7 Words

Is John 11:35 really the shortest verse in the Bible?350px-holy_bible-300x216

If you are familiar with the Bible I’m sure you’ve heard the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept” in John 11:35.

I had always thought that was the only verse in the Bible with only two words but recently learned that was not true. There is another verse with only two words.

You have to count characters to determine which is shortest. John 11:35 has two words and 10 characters. I Thessalonians 5:16 has two words and 14 characters.

So there you have it, John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible but you have to go to a character count tie-breaker for confirmation.

Contrasts are interesting

In addition to just the number of words I find the contrast in these two verses interesting.

In John 11:35 Jesus shows us He loved and felt grief just like we do. Lazarus, a close friend of His, had just died and a wave of grief just passed over Him like it does us when we grieve, so Jesus wept.

In I Thessalonians 5:16 we are told to “Rejoice always.” That seems to be in direct conflict or contrast with John 11:35, but is it really?

This does not mean to pray continuously but to pray persistently and consistently. Don’t just use prayer as a crutch or your “help line” when you have exhausted all of your own great, or not so great, ideas. Try it as a first resort. His ideas are greater than ours and prayer helps us learn what those are.

You Can Memorize Scripture

Three very short verses, seven words, and you thought you couldn’t memorize scripture. I am confident if you will just read these three verses a few more times you will have memorized three verses today.

7 Words Verses

 

God Does Not Do Coincidences

God does not do coincidences. He knew what He was doing when he inspired these verses as He did with all the other verses in the Bible. I am not an expositor of scripture and did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night but I can draw a couple of thoughts from these three short verses of scripture that make sense to me.

As Christians, if we would practice praying without ceasing that would increase our chances of rejoicing always. If we rejoice always we will even be able to rejoice when a brother or sister in Christ leaves this world and takes up residence in their final home with Jesus. We know they are rejoicing and that helps us to rejoice. However we will also shed a few tears because we are sad they are no longer here with us and we do grieve.

In the end, as Christians, we do have the hope and promise we will see them again one day when we get home.

Do you share this hope?

If you don’t share this hope and would like to learn how you can visit Peace With God and satisfy your curiosity. What you learn there can allow you to begin rejoicing always. You just may be weeping for joy and praying without ceasing will become a real possibility.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

Unlike Any Other

CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, stationed in the TV tower at No. 16, made the call that day. That day was April 10, 2005. In case you are not a golf or sports fan and haven’t seen that shot by Tiger Woods on No. 16 on Sunday afternoon at The Masters on April 10, 2005 you can see it and read about it at the link above. The Masters is known as a Tradition Unlike Any Other and this is one of the most famous shots in that event. Since this year is the 10th anniversary of that shot it has been getting a lot of air time the past couple of weeks.

I didn’t see that shot when it happened…or when I expected. I do remember that day and night though.

This Tradition Has Been Part of My Life

The Masters has been one of my favorite annual traditions for many years. For me, it marks the official beginning of spring. I often watched it with my father growing up and in later years when he could no longer play so it brings back good memories of spending time with him. I forced my children to watch it as they were growing up if they watched anything on Masters Sunday. They probably didn’t like it very much at the time but I think they have all come to appreciate it, if for no other reason, they know what it means to me.

I remember that Sunday for a different reason…

On this particular Sunday evening Sharin was working 2nd shift in the blood bank at the hospital and I had gone to church with the kids. I had a deacons meeting after church so I had set the VCR, yes it was a VCR back then, to record the rest of the golf tournament and I planned to watch it when I got home.

After church, Sarah and Amy went to Dairy Queen, the traditional after church place to go eat and visit. Rachel and Thomas wanted to go too but I made them wait at the church for me. I wanted to get home to see how The Masters ended and I had to be at the airport for a 5:30 flight the next morning so I still needed to pack for that trip too. I was just about to sit down and watch the end of the Masters…

Then, the phone rang…

It was a little after 9:00 and I received one of those phone calls a parent never wants to receive. It was Amy, telling me she and her sister Sarah, had been in an accident. Amy was 14 and Sarah 17 at the time. Her voice was a little shaky because she was understandably shaken up and worried about her sister still trapped in the car on the side of a hill. She wanted me to get there as soon as I could. I am pretty sure I yelled at Rachel and Thomas, 10 and 9 at the time, to get to the car and to pray for their sisters and we hit the road.

