Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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Tales from Normal, Mn. Headline News---FICTION

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Schools Eliminate Reading.....and Math too----FICTION

Well it sure has been wonderful with the warmer weather having arrived....I always like to give my old friend Herman in Normal, Mn. a call about this time of the year because it still is winter up in those parts. Normal is just south of Garrison, Mn., and just west of the land of Lake Woebegone..... A quiet fishing resort village where folks like me can escape to. ..... A place where if there is electricity at night at the motel, it is considered five star.

Herman answered my call on the first ring. "What's up, wolfman,(that's what he always used to call me.)? I quickly replied:

"It has been pretty quiet here in good old Wisconsin, but the big news is that a city near here, Edgerton, has decided to eliminate Reading and simply incorporate it into other courses. I mentioned that some schools were so gifted athletically that it was just a "no brainer" to eliminate an academic course rather than tamper with cutting the costs of athletics."

Herman cut me off in my explanation:

"Shucks, Wolfman, we eliminated BOTH Reading and Math years ago. We simply consolidated them and teach them as part of World History. We go over all the diverse types of counting that have been used over the ages, from the abacus to the latest calculators. As far as the READING course, we teach that as a part of history too-----as in "years ago people actually read something called "BOOKS" that they paid money for, but after the prices got high, audio books that were abridged became popular, and these could be placed on i-pods. Pretty soon, folks who loved reading were considered kinda "BACKWARD." And---cutting math and reading was great cause we could eliminate those salaries. Now we just use an audio library that we download for a set subscription fee. It works neat."

I was just stunned.

It sure is good to be back in good old Wisconsin----where we know the value of READING and MATH and not just as an element of a history course.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"The Sit Pipe" enters Historic Registry----FICTION

Recently in reading a local tabloid, I was stunned to see that there was a naming of a "SIT PIPE" as a historical landmark in our fair city. I just was totally ignorant of any mention of these in American History, even though I had majored in History in college. So, being dumbfounded, I decided to simply pick up the phone and call my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn. and get some info.

"Herman, have you ever heard of anything called a "SIT pipe?"

Herman let out a loud bellylaugh. "Shucks Wolfman,(that's what he always called me) a "SIT pipe" is similar to a "STAND pipe" and there are usually a couple of them surrounding it. Really, it used to be called a "BENCH", but the term "SIT pipe" makes it sound so much more historical. Ain't that something. Anyway, once it gets the larger name officially, it can be listed on the National Historic Register and be treasured forever."

Wow what a surprise. It never ceases to surprise me what there is to learn from history.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dateline Normal: LifeSkills Curriculum Success; Regular Curriculum Scrapped"---FICTION

Well. With the new daylight saving time beginning, I suddenly got all sorts of energy and just could not resist the urge to head out of town, and yes you guessed it, up that long road-HWY94-to Normal, Mn., the classic fishing village, just south of Garrison, and west of the land of Lake Woebegone.

I just could not wait to chat with my old friend, Herman, the countryboylawyer, who in addition to being on the Normal School Board, was the biggest resident author in town, having ghost written the famous legal text, "Billy Bob on Civil Procedure." As more and more towns became familiar with this down home text, the demand overtook supply, and ....well...the book was in its 3rd reprinting in just two years.

After I sat down in the booth at "Betty Lou's", the famous coffee shop in town, I wasted no time in asking what was on my mind:

"Herman, back in my fair city, we have had a real emphasis on "Life Skills Curriculum" as the method of preparing students for the day of reckoning---graduation. "

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh. "Shucks, Wolfman, (that's what he always called me), it just gets down to real common sense. If a student cannot say "yes sir" when told to do something, who cares whether he/she can add or subtract. Who cares furthermore whether they can read or write. Without the proper attitude, one of total submission, academic subjects are pure bunk. Up here in Normal, Mn., we have simply junked the regular subjects and now just concentrate on the "Yes Sir Curriculum. It has worked wonders. "

I was just totally shocked.

"Do you mean to say that you have simply given up on the regular curriculum?"

"YUP", Herman replied. "Truthfully, we were doing so poorly with the test scores and all, that it actually did us good to simply "opt out" of the testing. It made us look a whole lot better. '"


Well. It sure is good to be back home. Where we do not give up challenging curriculum and substitute "Life Skills" instead. We insist on excellence..... and we have as our motto that every kid can be valedictorian, and in fact are well on our way.

Sure is good to be back in good old Wisconsin.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn: "Pres. Bush did not have 4K"----FICTION

Ed.note: Click on the post for the full article in the Janesville Gazette.)


Recently I read in the local paper that Janesville is going to implement 4K beginning with the next school year, and will be having these at private sites--17 of them to be exact.

In the article, they note that;


" The fact that so many children were not ready for school at age 5 was a major argument that led to school-board approval of the new program.

Officials believe that when parents can’t afford to give their children a quality preschool experience, those children fall behind, and many never catch up, leading to behavior problems, truancy and other problems during their school years and poverty, crime and other social ills when they reach adulthood.

Some say quality preschool for all could be key in removing the student achievement gap between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

However, both “haves” and “have-nots” are welcome to join P4J."

I just did not know what to make of all this. It is right in the middle of the political season, and there is a record low of truth per column inch in the newspapers, and for that matter one gets so many robo calls from candidates who do not even let me interject a question that one just does not know what to think of it all. So....I just picked up my cell phone and called Herman, my friendly countryboy lawyer in Normal,Mn., a small fishing village just south of Garrison, and west of Lake Woebegone.

I got right to the point with Herman: "Herman, what do you make of all the 4K stuff. What do you folks do up in Normal, Mn.?"

"Shucks, Wolfman( that's what he always called me) years ago we had a kid who was a little unprepared for kindergarden and just could not handle a green crayon for the life of him. It was real serious. It is real important to have play based instruction that can prevent criminality in the later years. So----We have "the works" up here in Normal---4k,3k,2k---. And you can really see the difference. Why look at all those politicians like President Bush and VP Chaney----those guys would have been "on the level" if they had been on a level playing field in 4K. It really could have been the difference. One of the first things the kids learn in 4K is that when you are attacked by one kid, you do not hit another. It is real simple. Clearly Bush never learned it and thus he goes and starts the Iraq War. See. 4K. It could have been a real moral compass so to speak."

I admit. This was a hard argument to beat. I still wondered about the costs.

"Where do you get all the space for the program up there?"

"Shucks, Wolfman, it is no problem. We have such a wonderful program that folks simply converted old gas stations into daycare centers. Works real neat. Ya just open the doors when they go out to play. "

"But what about the crime,?" I asked.

"Herman replied, "Shucks, crime is virtually non-existant up here. Well. Besides, with the shortage of funds, we did have to eliminate the police force. It sure works wonders though. The chart for arrests just plunged....just like they predicted."


"Thanks, Herman."

Well it sure is good to be back home. Where we are good with the green grayola. Where we have gas stations and not convert em into daycare centers. And where everyone knows just after birth that when you are attacked by A one does not attack B. I wonder though whether 4K could have been the difference for Pres. Bush. With Cheney, I know that if you have an irregular heart beat, it might cause irregular thinking so 4K might not have helped. Still. I wonder.