Are longer school days the answer?

A few days ago, President Obama suggested that we should have a longer school day and year for our students because we are supposedly falling behind other countries in areas such as math and science.  I have always wondered why people think this will suddenly make our children much smarter and more knowledgable in certain subjects.  Personally, I think it is a complete waste of time to extend the school day and school year.

Think about the average day for a typical student in school. Here in Minnesota, the average student is in school for about 6 1/2 hours.  For younger children, that is plenty of time to be sitting in a classroom.  For older children, add on homework, maybe an extra circular activity and you are talking a pretty long day.  Many students in high school have jobs after school and in the summer. By adding more time to the school day and year, these students would not get the amble opportunity to work and earn money for college.

And what about the teachers? For the record, I am not a teacher but I have friends and family members who are teachers.  They are not excited about a longer day, especially in the summer.  Those classrooms can get rather warm in the summertime. Even in Minnesota.  Also, I can just see those teacher’s unions wanting  a little pay increase because of the longer days. How are we going to handle that added expense? Hmmm, another tax increase?

I personally believe the best way to achieve these desired results is through quality education, not quantity.  Sitting in a classroom and just listening to some teacher babble about a subject is not the way to learn.  Too many classes are like that in the United States. Learning should be a hands on experience where the student participates heavily in the subject through homework assignments and class projects. More time should be allowed for the students to do homework assignments and projects rather than have them sit in some hot classroom for a longer period.

One of the biggest reasons we are falling behind other countries is because our standards are too low. Many high school grads have a very little understanding of basic math or reading comprehension.  Schools need to be held accountable for this.  Problem schools with low test schools need to be isolated so kids at those schools get a better education. We will never grow and prosper as a nation with such low standards.  Increasing standard test scores should be the prime goal of any school district. The question is, how do we achieve this? Better quality rather than quantity teaching will always produce better results.

The worst baseball stadium in the majors

On October 4th, our beloved Minnesota Twins will play their final regular season home game ever in the Metrodome.  All season long, people have been reminiscing about the last 27 years at the Dome and all the classic moments that have taken place in that sorry excuse for a baseball stadium. Seriously, can any stadium really live up to the short comings of that dump! In fairness, I have only been to one other stadium, Wrigley Field so I am be overreacting a bit but it is hard to imagine a stadium so unfit for baseball as that piece of garbage.

Oh sure, the Dome has some nice things about it.  After all, we live in Minnesota and anyone who has ever visited this state or lives here, knows how fickle our weather can be, especially in April.  During the home opener a few years ago, we got a nice little snow storm.  I still remember watching people walking to the stadium in a blinding snow storm.  Imagine if that game was outside?

Another small purpose the Dome has served is helping area college baseball teams get a jump on the season.  Many area teams do not have the advantage of the nice weather that southern schools have and therefore are at a great disadvantage for getting in early season games.  The Dome is booked throughout March with several college games, with some even starting at midnight.  Imagine the crowds at those games!

But in all seriousness, baseball is meant to be played outside, period! If the weather is bad, so be it! We have a small window of good weather to enjoy in Minnesota and the thought of wasting a perfectly fine, summer afternoon or evening by sitting inside to watch a baseball game is not very appealing to me.

The Dome has some very bad things about it that makes me think twice about spending my money for a ball game. First of all, it is not really a great environment to sit for 3 hours and watch a game.  It is really built for football and after the game, you should make an appointment with your chiropractor to help deal with your sore neck from turning it so many times.  Those who sit on the first and third base sides, know what I am talking about.  Another brilliant design idea was having the seats designed for those, 5 feet and under.  For many of us including myself, who are over 6 feet,  watching a game can make my legs rather stiff with the lack of leg room.  There are many other features that are not appealing to me such as the cramped corridors, the overpriced bad food and of course, who can forget leaving the game and going through those exit gates and being blown away with the wind gusts used to air condition the dome.