A Stretch of Road Unlike Any Other

The section of Highway or Route 21 between Hillsboro, where we lived, and DeSoto, where we went to church, is a 2 lane stretch of road called “Blood Alley”known as one of the most dangerous in Missouri. As we neared the accident site traffic was backed up as it was stopped in both directions due to the accident. I got as far as we could and parked the car and told Rachel and Thomas to stay in the car. I didn’t know what I would see when I got to the accident.

Church Family – Unlike Any Other

Our church family from First Baptist Church DeSoto was already in motion doing what a church family does – taking care of its family members when they are in need and we were in need. Sharin had called William, our Minister of Music, and he was on his way from DeSoto to pick up Thomas and Rachel and take care of them for us. Pastor Jeremy was on his way to Jefferson Memorial, where Sharin was working and waiting and where Amy would be going soon. After Amy was checked out he drove Sharin, Amy, Tyler and Gene, our Youth Pastor, to St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, the destination of Sarah’s Air Evac helicopter ride.

An Accident, Unfortunately, Like Many Others

Upon reaching the scene I first saw Amy, who was understandably shaken up, upset, and worried about Sarah who was still in the car. The car was sitting precariously on the side of the hill facing back toward DeSoto, where they were coming from. It was being supported by cables attached to the fire truck parked on the road to keep it from rolling further down the hill. The paramedics were working to get her out of the car.

Rachel & Thomas looking at Sarah's Mitsubishi Mirage
Rachel & Thomas looking at Sarah’s Mitsubishi Mirage

I talked to Sarah briefly in the ambulance before she was taken up the road a short distance to a helipad for her flight to the hospital. She was worried she had done something wrong. I assured her she had done nothing wrong. There was nothing else she could have done. She told me and Sharin, who was on the phone with me at the time, she was sorry and she was going to be fine.

I talked to the officers and learned they were hit head on by a drunk driver who was in their lane as they came over a hill. We would learn later he was in the process of trying to pass 4 cars at once and, obviously, didn’t make it. There was nothing Sarah could have done as there is no shoulder on the road, just a hillside.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence in our society 

After both ambulances left I made my way back to the car and talked to William and made sure he had Rachel and Thomas and began the drive to the hospital where Sarah was headed, about 45 minutes away. I’m sure I broke some speed limits to get there. I also had to call Ramon, my boss at the time, along the way and let him know I would not be able to fly out to California the next day for work as had been planned. I was blessed to work for someone who was very understanding and supportive. He told me to do whatever I needed to do to take care of my family and not worry about work.

I don’t remember much more about that drive except I was doing a lot of praying.

At the Hospital

When I arrived at the emergency room or shortly thereafter I was greeted by several of Sarah’s friends and two former youth pastors, Jimmy and Jeremy. The church was there. This was just a small indication of the impact both Sarah and Amy had made, up to that point in their lives, on those around them.

When Pastor Jeremy arrived I remember him telling Sarah that God was watching over her and the reason she was still here is He still had big plans for her life. I believe that was true then and is still true today. They stayed with us praying and waiting most of the night while Sarah was in the first of many surgeries. I don’t know what we would have done without their support.

The Church – His Hands and Feet

In the following days and weeks we had meals prepared and delivered and prayers prayed and delivered for all of us as we walked through this ordeal. Russ and Chris built a wheelchair ramp for our house so we would be able to roll Sarah in when we got her home. To say we were blessed and cared for by our church family is an understatement.

I realize this happens in churches across the country every day. Maybe some of you reading this don’t. Some think of a big building with a steeple as the church. That is a false belief. 

Until you are on the receiving end of this kind of love you never really know what it means. It is overwhelming and humbling. We will be forever grateful for how our church wrapped its arms around us.

