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Education and Poverty

  • Posted on September 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

In recent times there has been much in the news about our ailing public school system.  Much of the blame for what is wrong with education has been placed on the quality of teachers.  The push has been to reward “good” teachers with merit pay and to get rid of tenure.  This push has been coming for some time now as the teacher’s unions are the last big unions that need to fall like all the rest.  I say this as systematically over the last thirty years the unions have been taken down to help business profits.  The first major fight was during President Reagan’s term when he fired all of the air traffic controllers.  I suspect there is more going on with education than just poor test scores.  I think there are many variables, poverty is one of them, and the lack of personal discipline is another.  However, there are many students that are performing remarkably well in these public schools.  In school it seems to be a system of feast or famine.  You either get it or you don’t.  The question is why?

I watched most of the MSNBC “Education Nation” Sunday  There were around 200 teachers at the event.  I found it interesting.  This was more of a discussion about the schools with no ready answers for fixing the problems.  It was an opportunity for these teachers to use a microphone to quickly express something that might be on their minds about the latest of what many felt was an “attack” on them.  Some of the younger teachers felt no need for unions and the tenure system which made me think maybe we are failing our youth.  One even had a rep go to meeting with her principal as she had some unexplained problem.  She seemed to not fully recognize the need for the rep that she had witness the meeting she attended.  I’ve worked with many different principals and I must say some are easier to work with than others.  As an art teacher some recognize my talents while others may or may not value what I do for my students.  Tenure allows teachers the opportunity to speak about issues without feeling the threat of punishment for saying what they think.  When a teacher is trying to make tenure it is more difficult for them to be open about their thoughts as they don’t want anything they say to be held against them.  Tenure also allows a teacher to feel a sense of “ownership” with the community.  It gives them the freedom to buy a home without worrying about summarily being dismissed without probable cause.  The unions do more than discuss money and benefits as well.  They push for smaller class sizes, professional development that is worthwhile, evaluation standards, as well as many other factors that relate to the successful education of students.

All unions in our country helped to build the middle class.  It should be no surprise now that all of the unions have fallen in stature that we are back to record poverty levels.  Even if you were not in a union, your pay was affected by the unions.  As the unions bargained for better pay, health insurance, and other benefits this brought up wages in other areas as well.  When there were more jobs, it was all about supply and demand which was good for workers.  Now that many jobs have gone overseas the strength of the unions has also been diminished.  Many people that have lost their jobs in their fifties are very worried about their future.  They don’t know if they will be able to compete in the future and whether they will even have a job in their future.  If the government really is concerned about education, they will do everything they can to fix the problem with poverty as well.

The interesting part here is the whole idea that education is failing.  Education is failing for the economically deprived as there is a direct correlation between poverty and education.  I am not saying that the poor have a lower IQ.  What I am saying is that they may not have access to the same things that help with a standardized education as the middle class and more affluent students.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if the poverty rate has risen, chances are education will fall.  There have been many studies done with SAT and ACT scores.  Obviously, the students that come from affluent families have access to a better education.  If the federal government wants to really fix education, they need to do two distinct things first.  The first thing they should do is combat poverty and the second thing is to stop testing with the emphasis being on the middle students.  The tests are not set up to test for excellence but for proficiency to a minimal level.  Diane Ravitch is well known in education circles.  She was a big proponent for NCLB.  In recent times she has changed her mind about NCLB.  This is form wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Ravitch

While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, she later became “disillusioned,” and wrote, “I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for.” In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, “utopian” goals, “draconian” penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn’t work, she concluded. “The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers.” [8]

Ravitch said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by “right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation,” for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers’ unions.[9]

As far as the SAT and ACT scores are concerned there are many students that perform very well on these tests today, exceptional really.   My nephew had a perfect score on his SAT as a junior.  He grew up in an upper middle class family where both parents have college degrees.  It is obvious that his background of affluence helped him with his education.  He has traveled extensively and hasn’t wanted for anything.  His needs and wants have all been met.  He didn’t have the struggles that a child born into poverty has to deal with on a daily basis.  http://www.oxfordleader.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2007-06-20&-token.story=196032.112112&-token.subpub=

Students that are in a state of poverty don’t have access to the same opportunities that a student from middle or upper middle class has let alone a student growing up in wealth.

While the public school system has tried to balance out the short comings based on the issues of poverty by offering free and reduced breakfast and lunch, it can’t provide all of the needs that a typical student has.  Even the state of Michigan went through a big change in funding for education many years ago to try and equalize the disparity between the rich and the poor school districts.  While this has helped, there is still a huge disparity in per-pupil state funding between schools like Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor and let’s just say everyone else.  The figures are actually lower than this link as we have had some cuts.  However most districts are getting a little under $7000 per pupil spending while Ann Arbor gets over $9700 and Bloomfield Hills gets over $12400.  These are big disparities.  It means the schools that have more money can set up better computer and science labs and provide other special programs and technology that may not be affordable to the other schools.

http://detnews.com/article/20080723/SPECIAL01/80723001/1459/special03/Michigan-2009-per-pupil-funding-by-district

I have noticed in my own art classroom the huge discrepancy between the students that have what they need and those that don’t.  The divide seems to be getting only larger.  Students seem to have a lot or they have very little.  There isn’t much in between.  Students that have a lot tend to go on vacations, have computers, have their basic needs met and even their “wants” met.  These children have access to all that school life has to offer because their parents can afford the extra things they may need.  If they want to go to things like music camp in the summer, there is money for these things.  This is true even in sports as many schools are moving to “pay to play” programs to help with their budget shortfalls.  The student that doesn’t have much doesn’t always come to class fully prepared.  It might be tough for them to even be fully functioning as a student as they may be worrying about the tough times going on at home.  It is difficult for these children to consider the high cost of college because they don’t necessarily see how they are going to pay for it.  I’ve noticed in that divide that students either get what your selling or they woefully don’t get it.  There isn’t much in the middle any more.  They either kind of know how to study and learn or they are frustrated with learning.

In our school we are trying to create a professional learning community and to encourage students to think about going to college.  This too needs to be addressed by the federal government as the cost of going on to college has sky rocketed in the last fifteen years or so.  My son left college with a mountain of student debt.  He isn’t alone.  Many students today cannot afford the high financial cost of that college degree.  The colleges have decided that the best teachers are those that get published, so often times your college student may be paying those high fees for a graduate student teacher that is barely older than the student!  I don’t know if that is really the “best” education can do at the college level.  However, a college education is a fine thing, if you can afford it.  How sad that our country has come to this degree of separation between those at the bottom of the ladder of economic freedom and those at the top.  If we are to fix education at all levels from pre-school through college, the area of poverty and the high cost of continuing education must be addressed.

Students born in to poverty are not necessarily getting their most basic needs met.  Education can only become a priority to them as their parents and the community see the value for those students.  For years we have had business in the schools preparing the future children to become their little worker bees.  Business now says they want more educated worker bees as the jobs that they used to want to prepare these students for have gone overseas.  Now we are told we need students with more math and science skills to compete in this “global” economy.  Arne Duncan was on Oprah and said that our global ranking for going to college used to be number one and we are now number nine.  I kept thinking what does he expect?  When the cost of college can run $20,000-$30,000 a year and up, what really does he expect?  Is a child in poverty going to magically get some scholarship that pays for everything?  There is no magic for that child when it comes to a college education.  We can try to create magic in school for them in the K-12 system but if they go home to a hopeless situation, how will we change the mindset?  How will that child succeed?

