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Today's Opinions

  • Socialization as a religious phenomenon

    Every homeschooling parent has been asked the S-Question: “What about socialization?” The implications (real or imagined) of the question are less than flattering:
    • Students who attend schools outside the home are socialized better because they spend so much time with their immature peers, whereas students who attend school within the home are poorly socialized because they spend so much time with their mature parents.
    • Home school families do not interact with one another.
    • Socialization that occurs on the soccer field, during debate rounds and in church doesn’t count (or is somehow inferior).
    • Students who attend school outside the home are always well socialized.
    • Your kids are so weird.
    I would like to put the S-Question to rest by summarizing research I conducted along with my colleagues.
    We surveyed 223 families (asking questions of one teen and one parent), 95 of whom were schooling at home. The results point to three important observations: homeschooling teens socialize more than other teens, they socialize differently than other teens, but both of these observations miss the point. Socialization is not a home schooling issue; it is a religious phenomenon.

  • Taxpayer’s money in the Ballparcc

    It’s easy to annoy teachers.
    Tell them that they’re overpaid. Or that you wish you had a cushy job like they have. Or that it’s all their fault when students perform poorly.
    But if you really want to provoke them, just say the word “PARCC.”
    Actually, PARCC isn’t a word. It’s an acronym, or perhaps more accurately an acrimoniousym. Over time, an acronym can become a word. If this happens for PARCC, it’ll probably be used as a curse word (kind of like ‘frack’).
    PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
    The “partnership” refers to corporate partners of Pearson LLC who are making billions in profits off the backs of teachers and students (and taxpayers).
    But I do love acronyms. One of my favorites when discussing PARCC is FUBAR. I forget what that means, but it’s in the same general ballparcc.
    OK. I should mention that I signed a security confidentiality agreement promising not to discuss the content of the PARCC assessments.
    I did not, however, sign anything prohibiting me from saying that the test is a politically motivated pile of yak droppings. Of course, I wouldn’t say that. It’s not my style.

  • ‘Lean startup’ turns traditional business model on its head

    Many innovators wouldn’t dream of launching a business without a plan and a pile of money, but that’s precisely the “lean startup” approach that advocates say is revolutionizing and democratizing entrepreneurship.
    The methodology, introduced in 2011 by serial entrepreneur and startup coach Eric Ries, shuffles the traditional deck by putting the cart (the product or service idea) before the horse (the business organization), “selling” the wares before investing time and money building something that customers don’t really want.
    If it sounds counterintuitive, it’s because the conventional business development template begins with a business plan, followed by a search for financial backing and recruitment of a core management team. After months or years spent quietly developing and building the product, the creation is introduced to consumers through advertising and marketing.
    But many businesses fail after all this investment in product development and capital expenditure because people just don’t want the product being offered.
    The lean startup path seeks to avoid such waste of time and money by “selling” products before building them.
    Feedback first

  • Thank you: Efforts at arts fair appreciated

    The hard work of many dedicated volunteers resulted in a successful Northern New Mexico Spring Arts and Crafts Fair. It was a fantastic spring day with nice weather, although storm clouds lingered in the area. People had the opportunity to visit with friends and mingle among the booths. The art classes from Los Alamos schools had its work on display inside Fuller Lodge showcasing the many talented students in our school district.
    The fair benefited from the efforts of RSVP members who posted flyers around Los Alamos before the fair. We also wish to thank Los Alamos County Parks Department for mowing and trimming the grounds around Fuller Lodge, as well as cleaning up trash during the fair. Many people commented about how nice the area looked for the fair. It truly was beautiful.
    As always, a big thank you goes to our board members and volunteers who spent many hours in preparation, as well as time staffing the fair. This includes Emily Mercer and Irene Kwon from LAHS National Honor Society, volunteers Bill Hamilton, Lisa Lloyd, Tadg Woods, Michael Donnelly, Mitch Pfaff and Adam Joseph. The Arts Council appreciates the time you give to our organization.

  • Words matter, so use them carefully

    In our public and personal discourse, there are some words that must be used only with the utmost care.
    One is “Nazi.” Another is “slavery.” Both refer to horrific historic chapters in human history that called into question our humanity.
    Unfortunately, we sometimes carelessly inject these words into our conversations in reference to something else entirely. By corrupting the meanings of these words, we disrespect those who suffered under fascism and slavery.
    I read that the Los Alamos Republican Party has recently elected a new leadership team. I was shocked to find in “The Adopted Principles of the Republican Party of Los Alamos” a call for “leaders who will refocus governments on executing their legitimate tasks well instead of enslaving and bankrupting us.”
    Americans rigorously debate the proper scope and function of government at all levels, but this claim that Los Alamos Republicans experience repression akin to what slaves in this country experienced for 250 years goes beyond the boundaries of truth and into the realm of the worst possible hyperbole.

  • Are we getting enough civics in public schools?

    The column by Cal Thomas in Wednesday’s April 22 edition of the Albuquerque Journal highlights a growing problem with our citizenry in understanding and living with our form of government.
    Civics is no longer a must for public school students. In the 1940s, civics was a semester course in New Mexico. Somewhere along the line civics as a discrete separate course was dropped and the topic was meshed with social studies where one-thirteenth of it was incorporated in each class from kindergarten through 12th grade (see New Mexico Public Education Department social studies teaching standards).
    Jay Leno’s popular program segment, “Jay Walking,” Interviewed people on the street about government and current affairs. They could not identify civic office holders nor could they define pieces of the Constitution or government processes.
    Similar instances were cited by Thomas in his article. One wonders why some people go to the polls. I am sure that most people who voted for a recent constitutional amendment did not understand what they were voting for.

  • Boy Scouts ready to accept donations for food drive

    Dear Residents of Los Alamos County:
    Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts are prepared to help the Letter Carriers and LA Cares to collect, sort and store your donations of food and supplies during the 23rd annual National Food Drive on Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Letter Carriers. All we need is your help to “Stamp Out Hunger.”
    It may be surprisingly to learn that even in our well-off community there are dozens of families, many with young children or elderly, who need help, in addition to those in our neighboring communities. In fact, one in six Americans struggle to get enough to eat. So what can you do to help?
    Go to your pantry and fill a grocery bag (double it for strength) or a box with non-perishable food and other necessities. Then on Saturday morning place it near your mailbox and soon your Letter Carrier, a Boy Scout or an adult leader will pick it up and take it to be sorted, stored and distributed by LA Cares.

  • Insulting stereotypes, demeaning dialogue can't pass as humor

    After a group of Native American actors walked off the set of “The Ridiculous Six,” now shooting in northern New Mexico, I happened to be at Ghost Ranch for a conference.
    The cast and crew were also at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, but only their trailers were visible.
    Too bad. I would have enjoyed a word or two with them. Instead, I’ll give them 600 words.
    Let me say up front that I’m a fan of Adam Sandler when he’s in movies for grown ups. The rest of the time he makes garbage, which, unfortunately, is what “The Ridiculous Six” is.
    Some Native actors, including Mescalero Apache consultant Bruce Klinekole, took exception to insulting stereotypes, ignorance and disrespect for Native culture.
    Good for them.
    The fact that they objected publicly brought the discussion into an open forum on the Internet and in the media.
    It tells you something that I can’t fully explore all the offensive material because the content is too raunchy for a family newspaper. Indians in the movie are supposedly Apache; in real life Apaches were personally modest and conservative in their behavior. Sandler’s Apache women were named Beaver’s Breath and Wears-No-Bra and one that’s unprintable.