But help is just around the corner. I am really looking forward to the new OUTDOOR ballpark set to open next April.  The thought of sitting outside on a warm summer night in July with skyline of downtown Minneapolis in full view, will be something I will dream about all winter.  After being in baseball prison for 27 years, our release is finally coming up.  Baseball, the way it should be for the fan, is just around the corner.

Jimmy Carter is completely wrong

During an interview with NBC news last week,  the nightmarish president of the late 70’s, Jimmy Carter explained the outburst by representative Joe Wilson was mainly caused by racism. The following day, he reiterated his opinion that many people, who are opposed to Obama’s  policies, do not like the fact that a black man is president and once again, the racism word was brought up.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard!! I would expect this charge to be made from some idiot on message board but from the former president of the United States? His charge of racism is so completely idiotic! Over 50 percent of Americans are opposed to his health care plan so does that mean that over half of Americans are racists? I think not! Americans who are opposed to Obama’s agenda, simply do not like the fact that the government is expanding and getting involved in business, health care, bailouts and so forth. We are deeply concerned about the way our tax dollars are being spent and that is why there is increasing opposition to many of his plans. It has nothing to do with race, instead it has everything to do with common sense.

It is very sad to see certain liberal Democrats like Carter and Nancy Pelosi attack Americans who are opposed to their silly liberal plans that have a track record of not working. I just wish those people would realize that they work for us and we do NOT WORK FOR THEM!! This country is a democracy and not a dictatorship.  Opposition to a particular plan or bill is just the way democracy works and those on the opposing side should not be called racists.

I think Carter owes the American people an apology for his silly remarks. In the meantime, go back to your peanut farm and just shut up!!

The bad AL central pennant race

As surely as the leaves turn, the temps cool and the sun sets earlier each day, we have another pennant race for our beloved Minnesota Twins. The Twinkies are creeping up on the first place Detroit Tigers, now only 4 games back at this moment with 16 games to play, Detroit has 18.  My question is, do the Twins really deserve to be in the post season at all?

This team has absolutely driven all the sports fans in the Twin Cities including myself, crazy with their underachieving, inconsistent play all year long.  At the beginning of the season, I thought they would run away with the central. They had a good young pitching staff returning and the addition of Joe Crede at 3rd, really addressed their needs for some power at the plate. Instead, the starting pitching has been one big nightmare all season long. Losing a 10 run lead to the lowly Oakland A’s in a game earlier this season really sums up their season. Sure they have had a number of injuries, but there is no excuse for inconsistent play.

The team they are trying to catch, Detroit, has been dreadful this month. How can a first place team lose 5 straight games to Kansas City? If I were a Tigers fan, I would be absolutely infuriated with my team. They are choking away the lead big time. This team looks like one of the worst teams in baseball right now and the Twins have a great opportunity to catch them.  They play 7 more times including this weekends big series at the Metrodome.  If the Twins can win 5 0f 7 of those games, they should be in good shape to win the division. They will probably win the division on default alone! The other teams are just plain lousy. But who knows what will happen with these two clubs? I would hate to be an odds maker in Vegas. But I will put my money on the Twins. They win the Central on the last day of the season.  Wouldn’t it be fitting for them to make a run in the playoffs and close out their final season at the Dome in style? Imagine the Twins winning the World Series in the Dome like they did in 87 and 91. Talk about a story book ending! But this will be far fetched from happening.  But then again, funny things happen in baseball.

Just give us the truth about health care reform

During the past few week, I have experienced an unexplained bout of dizziness that forced me to see my doctor. After a series of tests, the doctor could not find anything wrong. Before I got up and left, he asked me one question, have you been following the health care reform debate? I explained to him that I was, and at that moment, he advised me to stop immediately! Of course, I cannot help from being spun around by what is fact and what is fiction about the proposed reform.

