Author Archives: jlinton77

This is America: It is Time We Remember Who We Are

Although I believe there must be immigration laws, I also believe human beings have a right to seek a better life for themselves and their children.  If that was not true, God would not have led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.  The Israelites were immigrants to Canaan and God blessed them.  Likewise, God has blessed America.  Except for America’s indigenous people, all American citizens are or were at some point in their family history immigrants to this nation, and like the Israelites, God has blessed this nation of immigrants greatly.  Therefore, the only rational conclusion is the pursuit of a better life by immigrants is blessed in the eyes of God regardless of the self-righteous tantrums we throw or the vilifying mud we sling.

One of the most important documents in the creation of this nation was the Declaration of Independence, and that document clearly outlines three “unalienable rights” that are given to all human beings by God our Creator:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The Declaration of Independence also declares the sole purpose of government is to protect the “unalienable rights” of all human beings.  It does not specify Americans, Hispanics, or any other nationality or ethnic group.  Through this document, the wisdom of our founding fathers speaks in support of all human beings.  It is clear in its message, a message echoed by the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” that the United States was founded by believers in freedom and believers in the inherent right of all human beings to pursue a better life.  Therefore, the migration of families seeking a better life –  should not be construed – cannot be construed – a criminal offense if Americans believe in the values on which our founding fathers established this nation.

Of course, known criminals should be turned away as well as those not willing to work for the American dream.  Such people are not immigrants seeking a better life; they are cancers that rightfully should be denied access to our nation.  However, there are many many more immigrants who, if given a chance, would prove a benefit to the nation.  In a nation, struggling to find people who want to work, immigrants are a proven workforce that could strengthen this nation’s economy.

Unfortunately, presently, we are so focused on the cancers, so afraid of the boogey men our government has created, it is unlikely immigrants will get a fair shake anytime soon.  Such punitive action as removing innocent children from immigrant parents is likely to become more common in coming months, which will do nothing more than feed a domestic cancer that further divides, tarnishes, and shames our great nation.  Labeling all immigrants as criminals and separating innocent children from their parents is barbaric and tells the world that America, built on the premise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has sadly morphed into a nation living a lie.

Everyone has an opinion about immigration, and in most cases, there is an underlying truth in each of those opinions, but regardless, Americans cannot lose sight that immigration is a human issue in which there is a moral obligation to not only be cautious but compassionate as well.  Immigration, especially the separation of immigrate children from their parents, is not a conservative versus liberal issue.  It is not a Democrat versus Republican issue.  It is a human rights issue that no American can afford to sit back and ignore or blindly support inhumane policies and practices.

Our forefathers understood immigrants to this nation were the nation’s backbone.  They founded America on that backbone, they embraced those no one else wanted, and they stood their ground against tyranny to protect human rights.  Immigration has always been and continues to be a human rights issue.  It is an issue where Americans, especially Christians, must separate themselves from the jaws of politics and stand up for what is humanly right –  They must do what Jesus would do!  Immigration and its solutions are complex, but practices such as separating children from their parents as punishment for crossing the border into the United States is not a complex issue; it is simply morally wrong and should be stopped immediately.  This is America, and it is time we remember who we are and act accordingly.

JL

©Jack Linton, June 18, 2018

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Guns Do Not Kill People?

Guns do not kill people;
A gun on a table never harmed anyone;
People kill people!
Nevertheless, nothing is ever done.
Lives are lost –
Too many lives ARE lost,
Because we fear the loss of our guns.

But did you know?

Airplanes don’t kill people when they crash;
An airplane in a hangar never harmed anyone;
People – pilot error – kill people!
Nevertheless, we mandate air safety regulations.
Lives are saved –
Not all lives, but many lives ARE saved,
And regulations have not resulted in loss of airplanes.

Automobiles do not kill people in collisions;
An automobile left in a garage never harmed anyone;
People – driver error – kill people!
Nevertheless, we mandate and install seat belts.
Lives are saved –
Not all lives, but many lives ARE saved,
And seat belts have not resulted in loss of automobiles.

Trains do not kill people at railroad crossings;
A train parked in the train yard never harmed anyone;
People – engineer error or careless drivers – kill people!
Nevertheless, we mandate and install crossing gates.
Lives are saved –
Not all lives, but many lives ARE saved,
And crossing gates have not resulted in loss of trains.

Guns don’t kill people;
A gun on a table never harmed anyone;
People kill people!
Nevertheless, we refuse to mandate new gun regulations.
Lives could be saved –
Not all lives, but many lives COULD BE saved, but
For the sake of the gun, we forsake the life we might have SAVED.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 20, 2018
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Testing, Budgets, Movies, and Free Days – Oh My!