We also had Sharin’s mother, Rennie, with us for a few weeks after the accident. Ronnie, Sharin’s brother, made the 12 hour trip to bring her up. She helped with everything around the house as I was going back and forth to the hospital. Sharin only left the hospital twice during the two weeks Sarah was there. She can be strong-willed at times. That might be where our children get that trait from.

Meanwhile…back to The Masters

I am not sure when I saw that shot on No. 16 at the 2005 Masters and the remaining holes and playoff won by Tiger Woods but I am sure I did at some point. The next few weeks were quite busy.

I can tell you whenever I do see that shot replayed I am reminded of something that has nothing to do with golf or the Masters. Those memories do help remind me of what is important. I wish I could say they made me a better person but I am still working on that. I am a work in progress.

I can also tell you we all (except for Sharin) made it to The Masters for the first time in 2007 and Sharin did finally make it this year and got to experience it with Amy.

Masters-Mon_CX7430038

Priorities change…

The Masters is called a Tradition Unlike Any Other. At the same time it IS just a golf tournament. It ranks far below Serving a God Unlike Any Other and being part of two Families Unlike Any Other. I expect I will continue my annual tradition, probably like millions of others, of watching a golf tournament in Augusta in April called The Masters. However, when they do replay that shot, and they will, my thoughts will go elsewhere. Now you know where.

I thank God for my many blessings every day. I hope by sharing this experience and some of the blessings in my life it might remind you of some of yours and you will count yours every day too…

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

P.S. If you want to know more about the accident and recovery from Sarah’s perspective you can read more at the links below on her blog. She wrote about it as only she can do in a series of blog posts last year that are very well done in my opinion.

Be Careful What You Pray For

April 10, 2005

The Hospital

Hospital Life Lessons

A Change of Heart

 

 

An Eventful Year In Enterprise

350px-boll_weevil_monumentThree of my four most recent blogs began as one but I decided it would be best if I split them up to be able to cover the subjects as I really wanted to cover them. It would have been one really long blog if I hadn’t and probably wouldn’t have made much sense. I hope you think that was a good idea too.

Since I really don’t have anything new to say on this subject at the moment (subject to change at any time) I thought I would just summarize and include references to them all here for convenience in case anyone did not get a chance to see all of them or wanted to see any of them again or share them with someone else.

An Eventful Year

This post chronicles the major events as I saw them that occurred from late 2013 until early 2015, beginning with the Capital Plan created by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood during the term of the interim superintendent, the hiring of the new superintendent, to the addendum to her contract in March this year. You can read more here An Eventful Year.

35 Days? Not Necessarily

This post focused on the 1/2 cent sales tax increase and when I believe it originated, which was well before the date it was announced to the public as an option and the best solution in June of 2014. You can read more here 35 Days? Not Necessarily.

The Silenced Majority

This post talks about the elephant in the room in Enterprise that no one seems to want to or feels they can talk about, the suppression of freedom of expression regarding issues that affect them or the gag order in place in Enterprise, however you want to characterize it. You can read more here The Silenced Majority.

Take Back Enterprise

This post was not part of that initial post but when I heard about this group I felt it fit in well with the other posts as it gives citizens a way to take action and make changes if they choose to do so. You can read more here Take Back Enterprise.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

The Silenced Majority

“Nobody likes bullies. They push you. Shove you. Mock you. It’s bad enough to be bullied by people you don’t really know and don’t particularly care for. But to be pushed into the path of bullies by people you love and trust — that’s a far deeper pain.”  (Bible Studies For Life – Adults – Spring 2015 – A Death Like No Other)

Bullying is not just an issue for students

I covered this as it was exhibited in the 10/21/14 school board meeting in a couple of prior posts – Watch Your Back and YOU Are Not Alone – so I will not rehash it here but I did want to elaborate a little bit to better explain what really is at stake here.

Free Speech

I did mention in the YOU Are Not Alone post that bullying, intimidation or whatever you want to call it is not exclusive to the school system in Enterprise. There are many in Enterprise from many different vocations who are unable to speak freely about issues that affect them and their families. They have been told either explicitly or by implication their jobs or contracts would be in jeopardy if they did so.

