It Works!

Here in Denver we have the Arrupe Jesuit High School. It is scholarship only. The students are mainly underprivileged. There is no entrance exam except for basic proficiency. They do not cherry pick the best students. The results are astounding.

The school is a work study program. A company hires a team for the school year consisting of four students. The cost is a little over $20,000 per team paid by the company. For that they get a student worker every day working eight hours. No benefits except some highly motivated young men and women We deliver them at 8:00 AM and we pick them up at 4:00 Every day.

The kids are trained in basic office skills before they get there. They are in shirt and tie for boys and skirts for the girls. There is inspection before they leave school. They work like their future depends on it. It does.

There is discipline but there is also a tradition of involvement between the school, corporate sponsor, student and parents. Both student and parent have to apply. Communication is constant. Not all homes are stable but they figure it out.

The companies love them. Staff heads have been known to ask for the Arrupe kid. They have trouble giving them enough work to do. There a banks, law firms, securities firms, manufacturers, local government.

The best part is in the last year there was 100% graduation rate. The entire senior class was accepted into higher education. They won over $2.5 million in scholarships. No other educational system comes even close.

Arrupe is part of a national Corporate study program that is called Cristo Rey.  There are 24 schools in 17 states educating 6500 young people. They have received grants form Bill and Melinda Gates. They work.

The cost of educating a student is $7500. The students put their $20,000 into a fund that is split four ways or $5,000 per student. The rest is made up in donations and grants. What does it cost to educate a child in your neck of the woods? This is money well spent.

Sure it is Catholic but it proves the viability and ultimate success. As in “Teacher Teacher” a lot of their work does not require special fancy school buildings (they use the space of a defunct parish school) or huge outlays. It is just discipline, parental involvement and an atmosphere for learning.

We could educate more kids with more corporate sponsors. It is a system that is designed to teach and for children to learn. Funny, no one is trying to use this model for public education except for some charter schools. Probably too radical. Too bad.

As always

Ted The Great.

PS: Want to see more go to:   Be careful. You might get hooked

Teacher Teacher

Don’t you remember when you had the answer. You would raise your hand and wave hysterically until you were called. Well at least in grammar school. Damn! She picked someone else. Wait. He didn’t know the answer. Another chance.

NBC is having a special week on Education. What’s right. What’s wrong. I think you know where the air time is being spent. They are discussing, money, testing, teacher performance.

Some of these educators are both gifted and giving above and beyond. Some are disgruntled. Frustrated comes to mind immediately. These aren’t screaming labor types. They just want to do their job.

Back to the classroom of yesteryear. We had 51 eighth grade boys and girls in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. We had one rolling blackboard. Oh yes and ONE nun. We not only survived but we all went on to pass the New York State Regents exams in reading, math and social studies.

No, the good sister was not a tyrant but she was strict. If I got a ruler pop, I deserved it. Other than my congenital character flaws I was not affected to the negative. That was a huge part of the answer I want to give now. Discipline.

My mother was a part of that same program. The woman should have worked for the Department of Defense. No matter what I did, her sonar or radar or whatever was working overtime. She was aware of my misbehaving before I came through the door. Nailed again. An observant and inquiring parent conquers all.

And we did not have girls in short shorts with one or both cheeks showing. The boys did not wear their pants below their butt. There were no controversies over what expletive was written on shirts. The girls looked downright plain in their blue skirts. For the guys you cannot look cool in an old royal blue tie and white shirt..

Looking back there was an emphasis on learning. We did not have gym class because our school didn’t have one. We played punch ball at lunch and the girls jumped rope. Cafeteria ? There was a plain brown bag with a bologna sandwich wrapped in waxed paper. Somehow we all survived.

Now I am not espousing parochial schools for everyone. But there were common denominators that could be applied anywhere. First and foremost the teacher was in charge. He or she had the ability to mete out punishment for miscreants. Somehow the threat of lawsuits never entered into the equation.

Secondly were the parents. They were part of the three legged stool that included student and teacher. They were there to back up the teacher. To oversee homework assignments. We had to have our homework and tests signed by mom or dad.

Lastly was the uniform part. It took all the guesswork out of getting dressed. All the grief too. Incredibly the parents of the Parsippany Troy Hills School District in New Jersey voted and rejected the idea of uniforms. Go figure.

Look, I get all the complexities of today’s world. Computers. Cell phones. Drugs. But are these the result of too much discipline and uniformity or too little? Does wearing a white polo shirt and khackis really cramp one’s creativity?

Parenting, discipline, interaction with the teacher and uniforms don’t cost anything more. I know there are working parents but do you really want me to believe there is not 15 minutes in the day or every couple of days that they can’t be part of the most important aspect of their children’s upbringing.