Since the late 1990’s when the current testing craze first started to dig its heel into the throat of K-12 public school education, I have been an advocate for testing as a means of holding educators and students accountable for learning in the classroom.  I still am, but with growing reservations.  Originally, State Testing was intended as an accountability tool to measure student academic growth and improve classroom instruction; however, regrettably, I have watched it morph into a teacher eating, time wasting monster.  It, along with its local test counterparts (STAR, NWEA, and other commercially designed software programs aimed at remediation, student tracking, and general test taking prep), has become an accountability system of excessiveness void of accountability for the chaos and harm it is causing in the classroom.  I still believe K-12 education needs accountability, but not at the expense of the learning environment and profession it was created to protect and improve.

State Testing, Oh My!

  1. State testing was never intended to cut or waste instructional time! Countless instructional hours are replaced each school year not only by testing but by overboard remediation, test prep, and classroom filler time such as movies and free days.  It is hard to blame school administrators and teachers for short changing instruction in favor of test prep when their careers are judged by marginal black and white data that has little regard for real world data.   Beginning in April, sometimes earlier, and extending to the end of the school year, teachers are busy prepping/remediating kids for the BIG TESTS.  During these months, kids spend classroom time doing little to nothing in class other than prepping for the upcoming state tests, watching movies, and enjoying free days.  What is the use in teaching anything new once test season arrives seems to be a widespread teacher mindset.  As a result, there is very little new material taught the second half of the school year, especially the last quarter.  It could effectively be argued the last two months of the school year are instructionally a waste of time;
  2. State testing was never intended to chase good teachers out of the profession by adding stress, stress, and more stress! Why would any sane young person want to be a grade school teacher or a core subject area teacher in high school?  In today’s test happy, under the microscope world of education, I would strongly consider a non-tested area if I were a young teacher beginning my career.  All teaching can be stressful, but the same money is made for a non-tested area as for a tested area, so taking the less stressful, less scrutinized option makes the most sense; and
  3. State testing was never intended to dehumanize children and teachers. However, data is “black and white.”  It does not consider the gray areas, such as home life, that often have more impact on student success and growth than what the teacher does in the classroom.  I encourage anyone who has never walked in the shoes of a teacher to talk to one or many and hear this all too true side of the testing story.  Humans tend to be much more complicated than the data gathered to represent them.

Testing Budgets, Oh My!

  1. Nationwide, 1.7 billion dollars is spent each year on accountability testing in public schools. Mississippi alone spends over 10 million dollars annually on K-12 standardized assessments.  That does not include the dollars individual school districts spend on assessments such as STAR, NWEA, and ACT;
  2. State testing means Mississippi education dollars are padding the pockets of big testing companies while Mississippi teachers remain the lowest paid teachers in the nation; and
  3. State testing means many school districts, especially larger districts, are forced to hire extra administrative help to handle the volume and logistics of testing. Much of this extra work also falls on the shoulders of counselors and teachers who are already stretched to the maximum limit for time.

Movies and Free Days, Oh My!

  1. State Testing means classroom instruction in many schools basically comes to a stop in April and May as teachers prep and cram for the end of month and early May tests. In addition to the prep time, classroom movies and free days with no instructional purpose are widespread in the days before and after the state assessments;
  2. State Testing means as much as 25% of a school’s Instructional time is wasted on testing each year; and
  3. State Testing means over the course of a K-12 school career, students lose as much as 2.5 years of classroom instruction due to standardized testing and wasted classroom time. No wonder the United States ranks 14th in the world in education behind South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Germany, and Russia.

Questions all Mississippians need to ask about State Testing?

  1. Is state testing good for kids? Over the years, the testing model has changed frequently, so how effective it is measuring student growth and instructional strengths and weaknesses depends largely on who is asked – teachers or test makers.  Are students better off testing or would they be better served staying in the classroom and receiving the instruction they are currently missing is the question that needs to be seriously studied?
  2. Is state testing good for teachers? The stress of state testing, poor pay, wide spread disrespect for the teaching profession, and lack of or poor administrative support are four major reasons teachers leave the profession and highly intelligent young people choose other professions over a teaching career.  How long can public schools survive the growing teacher shortage is a serious question that needs to be addressed and soon!
  3. Is state testing worth the loss of instructional time? As a grandparent and former educator, the loss/waste of instructional time is my greatest concern with present testing practices.  As a grandparent it concerns me when I talk to my grandchildren about their school day and discover instructional time is being used to review for the state tests.  As a former educator, I understand there may be a need to review the week before the test but shutting down class for a month prior to the test is, in my opinion, bordering on education malpractice.  Also, it concerns me greatly when my grandchildren tell me they have spent a week watching movies and having free time in class!  I am sorry if I step on some teachers’ toes, but that is wrong and unacceptable!  Using class instructional time excessively to prep for state tests as well as waste class time showing movies or allowing classroom free days because teachers feel it is useless to teach anything new during test season is harmful to kids.  Some teachers will argue movies can be educational, and in small teacher guided increments, I might agree, but there is little educational merit in showing whole movies in class or giving students a free day in class for the sake of keeping students entertained and out of the teacher’s hair.  Such practices are babysitting and should be monitored closely and stopped immediately; and
  4. Do state tests hold anyone accountable other than teachers? Under the present accountability model, all accountability lies on the shoulders of teachers and to a small extent the students. For a system to be truly accountable, it must hold all shareholders equally accountable including educators, students, parents, and state and local government.  I bet the state legislature could find adequate funds for public schools if they were held to the same accountability fire as teachers.