We have much information as teachers as to how children learn from learning styles to how the brain works.  However, there are so many other factors that have to be addressed that we aren’t hearing much about.  Unruly children can disrupt any classroom environment and make learning tough for all students.  Discipline is a problem in a classroom where a child that doesn’t want to be in school, comes to school.  My son lives near Chicago.  The amount of violence directed at children is truly disturbing.  We have all witnessed and discussed the “bullying” that some students are receiving to the extent that they cannot even function and perhaps choose to stay home rather than face more abuse.  This has to be addressed as well.  I know from my own experience that at our school we have different programs that we have been using to try and stop this behavior.  Today there are so many more new ways that a child can be bullied and these can have lasting effects on the child.  It’s difficult to get control of this.  A couple of years ago a student at our school filmed special education students out on the playground and then posted these on Youtube for her friends to laugh at.  These were discovered and she had to take them down but it was extremely disturbing.  She wasn’t even supposed to have a cell phone or video device with her at school.  However, some students tend to do whatever they can get away with.  This cyber bullying is really a whole new world that some children have to figure out how to survive.

In many ways students today are faced with so many more challenges than we adults have ever had to face.  I wrote about my own experience as a child and compared it to today and I think it’s worth reading.  It’s titled, “An Uncomplicated Youth”.  In it I express my feelings about what is really expected of students today.  It’s a lot more complicated than people realize.

At my school some subjects have been pushed down to the eight grade curriculum from the high school because the expectations for graduation have gone up.  This means that exploratory classes like art, gym, home economics, wood shop and technology are being phased out.  These are the creative opportunities for these students.  These are the places where students can have more hands on learning which is so important for personal growth.  Our eighth grade students have been job shadowing for years.  When I was in eighth grade I was mostly just having fun, not worrying about my “career” choices.  We have truly pushed our children to grow up fast.  With this push is another problem with education.  Some students just aren’t developmentally ready for all of this stuff that is being pushed down from the high school.  Some are way ahead and can handle it fine.  Others sometimes cannot follow the math and other concepts that they have to learn.  I feel sometimes like we are telling these students to hurry up and go and now STOP.  I think there is a lot of frustration caused by this constant testing and getting ready for the Big Test.  Some how the money is tied to the test scores, if you score well you will get more money which is kind of moronic and you won’t be put on the list of schools that could be taken over by the state.  With no doubt there is “teaching for the test”.  The problem with this is it is just a test.  There is no long term study that tells any of us that if a student performs well on this particular test they will be successful in life.  Last year I read over one of the language arts stories on the MEAP and looked at the questions.  It didn’t’ make any sense.  There were so few questions that I couldn’t see how the questions told the test maker much of anything about the child’s ability.  With the deep emphasis on this testing comes much teaching for a test rather than teaching for true learning.

With merit pay for teachers, regardless of how it is structured, there will be much emphasis to perform on one particular test.  It could be a bad day for a student or maybe they have test anxiety.  Regardless of this, there is no retake.  We all know that if you have the money you can retake tests like the ACT to get a higher score to help you get into a better college.  This isn’t so for these tests.  Now these tests do not mean the child will be more successful in life.  They simply mean the child passed the test that the state has chosen for them to pass.  As an art teacher, you can probably figure out that I think far too much time is devoted to learning how to take a test than for learning how to think!  These are my feelings.  I wouldn’t want my child to be testing continually when he could be learning new concepts instead.  A lot of time is spent on test taking.  Students take practice tests.  A significant amount of time is devoted to teaching them how to take a test.  If we want students to really excel in school I think we have to do far more than take tests.

Today it is a struggle to get some students to really want to read.  Occasionally, books like the Harry Potter and Twilight series come out and children get inspired to read.  However, most students aren’t all that interested in reading and rarely choose it as their leisure time activity.  There are still many that do read but I think there are far too many that don’t.  They would prefer to play video games, surf the net or play sports.  Reading becomes a past time that many just don’t do.  We have to instill a love of reading that many of us had as youngsters and still love today into our children.   If a child is struggling with reading it’s going to be felt in every other subject.  I really feel the key to much of what ails education lies with the reading level of our children.  On the “Education Nation” show I heard a teacher of high school literature say that she was getting students with a fourth grade reading level.  In order for these students to perform at a higher level they are going to have to elevate their reading and comprehension level.  Some of this is probably a lack of  “at home work” from parents.  When the child is young and just learning to read parents have to help the teachers with encouraging reading and listening to their child read.  If this doesn’t happen, a child can fall behind quickly.  I know in families that value education much emphasis is placed on buying books, reading to their children and even the parents reading as well.  If this isn’t happening in a home, it is difficult to make that time up in school.  A teacher cannot possibly listen to every child individually on a daily basis for long periods of time.  There just isn’t enough time in a day.  It’s tough if you come from poverty but most communities have public libraries that are very supportive with youth programs and are free.  The schools also have libraries and students must be encouraged to read at all levels of education.  I know the big thing now is to have a Kindle or an Ipad and read your books that way.  However, for me, I still love the feel of a good book in my hands.  Students today need to be taught to value books as much as their cell phones, computers and other techie items.

Where I teach I witness teachers that give up time after school to work with students, buy treats to reward students, and purchase items for their classrooms to encourage students.  I see many trying to create relationships with students so the student will feel “special” like someone really cares about them.  I don’t hear a lot of bickering about our school.  There are concerns about discipline as an unruly child can suck a lot of energy out of a classroom and I do occasionally hear about that and even express my own concerns as well.  I feel like the staff in general where I teach loves their jobs and tries to do what’s best for the students.  I noticed with this poll that many people think there are problems but when it gets personal about their own school many give their schools a higher grade of an A or a B.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39369894/ns/education_nation/

I don’t think education is a one size fits all proposition.  I think every student has different strengths and needs that should be addressed.  Just as we as adults are not “cookie cutter” people, we cannot expect our children to all perform at the same level at the same time.  Some are beyond their years and some need some special mentoring but all children do deserve a quality education and I want public schools to be the place to get it.  With this systematic privatization of public schools, I am concerned what the final outcome of all of this will really look like.  I want a nation of thinkers that don’t always conform to whatever the government expects of them.  I want a nation of people that have realized their own potential through education and can use their talents to be the best they can be, so we have a stronger country and a well informed electorate.  As an art teacher I value individuality, creative thinking, thinking outside the box, and looking at things a different way; not pre-determined by some government mandate.  I am frustrated that the push is for science and math when there is so much more that should be done.  Everything around us has been designed by someone.  The arts are important for the creativity of future products just as science and math.  If you value the aesthetics of your home, car, clothing, jewelry, dishes, just about everything, you need to think about the art and design that went into these items.  Art is all around us and yet it is disrespected by so many in education that just don’t get it.  I hope the arts don’t get lost in this push for raising test scores.  Sometimes things of true value cannot fit on a computer scan sheet by filling in the bubble with a number two pencil!

My American Pledge: “Hell No!”

