Disturbing Visit

It may not have gone unnoticed, but it hasn’t gotten the response it deserves.  The very first school our president went to visit was a private Catholic school.   This should have made headlines, drawn criticism from the National Teachers Union, and the separation of church and state should have been part of the discussion around the CNN newsdesk.

I am not against private school or private religious schools. If parents want something different than their local public school and a non-secular education based on agreed upon standards and curriculum, they can pay for it and make that choice.  They have the choice to take their child to a public school out of their district out of their area and still have that education paid for. That is very different than our government paying for private schools. His  visit sent me, a public school teacher, a clear message. Our president is going to follow Betsy DeVos’s lead and work to funnel some of our meager education dollars into private religious schools. Where is the separation of church and state?

The idea that somehow this will make education better, that the students of my little rural school will reap the benefits of this potential change in policy is ludicrous.  Unless the parents of these children are willing to drive  their child long distances each day they will be educated in their local school.  Who are those parents willing to make  that drive? Families who can afford the gas, families who care deeply about their child’s education, and parents who are involved.  Not to say that many lovely families who value education will choose to keep their children in their local school…but there may be an exodus of many of the best and brightest to schools where they can screen out children who struggle to behave, are low academically or demand too much attention from a teacher.

Who will be left in public education? If Trump has his way, I fear for public education, where we will have to make do with less and less while educating an increase percentage of those most difficult to educate.

This voucher system has not been thought through, but someone needs to start doing some serious thinking and stand up for our children, all of our children… and in standing up for all our children we ARE standing up for public education.

This disturbing visit should have sent shock waves through advocates of public education but instead we were freaking out over 3am tweets.  Don’t let him shift our focus on what really matters…if we become caught up in his distractions we may just miss what is really happening…

Yes, certainly…

I love my job.  Every day is something different, a challenge, and often a joy.  Teaching young children I have the power to make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families, and hopefully an impact on society.  If you have read my blog before you know that I have very strong political opinions… I am a liberal, believer in universal healthcare, pro-choice, anti organized religion, LGBTQ supporting, science believing, spiritual, singing, dancing, mother, wife and teacher.  Most of those things I leave at the door.  I do not bring my politics and  other controversial beliefs into my classroom or impose them on my students.  I just don’t. It wouldn’t be fair or right to do so.

When my students cheered because Trump won the election I said that many people were happy and that I hoped he would be a great president.  I try to promote the idea that all presidents wanted to make our country a better place for us all. We wrote our letters of congratulations to President Trump on November 9th, and mailed them off to Trump Towers… it would have been nice to get some recognition that they were received, but oh well.

I am not giving up on what I believe is right for our country.  I am working in my own way to support the causes I feel most passionate about, to write, and to motivate… but I am also wanting to challenge the ideas of the opposition.  If we don’t continue to challenge them, if we just sit by quietly as health care is lost, people are rounded up, and our education system is decimated we will have no one to blame but ourselves…  But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about what we can do in our own towns and communities to create the world we want to live in and to leave to our children.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary… but in my small sphere of influence, I am working to make it happen.  The things I teach in Room One can be a guideline for making a better society… So, this is the beginning of a series of Room One rules that illustrate some core ideas about how to do just that.  Here is just one of my rules and my thoughts about why it is important:

  1.  If you get out of line you can have your spot back.

For years, teaching young children, I would hear ‘He got out of line, he has to go to the end!, ‘He got out of line and now he is trying to cut me!, or (with a bit of a shove) ‘He is trying to squeeze back in!’… I have heard many teachers tell their students that if they get out of line they would have to go to the end. In fact, I used to say that myself.  It just felt sad and sometimes I would make an exception… But now, in Room One, if you need to get out of line because you forgot to grab your coat, get a drink,  tell someone something, or for no good reason, you just need to say please hold my spot.  When you get back to the line you say, excuse me, may I have my spot back and the person is supposed to say (we practice this), “Yes, certainly.” Even if you forget to ask someone to hold your spot you can get it back… That is the rule.