    What is the bottom line for State Testing in Mississippi?

  1. State testing has led to wasting significant classroom instructional time that is negatively impacting the education of children;
  2. During the last quarter of the school year, state testing turns the school house into a house of remediation that instructionally short changes all but the lowest functioning students; and
  3. I believe state testing has helped bring about needed improvements and accountability in Mississippi public schools, but I have also come to believe it may be doing kids more harm than good, especially when the loss of instructional time is thrown into the equation. Today’s students may be short in their knowledge of geography, but they can engage in movie trivia with confidence and take a test with the best.

I am deeply saddened and disappointed to say accountability testing in Mississippi may have reached a plateau surrounded by shear drops of rocky hazardous canyons with no bottom in sight and no bridge sturdy enough to cross to the other side.  In the quest for continued improvement, good intentions have pushed public schools to the edge.  Mississippi has grown from a state education system with little accountability to a system so deep in accountability, it has lost sight of what is most important – TEACHING KIDS or DATA COLLECTION?  All too often, too much of a good thing can result in diminished returns, and that is the case, as I see it, for testing in K-12 public schools.  The current state of standardized testing has become too much of a good thing.  Testing has become a good idea gone bad!  As a direct or indirect result of state testing, classroom instruction has been abused.  Schools have traded instruction for data that is compromised by the demise of classroom instruction resulting from an overabundance of data collection.  Some testing is reasonable and needed, some loss of instructional time due to testing is to be expected, but the monster that the present system has become is unacceptable and hurting kids.

Can it be fixed?  Can a device that has morphed into an almost exclusive tool for ranking and calling out teachers be saved?  Is it possible to find a solution that would be more fiscally responsible, learning friendly, less accountability biased, and less stressful?  Is it possible to have an accountability system that doesn’t bring teachers to their knees and public schools to a standstill and maybe to the brink of extinction?  YES, it can be fixed, and it should be fixed.  Like any organization, schools need accountability, but if the accountability model jeopardizes the organization through disenfranchisement of its core practitioners (teachers) and practice (instruction), changes must be made to right the ship before it is capsized, and irrevocable damage is done.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 14, 2018

Our First Cruise:  Seven Days to the Bahamas

One of the things my wife and I said we would do when we retired was go on a cruise.  We finally accomplished that goal in April when we joined another couple on a seven-day cruise out of New Orleans to the Bahamas.  Our biggest fear was my wife would get sick during the trip from the motion of the boat, and I would end up pushing her around the ship in a wheelchair as I have on two occasions at Disney World.  The first time was after she rode the Tower of Terror, which with her vertigo issues was dumb on my part for letting her ride.  I always wondered why Disney has so many wheelchairs available at their top thrill rides; now I know.  However, not willing to settle for dumb, on our next trip, I convinced her motion sickness was all in her head and she could ride Thunder Mountain.  That elevated me to the stupidity level, and for the second time I had to wheel her across Disney in search of a cool place to throw up and lay down for a spell.  So, when it came to a cruise, she wisely tuned me out, and visited her doctor for help.  I have no idea what kind of chemical wonder drug is on the patch he gave her to stick behind her ear, but it worked!  Even during a few wobbly moments when the boat rocked a little more than usual, she held her lunch and we had a wheelchairless fantastic time.