  • Posted on September 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm

The Three Stooges and Their Pledge to America

I, being of sound mind and body, born into freedom, and tethered to a corrupt two party system, soundly reject the fantasy induced Republican pledge.  Sometimes I wonder what these guys have been drinking or smoking.  Do they really believe we have no memory whatsoever of the past?  You can read and download the pledge here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/37958976/GOP-Pledge-to-America

John Boehner doesn’t have all the solutions but wants to have an “adult“ conversation with the American people.  Please, he cannot even do that with the Democratic Party.  He has been absolutely saying, “No!” to everything that has been put before him while offering nothing in return.  This pledge for America is a scare tactic on taxes.  If you read through the plan, they give all kinds of scenarios meant to target the middle class voter and families to vote for the Republicans, because the Democrats are going to raise your taxes on January 11th 2011.  In reality the Democrats have talked about leaving in place those tax cuts for those making under $250,000.  These are the very people targeted in this so called plan.  In the plan you don’t read anything about the tax cuts for the “wealthy” because the wealthy are lumped into everyone else.  If you want to have some fun, play around with this program.    http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm

Put  the year 2000 and then go back to 2010, put in your marital status and then look at your income and then look at the top incomes and tax amounts.  The Democrats have talked about leaving in place the tax cuts for people making $250,000 and less.  Do you really think this is unreasonable given the current national debt, our deficit spending, and the fact that we are still involved in two wars?

This ad for John Boehner is worth showing again.

This man is so out of touch with the rest of us that we need to be constantly reminded of what an absolute sham he is trying to pull over on the American people.

Yes, I also am unhappy with the problems in government and the lack luster economy.  I just don’t want to go back to an even bigger nightmare of deficit spending by Republicans that want to control my liberties as well. The Republicans talk big on how they are conservative and they don’t spend money like the Democrats.  It’s all a lie.  The only thing they are conservative on are those “wedge” issues like gays in the military, or abortion.  Truthfully, they like to control our freedoms.  As much as they talk about the “pursuit of happiness”, they do everything they can to curtail the rights of many people so they, the Republicans, can feel safe in their “lily white world”.  Don’t be fooled about how Republicans value your tax dollars.  I’m going to repost this chart.

Republican Pledge, More Red Bars!Look at it closely under Republican rule.  President Obama inherited this mess.  Just like an out of control credit card, when you’re constantly paying that old debt off, they keep charging more interest on top of the old interest.  You cannot seem to ever get out of the hole you have dug yourself into.  The only way this is going to change is by more tax money coming in.  It would be nice if more jobs could magically be created.  However, until that is a reality the wealthy need to step up and do their part for America.  I think they should take the pledge to, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!”  John Kennedy drummed that into me when I was a kid.  The wealthy people need to step up and help our country get back on its feet.  It’s a simple idea.  Just go back to the Clinton years of taxes for the wealthy.  As I recall, those wealthy people made plenty of money under Clinton.  I’m sure they can afford it.  If John Boehner can afford those exorbitant golfing fees, I’m sure he’d be just fine with a tax change.

If you read farther into the plan, you will notice that they also want to spend more on a missile defense system to protect us and our allies from Iran.  Yes, we tax payers, can pay for taking care of the rest of the world but we can’t take care of our own.  I would like to know where that “Star Wars” money to pay for this is going to come from.  Once again they want to spend more on defense which is already way over bloated, and less on PEOPLE.  Hey guys, you have to wait until you’re 70 to get Social Security under these guys.  That may be fine for the wealthy but come on for the rest of us, it is painful.  Many of the unemployed are in their fifties.  About the only thing an unemployed fifty something has to look forward to is that magic day when they can at least collect their Social Security because jobs are scarce.

This Republican pledge is really about getting the “common” people to think that the Democrats are going to take away your meager tax break.  It’s just another scare tactic to try and get votes.  They have done nothing to earn a vote and talk is cheap.  They want us all to get on board so we can actually help them help their rich buddies.  The tax cuts they’re really worried about are the ones for the wealthy and the corporations.  Do they care about the unemployed?  Hell no!  Do they care about health care for everyone?  Hell no!  Do they care about privatizing your Social Security?  Hell yes!  Do they care about cutting Medicare?  Hell yes!  Do they want to keep their rich golf outings?  Hell yes!  Do I want to reward them for their spineless behavior?  Hell no!  This is really the “Hell No” plan.  Vote for them and you’ll be saying, “Hell no!”

Here is a link to John Stewart, just because it’s funny!

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-september-23-2010/postcards-from-the-pledge

“Mourning in America” and Other Lies

  • Posted on September 22, 2010 at 7:15 pm

It’s pretty obvious from the following chart showing the national debt that President Obama inherited hell.  Whether you like him or dislike him is irrelevant.  This is the hell he inherited as president.

This morning I was greeted with this Republican ad on TV.

I noticed a few things about it.  One, it was very “white”.   I also noticed the play on the word “mourning” as though we are mourning the death of our country.  What most people might not realize is this is an old ad that has been remade.  The Republicans today aren’t very “forward” thinking.  They also aren’t very creative.  They are trying to be clever with their little “word” game.  They would like us all to remember the Reagan years with some kind of loving memory.  The original ad used the word “morning”.  Here it is.

It too is a very white ad,  as though that’s what America is all about.   You know “white” people getting married and living their lives in peace.  It mentions the interest rates as being half what they were.  This is a boldface lie.  I had a place purchased at that time and the interest rate was a whopping 14%.  Another thing that is interesting is the national debt.  If you look at the chart above, you will notice that the national debt began it’s very sharp upward swing under President Reagan.  Conservative Republicans talk in this recent ad about a smaller, more caring government.  Caring government and Republican rule is almost like an oxymoron.  The two don’t even belong together.  Under the first President Bush we had a “thousand points of light”.  If  people were having hard times, I guess they were supposed to find one of those thousand points of light..  I think most people would prefer a job to begging any day of the week.  If you look through the past several years of Republican rule, government spending and the national debt has been anything but small.  You can see both of these charts larger if you just click on them.

The new ad portrays this idyllic life that we could have with a smaller more “caring” government. .  Republican rule has brought us much chaos and to add to it a resurgence of poverty in America.  The true “mourning” should be for the death of the middle class and for the poverty stricken that have lost so much under Republican rule.  During the second Bush presidency we had tax cuts for the wealthy and two wars that nobody wanted to pay for.  The end result is a huge pile of national debt, most middle and poor people with stagnant wages or no job at all.  This is just reality.  The numbers don’t lie.  Republican rule is a rule where there are tax cuts for the wealthy and a minimal amount for everyone else.  Republican rule is just a nightmare and someone needs to point this out when these ads are run on TV that just are false.

I noticed that it is a special group creating the ad, probably a 527 advocacy group for the wealthy for all we know.  Trust me the wealthy have a different agenda than the rest of us!  This is the group that’s pushing this latest ad.

http://cftr.org/default.aspx

They’re all pretty much Reagan people.

http://cftr.org/about/default.aspx

Here are just a few of the people involved in the making of this ad.  The main thing I notice is how closely they are tied to Republican governing.

Craig Shirley, CEO Shirley and Banister

Bill Pascoe, runs a conservative blog and was Alan Keyes campaign manager in 2004 (That’s when Alan ran against Obama for the senate.)

He says, “Penance for all the wrongs I’ve committed during the course of a professional career in and around politics.”

