Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Miss Leading Marketing

Many have claimed that Miss Hersey (or Mrs Hersey, to be correct) is the mastermind behind BCS' brilliant marketing machine, which has developed much hype, and a devoted following.  What if, she is even better at MIS-LEADING than LEADING.  The latest example is the "apparently signed" FUA which has been posted on BCS' website -  One interesting note about this "signed document" is that it lacks Mr Baier's signature?!?  Apparently, the document that Mrs Hersey has signed and posted on BCS' website is significantly different from the document that was verbally, mutually agreed upon, hence will not probably not be signed by the district???  Would that be an example of MIS-LEADING marketing?  Hmm...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What a LONG, meandering day...

It started out a promising day.  I dropped the kids off at camp, and had the opportunity meet with Amanda Aaronson at Starbucks.  I always enjoy chatting with Amanda.  Although we may not agree on everything, she is very wise, and respectful, and I value her opinion and thoughts.  It "seemed" like it might be a good day.

But then, unfortunately, I went on Facebook.  Despite being a valuable communication vehicle, I have finally decided that the rancor that is spewed by David Roode was not worth my time.  Over the past many months, I have attempted to reach out to him, to meet and chat with him, and to better understand him.  Taking this same action with many vocal BCS parents has been very successful, but doing so with Mr Roode has proven fruitless.  Ironically, he somehow thinks that I have impersonated him on patch, and at one point, he even accused me of being JJS on Facebook.  Won't it be eye opening for him when these actions continue now that I have moved on :)  The extent of my online interaction with DR was to question his motives, and at the peak of my frustration with him, follow his inane and belligerent and respond by parroting his insanity with equally insane posts and prefixing them with "DR Elucidation".  Anything else that he thinks was me, well, he will be sorely disappointed.

Anyway, I've decided that the value that Facebook was bringing to my life (information, and opportunity to share, etc) were all outweighed by cost in frustration the he brought.  Why, many have asked, don't I just "ignore" him on FB, so I can't hear what he is saying?  To me, that seems a bit disingenuous, and in a forum where honesty and openness are valued, I felt like trying to have a conversation, while missing parts of it, wasn't worth the hassle.  So, after removing myself from all groups into which he is posting, I felt a great calmness come upon me, so I knew that I had made the right decision.

Unfortunately, the calmness only lasted a few hours, because I decided to attend the LASD board meeting to hear the "community feedback".  Unfortunately, this consisted of one member of BCS after another (teachers, parents, board members, etc) venting about how bad (uncaring, spiteful, vengeful, etc) the LASD board is and how their children are unfairly being harmed.  Ironically, enough, I've attended a couple of the BCS board meetings (as difficult as it is to figure out when/where they are happening), and no one attends, or questions them.  Perhaps the parents are afraid of being blacklisted or something, but their perspectives are INCREDIBLY one-sided.  I wish them, and especially all of the children, the best, but the arrogance of this community is just beyond me.  How they can be in one of the best school districts in the state, and say "it's not good enough for me", and THEN say "and I deserve choice" and THEN say "and the government should subsidize it" despite the fact that there are ample, stellar private options in the area astounds me.  I feel like we should all take a field trip to East Palo Alto, and then talk about "choice"...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Serenity now... Ahh

Many have suggested that I rejoin the Facebook groups, and just block Mr Roode, but given the fact that he seems to make 50% of the posts on there, that just seems disingenuous to me. As much as I might miss the potential for real discussion attempting to achieve a fair resolution, the overwhelming sense of peace by disconnecting is really worth it. Hopefully, someone smarter than I will create a forum/environment to allow people to share ideas.  As a famous bather once said. - Calgon, take me away...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Perils of a Troll

Having grown up in the world of Dungeons and Dragons and some of the wonderful JRR Tolkein fantasies, I thought that I had a pretty good picture in my mind of this mythical creature.  But little did I know that my imagination would come back to haunt me in the internet age.  I often heard people saying things like "oh, that person is a 'troll'", and just kind of let it slide, because it seemed to be a fairly random insult, but I didn't connect the dots to understand the underlying implications of such a person until now.

I believe that the internet is a wonderful communication forum which enables people to hold ongoing conversations despite geographic or timing differences.  But, to me, the fundamental basis behind holding a conversation is attempting to understand the "background listening" that a person exudes.  I first learned of this concept of "background listening" from a very wise educator named Toby Hecht, who used to teach at GE's famed executive education center named Crotonville, and went on to create his on program based upon some of the same fundamental concepts.  He really helped me to try to "step out of my own thinking" in order to better understand the actions and motivations of others, while always attempting to balance integrity and ethics.

