Eric_Muller's blog

Kinnaird, Ginsburg Get It Exactly Wrong on Retirements

That's the title of my op-ed in today's Raleigh News & Observer.

Your thoughts? 

Grading Policy in Our Schools: What's the Real Story?

Yesterday's Chapel Hill News was full of items complaining about a change in the grading policy that the Chapel Hill Carrboro City School District is contemplating. They led me to go find and read the proposed policy itself.

Among other things, the proposal would limit the bottom score for schoolwork (whether completed or not) at a 61.

I was really quite stunned by the pervasiveness of teacher discontent with the proposal -- and the fact that the district would consider proceeding with such a change in the face of such broad dissatisfaction. (Scroll about halfway through the pdf of the proposal to see the collected teacher comments from various schools in the district.)

The Politics of Public Memory at UNC, in Orange County, and in North Carolina

A week from today (11/16), newly reelected council member Sally Greene (congrats, Sally!!) and I will host a day-long conference at UNC that returns attention to the oft-debated question of how we remember, and why we continue to honor, some of our most checkered ancestors.

The ancestor in question is Thomas Ruffin, the pride of Hillsborough and of UNC (and of the state generally). Ruffin was Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court for most of the three decades leading up to the Civil War and a UNC trustee for 42 years. Scholars have placed him on par with John Marshall as a jurist. There's a dormitory that bears his name on the UNC campus, and his imposing statue guards the front door to the North Carolina Court of Appeals building in Raleigh.

Watering the Astroturf at UNC

This article in today's N&O explains why UNC has continued to dump untold mega-gallons of water on the synthetic "grass" of its field hockey field (adjacent to the law school, where I work) as our drought has deepened and our reservoirs are drying up. (Have you driven by University Lake recently?)

It makes the playing surface safer for the athletes during games and practices, we're told. Unlike natural turf, synthetic turf is harder to get a grip in when dry.

Why, though, would the better solution not be to shift field hockey to natural-turf fields until the drought is over?

Will Chapel Hill/Carrboro Ever Be Bike-Friendly?

I very nearly bit the dust this morning on Dairyland, about 1/2 mile west of Old 86.

While on my morning bicycle ride, minding my own business along the road's virtually nonexistent shoulder, a driver whipping past me clipped my left hip and the edge of my left handlebar. Miraculously, I was not injured physically, although I am pretty shaken up. Two more inches and I wouldn't be here to type this right now.

I mention this out of a growing frustration with the gaping disparity between the image that this area has of itself (as a place that facilitates active, healthy lifestyles and encourages alternative transportation methods) and the reality of our local roads, which are for the most part very unfriendly to bikes and pedestrians.

I think of the often-expressed desire to limit parking spaces at Carolina North in order to encourage other modes of transport, and then I think of my experience this morning, and I ruefully laugh. The truth is that we do not have the road infrastructure to support anything other than cars and buses on our roads, and, so far as I know, no comprehensive plan to change that.


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