Those on the left, which includes many Democrats think this plan is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. They have several arguments about how the private insurance companies are screwing people over and reform is badly needed. The people on the right are giving us equally compelling arguments about the cost of such a program, death panels, and so for. So who are we to believe?

I personally agree that some kind of reform must take place since the cost of premiums are going up every year with no end in sight.  Businesses are having a hard time affording to hire people due to the high costs and the increased premiums are putting hardships on a number of families.  These factors have a big impact on our economy.  But what is the correct way to fix this problem?

I have some serious doubts about the current plan to reform the health care system. First of all,  President Obama wants to require that everyone carry health insurance. If all of sudden, some additonal 25- 50 million people are being covered, don’t you think we need a whole boat load of new doctors and nurses to handle the new wave of people? Imagine the waiting to get a simple checkup? How is this going to be covered? When I get sick, I do not want to wait to see the doctor, I want to see him or her right away without any delays.  What if I needed surgery and had to wait for 6 months? And my condition worsened because of the delay. This happens under this plan in other countries and is sure to happen here.

Another concern I have is an obvious one, the cost.  How can we afford the 856 billion dollar price tag of this plan. Obama talked about cutting waste in Medicare and so forth but come on! Do you think this will really happen? I smell a big tax increase looming in the horizon for somebody and it will probably fall on the middle class.

And why is this reform so one sided and partisan? They are also trying to push this through in a hurry.  This reminds me so much of the stimulus bill which was rushed through by many Democrats and look what that got us.  Does anyone out there really believe that the stimulus bill is really working? The last time I checked, unemployment is continuing to go up and jobs are being lost.  A major bill like this should be non-partisan in nature and should not be one sided with the views and ideology of one party. Both parties have some good ideas and these ideas should be combined in the bill. Instead it seems like a few liberal Democrats are trying to force a bill down the throats of the American people.  And a majority of Americans do not favor the bill.

I think being able to buy insurance across state lines is one the best ways to help lower costs among the private companies. If I can buy my auto insurance in another state, which I do, why can’t I buy my health insurance in another state? This will really open up the competition among private companies and this will play a big role in reducing costs. The public option should not be considered in any plan.  This will not create a level playing field at all for the private companies and will force many people out of their current coverage. It could be you or me that will be affected. An independent study has shown that nearly 80 million people be forced into the public plan. I certainly do not want some Washington bureaucrat calling the shots on my coverage.  I find it very hard to believe that this plan will be any cheaper or work any better than the private companies. They say that they will not deny coverage to anybody but does anybody really believe that?  All you have to do is to look at what happens in Europe and Canada since they have a very similar plan. People have been denied in those countries.

I hope that someone will be worked out soon. Health care is a very important part of the economy and all options and plans should be considered. What scares me is this is becoming a partisan bill with a few liberal Democrats trying quickly force this on the American people.  A good bill will involve both parties input and be carefully thought out so it does not take away our options or hurt the taxpayers in the wallet.

Obama’s back to school speech is somewhat useless

In the last few days, there has been somewhat of an uproar over the speech that President Obama will be delivering to school kids. Many folks on the far right are criticizing the president for possibly using the speech to promote his own agenda.  These people need to settle down and just relax. I really do not have any problem with him giving a little pep talk to students, however, my question is, Do any of the students really give a rip about what a president says to them about school? They hear the same old speech time and time again and most of them will probably just lend a deaf ear to the president.

Now if  Hannah Montana or a famous athlete like Tiger Woods or Lebron James would give a speech about the values of working hard in school, that might get more students attention. But I find it hard to believe that having a president lecture the kids of this country will really do any good.  Kids should be inspired to do well in school by their parents and teachers, not some president or famous celebrity.

The area of concern that many people have is whether he would try to push his own agenda on the kids. I strongly believe that trying push a political ideology on students is not right and there is no place for that in school.  If he actually tried to do this, he should be strongly criticized for trying to promote himself and his radical left wing views. However, I do not think this will happen. In the meantime, leave the pep talks to the parents.