Category Archives: Tom’s thoughts

Seditious thoughts about New Mexico and US education

So, here are some seditious thoughts about New Mexico (and American) education.

If our objective had been all along to educate ALL children so they could achieve in life, we probably would have done so.

We would have found ways to support underserved children so they would catch up and keep up from the get-go

We would have checked with our children to discover and deliver information they could get interested in that would, again, prepare them to achieve their desires in their lives.

We would have delivered kids to community colleges and universities education-ready – we would have continuously paid attention to any shortfalls that occurred and explored ways to overcome them – on the fly if necessary.

We would use metrics, evaluations, etc., to improve what was being delivered to our children by the educational system – rather than emphasizing how well OUR school/system was doing relative to THEIR school/system for either bragging rights or protection from unions, parents, legislators and politicians.

We would have focused on preparing kids for life rather than trying to prove which new silver bullet (curriculum, text book, administrative re-structuring, legislative/ political posturing…) was working better than the other guy’s new silver bullet.

We would be paying more attention to the kids’ and parents’ needs than to our systems and administrative procedures and educational professional jargon.

As opposed to THIS WAY of societal thinking:

The law says you’ve got to be in school so the principal and teachers have to take care of you whether either they or you like it. So go to school!

It’s important that you have a place where you have to be so your parents can do whatever it is that they do without worrying about where you are or what you are doing.

Besides, most of US don’t have kids around any more, but we still have to keep paying our taxes so people that still have kids have somewhere to send them to keep them off our streets.

Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe not. It’s up to you. Take it or take it – your choice (?)

And hey, if you don’t learn anything and drop out, no problem. That’s what we pay the police for and why we have some homeless shelters, jails and prisons scattered around.

Seditious Tom

Some thoughts on Community Schools Coordinators

A student exists in a classroom with a teacher, in a school with a number of classrooms and teachers and with a principal overseeing the operation.

The surrounding community has a plethora, a legion, of programs and resources that can be made available to support that student, that teacher, that principal, and that student’s family.

The teacher and principal too often do not have time to effectively seek out and link that student to all the appropriate supports and services available.

So who suffers?

The student, for sure. But also, the family. The teacher. The classroom. The principal. The school district. The neighborhood. The city. Businesses. All the taxpayers. Society at large

The unique role of a Community School Coordinator is to build bridges between that student and the appropriate organizations and services that can support that student and their family in breaking a cycle and succeeding in school and in life.

The unique role of ABC Community School Partnership is to create Community School Coordinator/Principal partnerships at individual schools amenable to the concept, and to sustain a community-wide viewpoint for organizing, energizing, and proliferating, collaborative efforts to support individual students and their families in their school setting

The mindmap below is a schematic of what this is and how it works. Notice that, without a Community School Coordinator, the full burden of seeking and organizing appropriate resources and programs for individual students and families falls on the shoulders of already very busy teachers and principalsCommunity Schools Mindmap


In New Mexico, who is “we” exactly?

In talking about the education challenges in Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and New Mexico, you and I like to say, “We are all in this together.”

But, just who is the “we” we talking about?

Answer:  It often depends on who you are. Yes … YOU.

  • where you grew up (which neighborhood, city, state, region, country) –
  • other places you have travelled to or lived –
  • who you hang out with –
  • who you are not uncomfortable with –
  • what color your skin is –
  • what your cultural heritage is –
  • what language you speak most fluently –
  • whether you are male or female –
  • whether you are gay or straight –
  • your political party or thinking –
  • are you an entrepreneur or an employee –

Now … imagine what it feels like, just for a moment or two, to let all those definitions and conditions…  just … drop … away …

My guess is you would begin to notice that it’s just you. Yourself. Standing there. Pondering.

And then – maybe – you could imagine some of the “others” you can both see and can’t see, but know are there.

And notice that, son-of-a-gun, they are very much just like you – and you are very much just like them:

  • same senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting
  • have a mother and a father, whether they are still alive or not
  • like to eat when hungry
  • like to sleep or nap when tired
  • would like to have access to somewhere to feel safe for a while
  • would like to be on life’s merry-go-round even if it’s not on the outside horses where the gold rings are

And now notice … has your definition, understanding, experience of “we” just expanded a little bit?


Now let’s go out and do this thing called community … together.

Details matter. Small things count. 13 minute TED Talk on how and why

2010 TEDSalon London:

“It may seem that big problems require big solutions, but ad man Rory Sutherland says many flashy, expensive fixes are just obscuring better, simpler answers. To illustrate, he uses behavioral economics and hilarious examples.”

To me this sounds a lot like what Buckminster Fuller called “Trimtab.” Here’s a video:

Ideas useful in many domains, it seems to me.

How to turn a (huge) problem into a solution

How to turn a (huge) problem into a solution

A cool example of how to turn a problem into a solution – there is so much good stuff here to explore and appreciate

–  18-year old Boyan Slat spends a half a year studying  plastic pollution and how to use the power of nature to clean itself up

–  the young simply aren’t smart enough nor have sufficient experience to appreciate why certain things cannot be done or certain problems are beyond solving

–  click through the website and enjoy the crisp, clarity of its design/functionality

–  also notice how clear, crisp and understandable the problem and concept  (solution) statements are

Then, consider how some of these concepts might be turned to advantage in viewing and languaging other “problems” in New Mexico that might benefit from this kind of thinking   —  water, education achievement gaps, fracking, homelessness, family poverty, family violence, fill-in-the-blank.

Just let this website wash over you and allow your mind to ponder.




CA Middle School students’ solution to corporate dominance of government

Some students at Medea Creek Middle School in southern California, have a very clear understanding of what’s broken about our economic and governance systems. Probably a much clearer idea than most Americans.

Here is a brief article including the less-than-9-minute video they made to explain it to the rest of us:

In the first paragraph there is a link to the school’s website if you’re interested; it’s a pretty cool website.

Kudos and thanks to these young thinkers and voices.

What might Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and New Mexico middle schoolers be capable of that we’re not taking advantage of?

Please feel free to share this widely..


10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing

Words and distinctions matter

This delightful article describes, explains and illustrates just how important – and delightful – appreciating distinctions can be. Here are the 10 ideas discussed in the article:

  • Proof
  • Theory
  • Quantum Uncertainty and Quantum Weirdness
  • Learned versus Innate
  • Natural
  • Gene
  • Statistically Significant
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Geologic Timescales
  • Organic

And … I have a small personal quibble with #3 – Quantum Uncertainty and Quantum Weirdness.

Ok, so it’s true that, “Just because the universe is not deterministic doesn’t mean that you are the one controlling it.” 

But, and here’s my minor quibble, Quantum Entanglement argues that I, in some way, affect that which I observe; the observer and the observed are “entangled.” There are many of “us” observing and acting all the time, throwing us into the domains of Chaos Theory and Complex Adaptive Systems, and they demonstrably have the capacity to create self-organizing, “emergent” (not seen before, novel or surprising) behaviors and systems – which in turn observe and interact with its/their surrounding environment … to infinitum.

If quantum (sub-atomic) particles (quarks, leptons, mesons, muons …) somehow created a complex adaptive system called “Tom” typing these words – and the computer I’m typing on – and the internet that transmits this blog – is pretty strong evidence to me of that emergent behavior I mentioned above.

And I find my participation with and interaction within all this very cool.

You can read the complete article here.