Thursday, October 15, 2009

Knapsack 10-22

Chuck -- Two-way option -- if you have room for 450 wds next week, here you go; if you're good and full up, but have a nook or cranny, just run the first three paragraphs: 100 wds.  Enjoy proofing all those letters!  Pax, Jeff

Notes From My Knapsack 10-22-09

Jeff Gill


Community Discussions, Community Solutions



With the outpouring of letters of support for candidates and critique of ballot issues filling the pages of our Sentinel, there is little room or reason for columnists in this pre-Election Day season.


Read them, consider their reasoning, discuss the pros and cons with your friends, and make sure to keep track of Trick or Treat jumping out at you next Thursday and Time Change falling back the following weekend.


And don't forget the Midland Theater Gospel Concert to benefit the Coalition of Care on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 4:00 pm; tickets are $20 at area churches or at the door.


So with all that you don't need much from out of my knapsack. I'll just pull out one last thing with the spread of worries over flu viruses and vaccinations and children's health.


Wisely, there's much said about keeping a child home when they are showing fever, body aches, and sore throat. Of course you should. What's not as easy to say quickly is that a huge challenge in maintaining student learning is consistent attendance, and the reality of "swine flu" can all too easily be used as the newest excuse in some homes for not getting kids up, out, and into where they need to be.


We've created a system where a major performance measure for administrators is simply daily attendance, and we see state funding tied closely enough to daily attendance to make the equation basically per diem "butts in seats." In an era with budgets so tightly constrained by unfunded mandates from above and public scrutiny from below, a small uptick in absence can literally bust a budget, making for many direct impacts on students.


And for most of the lowest performing students, regular attendance is a key correlation to their outcomes. Is correlation the same as causation? Nope, but there's a connection between the two, beyond a doubt.


Which all boils down to: wash your hands, teach your kids to wash their hands thoroughly (no, go back in there and do it again; I didn't hear the water running!), and if they are well, get them to school. If we have a huge upsurge in "pre-emptive absence" over an excess of fear about the flu, we will see major negative outcomes in our district outcomes on multiple levels.


Flu is serious, but it always has been. Maintain an even strain, as the astronauts and test pilots say, and get the kids to school. See you after the election!


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story at

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