Friday, July 26, 2013

Lethal Combination

Dispatcher:     "9-1-1, what's the nature of your emergency?"

Caller:             "I'm walking home to my Dad's fiance's home and a guy is following me in a van."

Dispatcher:      "Someone is following you home.  Where are you right now?"

Caller:              "It's a gated community in Sanford.  I'm not sure where I am now."

Dispatcher:       "You don't happen to wearing a hoodie, are you?"

Caller:               "Yeah, it's raining."

Dispatcher:        (Laughing)  "The guy following you is a neighborhood watch volunteer calling in on you as being suspicious.  We'll tell him.
 
Caller:                "Really?  Thanks. 
 
 
How simple!  Misinterpretations about motives reported by two people against each other quickly resolved.  Two citizens doing their own thing, return to their lives unscathed and intact.  Unfortunately, the world knows how this scenario played out.
 
As the stars aligned under the south Florida sky hidden behind the dark February rain clouds, Neighborhood Watch Volunteer George Zimmerman reported a suspicious person as he perceived him based on past incidents.  He disregarded a dispatcher's suggestion to stop following the "suspect."  He learned that his people skills fell short of effectiveness much like his preparedness for physical altercations.
 
Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old guest in the gated community probably never thought to dial 9-1-1 when he noticed that he was being followed.  On the other hand, he possessed the know how to excel at pugilism.  He probably did not consider the possibility of his opponent being armed or his opponent's training to engage it under stress.
 
These two individuals made conscious decisions governing the intersection of their lives where the outcome held no winners.  Mr. Martin lost his life; his family a son.  Mr. Zimmerman lost his existence although he survived the fight.
 
A loud outcry complete with many people of name recognition demanded Zimmerman's arrest instead of being patient as proper police procedure dictated.  The local agency felt obligated to release case information not usually available to the public with an ongoing investigation.  Though Zimmerman was eventually arrested, he was exonerated of all charges by a jury following a court trial.  Not the desired verdict expected by Martin family, they allege that the system failed?
 
In my humble opinion, "No, it didn't."  Bad choices by both parties involved, contributed to this situation.  Bad choices do not necessarily define the person making them.  Bad choices do impact the consequences stemming from them.  Most important here, bad choices are not necessarily criminal in nature and that concept is the hardest to accept.

 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you don't get it... You don't want to

As the Governor recall election looms, we the people of Wisconsin have a rare opportunity to save the dignity of our state.  It's not coupled to the rebuking of all public workers.  It's not reflected in the historic budget cuts to public education.  It's not based on the the idea that workers should pay more taxes while their new employer enjoys a two year hiatus from such expense.

It has nothing to do with the radical concepts championed by the resident Maniac in the Mansion.  It does; however, have everything to do with the integrity of the same guy, governor Scott Walker.  Politicians do not usually out and out lie.  We generally settle for their version of the truth.

According to the Tampa Bay Times Politifacts.com website, Walker reached Liar Liar Pants-on-Fire status for stating that the new reciprocity agreement with Minnesota actually makes college more affordable.  He earned PoF's for alleging that worker's unions would not bargain during the introduction of his Budget Repair Bill and that collective bargaining remained intact after its passage.  Walker rated another PoF for his multiple claims that Wisconsin is broke.

Combine those false claims with the fact that he continues to flaunt election laws by not listing complete donor information.  This might stem from his 4/23/12 disclosures showing that out-of-state money comprised 57% of his re-election funds or over 14 million dollars.  This total exemplifies his alignment to "the guys" as he suggested in a taped conversation with a caller who he thought was billionaire David Koch  I doubt that these contributors have yours or my best interest in mind. 

As more evidence appears from the ongoing John Doe investigation into corruption inside his offices, Walker may stand a better chance of being appointed Rod Blogojevitch's cellmate rather than some one's running mate.   I believe that most citizens who "Stand with Walker" have more honesty than this.  But, if they don't get it, they just don't want to.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wannabe Mentality and Bad Laws

On any given day or night in America, an adult who possesses a concealed carry permit to hide a firearm on his body, volunteers as a block captain for his neighborhood watch program.  While driving in his SUV, he spots a person wearing a dark hoodie acting "suspicious."  He calls 9-1-1 and reports his sighting stating that his area has suffered several break-ins.  He heeds the dispatcher advice to wait for an officer and stop following him.  Police arrive and detain the "suspect" who is found to be a son of a resident in the community.  The caller is thanked for being observant, the officers are thanked for being prompt and the "suspect" is thanked for being patient during his short detention.  Ah, if only things worked the way they were designed.

