That’s Why They Pay Me The Big Bucks

I sat on the floor in the hallway.  An upset child sat with me.  He was not in trouble but had used the word ‘penis’ when talking about where the ball had hit him.  His friend, who he now hated, came to tell me that this sweet little guy was using inappropriate language.  Quickly I told him that the word ‘penis’ was not an inappropriate word, it was the name of part of your body.  There was nothing wrong with that word or that part of the body.

How do we explain that not all families like to use that word?  I tried my best.  ‘That word is something that doctors might use, or that some families use, or ….., hmmmm, it is a word that makes some people worried’… The boy fired back, ‘It is a normal word!’ Yes, it is, but not all families like to use it.  “Like the ‘H’ word?” Yes.

We got through the moment… I told him, “If you are worried about something it is okay to come to me, I won’t be mad and it doesn’t mean that someone will be in trouble. It’s my job, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

‘They pay you a lot of money for this?’….’Well, not a lot, but enough so that I can buy good food to eat. Okay?’ Okay….

Oh, my….

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43 Angry Faces

I recently had a letter to the editor published in our local paper…  so far 43 angry faces have weighed in on my letter… I wrote about not giving your child a gun as a gift.  It was interesting to me to read the comments in opposition to my opinion… those people who are clutching their guns, touting ‘gun safety’ as a way to ensure the well-being of their own gun-owning children and stating that this will not stop mass shootings have no clue what my piece was about.  My piece was about caring about children who do not belong to me… their children.

If you teach your child gun safety are you ensuring that your child’s friends will take similar classes, that the neighbor kids can’t get into your home, or know that when your child is desperately unsure of their place in life and a handful of years older, that they won’t look at that gift differently?  We protect our children in so many ways, safety belts, bicycle helmets, knee pads, shin-guards, and football pads, we tell them to not talk to strangers and if they find a gun they shouldn’t touch it, they should leave the area, and tell an adult…. unless it is theirs…

What part of this is trying to take away your rights? What part of this is suggesting that you need to give up guns? What part of this idea will hurt your children in any way?

The best way to keep kids safe in terms of gun safety is to not have guns near children. Guns kill about 1,300 children each year according to a CNN… this has nothing to do with a child becoming a mass shooter… it is about children having access to a gun.

Those 43 angry faces… are they angry because I care about their children?

Only Two

Where is the horror?  Two innocent people have been murdered… a teacher and an 8 year old child… IN A SCHOOL

If you blinked, you may have missed our most recent school shooting.  It was yesterday, when a man waltzed through the front office, signed in, went into a classroom and opened fire in front of children, killing the teacher, her eight year old student, and injuring a nine-year old.  I heard about it in one on-line story about an hour after the incident and then again on NPR as I was driving home.  By the time I settled down with my glass of wine and grading to do, CNN was covering Trump’s excessive golf habits, the doctor being dragged off of a United flight and the Syrian bombing… I watched for two hours and there was no mention of the shooting… WTF?

I guess domestic violence does not get ratings… not to mention that both the victim and shooter were black, the slaughter happened in a brown neighborhood, and only one child was killed…. I am disgusted to think that we only care about Islamic terrorism, violence that is racially driven, mass murder, or manifestos.  We SHOULD care about this…

They were newly weds, he was a church going blessed man, she was a special ed teacher… but things were going wrong, she tried to leave a man that was scaring her and…  HE HAD A GUN… HE HAD A GUN… HE HAD A GUN…

Where is our RED LINE, our 59 missiles, our repeal and replace of gun regulation, our metal detectors in every school across the nation, our extra funding for mental health (or marital health), our wall against gun violence…

Those two innocents meant the world to the people who loved them… but that crime didn’t play into our narrative of things we need to rally against… really?  Here in ‘Make America Great Land’ you are more likely to be shot by a fellow American either by accident or because he is a bit ‘off’, than you are to be killed by a terrorist… let’s put America first by taking care of THIS business…. domestic violence and access to guns needs to be addressed… the end

SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

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…

Watch Those Chickens!

I am so very disappointed in the Republican senators… 50 of them voted to put Billionaire Betsy DeVos, devout private school graduate, business woman with a BA from a private religious college, whose children have never stepped foot in a public school, in charge of our national public school system!  I am appalled that they are putting their trust in her and I am saddened that they didn’t have the guts to stand up and say we can do better and we must do better for our children and our education system.

I should not be shocked.  Is it possible that the republican senators who voted her in are worried about the wrath of Trump… they could possibly be the subjects of his next tweets.  These same people have decided that someone with no political experience, no diplomacy and absolutely no decorum will rule THEIR roost… I applaud those two Republican senators who broke with their party and voted against this nomination… but two was not enough to make a difference. It is shameful, but now SOP, for this new administration… we are now ruled by billionaires… November 2018 can not come soon enough.

I wrote emails to Senators.  What else could I do?  I sat and watched the news as our public education system was turned over to someone who does not believe in public education.  Much like Trump’s pick for other departments and agencies, she does not believe in the very thing she will now be in charge of?!?  I am sickened thinking about someone with no vested interested in public education leading reform… I am horrified that someone with no educational experience or teaching degree will decide matters of the utmost importance in public schools.  I am worried that my little rural school will suffer financially because of her misunderstanding of all things that have to do with what happens in public schools on a daily basis.  I am fearful that science will no longer be taught and that the cry for prayer in schools will become louder and stronger.  I worry that good talented teachers will decide that enough is enough and that they will take their talents to another field.

Let’s shake things up, they say.  Let’s put fresh eyes on this issue… A new sheriff is in town… but really it’s the fox guarding the hen house.. .

What is our next move?  A nationwide strike – by parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff?  Am I even allowed to suggest that? If it is led by parents and students would more people listen? Where are my fellow pussy-cap marchers? There must be something that can be done!

Wow, what a crazy time we live in… you better hold on to your chickens!

The State of the Union

It has been about 2 1/2 weeks since we elected the most incompetent person ever elected to the highest, most powerful office in the whole world.  His promises lay scattered on the floor of the Trump Tower lobby, he is slowly compiling his team of the smartest, best and experienced people.  He is.  He is surrounding himself with success, with people who have good brains, and people who he trusts to tell it to him the way he wants to hear it.  Because if they don’t, they won’t last very long… we all know how he treats people who disagree with him.  The huge problem is that what he considers success is very different than what it takes to be a successful leader.  He is putting multi-millionaires and billionaires in those positions.  That does not mean they are the most intelligent, well educated or best informed about the position for which they are being chosen… it just means they have money, a lot of it, and they know Trump.   If that is your measure of success then I guess you are happy with the people he has chosen.

So much for standing up for the working class and little guy.  These leaders have never been the ‘little guy’ and up until this point they have worked to amass wealth for themselves, their shareholders and their families. They have fought to make the guys at the top stronger and they have stood against unions.  Unions are what give the working class a voice, strengthen their position and try to ensure good working conditions and wages… Unions are for the working class and those coming into power now are against them.  They are against teachers and public schools, against science, and against treating people who are different than you the way you want to be treated. Draining the swamp? They ARE the swamp!  Your child’s school will not get better under a Trump government… they will lose money and good people.  You think it is the teachers that are ruining education?  What is ruining education is not what happens in the classroom, it is what happens at home, and no penalty or threat of privatization is going to change that. A lack of respect and value for today’s teachers, by ordinary citizens and people who govern, is what is hurting the students of America… It doesn’t matter how many times a week you say the Pledge of Allegiance, or if you say it at all, that will make your child a successful student or patriotic American… that is on you.  If you think that school choice is someone standing up for the little guy, you are wrong.  If you think that doing away with the Common Core will somehow save education, you really have no idea about what the Common Core says, you are just buying into more b.s. by the biggest b.s.-er of them all. He has made outrageous promises to people who have no clue about why they really are in the situation they are in.  So what if he is surrounding himself with successful people…that does not mean they are the best and brightest in their field.  Just because you watch football every Sunday doesn’t mean you are ready to suit up and step onto the field.

We as Americans are more divided than ever before.  I have been on an emotional rollercoaster since the election.  One day feeling hopeful because Trump has walked back many of his most offensive promises, the next feeling angry over his behavior and tweeted statements, and finally scared by some of the people Trump is choosing to surround himself with.  Those advisors are really scarier than Trump himself… those advisors are going to have Trump’s ear, they will not have your best interest at heart.  They know that their time in power will be short lived and  throughout their careers they each have had two goals in mind… how to amass their wealth and how to spread their form of hate/control on the most people. In the end it will be the little guy, the working class and our children who will suffer if we don’t wake up and speak up.  Facebook posts are just the beginning… they are where we may start… they fuel the flames that lead to financial support, speaking out, political action and eventually change.  Where will your passion take you?  Be the change and be the action you want to see…