Sigh...feel the need to make a comment or two...
Jury Duty - I worked as a judicial clerk in state court. I was the one who would go up and collect the jurors to bing them down to the courtroom Now, Connecticut does the voir dire process a little differently - each juror is interviewed individually. It's kinda like a job interview, where the attorneys get a chance to question the person as to how impartial they'd be with regards to that particular case.
If you were one of the potentials in the pool, you could find yourself being brought downstairs hang out in a little room, read or chat for the day, and then go home without haveing met anyone but me. If you were lucky, you got called in and got to chat about your life.
There were different cycles...we got a TON of peole between the ages of 18 and 22 in June - all the deferals for people in college, for instance. But for the most part, you get a good spread. Most trials are fairly simple and take a few days. The reason you see so many elderly, retired and unemployed people is because others have decided that their lives are FAR too important to be bothered with such a petty thing as a civic duty (intense sarcasm) and come up with elaborate excuses for why they can't be bothered to spend one or two days listening to a case, deliberating and deciding.
I appreciate and applaud dkm for her participation, and feel bad that barfle had a bad experience, but keep in mind that you want to do this. If, lord forbid, you were ever in a court, wouldn't you want you on the jury panel?
Education - I spent 6 years as a teacher. What amazes me is the fact that every parent out there understands that there is such a thing as an average child, they just know that it's not theirs.
A school building is a monster when it comes to cost (electricity for the middle school alone ran $30K plus a month - don't ask about the phones, I think that was another 5K)but don't take my word for it, your local board of education has a line by line budget availiable to members of the town.
Public education is a melting pot - but there's only so much you can do in one hour with 30 kids...especially when you are required to fulfill accomodations (had one for a kid that incessently mastrubated in class...that was an interesting one), deal with issues (the noisy, outspoken kid that everyone thinks is cute? Yea...real cute until you realize how much dealing with him is detracting from the lesson time) and the simple fact that if parents don't read, their children are not going to either...no matter how much fun you make it...
It's a massive, massive headache that cannot be reduced to a simple equation...I feel for teachers everyday...but I'll tell ya, having been there, a major element is that parents are destroying the very system that they think they're encouraging. With unreasonable demands, bizarre fears and requests, and daily interaction with teachers, there's gonna come a time when the system will no longer be able to function with that kind of burden.