I think that integrity is what really brings me back to these insidious online personas that we call trolls, because I believe that if we can not be honest regarding for what we stand, and who we are, then how can we possibly have a healthy discussion?  For example, if I were to tell you ("this is totally a fake story") that I had lost my child at a young age due to a horrible mishap in the hospital, then this would help you better understand me if I were to go on a long diatribe about how horribly broken the medical field is.  You may work in the field, but you would still be sympathetic to the emotions that are underlying my positions.  If it then came to light that that story about my child was a complete farce, not only would you question my motivations for telling you in the first place, you would question all interactions that you had with me, because they were all based upon a false foundation.

I fear that BCS has fallen victim to relying on such a beast in the debate with LASD.  When I was first learning about this "healthy debate" (LASD-BCS) while lying in a hospital bed with lots of time on my hands, it was a great opportunity for me to better understand all of the players involved.  By understanding the individual people, I could better appreciate their perspectives, and have a healthier conversation with them, despite potentially differing opinions.  Reading peoples posts, their backgrounds and experiences, really helped to frame the conversations, and prevent comments from being taken too personally (knowing the individual's heart that was involved).

But something happened a couple of months ago.  I'm not sure of the root cause, but it seemed that there was a concerted (if not organized) retreat from the online debate by the BCS contingent.  This change in strategy alone did not particularly upset me, because my goal was still the same one with which I started (to try to prevent a false narrative from being told to unsuspecting readers).  I started this goal when a friend of mine, Amanda Aaronson, was running for the open LASD board position.  Amanda could have provided a good perspective on the board as a resident from Mountain View.  She could have also furnished a different perspective by being a BCS parent.  But, during her campaign time, I noticed something unfortunate happening, which was what caused me to step out from being solely a "reader" to become a "participator".

I noticed on several boards that statements in support of Amanda were being made by people whom I did not know.  Without this knowledge, I feared that my "background listening" would not be as accurate, so I dug a bit to learn about these people, and invariably, they all seemed to "anonymously" tie back to BCS.  I say anonymously, because they "attempted" to hide their tie to BCS, thus misleading people into thinking that they were "just random citizens" making astute observations.  These attempts varied from people using pseudonyms to post online anonymously to people claiming that they were just "random citizens" who thought it would be "great to have Amanda on the LASD board".  Ironically enough, a little digging, and I found that these "random citizens" had also donated a fair chunk of change to BCS, and most likely were also other BCS parents, thus destroying both the randomness and unbiasedness of their comments.

Now that I had been brought out from being an observer and a learner in this debate, I have found myself actively participating.  As I have said many times, I enjoy meeting with people face to face more than anything, because I really believe that looking in someone's eyes can help me to better understand their perspectives, and hence their comments.  I have deep respect for all of the people with whom I have personally met, with the exception of one.  Unfortunately, this one, is the same person who BCS has "allowed" to step to the forefront as they have retreated from some of the online conversations.

What began as a healthy, albeit sometimes quite spirited, debate among very intelligent, honest people, seemed to turn into more of a marketing campaign.  The troll began with a false pretense of "unbiasedness", and then would continue to "stir the pot" by making inflammatory comments on "slow news days".  While I don't doubt his overall intelligence, nor his vast, encyclopedic knowledge of everything from charter school law to California history, it is his integrity that I doubt.  And without integrity, what are we all really... trolls???

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Maybe they're fruit-thetic-less?

Thank you to Kristine for reminding me of why I have been so happy and at peace the past two days.  
Really, I don't know whether these arguments are fruitless, or pathetic. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ahh, Back to School Time

I still remember the excitement from my childhood, and I can see it my daughter's eyes. The end of summer is always a bit of a bummer, but going back to school, seeing your friends again and sharing stories is awesome!  We were just reminded again of how exciting a time this is by attending a Back To School event at Oak. I love our community, our teachers, our principal, and especially all of the kids!  I feel so lucky to be where we are, and especially fortunate that we are "somewhat isolated" from the constant threats of losing our school to BCS. And you know why?  It's because BCS only wants to be affiliated/compared to a school that sends their kids to Los Altos High, and not Mountain View High. If that is the case, then color me lucky!
Happy Back to School Week!