A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

The picture above comes from Northpontotoc Upper elementary school in Ecru, MS.  Ecru has less than 1,000 people and is in Pontotoc County just west of Tupelo.

Here is what accompanied the photo.  “These trees were 17 years old when harvested.  The smaller one competed for space in a large plot of other trees and the large one was planted out in the open area.  What if these were students, one in a crowded classroom with a high student/teacher ratio and the other in a smaller classroom with a low student/teacher ratio.  Think about this!”

Think about it indeed.  A graphic message of what is really, really important when trying to educate children.

Alabama Making Education Progress? Don’t Tell The Skeptics.

This will not be welcome news for all the naysayers who say Alabama educators can’t walk and chew gum at the same time–but new info from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama says we are making great progress in graduation rates and preparing students for college and careers.

In 2012 when Tommy Bice was state superintendent, he and his staff put together Plan 2020 that tackled graduation and readiness rates.  This was guided by tons of feedback from both four-year and two-year colleges, business and industry and local school systems.

Here is the PARCA news release of September 23 that details what is happening:

“In 2012, the Alabama State Board of Education adopted Plan 2020, which embraced a vision for the state education system led by the motto: “Every child a graduate. Every graduate prepared.” The plan called for raising Alabama’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent, while at the same time producing graduates who are better prepared for college and the workplace. Since that time, significant progress occurred in raising the graduation rate from 72 percent in 2011 to 90 percent in 2018.

While the high graduation rate is laudable, state education leaders have raised concerns about the gap between the percent graduating and the percent prepared for college or work.

Significant progress has been made over the past three years:
In 2016, Alabama graduated 87 percent of its students, though only 66 percent were college and career ready.
In 2017, the gap closed, with 89 percent graduating and 71 percent college and career ready.
In 2018, improvement continued with 90 percent graduating and 75 percent college and career ready.

Though the gap is still large, it is improving.

Continuing to close that gap is vital. The state has a goal of adding 500,000 highly-skilled workers to the workforce by 2025. To meet that goal, virtually all high school graduates will need to be prepared for education beyond high school or prepared to enter the workforce directly after high school.

The 2018 CCR data shows:

Career Technical Education (CTE) certificates are the fastest-growing means for classifying students as college and career ready.

Qualifying scores on the ACT and WorkKeys assessments are the two most common measures used to classify students as college and career ready.

Systems and schools leverage different strategies for preparing students – reflecting varying strengths, resources, and goals for education.

Some systems are very strong in particular areas and weak in others, which may not meet the needs of all students.

The Alabama College and Career Strategic Plan (a component of Plan 2020) articulated a vision in which all Alabama students graduate high school college and career ready. The plan defines college and career readiness as:
“…a high school graduate [that] has the English and mathematics knowledge and skills necessary to either (1) qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses without the need for remedial coursework, or (2) qualify for and succeed in the postsecondary job training and/or education necessary for their chosen career (i.e. technical/vocational program, community college, apprenticeship or significant on-the-job training).”

High school graduates are classified as college and career ready (CCR) if they meet at least one of the following criteria.
Score college ready in at least one subject on the ACT
Score at the silver level or above on the WorkKeys Assessment
Earn a passing score on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Exam (college-level courses delivered in high schools)
Successfully earn a Career Technical Education credential
Earn dual enrollment credit at a college or university
Successfully enlist in the military”

Our Thoughts And Prayers Are With Governor Ivey

Alabamians were shocked to get the news that Governor Kay Ivey is undergoing treatment for a cancerous spot on her lung.  I have said a prayer for her, as have people all across the state.

Because we have all been touched by this disease in some form or fashion, while we pray for the best, it is only natural that we fear the worst.

I will never forget the August afternoon in 1988 when a urologist in Dothan told me that I had a mass in my right kidney and since it was  probably malignant, the best thing to do was yank out my kidney.  Talk about getting your attention.

So shortly after I was cut open and out came the kidney. And yes, the mass was malignant.  I was in the hospital 5-6 days and ever since have had tremendous admiration for those kind souls who donate a kidney to someone.  Back then it was a pretty extensive procedure.

However, thankfully I was lucky and did not require any follow up treatment.

I do remember that the doctor said I could not play golf for six weeks.  I also remember that six weeks to the day after the operation I played a course in Eufaula I liked and shot a 74.  (Talk about a blind hog finding an acorn?  I think this was the best score I ever had.)

Then in 2012 another mass was found on my remaining  kidney.  A very skilled doctor at UAB was able to remove the mass and leave most of the kidney.

I left the hospital with a row of staples on the left side of my stomach.  I recuperated at a friend’s in Daphne and when it came time to get rid  of the staples, I called my Auburn classmate, OBY/GYN Dick Roh in Fairhope, who jerked them out.  I told Dick that I was the only male in his waiting room.  He laughed.

And here is hoping and praying that some years from now, Governor Ivey can look back at this time and share some chuckles.

Kay, we are praying for you.


Yes, There Really Is Goodness In This World

We can all be forgiven for thinking the world has truly gone to Hell since we are constantly bombarded by news of murders and mass shootings and politicians wasting our tax dollars, etc.  The drumbeat is unending.

But then we learn about a restaurant in Brewton, AL with the unlikely name of Drexell & Honeybees’ where patrons can eat for free, or pay whatever they wish, and a smile comes to our face  Suddenly our day is a wee brighter and our faith in our fellow man is restored, at least for a little while.

The restaurant is the idea of Lisa Thomas-McMillan and her husband, Freddie.  Both are retired.  They opened the restaurant in March 2018.  Those who wish to pay for their meal simply drop some money in a box.

