THUMBS DOWN: The Minnesota Department of Education has turned down the Sleepy Eye School District's plan for a four-day school week, for a reason that reminds us a little of Captain Louis Renault's reason for shutting down Rick's Caf Americain in "Casablanca." They are shocked, shocked, that the Sleepy Eye District is doing this to save money. The department wants more proof that the district is acting to improve the educational experience of the students, not just to cut budget.
We'd like to know which school district that has moved to a four-day week was not originally motivated by the need to cut budget in a state that has become increasingly inadequate with its support of education. It turns out, according to these districts' experience, that the four-day week doesn't hurt academics, and may even be beneficial. But we can't think of a district considering the idea without being pushed by financial hardship.
The state should reconsider its disapproval.
THUMBS UP: We are not too surprised that the Heart of New Ulm data for the past couple of years, presented this week in a progress report, shows that more men than women are involved in some of their activities. Last fall, during HONU's "Jump Start Your Weight Loss" program, 82 percent of the participants were women, for example.
Men tend to have a real blind spot toward their weight. They always think they look OK?in a swimsuit. They never see the amount of stomach hanging over their belt. A man's weight loss program might involve simply switching to light beer.
But seriously, obesity is a big health problem, and men should be taking it as seriously as women. We hope next year's progress report shows more male participation.
THUMBS UP: The New Ulm Chamber of Commerce and Jensen Motors announced that Bobbi McCrea will be the 2012 Athena Award winner. McCrea, of course, was the owner of the Bohemian Bed &?Breakfast. She and her two daughters were among the six people killed in the July 2, 2011 fire that destroyed the home.
It is a fitting tribute to McCrea, and an honor that is absolutely deserved. She was a woman who made a big difference in New?Ulm, who promoted it, who fostered interest in the arts and the city's history, and who encouraged everyone and anyone she met.
This terrible tragedy took McCrea too soon, but it cannot wipe out the memory of her impact on New Ulm.
Thanks to the Chamber and Jensen Motors for helping to keep alive the memory of Bobbi McCrea and her children.