Unless you have just returned from a recent jaunt in the Amazon, you know that on 2/26/12 near a gated community in Sanford FL, this scenario played to disastrous consequences.  An African-American male wearing a hoodie, Trayvon Martin lost his life.  A Hispanic descent male, George Zimmermann killed him.  What lead up to confrontation is documented by statement, witness and comm center audio.  The ten or twelve seconds that lead to Martin's death from the muzzle of Zimmermann's pistol remains the controversy. 

If you listen to the original call placed by Zimmermann, he does exactly what he is supposed to do as a Block Captain.  Be a witness and provide the reason and description of the person in question.  Then, he commits to a higher calling.  Disregarding the dispatcher's suggestion to wait for the uniform, he hangs up and continues following the "suspect" first mobile, then on foot. 

The person is Trayvon Martin, the seventeen year-old visiting his father. He is returning from a convenience store with his candy and soda.  He notices an SUV following him.  He possibly calls his girl friend to report being followed.  (His upbringing has not been illustrated enough to get a feel for what his reaction to this might be.)

I listened to a 9-1-1 call where the caller captured the shouting just before a gunshot is heard.  Zimmerman's camp maintains that it is Zimmermann who is yelling for help while the parents for Martin declare that it is their son who is in duress.  I cannot tell who makes a plea for assistance.  What is evident from the emergency calls is that there are alot of residents home because it is only 7:17 PM.

Crime scene processing can answer a few telling questions.  How close to Zimmerman's car was the struggle?  Photographs of Zimmerman's injuries?  The shot trajectory from weapon to impact and distance between?  Other questions that need just to be asked is:  What training does Zimmerman have as Block Captain and where did he get it from?  What firearms training does he have and who gave it to him.  He obviously is not a sworn police officer in training or recognition.  Has he ever applied for such a position and was turned down?  Somehow we learned that Martin was suspended from school from marijuana but what of Zimmerman?  From the facts of the case prior to the twelve seconds in limbo, we learn that Mr. Zimmermann was ill prepared to be following a "suspect" this night let alone possibly contacting him.

I do find an unusual amount of information being released for an ongoing criminal investigation.  I found a partial police report available to download, the aforementioned 9-1-1 calls and video depicting Zimmermann's conveyance from crime scene to the PD.  But this no usual case.  The race card dropped.  The parents demand an arrest. The Reverends' Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton descended upon the town turning a poorly conceived tragedy into yet another circus.

The Sanford FL politicians made a knee-jerk reaction to suspend the white police chief and fill his slot with an African-American captain from the same department.  A politician got kicked off the podium for wearing a hoodie to memorialize Martin.  Sports teams and big dollar athletes are taking pictures in hoodies.  We even have a "celebrity" that needed to tweet an information of a person involved... Oops, wrong address.  Even President Obama put his two cents in.

The bottom line is those same politicians championed concealed carry permits and wrote ill conceived laws like the "Hold your ground" and the "Castle Doctrine."  Issuing permits to people who have no training at all is reckless.  Check out my blog entitled "May the Deadly Force be with You" from September 2011 that will qualify my allegation.  Giving a blanket pardon to people to shoot other people without the ability to measure their actions will lead to more unneeded killings. 

A Huffington Post article compared this incident to a shooting that happened earlier this March in Slinger WI.  A white homeowner shot a shape coming at him on the home owner's back porch.  The shape belonged to another African-American male, an intoxicated underage drinker trying to elude the cops checking out the drinking party next door.  The prosecutor applied the self-defense standard with the Castle Doctrine in the bull pen to rule the homeowner would not be charged criminally.  You can bet a wrongful death civil suit emerges, however.

The Wisconsin Castle Doctrine clearly implies a positive immunity to this situation.  The Florida "Stand your Ground" version seems a little vague in application but extends the same protection.  Therefore, people cannot simply demand justice when the stars come out.  The politicians need to choose a more common sense rule of thumb to evaluate use of force altercations.  I extend my sympathy to the Martin family and the Morrison family.  No matter how old someone gets, they are still some one's baby in their heart and that loss is great.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Crown of Thorns?

The Hunger Games.  By media accounts, the book trilogy reflects the author's view of society gone amok similar to populating Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, The Running Man with kids.  Other articles point out the explicit kid-on-kid violence and wonder how the theatrical production will preserve the story line with only a PG-13 rating.  I confess that I have neither read the books nor intend to view the movie.

