Slip out the back, Jack

In Education, Government Waste, Students who fail on March 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

money1I walked into my classroom this week, midway through the semester, and see 4 students. That’s all. Out of 24 who were signed up and 23 who showed up the first week, all I had in front of me were these students. These are all who I will see the rest of the semester.

No, it’s not that so many realized they failed-in fact not one student of mine left failing. Was the problem me? No, not by the appearance of every classroom I peered into and those I continue to gauge. No, not by the comments made by other professors. “It’s just what happens at this point,” stated a colleague.

Of course, I know this, having been through it for years, but for some reason it really struck me as tragic. Perhaps its the consecutive semesters that it has happened with no solution in sight.

What has happened is something I wrote about as the Indianapolis Colt’s football team approached the playoffs last season.

There were countless reasons why the students I had stopped showing up. They sometimes would tell me what happened–car problems, jail, too much on their plate. Sometimes they were just there to collect the financial-aid refund check and never come back. They didn’t play to win. Something in their management team said it wasn’t important to pass the class–to win.

While some safeguards have been put in place, I cannot say it’s enough. Many of my students brag when their financial aid refund checks are deposited that they are getting $7-8 THOUSAND dollars, mostly in Pell and other grants, and know they don’t need to show up for the rest of the semester. They get their check and they are gone. This has to be, by far, the worst semester I have ever seen.

The cost of not only college tuition and books is considered when financial aid is determined, but also the cost of living. Students are not required to show receipts for any expense. Once the money is deposited to them, they have no accountability. Students brag about the $4,000 laptop they bought and Disney vacations.

Study upon scholarly study talks about retention rates. They discuss ‘drop-outs’ but don’t want to talk about Higher Education’s dirty-little-secret. They don’t want to discuss going to school just for the money. College Boards and focus groups discuss merits of ‘opportunity for all’ and the all-time ‘high’ numbers of college degree awardees. There is a stark difference between students who don’t come back for their sophomore year, and those who show up for the first day of class to collect their check. And what college wants to release that information?

I could go into details, show you the statistics along racial and poverty lines, but (heaven forbid) I appear to be politically incorrect. I am sure union thugs would show up at my doorstep demanding a retraction.



Yes, in the long run, it may cost students–but it is ultimately affecting us, the taxpaying citizen, who foots the bill for the ‘opportunity’. I would like to see the statistics on student loan repayment. I tend to believe it is nearly as large as the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Collecting that debt is costly and not nearly as successful as the former.



Not only is public education policy at the state and local level bankrupting America, but the higher education level as well.

The Day After September 11

In Pray, Religion on September 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Yesterday wasn’t as though I could forget. 9 years after the events surrounding the terrorism attacks on the United States, I was deluged with politician’s statements, event invitations and memorial speeches on AM radio. But I also wasn’t feeling particularly deep about the date, as it happened nearly a decade ago.

I had to drive around our state yesterday, on business and family matters, and didn’t have any significant plans to commemorate the ugly anniversary. In fact, I made it a point to NOT watch the towers fall again on TV, nor listen to the speeches that countless others were making.

Other than in hopes the day would go less painful for those who lost loved ones, I didn’t really wish to be involved.

And then, as I was driving the second leg of my long trip, near Chicago, I saw something I noticed early in the morning on the other side of the state. I had brushed it off to the morning blur. And then I saw it again, and again, and again over the next 12 hours in all weather in every county.

Men were holding flags on overpass bridges on the highways.


I saw firemen, policemen, military men, and individuals who stood at the center post, holding solitary flags.

images (1)

I saw lines and small groups of people, spaced in prominence..at a solemn stance with the flag in their arms.


No speeches, no music, no promises, just a stance with a symbol that reminded me how lucky I was to be able to choose my path.

So, the day AFTER September 11, my mind is emblazoned with the images from individuals who made a choice to silently remind us of why we can go on with our day and do our business and be with those we love.

The day AFTER September 11, I prayed.

The affair with Bob Thomas.

In #TCOT, Mark Souder, The Mob on May 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Come now the Voter. end affair

In Indiana’s 3rd congressional district there is still unemployment, a sagging economy, and angst against government.

They are having a tough time at work. Maybe their lawnmower broke again. Maybe they can’t fill up their tank again until payday. They just got yelled at, again, for leaving their socks on the floor.

A little ‘boost’ to their ego seems to be the ticket out of their duldrum. Maybe this is everything they have ever wanted?

And the affair begins.

A friendly glance comes their way. A shiny smile…. A glance from the (awkwardly true) used car salesman, Bob Thomas. He drives a nice car, after all, his collector cars alone total almost 50. He has a big $3.4 million house (albeit in Indianapolis). He promises the world. He looks like just the man for the ticket. He agrees with you that you deserve everything you want.

Afterall, he looks like everything you have ever wanted. He says all the right things. He will spend his money and make you feel like you are the center of the world.

Then you take him home to Mother on election day. He dances about Israel awkwardly, has nothing to talk about because he doesn’t know who is the local rotary, and has to dash off to a mysterious meeting in Indianapolis.

You wait with baited breath for signs he will come back and have those picnics he promised and kiss babies at the local fair.

You can’t get ahold of him for days, weeks, months–he has a life somewhere else, but you always knew that.

You realize you are traveling to some other town just to get a glimpse at him during a town hall meeting. You know he won’t be at your church Sunday morning.

When the reality sets in, what you wanted, isn’t what you thought it was worth.

What usually comes of an affair? The shine wears off. You discover what happens when they take the make up off. You realize everyone leaves socks on the floor.

Go back home to what you know. Maybe he isn’t perfect. But he will be there when you ask to be. He will be at church on Sunday morning, and you can always find him at the picnic. He is from your town.

The grass will always be greener over Bob Thomas’ septic tank.