I was amazed at the organization of such a huge operation.  For a ship with 3,900 passengers and over 1,500 crew, I couldn’t believe how smoothly everything worked from boarding, to room service, to activities, to getting everyone off the boat in an orderly and time efficient manner when the cruise was over.  When it came to customer relations, I can think of several local businesses that would do well to take the cruise and study how customers should be treated, especially if return business is expected.  The only thing that was slightly disconcerting at times was the language barrier that existed when trying to communicate with ship staff.  Most of the ship personnel we encountered were Indian with a few Germans, Swedes, and Italians thrown in for good measure.  Sometimes their less than perfect English and our Southern drawl and language bias ears conflicted.  That didn’t happen often and when it did, the ship employee slowed down and listened more intently and patiently to our question.  When dealing with the customer, they never lost sight of their commitment to provide a smooth and enjoyable experience.  They were extremely friendly and helpful.  They did not exhibit an attitude they were doing us a favor to wait on us like so many local store employees often do.  The employees on the Carnival Dream acted like they enjoyed their jobs and were genuinely appreciative we had chosen their ship for our vacation.  Some of our home town businesses could learn a lot from them.

Food!  I had always heard there was plenty to eat on a cruise, and I was not disappointed in the quantity.  Italian, Mongolian, Asian, Pizza, Guy Fieri Burgers, salads, deserts, and ice cream were available throughout the day, and at night there was fine dining in the ship’s more elegant restaurants.  Overall, the fine dining experience was excellent with a waiter who called you by name while serving your table each evening.  The restaurant food was excellent, but I would strongly advise against the lasagna.  The Indian chef did not have a clue how to prepare lasagna, but he more than made up for that disaster with the prime rib and steamed mussels he prepared the last night of the cruise.  However, my favorite food on the cruise was the soft serve ice cream!  I stopped for a cone of soft serve vanilla or strawberry every time I passed a machine, which was frequently.  I don’t know where my wife can find one of those machines, but after this cruise, it is number one on my Christmas list.

Shore excursions are a big part of a cruise, and we took full advantage of our time off the boat.  Our first stop was Key West where we opted out of a paid excursion and chose to tour the town on our own.  The weather was in the 80s but otherwise perfect.  We had no idea where we were going when we left the ship, but after following the wives through countless tee-shirt, trinkets, and beach bag shops, we found a guitar store where my good friend and I were allowed by our wives to browse for a solid five minutes.  From there we toured Earnest Hemingway’s house, and ended the afternoon with key-lime pie at a little joint off the beaten path.  After the pie, we continued our leisurely stroll through the streets of Key West.  We were in no hurry until we realized we were in danger of missing our ship’s departure time.  We made it, but we were close to becoming Key West residents.  The ship was scheduled to depart at 4:30 p.m.; we made it back to the ship at 4:20 p.m.  In our minds, the only thing that mattered was we made it, but from the rolling eyes of the ship crew members who hurriedly ushered us aboard, I am not so sure, they felt the same way.

The second stop was at Freeport in the Bahamas where we were introduced to driving on the wrong side of the road by a very lively 75-year-old bus driver.  Freeport was one of the saddest places I have ever visited.  As we rode to Paradise Cove, our destination for the day, I was struck by the poverty of the area.  Most of the homes were run down if not completely crumbling.  Weathered blue tarps ripped into threads by the wind and rain covered many homes, a reminder of the destruction tropical storms and hurricanes brought to the little island of 40,000 people.  However, listening to the bus driver, you would have thought he lived in paradise.  He did not shy from talking about the poor conditions, yet he spoke with pride and hope for his island home.  At one point, he pointed out his home as we drove by, which was humble, but a castle compared to his neighbors.    He dropped us off at the cove where we spent the day relaxing on a small beach and snorkeling in crystal clear blue-green water.  What struck me most about Freeport was how appreciative the bus driver and the adults and teens who operated the Blue Lagoon facilities were that we had chosen to spend our time and money with them.  Not once, did I see a frown in Freeport.

The third stop was Nassau where we took a ferry to Blue Lagoon Island.  Like Paradise Cove in Freeport, the water was crystal clear and changed from blues to greens throughout the day depending on the light reflecting on the water.  We relaxed on the beach and tubed in the shallow water and enjoyed a buffet lunch as part of the excursion package.  A major attraction of the lagoon was swimming with the dolphins (an extra charge, which we did not choose to pay).  With the assistance of guides, paying customers were treated to an afternoon of swimming and playing with the beautiful and amazingly intelligent animals.  If I go back, I will spend the extra money to swim with those beautiful creatures.  The people I watched in the water with them were having too much fun for me not to give it a try.  Swimming with the dolphins in the Blue Lagoon is now on my bucket list.