Just so there is no gray area here let me hit you over the head with the proverbial sledgehammer –

Freedom of speech is being suppressed in Enterprise, Alabama.

Boll Weevil Monument, erected by the citizens ...
Boll Weevil Monument, erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama to honour the pest that ended their dependence on cotton, a poverty crop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is The City of Progress really making progress?

This is no revelation at all to those of you living in the midst of this, whether you’re speech is being suppressed or you are doing the suppressing. You know who you are.

However, if you are seeing this for the first time and having a hard time believing it, I did too. It’s not something you want to believe about the place you grew up and call home. It’s also not something I would say about this same place I call home if I was not sure it was true. If you refuse to believe it exists in Enterprise you are either being naive or are in denial.

Enterprise is called The City of Progress. It is painted on the water tower for all to see. From the outside looking in the perception is this is true, but is it really from the inside looking out? Is Enterprise really making progress when many of its citizens feel like a gag order exists and cannot freely express their feelings?

What Can YOU Do?

You stop intimidation or bullying the same way it has always been stopped – by standing up to it. When your livelihood is at stake it’s not as simple as it was in elementary school when you stood up to the class bully. That probably wasn’t easy then either. However, knowing there are others who are feeling the same as you (see YOU Are Not Alone) and can stand with you can be empowering even if you can’t talk about it in public. YOU are the Silenced Majority in Enterprise. It still takes guts and can be risky to stand up but doing nothing is risky too.

 

Rules over you_Voltaire

 

The quote above should make you think and might open your eyes to something that has been right in front of you but maybe never fully acknowledged. Maybe it has.

In any case, you do have an opportunity to change this environment for the better at the ballot box in the next election. Supporting Take Back Enterprise is a great way for you to get involved now. Increased transparency and accountability will decrease bullying and intimidation and that is what Take Back Enterprise will provide.

It will take action on your part though if any change is to be realized. Sitting at home and expecting “someone else” to do it rarely works in your favor. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a form of insanity. Providing support to Take Back Enterprise will be doing something new and can be your opportunity to collectively stand up and push back and see different results. Think about it.

Candidates Needed

In the last city election in 2012 three councilmen and the mayor ran unopposed and in the two council seats that were contested the margin of victory in District 2 was 155 votes and in District 3 was 106 votes. You can refresh your memory here Enterprise Incumbent Council Remains if you are interested.

This illustrate a couple of things to me.

  • Candidates are needed if changes are to be made.
  • The numbers needed to be elected are well within reach for you, the Silenced Majority in Enterprise, if you decide to act.

If you know someone who you believe would be a good candidate for any local elected office talk to them and encourage them to explore the possibility of running and serving. Public service is definitely not for everyone. Often those who don’t really want to or think they can serve make the best public servants. They just need a little push from their friends.

I hope you never neglect your privilege and your responsibility to VOTE whenever you have that opportunity! Many have died so you can exercise this privilege. Until that day arrives, don’t neglect your opportunity to get involved and help bring about the change you seek. The next city election is less than 18 months away.

Get involved and help The City of Progress really make progress!

Take action now so in 18 months you can say “I am glad I did” instead of “I wish I had.” The change you seek is well within your reach.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

Take Back Enterprise

I am just one person who observes and shares what I see here occasionally with my thoughts and just as importantly, questions. In conversations with many of you I have learned it does make you think or affirms what you already think or believe. I do appreciate that and you, the readers. I also understand why you don’t feel comfortable to share your thoughts about this blog or many other issues publicly. I plan to post more on that particular subject in an upcoming post.

If you have read many of my posts you know I often encourage you to get involved in the political process and make changes if you don’t like or agree with what is going on in our city, or at the county, state and federal level of government as well. Along those lines, I have recently learned of a new organization created in Enterprise named Take Back Enterprise that will help you do just that and become a more informed citizen and, hopefully, voter.

Take Back Enterprise will expand what I do to a much deeper level with research and analysis and its focus will be on elected officials and decisions made in the governance of Enterprise.

I thought this might interest you too. Keep reading and make your own decision.

