This week has been so busy that I'm spilling into the weekend to catch up:
* Bolyn McClung, a regular at Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meetings, warns that anyone planning to attend Wednesday's public hearing on the Mecklenburg County budget had better line up early to get through the Government Center's security screening.
"Each person now takes about 30 seconds," McClung wrote in an email to county commissioners and media. "An example of the zealousness is that the next person in line cannot go through the metal detector until the first person’s personal possessions in the little white basket have been meticulously inspected. Big purses, of which there surely will be a lot, are going to be an issue."
He's right. The line was long and slow at the school board's public hearing, and I barely squeezed in to cover the meeting. The screeners have been known to unzip the change compartment on my wallet and peer at my pennies, so be prepared and don't bring pocket knives or anything else that resembles a weapon.
* Finally, retired educator and substitute teacher Jim Thomas sent these thoughts after reading about a study on teacher absences (I've edited for length):
Part of the problem is teachers take "mental health days" at will. Teachers who know they won't be back the next year start taking their "sick leave" and personal leave days, some to hunt for a new job. First, Fridays seemed to be the day of choice. Then Mondays became popular.
Many times there are not enough subs. Teachers have to cover the absent teachers using their planning periods. My wife, a high school teacher, went many weeks without having a planning period. I have to admit that there are legitimate reasons for being out of school, like jury duty, sickness, child sickness and other things that can't be done during the school day. But when teachers take a day off to have their dog groomed, due to a hangover, get their nails done, or go to the beach, that hurts the entire educational process. Veteran teachers who are conscientious can tell when a person isn't coming back to teach the next year before it's announced. And, of course, the high absenteeism hurts school morale.
Teachers are tired and overwhelmed by unnecessary paperwork, regulations, and countless meetings. Teachers are blamed for students' lack of performance. Student behavior is considered the teacher's fault and not the student or his family. In other words, the absenteeism is a symptom of a much bigger societal problem and the best scapegoat is the teacher.
One doesn't need a blue-ribbon report to tell what the problems in schools are. I don't know many occupations where blame is so personal to a specific position like a teacher. Policeman and fireman are often said to have stressful jobs but they aren't blamed for starting the fires or causing criminal activities. It's only natural to cope the only way one can and that is sometimes get away from it.