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big bend national park
Big Bend National Park: the least visited National Park in the United States


Prescription for regaining balance and fleeing political nonsense: take a road trip far away from civilization.  Travel where cell service is non-existent and only one AM station is available on the radio.  Go to places where people still talk to each other instead of at each other.  Travel to West Texas to the middle of nowhere to regain your balance and listen to the quiet instead of the current yelling and acrimony in the political sphere.

Sometimes it feels as if everyone has lost their minds and any semblance of common sense.  Politically and policy wise, this is the current state of education reform: academic excellence and student personal responsibility has been sacrificed for the talking point of *equity*.  Students are expected to reach the same goals regardless of their abilities and interests.  If all students are *equitable* is this what it would look like?

Add the hashtag #nocommoncore and that’s an appropriate video on the fallacy of education based on equity instead of academic achievement.  The video above is an example of this theory in practice.  It’s nonsense.

In the middle of the high desert we met some hard working guys who work in the oil industry.  They’ve worked on oil platforms 200 plus miles offshore and in various parts of the country.  They spend weeks away from their families and it’s extremely tiring work.  From 2012 article High-paying oil field jobs come at a price:

‘You have no life’

But as every oil field veteran knows, there is a harsh tradeoff, beyond the grueling labor. Some men work hundreds of miles from their families, others live in primitive conditions or face the real risk of being maimed.

“You have no life. It’s basically work, sleep, work, sleep, and when you do go home, you sleep,” said Carlos Garza, 36, who drives a fluid truck and rarely sees his four kids in Mission, just two hours away.

“Sometimes we’re 30 hours on location. I haven’t seen my house in the daytime in two weeks,” said Garza, who bunks in Asherton.

But the lure of big checks is still bringing waves of workers. In Dimmit County, population 10,000 before the boom, more than 1,000 oil field jobs were added in 2011. Around the 20 Eagle Ford Shale counties, at least 7,000 jobs have been added in two years.

“When we do hiring events, we draw candidates from all over the state. We had one individual drive all the way from El Paso for a job fair,” said Betty Sifuentes, director of Work Force Programs for the region.

These were some of the same stories we heard from these oil workers in 2016.  Two of them were fairly young and one worker was a seasoned veteran.  He had advice for the younger workers:

  • Invest in a 401K
  • Take 10% of your paycheck for savings and put it aside
  • Understand the oil industry ebbs and flows

This is common sense advice for everyone.  Don’t spend everything you make and understand that regardless of your profession, economic/political forces may impact your industry, requiring flexibility and sometimes alterations of career goals.  Unlike some of coddled college students, these men understand and have experienced life doesn’t come with *safe spaces* shielding people from difficulties and realities of life.  Regardless of any *data map* there are no guarantees that a student’s life will align to any predetermined outcome envisioned by the US Chamber of Commerce or Department of Labor projected workforce need.  These oil workers are street smart and cut through the nonsense of believing that all people are piano keys tuned to the same note playing the same song.

Out of the blue they started talking about their immense distaste of Common Core!  They’ve listened to their relatives with young children in public school and are dismissive of the Initiative.  They understand that not all students need/want to go to college and not all students need to incur debt to the Federal Government to get a job.  I heard no whining from these guys that life was unfair and in fact, they are proud of what they do in their demanding jobs.  So here’s to Neal, James and Chad: awesome guys who are smarter than most education reformers.  They understand life is about listening to your own voice, making your own decisions, accepting personal responsibility for those decisions, and aren’t immersed in theory masking as reality.

And here’s a toast to those bloggers and parents raising their voices against the NGOs and federal/state/local agencies, bureaucrats and politicians supporting the CCSS Initiative and other education reforms focusing more on equity rather than academic excellence: keep up refusing the test and providing information to those who don’t have the time to research the ugly truth about current education reform.  Encourage other parents to become vocal advocates for their children.  When you are able to reach workers in the oil fields who have limited connectivity to the daily news/blog cycle, you’ve gotten the word out to the people whose children’s lives are impacted by these reforms.

Escape to the silence every once in a while to hear the truth in the midst of chaos.





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