Mr. Crafty-Pants (and an unrelated rant)

My husband comes from a long line of thrifty tinkerers. His grandpa, for example, never throws a thing away, because he might need it again...and crazily enough, he often seems to find a use for the thing (his garage is something that would leave any normal person in shock and awe.) Allen just loves to think up ways to make things from what others might consider junk. Okay, even from things that he would consider junk. He is good at "repurposing", as they say. So, here's one of his latest creations.

Allen took apart two pieces of equipment at work that were already broken: the "seat" is from a pressure washer and the "carriage" is from an edger. Using some of his fancy tools in his tool box (a Dremer drill being one of them), he fashioned this little stroller. Of course, the downside (or one of them) is that Ruby won't fit in it much longer because of the narrow width of the seat. But it's a cool project anyway. Here's a link to see the video.  (And, for a nifty link within a link, here's the video we were referring to when we say "Put a bird on it!" in the video.)

And now, in other news, I'm in a pissy mood because I'm listening to people on Fresh Air talk about public education and how charters are sucking the life out of public schools because they are mostly entrepreneurial privatizing things. Well, I'm sure that is true of SOME charter schools out there (like the ones that are kind of franchises), but there is no way that anyone could look at MRA and say it is sucking the life out of the district. If anything, it's the reverse. Under current Oregon law, districts are recommended to give 80% of the ADM (the public funding per child) to charter schools for their students, but they don't HAVE to. I'm pretty sure ours is giving about 50%. How we're supposed to do anything with even less funding than the regular schools is beyond me. We're working very hard, and we are making some progress, but will it be enough before the clock strikes midnight at the end of the 2012 school year, when our charter must be renewed or denied? I don't know. Only time will tell. The other thing the guest said on the show was that charter schools steal away the best, brightest, and most motivated students and families, leaving the struggling ones at the public schools. That is certainly not the whole story at our little charter. Yes, we do get some very gifted and talented students and families who want to be involved. But we also get a lot of students with special needs or who have failed everywhere else, and their parents are "trying something new." For some of them, we have been a good environment, but it has a very polarizing effect on the classroom. It means that within one group of 25 kids, you can have some who are performing two grades above level and those performing two grades below; kids with massive (and possibly unmedicated) ADHD, autism, emotional disturbance, etc.; those who come from homes where their parents sit with them and do homework every night, and those whose parents dropped out of high school and can't help them with 4th grade level math or else are working 2 jobs to make ends meet and just aren't there. You have high IQ kids who are lazy as all get out, and low IQ kids who are working their tails off and sometimes outperforming the high IQ ones. In short, you have quite the puppy pile of humanity, and it is really hard to know how to serve all of those different needs. Our school is not one that is full of only the best and brightest. We get the best and brightest, and the "hopeless cases." Are charter schools "the answer" to what's wrong with public education? I doubt it. I don't know if there is an answer. There are things I'd like to see abolished (judging schools by standardized test scores) and things that I'd like to see implemented (more vocational schools to reach out to students who aren't book learners and know they want to pursue something specialized). But AN answer? Can't think of one.
Enough for now. I could go into the whole OAKS (Oregon's version of the No Child Left Behind mandated standardized testing) thing but I don't have the strength.


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