Cleta Mitchell is a partner in Washington D.C. office of Foley and Lardner LLP

Diana Banister is Vice President of Shirley and Banister Public Affairs

Republicans also grow government.  If you will look closely at the following chart you will notice that there was a sharp climb in government growth and % of GDP spent on government growth in the early eighties under President Reagan.  You should also notice the sharp decline in those same expenses under President Clinton.  The climb starts back up under President Bush.

I’m tired of those Republican lies that I seem to be hearing in this latest ad.  Those Republicans don’t seem to have any trouble spending my money or yours.  I say talk is cheap.  They can tell me all they want about having smaller government.  The only one in recent years that has actually had a smaller government is President Clinton and he’s a Democrat.

Feeling Funny About Those Bedbugs

  • Posted on September 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I am so sick of hearing about bedbugs.  Every time I see another news program on bedbugs, I swear I start to itch.  It’s just so disgusting.  I sure don’t want to go to any motels any time soon.  When I saw the piece on the bedbugs at the New York movie theater, it really upset me.  It seems  I can’t even enjoy a decent movie without worrying about these disgusting little creatures.

Many years ago I had a nephew that had scabies.  His parents thought it was an allergic rash so they unwittingly exposed all of the other little children to scabies over the Christmas holiday.   I didn’t get them, but my precious child did.  When we discovered what it really was, it took some time to rid my child and all of his belongings of this disgusting little pest.  This was back when I lived a couple miles from my parents up by Maple City.  The kids would come over to play because my son had a lot of toys and a very cool castle bed that I had made for him.  Some of the kids spent the night, including my nephew with the rash.  (My nephew is a great kid so he will remain nameless.)  Family members that ended up treating their kids for scabies will remember the Christmas from “Scabies Hell”.  It took years to recover from the memory of the “SCABIES FROM HELL” nightmare experience.  I still use Dial soap today, even though it probably doesn’t make any difference what soap I use.

I have no intention of finding myself in “bedbug hell”.  I’m avoiding anything that may put me in contact with these buggy little creatures.  I don’t think I’m going to go to any motels any time soon, but if I do, I’ll probably go with a can of “Raid” and spray the bed!

Teaching is another story.  I saw a program that said students could unwittingly bring the bedbugs to school with them.  As a teacher, I think I’m going to be on “bedbug alert” all year!  Just the thought of these creatures makes me itch.  I always watch for head scratching as that can be a sure sign of head lice.  Now I’ll be wondering every time I see a child with a bite on his/her skin. I really don’t want to be paranoid.  I love teaching, but I hate creepy, crawly, creatures that like to snack on people!  Maybe if the press will stop reporting all these bedbug incidents, I could forget about them.  However, those reports keep popping up every few weeks, even tonight!  You know, if you have gotten this far into my post, you are probably itching already!

Can You Hear Me Now?

  • Posted on September 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Out in Main Street America the "Right" and the "Left" are a lot closer than most people think.

Unfortunately, I keep thinking about that old commercial for Verizon.  You know the one that keeps asking, “Can You Hear Me Now?”  This one with the mosquitoes takes the cake for representing the Democratic Party and what ails them.

Those pesky mosquitoes could be the Tea Party people but they are really those angry Democratic voters that are planning on staying home this November.  My mother always used to tell me to be careful what I wish for because you might get it.  The Democratic Party has brought on much of these problems themselves.  By moving to the right when they should have moved left when that pesky mosquito was biting them, they lost their momentum.  The party has governed with President Obama at the top much like the old party headed by GW.  I can’t be the only one that feels like this.

The Tea Party people would have us all believe that the country wants to go conservative and right.  I personally don’t believe that.  I think there is a lot of confusion about what we should do as a country.  People definitely want some direction.  Right now there is a lack or failure of leadership.  It’s like being out on a boat and stormy sea comes up and you realize no one on the boat really knows much about sailing.  It could be like when the airplane pilot has a heart attack and we’re all looking at each other to see if anyone can take the controls.  Either way we are screwed!  We want someone to take the helm and lead us out of this storm.  So far we have someone that says pretty things on occasion and then is so TIRED, he has to go on vacation.  I remember when GW was president.  He always said, “It’s hard work.”  Oh, please, we all work hard and most of us don’t get much of a vacation.

I cannot tell you how many issues the Democratic Party went “right” on when they should have moved left, but I will mention a few.  Guantanomo….yep, still in place, a very Republican thing to do even though our constitutional amendments mentions things like a right to a speedy trial,  blah, blah, blah, stuff we keep ignoring.  Yep, last I noticed we are still fighting two stupid wars and not to mention spending lots of money there.  We could really use a “left” move there.  Health care…..people have labeled it “Obama Care” which does kind of piss me off as they did the same thing with Hillary.  However, it’s a shitty plan that didn’t even consider “single payer” or the “public option”.  I could go “Blah, blah, blah, again!”  They definitely should have gone “left” on this one.  If they had educated the masses on what these two ideas really mean, I think most people would get it.  I’ve had conversations with Republican friends that don’t cringe when I talk about it, so I know it’s all possible.  Education!  Oh, yeah, we now have “merit pay”!  It’s unbelievable that this was brought in under a Democratic president.  Merit pay has always been “union busting” talk from where I stand.  They definitely should have gone left on that one.  There is always that pesky question of who determines what is meritorious!  This could be a great opportunity to bring in Joe Blow’s kid when he graduates from college.  You know Joe Blow, the guy that sits on the school board.  If his kid needs a job, I’m sure we can make room for him.  There must be some teacher we don’t really like that is a bit of a “rabble rouser”, you know, not a “team” player, that we can get rid of for their less than stellar performance.  Wow, definitely should have gone left on that one!   Now here is a real “right” move that should scare a lot of “lefties”.  President Obama has sanctioned the killing or assassination of an American citizen.    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/30/assassinations/index.html

I really think they should have gone left on that one.  I cannot even fathom a real Democrat doing this.  It’s like were in some kind of strange new world.  Most people don’t even know about this because it’s not really out in the main stream press.  As you can see, I could go on and on about the fact that the Democratic Party with President Obama at the helm has definitely moved right instead of left.  This is why he is losing so many of us out in the real world.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/09/president_obama_criticizes_the.html

Many question the Tea Party movement.  I know some of it is fired up by Republicans but there are a lot of people that are angry out here that just don’t understand what is going on with our country.  They thought they were going to get this big “CHANGE” when all they go was some shitty t-shirt.

I guess the “Yes, We Can” ones really meant we CAN be more like Republicans!  We are left hoping a real Democrat will start leading.  The mistake has been that swing to the right when I think we should have swung to the left.

Most Americans simply want government out of their lives.  I thought it was interesting a few weeks ago when I heard Tom Hartman refer to a Libertarian as a conservative Republican that wants to be able to smoke dope and get laid.  I thought it was funny when I heard it, but it resonated with me because most people are far more liberal on social issues than many of them even realize.  Most people just don’t want you or the government “in their face” telling them how to live.  Even those Tea Party people could fall under this category.  For all of the talk about those social issues like gay marriage and abortion, the real concern is money.  If those Tea Party people and the rest of America had jobs and the economy was booming they wouldn’t be so interested in those other issues.  Those “wedge” issues have been used for years by both parties to keep us apart in our vision for the country.  This keeps the masses wrapped up in these social issues that become almost like a bait and switch.  People think they are voting for one thing and then they get something else.  It’s a game these two parties are playing as they both are “right” of center.  There is no “left”.  When I’m saying President Obama and the Democratic Party should have moved left, they are “playing’ us and telling us that it just isn’t possible because the Republicans are such obstructionists.