The What

Take Back Enterprise is a 501(c)(4) organization. A 501(c)(4) is a non-profit organization created to provide information to the public about issues, voting records, etc.  A 501(c)(4) is prohibited from actively engaging in politics as its primary function and can maintain donor anonymity. Their donors are not disclosed to anyone. 

This differs from 527 organizations or PACs, which I am sure you have heard of, which are formed with political activity as their primary purpose and must disclose the identity of its donors.

The Why

Here is their purpose statement.

TBE Mission Stmt01

 

The purpose statement goes on to say, Take Back Enterprise will accomplish this by performing the research necessary to gather the facts and will then inform the citizens through advertising and community forums.  Take Back Enterprise’s work will be performed entirely by un-paid volunteers and when necessary may employ the assistance of paid contractors that specialize in marketing and research.”

The Who

The principals and board members of this organization are Turner Townsend, Reid Clark, Mark Jipson, and Michael Townsend and they are looking for others to join with them in this endeavor.

The result of gathering and sharing this information will be a much more informed citizenry better able to choose those elected to lead our city. This information will either benefit the current elected officials in presenting their case for re-election or benefit anyone wanting to challenge them in the next election. Regardless, the citizens will be better informed and making informed decisions with their votes which is the goal.

The facts are what they are and are stubborn things.

The When

The when is now.

The next city election is just a little over a year away in August 2016.

The Where and The How

This is an effort to create that “informed citizenry.” It will take funds to gather, analyze, and provide this information. The principals have already made the initial investments to get this organization established. They will need help from citizens like us to sustain it and keep it moving forward effectively. The easiest and most effective way you can get involved and help is through your financial support. You can do that by sending your contributions to:

TBE_POBox01

 

Contributions are not tax deductible and any amount will help so don’t think whatever you can give is too small. If you have any questions or want to volunteer to help in any way you can also contact them at the above address. Of course you can also talk to any of the board members as you see them around town. They will be glad to discuss and share their vision in more detail.

Anyone can participate

Whether you live here now or not if you do consider Enterprise your home – maybe you grew up here or this was one of the stops along your life’s journey – YOU can get involved as well. 

Frustrated?

I know many of you are frustrated with what you see going on around you and that frustration is magnified by not being able to speak freely about what you see. Supporting Take Back Enterprise is one way you can get involved which can help with some of that frustration. YOUR participation will give you hope that better days are ahead. YOU can be part of making that happen, AND you can maintain your anonymity which I know is important for you too.

Help Turn the Lights On!

I chose the fog in the images above to represent the “transparency” in government. It is really more opaque than transparent. I see Take Back Enterprise as the light in these images, shining the light through the fog so all can see more clearly. Where you can participate is helping provide the funds to pay for the electricity to turn these lights on and keep them burning.

I encourage you to get involved and get informed.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

 

35 Days? Not Necessarily

DontWorryAboutItIn my last post An Eventful Year I highlighted a couple of dates and events regarding the 1/2 cent sales tax increase in Enterprise last year. The dates were 6/11/14 and 7/15/14. By my count that is 35 days between the public announcement of the “crisis” and “need” for a tax increase and the approval of this tax increase by the city council.

This is the second of three posts regarding events in Enterprise over the past year or so. In this post my goal is to focus on that tax increase and either remind you of how quickly or not so quickly this occurred and maybe point out a very common process that you might have previously never realized existed, and pose a few questions for your consideration.

“Don’t worry about it”

“Don’t worry about it” was the admonition given in 2013 whenever the subject of the $550,000 annual debt payback the school board was to begin paying in 2016 was mentioned as a concern. The reason behind this admonition did not become clear to me until June of last year when the sales tax increase proposal was made public. It was there all along just waiting for the right crisis to surface as the impetus for its implementation.

Classic Tax Increase

It followed the classic tax increase model used over and over again by those who have the power to levy taxes.

  • Create or take advantage of an issue/crisis that affects people emotionally or supposedly “gives them” something they now “need.”
  • Propose a tax increase as the only solution to this crisis. 
  • The tax increase will then become a reality very quickly.

In this case it took 35 days from initial public disclosure of this “crisis and need” to a simple unanimous vote by the city council.