It takes a lot to raise a child in today’s society. Kathy and I have been through it. We had three in high school at the same time. We didn’t have a social life on weekends. Big deal. Still it resulted in three great kids and their families. Teacher! Teacher! I think I have the answer. Or at least part of it. Raise your hand too.

As always

Ted The Great

13,506 school district governments
1,196 education service agencies (agencies providing support services to public school systems)

49.3 million students grades 1-12
3,825,000 teachers
Total budget…approx $600 billion

Of 70 Countries around the world:
We are #4 in the world on spending per student
We are #1 in the world by numbers who finish high school
We are #25 in math… Japan #1
We are #17 in science… South Korea #1
We are #14 in reading…Finland #1

Question: When it comes to teaching are both teachers and parents filling a bucket or lighting a fire?

Dear Leo

I hope you don’t mind me shortening Leonardo to Leo. It’s kind of what we do today. The past is old hat. We think we are beyond smart. Wish you were here to show them what real thinking is all about.

I just returned from a trip back east. I love Denver and couldn’t wait to get back here. Sort of my Milan after visiting Rome. Just like days of old there were villas and monuments to me, everywhere I went back there.

There were orators both in New York and Washington. Nothing has changed. They love to go to the Forums and BS. They don’t really say anything new. Just rehashing the samo samo. It’s like our new version of the Dark Ages.

I couldn’t help but think of your maxim of “Curiositae”. You know the part where you question everything. You look at a problem from three different sides. Not looking for the most popular answer. Just the one that makes most sense.

These guys look at one side. It been the same for decades. They know it by heart. They ascend to thrones. Think the monarchy is dead? No way. They just take turns being kings and queens. Backchannels by those out of favor? Machiavelli would have field day. He could become what they call a spin doctor. Or even better a lobbyist.

Hey, I know you played to the Medicis and the other swells because that was the way to survive. You thought they were idiots but what the hell? You could be brilliant in the back room and then make them think it was their idea. Very clever, mon ami. Oops I mean amico.

There are a lot of city states these days. You know the old fiefdom bit. They all vie for power and independence until they realize how many lira it takes to run these shows. Then they want all the taxes they pay to Rome as it were, to come back to them. They shuffle the decks and the vaults are running dry.

There are plenty of cats like the Borgias and Medicis. Some have class. Some don’t. There is this dude called, “The Donald”. You would have to meet him to believe him. All in all, they think the rest of the country are peasants. Ignore them. Use them. Let them eat cake. Sorry.wrong century.

I really try to look at things in the Forum with “Sensazione”, using all my faculties to try to understand this thing we call government. Smell? That’s a problem. Sometimes I think everything stinks. Taste? A lot of bad ones. Sight? This is really getting ugly. Touch? A lot of greasy slimy things. Hearing? Why didn’t you invent earplugs? Be still my heart. We now have a thing called TIVO.

I think I will spend the rest of my day working on “Connesione”. That place where I realize and appreciate that all things are connected and dependant. If I remember correctly, we can achieve who we are at our greatest potential by interacting and cooperating.

I really believe we all have our innate talents and abilities. The problem now is that we are all Lone Rangers. Sorry, that is a twenty first century metaphor for selfish. I am not sure we are bad as much as worried that we kind of crawl up in a cocoon. Man if we could just get everyone pulling on the oar at the same.

The strangest part is while publicos are warring there is the hint of optimism with the young. They are going to make do. They will blaze a new trial. Change of mind and spirit is not alien to them. They are not so afraid of new ideas.

I did have one particular bit of fun on my journey. I made it a point to reach out to every stranger I could. I tried to make them laugh. I tried to hear what they were saying. I tried to make them the most important person in the world at that time. And they responded. They lit up. They smiled. One check out clerk in a grocery store was luaghing so hard I almost saw tears. I almost had the feeling no one had been that way to them before. You would have loved it,

Sorry to take up so much time. I know you have a lot of thinking to do. I do too. I want to be alone with my thoughts but on the other hand I have to try to reach out to others. I am not the cat’s meow but I pray I can resonate in some way. A lot of them won’t understand. I just hope a few do.

Ciao bella

Ted The Great

Things that don’t make sense:

We put people in jail for kicking dogs and cats. We teach our kids to step on spiders and ants to kill them.????

The Kardashians.

Getting a dog for the hell of it. Having kids for the hell of it.

Spending $500 on dinner Saturday night and $5 in the collection plate on Sunday.

Sean Hannity. Keith Olberman. Nancy Grace. Ozzie Osborne. The Vatican.