As much fun as we had on the ship and the shore excursions, I must admit, the ship itself reminded me of a prison.  A very relaxing and beautiful prison but confining nevertheless.  For me, it will never replace a cross country camping trip in my travel trailer.  I enjoy open spaces, and there is little of that on a cruise ship.  However, I enjoyed the food, the live entertainment, the shore excursions, the company of good friends, and the soft serve ice cream enough to go again at the first opportunity.  However, the biggest reason I will continue to take cruises is my wife.  Not once during the trip did I have to push her in a wheelchair!  By itself, that made for a very enjoyable trip and gives me the motivation to return to the high seas as soon as possible to continue my adventures on a floating luxury shopping mall.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 4, 2018

Why Kids Misbehave in School

Five years into retirement and I still read school related articles from time to time.  Although there have been changes since I retired after 37 years as a teacher, coach, and school administrator, the articles I read prove some things never change.  Student behavior or misbehavior is one of those things that remains relatively the same year after year after year.   As long as there are schools, there will be kids who, for whatever reason, choose to be rebellious, defiant, disrespectful, and obnoxious.  Why?  Every year countless articles and books explore that question, but to date, no one has come up with a better answer than kids are human, and humans are impulsive, unpredictable, and make dumb choices.   Education discipline jargon changes yearly, and new enlightened gurus appear on the scene proposing the newest and greatest solutions ever conceived, but like the gurus before them, their solutions often prove ineffective and useless for dealing with negative student behavior.  The number of books published annually on this topic is a clear indicator there is not an easy answer or cure-all solution.  Education authors lay the blame for school discipline problems on bad apples, the teacher, poor parenting, peer influence, bullying, stupid choices, and academic difficulties, but the truth is school discipline problems are caused by all of the above laced with a healthy dose of animalism, humanism, and hormones.

If you follow Facebook, you will most likely be led to believe kids misbehave because they are mutinous little hellions, they come from bad stock, or they are simply BAD APPLES.  Fortunately, such reasons are rarely the case.  In my experience as a teacher and school administrator, I seldom faced a disobedient or rebellious student who was a pure evil BAD APPLE.  As a good friend often reminds me, “God don’t make no junk,” and tongue in cheek bad grammar aside, he is right.  All children have worth; it sometimes takes extra patience and prayer to find it in some, but they all have worth.  In my 37 years as an educator, I would say less than 1% of the students I dealt with for behavior problems were just plain bad, and even that handful usually went on to become responsible citizens as they grew into adulthood.

“It’s the teacher’s fault!” is the number one cry of too many parents when confronted by reports their child is misbehaving at school.  Many parents like to point at the teacher as the problem because they are frustrated themselves with junior’s behavior, or they are not adult or savvy enough to understand most teachers will do backflips or whatever it takes to avoid having a parent conference due to a child’s behavior.  Teachers want to be left alone to do their jobs, and there is maybe a 1% chance they will hold a grudge against a child, take revenge against a child, or intentionally do anything to a child that will ultimately result in a hostile parent conference.  Teachers have degrees for good reason; they are smart, and it is not smart for an adult, especially a professional, to create circumstances that result in extra work and stress.  However, teachers are not perfect, so it could be the teacher’s fault if a child misbehaves, but not likely.

Likewise, the number one reason teachers give for student discipline issues in the classroom is “poor parenting.”  Although, they rarely know for sure, teachers are often quick to blame mom and dad for the child’s disruptions in the classroom.  They see disrespect, rudeness, and defiance as traits of poor upbringing, and although there is some merit to such perceptions, there are often other influences or factors that are the real cause.  Parents, like teachers, are not perfect, but most of them do the best they know how to do when raising their children.  Like teachers, they despise parent/teacher conferences and would as soon get a root canal as attend one.  Both teachers and parents need to understand, student misbehavior in the classroom is the student’s fault; there is no one else to blame!  The student made the choice to be disruptive or lash out, and the student should be held responsible for his/her disruptive behavior!  It is important to understand why they chose to act out, but it is just as important, if not more so, to hold them accountable for their actions.  Consequences for poor choices is the only way to teach children to be responsible, caring human beings.

Although schools are much more aware of bullying today than a few years ago, it still happens.  In cases where a child is bullied by another child, we often think of the bullied child as one who withdraws within himself, isolates himself, or becomes depressed and even suicidal; we think of a helpless victim.  However, a bullied child can sometimes lash out.  As a defense mechanism, such a child can take on the role of the bully with his peers or even become a disruptive force in the classroom.  Such a child is not a bad apple, mistreated by teachers, or the product of parental malpractice; the bullied child takes refuge in the only protection he sees available to him – “if you can’t beat them, join them.”  By becoming part of the problem, the bullied child builds a wall of protection that shields him from further torment and provides some semblance of sanctuary.