The truth is the Republicans are obstructionists but both parties want it that way.  They really are working for the corporations, not us.  They are trying to privatize every piece of government they can get their hands on so their buddies, you know their “real” constituents can make more money.  The public school as we know it is done.  Both parties have done everything they could to get private companies in the schools.  These are “for profit” companies.  They only care about the bottom dollar.  This has happened in our defense spending as well.  It’s across the board in every area of government from the federal to the state.  My son lives in Illinois.  They have private companies that sell the license for your vehicles.  It’s expensive.  Look at all the toll roads that have been sold to private companies.  This has been slowly happening.  Our government is serving these special interests so they can make more money while the rest of us are treated like serfs to the kingdom!

If this country is going to revolutionize and get back to what we really stand for someone has to convince the masses that as much as we all think we are so different, we are really alike.  You know the stuff about how the Tea Party people are “crazy” and those “lefties” are just a bunch of left over “Hippies” crap, that’s used to divide us.  I bet we have more in common than we realize.  If we could ever get together and talk and realize that as much as we think we are different, we are the same, we could maybe take back our country!  I cannot sit by and watch my party of my youth, the Democratic Party, become such an elitist, narrow party for the corporations without screaming my head off about how crazy it is that we have come to this!  We the people are Tea Party and Lefties.  We all want the same things.

We want to be able to raise our children in a place we can be proud of where they can grow to adulthood in peace, get a good education without it costing a life of servitude to the banks, be able to get a job that pays a living wage, have health care without going bankrupt over some terrible disease, have our personal freedoms kept safe, and always have the constitution to protect our differences.  The two parties have used everything they could to divide us but most of all it is FEAR.  We must stand up and embrace our differences so that we can actually sit down and have a real discussion about how to repair the problems in our country.  These two parties work hand in hand to help their corporate buddies.  They play games with us and keep us separated.  I have conservative family members.  They think very different than I do.  I know in reality we all want the same thing.  It’s all about everything I mentioned above.  I’m tired of being played and the Democratic Party should have moved left when they went right.  It’s all a game and the American people have been kept “stupid” about the game that’s really being played.

Republicans and Democrats that are our elected officials are largely corporatists.  They both are more concerned with keeping corporations happy then serving the needs of their true constituents.  The corporations in the meantime have inserted themselves in every aspect of our lives including our schools.  As a country we are really left of center, we just don’t know it yet!  Whether we are from the Tea Party crowd or liberal America, we are not being served well by the people that we voted into power.  Their master is business.  We should all be alarmed by how we are systematically being told that things will run better if they are run like a business.  This includes our government and even our education system.  The business class, you know the corporations have taken over our voting process.  They have given us dumb and dumber to vote for and we just keep on fighting with each other trying to convince each other that we are right.  We have no real power any more.  Business has it all and they will keep it as long as we keep voting and putting in their people.

Right now there are some rich business people running for governor across our country.  In my own state of Michigan we have the business guy that refers to himself as the “nerd”, Rick Snyder, who wants to come in and treat the government like a business.  I guess we’ll be seeing government jobs outsourced to China and India pretty soon if these guys get in!  We have been programmed to think that everything should be run like a “business”, so we are all buying into this stuff without really thinking about it.  It probably started with Reagan but it has been continued by both parties.

The Democratic Party can’t hear us because they are too busy listening to their master, the corporations.  The Republican Party has the same master.  As much as these two parties try to tell us one is left and one is right, they are both corporate.  They keep us in a state of confusion and fighting about right and left.  Democrats think Tea Party people are crazy wing-nuts and Republicans think people like me have a screw loose.  We need to realize, as I have said, we all want the same things.  We aren’t going to get it with these two parties as they are currently made up.  We must change them before it is too late and we end up looking like some third world country without a pot to piss in and a window to throw it out.  We are falling off a cliff but we’re holding on by a thin tread just from our sheer stubbornness and will to survive.  We want what is our right.  This includes the “pursuit of happiness” which we will never have until the heavy yoke of the corporate master is removed from our two political parties.  Democratic Party can you hear me now?  Do you know what I’m thinking?  There are a lot of dissatisfied Democrats out here wondering what in the hell happened to our party.  You have to start listening to us or we may end up voting for some crazy Tea Party person just to spite you!

The Democratic Party Failure

  • Posted on September 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm

This video says a lot to me about the disrespect shown to Hillary Clinton during the 2008 election.  It’s subtle but it still shows me a lot about the men in the party!  I will always remember those words, “Likable enough!”

The last couple of months we have been hearing about how the Democrats are going to lose in November.  There has been much talk about which seats would go and how many are needed for the Republican Party to take over the House or even the Senate.  It almost feels like we have already voted.  I always find in interesting when pundits tell us what we, the people, are thinking.  I don’t know how they could possibly know what people are really feeling these days.  Most people don’t participate in polls, many don’t have land lines, and many don’t answer their phones for anyone but their friends.  This has made me think about what I’m thinking about all of this.  From my viewpoint, if the Democratic Party loses it’s because they still didn’t repair the problems created from the 2008 election, and they have governed more like Republicans than true Democrats.  If they lose, they deserve that loss.

Back in 2008 my primary vote was taken away here in Michigan and given to Barack Obama.  I didn’t vote for him and if I had been given an opportunity to revote, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton.  The Democratic Party then chose to even take some votes from Hillary and give them to Barack, a very undemocratic thing to do.  This and what happened in Florida has set the stage for a lot of what’s ailing the Democratic Party today.  The Democratic Party has for a long time acted in an elitist manner.  They have assumed that they know what is best for their constituents, even if their constituents think otherwise.  This is the main problem with the party.  They don’t listen to their people.  I called the Michigan Democratic Party when all of this was happening and I was treated poorly and even hung up on.  It’s hard to trust a party when they treat you like crap.  Well, fast forward two years to the November election.

It’s hard to see how anything has really changed.  I had high hopes that President Obama would do something to make me trust the party again.  I hoped that I could start respecting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid again.  It hasn’t really happened.  I’ve written on here that we should vote for the Democrats because the Republicans are worse.  Isn’t that just a wonderful reason to vote?  Neither party is worth a damn these days.

The Democratic Party and President Obama have framed the last two years so there are four things that come to my mind:  We are still in these stupid wars.  We have a health care bill that no one seems to understand.  We have bailed out banks that didn’t bail out the American people.  We have a president that much like his predecessor likes to go on vacation a lot, acts clueless when it comes to real people and their needs, and has even embraced some of his Republican policies.

When President Obama came into office I was hoping he could convince me that he was the right choice.  It would be foolish for me or anyone else to want him to fail.  We’re talking about our country here.  I don’t want us to fail.  However, after two years, it’s hard to see what has really changed.  For all that talk about how things were going to “change”, much has stayed the same.  Washington is as hateful as it always has been, it’s as corrupt as it always has been and it’s as clueless as it always has been.  Even in the midst of economic disaster these politicians cannot seem to get anything done for the people.  They are too busy trying to get reelected than to do their jobs!  So if they lose their jobs this November, I have no sympathy.