I guess we should give the City Council credit for going through the motions for 35 days. They could have simply passed this at the next board meeting on June 17th. They did hold a public hearing to appear as if they were seeking input. However, I don’t believe anything said at that hearing could have affected their decision because it had already been made. I hope those citizens that did not support this tax increase will make their feelings public at the next city elections in 2016, just a little over a year away.

What Happened Between January and June?

There was no mention of a new income stream (translated tax increase) needed at the 2014 State of the City. In fact at that event we were told by the mayor, “Although the economy has been slow elsewhere, ours has remained on a steady upward growth to a planed out growth and it’s not declined.”

What happened between the end of January and the beginning of June that caused the need for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase? On the surface the obvious answer to that is helping the school system was the reason but was it really? Were they really not aware City employees deserved a raise in January? Were they really not aware Police and Fire personnel deserved raises, new hires and a new fire station in January?

Would different decisions have been made?

If you attended the 2015 State of the City event you would have heard about many new plans for 2015, including hiring more fireman and policemen, and building a new fire station with ‘to be paid from proceeds from this tax increase’ following them.

If they were not expecting to get this increase would they have made different decisions and prioritized spending differently in 2014? For example, would more funds have been allocated to Police, Fire and City employees’ needs and less to the Farmer’s Market in 2014 if they were not expecting and counting on this new revenue stream beginning in September 2014?

These are just questions that come to my mind when thinking about these events. Some will just call this prudent planning. Just to be clear, no laws were broken I am aware of and none are implied here. Public officials are fully aware that any action they take is subject to scrutiny and review and that is all that is being done here. Transparency with the people being served goes well beyond what is legal and I do wonder if that standard was met. Transparency is often used in politics today as a talking point but almost never practiced if it is even attempted.

Is transparency too much to expect of our elected officials?

So, was it really 35 days or was this tax plan was in the works much longer?

Should we have worried about it?

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.

An Eventful Year

As noted in the school board meeting in January, Dr. Wright has just completed one year as the Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools as have several others. I thought it would be worthwhile to review this past year and highlight what I consider to be some of the major accomplishments and changes that have occurred. Please let me know if you think it is worthwhile too.

My thoughts will be in the blue font. Everything else will just be a statement of fact and public records.

Highlights for 2014 and a couple from 2013

October 2013 -Capital Plan created by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood completed during the interim superintendent’s tenure (I know this was in 2013 but it played a major role in the events of 2014)

November 26, 2013 – Dr. Camille Wright was introduced as the new Superintendent. If you were at that meeting you heard her say she doesn’t plan to come in and make several changes.

January 2, 2014 – Dr. Camille Wright takes over as Superintendent of Enterprise City Schools

February 14, 2014 – Decision to move 9th graders to the high school announced by Dr. Wright. The announcement was published in the local papers and was stated it could be done without board approval but would be presented to the board at the February meeting.

February 25, 2014 – Move of 9th graders to the high school beginning with the 2014-2015 school year approved

March 18, 2014 – Board passes resolution in support of Alabama College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core)

April 8, 2014 – Decommission of Enterprise Junior High School and moving all 8th graders to Dauphin Junior High approved

June 11, 2014– Capital Facilities Plan presented to the City Council and Mayor showing $16 million would be needed to make renovations and build a new junior high school. Decommission of College Street and deeding to the city would be part of Phase II of this plan. Request for forgiveness of the $550,000 per year debt payment to the city was also included.

July 15, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax increase passed unanimously by the city council

July 22, 2014 – Agreement between school board and city approved by the board in the last meeting presided over by the outgoing president and includes:

– Enterprise Junior High to be demolished and land deeded to the city.

– Bates Memorial Stadium to be deeded to the city.

– College Street Elementary to be deeded to the city.

August 25, 2014 – Land purchase – approximately 30 acres for $540,000 – approved for new Coppinville Junior High School

September 1, 2014 – 1/2 cents sales tax is implemented

October 2015 – Based on Check No 34361 for $546,279.75 for Land in the check register it appears closing on the purchase of land for the new Coppinville Junior High School was completed sometime in October.

