Monday, January 7, 2008

Health Care

I know I'm not alone in the feeling that this country needs to do something big about our health care system. My first post in a long time is just a recommendation to read this article from Common Dreams . . . we're all going to have to become more informed if we don't want stupid people running our government. (Would smarter voters lead to smarter government? Hmmm)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sick of Guns

Watching our local news, Mark will tell you, is not my favorite thing to do. It seems like we have plenty of shootings here - sometimes on the streets of the poorer areas of the city, but usually in what looks like nice, middle-class neighborhoods. The explanation often goes like this: "the shooting (killing) took place after an argument" . . . Whaaa ?

Then there is the man who traveled from Las Vegas down to Georgia to shoot and kill his ex-wife, who had started a new life down in that southern state.

Oh yes, and the nice little "feature piece" on the NBC nightly news the other night about a woman who was a "wife, mother, and corporate executive" (a description, I assume, that is supposed to make her sound respectable) who just loves to go out target-shooting with her automatic rifle.

Several times during the most recent school year, a co-worker confided in me about her family problems - two teenage boys who were back and forth in a "running away from home" cycle. After one of these incidents, she reported that several of their guns were missing. A few weeks later, it happened again, and she just hoped that her husband had "locked up the rifles".

Call it over-reaction, but the main reason I don't put the bumper sticker that I like on the back of my car is that I'm afraid one of the right-wing idiots out there might shoot me.

So, you say, what prompted all this thought after months without using this lovely blog that Rachel and Steve set up for me? Well, it was this quote I came across while reading a professional journal:

"Common sense should tell us that reading is the ultimate weapon - destroying ignorance, poverty, and despair before they can destroy us. A nation that doesn't read much doesn't know much. And a nation that doesn't know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box, and the voting booth . . . The challenge, therefore, is to convince future generations of children that carrying a book is more rewarding than carrying guns. "
- Jim Trelease, author, The Read-Aloud

Monday, January 8, 2007

How NCLB Changed My Life

Today is the fifth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act, and Margaret Spellings, our lovely Secretary of Education, celebrated by giving a speech to none other than the Chamber of Commerce. (And why not? The NCLB law has done more to benefit large corporations than it has done to benefit students - think McGraw-Hill.) My unfortunate addiction to C-SPAN provided me with the first-hand experience and it was quite a thrill to listen to MY leader spouting off about how her beloved law was beginning to make teachers more accountable.

So, to celebrate this wonderful anniversary, I will tell you how NCLB has changed my life as an educator. Before, as a Literacy Specialist, it was my job to help teachers in my building keep up on best practices in the area of teaching reading, as well as to pull out and work with groups of students who, for a variety of reasons, were struggling with reading. Well, Margaret's favorite law has changed all that. Now it is my job is to make sure that teachers are spending enough time on test-taking strategies, and to coordinate the district, state, and national tests in my building.

Just this month, I am administering a national assessment to certain ELL (English Language Learner) students in Grades K - 5. This is not a small test - each grade level has a booklet about 25 pages long, and it takes several sessions to test each group of students. Also in January - next week - our fifth graders take the Nevada Writing Proficiency examination, which is administered in three one-hour sessions. And, we end the month with the 4th Grade Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a national standardized test - also a relatively thick booklet which is administered over three days.

I could go on . . . but it's late, I'm tired, and tomorrow I spend the day in the fifth grade classrooms doing test prep lessons for the upcoming writing exam . . .


(There, Rachel, was that more like the mom you know and love?)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Way It Should Be

Mark and I watched a documentary ordered from Netflix yesterday. It was one of the movies we'd had since a few weeks before Christmas and hadn't had time to watch. Little did I know that this film would keep me from writing a proper RANT on this my first official post. But I just want to recommend a movie that shows what I think education SHOULD be all about. It's called Paper Clips, and it's about a project undertaken by a middle school in rural Tennessee. It may already sound boring to you, but it's an excellent story, as well as a tear-jerker. (I used more kleenexes on this one than I have in a long time.) I assure you the students who participated in this project did some authentic learning. Good thing they started on it before George was "elected" President.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas . . . Happy Holidays!

Well, I just received the gift of a blog all set up and ready to go. Watch out, everybody, because now you're going to hear my rants about education and politics - sometimes in combination, sometimes not.

Thank you, Rachel and Steve - you are both too wonderful to tell about in a blog :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Rant, from the mother of Anxiety and the wife of Incite.