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On the First Week of retirement…

Posted on | July 14, 2017 | Comments Off on On the First Week of retirement…

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, extends for a mile. Most of it is rimmed by a boardwalk.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria, extends for a mile. Most of it is rimmed by a boardwalk.

On the first week of retirement my true love gave to me….  A list of all the things I hadn’t done around the house while using writing the EdWeek column as an excuse.  Since I’ve been a workaholic for a long time, the list is long.

Neighbor Arthur’s elm was brushing against the tile roof and needed trimming before the next storm.  The patio needed power washing, something that was forbidden during the drought.  And one thing led to another.  After the patio was washed down, the deck looked a little grubby, then the house, then the flat roof.  Why not spray down the car?

Good job, Chuck, she says while reminding me that I’ve only put a dent in the list.

My end of the week reward was a drive up the coast to Cambria, and a glorious two days of walking on the beach and driving up California 1.  The highway is closed in two different places.  A collapsed bridge stops southbound traffic.  And a massive landslide about 18 miles north of Cambria halts northbound traffic.   Hearst Castle is still open.

Leanne and I had a delightful drive to the end of the road.  Since the road doesn’t go through, there was virtually no traffic.  No 50-foot RVs driven by flatlanders meeting you around the hairpin turns that are posted at 10 MPH.  Plenty of spaces at the turnouts for long looks at a cobalt blue ocean.

Even the Elephant Seals seemed to be a good mood.  The big males were play fighting in the surf.  The females and the young had abandoned them for their long journey in deep water, so the guys were just hanging at the beach waiting for their fur to molt before heading to Alaska.  Theirs is the ultimate male spa.



Where in the world is @CTKerchner

Posted on | July 12, 2017 | Comments Off on Where in the world is @CTKerchner

Soon, maybe already, ‘On California’ will no longer be listed among the active blogs at EdWeek.org.  It should be available in the archive at the bottom of their blog listing.

I will be jotting things here at mindworkers.com and probably, because I can’t help myself, at other locations.


Using the ‘R’ Word

Posted on | July 4, 2017 | Comments Off on Using the ‘R’ Word


Last week I put ‘On California,’ my column at EdWeek.org on hiatus, maybe permanently.  Retirement has always been a funny concept to me.  I’ve failed at earlier attempts, but it’s time for an earnest try.

Here’s what I wrote:

I was 16 when I walked into the Barrington (Illinois) Courier-Review with the object of being its sports photographer and walked out a salaried sports reporter and editor.  Salaried at $10/week, a credit card at the Standard Oil station down the street, and reimbursement for photo supplies.

I learned basic Associated Press style, who-what-when-where-why-how-leads, and the capacity to write on deadline.  Shortly, I was contributing 40 column-inches and a couple pictures to each week’s paper.  It was about as much fun as a teenager could have, and it turned my head toward journalism as a career.  At the University of Illinois I majored in Daily Illini, missing so many classes that I had a reoccurring dream that I was in a final exam for a course that I had never attended.  This common dream was so plausible in my case that I kept a copy of my class schedule thumb tacked  to the bookcase next to my bed so that when I woke in a sweat I could verify my registration.  My grades were mediocre enough in the classes I did attend.  For more on the Daily Illini, see Roger Ebert and Me.

I found love at Illinois, too, and shortly after graduation married Leanne Bauman, who remains my partner in everything.  We stayed on for a masters.  I graduated with the first class of MBA students that the university produced, and I believe that I hold the distinction of being one of the lowest paid MBA graduates in the country.  This maybe excludes nuns and inmates.

With thoughts of being a great newspaper executive, I took a job at the St. Petersburg Times, working for the legendary Nelson Poynter on one of the South’s few liberal papers, one of five that supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act that changed society before our eyes.  I was inept at management but loved journalism until I wandered away into university life.  Recently, Nick Casey, the New York Times foreign correspondent who spoke at our grandson’s high school graduation, asked me why I left newspapering,  I thought for a second and replied, “Because I figured out that I wasn’t going to be you.”

Academic life, almost all of it at Claremont Graduate University, served me well, and I think that I reciprocated with good work.  They gave me some momentos after I had been on the faculty for 35 years, and I concluded that three and a half decades of teaching was both wonderful and sufficient.

The prospect of bookending my career with journalism seemed appealing, and I thought that I might write a dozen or so commentary pieces over a year.  Since starting ‘On California’ in 2014, the column has posted 281 pieces, most written by me and edited by Leanne.

Both author and editor need a rest and a taste of retirement*, so we’ll put ‘On California’ on hiatus.  Thanks to you all.



 (*Spoiler alert:  I’ve flunked retirement before.)



All the Stuff that Wasn’t in the Christmas Letter

Posted on | December 22, 2015 | Comments Off on All the Stuff that Wasn’t in the Christmas Letter

In my Christmas letter, volume 54 of the Kerchner Chronicle, I promised readers an extension of the narrative here on the Mindworkers blog.  That was probably a mistake.

Christmas letters are a difficult genre.  They veer from cute to seriously boring, and it’s hard to say anything substantive about family issues—no, no, too much information—religion, politics, economics, anxiety, sickness, or death.  Which is why there are lots of vacation pictures.

There are a few memorable variations.  A friend of my parents used to draw clever cartoons and produce them on blueprint paper.  One particularly foolhardy relative devotes most of his letter saying snarky things about his wife, which he doesn’t believe, or says he doesn’t.  But for the most part there are straightforward narratives about the past year, and particularly about family gatherings and travels.

