Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bad Budget and Bad Education Bills Passed: Get Ready For 4 Very Bad Years

The bad stuff all passed.  The only good news is that Representative Diane Patrick got an amendment on for Sunset in 2015 (she wanted sooner but it did not fly) so the changes do not have to be permanent, but we are looking at 4 very bad years -

  • 4 billion in cuts to education over the next two years and more in the two years after
  • The right to furlough teachers for up to six days and the destruction of the teacher pay scale (no floor)
  • Destruction of due process in teacher terminations
  • Destruction of the ability to use seniority when laying teachers off so that now teachers approaching retirement, who have spent their lives education our kids,  can be laid off to save money...
It's bad.  Corpus' own Senator Hinojosa was one of two Democrats who broke rank and voted with the Republicans on this horrible budget.  I will never vote for him again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Action Alert: Stop Senate Bill 8!

Senate Bill 8 is still rolling around the special session on Texas education funding.  Its purpose is to gut class-size limits and contract protections for teachers in order to provide "flexibility" to school districts to "save money".  

Do you want your kid's school district to have the "flexibility" to pack 40+ kids into the classroom like sardines?  I certainly don't.

Also, will it really save money when teachers have to sue school districts that choose to fire them for getting pregnant or marrying someone of whom the district does not approve instead of having reasonable contract protections and a reasonable arbitration process in place?  I assure you - it will not.

Please contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 8.  You can leave a detailed message on the weekend - don't wait!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nice Things My Dad Gave My Childhood

Guppy traps on the beach
Sunrise Mall visits for Trixie Belden & Nancy Drew books & mountains of nachos at      Chelsea's Street Pub
Magic Isles
That weird detective game
Disney World & the rest of that Florida vacation
Fun times wandering the grounds at Harper's Corner
Monterrey House

A Bad Dad Story For Father's Day

I try to control the sexism that living in a patriarchy tends to stir up in me - truly, I do - but many things (about men trying to make laws controlling my uterus, about our society's incessant bullying of women and children) make this a challenge.  I am especially ticked about the way society judges mothers as if they should be able to control everything that ever happens in the world or pay for it dearly (kind of the way society has been treating teachers lately, but moms have been getting it for even longer) yet praises dads to the high heavens for "babysitting" their kids, even if they don't even know key details like, oh, the name of their child's teacher or doctor.

People are always telling stories on moms who are just trying to do the best they can - women who are there in the trenches with their kids, day in and day out, who have the unmitigated gall to be less than perfect or to possess no omnipotent control over the economy/illnesses.  Personally, I'm not about judging parents who are there doing the day-to-day work of keeping their kids safe and healthy and educated without hope of help or reward. 

Somehow, I don't feel quite the same about the sort of parent who thinks he deserves a medal for that one time he grudgingly took off work when his kid was sick.  A few months ago, I witnessed the following tableau in a doctor's office, while waiting to pick up some lab orders for my daughter:

Dad is at the front desk with a child who might be anywhere from six to eight  - big enough for eight but a face and manner that suggested she was probably younger - skittering around him while he talked to the receptionist. 

Dad:  I don't know.  I'm not the one who usually brings her to the doctor.  I'm just doing her a favor because she couldn't do it today.  Do you have it on file or something?

Receptionist:  We have to see the insurance card at each time of service.  That will be $60.

Dad:  She didn't give me any money.

Receptionist:  Do you think you could call her and see if this insurance information is correct?

Dad:  (sighing in annoyance, talks out cell phone and Hands It To The Sick Little Girl)  Try to call her.

Sick Little Girl, who apparently has had to deal with Useless Dad before, calls mother and gives phone to dad who gives it to the receptionist as she is a woman and apparently is more responsible for working this out than he is. He and kid sit down.

By this time, I was hoping I had misinterpreted things,  Perhaps he was not the child's father, but  some helpful neighbor who got called on in a pinch and was in over his head, having no children of his own and no knowledge of how the offices of doctors function.  Then the child commenced climbing all over his lap and this hope died - he was the father.

That man deserves no Happy Father's Day.  He deserves a kick in the pants for thinking he is somehow less responsible for getting his kid to the doctor than is the child's mother.   To all the dads out there like him, please spend this Father's Day learning how to get over your sexist self and be a responsible parent.

