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All posts for the month December, 2012

School Daze

Published December 30, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

 

Professional Diatribe Part One Draft One

I spent the last week with my in-laws.  I have three nieces ages 11, 6 and 16 months.  I have the great fortune of the opportunity to spend some quality time with each of the.

The 11 year old blew my mind one morning when we had a conversation about the English Language that covered hyperbole, simile, metaphor, cliché and colloquialism.  This was initiated by her and went on for about an hour.  This was also early in the morning and before I had coffee.   The six year old and I spent time together mixing cookie dough.  She is very patient and consulted the recipe to make sure I was gathering the ingredients in the correct order.  The 16 month old and I had a glorious forty minutes moving the carefully gathered boxes and gift wrap from one room to the next.  (She did most of the work; I just helped by holding out my hand when she was unsure of the step, and I gave her a boost when she needed the boxes that she couldn’t quite reach.)

As I spent this time with them, I thought about the various factors in a child’s environment that educates them and adds to the development of their personalities and intelligences as they grow.

It is beyond my comprehension that anyone could ever hurt a child.  I know it happens.

The sacrifice of children goes back farther than civilized society would like to think. (Um, Father Abraham, anyone?) There are several incidences of this throughout the evolution of civilized society. It isn’t until early in the 20th century that society has begun to think of children and something other than small adults.

Here is a quick breakdown  of  the history of public education:

“When the need for elementary and Latin schools was decreed in 1647 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the schools they had in mind were a cross between public and private schools. They were public, in that they were mandated by the governing body to serve all. But they were like our current private schools in that they were meant to teach Puritan values and reading the Bible.

In 1785, the Continental Congress mandates a survey of the Northwest Territory. The survey is to create townships, with a portion of each one reserved for a school. These land grants came to be the system of public land grant universities in the years 1862 to 1890. These universities include many of those named “University of <state name>” or “<state name> State University,” such as University of Vermont and Pennsylvania State University.

In 1790, the state constitution in Pennsylvania required free public education for children in families that could not afford to pay for an education. Also concerned about the education of poor children, the New York Public School Society in 1805  set up schools that had a school master to teach the older children with a system in place for the older children to teach those who were younger.

In 1820, Boston is the site of the first public U.S. high school. And in 1827, a Massachusetts law makes all grades of public school free to all. Massachusetts innovation continues with the state’s first Board of Education formed in 1837, headed by Horace Mann. And in 1851, Massachusetts makes education compulsory.

During Reconstruction, from 1865-1877, African Americans work to encourage public education in the South. With the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, “separate but equal’ becomes an acceptable approach, not only on railroad cars, but in education, and public school are soon required by law to be racially segregated.

Vocational education is first funded when the Smith-Hughes Act passes in 1917, and by 1932, students in public schools are being slotted into multiple tracks based on the results of so-called “intelligence tests.”

In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” also says that they must be abolished. There is no immediate move to do so. In 1957, when a Federal court says that public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas must be integrated, the Governor of Arkansas sends the state National Guard to prevent it. In response, President Eisenhower sends Federal troops to make sure that the court order is enforced.

The Supreme Court decision in Miliken v. Bradley in 1974-that desegregation cannot take place across school districts-creates practical limits to desegregation efforts in urban districts as well as those in wealthy suburbs. Also in 1974, District 4-the Harlem District of New York City Schools-creates an intra-district school choice program.

In the 1980s, the first charter schools are set up in Minnesota.

In 1990-91, the first voucher legislation that allows a choice of public or private secular schools is passed by the Wisconsin legislature. Also in 1991, Minnesota creates a statewide, inter-district choice system, which has spread to sixteen more states in the next decade.

In 1994, Proposition 187, which says that it is illegal for children of illegal immigrants to attend public school is passed in California. It is declared unconstitutional in Federal court.

In 1995, religious schools become an accepted alternative in Wisconsin’s school choice program, and the following year, Ohio allows vouchers to be used for religious schools.

By the 1999-2000 school year, a quarter of K-12 students are no longer attending their local neighborhood school, according to a survey conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) .”

(http://www.educationbug.org/a/history-of-public-schools.html)

The best of intentions always look great on paper.

A lot of things have changed.

I personally think that standardized testing is the proof that evil walks among us, but is standardized testing solely to blame for the current, shoddy state of affairs?

Possibly, but blaming one individual factor is just as terrible as not taking into consideration of the individual at all.  (Think it out slowly, it will make sense.)

Somehow, our best intentions created this warehousing of children. We began to think of schools as a way to create good employees for mass production. (I’m speaking in generalities, so back away from the comment link.)

In educating the masses, we forgot how to take time for the little things.  The little things are the most important. Yes, it is quite exhausting holding the hand of the little child as they figure out what the next step is and staying ever vigilant to give them that step up. Exhausting, but not impossible.

End of part one, draft one. 

Sponsored by Sharon and Sarah

Published December 29, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I spent most of today rereading a book I don’t really remember reading in the first place, “Dreamland” by Sarah Dessen.

