Current Events

A Tragic Indifference to Violence

I was watching the news last night and it was chilling when the newsman said, “Well here we go again, another shooting at a mall in …”

The Teacher Dropout Rate

An interesting study from Alliance for Education Excellence found here provides some interesting findings on why teachers are leaving the teaching profession. Here are the top three reasons for the teacher dropout rate:

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

This past week the sports world was in full tilt. We had Super Bowl Sunday plus a full slate of college and professional basketball games followed immediately by college football’s National Signing Day. For a sports fan, it is a great time of the year. But let me tell you about the best game I saw all weekend.

A REAL Valentine’s Day

Over the past week every time I turned on the radio or television I heard about Valentine’s Day. I kept hearing that if you really loved your wife then she needed flowers and chocolates and maybe even diamonds. Then I heard that if you really loved your kids they needed new toys and clothes and maybe even a new phone. If an alien landed on this planet last week and all he knew of our civilization was what he heard in advertisements he would think that this is a very expensive and shallow place to live. He would think that relationships are built on stuff – really expensive stuff.

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

The Game of the Week | Sportsmanship

This past week the sports world was in full tilt. We had Super Bowl Sunday plus a full slate of college and professional basketball games followed immediately by college football’s National Signing Day. For a sports fan, it is a great time of the year. But let me tell you about the best game I saw all weekend.

A REAL Valentine’s Day

A REAL Valentine’s Day

Over the past week every time I turned on the radio or television I heard about Valentine’s Day. I kept hearing that if you really loved your wife then she needed flowers and chocolates and maybe even diamonds. Then I heard that if you really loved your kids they needed new toys and clothes and maybe even a new phone. If an alien landed on this planet last week and all he knew of our civilization was what he heard in advertisements he would think that this is a very expensive and shallow place to live. He would think that relationships are built on stuff – really expensive stuff.

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

I just closed my eyes and now it is time to start all over again. The morning shower is about the only time I am going to have today with a little silence. That moment of peace is my chance to brace for the day. The problem is that in my moment of peace I can’t take my mind off of my kids who are struggling. I can’t stop thinking about the things I should have done to make learning a little easier.

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Refocusing on Humanity

Refocusing on Humanity

I woke this morning to news that Russia and the new Ukraine government are in a political standoff with military options mobilizing. There was also news of another major storm that has temperatures as far south as Austin in the 30s heading east and picking up steam and looking like it will slam the east coast again. Then there was the appalling news of a school in Nigeria where terrorist had killed a schoolyard full of children and burned their bodies in some twisted attention grab in the name of a twisted view of their religion. The news went on and on with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. I watched and read and listened to a litany of events that should make a grown man seek refuge. But one horrible story gave way to another, and the incredible news of the Nigerian tragedy faded from the television screen and a smiling anchorman talking about a rampant pack of Chihuahuas in Arizona segued into a story of absolute silliness. Those dead children were worth a 20 second mention – about the same as a pack of ankle biting dogs.

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What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong sang “What a Wonderful World” in 1967. In that beautiful song he opines and laments, “I think to myself, what a wonderful world”. His world in 1967 was a world that saw a 10,000 person march in San Francisco against the Vietnam War while more than 11,000 American soldiers died. It was the year Jim Garrison claimed a conspiracy theory in the death of President John F. Kennedy. It was the year Fidel Castro absconded all intellectual property in Cuba. Israel was in the midst of a 6-Day War with Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. A prison riot in Florida left 23 dead, and an explosion on the USS Forrestal left 134 dead.

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When I Hurt

When I Hurt

As a psychologist, I am often asked how to help little ones understand and deal with loss. How do you help your child, adolescent, teen, and even yourself deal with the loss of a loved one? From a family pet to a family member, death is one of the most difficult things for a parent to help a child through because they are often trying to get through it themselves. This isn’t a fun topic but it is one worth discussing. I hope these words help a little during the difficult days.

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I Work, Therefore I Am.

I Work, Therefore I Am.

