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home : opinion : opinion February 5, 2016

12/8/2013 6:00:00 AM
Editorial: Column Angered Kingman Educators

Rich Thurlow

Years ago at another newspaper, I threw together a column about acronyms, especially those created by the government. At the time it seemed we were inundated to the point that half the headlines had to contain at least one acronym, such as PETT (Payments Equal To Taxes) and PILT (Payments In Lieu of Taxes). The outcome was a column filled with made-up program names, including PIMP (Payments Intended to Make Payments).

That was in the back of my mind when I wrote "On a PACE to PASS with PALS" for the Nov. 17 Miner. The column was inspired in part by reporter Kim Steele's excellent story about second-chance programs in the Kingman Unified School District, but mostly I wrote it because SPEND (Student Programs Energetically Noshing on Dollars) almost immediately popped into my mind.

To recap:

There was a brief mention of funding for public education before the lame SPEND punch line, which appeared right after I CARE, PACE, PASS and PALS.

That was followed by the wildly radical, mean-spirited statement on my part that four such programs might be a bit much for the high school enrollment in the Kingman Unified School District, a tacit suggestion that perhaps two fewer acronyms might be enough.

Then I really went crazy by encouraging everyone to go back and read Kim's story about the alternative campus, and moved into an absolute frothing rage at the system by writing, "It's clear many of these kids deserve a second chance ..."

And, oops, I also pointed out that despite all those good intentions, and no matter how many safety nets you extend, some kids are going to be losers. Somehow, a number of people read that to mean it was my opinion all 185 students in the program were doomed, and/or that I was talking about their child in particular.

Either way, it's an absolute fact of life (my words in the column) that some people turn out to be losers. Some of the losers avoid the acronym programs in high school, some get degrees from Harvard before they become total turkeys. But I didn't include that.

I tied it all together by casually mentioning I'd like the same effort expended on the 185 smartest high school students. I did this fully aware of the stuff all ready in place - the AP programs and Cambridge and SMMART (Smug Mensa Members Abusing Regular Teens).

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Now that the reaction to a nine-paragraph column has died down a tad, now that online comments making up stuff I never wrote in other columns have been deleted, and now that the guest opinions have been printed, would it be OK if I ventured one more opinion?

Is it just me, or are some of you guys a bit defensive about this?

Have some CAKE while you think about it.


Here's one thing I've learned about polls: Don't trust them.

There was a time when reading poll results and believing them was, for me, automatic. Now critics have ready responses for almost every pollster, citing an election outcome or some alleged history of slanting questions to get certain answers, as a way to prove they are unreliable. Those critics have made me suspicious.

That said, we can all safely assume poll results from Harvard are skewed to the left. It's automatic.

And then that new Harvard University Institute of Politics poll for ages 18-29 came out. I consider the results stunning.

From Townhall.com: Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law. The most startling finding of Harvard University's Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25 - the youngest millennials - would favor throwing Obama out of office ... The results blow a gaping hole in the belief among many Democrats that Obama's two elections signaled a durable grip on the youth vote. Indeed, millennials are not so hot on their president.

Skeptical? Go to your favorite search engine and type "harvard poll obama" and prepare to be amazed. People are not as intractable as they seem in the world of talk radio, Miner Reporter Suzanne Adams-Okrassa advised me when we were yakking about the poll.

And she's right. People do change their minds. Especially when they are lied to.

That's why we have polls.


Editors are sometimes cutters, and when it comes to Dear Abby, it happens six days a week in Miner Country. We leave enough space on our Amusements page for two letters to Abby and two responses, though sometimes there's only room for one letter depending on how long it is.

Sometimes we have to do a little trimming of a letter or the advice to make it work.

And sometimes there is information Abby wants to impart that absolutely must get out there but there was no way to make it work.

That's what happened to the Dec. 3 Dear Abby in the Miner. The following didn't fit, but as a father and grandfather who truly enjoys reading, it's a message that needs to diffused.

Dear Readers: Years ago, a young mother in Arlington, Va., wrote my mother about a book she had received that promised to help parents prepare their children for school by expanding their vocabulary. The "secret"? Reading to them while they are small.

Children learn words by hearing them spoken in context - the more they hear, the more they absorb. Like everything else, reading is something people will do more of if they enjoy it. When a parent reads to a child, the child associates reading with pleasure.

