MCAN, Charter Schools, and Moms--I Apologize

Even though I haven't tried to hurt anybody's feelings in this space, there has been an instance or two where a column made people write me in the last few years--and when a couple of folks write to ask about a piece, I know a few dozen more are thinking the same thing.

In the interest of starting the approaching spring with a clean slate, here are the issues that have caused turmoil in the winter of my discontent:

Change in counselor training is slow? Really? I'm calling this first foul on myself. A recent column assessed the two years of progress that's been made training school counselors in college advising. In that column, I called the change glacial, making the titanic mistake of leaving out some major exceptions that could set the landscape for significant future growth.

For starters, counselors-in-training have had to take a course in postsecondary planning at Eastern Michigan University. Eastern has offered the course for several years, but added the mandatory stamp only two years ago or so.

A different tact has been taken by the Michigan College Access Network, which is partnering with several organizations and the Kresge Foundation to offer a postsecondary planning class to experienced counselors. The bonus of the MCAN class is the price--it's free. In addition, MCAN used part of the grant to encourage other colleges to offer a similar course, which includes a college advising component. Wayne State University and Western Michigan University will offer a postsecondary advising class to pre-service counselors this fall, and it too is required.

The real irony is that I'm on MCAN's board of directors, so I really missed the boat here-- so much change, in my own state. Brandy Johnson and the MCAN team are fighting the good fight in ways few others are; my apologies for not mentioning this sooner.

Charter Schools Don't Do That! I heard from two counseling colleagues who work in charter schools when I posted a tongue-in-cheek piece on the impact charters would have in Michigan, thanks to a proposed piece of legislation. At the time the bill was being discussed, policy makers were considering language that would have required a public school district to let a charter use an empty building for free; all they had to do is ask.

The bill never saw the light of day, but the darkness of the piece apparently overcame any sense of satire, even though I included a link to the bill to show I was talking about "what if". The calm, compact tone of the e-mails showed me I missed the mark, and that I would probably be missing them as readers and colleagues. If you're still following my posts, I apologize for the misunderstanding.

But the Mom was Smart I was also too clever for my own good when I wrote about the apparently tech-clueless mom who helped her son complete an online college search. I was trying to show how Mom was playing it smart in letting Junior take the lead; all I got in response was, "So, why isn't the dumb parent a dad? Huh?"

Guys are few and far between in the field of school counseling; fortunately, talented, compassionate, intelligent women are not. If anybody thought I was trying to extend the Girls Can't Do Tech message, I couldn't feel worse. I'd send you an e-card to show how serious I am, but I'd have to wake my wife up to show me how to do it, giving me one more thing to apologize for.

Lo, the winter is passed.