Saturday, September 04, 1999

Focus back on education, and it feels like 'home'




BY KRISTA RAMSEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There is nothing like going home. That's the thought that recurs to me as I contemplate a turn in the road for this column.

        “Home” for me as a journalist is education reporting. It's where my heart is, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed my writing for long.

        So it is with happy anticipation that I begin a new focus for this space. I get to write about education every Saturday. To me, that's as good as it gets.

        Well, actually, it gets a slight bit better. I'll be writing about learning, which has no restrictions in terms of age or place. School-age children and adolescents will be my focus, but you'll also read about emerging reading skills in toddlers, and the advice experienced college students would give their kid sisters.

        To me, this is like contemplating a long, fascinating cruise. All the places I want to see, and the time to explore them.

        And I've got an invitation for all of you. Write or e-mail me. Let me know what you'd like to read about, and what's going on in your school or district.

New approaches sought
        I'm open to everything, but certainly looking for new approaches in education. To me, that means emotional and social development, along with intellectual growth. Expect to see columns on how to raise a writer, how to make high schools safer, and how to deal with playground politics.

        And speaking of politics, education continues to be a hot-button issue at the state and national levels. There are funding battles to follow, court cases and state mandates. I'm sure those issues will appear here from time to time, although the general focus will be on that golden triangle of child, parent and teacher.

        Finally, I reserve the right to write about education from the heart. I've always wanted to do a column on the notes that parents pack in their kids' lunch, which may well be the most important moment in a child's day. And I'd like to find that parent who is still volunteering in his or her kid's schools in high school and college. You're out there. Drop me a line.

        If this doesn't look like typical journalism, so be it. The problem with education reporting, like educational administration and education reform, is that too often it loses focus on the kid and slides into bureaucracy. I'm not about to let that happen here.

        So meet me here every Saturday. And be glad you don't live in my house. My family tells me I'm so happy coming “home” to education that I'm driving everybody mad.

Column updates
        Before I leave my past life as a general columnist, let me update you on a few earlier columns:

        First, bravo to the Montgomery Woman's Club. Its members have raised more than $2,000 for its Tornado Tree Fund, which will help homeowners replace trees lost in this spring's storm. (June 26 column) Donations have come from all over — from school children at St. Vivian School in Finneytown, and the Mariemont High School Environmental Club, from garden clubs and from homeowners who have lost their own trees to disease or decay. “We know how devastating it is to lose a friend,” one couple wrote.

        The club gives vouchers redeemable for a tree at Natorp's, which is also kicking in a generous discount on each tree. If you're a homeowner who lost trees in the tornado and want to request a voucher — or if you'd like to contribute to this helpful fund — please write Montgomery Woman's Club, Inc., Tornado Tree Fund, P.O. Box 42114, Cincinnati45242-0114.

        And now, to set the record straight: In an earlier column (July 10) about Beech Acres' 150th birthday, I should have noted that as a volunteer I've helped develop topics for the agency's upcoming parenting conference and suggested speakers.

        That conference, For the Love of Kids, will be Nov. 6 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and will be a chance for parents to find information and support.

        By the way, whining, burping and foot-stomping will be banned for the day. For information, call 624-0421.

        Krista Ramsey's column appears on Saturdays. Write her at 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati 45202, or e-mail her at krista_ramsey@hotmail.com

RAMSEY ARCHIVE