Over the last few days leading up to the national premier, entertainment writers issued a question aimed at parents of tweens and younger children.  This inquiry sparked experts from various disciplines and notoriety to characterize responses as "tough decisions."  I hear the gears moving.  Supply cigarettes?  Provide birth control?  Allow a tattoo?  Not even close.  Get ready for it... "Should I let my child see the movie?"  Really?  Tough decision?

In the 80's and 90's, I was a DARE Officer that presented self-help topics to eleven and twelve year- olds.  One session examined worthwhile risk taking and overcoming fear.  I introduced the concept of fear by talking about scary films.  My classroom teacher never failed to exhibit the same terror when I polled the students by show-of-hands about what movies they have watched.  Without making a laundry list of teen sex / slasher flicks, I'll simply summarize my findings by stating that an R-rating held no weight in parental discretion.

Current headlines suggest that we already possess a hefty population of unfeeling, uncaring miscreants who enjoy inflicting physical pain and psychological harm, think cyber-bullying, on an unexpected victim.  These same wrong-doers have no problem insinuating that books, movies, music or voices guided their ill-fated conduct and they are not accountable.  Why?  Societal professionals feel a need to readily alibi this populace's actions with some kind of outside stimulus.

Parents should be the best source to evaluate their individual child's maturity level.  Some parents that I know have a clock ticking to rush their kids to grow up way too fast instead of letting them be kids.  Is this wrong?  I do not second guess parental styles.  However, if your fear is only wondering  how your offspring will look in the eyes of peers or said child guilt's you into letting them view it when  "everyone" in their whole universe saw it the first night of release, then listen up.

Hoist up the big boy pants.  Take a deep breath and calmly remind them that you are his / her / their parent and not his / her / their friend.   Your job is to protect them and make unpopular decisions based on what you know at the time of the decision.  Give him / her / them the opportunity to list their "Yeah, buts" but remain firm and patient.  Finally, remind them that you will always love them no matter what even though he / she / they just said that he / she / they hate you. 

Congratulations!  You earned the parental laurel this week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

You're Famous Why?

In this day and age of immediate report and global communication, a person labeled a celebrity is a matter of interpretation.  Waiting in a doctor's office or sweating in my health club sauna, I easily passed away the minutes reading Us, OK and Entertainment Weekly.  I used to be able to recognize the famous with just a glance.  Now, I'd need to devote research time in figuring out why I should care about why someone is breaking up, pregnant or available.

As a kid (okay, going to date myself here), I discovered that my family flirted with stardom.  The crooner, Dean Martin hosted a variety show on Thursday nights in the late sixties.  My Dad would tune in and I watched it sometimes.  He featured a lot of stars that populated the movies that I saw on Saturday afternoons at the theater.  I didn't care much about his singing unless the Solid Gold Dancers (think music video females) were involved.  Imagine my surprise when I eventually learned that Dad and Mr. Martin were childhood playmates in Steubbenville, Ohio.  Dad never commented on the subject but I wonder what he thought about when he viewed the television.

About the same time, Robert Wagner, playing Tony Dinozzo's father on NCIS of late, starred in a heist drama comparable in plot to the USA Network's White Collar, aptly called It Takes a Thief.  Each week's adventure offered exotic locations, action and good looking women where his character, Alexander Munday always won.  About the second season, I received a personalized black and white 8 x 10 glossy from Mr. Wagner that read, "Jimmy, Best Wishes, Robert Wagner."  Holy Crap!  Al Munday sent me an autographed picture.  The source of my treasure, you ask?  My Grandma, Dad's Mom, was his housekeeper.  She was a far cry from Berta who sterilizes the Malibu beach house on Two and a Half Men.  But when Grandma visited, she always packed candid photos of R.J. as she called Mr. Wagner, later in the company of Stephanie Powers doing their Hart to Hart thing.

Where is it now?  My Mom cleared my room of seemingly unimportant items after I went into the army.  That publicity shot along with a couple hundred DC and Marvel comic books met the same fate as the assorted scraps of paper that captured several autographs from the late 60's Chicago Cubs teams members.  The trash. 