To the fathers who do share equally in parenting their children (know any?  I'm thinking really hard, but...I have read about quite a few, I just don't think I've met them - my daughter does have a friend who was raised by her father, but I have actually only met that child's mother at school - hmmm - still I'm told her dad is the responsible one and the mom is a total flake), Happy Father's Day.  You rock.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Baby!

Not such a baby anymore - she's seven! 

Our tradition on birthday mornings for the girls is that they follow a ribbon from their room to their birthday presents, so the Lone Star Baby did that this morning. The big surprise waiting for her was an easel, well packed with supplies.

Even though the Lone Star Baby will always be my baby, I believe that seven is the end of being a baby in terms of development, the real beginning of childhood, when one's mind is no longer so absorbent and one starts filtering and choosing ... and so we have a little Blessing Way.  The Lone Star Baby stepped over a braided ribbon this morning to symbolize leaving her babyhood and stepping into childhood and accepted a golden dragon doll to symbolize the magic of childhood that she is entering.

Then it was time for presents and brunch and more party preparation.  The Lone Star Baby had a fun-in-the-sun themed backyard party with her friends, featuring water relay races and water balloon tosses and water balloon races and lots of running in the sprinklers until the yard was a lovely oozy mud pit.  There were popsicles and ice cream and cupcakes with little umbrellas in them.  I do believe that a good time was had by all.  Even the parents seemed happy enough to have their children returned to them wet, sugared up and covered in mud.  It was really fun.

The party was followed by showers.  Then dinner at a restaurant, a family board game and a family viewing of a TV show that the seven-year-old had requested that we record for her while we were out.   
Our girl said it was her best birthday ever.

These activities brought us to past the time at night when this sparkling girl (whose mama loves her so much) was really born seven years ago, and so, after a little reading and back scratching, she has now been tucked asleep in her bed. 

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Baby.  So many Happy Birthdays.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Amazing Grades of The Lone Star Girl: First Year of High School Averages

The Junior Woman gave me permission to brag on her final averages for Freshperson Year:
    • Swimming:  100
    • Spanish 2: 98
    • Biology (PreAP): 99
    • AP Human Geography: 98
    • Theatre 2: 98
    • Art 1: 98
    • Geometry (PreAP): 94
    • English (PreAP): 98
    • Technology(Honors): 100
    • Health: 100.
Also, commended performance on both TAKS tests. She's rather impressive that way.

Action Alerts: Keep Amendments to Use Rainy Day Fund For Education!

It's a calling day, Texans!  Call your state representatives (toll free from AFT - 888-836-8368 - just ask for your rep./senator by name) and ask them to oppose the removal of Donna Howard's amendments to use the Rainy Day Fund.  We want that fund used!

The Answer to Life, The Universe And Everything

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Pa!!!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Call Your State Legislators And Save Our Schools

CCAFT is taking lots of teachers to Austin tomorrow if you can go and they are having press conferences and things in the afternoon.  If you, like me, need to be at work, tomorrow, though - you can still make a difference. Call your state senator and state representative and tell them to oppose bills that cut money from our schools, hurt teachers and gut class size-limits.  Tell them to use the Rainy Day Fund instead - it's raining! - and to look for additional sources of revenue like that soda tax they were talking about awhile back.  There is no excuse for cutting education - not ever.

Also, tell our legislators to oppose any measures that weaken or eliminate Texas' guarantee to fund our public schools at a level that will provide an education for all.  That's what is at stake.  These people who do not believe in public education must be stopped.

First Day School: Friends' Meeting For Worship

The Little Friends/Lower El lesson today was on Friends' Meeting for Worship, using some materials from Faith "N" Play.  I love the "deep calls to deep" text - thank you, Philadelphia.  The Lone Star Baby drew a lovely picture of flowers leaning into a blowing wind to show how the Presence of God feels to her.

First Day School: Fundamentalism/Cults

Today's teen First Day School lesson was about absolutes - fundamentalism and cults. We have just begun the unit but it already sparked some very interesting discussions about the best definitions of the words religion, sect and cult and about the most common aspects of fundamentalism and about some of the dangerous cults that have abused children in Texas in the past few decades.  More next time!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Plates & Pyramids

I like the USDA's new MyPlate graphic and agree that it is more user-friendly than Ye Old Pyramid, but I still find all the news stories from the "can you imagine a busy mom looking at that pyramid when she's trying to plan her family's meals" angle about it to be muy condescending.  Busy parents are quite capable of understanding the stupid pyramid - thank you very much.