I believe the children are our future…

I believe the children are our future…

Most of us have heard awesome compliments about the Ron Clark Academy.  Well, believe the hype.  I went to an open house at the campus, which is located in Southeast Atlanta, not too far from Turner Field.  The place  is high energy in a great way. The kids are obviously engaged, and the curriculum is infused with hip hop, current events, lessons about respect (for self and for others), and confidence building exercises.  I was able to observe a math class led by Ron Clark himself, and it was very intriguing and inspiring.  Many of the students there need scholarships, and some of them were “troublemakers” before starting at the academy.  But the school has helped to make all these kids successful students.  The co-founder informed us that the students only scored in the 4oth percentile during pre-testing.  By the end of the year, they were in the 86th percentile.  Wow, right?? And being smart is the standard, not the exception.  This is a school where kids high-five each other when they give good answers–a far cry from my experience where I was regularly made fun of for being gifted and interested.

By the time these kids leave the academy after the 8th grade, they will have traveled to 6 of the 7 continents.  And before they go to any of these places, they learn about the country, the culture, hot topics, religions, etc.  These kids are so exposed.  But the beautiful part is that they seem so grounded.  They are mannerable–they are required to say yes ma’am and no sir.  Some of the kids greeted me and welcomed me to the school without prompting from any of the adults.  And the parents are engaged as well.  The school reaches out to the parents, and the parents participate in community service with their children.  This school is living proof that kids have the capacity to learn anything you teach them.

The Ron Clark Academy is doing some amazing things for their our kids, and that will eventually translate into some some amazing impacts on the world.

Support the Atlanta Opera

Support the Atlanta Opera

Last night I attended an Atlanta Opera Young Professionals happy hour.  Good people, good drinks, and good info.  Prior to the happy hour, I had no working knowledge of the Atlanta Opera.   I knew it existed, but I knew nothing about its season offerings, how much tickets are, or anything like that.  I’m especially happy that I exposed last night–next season, they have Aida and Orfeo and Euridice on the calendar.  I definitely plan to have my face in the place for those.

People who know me know that I absolutely love the arts–theatre, music, art.  I enjoy getting lost in the storyline and the emotion.  I’m a member of the High Museum.  I sing when I’m not acting too shy, and I played the violin growing up.  I’ve attended various symphony performances in the city.  My friends and I go to performances at the Fox somewhat regularly.  So going to the opera is a natural next step.

So I couldn’t believe my ears when the hosts told us about the specials for Young Professionals!!  On YP night, tickets will be available for $27.  Slap me silly!  Of course, I never expected to be able to attend an opera for under 30 bucks!  This season is closing out, so there’s only one more YP night–May 1 for the Flying Dutchmen performance.  I will be in Myrtle Beach that weekend for a conference, but I will still try to catch the performance before I leave.

If you haven’t been to an opera, join me in supporting the Atlanta Opera by trying it out.  If you like the marriage of theatre and music, I’m pretty sure we’ll enjoy!

My Contributions

My Contributions

I spent a lot of time yesterday talking with peers about various topics, and it led to my wondering where my ultimate contributions will lie.  As of today, I’m thinking my focus will be on a couple of topics:

  • The perversion of social norms and how to address community issues in light of it
  • The destruction of gender roles and why they are important

Yes, I’m a big dreamer, but I think one day I’ll be able to make some significant headway into solution-building in these areas.  In the meantime, I am reading and studying and formulating well-constructed opinions.  Pray for me!

Introducing…

Introducing…

…another guest blogger!  Well, my last guest blogger has now started her own blog!  Yay!  Welcome to the blogging addiction, Quail!

Y’all know how much I love traveling.  Well, a friend of mine will be studying abroad for about 3 weeks in South Africa.  Ivey, who I’ve known for almost 5 years now, is working on a Professional MBA at Georgia State, and this study abroad program will enhance her international business exposure.  They have a fun and really involved itinerary, so I’m definitely going to enjoy living through her vicariously!  And I hope you will too!

Sexting: What is our society coming to?

Sexting: What is our society coming to?

While reading this article, I was all set for an amen session.  Until I got to this:

In any case, it’s clear we need to change our laws to catch up with technology.

A great illustration of why change is needed now is the story of Phillip Alpert, of Orlando, Florida. He didn’t ask, but his girlfriend sexted him naked pictures of herself, according to the Orlando Sentinel. When they broke up, he mass e-mailed the photos to get back at her. Alpert, 18, was convicted of transmission of child porn and he will carry the label of “sex offender” until he is 43. He lost friends, was kicked out of school, he can’t even move in with his dad because his dad lives near a school.

Should Phillip be punished? Yes. Should the six teens in Pennsylvania face consequences? Yes. But let’s kick them off cheerleading squads and sports teams. Make them do community service and take classes on sex crimes. Educate other teens on the dangers of sexting. Pay a price, yes, but these young people shouldn’t pay for this for the rest of their lives.

And if you think this couldn’t happen to your kid, think again. Sexting is more prevalent than you think.

Mr. Galanos, with all due respect, Phillip maliciously and intentionally spread the pics his ex-girlfriend sent him privately to harm her.  These kids know exactly how long-lasting the internet can be.  As a result of her bad decision to take and share a picture in the first place, she will forever have to worry about those pictures resurfacing.  Kicking him off a football team and making him take a class is DEFINITELY not an adequate solution.