A more likely reason for unruly behavior at school is peer influence.  When growing up, did your parents ever say, “If Susie jumped off a cliff would you also jump off the cliff?”  Mine did, and quite often!  If you are 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18 the answer is “YES! You would follow Susie off that cliff!”  Middle and high school students are likely to try anything, regardless how stupid, if they think it might be fun, make them more popular, or get them noticed favorably by their friends.  Peer influence is more of an inducement for disruptive behavior than all the bad apples, vengeful teachers, poor parents, and bullying combined.

Sometimes students misbehave at school because something is out-of-whack at home.  Students from good homes with the best parents are not immune to behavior problems in school.  There are times when things go wrong in the best of homes with the most loving and caring parents.  In a world of shrinking commitment, children are often the unintentional victims of family quarrels over finances, infidelity, and divorce.   Such potentially life altering events in a family cannot help but ride to school on the shoulders of children who out of hurt, frustration, and feelings of betrayal and abandonment act out contrary to their norm.  In my experience as a school administrator, roughly ten percent of student behavior issues were the result of problems at home – not issues of bad parenting, but issues that threatened to tear the family unit apart.  Under such conditions, even the most even keeled child can break and lash out.

The number two reason for student misbehavior in school is stupid choices.  As smart and sophisticated as kids are today, they still make stupid choices.  It is no secret that teen elevators do not always go all the way to the top floor.  They are not only at the mercy of peer influence and pressure, but all too often, they are impulsive and empty minded.  Little thought is given to consequences for their actions.  For example, I still recall the stench of deer urine a student poured in a friend’s locker as a practical joke.  The books in the friend’s locker as well as the books in adjoining lockers were saturated and ruined with the stink.  The smell was so bad the whole locker section, approximately thirty lockers, had to be closed off and two classes had to be evacuated and reassigned elsewhere in the building.  On top of that, the student had to make restitution for a couple hundred dollars in damaged textbooks.  Was the student who committed the foul deed a BAD APPLE?  No, but he caused a major disruption of the school day just the same!

Finally, the number one reason for student misbehavior in school is by far the saddest – academic deficiencies.  When I was a high school principal, my assistant principals and I studied discipline data religiously.  We especially focused on students with habitual discipline problems.  We combed the data and reviewed cumulative folders looking for clues that might show how to best intervene with the student.  What we found was over fifty percent of students with habitual discipline issues were a grade to two grades behind, struggled academically in two or more core subjects, and could not read on grade level.  Academically, they had little hope for passing to the next subject or grade.  They could not keep up, so they disrupted class out of frustration and to cover up their academic difficulties – primarily, their inability to read.  If a child cannot read when he reaches high school, he is lost, and there is little that can be done to get him/her back on track.  Therefore, what else can a child do but act out and become a discipline problem?

During a school year, school administrators, especially at middle schools and high schools, will be confronted by discipline issues ranging from mean spirited to ridiculously stupid.  Except for a very few kids, they will find BAD APPLES are rare, and misbehavior is a human reaction to the cards life deals, or the result of stupid human choices.  Over time and with help, 90% of kids learn to deal with life’s ups and downs as well as learn from the stupid choices they make.  These kids move on to bigger and better things in life.  The other 10% is why principals, assistant principals, and guidance counselors earn their paychecks.  If they don’t give up on that 10%, ninety-nine percent of the time, those horrible little hellions are also likely to turn out all right and become productive citizens.  When that happens, teachers and administrators should write their own book!  They did something right, and it should be celebrated and shared with the world.

JL

 

©Jack Linton, April 18, 2018

Top 12 Attractions for Naps in Disney World

My wife and I are Disney World fanatics!  We go at every opportunity.  Although I have ridden Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain numerous times, we usually avoid the roller coaster type rides.  Low key attractions such as the Disney atmosphere and watching the magical expressions of awe on the faces of children when they meet the Disney characters are more our cup of tea.  However, recently, my oldest granddaughter and grandson, coaxed me – my wife is smarter – into riding two of Disney’s newest rides, Everest and Pandora.  OMG! I loved both!  Everest was a blast, and the exhilaration of Pandora is the epitome of the Disney ride experience.  Pandora completely blew me away, and almost justified the two-hour wait in line.

I felt like a kid riding Everest and Pandora – on top of the mountain; however, in Disney World you must literally be a kid if you hope to stay on top of the mountain, which unfortunately, I am not.  Disney boasts their parks are for the young and the young at heart.  Hogwash!  Physically young, absolutely!  Young at heart?  Not so much!  By the time my sixty plus year old heart spends a half day standing hours in line to ride a couple of gut wrenching heart attack inducing thrill rides and trekking an ungodly number of miles across sun baked bubbling asphalt between rides and shows, I am literally pooped – exhausted!  By midday, I could care less about Star War laser sword enactments, Mickie and Minnie song and dance routines, or surviving a dwarf driven runaway mine train.  I am interested in two things and two things only:  one, getting off my feet, and two, finding a place that is cool and dark to take a NAP!