"The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease became a huge best-seller when it was published. Penguin Books called it one of the 75 most important books it has published in its history. The book is now in its seventh - and LAST - edition and has been completely revised and updated. If you're a parent who wants your child to succeed, a grandparent, or someone contemplating becoming a parent in the future, pick up a copy.

The first half is filled with the latest research on the importance of literacy for children's success; the rest lists book titles and ages of the youngsters for which they're intended. To learn more about the author, visit www.trelease-on-reading.com. To order the book, go to www.penguin.com.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“I do grow weary of rewarding bad behavior…”

And yet you will – if he is nominated (not gonna happen – vote for Canada (aka Rafael) Ted who cost this nation $24 billion while he soved over a million dollars in his pockets.

“She's been programmed to believe it's so noone will feel bad.”

So you favor this “noone” person you so often talk about feeling bad? Why do want to punish “noone.” What did “noone” ever do to you?

“Now she's conflicted. Grandma's lying?”

Well, there is an extremely long record of that, isn’t there?

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Good job!

Something tells me that 'Just A Thought' doesn't like to read the FACTS!
Keep it up Rich! Most of us would like to read MORE facts like those you presented regarding Harvard's Obama-poll. Everyone should know and be glad that young Americans are waking up and realizing the truth about Obama's policies and tactics, and the truth about his infamous Obamacare. Facts like these, that are usually glossed over or buried by the MSM ...facts that some readers of this paper try to gloss over, distort or bury!

Posted: Monday, December 9, 2013
Article comment by: Good Writing

The original column was one of the best things I ever read in the miner, hats off to Rich for telling it like it is in this P C mess of a world we now live in. I heard from a former educator that the tax payer was once paying for T-shirts for the infants of parents in the PASS program that read " im a pass baby"

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Enjoyable as always!

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Mr. Thurlow:

Thought you were backing down for a minute. But how evil suggesting those making good grades be recognized also. SELFISH!

I do grow weary of rewarding bad behavior however. Yeah, I know, not all bad choices. Some have to work along w/school. Wasdn't that a given in the 50's?

Anyway this school could have used a room or two in Lee Trevino HS 500 yards away? Just sayin'.

My Granddaughter, 7, reads over 150 words a minute, is a straight A brain. School awards assembly, she receives fewer, some for like Good Citizen, not academics.

We asked. Teachers said she could get them all...but it wouldn't be fair. To whom?

She's been programmed to believe it's so noone will feel bad. I explain differently. Now she's conflicted. Grandma's lying?

Her life? One hellish mess since the day she was born. Without getting personal, every day of her life is a mountain to climb. She's an overcomer. Fairness, and a big boost to a very special little girl, would be give her the correct awards or dump them altogether.

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Jim Harper

If you don't mind my saying so, you seem a bit gleeful at the prospect that the County will continue to pay for the ER care of uninsured millenials who wipe out on their motorcycles on the highway. Mind if I ask why? The Miner reports that the County pays an average of $13,000 per year in health benefits for county employees. If so, you can be sure quite a bit of that goes to provide that uncompensated care.

It took a couple of years for SCHP (healthcare for children) to get going. Why speculate when the situation will clarify this spring and next year? I see Bronze policies for a little oer $100 dollars after subsidy are available for 26 yr olds in this county making 25,000. Mom and Dad may have some influence on the decision when they realize that Junior is relying on their resources to do without.

Those who rely on Rush Limbaugh for their tax advice may be disappointed. The tax debt has to be listed in credit applications. After the controvery dies down in a couple of years, a future Congress may decide to allow the IRS to slap liens on these taxpayers as an obscure line-item in a budget bill.

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: THE TEA PARTY IS ON KOCH

Appears you've "thrown" together another column. I know that the neo-conservative mantra is "capitalism: some are winners, some are losers". So you settle for that. As far as the Harvard Poll, please tell me who these 18-29 year old polled people are. What is their economic status. Why should I believe a Harvard poll? Why should I believe that the Harvard poll is skewed to the left? Sorry, I am not buying any of it. Please try to engage us with editorials that are not always so "Everything is wrong with liberals views, nothing is wrong with the tea party views".

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Here's one thing I've learned about polls: Don't trust them.”

Unless, of course, they support some foolish meme you agree with.

“…we can all safely assume poll results from Harvard are skewed to the left. It's automatic.”

Actually “we all” cannot “assume” any such thing – can we? Now attempt to be honest, okay?

Posted: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Article comment by: Just A Thought

Rich do us all a favor and let your professional journalist do the writing. For you, stick to editing.

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