I’ve always enjoyed her books and I have read most of them so I got it on Ebook from the library to reread when my brain was too tired to process new information.

There is a quote from the book that made me pause

” It’s funny how someone’s perception of you can be formed without you even knowing it.”

It very neatly sums up thoughts I had when I finished reading “Annexed ” by Sharon Dogar

Annexed is the story behind The Diary of Anne Frank as told from Peter’s point of view.

Imagine if you will that billions of people worldwide have a perception of you based solely on another’s person’s thoughts and impressions of you over two years when you were not at all your best, to say the very least.

How do you comprehend a total stranger’s very being based on skewed ideas of what has happened around you?

My mind is boggled.

This is why I need crime drama and more TV.  My brain has a tendency to get me into trouble.  My neurons are shouting and racing around, a lot like my nieces who are in the other room playing Mario Kart.

They are making less noise than my own head.

 

Long road trip tomorrow.

I’m going to go bribe my brain with Ambien and an episode or two of silly animation.

 

 

I’ll take that challenge, Jane

Published December 27, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Once again I find myself having trouble focusing.  (Still Furby related.  I’m going to give Santa a good whomp across the chops for THAT little bit of genius)

I’m feeling a bit sick. Both of my nieces have the Flu. We did NOT discover this until the 24th. It’s worth the exposure to have the time with the girlies, but I am having the beginnings of an earache and my head is a bit hurty.  (Come to think of it, that might also be Furby related.

At any rate, I am having trouble focusing on the actual work I am supposed to be doing, so as I was cruising through XO Jane. (Oh Jane Pratt, what would I do without you?) I came across her list of things she couldn’t get anyone to write about this week.

She publishes this every week, it’s  a list of things that she would have like to have had written about for the site. (Now, if I were ever to have the privilege of being on the staff, I would do pretty much anything Jane wanted me to do, up to, and including getting her shoes resoled and finding a way to make that sound fascinating and thrilling and a Must Do for everyone of a certain age.)

One of the topics was the new update of the Rules.

You remember The Rules, don’t you?

For those of you playing the home game, here is a direct quote from the Website:

            WHAT ARE THE RULES?

Want to know the secrets for dating? Want the formula for being
desirable and mysterious in text messages, on Facebook, and via
Skype? Unsure why guys aren’t asking you out? Tired of booty calls
and casual relationships that go nowhere? Sick of being single? Then
you need
, The Rules

 

If you desperately want to see the website, or just want to make sure  that I haven’t had another stroke and am making all of this up. (Trust me, I could not, would not make this up.)  Here’s the address

http://therulesbook.com/

The Rules have now been adapted to suit the digital age and boy are the tongues awagging!

According to London’s Daily Mail online version, Elle Magazine and Beyonce endorse  this lifestyle, while Jezebel is horrified at how Feminism was just gunnysacked back to the 1950’s  and further more:

“Fein and Schneider reinforce the principle that men thrive on being the aggressor and appreciate a woman who sets boundaries.

But critics say they are outdated, sexist, anti-feminist – and that they confuse and mislead men.

‘Rules Girls’, say Fein and Schneider are ‘savvy women who know how to return texts and emails to a man without seeming desperate, how to maintain a cool Facebook profile without giving away too much and how to spot cheaters and players, and avoid them like the plague’.

The Rules mainly preach the notion that women should play hard to get in order to get their Mr Right …. do you agree?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2248069/Controversial-dating-manual-The-Rules-new-game-playing-guidelines-digital-age.html#ixzz2GIEIafHw

This kind of reminds me of the “Get Him” system that was advertised  in the back of YM magazine in the late 1980’s (Please, please, please don’t ask me how I know.)

Of course, the idea was pushed on  more adult level by Cosmopolitan by suggesting that if you want to land your man, you should wear red underwear. If he’s in a position to see your underwear, you’ve either already landed him or it’s Amateur Night, so you might actually emerge victorious. (I was at a party with a guy I really liked and one of the sluttier guests mentioned that she wasn’t wearing underwear, but if she was, it would be read.  Guess which end of the equation SHE was on? )

Mercifully, this kind of thing was not pushed, promoted or encouraged by Jane’s fabulous Sassy Magazine.

And we’re back.

Moles to whack.

Published December 26, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I almost called this “Cursing the random mole.” But sometimes a mole isn’t always a mole.  I didn’t want to leave the impression that I sit around staring into a mirror waiting to pound various skin eruptions into submission.  (There ARE some things that are too crazy for me to do.)

What I was trying to say with the title (Titles are my worse thing, almost as bad as my tendency to parenthesize my tangents.)  is that while there are some topics that become emergent, there are some that just pop out, mole like and to properly whack them back down, I must follow them to their sometimes absurd, but mostly logical conclusion.

