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Five Things to Know About Columbia, First Day of School Edition

It’s time to learn, Columbia.

1)   Top News: Today is the big day--back to school in Howard County! A comprehensive guide to traffic, bus safety and more . Also, check Columbia Patch Monday: We will have a photo gallery of students. You can add your own photos of your kids too.

2)   From the Police Beat: Curious to know what police are doing to keep the day running smoothly? .

3)   From the Archives: Does the first day of school bring back memories? It does for me too. Last year, readers sent in photos of their smiling children posing, .

4)   The Weather: Today is supposed to reach a high of 85 degrees with a 30 percent of showers.

5) Question of the Day: Tell us in comments your favorite subject in school or your favorite teacher. Who made a difference in your life? Who saw potential in you? What subject sparked a career? 

Have a story idea for Columbia Patch? You can get your voice heard by emailing me at lisa.rossi@patch.com, posting your thoughts to our Local Voices section by clicking here, or talking to us on Facebook or Twitter.

MG42 August 27, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Having graduated from Howard County public schools, it is my opinion that teachers are the most overrated professionals, ever. Many teachers have otherwise worthless liberal arts degrees that leave them little other professional opportunities, and many are only teachers for the nice benefit of having the summers off. Throw in labor unionization which gives them higher pay and benefits than they would otherwise receive and they get a pretty sweet deal. There's hardly a single teacher who puts students' education ahead of their own personal gain. Were that the case, teachers would support school vouchers.
DawnP August 27, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Wow, I've seen you post some offensive and misinformed opinions before, but this one takes the cake. I couldn't disagree more. As a fellow graduate of HoCo schools and a parent of three children currently in those schools, I have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude for the talented professionals who choose to devote their careers to educating our children. They have one of the most important jobs in the world and are grossly underpaid in comparison to the value they confer on our community.
MG42 August 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Dawn, if teachers are "grossly underpaid" it sure is interesting that there is no teacher shortage. In fact, many teachers around the state would kill to be working for the gravy train that is the HCPSS. I can honestly say that having spent kindergarden through 12th grade in the HCPSS, there was not a single teacher I encountered that in any way made a difference in my life. Sure, my experience is anecdotal, but I'd be surprised if many others have had wildly different experiences.
Chris T. Gaines August 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
If they are so grossly underpaid, why do those teachers continue to work there? If they are so valuable, why don't they find jobs with pay more representative of their skills and community value? Alternatively, if they are in this just out of the kindness of their hearts, then money doesn't matter, right? Surely they went into this profession knowing the general pay scales offered and decided that it was fair in exchange for the work. I did have one stand-out teacher, who aptly referred to most teachers and classes in HCPSS as "mediocre."
BOH August 27, 2012 at 08:05 PM
H.R. Pufnstuf continues the usual ignorant trolling that has long been his or her MO. Anytime someone points out the obvious factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies, H.R. disappears until the next chance to troll the topic. Keep grinding that axe, troll. I'm sure you have a few people fooled, but anyone with a brain capable of critical thinking knows your rhetoric is illogical and unfounded.
Kirsty August 27, 2012 at 08:05 PM
As one student in 13 years across 60-70 schools that have educated thousands, I'm going with Pufnstuf is the anecdotal evidence for HCPSS teachers not caring. Or that he made the decision he didn't care & put blinders on to those seeking to help him. And thanks for saying people with liberal arts degrees, which is not a blanket statement in regard to the HCPSS school system, are useless. I went to private school for 12 years, but the opportunities my daughter has in HCPSS are better than mine were. Her teachers, however, exhibit the same high degree of dedication my teachers did.
Lisa Rossi (Editor) August 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
To bring this conversation back to the original question -- your favorite subject or teacher: I'll share. My favorite subject was English and my favorite teachers were Mr. K and Mrs. Ricks--both English teachers. I went to a small school in Iowa. I hated math and gym class.
MG42 August 27, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Just curious, what are the obvious factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies that I've used?
MG42 August 27, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Liberal arts degress are worthless. Many of the people camped out on Wall Street blaming the bankers for their (the occupiers) unemployment have advanced degrees in worthless liberal arts subjects. I would suggest that if you care about your daughter you would advise her to seek a STEM degree so she can be gainfully employed.
Kirsty August 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Sorry, Lisa, but I've got to respond to Puf - I thought you said liberal arts people worked in schools? BTW, I have TWO degrees - one in accounting & one in history. I had the freedom to do that. The writing experience I got in history was often put to use in my accounting career. I will encourage my daughter to excel in both the liberal arts & STEM - well-rounded thinkers is what this country needs. Science researchers need the ability to write grant applications. But back to the original question - my kindergarten teacher (in public school) was Miss Hacker. She encouraged my creativity & writing when I would draw houses. I was obsessed with drawing houses. She would draw the story out of me to help me round out my story with detail & color. In high school, though, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Boring, my history teacher. Her encouragement to look at arguments on both sides and read ambiguous texts has helped me throughout my accounting career, reading tax code, financial standards & legal documents.
