Monday, April 26, 2010

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Yay, volunteers!

There's going to be a web event next Monday to honor the selected winners. I like it when these big foundations use the tools we have most effectively, so kudos to them. You can register to watch by going here.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

With the layoff talks heating up....

....I'd like to resurrect an old post I did last year, Layoff By Seniority Really Is the Best Way.

In my district we're within an inch of being able to have everyone who wants to come back. All things considered, this year's legislature did alright by the schools.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Irrational Exuberence


One of the stories in education this week has been the final settlement of the WEA v. Evergreen Freedom Foundation lawsuit regarding union dues being spent on politics; the releavant press release from the EFF here and here. They spent a lot of time and effort on this effort, and I don't begrudge them their satisfaction, but the case is being a bit overstated. For example, from an email that I received this morning:

But the $1.2 million in penalties and restitution was the least of the union’s losses. The union also suffered a major blow to its reputation as the entity that claims it's "all about the kids." Few people, policy folks, or members of the media believe that any longer. Over the last ten years the number of teachers who voluntarily give to the union's PAC has plummeted and remains very low.

Truth is, over the last 5 years the number of teachers who voluntarily give to the union's PAC has increased dramatically. We're now at about 25,000 WEA-PAC members statewide. A scant few of years ago, it was less than 10,000. Given that one of the bigger membership drives is the time right up to Rep Assembly next month, WEAPAC could be tickling 30,000 members right soon. I'm betting there are more than a few groups around the state who would love to have that kind of membership.

In the years since Davenport was decided in January of 2007, the WEA was at the front lines of getting the simple majority for school levies passed, did quite well in the 2008 elections, got absolutely creamed in the 2009 legislative session, and recovered nicely this year to win legislative battles on levy equalization and school reform. It's very hard to look at what they have accomplished and declare that their reputation is damaged beyond the veil; the current Race to the Top fad is constructed for union input, much to the consternation of some.

The beat goes on.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

On the Cochlear Implant

I've talked before about my daughter, the Cute Deaf Baby Cute Deaf Toddler. Diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, she's profoundly deaf in her right ear and has been using a hearing aid in the left since she was three months old.

Our concern as parents has been that right ear--with no stimulation, there was no chance that it would ever be useful to her. We talked at one point about trying to aid it as well, but all of her audiograms said that wouldn't work. We asked about getting a cochlear implant on that ear, but the recommended procedure is to implant the better ear, because there's a higher chance of having success with the implant if the ear has had some stimulation. I understand the point, but that wasn't changing the fact that her right ear was quickly going past the point of no return.

The eventual winning argument we hit on had to do with her speech--she's still significantly delayed (like, 1st %ile delayed) in her expressive language, this with every intervention possible since she was born. We pivoted off of that into the thesis that because the hearing aid alone clearly wasn't enough to allow her to access language, then we had to do something more, and in this case something more was going to be the cochlear implant.

By gum, it worked. They refused the first request and made us appeal, which really put my wife on edge but seems like it's just part of the game any more, but early last month we took her to the Sacred Heart Hospital here in Spokane and had her surgery.

Her mom and I held it together pretty well, until they wheeled her back to the OR. By then she was loopy on medications and didn't notice her mom and I were teary-eyed, but I suppose that the fact that sending the kid off to be operated on isn't such a common occurance in my life that I take it for granted. The surgery itself took about an hour, at which point we got to go back to the recovery room and wait for her to come out of the anesthesia.

She woke up mean. The look that she shot her mother and I pretty much said it all: "You bastards did this to me, and you're going to be paying for it for some time to come." Her oxygen numbers weren't what they wanted them to be, so we had to stay a couple extra hours, but after checking in at 6:00 that morning we left the hospital at 6:30 that night, which is pretty amazing when you consider that she had just had cranial surgery.

That was just the implant, though--the piece that goes under her skin and stimulates the cochlea. After giving it about a month to heal we went to Spokane ENT where they gave us the external processor, which looks like it came right out of the Apple family of products. It also comes with a remote control and a suitcase full of equipment.

The piece we're working on now is to see if the implant is making a difference in her hearing. It's basically teaching her to use that ear, a process that we've already been through with her left ear and the hearing aid, so in some respects were taking a step backwards and working on listening skills that we had already covered years ago. If this works, though, she's have binaural (stereo) hearing and we should see an improvement in her oral language, which would be a great thing.

Parenting: it's a new adventure every day.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Question

If 41 states apply, and only 2 get the grant, is it really worth Washington's time and effort to even try?


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