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Study projects little growth in schools

Published February 16, 2017 by justicewg

We all pretty much knew what the results of the study would be. A consultant group for the school delivered expected results – the only growth area in Grandview is the Yard, and the kind on people living in that area tend to be DINKs and young people with no kids.

Still, it needs to be noted for the future, the school board has gone public with the results, and they are not going to be able to use an increase in student numbers to push for new school buildings.

Culp is quoted in the TVN story saying that enrollment in Grandview has declined by 4 percent, or about 46 students, over the last decade. In truth, enrollment has been dropping since the 1960’s. The current student-teacher ratio, 16 to 1, is one of the better ratios in this county. The school expects to be able to absorb any increase in students without hiring new staff.

Anti-Bullying programs are political

Published January 22, 2016 by justicewg

The parents who are trying to improve the anti-Bully programs at Grandview Heights are exasperated by the resistance they have encountered, if I’m reading their Facebook page correctly. After all, nobody will say, “I am pro bullying”. So why is it so hard to change the school? The problem is that change has a political component that is not spoken out loud. There is a close concept to anti-Bullying, called “Political Correctness”, that adds a political side effect . Given the current climate, nothing political will be easy.

Palin calls“Political Correctness” a Suicide Bomb Vest

There was a lot of word salad in the speech that Sarah Palin gave when she endorsed Donald Trump, but her use of the term “Political Correctness” and comparing those who want to see more PC speech to terrorists, is now standard for those on the far right (which now seems to be the majority of the Republicans).

For the most people, the term PC is nothing more than an expectation that rude speech is poor manners. Racist and sexist talk is not acceptable from anyone who represents a business, it can get people fired if they imply that brown customers are unwelcome or that women are too dumb to use a product or service of any company. Insulting a potential customer group is bad PR.

There has always been a conservative push back against PC in political speech, and it is now become one of the top issues of the race for the republican presidential candidates. All of them complain that they are being held back by PC critics, and spend much of their speeches blasting the concept of politically correct speech, as though it was a foreign invader which infected us.

Trump has brought racist speech to the front of the conversation, with his beliefs that Mexican immigrants are bringing crime and disease, and that Muslims should be stopped at the border. He has normalized anti-gay and sexist speech, he calls his female critics ‘fat pigs,’ and ‘dogs,’ Trump has supporters who say, “he speaks out when we can’t, because of PC police”.

Bullying is mostly about prejudice

Kids who make fun of gay classmates, or fat kids, or any of the different categories kids are divided into are mostly allowing prejudice to become a weapon to use against others. An important step in anti-Bully programs that are effective is to teach that prejudice is wrong.

Parents who belong to a church that teaches that gays are evil have probably already contacted school board members, and told them that they will not stand for any rules at the school that imply their religious beliefs are wrong. Conservative parents conflate anti-Bully with “PC out of control”, and they will made it clear that they will be looking for a new board member to support if the school gets serious about bully prevention.

Politics are crazy right now, and it’s sad that they have leaked into the school system. I think they will be the unspoken gunk that will slow the gears of change for the foreseeable future.

The majority of the school board members are conservatives who have not given any public comments about political correctness, but they can be expected to follow their leaders in condemning it. Bringing in some new board members in the next election will be needed for change at the school.

Later

Article in the Dispatch – Programs to fight bullying set up in central Ohio schools

Culp is quoted in the article saying “I disagree that the district isn’t doing all it can.”

Who owns the trash in alleys?

Published January 12, 2016 by justicewg

Xmas TrashmanYou’re taking the trash out early one morning on the way to work. Across the alley you notice a nice picture frame set out beside your neighbor’s trash can. You walk over and check it out – nice condition, clean, the picture is nothing you want but the frame will fit perfectly in your living room with a new photo. You begin to walk back to your house, when suddenly a blinding light comes from a car you didn’t notice rolling up the alley. A loud voice comes from the police car.

“Sir, please stop. You are in violation of Grandview Ordinance 955.06 . Put the frame on the ground and place your hands behind your head!”

Could that happen in Grandview? I’m not sure if you can be arrested for picking items out of the alleys, but you certainly can be ticketed by the Grandview cops. Every couple months there is a story in the TVN police beat where people are ticketed “for removing material from alleys without a permit”. I wondered – what is the real deal on this law, can the city really make it illegal to remove trash – which was headed to packer trucks, then shredding and the landfill? Who owns stuff that is thrown away? Wouldn’t it be better for this stuff to be used by anyone who wanted it, or recycled for the value of the materials? And what is the “permit “ that is mentioned in the news stories, who gives these permits out?

Taking broken electronics from alleys

I have written about the topic of junk in the alleys before, please read this old post for more on why this issues is something I care about.