My Dad only took summer vacation time to pull maintenance on the family house that he built.  But, two or three times every year, four or five in 1969, he gathered up my Sib's and I to venture into Wrigley Field.  Armed with a dime pencil and a fifteen cent scorecard standing at the edge of the diamond under the watchful eye of an Andy Frain usher, I'd join a gallery of other kids. The likes of Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo smacked balls 70' away in the batting cages.  A chorus of yells caused them to glance at the group.  More than once, that cheap program became priceless when one of those baseball stars signed their John Henry for a young fan.  In those days, no one required a designated signer or sold their name.

One of my favorite comedians besides Bill Cosby by virtue of his Road movies is Bob Hope.  In 1975, he performed a stand-up show as homecoming entertainment at Western Illinois University.  Earlier that day, he infiltrated a veteran's spirit squad to party in the stands with the football crowd present that day.  He returned to be the Homecoming Parade Marshall in 1980.  I attended WIU at that time and won a spot on that veteran's group called the Peach Blossoms, a team-cheering group that dressed loosely like female cheerleaders but drank shots and beer from toilet plungers.  (Sidebar here:  One boiled a new plunger head for ten minutes before refrigerating it overnight with mouthwash sitting in it to eliminate the rubber taste.)  

Our paths crossed that Saturday.  No, Mr. Hope did not rejoin us in the bleachers.  He only wanted us Vets to surround his convertible on the parade route.  In exchange (like we wanted anything), he signed all our toilet plungers.  I suffered through that afternoon swigging shots out of a brand new scepter purchased from the local Ace Hardware.  I still possess that signed plunger with pride.  Mr. Hope and I share membership in a very exclusive private club.

Heading into the 90's, production for the movie, I Love Trouble entered the Mad City.  Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts headlined this obscure little film.  My schedule accommodated an assignment to the security detail.  The set harnessed festive energy emitting from everyone present, caterer's assistant down to... well, me.  Around 10 PM, the site manager sought me out to extract an over zealous homeless guy from the buffet line.  I responded with a confident smile for a task easier said than done.  I drifted over without a description and perused the area.  I decided on a gaunt male Caucasian with stringy white blond hair wearing jeans over ratty tennis shoes. His blue knee length puffy coat showed white down sticking out of a tear in one sleeve. 

With a stealth approach and a low, good natured voice, I suggested that he outlived his welcome and needed to exit the chow line.  Amazed that his refusal to vacate came punctuated with profanity.  I pinched the material on an arm and began a more forceful tact when I saw the young site manager sprinting my way.  Her petrified face yelled, "Nooooooo!"  The guy's British accent probably should have been a clue that I was actively ejecting the overall producer of the project off the set.  He demanded my removal.  I remained. 

The next afternoon, Mr. Nollte strolled over to the Set moving in front of the gallery of onlookers.  A local knucklehead ducked the "Police - Do Not Cross" banner to charge him.  He reached about two steps away when I collared him.  Literally.  As I herded him back to the tape, this guy was yelling over my shoulder at Nolte.  Based on the ability of this guy to almost contact him, staff members assigned me to stay with Mr. Nolte during the rest of the shoot.  A favorite ever since the 48 Hours flicks, he turned out to be quite easy going and personable.  Ms. Roberts, on the other hand, preferred the Carmen Santiago approach, hiding behind a top coat and wide brim hat.

I flew to Burbank in 2001 for an appearance on the court show, Power of Attorney.  A production snafu resulted in a limo tour and sipping coffee from a sidewalk cafe on the Sunset Strip.  I shared that limo with who else, Nick Nolte.  Well, the driver admitted that he left the residual cigarette smoke odor in it so technically we rode the same car just not at the same time.

In the spring of this year, I signed on to safe guard Miss Joan Rivers who played a stage show in town.  I listened to her sound check and witnessed her prep work.  Behind the scenes, this 70 year old, five foot nothing lady represented all the qualities you cherish from your grandma or favorite aunt.  On stage, think Portuguese sailor on leave.  She stalked the stage with high velocity humor that left the full house exhausted from laughter.  Ms. Rivers is a consume professional.

These people are celebrities in a true sense of word.  Other individuals that I've meant over the years falling into this category include Country Singer Charlie Daniels, NHL stars Bobby Hull and Stan Makita.  Heck, I'll throw in Roy Rogers too.  No, not the singing cowboy.  Military Police Investigator Roy Rogers worked in Karlruhe, West Germany where I was an army cop.  His brother is country singer, Kenny.