Everything the Democrats have tried to do they have washed down so much that it looks more like a  Republican plan than a Democratic plan.  The health care bill didn’t fix anything.  We won’t know exactly what it will do until 2014 when much of it kicks in.  We do know that people with a more progressive agenda did not get their way.  Single payer was taken off long before the bill was completed.  John Edwards said if you let the corporations come to the table they would eat all the food because they’re a bunch of hogs.  I know, there I go about John Edwards again.  He is a horrible person and that’s what we are supposed to remember.  What I choose to remember are the policies he talked about.  He was right about this one.  President Obama invited those pigs in and they ate all the food.  Special deals were made.  Drug companies and insurance companies must have been pretty happy after all of this because they now have new customers that must buy from them.  It’s a closed market.  We are forced to buy from a corporation without any real cost cutting measures in place.  In fact, the people that supported a more progressive agenda for health care issues were not even invited to dine to supply their ideas on this discourse.  The people that really wrote the deal were insiders for the insurance companies.  You can’t play that slight of hand trick with the cards over and over and expect your people to continue to believe in you.  Of course the Democratic Party knows what is best for us even if we don’t.  This elitist attitude is what’s ailing the party.  They just don’t respect the intelligence of their voters.

Many of us Democrats, or used to be Democrats, would like to see the money that is going over to Iraq and Afghanistan come back home and help our war torn societies.  We have spent so much money overseas that we don’t have the money we need to run our city and state governments.  Times are tough.  Most of us want to take care of our own.  Many of us would like to see these wars resolved and the troops brought home.  President Obama was supposedly against the Iraq war but what he has done is really just shift the troops to Afghanistan.  It’s like these wars will never end.  If you have a child in kindergarten, chances are he may be fighting in the Middle East after he graduates!  At home we have to down size everything in our governments which means less police, less service, less education, basically less of everything so we can keep fighting over there.

The Democratic Party is clueless to what was happening with the American people.  The number one priority should have been jobs.  James Carville was right when he said, “It’s the economy stupid!”  It is the economy.  The stimulus package did some good but it fell far short from what it could have done.  The bickering over extending unemployment didn’t help.  Making the unemployment issue into “politics as usual” didn’t help.  When the Democrats cry that they can’t get anything done because they don’t have enough Democrats when they have so many, they appear ‘WEAK”.  They make the Republicans look strong as opposed to appearing just plain bad.  If the Democrats can’t figure out how to run things with the numbers they have, maybe they deserve to lose.  The Republicans didn’t have those numbers but they always managed to get what they wanted when they had control.  This tells me that either there are far too many DINO’s or Republicans are just better at the game.

Another thing that has really bothered me about the Democratic Party is their lack of female candidates.  The Republicans were smart enough to realize that there were a lot of women upset after the 2008 election and the way Hillary was treated.  I have noticed there are a lot of Republican women running for office.  They sound a lot like feminists even though they have a conservative agenda.  I want more women in office.  I could be tempted to vote for a Republican woman just because women are so under represented.  We are over half of the population and yet our laws are still largely written by white men!  When the Democratic Party comes out and attacks these women much like they have this last week with Christine O’Donnell they are tugging at another old wound from 2008.  Many of the women that I have come to know online since 2008 that were Democrats could easily vote for some of these women.  Many would like to see more Democratic female candidates but we recognize that the Democratic Party treats their female candidates horribly.  For as much as the Democratic Party would like us all to believe that they are a “big tent” when it comes to women, they still want us kept in our “place”.  Much like the Catholic Church we are supposed to sit on the sidelines and be supportive.  We are expected to be out at the grass roots level helping to campaign for the candidates.  We can lick envelopes, pass out flyers, make phone calls, canvas an area and make a financial contribution but we aren’t supposed to run the place!

Now I finally come to President Obama.  He governs much like his predecessor.  In fact I think he is a Republican.  He appears to be channeling Ronnie, not Jack or Lyndon and certainly not FDR!  A few weeks ago I heard a woman on CSPAN refer to Barack Obama as a socialist.  I can only wish he would have more of a social agenda.  She is dead wrong.  She said that the media didn’t do their job.  If they had shown what a socialist he was, she and a lot of other people wouldn’t have voted for him.  I thought that was ridiculous.  He really is everything I expected from the election.  I always thought he was more of a Republican and that’s why I didn’t care for him.  I heard his speech the summer of 2007 at the National Education Association conference and he talked about “merit pay”.  (I watched the video on the NEA website.)  Merit pay has always been “union busting” talk from my point of view.  This has been something the Republicans have pushed for years.  It came true under a Democrat.  Unbelievable, but true!  I don’t know exactly how it will work.  I do know that if you want teachers to teach for a test, that is exactly what they will do.  The problem is; it’s just a test.  It may not mean anything when it comes down to real education for your child!  President Obama has also been absolutely insensitive to working class America.  At a time when so many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, he vacations continually.  His family vacations much like President Bush did.  We have seen so many pictures of the Obama family on vacation that they don’t look like they have a care in the world.  President Clinton could “feel our pain”.  President Obama looks and acts like he is clueless to what the American people are going through.  If he had a clue, he would dial down these many vacations.  A lot of people gave up their vacations.  Others haven’t vacationed in years because they can never afford it!

In conclusion, if the Democratic Party loses in November, they have no one to blame but themselves.  It’s not because the Republicans are a better alternative, far from it.  The Republicans are a horrible choice.  It is because the Democratic Party forgot the people that put them where they are today.  We voted them in and gave them their jobs.  We handed the keys to the house and expected it would be taken care of.  Instead when we got home it’s like the wayward teenager that had a party.  Some stuff got broken and it didn’t get fixed.  We’re mad as hell parents looking for answers to our wayward teen’s choices and we are getting ready to ground him.  If the Democratic Party wants us to get fired up to vote them back in, they better start coming up with better excuses for their behavior than what we have been hearing!  They better stop taking all of us for granted.  They better repair the damage they created in 2008 and they better start respecting women!  They also better stop sounding like REPUBLICANS!  If we want a Republican in office, we will vote for them.  They could take care of a big issue right now that would show what a true Democrat would do.  They could let the tax cut for the wealthy expire.  Instead we keep hearing talk of an extension which means in 2012 there will be another fight to either extend it or make it permanent.  If they would act like Democrats right now and vote to extend the tax cuts for the working people and get rid of it for the wealthy, they could maybe save their party!

Truthfully, I should be thanking the Democratic Party.  If they hadn’t stolen my vote in 2008, I might not be writing this today.  I probably would never have even considered dealing with my thoughts on this website at all.  When my son set this up as a place for me to write this past Christmas, it was largely because of the events that happened in 2008.  He knew I was online a lot and writing comments on other sites.  He thought I might like writing my own blog.  I never had really given it much thought.  Now, I have discovered my voice.  In many ways I have always considered myself to be, “Silent Kate”.  I would go online and even post many places under that moniker.  I was a silent voice looking for a home.  I now have my home.  I just don’t have my party.  This woman will be silent no longer.  There are a lot of women out there like me looking for a political party that will actually represent them.  If the Democratic Party would like our votes, they should step up to the plate and encourage more women to run for office and they should stop belittling every Republican woman that runs just because she is a woman.  So, if the Democratic Party loses in November, they deserve it!

The Hoopla Over Christine O’Donnell

  • Posted on September 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Christine O'Donnell looking a lot like Sarah Palin!