It is not about eliminating conflict or complaining, it is not about where you stand in line or the reasonableness of why you got out of line… it is about treating other people the way you want to be treated.  If you get out of line for any reason would you like to get your spot back?  If you forgot to grab bananas at the grocery store, you might leave your cart in line and run back to get them… imagine if when you got back someone had shoved your cart aside?  You want to be treated kindly. So, in Room One, everyone gets their spot back. It is polite.  It is the right thing to do.  It makes people happy and it is easy.

How can this apply to the world?  Imagine the on-ramp of your local highway, imagine the line at the bank, post office or market… imagine what is the right thing to do and make that happen… we have moved away from worrying about others’ feelings – political correctness has become a bad word – the pendulum has swung – pushed by some very angry people who would never give you your spot back… Time to push back and show what it feels like to say “Yes, certainly”, and really mean it.

 

 

We’re With The Band

Yesterday my husband and I drove two hours up I-5 to watch our son perform.  We walked about 4 miles and stood shivering in the rain.  We were with hundreds of other parents doing the same.  Our son was on the field for maybe 16 minutes total, standing on a tall shaky ladder held steady by other devoted parents, sprinting across the field to his next position, and saluting the cheering crowd.  Along with three other students he lead the Roseburg Marching Ensemble in their first of three band competitions of the season…. and we were there to watch.

We watched our child and probably close to 1000 other children rock out to drums on the field, give each other high fives and applaud when other teams were recognized for their success.  As the bands marched by each other they wished them luck, said ‘good show’ and shouted words of encouragement to their competition.  Parents cheered for their children’s school and for every other band that competed.

In contrast we were at a football game a few Fridays ago.  As we sat in the ‘Home Teams’ section of the stands there was plenty of room.  Our stands have not been filled with home team supporters for many years.  The visiting team had far more supporters and were tightly packed into their section.  There was a security man standing at the point where the visiting section became the home section.  A family arrived a bit late and was struggling to find a place to squeeze into the visitors section.  He could see that there was plenty of space in our section.  He was stopped by security and told he couldn’t sit in our section because ours was reserved.   The fan went away to search further but came back and asked again – still the security said ‘sorry’… they were having a calm discussion when I came down from my seat, stuck out my hand to the visiting fan… ‘Wow, it’s great to see you!  What took you so long.’  He looked at me a bit confused.  ‘I have seats saved for you right next to us.’  He had five people in his group.  ‘We have plenty of room.’  We made new friends that night and hopefully they went home and said they met some nice people in Roseburg…

‘Who is your child?’… of course I answered, ‘We’re with the band.’

And So It Begins…

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  But for me, and many of my friends, it began almost three months ago… It began the day we said goodbye to last year’s class of children. Because, believe it or not, we were already thinking about the year ahead, what new things we wanted to try, what worked, what didn’t and the chance of starting it all over again.  As we put away curriculum, cleaned up corners, washed desks, and threw away junk, we also ordered new workbooks and curriculum, tested markers, and put in maintenance requests to prepare for tomorrow.  We spent the summer going to workshops, buying stickers and shopping for bargains on-line and in line.   We made list upon list of what needed to be done… and had more than one dream (nightmare) about not being ready on the first day of school.

This last weekend of summer, while you camped and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, we were there, at school, working on our days that we could have been with our own families.  We were there because we know that tomorrow morning we will be starting a new family.  We will be spending almost 30 hours a week for the next 40 weeks with some very special people.  Your children will once again become our children…

And in this coming year we will spend countless hours doing everything in our power to help them grow and learn.  We will worry, cheer, sweat, and maybe even cry over their successes, challenges and stumbles.  We will wipe tears, hand out band-aides, give high-fives, and more.  We will try to be fair but kind in all things… Just as you try, we will try… It may not be perfect – in fact, I promise it won’t – but it will be good

When you say goodbye to your child in the morning, think of me… I will be doing my best all year long for my new family… in a weird way, you too, are part of my new family… Welcome!