I am convinced if Disney opened a NAP TIME themed park it would be filled 365 days a year to capacity.  It is truly discrimination against geriatrics that such a theme park does not exist in Disney.  To their credit, Disney provides for the needs of youngsters, teens, young adults, families, and service animals, but there is little to no attention given old people.  Where are the oxygen stations?  Where are the cots?

How hard would it be for a company with the resources of Disney to set up a park for exhausted adults – especially seniors and couch potatoes.  What would be so difficult about developing a park complete with air-conditioned MASH (Military Army Surgical Hospital) style tents and military barracks equipped with air condition, oxygen, and cots.  For added realism, medivac helicopters could be used to fly collapsing and delusional exhausted adults from other theme parks to the new park where they could recharge their batteries.  Now, that is a ride this old geezer could get behind!  If Disney truly wanted to show its humanity, this is the direction they would venture next.  It makes sense!

Unfortunately, such a park is not likely to be built any time soon, but during my many visits, I have discovered there can be relief when your feet hurt, the sun has zapped your last bit of energy, and your eyelids are dragging two feet behind you if you know where to look.  There was a time when I sat or curled on curbs in the various Disney World parks breathing laboriously while the little moisture remaining in my body gurgled and bubbled under the intensity of the Florida sun.  No more!  In every Disney park there are certain attractions that offer the weary a chance to get out of the sun, off their feet, and even time to catch a few Zzzzs.  The chart below offers twelve Disney attractions/sanctuaries the weary can seek out when they find themselves miserably exhausted on the streets of Disney World.  Visitors to Disney world, especially older ones, deserve a break or two, and this chart is the ticket.

Top 12 Attractions for Naps at Disney World

No.

Ride Location Length of Ride Air Cond. Dim Light Soft Seats Slow Moving
12 Pirates of the Caribbean

Magic Kingdom

8   minutes Yes Yes No

Yes

  POSTIVE:  The ride is out of the sun, slow moving, and dark!  Perfect for catching a few Zzzzs!

NEGATIVE:  The seat is hard and without a Fast Pass it can be a long wait to ride.

11 Beauty & the Beast Live

Epcot

25 minutes No No No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  This is a great place to get off your feet under a canopy that blocks the sun.

NEGATIVE:  The canopy blocks the sun, but it still gets very hot, but I dare you not to nod.

10 It’s a Small World

Magic Kingdom

14 minutes No No No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  289 animated dolls sing “It’s a small world” over and over; who can stay awake?

NEGATIVE:  The boat seats are hard, and without a Fast Pass the wait to ride can be very long.

9 Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Magic Kingdom

12 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  Air condition and cushioned seats on a hot Florida day is all that needs to be said.

NEGATIVE:  The only negative is the wait to get in can be very long without a Fast Pass!

8 Tomorrowland People Mover

Magic Kingdom

16 minutes No Slight No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  There is almost no wait, and you can stretch out and relax during this rolling tour!

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  This is sort of a “mercy” ride created for bone weary adults.

7 County Bear Jamboree

Magic Kingdom

10 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIIVE:  Short lines, air condition, cushioned seats, and dim lighting – everything you need!

NEGATIVE:  The show is too short, but in Disney be thankful for any nap time you find.

6 Disney/Pixar Film Festival

Epcot

18 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  Short lines, air condition, cushioned seats, and dim lighting equals a great nap!

NEGATIVE:  If 15 minutes longer, it would be the perfect nap attraction, but no such luck.

5 Carousel of Progress

Magic Kingdom

21 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  No lines – walk in and find a cushioned chair to your liking!

NEGATIVE:  I feel bad when I wake up, and I have missed the show.  Oh well, maybe next time.

4 Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Magic Kingdom

No Limit Yes Slight No

Yes

  POSITIVE:  There is an air-conditioned activity room while you wait.  Smart adults stretch out on the benches for a short or even long nap!  If someone gets ahead of you in line, who cares!  Your nap time can be virtually unlimited!  I would have rated this ride higher, but I wasn’t sure if at some point you might get chased out.

NEGATIVE:  Honestly, I can’t think of a negative unless the loud squeals of children bother you.

3 The Hall of Presidents

Magic Kingdom

23 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  This attraction is a favorite for a nap.  It meets all the napping criteria plus it is dark!

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  When it comes to a nap, the Hall of Presidents is a 5 Star Attraction!

2 The American Adventure

Epcot

29 minutes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

  POSITIVE:  The reason this attraction rates higher that the previous one is it is 6 minutes longer.