Being for abortion and against capital punishment. And vice versa.

When you ask for a 7:00 PM reservation and all they have is 6:45 or 7:15.

Failing at suicide and then saying, “Please don’t tell my wife”. Actually happened in Pittsburgh.

NOTE: I am going to try to set up some sort of forum or chat room. Several have asked for it. More to come.

This Old House

We have been traveling in the New York area visiting family and friends. Some places I haven’t been in ten years. There are roads I am traveling that I haven’t seen in forty years. The most fascinating part is seeing old houses that were new when I was growing up. The trees planted 50 years ago look like…well, a fifty year old tree now.

I am a sucker for old houses. There is a charm and inherent beauty no matter how run down they may be. My wife, daughter and I have renovated several. There is a certain sense of wellness in making something that was abandoned come back to life. Rejuvenate. I hope it is a product of our optimism.

In real estate it fascinates me that a house that is twenty years old is considered dated. How did we ever get along growing up with five bedrooms and two baths? No den. No family room. What were we thinking? A one or two car garage? What peasants.

There was linoleum. There were tiny TV’s. There was a milk box on the back porch. There was a diaper pail. Yuk! There was a bread man. Soda man. Milk man. Egg man. They were all friends. They were us.

There was a hardware store. There was a butcher. A fish market. A neighborhood pharmacy. The super market was small. There were four or five of them. Everyone knew you by name. There were movies on Saturday for a quarter. Ice cream cones for a dime. In Penn Station you got two hot dogs and a soda for fifty cents. There was this crazy thing called an automat.

I am writing this in a Starbucks on the Village Green in Morristown, New Jersey. There is a fellow selling Sabretts hot dogs from a cart. There are people doing something really stupid. They are just sitting watching the world go by.

I am in an enclave of four leather chairs. There is a young lady working at her computer. Another guy is reading the recap of the yesterday’s games in the Star Ledger. Tranquil and peaceful in this crazy wound up part of the world.

The soft jazz playing has just been shattered by a new entrant into our den of relaxation. He has an earpiece and a Blackberry. He didn’t buy coffee. He just sat down and proceeded to dial an associate or client of some sort.

He speaks louder than me. Can you imagine? We all look up and glare. The man is impervious. At the cessation of his negotiations he gets up and roars out the door and down the street. He was just looking for someplace tranquil to have his phone call.

What a guy.

Church bells are ringing. It is 12 noon. I sure hope he doesn’t need any more serenity. Edith Piaf is singing La Vie En Rose. It could almost be Paris. Well, not exactly. I am back to my train of thought. As a counter to my ravings last week I just want to have fun. Ted’s Head is moving at half speed.

I am so struck by the 9/11 ceremonies. What has faded to a far part of my memory is so poignant and still incredibly raw for so many of these people. It’s hard to equate country lanes and historical homes to shiny towers that disintegrated. Metal and flesh that vaporized. My nephew wrote to a small group of friends about how searing that day was. His cousin died. He was one of his best friends. There is so much to forget. He was eloquent in his still held grief.

Family, friends, tomatoes, corn on the cob. Cherrystone clams. Fresh swordfish. We all have our strengths. We all have our weaknesses. We have traditions and rituals for better and for worse. We want to be critical. We want to think our way is better. We want to be right. Sometimes we are so wrong.

I have finished my coffee and my ramblings. I am going to walk back to the house, a half mile down the road. I am going to take a long walk in the woods later on. I am going to come up with some positive thoughts about myself, my family, our country, our world.

I am going to figure out how to renovate this old house. This place we call home. We can’t scrape and rebuild. We must take out the original set of plans and rework them. She has what we call in the biz, good bones.

We have got to bring out her beauty once again. Even if we have to take her down to the studs. Repaint her. Rework her. There is so much here we have overlooked for so long. Just like old houses we can fix anything with enough imagination and hard work. Let’s dust off our brains and our hope. Let’s put on our tool belts again.

As always

Ted The Great


In the normal NFL game there are actually only 11 minutes of play time during a three hour telecast.

There are 261 births in the world every minute. There are 107 deaths.

There are 8.4 million millionaires in the US.

We now have a poverty rate of 15.1% in the US. That’s 46.2 million people

Americans go to bed hungry every night. There 17 million children in the US without access to nutritious food.

John Kyl (R,AZ), member of the super committee of six to do spending cuts announced after the first meeting that if there were cuts to the military he would resign. Good start.

PS: The phone caller from Starbucks came back. I asked him to go someplace else. He apologized and did.