A friend of mine talked me into establishing a Twitter account.  Absent the pleasantries and liabilities of Facebook, I happily follow Mr. Cosby, Ms. Rivers and several actors of NCIS.  General Hospital and Cougar Town actress Carolyn Hennesy follows me as I, her.  I can tag mentions to any of these persons knowing that they can take note of my messages.  Although I cannot have coffee or a beer with any of these celebrities, I need no explanation why I'd want to.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Thought to the Big Game

Like many officers out to make some extra money, I'll be employed by the UW-Wisconsin Police Department tomorrow night to preside over the humanity converging on Camp Randall to witness the first ever football game played against the new conference team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  It's billed as a BIG game.  Number Seven in the AP Poll verses Number Eight.  Bookies in Vegas have the Badgers by nine.

A couple years ago, the Badgers hosted the Top-Ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to a night game.  Bucky emerged victorious and bedlam erupted in the Camp.  Students charged the field in reckless abandon.  A lot of fans cheered on as goosebumps rose on their flesh as they truly enjoyed the moment for their team.  Others simply rushed the grass because... well, it seemed to be the thing to do at the time.  I always like to watch the monkey men rocking on the goal posts with countless victims, I mean witnesses egging them on.  Do they really think it's a good idea to view the determination to drop the upright from... underneath it?

In 1993, then-Coach Barry Alvarez was turning the Badgers into a team to be reckoned with.  One particular Saturday, the Michigan State Wolverines (Shout out to Red Dawn followers!) were in town.  This would be my second year working in the trenches.  At that time, restrictions on carry-ins were lax.  Bologna slices might spin by your head or stick to your jacket like a greasy Frisbee.  Peanuts in the shell were considered too easy to use so enterprising protagonists use penny-ladened marshmallows to pelt unsuspecting officers with.  While you chuckle at the thought, I'd be the first to tell you that a seven penny puffer still hurt like hell after it bounced off the bridge of your nose.

During that contest, I stood on the field in front of the student section.  Students overcrowded these areas because friends wanted to be with friends.  The usual projectiles flew.  The air was electric.  At the time, about a twelve foot walkway surrounded the playing field itself.  With game on, we tried our best to keep it clear of bystanders.  Moving, keep moving.   

The Badgers won and they weren't supposed to.  Good intentions went out the window.  The walkway jammed up with bystanders looking for a chance to storm the hash marks.  I stood at the fence where eager, smiling young faces absolutely glowed with appreciation for the win.  I saw those faces sag into discomfort, alarm, then terror.  I asked one female student what was wrong.  She could only muster a low, "Can't breathe."  I reached over the fence and took her under the armpits.  With good leverage and a younger back, I lifted her free of the wave and put her on my side of the fence. 

Before I could attempt another rescue, someone had me by the back of my duty belt pulling me away from the crowd.  I resisted trying to reach around and free myself.  The reverse momentum carried me about fifteen feet when the chain link snapped and all those happy, now terrorized students exploded forward on top of each other.  A UW cop buddy of mine had been standing back and saw the wave of the Crush descending upon my position.  If his reaction did not save my life, it certainly saved me from serious injury from going down under the masses.

No one died that day although six or seven PNBs (Pulseless Non-breathing) were in progress at the same time, in the stands and on the field.  Every officer that day pitched in to free the mish-mosh of limbs from the twisted metal railings.  It was a long day following a long night shift.  I couldn't really settle down to nap before I went back to patrol that night.  I still felt fortunate that I was not a victim of the BIG Sleep that day.

The UWPD made plenty of changes to ensure that no replay of that catastrophe occurs again. Unfortunately, human nature still remains as an important ingredient in the recipe for disaster.    Most attendees show up to the game on time but others like to be fashionably late.  Kids still think that they have to sit with their friends.  This thinking enhanced after too many adult beverages can overload the student section yet again.  I watch for the nomad crossing aisles with no apparent regard to the designated letter the section represented. I eject errant ticket holders for being in the wrong area according to the ticket in their hand.

That same intoxication level can render its hosts incapable of sensing danger and inadvertently casting another Crush upon the rest of the oblivious fans.  My colleagues and I enforce these infractions of policy firmly.  We get flipped off, cursed at verbally and threatened with losing our jobs.  I guess if the kids only knew why we do it, they would feel better about waking up on Sunday with only a hangover.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Education Guess

While on an "Assist Fire" call the other day, I was standing outside an apartment.  A woman, who had undergone neurosurgery and survived other calamities, lost control and a concerned loved one dialed 9-1-1.  No knowing how she'd react to the arriving paramedics, the dispatcher sent me along in case the need for Doctor E.D. arose.  The letters ED stands for emergency detention but I'll leave that explanation for another day.  To my pleasure, the lady received her assistance well and my presence proved to be unneeded.

