Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Good-Bye, Hello: Special Session Starts

Scarcely had the sine die been said over the ending of the 83rd Legislature yesterday before Governor Perry called an immediate Special Session on redistricting maps.  Since we still don't know what the U.S. Supreme Court is going to say about the Voting Rights Act, the only thing keeping Texas Republicans from constantly redrawing the state's maps to disenfranchise minority voters, this should be interesting.  Most likely in a bad way.

Summer Joy: Banana Pudding

With vanilla wafer cookies, straight out of a childhood memory.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Right Kills CSCOPE Lesson Resources Over Politics

I've seen different statistics, but according to all of them, well over 700 small and mid-size school districts in Texas use the lessons provided by CSCOPE through the state's Education Service Centers.  CSCOPE is an online curriculum tool that provides curriculum and lesson resources tailored to Texas TEKS to school districts that could not easily afford to create such resources.

I do not work at one of those small school districts but I have seen several CSCOPE lesson plans and they are generally spot-on and helpful.

Now they are gone. 

Thanks to state Senator Dan Patrick of Houston, and the conservatives he has scared with a lot of ignorant posturing, this resource will no longer be provided to Texas schools.

Why?  He was concerned about the social studies lessons:

 He says they were "Pro-Islamic". I am pretty sure I know what he was talking about, but getting rid of those totally neutral sixth grade lessons on world religions is not going to change the fact that our TEKS require that world religions get taught.  See, in Texas, sixth grade social studies is World Cultures and Geography.  Sixth graders learn all about world cultures.  Religion is a key culture trait, so major world religions are covered as such:  Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism.  Sixth grade can't get to everything, but they try to cover the main religious influences of the regions under study.  Neutrally.  Parents are in charge of teaching religious values, not public school teachers.  Teachers only teach about what different cultural groups believe as part of their cultures.  This is not pro-Islamic or anti-Islamic...it is pro-education and anti-ignorance.

Another lesson that Patrick and his ilk complained about was one about world economic systems in which students were told that socialist countries often used socialist economic symbolism on their flags and were asked to design a flag for an imaginary  new socialist nation using socialist economic symbols.  I fail to see why this creative elicitation of higher order thinking skills is offensive when our TEKS do require that teachers teach about different world economic systems.

Patrick and his posse are also offended by a U.S. History lesson that asks students if they think King George would have  considered the members of the Boston Tea Party terrorists.  Again, critical thinking is bad because.....?

So, another battle won by Ignorance.  Cue the A Christmas Carol quote and good luck to the small school districts of Texas that have lost a significant resource.

Summer Toil & Summer Joy

This is going to be a summer of so many transitions (more on that later...shhhh) that I know I will not get as much house work done as I usually attempt to do when I am off.  Summer is the time I generally try to organize a room (baby steps) or clear out old stuff that has been piling up during the school year.  I had hopes of getting my bedroom and All The Public Areas done this summer, but it is so not going to happen.  I am going to be getting a new roof, though (thank you, hail storm), so the outside progress will just have to balance out the lack of inside progress! And I will have to try to deeply appreciate what small things I can get done inside.  That's the way it's going to be.  For example:  I dealt with the Lone Star Baby's disastrous clothes drawers today and put away the too-big, packed up the too-small and organized the rest.  Yay, me!

Likewise, long, lazy days of fun summer family time are not going to be in much supply this summer.  I intend to try to deal with this by enjoying each small shard of summer joy as it comes.  One came early today:  the Lone Star Baby and I chased an ice cream truck all over the neighborhood until we caught it, bought overpriced ice cream, and rambled home eating it, with plenty of it dripping down her face and the wind blowing her hair into it.  That's some perfect joy.

May you also have many moments of summer accomplishment and, most of all, of summer joy.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Onward To Upper El

The Lone Star Baby has a couple of more days of school as a third grader next week, but those are mere movie-and-field-day technicalities.  On Friday, she "graduated" from the Lower El program (1st - 3rd grades) to the Upper El program (4th - 6th grades) at her school.  4th grade, here we come!

Lifeguard Girl

 First non-volunteer, non-babysitting job....at the water park.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sick Day

Coughs, viral rashes, warts...but she's fine, really.  Whew.

Republicans: Taking The Work Week Backwards for Families

Were you aware that the Republican majority in Congress voted to eliminate the 40-hour work week last week?

HR 1406 would increase overtime hours for those who do not want them and gut overtime pay for the people who need it.

 Under the bill, workers would not be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of the 40-hour work week, but would be given comp time instead.  The comp time could only be used, however, at the employer's discretion and the employer does not have to allow employees any time time off or flexibility if they do not wish to do so.  At the end of the year, unused comp time is paid out to employees - so basically employees get to loan the company their overtime wages for the year at no interest.

Let us hope that the Senate is more understanding of the harm that this system would do to working families.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Support Gina McCarthy For EPA Chief!

Gina McCarthy, President Obama's pick to head the EPA, has spent the last four years as the assistant administrator in charge of Air and Radiation.  She has worked hard to keep the air that our children breathe clean.  She has been seen as someone who can work with Republicans and the auto industry as well as with Democrats and environmentalists...someone who listens and does not see environmental protection as a partisan issue.

If only Senate Republicans agreed.  

Her confirmation hearing has thus far been more about the doubts that Senate Republicans have about climate change than about her qualifications.  Science still scares them - it's hard to get past that.  On Thursday, all eight Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted Ms. McCarthy's nomination vote, leaving the committee without a quorum.

I do believe in science and I want America to stop climate change in its tracks.  I believe that Gina McCarthy is the right person to lead us to that goal.  I will be telling my Senators that and I hope that you will, too, mamas.

We All Have Things that Irk Us

The Junior Woman and I caught a trailer for Gatsby and the following conversation ensued:

Her:  Don't go see that with Dad.

Me:  Why not?

Her:  I heard Jay-Z did music for it.   You know how he (her dad) hates anachronistic music.


Long pause.  Ever so busy.  Still love you.  Mwah!