November 18, 2014 – Architectural contract with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood approved

December 16, 2014 – Bid of $70,668 from Cross Environmental Services, Inc. approved for the demolition of Enterprise Junior High

Many Accomplishments and Perspectives

These accomplishments can and will be viewed differently depending on your perspective. One of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes is,

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

Reagan_No Limit Paperweight

That quote can be applied to the accomplishments noted above and may make some look back on the year and feel pride in what has been accomplished.

The other perspective some may hold is some or all of these changes were not necessary at all or were not necessary in 2014.

There will almost always be a difference of opinion with most any decision made in the public arena, with the obvious exception of school board and city council votes in Enterprise. The question is, are the decisions being made in the best interest of those being served or not? That is a question that should be simple to answer but ultimately each person will answer for themselves. Much like discussion after a motion is passed it is only productive if it leads to change. You cannot change the motion but you can work through the political process to change the ones making and approving the motions.

Not many changes?

  • Do you think the changes made were warranted and necessary for 2014?
  • If you didn’t agree with the changes initially did your attitude change as they were implemented as the year progressed?
  • Did you not agree with the changes because of who will get the credit for engineering these changes?
  • Is it relevant we were told not many changes were coming but several major changes were made?
  • What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Addendum (My original post ended here but then this happened)

If you are wondering what the board thinks about the past year the addendum shown below should help. This item – Superintendent Contract Addendum – was on the agenda for the February board meeting and approved unanimously. No discussion or explanation of the addendum was given and it was not mentioned at all in the newspaper coverage of the meeting I have seen.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that any agenda item with no details or supporting information provided by the board encourages rumors. That is a fact. This one is no different than any other. However, since a concerned citizen and friend took the time to go to the Central Office to find the facts and then shared them with me I have included them below so any further discussion can begin at the same place, with facts. I think the addendum speaks for itself but I do have one question.

If the performance of the superintendent was meritorious and commendable as stated wouldn’t it be worthy of comment in the board meeting where it was approved?

 

SupContAddendum_20140224_3-1-2015 8-34-06 PM

 

Until next time…

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Watch Your Back – Update

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150Last November I published Watch Your Back which is still by far the most widely read post to date on this little blog of mine.

As a result of the actions taken at the 10/21/14 school board meeting (the subject of Watch Your Back) the teacher suspended, Sonya Dean, subsequently filed a lawsuit against the school board claiming, among other things, she was wrongfully suspended and denied due process under the law.

As I understand it this case is one of the first, if not the first, to challenge a new law passed in Alabama in 2011 called the Students First Act.

“Approved by the Legislature in May, the new process — the Students First Act — replaces arbitration used under the Fair Dismissal Act of 2004.” Quote from the article link below.

As in most situations there are at least two sides to every story. According to some, this act changed tenure law and greatly limits the rights of teachers. According to proponents the law will help school boards better manage their staff.

You can learn more about this act at the article link below and the SB310 link to the actual bill as passed by the legislature.

Students First Act replaces arbitration process for firing, disciplining teachers

SB310 – The Act as passed by the legislature

This could be one of those landmark decisions as if this case is dismissed it will discourage and possibly even preclude others from being brought in the future.

Hearing was held

I was able to attend the hearing on the school board and superintendent’s request to have the case dismissed Thursday, 02/26/15, at the Enterprise Court House. It was both informative and instructive for me. As most cases go each side presented their position in the best light possible. I don’t know how the ruling will come down in 14 days.

However, I was reminded that often what seems right is not the outcome under the existing laws. Sometimes the law is just not written in a way that is favorable for your side of the case. There are always two sides though and the other side will likely have an opposite interpretation. The judge has to rule on the existing law, not what is the right thing to do if those two conflict. This can be an impetus for changes to such laws. Laws have to be tested in practice. This is one of those tests.

I do know it took courage for Sonya Dean to stand up for her rights and bring the case and that is to be commended. I also believe that many are more aware of the Students First Act is as a result of this case.

From my perspective, regardless of the outcome of the case, this was a worthwhile effort and lessons learned in this case will be beneficial for others if faced with a similar situation in the future.