MG42 August 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Yes, many of the liberal arts majors lucky enough to be employed do work in schools, raising the next generation of worthless liberal arts majors. Good for you for having two degrees, but without the STEM degree (accounting) you'd be making half of whatever you are now, and you know this. To say that your history degree helped your writing is somewhat silly. You could have honed your writing skills by starting a blog (depending on how old you are) and saved thousands of dollars in tuition fees.
Kirsty August 27, 2012 at 11:29 PM
But you miss a major point...all learning is important. The pursuit of knowledge is what our kids are missing. And working with respected professors isn't exactly the same as writing a blog. Btw, I didn't pay any tuition. :)
MG42 August 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM
No, not all learning is important. Education is an investment. There's nothing wrong with majoring in Women's Studies, Gay and Lesbian Studies, History or other such nonsense if you are just doing it for fun and don't expect to get a job with your degree (and are spending your own money and not that of taxpayers). The "pursuit of knowledge" is wildly different than "getting marketable job skills". Telling kids that it doesn't matter what they major in is doing them a tremendous disservice to them. The worst is when politicians tell us that "we" need to "invest" more in education, as if the next generation of Sociology and English majors will lead us out of our economic downturn.
Kirsty August 28, 2012 at 01:00 AM
The pursuit of learning is important because it encourages people to investigate. You obviously missed something in your "education" because a broad education should provide the tools to research. It's about asking questions, doing research, gathering statistics. What question is interesting? Does the amount of carpeting in Finland versus the US have anything to do with the level of allergies in the US? What is it about the culture of the 2 countries that has driven that? If in fact, the lack of carpeting in Finland has contributed to a lower incidence of allergies & related respiratory infections, what are the barriers to changing that in the US? How does the level of medicinal treatment correlate between the 2 cultures? If one is better than the other, how do we implement public policy & use social media to accomplish the goal? Progress involves a lot more than a lone scientist in a lab having a five-second AHA moment. Encouraging interest in a range of subjects is not a disservice. When you cut off someone's interest in life at age 10 by telling them they won't get a job is a disservice. Or that if they don't go to college, they're a failure? Under your scenario, an IED specialist who has served in Iraq is useless because that's not a "marketable job skill to lead us out of our economic downturn" since that's "spending money of taxpayers."
MG42 August 28, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Haha, well Kirsty, I'll be looking forward to liberal arts majors (or IED majors that you think exist) answering the questions you pose about carpeting in Finland and allergy rates. Seriously, although I disagree with you, I think I'll cut if off there and I appreciate you debating in a respectful manner. I think it was an interesting conversation. What I find pathetic is comments like BOH, who told me that I was a troll, said that I was dropping factual inaccuracies, and that I was using logical fallacies. He then offered no evidence of any of that, which I believe makes his comment the very definition of a trolling comment.
Kirsty August 28, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Um, you do know what an IED is, right? An improvised explosive device? What I was saying was that I wouldn't ignore all of our veterans because they specialized in disarming IEDs in Iraq. A lot of them never "majored" in anything. And a lot of them died. So, while you may leave it there, think about the veterans who have lost their lives while not majoring in STEM or liberal arts.
MG42 August 28, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Kirsty, I was talking about college degrees and not specialized military training. But yeah I don't think there are many liberal arts majors disarming IEDs so thanks for further making my case!
Kirsty August 28, 2012 at 02:14 AM
No, you're missing the point - there are a ton of people who don't have degrees that are IED specialists. And there are a lot of veterans that return home and don't have JOBS.
Kirsty August 28, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Since I have been the culprit of encouraging Puf, I do want to bring this to a better conclusion. My guidance counselor in high school - I had a rough time choosing college because certain things were in my parents' custody agreement. Mrs. Wood helped me lay out the pros & cons of my college decision & judge things less emotionally. She took the emotion away & focused on helping me make the decision apart from my parents' tug-of-war.
DawnP August 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Some of my favorite teachers -- and there were a lot, each of whom made a difference in my life: Mrs. Clark (music teacher at Running Brook Elementary); Mrs. Lopez (third(?) grade teacher at Running Brook Elementary); Ms. McManus (music teacher at Wilde Lake Middle); Mr. Sankey (math teacher at Mt. Hebron High).
MG42 August 28, 2012 at 11:13 AM
My fourth grade teacher at Lisbon Elementary told us that the Noah's Ark was discovered in Russia, but the Russians were keeping it secret. True story.
Nick V. August 28, 2012 at 10:34 PM
My favorite teacher was a vo-tech teacher that cared about what I wanted to learn. All other teachers before him cared about what they wanted me to learn. Huge difference!

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