Our membership passed the 1000 mark last week! I had a very cool prize lined up for the 1000th member, but I never got a second to advertise it. Sooooo, I'm now having a contest to see who can tell me the date we're going to sign up our 1100th member. Check out article 2 for more details - there's a prize!. Finally, not a lot of info in this issue - I decided to focus on the main article and get it out there. If you want to contribute an article, please email me at email@example.com.
Past issues of The Steno Life -
Articles in this issue -
1 - "Who is to Blame? - Part 2"
2 - "1100th Member Contest - Cool Prize!"
3 - "Name Dropper Game - It's Not Just For Spelling!"
4 - "StenoBay.com - Ebay for Court Reporting!!"
Who is to Blame? - Part 2 (back to top)
It’s been a while since I wrote the first part of this
article, and I must say that I lost my momentum with it. So forgive me if
my thoughts seem disjointed. It’s one thing to point out fault –
everybody is an expert at that. Solutions seem to be the real challenge. I’m
not saying I have all the solutions, but I have some thoughts on the matter…as
First off, there should be a national examination that qualifies you to work in any state. The RPR is the closest thing to that right now, but there are many states that require their own exam. Why is that…money! States make money by requiring you take their tests. It’s greed, pure and simple. You can’t tell me that students in California need to write differently than students in Missouri. Writing is writing. So let’s get a national exam in place.
Let’s say that I’m a reporter in Texas. I’ve passed the tests required to work in that state and I’ve been working for 3 years. Now, I want to move to California. I have to take the CA exam to work in that state! Even though I’ve been reporting! And I’m qualified!
Now, I can already hear many of you – “If you’re so qualified, what’s the problem with passing the test?” Let’s see…testing is at speeds over 200 wpm, while I’ve been working as a reporter at speeds much lower. Think I’ve lost a bit of speed? Sure, I have! Isn’t the point to get qualified reporters out there? Yet by having different tests for many states, the point seems to be to get qualified test takers.
Here’s what I propose. A national test that tests at 200 4-Voice for 5 minutes at 96.5%. A jury charge at 200 for 5 minutes at 96.5%. And the academic testing at 80%. Nice and clean – relevant to most, if not all, states.
While the testing would be overseen on a federal level, actual testing would be performed by the states themselves at on-demand testing sites. THAT’S where they’ll make their money. I’m not saying it’s good, but if states had on-demand testing, some students would be taking the test every month, plunking down their money (after they’ve qualified). The money of the unprepared would assure that money is made on both the state and federal level.
Next, there should be renewal testing every 5 years. Yes, another way to make money. We have to take driving tests to make sure we’re still competent, so why not writing tests? I would suggest 180 4-voice for 5 minutes at 96.5% for the renewal testing. That’s it. You can’t be expected to maintain the writing speed you had when you took the first test – this second test would just be to make sure you’re still capable…and to raise more money.
Here’s a little story – true story. I received a letter from the state board about 2 years ago, letting me know that a student had complained about the density of the qualifiers we were giving at our school (I believe that student reads this newsletter – hi!). First off, that student should have come to us first…but I digress.
The board requested to see qualifiers that we had given during a specific period of time 8 months earlier! – 7 qualifiers in all. Fine. Whatever. I was glad to see someone was trying to remedy a student’s complaint. As for the qualifiers, I don’t know if they’re too dense or not – they are the same qualifiers that have been handed down since the dawn of man.
About 3 months later, after I had sent in the qualifiers, I was sent a second letter requesting the names of students who had taken those qualifiers on those dates. I looked at the request blankly. First off, I don’t keep a list of every student who takes a qualifier, and especially not from 11 months earlier. The only records I keep are attendance and passing. So I threw away the letter. Yes, I know, very professional of me. But the stupidity of the request just got to me. I was looking forward to a confrontation with the person who sent the letter, just so I could tell them how inept this all was.
