Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Our street had a block party this morning with food followed by an Easter egg hunt for the kids in one neighbor's back yard. It was fun. The candy stash is now very much restocked. We brought juice and a big pile of bacon which went like, er, hotcakes.

This afternoon the boys are going to the park with a neighbor whose son is in tee ball but the dad is from Turkey so has no idea how to play baseball or even throw a ball. So Dan gets to do a bit of coaching.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Twisted Sister returns

Twisted Sister has recorded a new video, "I Want Barack" based on their 80's hit "I Wanna Rock." Czech it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In case you don't have enough Hello Kitty,

here's a toilet seat you might like.

Or you might prefer this Airstream trailer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Further school news

The Montessori parent group met again last night and a school board member, the district CBO, and the district head of personnel were also all there answering questions. It was valuable getting some information although I think people are still fairly in the dark about a lot of things. There may be a group going to the Board meeting tomorrow night to provide public comment.

Apparently Douglas's friend Helena asked her dad yesterday, "When Douglas and Tobin grow up, can they get married?"

When I picked up Douglas yesterday from preschool he didn't want to leave. He and Tobin were playing happily and when I tried to retrieve him he hugged Tobin and wouldn't let go. So I can see why Helena feels the way she does.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

And more things to say goodbye to

According to the NYT, the Sacramento River Chinook salmon who go up the river every year have vanished without a trace this year.
The almost complete collapse of the richest and most dependable source of Chinook salmon south of Alaska left gloomy fisheries experts struggling for reliable explanations — and coming up dry.

Things continue to look not very optimistic for the Montessori program. The school district can (and it sounds like, will) require that the teachers in it at least have begun or agree to begin the credentialing process, but it's a 2-year minimum program and it's hard to imagine they will be able to maintain the same level of quality for the program if they bump out the current teachers. There is another meeting tonight to discuss the issue.

We had a nice weekend. My father and stepmother were here, and we took them around various Davis institutions such as the farmer's market, the arboretum, and a Little League game (Owen's of course). We ate dinner at Aioli, a Spanish restaurant, and had some good tapas. The delicious roasted vegetables in particular were inspiring. I tried a modified version last night with some limited success.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Goodbye to Montessori?

The district budget cuts have caused a major hit for the Montessori program, where Owen is a student. Montessori has 7 teachers and 4 of them have received layoff notices (and one received a transfer notice). Owen's teacher is one who has been potentially laid off - the notices are not definitive right now, just word that it might happen. The district layoffs were based purely on seniority, and since it is a relatively new program it has a lot of newish teachers.

There was a meeting last night of the Montessori parents and someone from the district also showed up. I don't envy him as it was not the most friendly crowd. He made it clear that there will be at least 2 or 3 Montessori classrooms next year, but that the remainder of the students may be bumped from the program. It has the effect of killing the program if they are only going to have 40-70 students in it (right now there are 180).

The frustrating thing is that it is not going to save the district any money to do this, because the other students are still going to need to be taught by somebody. But the teacher contracts stipulate that seniority is it as far as these decisions are concerned. I asked whether the incoming teachers could be required to have Montessori training (a 2-3 year process which our teachers have all undergone) and the guy from the district said no.

We are feeling very frustrated right now but a lot is still up in the air. I haven't told Owen about all this. I am still hoping they can find some way to preserve the program.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Owen's got mail

Owen now has an email address. If anyone wants to email him it's owendtroy at gmail dot com. His first act was to write an email to the president asking him to stop the war. He was delighted to get an auto-reply instantly that basically said, "Thanks for writing, and we are not going to write back to you."

I went to Chicago on Fri-Sat to present a poster at a conference. It was freeeeezing there. On Fri night I had dinner with friends in Hyde Park and in the 50 feet between their apartment and the car my teeth started chattering, despite having my winter coat on. Liz drove me around their neighborhood, including past Steven Leavitt's house and the Obama's house. We looked in as we drove past and saw Michelle Obama standing in the entryway of her house. That was kind of neat. I also had the thrill (not) of having Ward Connerly on the flight back with me.

The budget crunch in the district has really hit. 91 teachers got pink slips on Friday. That doesn't necessarily mean they will all be laid off but there is a chance that they will be. Owen's teacher, who is fantastic, was one of the ones who was noticed. She is also a single mom and has a son in kindergarten at Birch Lane. It will be a devastating loss if she is laid off so I am getting our class to write a letter to the Board on her behalf.

It was beautiful in Davis this weekend. We went to the park yesterday and enjoyed the sunshine. The trees are all blooming as are our daffodils, lavender, and the euphorbia is going crazy.