I thought I might say more.  Forget talking about anxiety.  We’re not Kerchners, not the Kardashians.  Living in full public view holds little appeal.  And we’re not going much into family revelations, not that there are many.  I write about politics every day in ‘On California.’

So, like other folks, I’m back to exploring the year; reliving some of the best parts of it and sharing some pictures with you.

For a little fun, read the Red Sock Caper below.

Something Completely Different: The Red Sock Caper

Posted on | September 22, 2015 | Comments Off on Something Completely Different: The Red Sock Caper

What kind of animal would return a sock?Just when your eyes were beginning to cross reading ed policy verbiage,  I offer the mystery of the Red Sock.

The red sock disappeared.  Leanne had given me a very comfy pair of bright red socks that I wore when I was feeling reckless, wanting to make a fashion statement, or to put out flares that I wasn’t to be messed with.

Thus, the socks were worn with some frequency, and they looked great with jeans and loafers.

But socks get dirty, and these were wool, so were dried outside.  When last seen they were draped over a chair in the back yard.

When Leanne went to collect the dry socks, she only found one.  The wind must have moved it, we thought, but inspection of the patio, the flowerbeds, the fishpond proved futile.  Something took the sock, and we speculated whether it was an old crow, a young possum, or maybe Mischief the across-the-street cat.

The caper of the disappearing sock, we thought.

But Saturday morning the sock reappeared, artfully draped over the back steps, gnawed and mangled, but returned, leading to the greater mystery: the caper of the reappearing sock.  What kind of animal returns a sock?

Speculation is running toward a socialist possum, which took what he needed and returned the rest, or maybe a playful raccoon, which tired of soccer (socker?) and discarded the toy where it was found.

Again, No ‘Genius’ Grant

Posted on | September 30, 2014 | Comments Off on Again, No ‘Genius’ Grant

The postal service lost the letter.  Again!  I even delayed my vacation to be waiting by the mailbox for the trusted Michael the mailman to deliver the good news that I had been selected for a MacArthur “genius” fellowship.  But nothing.

The announcement on September 17 that 21 new Fellows had been picked, and I was not among them, came as another blow to my fragile ego.  But what a deal it would be:

Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, paid out over five years. The Fellowship comes with no stipulations or reporting requirements, and allows recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.

But in truth, these sound like some folks that I’d like to have lunch with.


Genius travels.  Talented people congregate because being in the company of other energetic and driven people multiplies their own disciplined gifts.  And when they travel, they come to California.

A foundation press release notes, “Comparing birthplace to location at the time of the award, the most popular destination state for Fellows was California, followed by New York.  For example, 2009 Fellow Camille Utterback, born in Indiana, and 2008 Fellow Walter Kitundu, born in Minnesota – both artists – lived in San Francisco at the time of the award.”

Then, as a sobering aside to the self-limiting costs of aggregation, it notes that adjusted for size the states with the most resident MacArthur fellows are New Mexico, Alaska, and Vermont.

I’ve Been Away and Didn’t Tell You

Posted on | September 2, 2014 | Comments Off on I’ve Been Away and Didn’t Tell You

I’m sorry.  I’ve been away for a while and didn’t tell you.  Writing the ‘On California’ blog at EdWeek.org has become such a full time job—my wife Leanne thinks it is an obsession—that I’ve had little leftover time for Mindworkers.

Also, given that I have another outlet for educational policy writing, I need to rethink what to do with this space, and that’s a work in process.

Just to reflect, in many ways ‘On California’ is the project I was built to undertake.  It’s the newspaper column I never had.  It’s a way to combine my early training and instincts for writing with four decades of social science.

In another way, though, it is tough work for an old guy, and there are days that I think that something more contemplative would be better for my soul.

I promise I will come back soon.  As soon as I figure out what to say.

Interviews with Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck

Posted on | May 27, 2014 | Comments Off on Interviews with Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck

I interviewed State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and his challenger in the June 3 primary Marshall Tuck.  Excerpts from those interviews are posted at ‘On California.’  The full text transcriptions are available by clicking: Torlakson or Tuck.

BTW: ‘On California’ is off to a good start.  Nearly 3,000 visitors in the first month, and we are still getting the word out.

Note: The interviews with Torlakson and Tuck have been removed.  They were targets of spammers and bogus comments.  The transcripts are available by emailing me./ ctk



A Small Tribute to a Fallen Photographer

Posted on | April 4, 2014 | Comments Off on A Small Tribute to a Fallen Photographer

I weep for fallen journalists, particularly photographers who put themselves in harm’s way to tell us stories that we find inconvenient.

I never met Anja Niedringhaus, the Associated Press photographer who was intentionally shot by Afghan police officer on Friday, but I cry for her nonetheless.  Reporting war is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  According to one count, 16 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, twice the number that died in World War II.  We don’t have flags and special ceremonies for these fallen, so those of us who write and photograph should at least pause.

Take a moment and look at her images courtesy of the Atlantic blog In Focus.

Then ask yourself, why are we there?  Who are we helping?


‘On California’ Launches at EdWeek.org

Posted on | March 25, 2014 | Comments Off on ‘On California’ Launches at EdWeek.org

On CA logo

Beginning today, Education Week is launching a new blog about the Golden State, which I will be conducting, one hopes with the help of a few friends.  The first pieces are up at http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_california/

Go, look, comment.

Soon, I will write a piece about why I am doing this, which will be posted on the EdWeek site.

« go backkeep looking »


Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'


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