The world is 8,000 miles wide not 8. Thx to our observant readers. To the others you are bored or don’t read the factoids



I Don’t Get It

Poor Ted’s Head is bursting at the seams. Pondering the imponderables is taking its toll. I sit in my perch on the world and really look for a plan…a way out. Not of my particular morass but of the country’s. Hopefully I have been a decent businessman over my life. I just don’t get it in an intellectual way.

Our consumer based economy sucks. Why? Because people aren’t buying. Because firms aren’t hiring. One side says we have to save and wean ourselves off credit. The other side says we have to get back to buying. The absurdity of a consumer based economy is glaring.

Companies worry to death about their stock price. They have to cut expenses and improve revenue. But we cut expenses by firing and going automated. Outsource to cheaper pay scales. But the unemployed don’t buy things. Duh!

The companies make money by hoarding cash. They are doing just fine. So the stock price and ergo 401K’s go up. But if the guy on the street has to cash it in then where does that leave us? But capitalism is a beautiful thing and left to our own designs we will come out of this.

So let’s do away with regulation. Wall Street and the banks want to govern themselves. We have been holding them back. Get rid of the SEC and FDIC and they can make some real money. It was because of our stupid laws that the housing crisis occurred. Credit default swaps are really good things. Who cares if Goldman can be selling securities to the clients and shorting them on the other side. Caveat emptor.

Farmers are being screwed. Department of Agriculture inspectors at hog farms, poultry giants and food processors are bringing them down. Salmonella. Schmowmonella. It is part of doing business. Let’s bring back DDT.

Let’s get rid of building inspectors,the FDA, FCC,FAA, FTC etal. No more Homeland Security. No NOAA. No FEMA. No EPA. Let’s roll the dice. I hate all this regulation but why do they exist. Because we are too shallow and greedy to police ourselves. We have shown time and again you can’t “Trust us”.

Infrastructure doesn’t need any further improvement. Highways, bridges, water tunnels, sewage treatment plants are just fine. Some have been around a hundred years and could go for a hundred more. Don’t worry. Be Happy. I am paying way too much for water and electricity. It’s almost as high as my cable bill.

Natural disasters? We build homes by the rivers and oceans. I love the view of the water. Many of my family own homes there. But then there is good old Mother Nature getting a little cranky. The hell with it. Let’s subsidize flood insurance. Fires. Hell, I love living in the woods. Let’s just call it a disaster area and make it all go away.

Education is the way out of this maze. Put more money in. That’s the problem. But we put more and more in and yet get less out. I would imagine a large part of the learning curve has to do with looking at the past and seeing what we have done wrong. Maybe we just have to look back. But we won’t.

I have been part of inner city parochial schools. They usually educate on about 65% of the budget for public schools. They have 100% attendance and in many cases 100% go on to higher ed. They wear uniforms. There is discipline. Above all there is parental involvement. Why doesn’t someone study this model?

Lastly is the food we put on our tables. Or on tables somewhere. We are obese. Mc Donalds stock has doubled in the last five years. So have our waistlines. Yet we give out food stamps. Hey, you can buy soda and lottery tickets with them. Maybe even cigarettes.

This world has changed so drastically in the last ten years. The last five years. We have rested on our laurels. “Just wait til we get back”. It is not really that easy. It would take a huge overhaul in business strategies, bureaucracy and most of all public attitude.

Watch Meet The Press from this weekend. Tom Friedman stated with great perception that we are making economic decisions with a political board of directors. He went on to sadly say there are so many things out there that we invented but have let the world take the lead with. Doris Kearns Goodwin recalled the effort we put forth in World War II. At that time it was all that mattered in the US. It’s where we have to get to today. The task is that Herculean.

To make sense of all this we have to put a shoulder to the wheel. We have to get rid of selfish, self serving attitudes. The rich. The poor. The old. The young. No one is immune. I really don’t think we can do it. Politicians are in charge. They now want to wait until next year. We just wring our hands and sometimes just shrug. Are we that cynical?

Can we be great again? Yes, but I think we have ALL had it too easy, too long. We can’t seem to shake ourselves out of this malaise. We are dreamers but in the wrong way. I guess this is the part that Ted’s Head really doesn’t get. What a tragedy.

As always

Ted The Great


Unemployment by Education level.

Not finishing high school…15.4%High School Grad…9.4%Some College…7.9%College Grad…4.7%

In 2004 we did not have Twitter, Facebook,  IPads, IPhones

Over the last 25 years our calorie consumption per annum has increased some 40%. We have approximately 10% of our population (30 million) suffering from diabetes.

An Amtrak train, The California Zephyr derailed in southwest Nebraska. It had 190 in passengers and crew on board the line that is 2438 miles long. We pay a subsidy of around $35 per passenger for approximately 350,000 carried over the rails