Thursday, January 31, 2013

A New Preserve, Around the Corner


When I first bought the blue house in 1991, Dave Takacs informed me that I was living right around the corner from his favorite swimming hole in the county, a place called Paradise. Over the years, that piece of land off Irish Settlement became a place to walk the dogs, to bring the baby in a backpack, and to brave the ice cold water on hot summer days. The Baldwins, who owned most of the land, had cut a deal with the Finger Lakes Land Trust the year I moved here that kept the land wild yet allowed public access, at least for those of us in the know. Someone, perhaps Mr. Baldwin, mowed random paths that were lovely for dog walking.

Then, a few years back, Roy Park's daughter acquired the parcel and sold it to the land trust. Suddenly, more people knew about the land, a parking area sprang up, and a more formal trail was built. This tells more about the new Roy H. Park Preserve, including the history of the pine trees, which were apparently part of a sixth-grade project back in 1980. The last time we walked there, around Thanksgiving, there was a sign discouraging us from walking down to the swimming hole, which apparently is not part of the preserve itself.

Today, the land trust is working on a handicapped-accessible boardwalk just north of Paradise, which will allow people to view the wetlands close up in addition to walking the simple field loop. The good news is that the land will be preserved in all its glory. The bad news is that it's now a bona fide destination and not a neighborhood gem.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Initial Budget Runs

As of 1/22/13, Dryden's increase in total aid is 4.26%, Groton's is 3.14%, Ithaca's is 2.86%, Lansing's is 5.57%, Newfield's is 5.24%, and Trumansburg's is 4.43%. All in all, schools in the county get around $3 million more than they did last year. Since Cuomo suggested the average would be 4%, we're at least in the ballpark. Of course, our 4% is quite a bit different from Westchester's 4%.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vlogbrothers Changing YA World

This is an article about Olivia's favorite author, his brother, and the way they and their community are changing the way kids interact with books. For those of us who sometimes despairingly think that kids don't read at all, it's fascinating and inspirational to see how John Green manages to suck them in without sucking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NRA Nuttiness

Shouldn't an earnest comparison of today's U.S. with Nazi Germany, combined with veiled or unveiled threats against leadership, be enough to signal a serious mental illness that warrants having one's guns taken away?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Sad Day...

...when I'm agreeing with Tom O'Mara about the contents of the governor's speech. Mandate relief and school equity were conspicuously absent.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

State of the State

I haven't been a big fan of the governor's, but he gave a barn-burner of a State of the State address today, and I find little to argue with him about, despite his sins of omission (really, no mention of fracking? nothing about school equity?)

In a nutshell, his plans for education look smart and data-driven: increased time in school (with options for longer days and/or longer years), full-day pre-K for neediest kids, a "bar-exam-like" test for would-be teachers, higher admission requirements in teacher prep programs, rewards for master teachers, community schools with built-in health and social care in the neediest neighborhoods, CTE programs that match actual job needs, transformative technology through innovation zones, and regionalization and shared services to increase efficiencies.

His more interesting initiatives, however, are the ones that make a presidential run in 2016 seem even more likely: a 10-point women's equality act, raising the minimum wage and gutting the stop-and-frisk process, banning assault weapons, reforming campaign finance, and making NYS an academia-to-commercialization hot spot. Lots of ambition there, and lots to do.

Just one grump to grump: If you're going to submit a women's equality act that seems sincere and presenting it in a way that brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye, please make sure that the people you're calling out to honor as members of commissions, etc., aren't all the same old white guys.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Required Reading

From "Tom, the Dancing Bug," a reminder.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013