As I stood there in that long hallway, an African-American male called out my name from the far end.  I answered with an apprehensive, "I am."  Okay, how bad did I piss this guy off to recall my name?  What's on his mind?  Where's his hands?  Where's cover?  All these things jockeyed for position with my brain operating in tactical planning mode. 

"Do you remember me?" He asked coming down the hall.  I noted the light tone that he imposed.  I caught the gleam of enamel in the single functioning light fixture that he passed under.  Not a sneer or bared teeth ready to bite but a smile of acknowledgement, of perhaps, friendship from this stocky man in his twenties.  I apologized that I did not switching my brain to facial auto search, running with the efficiency of a quad core processor. 

His smile grew wider.  He told me his name was Eddie (not his real name) and reminded me that he was the tall boy in Mrs. Meixner's Fifth Grade class.  It had been about fifteen years since I last seen him.  He gave me a brief synopsis of his years before politely excusing himself to return to his apartment and his wife.  Well, he actually noted that I still shave my head before he did turn away.

Twenty five years ago, I earned an appointment to attend the very first DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Academy held in Springfield, Illinois.  Having originated in Los Angeles, LAPD sent several officers including Sgt Van Velzer, Sgt Webster, Lorrie Bostic and Patrolman Joe out to the flatlands to tutor us.  For two weeks, we lived and breathed classroom management and curriculum content while honing our public speaking skills. 

An important component to this instruction and one that was the easiest for me to conquer was the ability to laugh at myself.  I try to only be serious when the moment dictates it, not as a matter of lifestyle.  I returned to my PD to apply all that I learned with a vengeance.  For five years, I preached the gospel of DARE to fifth and sixth graders.  We discussed issues regarding self esteem, decision making and consequences of our actions, both good and bad.  And, we talked at length about drugs and their effects. 

Personal challenges caused me to turn down a promotion and take a job offer in the Mad City.  After five years here, I regained DARE Officer status only after attending another two week academy class.  But alas, before I had the chance to cash in my second Certificate of Completion in the classroom, eggheads determined that DARE had no measurable impact on children without supplemental instruction.  You think!
It was never intended to be a stand alone program.  Why in the world would a reasonably sane person believe that participating in a class, held once a week for seventeen weeks, could insulate a tween running the gauntlet of growing up anyway?  Nevertheless, DARE tanked but we moved on with similar instruction.

I always worked the night shift because 1) I'd rather be leaving the city when the sun is rising than coming in with a couple thousand commuters, but more importantly, 2) it worked better for family life.  Working fifth detail showed me why on any given day in school, I would find little zombies roaming around unable to stay awake much less learn.  On any given night, responding to a loud stereo or a disturbance, I constantly entered homes and apartments to discover little people still awake when they should have been having happy dreams in their beds.  These households usually consisted of parental units who are kids themselves, not wanting the role nor accepting the consequences for pro-creation.  These are the kids who never graduated high school themselves and know no value of education.  Those darn consequences. 

Now, things haven't changed.  More kids are having kids.  These days, consequences are not even mentioned especially when headlines blare news of indiscretion, lack of integrity and down right criminal activity perpetrated by renowned people who are not held accountable for their actions.  And, people still believe that a few hours in a learning facility can override the lasting effects of a toxic environment.  It doesn't matter how gifted an educator is or how high the expectations are placed on a child, everyone has to be on board with the educational process. 

We have to start being honest with kids too.  We do no favors to anyone by being afraid that we'll damage a kid's fragile Id if we tell him that college may not be an option right now, if ever.  Heck, I did all right in school but I wasn't ready to attend college right away.  I went into the armed forces to pay for school but also to learn some things about me that I couldn't or wouldn't have learned otherwise.  Is it to say that telling a kid that college is not an option is a damning ruination of his character?  Ah, no.  I know a great number of men and women who slum as an eighty thousand dollar a year plumber, carpenter, electrician or mechanic.  

I guess the bottom line is that the "No Kid Left Behind" idea was good... on paper.  No one thought about the total package of the concept.   I wish that a simple remedy like a new way to teach an old subject or a new facility in which to bring students in might overcome the previously mention shortcomings.  Until value returns to education in the eyes of the students, their friends and parents, results from any attempt at innovation will be meager.  Maybe we should interview the Eddies out there to obtain their secret to success  and learn by that.