Friday, March 20, 2015

parental involvement

My wife and I are in New York, and this morning we visited my daughter's classroom at Booker T. Washington Middle School on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Lucy is teaching 7th grade physical science and 6th grade math with about 30 kids in each class. I mentioned the kinds of physical science lessons being taught at Clear Spring School, but of course with so many students in a class, it is hard to do anything that's not by the book. Collaborative hands-on learning is often out of the question, so parents come in asking the wrong questions. They want to know how their kids are doing, but they don't ask how class sizes could be reduced so that kids can become engaged in a more experiential manner. There are things the hands just can't fix, but that understanding of the hands' role in the development of character and intellect might lead us to adjust. And yet, the enormity of the problem boggles the mind.

With thousands of schools and with about a third the number of teachers necessary to reduce class sizes to the point that kids can learn by doing real things, we've work to do.

 I have begun to understand our case against SWEPCO as being a case against a larger conspiracy of intended malfeasance. The recent joint filing by SWEPCO, the Southwest Power Pool, and the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation illustrates their collaboration in the application process. Even the way they had arranged the attorneys for their hearing in Little Rock made clear their relationship as collaborators in this case.

The presentations make by their witnesses and attorneys were in well planned lock step. And so what we have discovered we are up against is conspiratorial malfeasance. In this malfeasance, a huge swath of Northwest Arkansas would have been destroyed, even though all the conspirators knew in advance that it would serve no real purpose for the people of Arkansas. But why would they put forth such malfeasance?

First, for SWEPCO, once the project was approved by the APSC, whether the power line was used or not, the spigot of profits would be open wide. Hundreds of millions of dollars in profits would accrue for SWEPCO and its parent corporation AEP. The Southwest Power Pool would benefit since the area to which power would be supplied is no longer a part of its territory. SWEPCO's rival Entergy had withdrawn from the Southwest Power Pool to join a rival transmission organization, leaving the Power Pool's headquarters high and dry outside its own territory. Extending a network of extra high transmission lines under SPP control across Arkansas might have felt good for them after Entergy's slap in their face.

 So why would AECC want to join such a conspiracy? They have been trying to meet their renewable energy quotas without using solar which they actively lobby against. They have signed contracts with wind energy producers in Oklahoma and Kansas as a way to forestall the inevitable solar development that is happening in every other state. Helping SWEPCO and Southwest Power Pool to build a network of extra high voltage power lines, would open the door to use of these lines to keep folks from investing in solar power and undermining the Rural Electric Cooperatives throughout the state that are the owners of AECC.

If you squeeze a watermelon seed between your fingers, it is hard to know which direction it will go. In our case, SWEPCO's pressures on our community have pushed us away from their direction. My wife and I have agreed to put solar panels on our home, and will proceed in that direction this spring to take advantage of tax incentives and the power that warms the earth. What we need in education is similar. Parental involvement should be leading us all to take greater responsibility and control over schools and schooling and the educational opportunities presented to our kids.

Parental involvement never ends. Our visit in Lucy's classroom was great. And we are very proud of the young teacher she has become.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment