What Next…

Every day, EVERY DAY, it is something else.  A new affront to the moral sensibilities I hold dear… they are said, left unsaid, tweeted, or alluded to by our ‘leader’.  Although he has continuously proven himself as anything but a leader, once again today he showed his complete lack of leadership ability.  After two days of being called out by fellow republicans and democrats for his unwillingness to name white supremacist, Nazi, neo-Nazi, and alt-right groups, terrorist groups, he begrudgingly spoke the words that were lost to him two days ago… of course, those words were tucked into a speech that began with a commentary on how well our economy and stock market were doing, obviously written by someone with a far superior vocabulary than himself… hence his use of the word repugnant.  I am sure his base was confused by the omission of  the highly sophisticated term ‘very, very bad’, which he often uses when speaking of ideas he dislikes.  He admonished those groups by name because he was forced to do so… his admonishment is as hollow as is his ability to lead this country.  Our country is caught in the tornado that is his twitter storm of self-serving, ego-centered, and volatile statements on whatever catches his attention.

Who are those speaking out against his madness? Now there are many, perhaps more people will begin to listen.  Today they were there at a very small rally in a highly conservative town… they were the educators, social workers, doctors, medical professionals… they were people chanting for love, for peace, for tolerance, for justice, for equality…

What next?  Fight and stand for what is right… do not sit silently by just shaking your head… join a group, speak out, mail a postcard, call your elected officials, show up…

A Right to Complain

I know many people are irate at the way our president is …. just is…. speaking, tweeting, lying, perhaps even breathing… you know, that whistling sound some people make with their nose… but, I digress…

Many people are rightfully complaining, loudly, about the leader of our country and his loyal followers. You can complain to whomever you choose, but your complaining means nothing if you only complain to those who chime in and spur you on.  Living your life as the ‘good guy’, the upstanding, decent, charity contributing, liberal means nothing if you are not willing to say ‘I do not support Trump’, ‘I am a Jew’, or ‘I am a liberal Democrat ‘…. only then will people who hold you in high regard perhaps think twice about their own ideas… when you are respected you MUST be willing to be honest about who you really are… allowing someone to believe that you are a ‘good Christian’ or a staunch Trump supporter does nothing to enlighten those you may have the power to impact.

IF you care, IF you disagree with the direction  our country is heading, IF you are irate…. YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION….

If you are not willing to stand up… then perhaps  you should just suck it up and hang on for the next 3 1/2 years… otherwise the time has come to say ‘No, I did not and do not, support Trump’…

 

Building An Effective Wall

I just read that the ‘Wall Proposals’ are due on Wednesday.  I had this picture in my mind of people all over the world sitting in little teams contemplating materials and design.  Suddenly I had a flash of a children’s story I read to my first grade class every year: The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas.  From the title you can see that the classic tale is flip flopped and the sweet little wolves are terrorized by this big mean ugly pig.  The wolves like to play games like badminton, hopscotch and croquet … they try to protect themselves by using not straw, sticks and bricks, but iron bars, metal plates, concrete block and a video surveillance system… each time the Big Bad Pig blasts their home to bits with dynamite, sledgehammers, or his ever ready pneumatic drill.  Finally the wolves give up trying to build this fortress against their enemy….

I imagine our wall as their final house, a wall of flowers (or better yet edible plants) swaying delicately in the wind, having a similar effect on boarder dwellers, as the wolves flower house had on the Pig…. as one draws near our wall “they are filled with the fragrant scent of flowers”… their hearts grow and they begin to dance.  At my wall they may pick a strawberry or snack on an apple before shaking hands with the boarder control, who tend the wall, take selfies with the crossers and welcome them to America.

Gone are the people dying in the desert, gone are people dying in storage containers or the backs of overheated trucks and gone are those profiting from human trafficking…

I am sure there are holes in my dream… but if you don’t have the dream nothing can ever change…

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…

No Intelligence – Give Me A Break

No intelligence… I heard CNN newscaster, Don Lemon utter these words.   As he was interviewing a Trump spokesperson about the claim that our former president ordered a wire-tap on Trump’s phone at Trump Tower, he simply asked the spokesperson if President Trump had any ‘intelligence’… and then “So, what your saying is that he has ‘No intelligence’.”  I laughed out loud and I am sure that once he said it he knew what it really meant.

Of course our president has no intelligence.  Conspiracy theories, die-hard supporters, poor judgement, and a quick finger when it comes to Twitter – he has those in spades… but intelligence he is lacking.  He is surprised at the complexity of our healthcare issues, shocked that people are concerned about his connection to Russia, and has mentioned our former president more times in the past six weeks than Obama mentioned Bush in his entire presidency.  He is becoming more unhinged as the days pass.

We have weathered more White House scandal than we have seen in decades… and he is just getting started.  Wait until he gets on a roll!

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, the ability to deal with new or trying situations.  Intelligence is what is required to process and synthesize information, to sift through a problem and come up with reasonable solutions.  It is the ability to rise to the occasion, use clear language and speak to a topic.  It is what we need as a nation.

A man who leads without intelligence is a danger to us all! We are being led by someone with no intelligence… and those who surround him are continuing to make excuses for him and cover it up…  Those who surround him need to take his phone at night… give us all a break!

Fake News

I was certain, when I turned on the television this morning, that what I was getting was ‘fake news’.  It HAD to be.  Certainly it was put forward by those Trump hating, rainbow bleeding, far-left leaning, CNN loving, paid protestors and other subversive organizations who scream ‘Not My President’ and wear those horrid ‘pussy’ hats.  The story was so outrageous that it must be fake…

CNN, The New York Times, Politico and other news organizations had been banned from a press conference.  Only Trump-friendly press were allowed to be at the briefing.  What does this mean for you?  Well, if you are not interested in truth and only want to see news that supports our president and you are willing to take what he says as fact without question, then you are good.  If however, you wonder what the hell is going on in Washington, then you should be very upset about this latest development.

Let me be clear, CNN is not going anywhere… they are on right now, reporting on the DNC election, on statements released by the White House, and by actions that are happening every day… what we won’t get to see is the White House and President having to answer questions that challenge them and make them uncomfortable.  Those banned news organizations are the voice of critical thinkers and, yes, the opposition.

I understand that part of the competitiveness of media is getting the scoop… it would have been nice if the reporters and the organizations they represent had made a statement by saying ‘if they don’t go in, we don’t go in’… sometimes we need to step beyond our rolls and join in the action.  It is time for the press to step out from behind their cameras and note pads and stand up for what they know is right.  As much as our President likes a crowd, speaking to an empty room just might send a message.

We believe in the free press… they are integral to our democracy whether you agree with them or not.  If you don’t like their slant you can change the channel. The ‘fake news’ needs to be challenged and if all we have are Trump-supporting news organizations doing the reporting, all that ‘fake news’ that originates from the White House, will be all we hear…. SAD

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.