By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Some random thoughts this week:
Book Reviews: I’ve finished reading two books this week: What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren, and Educated by Tara Westover. Both have been books that leave what I call a book-hangover, which is to say that they were both so good that it’s been difficult to get into another book immediately after. Cat Warren’s book about her work and training with her cadaver dog, Solo, is a thoroughly researched and engaging story. It’s not your sentimental dog tale where you need a box of tissues at the end. Not that kind of book – you are safe. I learned so much about the science of dogs and scent and about how handlers train and work with these dogs. Warren’s dry humor, quick wit, and solid science make this a thoroughly engaging read.
Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated, is a heart-wrenching story about her very unconventional childhood. Westover was home-schooled in the loosest sense of the word and never set foot in a classroom until she was seventeen years old. Her father, most likely mentally ill, is a survivalist and the Westover children spent their days stocking the root cellar for the End of Days and working their father’s scrapyard. Their mother is an herbalist and midwife and her essential oils and other cures were used to treat all of the family’s injuries including third-degree burns and loss of fingers. To escape the abuse of her older brother and to make her own way in life, Tara buys a math book and an ACT practice book, teaches herself math, and gets into Brigham Young University. She doesn’t stop there. I could not put this book down and now I can’t quit thinking about it.
Speaking of Education: As you may remember, my students are participating in free-choice reading this semester. I started building a classroom library last spring and through my Amazon Wish List and my own weekly trips to thrift stores and second-hand book shops, we now have just over 300 unique titles (plus some duplicates) in our classroom. I’ve been giving updates on my blog about their progress but the short version is that so far, here at the end of week four, this is a success. I have students that have read multiple books now. They are writing about what they are reading and they are talking with me about their books. Even better, they are asking me for suggestions for their next books as well as giving me titles to add to our Wish List! Keep in mind, most of my students came into my classroom telling me that they don’t read for pleasure and could not remember the last book they read outside of required school texts. It’s still early in this project, but I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing in my classroom every day! It’s very exciting to watch!
Still Speaking of Education: It’s an election time in Louisiana and our governor is proposing a teacher pay raise. John Bel Edwards is up for re-election in 2019 so it’s apparently time to get the teachers on board. He thinks a $1,000 annual pay raise will do it. Let me make this very clear: he can give me whatever pay raise he wants to but until he returns teacher autonomy to the classroom and abandons canned, scripted lessons, I’m not voting for him. Period. Call me a single-issue voter, I don’t care. I.Don’t.Care.
Louisiana officials declared an emergency, called out the National Guard, shuttered schools and closed courthouses as Tropical Storm Gordon drew near, but the weather system bucked east and left the Pelican State unscathed.
Such false alarms are the cost of a robust emergency response system, scientists and government officials said Wednesday. Some worried residents could become desensitized to future alerts.
“People think they’re getting over-warned,” said meteorologist Frank Revitte of the National Weather Service’s Slidell office, which issues forecasts for southeastern Louisiana.
I think I’d rather have the warning than not.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.