When you look back on the history of this great nation, it was built by people who also wanted self-improvement but self-improvement was defined very differently then. Today we have so much that self-improvement is defined as attaining more or being better. In years past, self-improvement was defined not as the attainment of things but the opportunity to better yourself through work and sacrifice. For many years people sought personal fulfillment through work and through the labor necessary to survive.

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If You Can Read This…

If You Can Read This…

Over the last three weeks I have had the incredible opportunity of visiting with educators, administrators, and legislators in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Alabama. I have spent time in Lansing, Madison, and Huntsville, and during that time and at each stop I have had the great privilege of visiting with people who are dedicating their lives to making sure our children have the best opportunities possible. From school to ready-to-work to free and reduced-cost meals to immunizations, these good people are trying to insure our kids have access to the greatest social experiment in history – the American way of life.

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Kids Having Kids

Kids Having Kids

I sat with a high level administrator of a state agency recently and listened to her explain why she thinks we are losing the battle for so many of our kids’ futures. She truly lamented the fact that a large Midwest city that is under her purview from a service standpoint was dramatically affected by a large group of young parents and kids who have grown in an environment where little is expected and so little is realized. She talked about how 26-year-old moms have 12-year-old daughters and they both live with the 42-year-old grandmother. She talked about this cycle of kids having kids and parenting being abdicated to the system, or worse, to the streets.

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Our Firm Foundation in Faith

Our Firm Foundation in Faith

I work with educators. I spend my time helping educators deal with student behaviors and attitudes. We work together to create a better teaching environment as well as a place where students can grow intellectually and developmentally. When you spend a big part of your life looking for solutions to the social degradation and emotional blunting of our kids, it is easy to begin seeing things through the prism of skepticism. It is especially easy to get lost in the reports and the numbers that leave you with a real fear for kids and their ability to maintain the infrastructure of this great but burdened country. That skepticism, though often times warranted, is based on calculations and data and forecasting against trends. But let’s talk about the kids.

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Spring: The Perfect Time to Teach

Spring: The Perfect Time to Teach

I have the very distinct blessing of living in one of the most beautiful cities in this incredible country. Spring in Austin, Texas is a magical time. The fields of bluebonnets and Indian-Paintbrush turn roadsides purple and yellow, blue and red. A simple Sunday afternoon can absolutely lift the heart. Couple those incredible colors with the majesty of a fast forming thunderhead that reaches endlessly into the sky and you soon truly believe that a creator had to have his finger in making something so beautiful. Spring is here and every minute spent indoors just feels like a minute that has been wasted. It feels borderline immoral to be inside on a 78 degree day!

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Finals Week — Help!

Finals Week — Help!

It is that time of the year again for our middle and high school students. It is the time when a year’s worth of facts and lessons and demonstrations and labs will be measured through recollection, recitation, sleep deprivation, and self flagellation in an event known as Finals Week. Finals week is a bittersweet time, because there is no more stressful week of the school year but at the same time there is a light at the end of the tunnel known as summer. That light can be the motivator and also the distractor. You also have kids who know the material, have memorized the facts, have done their homework along the way, but they are scared to death because they know they are not good test takers.

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Thank You for Remembering

Thank You for Remembering

Each day brings its own set of worries. I worry about bills and how I am going to pay for college for my kids. I worry about work and the never ending chase for financial security. As a father, I worry about my kids and how they are growing and learning and maturing and whether or not I am doing all that I should. Worry is something I try to leave behind, but it is always there. When I stop and think about the things that worry me, I realize they are mostly “what ifs”. I worry about scenarios that are possible but they haven’t happened. I worry about decisions that could be made but they haven’t been. I worry about events taking down my business, but those have not occurred.

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Today Will Be Great

Today Will Be Great

In a couple of days I am going to have the honor of standing in front of a graduating class of seniors, accepting their course work and declaring them graduates. I chair the Board of Trustees for the school my children and many of their friends attend. In a couple of days, I am going to watch young men who swam in my pool at the kindergarten party 12 years ago walk across the stage and accept a diploma. I am going to watch young women who spent the night at my home and giggled with my daughter as they talked about boys and dressed up like princesses walk across the stage and walk in to a new stage of life. In a couple of days the world as I know it will once again be redefined, because kids I have seen every day for 12 years are not going to be there anymore.

