Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A penchant for PUSD

With just over 500 subscribers to their online newsletter, the Pasadena Education Network <> may seem to have a small footprint relative to the 20,000 families in the district, but I don't think the impact of word of mouth should be underestimated. Word of mouth is how I first heard about PEN (before the even had a website). It seems to me that PEN families ripple the PEN message out to other families in their neighborhoods via the "mommy network," as I have heard it called. Many of these families may never subscribe to PEN's email announcement loop, but the advice of a family friend is far more robust than any form of parent outreach the district could hope to engage in itself.

This kind of message spreads slowly, but is strong if it takes root. Other parents we know started considering their education options years before they were ready to make a commitment. In my family's case, we started looking at schools almost three years before we were ready to enroll in kindergarten. According to a recent PEN newsletter, they are just two years old, so if my observation is true, the district should just be starting to reap the benefits of the seeds that PEN has planted.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Amy's offensive defense

In a strange tale of mistrust and dare I say paranoia, I was banned from posting to Rene Amy's "greatschools" email group last week, and over the weekend he kicked me out altogether.

After Amy's troubles stemming from being temporarily shut down by Yahoo! either due to allegations of violating their Terms of Service, or a hacker, he defensively closed his reincarnated list archives to the public.

I am guessing that Mr. Amy was suspicious that I was somehow behind his troubles. Not only is this false, but I think turning him in to Yahoo! was a counterproductive cheap shot. I reached out to Mr. Amy privately, offering technical support, etc, but I suppose these offers may have been viewed as a Trojan Horse if he suspected that I was somehow involved.

Anyway, given the circumstances, I emailed him privately to see how he felt about me quoting from his posts outside of his group. In his reply explicitly requested that I "*not* post material" from him.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Report from St. Bernard's Parish

This story is obviously not local fare as Stonehill News tends to be, but it is an inspiring tale of civic responsibility and commitment. My wonderful, beautiful, twenty-something cousin, Amata, filed this report yesterday from New Orleans:

Hey Everyone!

I'm writing from St. Bernards Parish - 20 minutes outside of New Orleans. I have spent the last two months living here at a FEMA camp called Camp Premier. We leave here on Monday and are very sad to be moving on as this has been two of the most amazing months.

St. Bernard was the most completely destroyed region in the gulf. 67,000 plus residents all had their homes destroyed. There was only one structure in the Parish not ruined. The area was hit not only by Katrina, but a total of 4 catastrophes. Hurricane Katrina hit August 29 th, 2005, which caused not only severe wind and rain damage, but also the second disaster, a flood from the levees breaking. The 5 to 28 feet of floodwater that remained in the Parish for roughly 14 days receded only days before hurricane Rita brought about a second flood.

Friday, May 05, 2006

PUSD: to give us pixels not pulp?

I just got back from tonight's PUSD "7-11 committee" meeting where I was promised pdfs of all the new demographic data that was compiled for the committee to use, as well as all the handouts and reports that were distributed tonight and here forward.

Let's hope this comes to pass and becomes the start of a new habit for the district, because I also came away with a 6" stack of historical reports that I had requested copies of, including the huge "District-Wide Facilities Master Plan" from 1999. Unfortunately these (recent) historical documents were not easily available in anything but paper, so that is what they gave me.

What do I want with a huge stacks of paper? I'm a pixel-pusher (as in pencil-pusher, not the other kind of pusher). I will just be digitizing them as time permits over the next few weeks (thank goodness we have access to high speed scanning, but even then it is a bit of a time consuming chore). And even then, the documents will be basically opaque to search. It would save the district plenty of money if they could satisfy even a small percentage of their information requests with pdfs instead of paper.