Saturday, October 20, 2007

Utah School Vouchers

This is an unorganized post of me trying to think my way through the whole school voucher debate. Currently I'm undecided, so I should be relatively neutral. (Although if they keep running those stupid anti-voucher adds all the time I'm going to vote FOR the vouchers) here's my areas of research:

Why would vouchers hurt schools?
The voucher money isn't coming from the general education fund.(1)
How do schools get money in the first place?

What happens now if a child goes to a private school? If a child is home schooled?

How does this change with the vouchers?

If vouchers pass:
If, as a blog post I've seen seem to imply, that vouchers don't really help the poor, does that matter?
Yes, the voucher doesn't pay the full amount of tuition. It does pay part which means that people that were close to being able to pay can now pay.
How many children are currently enrolled in private schools? (I will assume that all of these will apply for vouchers.)
How many children go to private schools for a while (less than 5 years), then come back to public schools? or conversely, how many children go to private schools for their entire education? See, after five years, the public schools loose the extra money from the vouchers. If a child returns during that time, the school gets the full amount of money.
Will more people put their children in a private school now with the vouchers? Will home schoolers switch to private schools?
If they make vouchers and no one "new" switches to private schools then does it matter if the bill passes?
Is it constitutional that public money can go to religious schools?
The ACLU thinks this is wrong, but then, as the anti-voucher supports point out, a voucher won't cover the full cost of tuition. Does this mean that the public money can go to the public part of the education and the parent's money can be seen as paying for the religious part of the education? :)
If no one uses vouchers, is it better to have them to let people have a choice or is it better not to have them and reduce bureaucracy and cost to the state?

Most obnoxious claims
  • Vouchers will help reduce the burdon on public schools -- this bugs me. Since we have decided public schools are a good thing, it is up to the legislature to make sure all children can be educated and not push it off on private schools.
  • More than half of utah counties do not have access to private schools (2) - yes, but the majority of Utah's population is only in a few counties. Assuming that the counties that don't have private schools are also the least populus, those counties have a population of less than 15,000. Also, anti-vouchers shouldn't point this out because this means the arguement of "parents can already send their kids to private schools if they want" doesn't hold true in half of Utah's counties. Thus, vouchers wouldn't change anything in those counties, except maybe encourage a private school to start.


Useful facts:
The bill is HB 148
The ammendment is HB 174
  1. KSL's analysis of annoying adds.
  2. daily herald

Saturday, October 13, 2007

No-sew Felt Pea costume

I've been wanting to make my baby daughter a pea costume, but I didn't want to buy one. Here's what I came up with:On Halloween she'll be wearing a green onesie or blanket sleepers. Here's it again without the baby (the hat isn't attached to the body of the costume, it is just sitting on top):

Here's basically how I did it:
  • 3 pieces dark green felt
  • 2 pieces light green felt
  • 2 foam balls
  • small pieces of Velcro
  • hot glue gun
for the hat:
I measured my baby's head height and circumference. On the felt I drew a half circle that high and half the circumference long. I cut out both halves of the hat at once so they would match. For the stem, I cut out a small rectangle of dark green felt and folded and glued it in half. I put the stem inside the hat and glued the two halves of the hat (wrong side out) and the stem together. I turned the hat right-side out. I cut four, slightly curved triangles out of light green felt and glued them around the hat.

For the Pod:
I took a piece of dark green felt and folded it in half lengthwise. Then I cut out a curved shape. When unfolded, it makes the pod shape. I cut out two rectangular pieces of felt and glued them at the top of the pod to form straps to go around the baby's neck. I glued on a piece of Velcro to attach the straps behind the baby.

For the Peas:
I took some foam balls I got on clearance from wal-mart and wrapped a piece of light green felt around each one. Once I was happy with how the "pea" looked, I cut off the excess felt and glued the felt directly to the ball. (I only covered the top and sides of the ball since the bottom wouldn't be showing.) Then I glued the "pea" to the pod.

total cost: $3

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shark Steam Mop review

So yesterday I bought a Shark Steam mop. I had seen the infomercial and I too wanted to clean my floors without toxic chemicals. Also, my current (non-steam) mop has been on the way out for about a month and I needed to replace it. Why not replace it with something that costs ten times as much? What a great a idea I thought. I dragged my children down to Sears and purchased the coveted item.

This morning I got to try the shark steam mop out. (I did read reviews found here before I bought it.) It was easy to assemble. I washed the microfiber pads as directed. Then I mopped my floor. Mopping with steam is fun. I wasn't sure if I would like the "steam as you push forward" feature, but I actually do like it. I just need to remember to pull back hard. In my usual mopping I do most of the cleaning pushing forward, but that doesn't work as well on this mop. I also need to buy some distilled water for it since the water here is very hard. I have a small kitchen, dining room, and two small bathrooms that I mopped. I used both pads and had to refill once. I saw some spots afterwards that I went at with my regular mop and it couldn't get them up either, so it did an OK job. As one of the reviews said, this will clean about as well as a regular mop, although I like it better since it picks up all the dirty water instead of the water staying on the floor like it did with my old mop.

The pads need to be washed separately from other laundry. I tried wrapping them in a pillow case and washing them with everything else, and they still came out covered in weird little things the microfibers picked up from the other laundry.

  • Floor is dry almost instantly because the steam evaporates quickly.
  • Relaxing hissing sound from the steam
  • Arm workout since I am pushing forward and back more than I usually do. (This is good since most of my mopping consists of "the floor is wet, that must mean it is clean".)
  • Cord is long.
  • You can refill the reservoir without waiting for the mop to cool.
  • Works well on my wood floors.
  • Got a big glob of dried yogurt up off the floor. (I had to go over it a few times, but at least I didn't have to get out my putty knife like I usually do.)
  • Mop stays more sanitary since I will clean the microfiber pads every week.
  • Does not work well on my upstairs bathroom vinyl flooring. I'm not exactly sure what the deal is since the shark mop works fine in the kitchen and other bathroom, both of which have vinyl flooring. I think the texture might be giving it problems. My regular mop doesn't like that bathroom much either.
  • It can sanitize, but I'd have to mop very slowly.
  • It would be nice if the handle could turn, then I could store it against a wall.
I'll add more later after I've used it a few more times.

Update (11-17-07): So I have mopped with it a few more times. A few more things I've noticed. One of the pads seems to mop better than the other one. I'm not sure what the difference is. Also, I think my mop is slightly broken, but I think the problem is easily fixable (my best guess is a little part at the base popped out). I just need my husband to look at it to confirm my suspicions and help me pop it back in. I'm waiting for the mop to cool down. Also, if there is water in the mop and you lay it down or turn it upside down, it will leak water.
Update (12-04-07): I don't think the mop is broken. Still mopping away with it.
Update (12-17-07): Still mopping away. My final verdict is I'm not sure it is better than a regular mop, but mopping with steam is cool. I'd feel bad if I had spent budget money on it, but since I used my own spending money I like it just fine. I've also found a way around the upstairs vinyl problem...I just mop that with a rag under the steam mop instead of one of its mircofiber pads. Seems to work just fine. I'm wondering if my pads have shrunk (I did run them through the dryer once.) I'll have to remember to check my mom's and see if hers are slightly larger.
Update (10-17-10): my steam mop died several months ago.  It no longer heats the water.  I'm back using a regular mop.  I miss the quick drying time, but I don't miss it enough yet to go back and buy another one.  (Unlike my roomba.  When it died, I replaced it with in a month.)