Friday, August 26, 2005

"Coping" with diversity

This (in its entirety) from today's Grand Rapids Press:

Administrators at Northview Public Schools are figuring out ways to cope with the district's increasingly diverse population. Superintendent Michael Stearns is working with Aquinas College's Woodrick Institute for the Healing of Racism in finding ways to deal with diversification. Oscar Perry, an institute project manager and training specialist, is working with students from Northview High School's and Crossroads Middle School's diversity committees. Also, administrative staff have taken two-day workshops on healing racism. Stearns wants to see the Board of Education, students and other staff gain similar experiences. "We don't have an option but to be serious about this," he said.

"Figuring out ways to cope with diversity." What an unfortunate choice of words. As if diversity is an unwelcome and embarrassing "country" relative sitting in our living rooms.

Which I guess it is.

The Northview school district is one of the many outcomes of "white flight" out of the city of Grand Rapids from the early sixties. It is on the northeastern edge of the city and happens to be the closest districts to the city. When schools of choice started three years ago, it became the most convenient school district for city parents concerned about the quality of their children's education in an urban setting.

The school, thankfully, is becoming more diverse. And it does indeed cause problems in a school population where I've seen many a young man fly a confedrate flag on his pickup.

But to call diversity something to cope with, rather than something to capitalize on and celebrate only highlights the existence of very deep seated prejudices here -- so deep-seated as to not realize the difference between the two attitudes: coping and embracing.

I have daughters at Northview High and my son is a grad. We left the city schools in 1996, not because they were "diverse" but because two of my three students were marginal achievers -- the kind that get lost in the cracks in a system set up to deal with extremes on either end of the learning spectrum.

Now many other parents are doing what we did -- parents of all races and backgrounds -- as they have every right to do. But the district is having a problem knowing just how to deal with the influx of nonwhite students. I'm glad they're trying. But they need to open up their horizons -- and attitudes -- just a bit more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What are the chances?

The Muskegon Chronicle reported that the ferry Lake Express on Sunday rescued a lone boater "clinging to debris from his capsized boat" in Lake Michigan some 20 miles off the Wisconsin shoreline.

Capt. Rick Hopper spotted something that "didn't look right," and acted on his hunch, changing the course of the ferry to pull the man from the water.

The boater, who wasn't wearing a life preserver when he was rescued, apparently felt recovered enough to want to walk off the boat under his own steam when the ferry landed. He was hospitalized in Milwaukee anyhow.

"He was really lucky that we happened along at this time," Hopper told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Uh, yeah he was.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Calling Technorati out

Wow. Jason Kottke called it. Technorati's the emperor with no clothes. Or at least it's true that their vestments are in tremendous disarray. And it's about time somebody went public on it.

See, I've also been disappointed in the big T's performance on my searches. I too have been dismayed to see items come up that I've seen before, sometimes months ago. And I've been mystified to find that others with similar searches are coming up with results I never see (unless these folks point me to them). Although apparently not mystified enough to get off my ass and find another way to search. Until now.

So I've got my keyword searches going on PubSub now. I'll keep T going for awhile because it will be fun to compare results. And I think I'll try a couple of others, just to see what I come up with.

Jeff Jarvis's recent Dell Hell saga and now this are maybe just the tip of the iceberg in calling attention to the power of "negative viral" marketing. It will be interesting to see what kind of backlash Kottke's sound (but fair) thrashing creates.