Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Can't Believe This Is Really Happening

I'm feeling put upon, so forgive me if I use you to whine about the world for a while.  Things are just out of sorts, it seems.

I've been stewing about SB1070 since yesterday, and I'm no more comfortable with it today than I was then.  The lead photo in Monday's Arizona Daily Star has the requisite raised fist

Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic
but I don't see many raised fists here in Tucson.  I'm berating my legislators via email and phone, I'm spreading the word here in The Burrow, I'm feeling outraged.... and yet it all seems small and petty and meaningless.

Why have the campuses not erupted?  Where is the fervor I remember?  Is it really that different 40 years later?  Have kids changed that much? 
I helped G'ma fill out her absentee ballot yesterday.  Arizona has a special election next month. There is only one question: Are you for or against the imposition of a 1% sales tax for the next three years?  

Without it, elementary school teachers will have 40+ students in their classrooms, if they have classrooms at all.  Police, fire, hospital care will all fall by the wayside as the state becomes unable to pay its bills.  It seems like a fairly simple proposition with which any right thinking person could agree, until you read that while these new monies must go to education, health and public safety, there is nothing to prevent our legislators from siphoning money from those same accounts to fund other state priorities.  Kind of like Boris Badenov's "Out with the bad air, in with the good air" refrain from Rocky the Flying Squirrel fame..... "out with the old money, in with the new." 

Poor G'ma -- she could barely keep the permutations in her head.  Finally, laughing hard enough to shake her glasses askew on her nose, she said "At least they're honest about being crooks" and signed her name.

I sighed as I mailed her ballot.  
Road construction bonds are sold years before the work is done.  The planning takes place years before that.  So it was not surprising that in the depths of the recession, AzDOT began a major street resurfacing program.  It was surprising that my entire corner of town was blocked in by these programs.  Tucson doesn't have many sneaky back ways to avoid the main roads and their concomitant traffic delays; our neighborhoods are cul-de-sacs affording no outlets to further your journey.  That makes things flow smoothly, for the most part... except when the main roads exist only in the imagination of the map maker.  
I try to stay off the streets before and after school and during lunch breaks and if it's raining or at 4 o'clock when the construction workers (those few still employed) head for home, but it still takes much too long to get where I'm going.

Relax, you say?  Think of the fabulous surface on which you will soon be privileged to ride?  If only that were true.  But, the finishing touches have been put on nearly the entire length of one of those roads, and there's a seam, a big, annoying, tire-catching seam, an accident waiting to happen seam running beneath my tires.  And the tires of the truck in front of me, the one with the rakes and shovels teetering as they sway, are caught in that seam, too.

I can't believe I waited all Fall and Winter for this.
The second headline in Monday's Arizona Daily Star reads:
UA to teach high school level math in the fall.  
One-third of freshmen found not ready for college courses.
We are not talking about Math 101 here, Dear Readers.  We are not asking that all UofA students prove their competence in a basic, college level math course (whatever that might be).  No, this is high school math we're talking about.   

Are there no admissions standards?  Is there not an expectation that, in order for your application to receive favorable consideration by someone, somewhere, who might be paying attention, that you have passed certain courses?  

Does everyone need to study math in college?  Not really.  I'm just hoping that the students in those high school math classes are not then admitted to the engineering school.  I'd like to think that by the time they got to be freshmen in college, the engineers who build my bridges and design my buildings were able to do the math without remediation.
And to top it off, NBC Nightly News just told me that Afghan school-girls were victims of poison gas attacks in their classrooms in Kunduz Province last week.   How heinous - to want to learn.

A Thousand Splendid Suns should be required reading in every high school in America.
I just can't believe this is all really happening.