#StudentAchievement #MeritCommendations #schools #education #competition
Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, Va., favors student “equity.”
As a result, TJHS and other secondary schools in that county chose not to promptly disclose that students had won Merit Commendation awards from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
There were 230 affected students in total, who did not get the news in time to include it on college applications.
Why? Most of the commended students were Asian-American. Other non-commended students’ feelings might be hurt.
Washington Post columnist George Will discussed the Fairfax case in a column that was also published Jan. 22, 2023, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In other school districts, some books are being banned and certain historical facts are not being properly taught, or even disclosed, because the majority white students might feel ashamed to be white.
The first instance is a matter of competition. There are some winners. Others should not feel like losers, but, to put it bluntly, they didn’t make the grade.
It may not make them any less smart, but they didn’t make it. As Will points out, do school track meets not declare winners because it might make the other competitors feel bad?
Students will learn, either in school or outside, that they will have to compete for things, such as jobs, college admissions etc. They may not always win. They may as well learn that lesson sooner rather than later.
It’s tough to see “equity” in not telling students that they won something legitimately. Most of the winners’ schoolmates are likely to congratulate them, even if they may be disappointed that they didn’t win themselves.
The second instance is a matter of deprivation of learning. Students should know about the behavior of their forebears, even if it may not have been pleasant, or commendable.
Rather than make them feel bad that they are white (and privileged), it might make them think about how they treat others. It might make them more empathetic to schoolmates whose upbringing may have been filled with discrimination and lack of privilege.
In either instance, schools should do the right thing, regardless of how it might make some children feel. Most children are resilient. They will get over temporary feelings. Schools do a disservice depriving students of information that they deserve to know.
Another lesson here is that if Asian-American students do so well on Merit tests, find out why that is. Perhaps their parents and their culture make educational achievement a top priority. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
There could be an argument here that book education by itself doesn’t always create the best people. The A students often end up working for the C students, as the adage goes.
It is also argued that certain cultures put too much pressure on students at too young an age.
More likely, the students put the pressure on themselves, since parents can’t MAKE them succeed.
Make no mistake. History has shown cavernous opportunity and achievement gaps among students of certain races and backgrounds. If we want to correct those, we should find ways to close the gaps by helping the underachievers, without depriving achievers of their rewards.
We can also learn that the U.S. is a multicultural society that includes people of many races, backgrounds and circumstances. In that milieu, students, sooner or later, will learn that not everyone is like them. They will either adapt to that, or try to disrupt that in some fashion.
Such disruptions will help no one and hurt many. Do you really want your child to become that sort of disrupter?


#insurance #HomeRepairInsurance #CarRepairInsurance #IDTheftInsurance

In the history of insurance, policies covered driving, home ownership, health and life. 

Now, we have insurance for home appliances, car repairs and identity theft. 

In ads for home-appliance and car-repair coverage, the actors talk about how much money they saved. Yet, there is no mention of the coverages’ costs. 

So, one has no way of knowing how valuable that coverage is. 

In advertising parlance, the ads are not trying to sell you the value, they are only trying to get you to call, or go online, for more information. 

The ads make one wonder whether explicitly detailing the cost AND benefits would make the products economically not viable. 

Insurance is a tricky business. Insurers have to constantly balance profit and losses. 

Why do insurance stocks go up AFTER natural, or even man-made disasters? Investors figure the companies have already calculated the losses, but they now have the excuse to raise premiums for everybody.

Health insurance is a somewhat different animal. When it was first created, health insurance was only designed to cover catastrophic illness or injury. As companies tried to lure employees, or, perhaps, avoid giving raises and instead compensating with benefits, health insurance evolved into covering day-to-day medical treatments, prescription drugs etc. 

When at one time a primary care physician could charge, say, $10 for a visit, those visits now costs hundreds. Certainly, medical staff salaries and other costs have risen, but having insurance to pay for those things likely contributed to rising costs.

Later, some employers decided to self-insure their employees’ health, thus paying care providers directly and avoiding insurance company profits. 

Now, health care costs have risen to the point that fewer employers are offering it as a benefit. And, trying to get individual health insurance has become cost-prohibitive for many folks. 