That confrontation never came. No response. No follow-up. No nothing. And that’s a problem. How much effort would it have really taken to resolve the student’s request? Not much. Yes, I know they get many such requests. And combined, we’re talking about a lot of work. But this is about a crippled profession here! The question for years has been, “How are we going to save court reporting?!” The problem is that the question has been all-consuming, while the answers haven’t even been sought.
Let’s put together 20 more committees to investigate! Let’s blame voice reporters! Let’s put a committee together that only looks into the effectiveness of other committees! This is non-accountability at the highest level of the food chain. Lot’s of action, but no productivity. Let’s take a step down the chain, shall we?
School owners walk a line between helping students and making money. And that’s fair. They have to make a living, too. This is a specialized craft that requires a lot of hard work on all levels. I’m just talking about accredited schools right now, which most are. They become accredited so they can offer financial aide and open their doors to more potential customers/students. Fair.
However, along with being accredited, schools are forced to
offer specific classes and make certain that students progress at certain
speeds. Well, the system that was set up for this, to put it bluntly, sucks.
The financial aide structure has been set up for a program that takes less
than 3.5 years. Yet we know that most students are in school for longer than
that. So many students find themselves in the hole financially, with no more
money coming in from financial aide, and no career. And they can’t quit
because they already have too much invested to just walk away empty-handed.
Fine. Whatever. If schools are forced to offer irrelevant classes and keep students on pace for financial aide, I can deal with that. But who’s making sure that schools are being held accountable? If schools are not offering what the students need to move forward, a school visit from ACICS every 2 years isn’t going to do much good. Schools must be held accountable for what they offer – or neglect to offer. Revise or rebuild the system, but these schools need to be checked every 6 months to make certain students are getting every reasonable opportunity to progress.
Teachers need to be held accountable. And this may be related
to school owners as well, but I wanted to break it down as much as possible.
Teachers need to be held accountable, and that’s YOUR job as a student.
Always try to reconcile issues with a teacher before going over their head.
If I’m not mistaken, you can’t spell “teacher” without
“teach.” Hmm…maybe there’s some connection there!
A teacher’s job is to give you the information you need to progress.
A teacher’s job is to be your cheerleader. A teacher’s job is
maintain a positive energy that energizes the classroom. A teacher’s
job is to make sure you, as a student, are doing what needs to be done.
Yet most teachers read dictation material and grade tests. That’s it. They may be qualified. They may have knowledge to share. Yet they read…and grade. And you sit in that classroom and rot…and fail. YOU are the customer and you’re getting a product that should be on the shelf at a 99-cent store! Demand a better classroom! Demand to be taught! Demand to get what you signed up for in that contract!
But no one’s safe, here – not even you : ) You need to be held accountable as well, and that’s the teacher’s job. Why aren’t you treating every dictation you get as if it’s important? Why aren’t you reading back your notes to see how you’re REALLY writing? Why aren’t you transcribing more often? Why aren’t you attending classes every single day? Why aren’t you going beyond your school and practicing a little on your own?
Saying that you’re not being held accountable is not an excuse. Yes, we all need a kick in the rear sometimes, but I think we all know what it takes to get through school – and if you really need a kick in the butt to get there, maybe it’s not for you. You need to find your own motivation. You need to get driven. You need to do the things that teacher, school or administration isn’t forcing you to do!
You need to be held accountable by putting consequences in place. That goes for every level of this chain. Without consequences, rules are meaningless. When I told my son not to throw the balloon at the dog this morning, I meant it. And he threw it once more, and I popped it in front of his sad, little face. It will probably take a couple more times before he gets the message – he’s 3 – but he’ll get it.
Students need to be aware that if they do not put in the effort required, they will no longer be a part of the program. Teachers need to be aware that if they are not “teaching” their classes, the students will take steps to have them removed. School owners need to be aware that if they are not offering the proper kind of instruction and overseeing the teachers and faculty, they are in danger of losing their financial aide and students. And the reporting boards need to be aware that if they don’t take action and overhaul this system, there will be no system to overhaul.