I am making myself get back to the normal. It’s not easy, because someone gave all three of my nieces a Furby for Christmas.  It’s not entirely bad, but when they get going (The Furbies, not the nieces) They just don’t shut up until you turn them to face the wall. (This sometimes works with the nieces, but it’s Christmas, and I wouldn’t have the heart to do that.)

So I’m sitting here trying to write, and I can’t focus on a specific topic (Not that this is anything new.)  But I can’t really pick out one topic on which to write.  When I find myself in this situation, I go to XO Jane and cruise the articles. There is always something comment worthy.

Interestingly enough the article I read, one of the It Happened to Me things, was actually something that Katboy and I had talked about. (Not the topic of this particular one, just the concept in general.

The actual article brushed on the topic of the Misery Memoir. In case you are stumped (Not that kind of stump, although if you were a tree, you would probably prefer to read something online and not on paper, because reading something on actual paper would have an Ed Gein-like creepster vibe.)  the Misery Memoir is the “I had a truly heinously awful childhood/trauma/bizarre experience, and here it is in graphic detail. ( I AM IN NO WAY SLAMMING OR CRITICIZING PEOPLE WHO HAVE SURVIVED THESE EVENTS AND WROTE ABOUT THEM, IN FACT, SNAPS TO YOU, SERIOUSLY.)

The most well known of these is A Child Called It, by  Dave  Pelzer.  If you want to a list to consult, Goodreads has a good one featuring several by Cathy Glass.

I have had quite a few interesting things happen to me, but I don’t really know if they are “It Happened to Me” material.  I think a lot of them are more, “It Happened to Me, but so what?”  By the time I get enough perspective on one of the truly bizarre things it feels like it happened to someone else and I start thinking, “Well, that was stupid, so what?”

I think that particular mole is whacked for awhile.  I won’t be surprised if it jumps back out.

My niece is talking about the way different genders approach Kleenex disposal.

I didn’t expect that Mole.

Confused by my own metaphor

Published December 22, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

What kind of hubris is it that I can know what I mean when I trot out a word like “hubris” and know exactly what it means and have some kind of pretension retention and trace it’s origins from the Greek.  I can even tell  you exactly how Bill Olds looked when he repeated it over and over again to get the wording correct before the Theatre History final.

But I have no idea where I was going when I sat down to write.  I thought, ” If only I could rub my eyeball on the screen.”

I have no idea what that meant or what I wanted it to mean.

I have a hella long road trip tomorrow.

I’m mostly done packing.  I wonder what I will forget.

Possibly my eyeball, or even a few Greeks

And we’re back.

Happy No-Zombies Yet everyone!

Expectant extant

Published December 20, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have been pondering today.  Today could be the last day, (But then again, couldn’t any?) I know a lot of people will be going bat poop crazy, so just in case the Zombies, the Mayans or the cast of Supernatural (mmm, Jared Padalecki)decides to pull the plug on the whole grid tomorrow, these are some things I have been thinking about.

Carl Sagan, who is way smarter than me sums it up pretty well.

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

I don’t think Zombies are going to ooze forth from the Earth’s crust tonight at Midnight, but I do think people are going to be stupid, no matter what.   Some schools are closing tomorrow (Michigan) because they are afraid that something is going to happen because of threats that have been made on Twitter.  (I could not make this up.)

But last week wasn’t the purported end of days, and someone committed a heinous stupidity. (I can’t even think about that because it makes my brain shut down. (Which may pop me under the Zombie radar, come to think, or not think about it.)  I, for one, want to hear my kid’s voice sometime this evening, not because of the whole End o’ the World thing, but because he’s flying out of NYC tomorrow, and stupid crap happens to him on a regular  basis.

No matter what happens, all we have left is the words we spoke and the thoughts we shared.  Every choice we made during our time on the Pale Blue Dot.

Today was fun. I have a roof over my head and enough income to afford me a tasty coffee beverage. I have the bandwith to view a video of my 16 month old niece dart around and decide that she no longer required her shirt, then pat her stomach when she succeeded in stripping.  I am lucky that my other nieces live in a place where they could go to school and make it home safely.   I got to spend time with each of parents this week. I hugged my husband recently (I was asleep when he got home last night and when he left this morning.) I got to sleep with my head resting on a freshly laundered bunny.

There’s enough cat food in the house to feed the stray that hangs out in our driveway.

All things considered, it’s been a good day.

Ideally I will be around to post tomorrow.

If not, try and outrun the Zombies, or at least be faster than the next guy!

Where did it go?

Published December 20, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I was looking at it earlier. The day. It was steamy and kind of unpleasant, but had potential, kind of like homemade play dough.  I thought, if nothing else, I can roll it up into a giant snail and etch a smiley face on it. The Whimsy would be worth it.  But, alas, whimsy did not last.  Now almost 12 hours later, I have no idea where it went.  I had so many plans for you, day.  I was so excited when I discovered that I had finished most of my actual “work”, I planned to work ahead, but the next thing I know, it was dark. and I’m tired. 

Thank you, day, it was interesting.  I am going to lie down now.  I will see you tomorrow.