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I Believe in Competition!

I Believe in Competition!

There are few places that bring about the smile of a child faster than Disney World. Just the thought of riding the spinning teacups or flying on Space Mountain or going on an adventure with the Pirates of Caribbean will bring cheers from any aged child. Disney World is a planet unto itself where make-believe and wonder are at the core of every day. Where else can you eat lunch with Cinderella and have dinner at Epcot while a Viking ship patrols the Fjord? Disney World was built to indulge the imagination and be the friendliest and happiest place in the world.

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Face to Face: Anger

Face to Face: Anger

Anger is one of the most readily identifiable and easy to discern emotions we deal with each day. From being cut off in traffic to something going wrong at work to breaking your favorite glass – anger happens. We have read so much pop-psychology regarding anger that we have almost made it a bad word. It is as if people who are truly centered and enlightened will no longer get angry. This is not only wrong, it’s goofy.

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His First Date | Part Two.

His First Date | Part Two.

The days between the invite and the movie were filled with fear and the nights were sleepless. I juxtaposed between dread and elation. I was at the peak of anticipatory joy and at the same time unmitigated fear. I prayed for an illness to consume my body leaving me powerless to attend the matinee, while at the same, time I combed through my wardrobe and prepared my opening line. It was the longest week of my life.

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His First Date | Part Two.

His First Date | Part Two.

The days between the invite and the movie were filled with fear and the nights were sleepless. I juxtaposed between dread and elation. I was at the peak of anticipatory joy and at the same time unmitigated fear. I prayed for an illness to consume my body leaving me powerless to attend the matinee, while at the same, time I combed through my wardrobe and prepared my opening line. It was the longest week of my life.

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The Greatest Pain: Loss

The Greatest Pain: Loss

In my last entry I wrote about pain being a fact of life. Everyone has pain from injuries or illnesses or just the process of living. We all have scars from falling off our bikes or out of a tree or from holding a firecracker a second too long. Between 7 knee surgeries, 6 back surgeries, and 2 hand surgeries I am covered in scars. We wear our scars as reminders of a time when pain came to us. Our scars also tell a story to others, letting them know that we have endured pain and have come back from it. Our scars are a part of who we are and where we have been and what we have done.

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Our Greatest Treasure

Our Greatest Treasure

No hard bedtime for the kids and great movies at the theater and, best of all, tons of family time. This past week, my family along with my in-laws spent the week at a great condo on South Padre Island. We would get up in the mornings and slide open the back porch door and sit and listen to the waves crashing against the shore. We went for lazy walks on the beach and collected seashells that my youngest daughter handed out to her friends as souvenirs. We went out at night with our flashlights and hunted sand-crabs. We rode the waves on boogie-boards and swam and fought the tides until we were exhausted. When we came back to the condo in the evenings, we would play cards while the kids fed the birds and read and eventually just crashed. I remember waking early one morning while everyone was still asleep and sitting on the back porch and thinking that, at that moment, there was no one more blessed than me.

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One Great Nation

One Great Nation

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The week surrounding the 4th of July is a time when families are planning for cookouts and kids are getting excited about fireworks shows, and people actually stop for a few minutes and think about this incredible experiment called The United States of America.

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Why Pre-K?

Why Pre-K?

There is a lot of discussion on the news and online, in schools and homes across the country about whether or not having a robust and even mandatory pre-k program in our schools is necessary. There are all kinds of statistics pointing to the advantages of pre-k. For example, the “Chicago Longitudinal Study” found that pre-k recipients were 29% more likely to graduate from high school than their peers who did not attend pre-k. The “State Efforts to Evaluate the Effects of Pre-Kindergarten” study out of Yale found that pre-k attendees were 44% less likely to repeat grades than their peers who did not attend pre-k.

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