NEGATIVE:  No negatives!  This is another 5 Star Nap Attraction!

1 Finding Nemo – The Musical

Animal Kingdom

35 minutes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

POSITIVE:  It is a shame to doze in such a great show, but this attraction has 35 minutes of air conditioning, soft seats, and complete darkness.  What else does a napper need other than a cot?

NEGATIVE:  If you are late, you get locked out until the next show – bummer.

I am confident you will find this list helpful, regardless if you are an old geezer, or by the middle of a long Disney day, an old geezer at heart.  For my wife and I, these twelve attractions are always at the top of our list.  Over the years, we have logged many hours of Z time on these attractions, which helps keep our passion for Disney World alive.  We always feel rested and alert when we get our nap time.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 31, 2018

My Wife and I Shacked Up

This past week my wife and I did something we have never done – we shacked up!  We have been married forty-four years, so in a sense, we are old timer shacker uppers, but this time it was different.  We drove to North Mississippi and spent five nights at the Shack Up Inn located on the Hopson Plantation outside of Clarksdale on Highway 49.  The rustic stopover with authentic renovated tin roofed, rough wood-sided sharecropper houses as well as a cotton gin and grain bins reimagined and converted to overnight hotel apartments may not be for everyone, but it is certainly unique, and for us, a perfect getaway.  The whole complex is a historical marvel to behold, but at the same time, it is one of the most ironic places I have ever visited.  Over seventy-five years ago, families scrapping out a meager living farming another man’s land lived in these two maybe three-room shotgun style houses.  They spent their lives struggling, working from first light to sunset, to have a better life than living in a shack.  In contrast, today, people pay more money for a night’s stay in one of the shacks than most poor sharecroppers made in a year.  It is also sobering to think there are families across Mississippi still living in such poverty.

We stayed in the Crossroad Shack, relocated to the Inn from nearby Duncan, Mississippi.  The shack, although weathered and worn both inside and out was clean, warm on the cool nights we encountered, free of leaks from the rain that came later in the week, and peaceful and relaxing for a good night’s rest.  It would have been difficult to find a speck of paint anywhere, but it had all we needed for an enjoyable and comfortable stay.  The little two room building had indoor plumbing complete with a flushable toilet and hot water for a shower.  There was also a piano, a microwave oven, a coffee pot, a refrigerator, a gas wall heater, adequate lighting, and glory of glories NO TELEVISION!  The Internet was a bit sketchy, but that was okay.  Few people go to the Shack Up Inn to watch television or roam the Internet, but if that is your thing, some of the bins are equipped with television.  Like my wife and I, most people go to the Shack Up Inn to escape the everyday hustle of life, and relax away from Facebook, CNN, and Fox News.  The Inn is a place to put worries and trouble on hold and relax in a rocker on the screened back porch, read a book, take leisurely strolls around the grounds, and in the evenings kick back with a cold drink of choice and listen to the best Mississippi Blues you will find anywhere.  Of course, you can always jump in your car and head into Clarksdale to visit Ground Zero, The Blues Museum, Hambone’s, and Reds Lounge as well as many other local establishments and landmarks.  Despite being off the beaten path, there is no shortage of things to do at the Shack up Inn and in Clarksdale.

While at the Shack Up Inn, I attended a songwriting workshop I have been wanting to attend for some time.  Songwriting is a passion of mine regardless of success or lack of it, and by writing my own stuff, I don’t mess up anyone else’s music.  The workshop exceeded all expectations!  I have never been made to feel more at ease and appreciated in a workshop, and I have attended many.  Songwriters from all over the country were there, and I can truthfully say, I learned something from each of them.  If you are a songwriter or would like to be, and you are interested in learning the nuts and bolts of the songwriting craft, Ralph Carter’s “Songs at the Shacks” workshop is a no brainer.  However, don’t go if you are not serious about your craft!  You will work your butt off writing and performing, but by the end of the week, you will be thankful of the blessings that allowed you to attend.  I found the workshop well worth the money, time, and effort.  Thank you, Ralph, I can’t wait to be a part of another of your workshops.  I left the Shacks, tired, renewed, and for the first time ever with confidence I am headed in the right direction.  As an important bonus, the friendships made during the week were worth the price of admission alone.

To say, we had a wonderful week at the Shacks would be a huge understatement.  We had a super week!  How can shacking up with a beautiful woman, writing music, singing your songs, listening to great music, and being around friends be anything but fantastic?  We will certainly do it again soon, but for now it is back to writing songs, writing my blog, and writing short stories.  I hear a song, “Mama, Take Your Teeth Out,” calling.

JL

©Jack Linton, March 16, 2018