I have a more selfish reason to care about junk in the alleys, I belong to a small and nerdy group of people who look for old electronics equipment, do repairs, and use this old stuff. Watch this video from a YouTube guy who is well known for fixing discarded equipment.

https://youtu.be/9revpYxF_jM

My own attempts to learn electronic repair have been limited by a shortage of old electronics to practice on. Nobody tries to sell the old stuff on Craigslist, they either sell working equipment that is a few years old (for too much money), or they throw the old stuff in the trash. I have found a few treasures in the past, but I am limited in looking in the area around my house, I don’t want to have to explain to police officers why I want that old radio that is sitting on top of a trash can.

I asked for information from the Grandview police – exactly what ordinance is used to ticket people who take stuff out of the trash? How does one get a permit?

Official reply from Grandview Police

I asked the police chief some questions about the laws covering removal of trash from the alleys in Grandview, this is what I was emailed.

My name is Officer Janna Cohill with the Grandview Heights Police Department. I’m our Public Information Officer if you have any future questions.  The ordinance is 955.06-Private Collection Restricted, and it is posted under the Streets, Utilities, and Public Service Codes. I will attach a copy of the ordinance to this email.

The police department started enforcing the ordinance approximately five years ago, because we noticed that many of the people driving through to “scrap” were also committing crimes, such as, theft and criminal trespass. The thefts included items in residential yards, open garages and construction material that were obviously not scrap or trash. This ordinance assisted with monitoring our alley ways and combating crime in our city.

As far as obtaining a permit for this, the Mayor has the authority to issue them, but I do not believe he is approving any at this time.

Thanks,

Officer Janna Cohill

This is the ordinance that was attached to the email.

955.06 PRIVATE COLLECTION RESTRICTED

After January 1, 1955, no person, firm, or corporation shall engage in the business of collecting, hauling, or transporting along or over the streets, alleys, or public ways of the City and garbage except as is provided for by this chapter.

(Ord 63-54. Passed 12-6-54)

The obvious question this information provokes – it says you can not “engage in the business of collecting”. But if you are just a Grandview resident taking a picture frame leaning against the neighbor’s trash can, you are not engaged in any sort of business. How can this ordinance apply to you?

What the internet says about taking trash from alleys

I found a number of online legal resources, all of them said that it is not illegal to take something that has been thrown away, and that discarded items are in the public domain. You can’t trespass, you can’t take things that are not clearly trash, you can’t make a mess while looking in the alley, but it is not illegal to take discarded items.

The highest law in the land, the Supreme Court, made a decision in 1988 called California v. Greenwood that is the final words on the ownership of trash. From the MyReporter.com website:

“CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) stemmed from a 1984 investigation in Laguna Beach, Calif. Investigators suspected Billy Greenwood of drug trafficking and found evidence in his curbside trash. The evidence enabled them to obtain a full search warrant of his house which lead to his arrest, but charges were dropped because of the unwarranted search of his trash citing fourth amendment rights.

In California v. Greenwood, the Supreme Court ended up ruling in favor of investigators and held that “the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home.”

Because the police want the right to go through trash looking for evidence of crime, the Supreme Court has ruled that all trash is public domain. Anyone who wants it can take it, police or private citizen.

If you are uneasy about the though of either police or snoopy neighbors looking in your trash can, understand this – your trash has always been a weak security spot, no matter what the laws say. If you throw important paperwork out without shredding, if you toss computer equipment away without wiping the hard drives, you have set yourself up for identity theft. It is your responsibility to keep vital information secure, so that nobody can use it. This is identity theft prevention 101, it has been hammered in the news reports about identity security, and by police who are trying to stop this crime.

Even if Grandview could make it illegal to take items from the alley, where do you think that stuff goes after it leaves the trash trucks? Do you think the people who work further down the trash pipe have security clearances?

Grandview considers the law as written

After I asked further questions about the ownership of discarded trash and the city ordinance, I was told that more consideration is needed.

I’ll be posting more on the questions about this issue. Stay tuned.

Previously – Junkman in the alley

Junkman in the alley, part two

The final word on taking junk from the alley –

Khouzam agrees that taking discarded stuff from the alley is legal

When the news crews show up in Grandview

Published November 17, 2015 by justicewg

Channel 4 interview JosephThe recent threat of a shooting at the high school brought the Channel 10 and Channel 4 news crews out to do interviews with parents. There was the standard “the kid was not unusual, seemed quiet and didn’t stand out” sort of interview. There was also a “this is such a shame, we have soccer teams and a football team that are going into the state finals, it is upsetting for this shooting threat to be in the news”

There is an undercurrent of anger about the fact that news crews showed up to do theses stories about Grandview high school, expressed more openly in some social media posts. Some of that anger is pointed at the child who made a threat, but also at the news organizations that show up at the school.