Sarah Palin could be Christine's sister!

I must admit I don’t know much about Christine O’Donnell and I truly don’t care.  Since I live in Michigan she really isn’t on my radar.  However, I am having a good laugh watching the two parties, Republican and Democratic fall all over themselves in disgust at her Republican Senate primary win in Delaware.

It all started with Karl Rove when he came out and said she says some crazy things.  He seemed quite upset that she won.  The Republicans thought they had a sure bet with Mike Castle.  What I find humorous about all of this is the fact that the Republicans “hand picked” candidate wasn’t selected by the voters!  Imagine that!  The voters decided they would pick their candidate.  The Republicans can’t get over the fact that the voters have the right to choose who they want to represent them.

On the Chris Matthew’s show he went on to ask some Republican, who I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, if Christine was “qualified” to be a senator.  I thought that sounded pretty elitist.  The truth is there are only three things necessary to qualify to be a senator.

Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for senators: 1) each senator must be at least 30 years old, 2) must have been a citizen of the United States for at least the past nine years, and 3) must be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state he or she seeks to represent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate#Qualifications

There is no IQ test to be a senator.  Otherwise, people like David Vitter would never have been elected!

To top all of this hand wringing off by the Republicans is the behavior of the Democrats.  MSNBC has been a huge supporter of Barack Obama.  Many of the people on that network are like Chris Matthew’s when he got that tingle up his leg.  The morning after she won, I watched “Morning Joe”.  When they showed the “masturbation video” I knew there was more going on than meets the eye.  The Democrats would have everyone believe that she will go down easily in defeat.  I suspect that they really don’t know what will happen as they are protesting far too much.  She looks and sounds a lot like Sarah Palin.  Some people find that very appealing!  During the whole Morning Joe show Joe was quite upset about her win.  Everyone else kept trying to put her down and make fun of her.  Joe kept saying something about her lack of income.  I think I heard a figure of $5800 or so.  He mentioned bankruptcy.  He said she lied about going to Princeton.  Then they played a video of her on the Bill Maher show.  By this time I was laughing like crazy because I suspected all of them, from both parties, gave way too much away by protesting so much.

They have made this into such a big issue that it is obvious that they are both worried.  The Republicans don’t know how to “handle” her and the Democrats are afraid that she might be stronger than they think.

Both parties are owned and operated by the corporations.  Maybe this is the problem.  She seems to be a “nobody”.  I’ve suggested on here that we should vote for the Democrats because they are slightly better than the Republicans.  However, there is no reassurance from where I sit that this is remotely true.  These parties are like brothers.  They play games with the rest of us pretending to be at each others throats.  We suspect that they don’t even like each other.  This is a game to keep us “commoners” thinking they’re actually trying to do something for US!  It’s just like “good cop, bad cop” episodes.

If you watched the memorial service for Teddy Kennedy you would have noticed that many Republicans obviously loved Teddy.  They were friends.  They even joked about which one would be the “bad” one for the press.  If you think I’m making this up go back and watch it.  It’s probably on YouTube.  The point is that “We the people” are the ones that actually vote and these senators “play” us all the time!

Christine O’Donnell managed to get the vote, “the vote from the people”, without an elitist pedigree.  She got Republicans to vote for her.  Whether she can get the votes that she needs to become senator in Delaware remains to be seen by all of us.  All I know is that not one vote has been cast yet.  There is a lot of time between now and the election.  If Democrats want to win, they better stop trashing her.  They’re just going to piss off a lot of women.  Women are already fed up with the Democratic Party because of their treatment of Hillary Clinton.  I can imagine if Christine gets the Hillary/Sarah treatment, women may vote for her in protest.

Republicans started turning around after the twenty four hour gripe period.  However, most people can see through the façade of bullshit they are selling.  They don’t like Christine because she is a Tea Party person.  I guess that’s code for “bat shit crazy right winger.”  You would think they’d be happy with her.  NO!  Both parties want to control everything.  They don’t want US to have a choice.  Christine is the Republican Party choice in Delaware.  The national Republicans will have to live with that.

My thinking is that the current senators aren’t doing such a hot job any way.  What difference will it really make if she wins?  I think people are just fed up with Washington.  It isn’t just Tea Party people.  It’s people like me.  I think a pink bunny could do as well as some of the current senators.  They are vacillating over extending the tax cuts.  They supposedly can’t get it done unless they include the wealthy.  This is just bullshit.  They don’t want to get it done and they don’t want anyone new to come play the game.

As I said in the beginning I don’t know much about Christine and I don’t even care.  However, I do care about the loss of what used to be my Democratic Party.  I’d like my party to embrace women in general.  I’d like to not see them go ape every time a woman, much like Sarah or Hillary, runs for office.  I’d also like to see more Democratic women running for office.  However, it seems like this is the year for Republican women.  Like it or not, if you want to vote for a woman, you may have to vote Republican.  The Democratic Party needs to get out of the dark ages and start encouraging women to run for office.  I’m fed up with these macho, elitist, mostly white, men that make all of the laws that pertain to the rest of us.  Remember half of us are WOMEN!  So the only dog I really have in this fight is the fact that Christine O’Donnell is a woman!  Go figure!

I wasn’t going to add anything to this.  However, Daniel Maxso sent me a video from Newsy.com. which shows conservative pundits firing back at Karl Rove on this issue.  It’s a good video so I’m adding it.  I also am providing a link below it to an article that I read last night that was really interesting on the subject.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbMcO07iQUQ&feature=player_embedded

This is a good op-ed article:

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/09/17/conservative-feminists-grizzlies-or-not-come-out-roaring/

It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child

  • Posted on September 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm
Global Children

We each must do all we can to help our children reach their full potential.

Today President Obama gave an education speech to the children of America.  Our Superintendent, Rob Olsen, required that we have our students watch the speech.  The speech was well received by the students in my sixth grade art class.  We had a discussion after the speech and I truly believe the students liked what they heard.  However, one girl did moan when the president said that they must do their homework.  Listening to the speech I remembered a quote from an African Proverb:  “It takes a whole village to raise a child”.  Of course, Hillary Clinton also made this point in her book, “It Takes a Village.”

It does take a village to raise a child especially today with all of the economic upheaval many families are facing.  All of us, not just teachers and students, need to step up and make sure our children are getting whatever they need to grow into productive, happy adults.  At Sturgis Middle School, where I teach, all the staff really works hard to create a “family” atmosphere with the students.  It has been my experience that our staff of teachers, administrators and support staff all care deeply about the welfare of our students.  It isn’t just about raising scores on a test even though we all put forth much effort to create a positive testing environment.  Many teachers and staff have worked hard to make sure students get what they need when their physical or emotional needs aren’t met.  In fact our mission statement ensures that all of us get what we need to be the best that we can be.  “Sturgis Middle School is dedicated to the academic, emotional and social development of each individual.”  We have always felt that all of us need to be a part of the mission statement.  Teachers need to continually develop their craft just as students hone in on their academic abilities.  We encourage each other whether we are teachers, administrators or support staff to aim high in whatever we are doing in our lives!