Several years ago Lisa worked in the dining hall at the local community college.  One day some senior citizens showed up who were hungry, but had little money.  That planted the seed that is now Drexell & Honeybee’s.

Do yourself a favor and click the link above to read more.

As for me, I will definitely seek out this establishment on some of my travels.

A Technology Rant.

While I may be accused of many things, understanding–and using–technology is not one of them.

Lord only knows how long I’ve had my old flip phone.  I do not text.  It does not take pictures.  My GPS is made of paper, unfolds and has lot of lines on it.  I use my ancient IPad for only one thing.  When I am traveling I stop at McDonalds because I know they have wifi and I know how to access it to check my email.

When I am in a restaurant I am not looking at some electronic device to check Twitter because I do not tweet, nor know what it is.

So you get the picture.

Which brings me to why I write.  I get TV and internet service from Spectrum.  I have been a loyal and faithful customer since 2015.  Have always paid my bills on time.  I have the basic TV package, none of the add ons I hear about.

I just paid my latest bill for $163.41.  Checking my checkbook (yes, I still write checks and put them in a stamped envelope) I find that my check to them on July 12, 2018 was $98.67.  Hardly a math whiz, I did nonetheless figure that is a jump of 65 percent in 14-15 months.  Which is ridiculous to this old man.

So this afternoon I spend 20 minutes on the phone with a Spectrum customer service lady (yes, I did actually get a human on the phone after punching a few buttons to let them know I was not calling about having flat feet, ingrown toenails or a cat that claws the furniture.)

I wanted to know what I could do to lower my monthly bill.  I learned that I am paying $12.99 a month for a box that plays something called a DVR.  I have never used it.  The lady tells me that if I unhook it and take it to the local Spectrum store, I can save $12.99 each month.  I tell her don’t even know where this contraption is and that since one of her technicians obviously installed it, they can come get it.

She tells me it will cost $49.99 for the technician to do that.

Then she tells me that she has found a way to save a few dollars on my internet–but this will require new equipment that I can pick up at their store and install myself.  To  me, this  is like going to the dentist, learning I have a tooth that needs filling and the dentist handing me some teeth-working-on-tools and saying “Have at it.”

Then the lady tells me that if a technician comes to my house, he can remove the DVR box and install the new internet equipment at the same time and I only have to pay for one visit.

I tell her that I have been a loyal customer, have always paid my bill on time and feel that I am being had.  All she says  is, “I understand.”  I also tell her to relay to Spectrum management that they are idiots.  Again, “I understand.”

So one morning this coming week a technician is supposed to show up, at my expense, and make changes that will save me about a few dollars each month.

No doubt, he will use a GPS to find me.

Yep, the world has passed me by.




Auburn Tigers Rise From The Dead To Beat Oregon

Editor’s note: It was 54 years ago this summer that a fresh-faced kid from south Alabama was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman.  Those were far different times in college football.  The game had not turned into the huge commercial ventures they are today.  Coaches did not get paid millions of dollars a year.  Players did not spend 365 days a year thinking of only football.  Tickets cost less than $10 a game.  There were no sports channels on TV.  But us Auburn fans still screamed “War Eagle” after touchdowns and the thrill of winning was no less than it is today.  That fresh-faced kid is now waiting on his 77th birthday and on occasions such as this, can not help but revert to what he did in simpler times.

In a storybook ending, the Auburn Tigers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and beat the University of Oregon 27-21 to open their 2019 football season in Arlington, TX.  Improbably, their victory was led by a quarterback  who was wearing an Auburn uniform for the first time in his life.

Well, officially at least.  Truth is, quarterback Bo Nix has worn orange and blue his entire life.  This is understandable given that his dad, Pat Nix, also played quarterback for Auburn and his grandfather, Conrad Nix, went to Auburn as well.  And football is the Nix family business.  Now retired, Conrad was a celebrated high school coach in both Alabama and Georgia, winning 260 games in 27 seasons he coached in Georgia, including two state championships.

Pat won a state championship in 2017 coaching Pinson Valley to an undefeated season.  Bo was his quarterback–and one of the most-coveted high school quarterbacks in all the land..  Some even said THE most coveted.  And while college recruiters from far and wide made visits to Pinson Valley, there was never really any doubt that Bo would suit up in orange and blue.

After all, his daddy became an Auburn legend in the 1993 Iron Bowl when he came off the bench to replace injured QB Stan White and immediately threw a dramatic TD pass to Frank Sanders to lead Auburn to a 22-14 win over Bama on the way to an undefeated season.  That was the day “Nix to Sanders” became part of Auburn folklore.

No doubt Bo played out that same moment in a 1,000 backyard football moments growing up.  It’s just what boys do.

However, not even the most rabid Auburn fan could imagine Bo replicating such an iconic moment in his very first game in orange and blue.  But to prove that fairy tales really do come true, with the game clock ticking toward zero last Saturday night and his team trailing by two points,  Bo Nix, the son of Pat and the grandson of Conrad, threw a pass to Seth Williams who caught it at the two-yard line and tumbled backwards into the end zone.

The stadium, just outside of Dallas and a monument to the opulence that shrouds the games I once watched while a student at Auburn, erupted.

Somehow their team, which looked totally outclassed early in the game, had amazingly willed itself to a win.  A defense, expected to be among the nation’s best according to all the pundits, woke up and played like it was coached to do the second half.  The offense was never overwhelming, but they continued to do what had to be done.

And at the end of the day, a little boy’s dreams came true and Nix to Sanders was replaced by Nix to Williams.