Mr. Galanos goes on to say:

The bottom line: We need to educate, not incarcerate, our teens and it has to start with parents.

Don’t let the culture indoctrinate your little boy or girl about sex before their time. So strike first as a parent. If your kids are older, let them know a digital record is for life. When little Suzie tries to win the affection of little Bobby by sexting him a picture, she is putting her future at stake. There is no control over that image or video once it gets out. But that doesn’t mean little Suzie should be charged as a child pornographer.

Education and better parenting is the solution for this new phenomenon of sexting itself.  These kids need help with their self-esteem, with handling peer pressure, and with knowing how long-reaching the consequences of internet negativity can be.  In the examples of the kids who are being charged with child pornography because they shared the images of themselves with people they selected and who agreed to see, child pornography is a bit much since there is no malice or intentional harm.  They need to be punished but not so severely.  However, when “little Bobby” or “little Suzie” decide to prank someone, seek revenge on someone, and/or intentional inflict harm on someone, by all means, they need to suffer the consequences.  It is NOT at all okay to mass email someone’s pictures–that is pornography and I don’t care what age the offender is.

I liken this to those situations where an 18-year old senior is dating a 16-year old sophomore and they have consensual sex.  Is it right?  Maybe not.  But is it a crime?  Heck no.  However, if either party raped the other–it is a crime, and I don’t care what age the offender is.  And yes, the child label should be on it.  The suffering lasts a lifetime and has all kinds of effects on the victim’s life for the long haul.

Education is needed to curb this propensity to send out naked pictures to friends or boos of the moment.  But that still does not give recipients the right to forward it on later.

Troubles with MARTA

Troubles with MARTA

Now, as many folks know, I’m not a huge of fan.  And I have a right to an opinion since I ride it at least twice a day, five days a week and have been doing so since I moved here in 2002.   I’ve ridden public train/tram systems in D.C., Boston, New York, Strasbourg, and Paris–I have several points of comparison.  MARTA is inefficient as a whole.  It has oodles of bus lines and only 3.5 train lines.  The bus stops aren’t even well-marked.  You have to study the website to understand routes and times.  The Southbound train to the airport comes much more frequently than both Northbound trains put together.  There have been times that during lunch if it’s nice outside, I’ll just choose to walk to my destination because waiting for a train sucks up all of my time.

Please understand that I know all about densities and demand and the like–but Georgia, particularly Metro Atlanta, hasn’t created the right incentives to get people off the road and to get places like Cobb and Gwinnett off their fannies to cooperate rail-wise, instead of depending on all these dern buses that folks don’t want to ride anyhow.  I think, for the most part, MARTA is doing what it can with what it has.  The state of Georgia needs to quittrippin.com and move into the 20th (yes, I meant to say that, and not the 21st) century and realize that transportation can make or break this state.  Atlanta is the money maker for the state, and I can’t for the life of me understand why the establishment will stop spending so much time worrying that Atlanta has too much power and spend its energy making sure that it grows in a sustainable manner that ensures competitiveness against other metro areas.

And now, due to the recession, the folks at MARTA are considering cutting a weekday of service.  Or most of the weekend.  Um…  people depend on MARTA to get to work.  Yes, I have a car, but I would have to pay for a full day of parking downtown, which is not a small fee.  And what about the many folks who don’t have cars??  What are they to do?  This article just announced that a bill that would free up some money so that they don’t have to stop service was left on the table when the legislative session ended.  So what will Gov. Perdue do?  Will a special session be called?  I doubt it, but we’ll see.

This has become an issue surrounding demographics because that’s what works in Georgia.  Yes, MARTA has become a saving grace for many low-income people who can’t afford cars in a geography that has designed everything around cars.  But, MARTA can be so much more.  There are already several people who live intown or who just can’t deal with the traffic or who would rather read in the mornings and the afternoons than drive or who don’t want to pay to park to go to the airport or to sports events.  If Georgia creates a condusive environment for the investment of the infrastructure that MARTA needs to become a robust system that the average person can rely on to get around the huge land mass that is metropolitan Atlanta, I know that MARTA will defeat some of the stereotypes that exist about its ridership and will become a distinctive asset to a thriving metro.

Something needs to be done about transportation in Atlanta ASAP.  Making our “regional” transit system efficient and competitive with those of other metropolitan areas should be a top priority.  As ugly as traffic is in Atlanta and as bad as our smog can be, there are several reasons  that transforming MARTA into the transportation hub it should be is imperative.  The first step would be allowing MARTA to use its capital reserves to weather this economic crisis without adversely affecting its ridership.

{UPDATE: 4/8 @ 9:16 a.m.}

I can’t BEGIN to tell you how pissed I am about this.

{UPDATE: 4/8 @ 9:31 a.m.}

I’ll be attending this press conference today.  Kudos to State Rep. Rashad Taylor for not letting it go.

My New Must-Have

My New Must-Have

When it’s time for some me-time, and I have some splurge money, I’m a LUSHIE (and not the alcoholic version)!  Great for the green-conscious, Lush’s products, such as these and these, just do wonders for the mind and the skin.  And this smells delish.  When I go back, I’m getting this. And this.  Shout out to Shane at the Lush in Macy’s Cumberland Mall, who loves Lush and spreads the love to all those who walk in the area!

I eventually want to have all-natural products throughout my home.  Lush will definitely be a big part of that transition (when I can afford it)!