So, innovators – mostly for non-profit organizations – invented health–sharing networks, a non-insurance product that allows people to contribute regular share payments based on their personal situations, and get some or all of their health care bills paid. These networks usually don’t take a cut of those payments for themselves, and the good ones also negotiate individual health-care bills to reduce them.

Talking about the latest insurance products, one has to wonder how much one has to pay to cover auto, home or appliance repairs.

To use round numbers, if you pay $50 per month for the coverage, that’s $600 a year. Most major car repairs are well into four figures, so it could be economical for the policy holder. One covered repair could be more than the premium. 

But if you have no car repairs in that year, you’ve spent $600 and gotten nothing back. If you go years without a major car repair, you’ve paid premiums with no return. 

One has to wonder whether a person who cannot afford an expensive car, home or appliance repair can afford paying premiums with no return. 

It’s admirable that innovators are creating products that attempt to make one’s financial life better. But, before buying one of these products, it’s best to do some math to see whether it will be worth it in the long run. 



#ComfortZones #ChangingComfortZones #FindingComfortZones #CreatingComfortZones

To borrow from a Regions Bank TV ad, one does not get out of his or her comfort zone, he or she changes comfort zones.

Comfort zones are not always comfortable.

You may have a job that earns you a paycheck, and that you can do relatively easily.

But, it’s not necessarily getting you where you want to be in life.

Therefore, to get what you want, you may have to change comfort zones.

In this labor market, there are certainly available options for job changes.

So, what should you change to? It may depend on your education, experience and other things about you that employers may like.

It also may depend on how willing you may be to do something that perhaps you had never thought about doing.

Once you’ve decided on your new comfort zone, then you have to show your new employer that you are more than capable of doing the job.

That may not just entail doing the job correctly or smartly. It may involve doing it with enthusiasm.

Certainly, it may be difficult to be enthusiastic about some jobs. But, if they are rewarding enough in terms of pay and perks, you may need to use those rewards to ignite your enthusiasm.

If neither the job nor the rewards are stellar, you may have to consider doing something else.

Being happy at work has been an elusive goal for many. For some, the job is a means to an end. For others, the job could be simply a dead end.

Still, for others, a job may enable a person to do something outside of work that gives him or her joy. Perhaps one works for a living, but lives for children, family, hobbies etc. The work enables the other.

For some others, the work is the pleasure. It’s been said that if it were not “work,” they would not pay you. But those who love their jobs certainly want to get paid, but still love their work.

So, what, in work and life, gives you comfort, or makes you want to get up in the morning?

Are you not feeling either pleasure or comfort in your life? Such feelings don’t always come naturally, or serendipitously.

Sometimes, YOU have to look for them. In some cases, you can find them among your existing activities. In other cases, you have to find new activities to give you those feelings.

It’s OK to talk to friends or family – or a professional in more severe cases – to find out what may be missing in your life.

Often, the people you know best can either make you see the good things already in front of you, or spur you to find something different, or better.

So, if your comfort zone needs changing, it’s OK to change it. But, before doing so, figure out what you want from life. That will guide you toward either a comfort-zone change, or finding the comfort in your current zone.

There’s no need to slog in a fog when you can have fun in the sun.



#SanFrancisco #RemoteWork #downtowns #WorkPatternsChange

Three years ago, San Francisco’s business district was bustling.

Tech workers were heading in and out of train stations by the droves.

People rushed to grab lunch at a favorite salad bar.

Visitors crowded the sidewalks when a big conference was in town.

Today, San Francisco may be the most deserted big-city downtown in America.

Conor Dougherty and Emma Goldberg explored this in an article for The New York Times.

It was also published December 29, 2022, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Occupancy of the city’s offices is roughly is roughly 7 percentage points below that of those in the average major American city,” the article quotes Kastle, a building security firm.

Because San Francisco’s economy revolves around the tech industry, and those workers have found the idea of working remotely appealing, in any given week, office buildings are at about 40 percent of their pre-pandemic occupancy, the article says.

It’s been almost like sport to predict how remote work would affect many things. This article shows what can happen when people go home to work, and don’t come back.

