. Paging a state rep or senator, a grant program, or a fed rep…
People need help, sometimes immediately, and they're getting lost in a sprawling, confusing tangle of state and federal benefits, a wide and equally confounding array of agencies and acronyms. We'd be doing good deeds to assist them. We'd be saving money, labor, and time by directing them to correct programs effectively.
So why aren't we?
Further, on domestic policy, I'm still concerned about all this farmland that's for sale, zoned “commercial.”
The flooding of the past week in the Midwest, the increased focus on climate change and “global weirding,” the fact that foreign countries have been spending their free time in the past 6 or so years purchasing acres in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana so as to have farmland in reserve…
I've written before about it, but I'm saying it again:
I do not think it's a good idea to sell off every spare inch of farmland. I do not think it's a great idea to not have farmland in reserve. Just because productivity per acre is high now does not necessarily mean it will be permanently so. And if productivity per acre falls (too much or too little water, bad weather, genetic adaptation, will of the gods, whatever), it might be good to have a couple acres of beautiful, fertile Indiana soil in the pocket and not, say, tied up in yet another strip mall or slab-based-if asthetically-pleasing and multi-roofed suburban housing division.
So can some trust or government or do-gooder purchase some of this beautiful farmland that's continually, daily put on the market for commercial use? And then just let it be? Just in case?
I'm a fan of women, generally speaking. My god, I am one, myself. But.
Some of them are high-maintenance in ways that know no expression and surpass belief.
One of these was strikingly on display at the snack shop the other day.
Here is she, curly-haired, with Friend. She is buying the 85 cent bag of popcorn. She is not just walking away with it, as one would think she'd be doing. No.
She is stopping, at the end of the counter (impeding progress of anyone else, even if anyone else is holding their 32-ounce coffee and ready to fly past her, if only they could), to ask for a bowl. A free bowl. Or two.
So she can test out the various versions of free cheese powders on a handful of kernels before sprinkling these cheesy accoutrements on the entire 85-cent bag.
High maintenance women. Sheesh.
And then there's Cookie, as I called her. She came running, sprinting, back to the snack shop because her chocolate-chip walnut cookie wasn't hot when she ate it.
It's Otis Spunkmeyer; the little rack says they're baked fresh daily, which they are. And Cookie raised hell in the snack shop because her cookie was not hot.
There was no sign, no slogan, no anything that should have implied to her that it might be or should be.
High Maintenance Woman.
Holding up all the rest of us god-fearing, black-coffee-drinking, non-cookie-eating people.
And getting multiple free cookies just so she would go away.
Ah, womanhood, what have you become?