Court reporting will not become obsolete because of technology. It will become obsolete because of the lack of accountability. Everyone (except students) is so concerned about keeping their paychecks and jobs, that they refuse to take a step back so they can move forward. Don’t they realize that taking a step back will improve everything in the long run? Is it just me?! Ahhhhh!
Okay, I’m done for now. I may have more in a future issue – I may not. No promises. Chances are you have a thought on this matter. Go to the Forum and enter Marc’s Corner. I’ve set up a topic for “Who’s to Blame – Part 2.” Let them fly!
1100th Member Contest - Cool Prize! (back to top)
Today is October 29th. We currently have about 1025 members
on our site. I want you to guess when we're going to sign up our 1100th member!
I want the DATE and TIME that the member applies for membership on the site.
You have until November 4th to email me your guess at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All guesses should be based on California time - pacific. If you guess closest,
you get...this cool book!
From simple to elegant, from "down home" to glamorous cuisine, What's Cooking in the Courtroom has it all. An exceptional 384 page cookbook compiled by The Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association, What's Cooking in the Courtroom, is filled with tempting culinary delights to make every cook a success. A valuable resource for entertaining, this cookbook will help you serve delectable meals to your guests while cultivating light-hearted snickers over the humorous excerpts from actual courtroom proceedings. In addition to the variety of nearly 500 taste-tested recipes, the book includes more than 300 humorous stories and anecdotes collected nationally from the legal community. What's Cooking in the Courtroom features a deluxe hardcover lay-flat, wire binding and is designed with easy-to-read type, helpful hints, concise directions and a cross-referenced section index to allow you to easily find that special recipe for each occasion. A priceless asset for the beginner and the experienced cook alike.
This cookbook contains recipes from all over, not just Georgia, so dig in! If you're not lucky enough to win this book, you can buy one at StenoBay now for $4 off the cover price -and you'll be helping the GSRA as well!
Name Dropper Game - It's Not Just For Spelling! (back to top)
Here I thought I was creating a fun little game for spelling practice. Turns out most students are smarter than I (see, I used "I" instead of "me" to prove how smart I be!). Here is a letter from a student to you -
I bought this steno game and it is REALLY fun! You can create as many of your own personalized lessons as you want and add them to the three lessons that the game comes with. Marc created the game as a way to practice finger spelling, but I've found that I can practice whole strokes on it too, not just finger spelling, as long as the stroke doesn't include a conflict resolution stroke like the R-R in Phoenix theory. It's worth every penny. It is a great way to relax after being beat up by a way-too-fast dictation tape while still practicing your steno. Plus, it has fun musical applause when you succeed in getting through the lesson. The only complaint I have is that it is visual in nature and not auditory (which, of course, is not exactly right for our needs), but it is a great way to drill yourself on things you want to integrate into your writing. I should sign on as a sales rep! I just love it. Claudia Terry (You're going to thank me for this one)
Gene B. (thanks!) has been kind enough to put together lists of the 1000 most used words, and divide them up into lessons for you as well! It all comes with the game.
And Name Dropper now comes as a download - no CD! You order it and get it in your email the same day. You can use it - burn it - make copies for your friends...oh, wait...scratch that last part. I know it's compatible with Eclipse, Case and DigitalCat - I'm not sure about other CAT software. You can buy it now at StenoBay - only $8.50!
Stenobay.com - Ebay For Court Reporting! (back to top)
What is this StenoBay everyone is not yet talking about? It's essentially Ebay, but it's targeted solely to court reporting and medical transcription items. Post the CR items you don't need any longer and get cash! Take a look on the site and find those CR items you've been looking for at great prices! And the site is 100% free until at least December - no selling or buying fees of any kind!
So take a look at StenoBay.com today and have some fun!
PS - A burglary update. No progress with that, but we fired the contractors last night. There was a very heated debate about the law and how they were going to sue my rear end. It only gets better and better!