Children


At the time I wrote my previous blog posting on this subject, I also wrote a letter to Mr. Bob Hermann who is the Washington County Oregon District Attorney. Please refer to my Previous Blog Entry for the links to the Willamette Week and OregonBlue articles.

Let me quote three items from Mr. Hermann’s response to my letter to him:

“Unfortunately the information reported by Ms. Axtman and the Willamette Week is inaccurate in some critical areas.” “Additionally the charges the grand jury issued were not reported fully or at all.” And: Ms. Aguilar-Gutierrez was arrested for reckless driving and causing injury to a child, subsequently charged by the grand jury for those same reasons. That part of the ‘facts’ were not reported.”

I should have held my tongue until I had my response from Mr. Hermann. I should have realized that the grand jury would not have agreed on the charges without a strong case from the DA’s office.

Because this incident involves a minor and because the case is open pending trial, Mr. Hermann could not comment fully on all the circumstances. But after reading his letter, I can see that the DA’s office is proceeding properly and within the law.

In my working years (I am now retired) I worked in the insurance industry for 15 years with about 5 of those years actively handling or reviewing accident claims. In all those years I can recall no criminal charges arising out of an automobile accident claim processed by me or that I handled unless there were extenuating circumstances such as drunk driving. The public’s attitude on these matters seems to be changing. Beyond simple negligence, if you are overly reckless in your driving habits and cause injury to another person, particularly a minor, you may be charged with a criminal offence.

I have learned a lesson here. Make sure I have all the facts before I lash out.

Yesenia Aguilar Gutierrez has been charged with felony to commit domestic violence in front of a minor as the result of an automobile accident arising out of the negligence of the driver, Gutierrez. Here is the LINK to the original story in the Willamette Week – Online from November 11, 2009. And here is a LINK to a follow-up article on OregonBlue.com with information about the origin of the law under which Gutierrez was charged.

If you read both the articles (no, I’m not going to quote them both here) I think that you will agree that the Washington County Assistant DA Jason Weiner has gone wacko. I can see thousands of criminal cases now being brought because a minor has witnessed an automobile accident.

This case will ultimately be thrown out by any appeals court that sees it. In the meantime, Gutierrez has to live with a possible felony conviction looming in the air. Shame on the Washington County DA’s office for even considering bringing this case against any person. It is a waste of tax money, it is a crime against Gutierrez, and it is just plain bad practice by the DA’s office.

A friend who writes an education blog (he is a retired teacher and a member of our local school board) suggested a book: How to Grade for Learning, K-12, by Ken O’Connor Published by Corwin Press, and now in its third edition, copyright 2009. The author describes a grading policy for Standards-Based Education.

I was struck by two things in the book. The first is that the creation and issuance of grades by teachers in the K-12 range is a very complex procedure. This is especially true because of a lack of any kind of regional let alone national consistency in grading practices. The second concept that struck me was that Mr. O’Connor has a very clear, though complex, formula for a system of creating grades at all levels of school.

I am not a professional educator, nor do I have any Education college classes under my belt, but I see here a fine system that should be considered by all school districts and state boards of education in our country.

A prudent shopper can find a new copy of the book (I looked on amazon.com) starting at around $30.00. I was even more prudent and acquired the loan of the book through an Inter-Library Loan at my local library.

Any person interested in education and grades, or has children in school, or is a professional teacher, you can benefit from the ideas in this book. If nothing else it will get you thinking about the grading procedures. You may even become an advocate for Mr. O’Connor’s theories.

Afghanistan has a population of about 28,000,000 which is slightly more than the State of Texas. Afghanistan and Texas are about the same area.

One of Afghanistan’s most telling statistics is not its area or population but its Infant Mortality Rate. It is the 3rd worst in the world; 151 deaths per 1000 live births. Let me pile on the negative facts. The fertility rate is 6.53 births per woman, the 4th highest in the world. China is at 1.79; India at 2.72; and the USA rate is at 2.05.

Literacy rate in Afghanistan is only 28% with male 43% and female 12%. The economy is 116th out of 228 countries in the world. GDP, Purchasing Power Parity per capita is $800 per year. The same figure in the Unites States is $47,000. The Afghan commercial bank prime lending rate is 14.92%. Electricity production and consumption are 150th and 145th of 228, respectively, in the world. In exports, Afghanistan is 173rd in the world.

This places Afghanistan in with the worst countries of Africa (the worst in economic and related matters).

Certainly we need to offer all the assistance we can to these people. We are partly to blame for their current situation. We must control Al Qaeda and keep the Taliban from regaining political control of the country. This won’t happen with troops alone.

The phrase “nation building” has been tossed around a lot; that is what is needed here.  It will do no good to keep fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban with troops. They will out last us and all the allies we can muster. We must solve these real problems of poverty, the abysmal economy, and infant mortality and fertility rates.

Maybe it is not possible to have success with any military commander at the head of this operation. These is no military victory to he had here.

The statistics are from the CIA World Factbook.

How does a person fill his (or her) time when retired, or mostly retired? When I mostly retired about 4 years ago, I was looking for something I could do that brought me in contact with people. I’m not a hermit, although I was a long-haul truck driver for several years. I enjoyed some of the solitude of that life, but craved being with people.

I discovered an organization near my home that fit my needs; and I was able to contribute to the benefit of that organization. I started volunteering three hours a week. Now I am up to ten to twenty hours a week.

The organization is Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, a nature preserve and education center located in Hillsboro, Oregon. Some of the jobs I do are a greeter for the education center, giving short talks to visitors about our exhibition center, watering plants, harvesting seeds, planting, cutting weeds, photography, etc. I am also very active in the organization’s annual fundraiser, the Tweet of Dweams.

I also volunteer a couple hours a week at the Hillsboro Police Department creating a report on all the graffiti incidents within the city. I have started attending the Public Policy Forum of Washington County, the weekly lunches with talks be various interesting people. And. . . I have signed up to work on a political campaign. More on that latter.

I also volunteer within my family. My daughter-in-law is going to college full time, so about three days a week I get to ramrod two young grandkids. Today I am spending the time at home with a sick one.

There are large numbers of organizations in any community that need volunteers. Go for it!

Check out Tom Chapin’s song about the No Child Left Behind law.

When Mr. Obama gets into office in a few short months, I hope this whole NCLB is looked at by his administration. There are so many professional educators that are against it. The ground swell will swell, and that will be swell if this law is taken down.

Thanks to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for the link.

Thanks to Hugh who posts at RepairKit for the suggestion to post this.

UNICEF Report

UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, was created in December 1946 in response to the European children who were facing famine and disease at the end of World War II. It has become the premier advocate for children in the world. Here is a link to a brief outline of the organization’s history.

In 2007 UNICEF published their Innocenti Report Card 7, 2007 with the title Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries. The shocking conclusion is that the United States is ranked next to the bottom of the 21 industrialized nations reported on.

The six dimensions used for comparison were: material well-being; health and safety; educational well-being; family and peer relationships; behaviors and risk; and subjective well-being. The US was in the bottom half of all dimensions researched. (The US was not reported on in this final dimension category do to incomplete data.)

Rather than giving you any more details about this report, I strongly suggest you download it from the UNICEF website and read it for yourself.

Here is a quote from the introductory pages of the repost: The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialization, and there sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are born.

 

 

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