When the president spoke today I think it was a very positive speech for students to hear.  They hear these same things from their teachers, family and other important people in their lives but I think there was something special about a president encouraging my students to do their best.  President Obama talked about possibilities.  He told students to stay focused on education.  He said, “Nobody gets to write your destiny but you!”  He also said, “The farther you go in school, the farther you go in life.”  My students took much of what he said to heart.  I asked the students why they think the president said it is more important now than ever before to get a good education.  This prompted much discussion about jobs going to China and such.  However, one resourceful young boy said, “We must get educated so we can take care of the pollution and carbon emissions.”  I thought for his age this was a substantial response as well as very thoughtful.  I told him how President Clinton had told my son’s graduation class from the University of Michigan about the same thing.  President Clinton implied that his generation messed up the world and my son’s generation would have to fix the pollution and such.

President Obama went on to tell the students to show up on time, pay attention in class, do their homework, and that excellence is essential for success.  He reminded them that they couldn’t just sit around waiting for luck to happen and that hard work can make the difference.  He told them that excelling isn’t about being smarter, it’s about working harder than anyone else.  He also encouraged them to encourage each other and to be proud of each other’s successes.  He encouraged them to fulfill the promise to be the best that they can be.  He told them life is precious and filled with diversity but we all should recognize ourselves in each other.  These were all inspiring words for my students.  He closed by mentioning a little girl’s letter from Georgia.  He quoted her letter by saying, “I try to achieve my dreams and help others to do the same.”

That final quote from the girl from Georgia says it all.  We must all step up and help our children and each other achieve our dreams.  We can’t give up and nor should our children when faced with adversity.  We must march on and create a life that is fulfilling and complete.  Our children should be encouraged to be the best they can be and we as adults must help them accomplish their goals.  If you don’t have a child or you are not a teacher, think about mentoring a child, assisting a coach, volunteering at a school or anything else that supports our children.  If you cannot be present then give your support through charitable organizations that help children get the clothes, heat and other essentials that they need.  We must all remember that education is not just taught by a teacher with a degree.  We can all help in the education of our youth by remembering that it does indeed take a village to raise a child!

September 11th and Liberty

  • Posted on September 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind completely around September 11th memorial celebrations.  I didn’t have anyone that perished in the towers or on the planes.  I don’t even know anyone that knows someone that did lose someone. That being said, I just want to say I think these times have been used this year mostly for political reasons.  The build up to the memorial celebrations have seen a month of anti Islamic sentiment seen all over our country.  This too, I see as political.  This November the Republicans are expected to take control of Congress.

The reason for all of this is not exactly clear.  They certainly aren’t being “rewarded” for their competency as they have done nothing the past two years.  We could say Democrats may lose for their lack of competency as well as they have managed to spend a lot of time on everything but the most important issue, jobs and the economy.  One thing is clear about both of these parties.  They both use September 11th as a time when they can declare their love of country and determination to one again feel the pain of every American and attempt to draw us all back into a time of “unity”.

However, there is no unity for the unemployed or those first responders suffering without complete benefits and recognition for giving their “best” to their country.  Politicians grab the spotlight and shine it on themselves in an attempt to garner votes and goodwill for largely their own purposes.  Behind the scenes are innocent Americans waiting for their unemployment check, a job or hoping their cancer treatments will work and if not, their country will step up and secure their family’s future.

I have to admit September 11th is still a mystery to me.  I remember when it happened.  I was in my classroom with my middle school students.  Our school principal got on the loud speaker and wanted us all to turn on our television sets.  Everything I witnessed at that time seemed very surreal, like it really wasn’t happening.  I think we all were in a state of shock.  I remember they announced that as many as 50,000 people may have died.  Over the course of the years since that time the amount of people that died has been stated to be around 4000, then 3000, and today on CNN as 2752.  The reason I mention the number is that it was used to really prepare us for war.  The higher the number, the angrier we became about being “attacked”.  Imagine my surprise today at the “new” number I heard.  I acknowledge the fact that if you lost someone, the number doesn’t matter.

What’s troubling me about September 11th now is the way that it is being politically put into our psyches as the day of remembrance for all time.  It’s hard to know what to make of all this.  On one side are the conspiracy theory people that think the buildings were imploded and the government played a part in allowing this to happen.  On the other side sits the government and their version that does seem to change as time becomes history.  This is evidenced by the continually changing numbers of victims but also by the continual mind manipulation of the American people.

As a youngster I remember the assassination of President Kennedy.  For me that was a frightening memory that stayed with me for years.  However, we, as a people, were not continually indoctrinated with memorials and tributes that I can recall.  Today with September 11th, I feel that much of the memorial presentations are used through the media to keep us under control.  They serve as a reminder of hatred and who we should continue to hate so we will continue to wage war, even if it is really an “undeclared” war.

Yes, I know the government has labeled it “THE WAR ON TERRORISM”.  However, we have not declared war, so this “war” can go on forever and have no “end”.  We can fight this thing called terrorism and call it a war and keep everyone scared and frightened for as long as the government chooses to do so.  That is kind of scary as we continue to follow rules like sheep that are herded to and fro without questioning any kind of authority.  Ever so often the government has to step in and remind us what we are fighting for because we are a people with a limited attention span.  We aren’t in the middle of the fight, so we tend to forget about Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s real for the soldiers, their families and the people from both of those countries but for most of us, it does not affect us on a daily basis.  President Bush said we’re fighting them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here.  Everyone likes that sentiment because no one wants to fight “them” in their backyard.

This past month with all of the crazy anti Islamic sentiment, one thing has been made clear to me.  There are many people in this country that really think the Muslims are going to take over the United States of America and declare “Sharia” law.  When I look up what Sharia law is, I find all kinds of varying information.  I know the people who think the Muslims are taking over the United States have a distinct version of Sharia law that includes anti women and children sentiment.  I know this is why my two brothers think we are in a “Holy War”, a war based on Christians and Muslims.  It seems to me that there is a “right wing” faction that is currently manipulating people through the media to keep their base in a “state of hate” to insure getting that base out to vote.  What they’re voting for is beyond comprehension, returning to power the very Republicans that took us to the brink of disaster with our economy and war.  What is more troubling is the breeding and spreading of this hatred.  We have all heard about the possible book burning that ended up not happening.  This man was nobody, but he was elevated by constant media attention.  On the left people were proclaiming him as being “crazy”.  However, the right wing base now knows what they have to do.  They have to get out and vote.  Vote for the right wingers, the Tea Party people, anyone that fits into the mold that they have carved out as being “right” on the issues.

I’m scared for our country.  September 11th with its self proclaimed “unity” has divided our country completely.  On one side are people like my brothers and on the other side are people that think “they” are crazy.  In between all of this sits the clueless masses that don’t think politics affects them.  They go on with their every day lives doing what they do on a daily basis without any thought given to all of this.  They continue to board planes like sheep.  They will stop and let the police search their cars for no reason.  They do their jobs and pay their taxes and hope that’s enough for serving their country.  They won’t read this.  Most won’t even think beyond what the government has told them to think.  They will live productive lives raising children, working and living life as they see fit.  Maybe they are better off not thinking about all of this, but for me I think about the unemployed.  I think about endless wars.  I think about dishonest, corrupt politicians.  I think about a compromised government.  I think we can be better than we are currently being.  I think about liberty and the cost of doing nothing.  I think about freedom and the price and toll it takes on our country.  Most of all, I think I have as much right as an American to express myself as that crazy Koran burning, nut job, in Florida!

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