Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spring SOY table at Eastside Memorial HS

Tami and I were joined by Carlos today to table at Eastside Memorial HS, which incorporates the International School.  It was good to see so many posters up about getting ready for college -- the Early College Start program, how to get help filling out the FAFSA and TAFSA forms for federal and state financial aid, and preparing for the SAT test.
Carlos and stencil art

Peace Wheel prizes...
Our stickers
One of our posters
Some of our fliers about scholarship possibilities from the MALDEF site, and our local job training  flier
One of our posters we put up at the school
student art

student art

student art

Student art and guitar club in the background

hallway poster

hallway poster

Sign outside school for Financial Aid Saturdays

One Direction says Stay in School!

hallway poster

hallway poster

Class of 2013 poster

Friday, January 25, 2013

Career Fair at Reagan HS

Tami and I were glad to be invited to staff a table at the Reagan HS career fair yesterday.  We had also tabled during lunch on Jan. 15, MLK's birthday, and we met the organizer of the career fair then.

There were a number of college representatives at the fair as well as some employers and other services.  Across from our table was a rep for GenTX, a program of the TX Higher Education Coordinating Board that helps guide students through the college application and financial aid process.  It was good to meet students who were involved in the Austin Fire Explorers, XY Zone program for young men and the Rock (music) Club.  They have lots going on at Reagan, which is an Early College High School, such as tutoring and after-school help with studying.  They also have a JROTC program, and some of the cadets (Air Force) were in uniform, so we were able to guide some of them to our literature, in case they were thinking of enlisting after high school.

Now is the time for students to be filling out their FAFSA and TAFSA forms for financial aid for college, so it was good to see that there is a lot of support for that at Reagan.
Our table, next to the Austin Police Department table

students came into the career fair through this tunnel, like the football players

The student staffing this table said this was a great group

Austin Fire Explorers program, where students learn about fire fighting and do service  work like helping to install smoke detectors

The career fair was set up in the gym

Your face here!

Student in the Rock Club stops by the table... and gets a sticker for his amp (above photo)!
table for Gen TX, which helps students go through the college application process 

Monday, January 7, 2013

More Guns in Schools Would Teach Wrong Lesson

In the Sunday, Jan 6 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, Tami and I had this commentary piece published:

More Guns in Schools Would Teach Wrong Lesson

by Susan Van Haitsma and Tamela Minnich

Looking for answers to the terrible mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., National Rifle Association lobbyist Wayne LaPierre said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Real solutions must go deeper than this, addressing the reasons why a smart, shy young man would put on combat gear, arm himself with assault weapons and kill women, children and then himself.

The investigation continues, but some things are known. Mental illness and easy access to military-style guns are primary factors that are receiving deserved public scrutiny. An obsession with violent video games such as “Call of Duty” also appears to figure significantly in shooter Adam Lanza’s behavior. Underlying both the crime and responses to the crime are societal messages about power and security that must also be part of the discussion.

Law enforcers and law breakers alike arm themselves for protection and intimidation. Guns make the gun wielder appear more powerful and more fearsome. It is not surprising that a painfully withdrawn young man like Adam Lanza would be attracted to something that might make him feel stronger. His mother, likewise, may have thought that owning guns helped protect her and her home. Instead, she was killed by her son with her own weapon.

The idea of putting armed guards in schools to deter armed assailants contains the same risk of tragically adverse consequences. Bringing more weapons into schools would give children exactly the same message that led to the killings in the first place: If you want to be more powerful and more protected, get a gun.

This is a false message that has made our schools, our country and our world more dangerous rather than more secure. The United States is, by far, the world’s biggest arms dealer and has, by far, the largest military force. At the same time, among peer nations, the U.S. suffers the highest rates of gun violence at home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has the highest rate of youth homicide and suicide among the 26 wealthiest nations. The sad irony is that using weapons to keep us safe is killing us.

Real security and power result from providing what children need most: supportive, healthy, diverse environments in which to grow and become their best selves. What is being shown right now in Newtown, for example, by the outpouring of concern for the families of the victims, is that the power of love is stronger than the power of death and fear. Human beings have a greater natural inclination to take care of each other than to hurt each other. This is true, even when a terrible crime makes us doubt it. Children need adults to model that faith rather than to give in to fear by making their world into an armed fortress.

Schools are the best places to teach and learn empathy, nonviolent conflict resolution, team building and cultural understanding. Schools are our laboratories for invention, and openness is a crucial aspect of a healthy learning atmosphere.

Adam Lanza did great harm, but he was only one man. Responding to his crime by eroding the values of our education system would give him more power than he really had.

Instead, building on what schools do best would help prevent future crimes by showing children that the powers of knowledge, creativity and compassion are far greater than the power of a gun.

Minnich and Van Haitsma are co-coordinators of Sustainable Options for Youth in Austin

Friday, January 4, 2013

In Lak'ech

For the new year:  this excerpt from the dual language poem by Luis Valdez, "Pensamiento Serpentino," based on a Mayan greeting, "In Lak'ech"

In Lak'ech (I Am You or You Are Me)

Tu eres mi otro yo.
You are my other me.
Si te hago dano a ti,
If I do harm to you,
Me hago dano a mi mismo.
I do harm to myself.
Si te amo y respeto,
If I love and respect you,
Me amo y respeto yo.
I love and respect myself.