It is true that kids who work hard and excel in sports are deserving of praise, and there will be stories about the victories of the sports teams on the local TV news. But I don’t think there was any mistake made by the assignment editors for the news crews, they should have been out in front of the school when the story of the potential shooting became public.

Sports victories are fleeting

In 1970 I was in the county finals for the wrestling squad at my high school, it was cool to have an auditorium filled with people cheering for me. It didn’t do much for the rest of my career, either in sports or further in life. That was OK, I didn’t identify as a jock, and I put my sports victories behind me. I saw others in my school who excelled in sports and kept clinging to the sports victories as the highlight of their lives. Those kids had some of the saddest stories as grown ups, their accomplishments were minor at the local factories.

Sports victories are a good way to encourage kids to be skilled sportspeople, a life long habit of keeping in shape will lead to better health. But the career options for someone who mostly uses their muscles rather than their brains was never great, and the options are getting smaller. A lot of those factories went overseas, the rest will slowly become filled with machines that need no operator.

How will we be remembered?

Some big trophies to add to the cases at the high school will be impressive to look at. Let’s not fool ourselves, a winning team is a fleeting victory, no matter how high in the tournaments our teams go those trophies are just some dust catchers after a few years. Nobody will be hiring based on how well your team did in high school.

If the worst outcome of the incident with the kid who made alleged threats of shootings at the school had come true, Grandview would have gone into the record books alongside names like Columbine, and Sandy Hook.

Is bullying a sport at Grandview?

We don’t know what pushed the kid to make threats of violence against other students, but bullying is always a good guess. I have heard from some parents that it is bad at the schools.

In 2012 there was a special board meeting for parents who had problems with their kids being bullied at the school. There was a three hour meeting filled with pleas from parents who saw their kids bullied at school, around town, and in social media. Kids were threatened and sometimes beaten up. I ended that 2012 post with the assumption that the school would react with some substantial actions to deal with bullying. I saw no real changes that happened because of that meeting. There have been no more board meetings to talk about bullying. There is a Facebook group for parents that is focused on solutions for Grandview, but they seem to have no support from the school.

The school board doesn’t want to talk about bullying, but they do have a form that parents can fill out and submit to report incidents. The number of reports filed are listed on the school website. If this is accurate, it shows a spike in the problems at the school, starting in 2014.

News crews are the warning sign that something needs attention

I can’t see inside a school that has a board that mostly wants us to go away, and throws up blocks in front of those who want to see what is happening inside. My guess is that bullying is rampant, and the board will do nothing about it. If they ignore the news crews, it is like ignoring a warning light on your car dashboard – it might be OK for a while, but it will probably be a disaster in the long run.

We might see more news crews if the worst happens and bullying leads to violence at the school. I don’t see the board doing anything to stop this from happening.

Some advice for the superintendent candidates

Published April 17, 2014 by justicewg

Welcome to Grandview, super candidates (except Quint Gage, who has been living here since 1992). You are going to have all sorts of people asking you questions and giving you advice on how to conduct yourself in the interviews – who to suck up to, who to dismiss as irrelevant (and I’m certain my blog will be pointed out as being one of the places you should avoid at all costs).

There will come a time when somebody asks you about the current conflict over the band director who “resigned”. This will not be the current board members asking the question – the majority opinion of the board will be that there was an unfortunate incident that happened because some people are just too emotional, and it was not an indication of anything. Somebody else might sneak into the interview process and ask a question about the band director.

If you do any research into the history at the school you will know that the band director incident is a bleeding raw injury that points directly to the dysfunction on the board, and its failure to communicate with the parents, or care about the opinions of the public (except for certain politically powerful members of the community). It will be obvious that the band parents and kids have suffered a major loss, and are disgusted with the board.

You will be tempted to answer “this is obviously a case of a school board that has lost its way and needs a radical corrective course change”. Do not allow yourself to be honest in answering this line of questions! This board has very thin skin, and any suggestion that they have made an error will result in the immediate loss of any consideration for the job.

The safe answer will be, “I don’t know enough to comment on the situation”.

If you really want the job, the answer you give can hint that the problem was that the public needs to be “managed” so that they have no expectation that any group of parents showing up at a meeting will have any affect on the board, and that they should learn to passively accept the wisdom of the school board. Extra points if you can imply that “rule by mob” would be the result of changing the path of the board because of a highly attended board meeting.

Good luck in your attempt to get the superintendent position. You are going to need it – doubly so if you win!