'Rick Gray 
Member since Apr 23, 2009

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Re: “LETTER: Service at a Tipping Point

I have never been a part of the restaurant industry, except as a customer (and reasonably good tipper), but I do know that - in Washington and Oregon - servers are paid minimum wage.

Patrons still tip - no doubt for both good and bad reasons - so there is still the incentive to provide excellent service. However, many restaurants "pool" tips, which undermines that incentive.

I see no good reason for restaurants to be exempt from the minimum wage laws. However, it should be illegal to require servers to pool their tips unless the restaurant posts a prominent notice that that is their practice. It is a bit of a fraud on the patron to take a tip meant for a particular server and distribute it "fairly" to those who have not provided equal satisfaction.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 10/01/2013 at 6:12 PM

Re: “Course Correction

While I share a good many of jake67's concerns, I am compelled to note that a careful reading of my Back Page piece would hardly lead to the conclusion that I am advocating MOOCs as a substitute for the full college experience. Rather, I am suggesting that they might replace the large, impersonal lecture-hall experience with more small-group and one-on-one time with professors. You have to read all the way to the end, but I think I was pretty clear about that.

Two other points:

First, I would not agree that higher education has become more expensive because our society has been unwilling to spend public money on it, but precisely because we spend too much money on it - in the way that we do. Because we make money available, colleges have competed for students by adding all sorts of relative luxuries in terms of housing, food, etc. - raising the cost of attendance. It's a complex argument of economics, but the central point is that what you subsidize tends to become more expensive.

Second, while I greatly value my college years (and my maturity) I learned to learn effectively long before then. My parents taught me to read by the time I was four, and I have always been more or less an auto-didact. I am thus suspicious of those who insist that learning must be institutional. Most of the really learned people I know, at some point in their lives, took charge of their own learning - rather than depending upon institutions like schools or universities.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 09/26/2013 at 12:26 PM

Re: “Best Unused Local Stage

The problem, actually, is that the Gottwald is NOT Richmond's best unused stage. And it wouldn't be if it were Richmond's ONLY unused stage. The Gottwald is a "camel", an awkward compromise without character, interest or anything else.

Well, okay, its acoustics are acceptable.

Having played the space in several Richmond Shakespeare productions - including the Gottwald's debut - I never warmed to it. Richmond abounds with underutilized spaces which could be converted - temporarily or permanently - into interesting performance venues.

Which is something the Gottwald will never be.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 05/21/2013 at 6:13 PM

Re: “Bolling's Last Stand

I hope Mr. Bolling makes the race. But if he does, he's going to have to reach out to people he hasn't talked to much - especially for ideas. As your article notes, our LG doesn't have the charisma of a typical insurgent. He's a good guy, and a competent manager, but if he hopes to win, he's going to need to balance Main Street, fiscal conservatism with a few progressive positions. And perhaps a few actual new ideas. Otherwise, voters will decide that he's irrelevant, and we'll have a two-candidate, two-party race. And Virginia will be the loser.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 03/05/2013 at 3:16 PM

Re: “Learning Curve

Mr. Anderson, I enjoyed everything you wrote until the last few sentences, which - besides lacking empathy - are inaccurate. True, I don't know many nurses who whine. But I don't know many teachers who do, either. I didn't.

I was, for many students, one of those teachers who contributed. I taught for eleven years, in several different schools, and - for the most part - I enjoyed it thoroughly. I left when the SOLs became burdensome.

Many of your criticisms are valid, but let me suggest this: The fundamental problem with our educational system is not the teachers, but - as with most failing enterprises - the "leadership". It has been decades since our schools had a clear mission. Simply, no one knows what the schools are supposed to be producing. It's difficult for people on the line to win battles when the generals have no strategy or war aims.

One more thing: You seem to hold a value for your opinions. You write - when you avoid the personal - quite well. Somewhere along the line - in public school, as a liberal arts major, or elsewhere - you learned to think, adduce evidence, create arguments, etc. Perhaps it wasn't quite such an utter waste?

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 02/21/2013 at 2:04 PM

Re: “Learning Curve

MJ12 evinces precisely the sort of - let us say - "factual innocence" which makes it so difficult to discuss educational reform in meaningful terms. To begin with, of course, most teachers work ten months, not nine. And any dedicated teacher works so many unpaid hours after (and before ) school that their total hours, annualized, easily account for the two remaining months at 40 hours/week.

More important, of course, is this: While the US spends an absurd amount on "education", it does NOT spend extravagantly on teacher pay. This accounts for the fact that half of all teachers leave the schools within five years or so of beginning.

In short, while we spend too much on "education", we spend too little on teachers.

We have enormous administrative superstructures - and the well-paid people at the top never see a classroom, except on a "visit". We have committed, as a nation, to educating all children - even the ineducable - which imposes huge costs. And, like most large employers, school systems pay huge amounts for benefits which - in any of the other countries mentioned - would be greatly reduced by a rational health care system.

Most important, from the perspective of this piece, we burn billions on testing and other supervisory schemes which would be unnecessary if we paid our teachers as professionals, treated them as professionals, and stopped trying to "teacher-proof" our schools.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by 'Rick Gray on 02/21/2013 at 1:36 PM

Re: “My Last Democrat

Paul, It's always nice to get one right. And I'm working to get beyond mere advocacy - slowly collecting the critical mass of folks actually willing to start a third party. If you're interested, check out Commonwealth Party on FB. 'Rick

Posted by 'Rick Gray on 08/30/2012 at 8:49 AM

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