In another article published a few days later, Zachary Hansen, development reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote about how Atlanta’s older office buildings are being, if not deserted, emptying out. The article attributes that to more remote working and moving to newer office spaces. The private sector and the city are working together to convert some of that old office space into housing, the article says.

The good news: the more people who work from home, the fewer people are on the roads commuting. The bad news: businesses who thrived on busy downtown areas are closing. The Times article talks about one owner of a salad shop who has moved her store to the suburbs, because many of those remote workers still like to grab a quick salad for lunch.

This phenomenon could bring about many trends, as has been discussed. Your employer could be based in place X, where living expenses are high. (San Francisco is a classic example of that).

But, because of technology, you could do your job from anywhere, preferably a less expensive location, and live there.

Or, you could work from your favorite vacation spot.

Regardless, the downside could be big-city downtowns becoming relatively deserted. Another downside is the loss of face-to-face contact with colleagues, clients etc.

With the shortage of affordable housing just about everywhere, some of these office buildings could be repurposed, as Hansen’s article says. But, if that’s done, the owners and builders of those buildings may not see the return on investment they had expected for a good long time.

The live-work-play concept may gain even greater popularity, because it might give people the best of both worlds – working from home with easy access to the office as needed, with all the amenities and necessities of life within the same complex.

Fear not, however. SOMEONE will find a way to turn this downtown problem into a solution that will benefit all concerned. Atlanta seems to be out in front of that trend.

One’s imagination could think of a downtown that’s active, fun, but not overcrowded. No traffic gridlock is visible. Individuals saving money either by not commuting at all, or commuting less.

Change is no longer coming, it’s here. How can you best take advantage of it?



#HolidayTravel #SouthwestAirlines #flights #traffic #FunTravel
Southwest Airlines is getting back close to normal operations, according to reports.
Now comes the task of not only reuniting fliers with their belongings, but also making whole those customers who had to endure delays, rerouting and not making it to where they wanted to go in time.
It’s an unenviable task for the airline, but, hopefully, it will fix its operational shortcomings, and thrive again.
The weather was a catalyst to the problems, but apparently not the real cause.
But for travelers, it goes back to what we discussed here during the holiday season.
If you travel, by whatever means during the holidays, give some thought to why you are going, what enjoyment you’ll get from it and whether it’s worth the sacrifice you will make – and potential disasters you could face.
Travel is supposed to be fun. The journey should be pleasant. Certainly, regardless of transportation mode, there could be glitches: traffic, bad weather, mechanical issues etc.
That’s why the destination, and with whom you will interact, is worth some thought.
If you are traveling with a spouse, your children or others in your immediate family, and going to a fun destination, travel glitches should not matter. (If you don’t get there through no fault of your own, and you paid for a trip, someone should reimburse you.)
If you are going “home” to interact with people who will analyze your life, and give you advice you do not seek, you may want to rethink your sacrifice.
When wheels turn and wings fly, there is always the possibility of peril.
The odds, however, favor a good trip. That’s why it’s incumbent on those providing the journey to make sure the chances of a problem are minimized to every degree possible.
All travelers ask is that they get to their destination safely, and relatively on time, and get back to where they live the same way. The comfort in which one travels may be up to the person, and what he or she is willing to pay.
The mystique of travel in general is beginning to disappear. When one gets the opportunity to travel, the hassles become apparent quickly.
An old adage about life says it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey. For travel, the destination is what matters. The journey had better get you there on time.
It’s important here to remind everyone to not be discouraged about traveling. It’s loads of fun, usually, when things go right and you go to fun destinations. Travel can also be necessary for business. The travel issues this holiday season should make one think about “obligatory” travel that is not business. Are you going there for the right reasons? Are you going to be happy once you get there?
If the answer to those questions is yes, take the trip. Choose your mode of transportation with care, however. Hopefully, well before the next holiday season, Southwest Airlines would have fully dealt with its operational shortcomings to make it a good alternative to consider.
If you are unsure of the answers to those questions, you may want to rethink your plans. Southwest’s recent problems increase the potential peril of travel.
Therefore, if you go somewhere, go for the right reasons.