What do you think?

Until next time…

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Common Curiosity

we-are-enterprise-logo-150x150I am a curious person.

What I have been curious about for some time is whether or not what I am seeing anecdotally from many educators and parents around the state and the country in regards to Common Core are true here in the Enterprise City School System. I call it a Common Curiosity.

I suspect if it is true here any ECS employee would probably not feel comfortable or safe voicing their opinion publicly because you do want to keep your jobs. I get that. I know that Tommy Bice has bragged about schools showing teachers the door if they didn’t conform to the new teaching philosophy and methods “recommended” by the Alabama State School Board. So I understand your reluctance to talk openly or maybe even among yourselves because you are unsure of how others might feel about the subject.

I also understand that I am just a guy with a blog and there is no compulsion or reason for you to respond to my curiosity if you choose not to. I get that too.

However, since I am curious, I wanted to describe a few examples or anecdotes I have seen reported elsewhere and see if they are familiar and are happening here. I think too often we think, “(Insert scenario or issue here) is bad but I know it is not happening here. We are fine.”

I am curious. Are we really?

Teacher Resigns Over Common Core

This story is from April last year but that doesn’t make it any less illustrative of what many teachers are going through today. Colorado public school teacher Pauline Hawkins resigned from her position as a high school English teacher in protest to Common Core standards. You can see her full resignation letter on her blog here. A couple of quotes from that letter on her blog post stood out to me.

“We feel defeated and helpless: If we speak out, we are reprimanded for not being team players; if we do as we are told, we are supporting a broken system….
I cannot stand by and watch this happen to our precious children–our future. The irony is I cannot fight for their rights while I am working in the system.”

Here is a link to another blog that gives several more examples of teachers quitting with Common Core as the primary reason, Common Core, How Many Teachers and Parents Have to Leave. There are teachers from New York, Ohio, Florida and several other states. Are there teachers in Enterprise, Alabama who feel the same and have reached this point of frustration?

Some of My Thoughts

It seems odd to me when one of the big buzzwords in teaching now is “engagement” with the students yet conformity is what is required from the teachers by the administrators as indicated by the Pauline Hawkins quote above. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

I may be old-fashioned…No…I am definitely old-fashioned but I would think a better environment for teachers and students would be one where administrators engaged with teachers and students conformed. After students learn to conform they can then learn to engage. I don’t think it works as well when those are reversed but that is just me.

Is input from teachers, the ones who know the students and know best how to  reach and teach them, encouraged and welcomed or are you “reprimanded for not being team players” or worse when you suggest a different possibly better way to get the desired result?

Curriculum Concerns – Teachers and Parents

There was a recent story from Florida where a world history class was teaching the seven pillars of Islam but not Christianity in a World Religion class. The pages that would have covered Christianity had somehow been removed from the book.

I assume you have all seen some of the bizarre examples of what students are going through to solve simple math problems. If not just google “common core math problems” and you will have millions of examples. I just got 4.3 million. Is that methodology being used here in Enterprise? Does it make sense to anyone?

Is social engineering based on someone other than your own beliefs, principles and standards taking place in your child’s English and Math courses? Is History being omitted, added to, emphasized or de-emphasized in order to promote this same social agenda?

Are curriculum decisions really being made at the local level or somewhere above that?

Your Turn

These are some of the things I am curious about and look forward to hearing if anyone else has these same curiosities, concerns or examples from your experience as a parent or teacher. The only way I can gauge that is by your responses to this blog by either sharing it, responding to it, if you feel comfortable doing that, or letting me know your thoughts or thumbs up or thumbs down when you see me at Walmart, School Board Meetings, Church, etc.

If I do get feedback I will provide an update to this blog to let everyone know.

If you are not comfortable commenting here on the blog comments or on Facebook you can send me an email at stansblog@roadrunner.com with your comments, examples or to tell me I am clueless and need to go jump in the lake. Feedback from you, the reader, is the only way I know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me.

Any update I do publish will not mention any names or comments that would indicate where they originated without your consent. I will just give a generic update describing the responses I received and aggregate numbers.

I am curious now to see your response.

Until next time…

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