Friday, June 28, 2013

A Case For Teachers

I have no qualms about sharing my discontent about the state of public education.  To be more specific it's not the state of ALL public education, but much of it I think can be improved, revamped and overhauled.  My greatest concerns are the increasing amount of corporate money and power being funneled into education, the push for standardized testing and privatization and the especially treatment of teachers and children.

I recently came across this scathing letter from Congresswoman Liz Pike .  To say that I was appalled and saddened does not even begin to cover the range of outrage this letter instilled.

First of all, I'm not sure I even understand Rep. Pike's letter.  After her initial sarcastic remark congratulating teacher for the end of the school year, she goes one to fret about her career choices, as if for this too we should blame all teachers.  What I really don't understand is that Ms. Pike states that she chose a career in the private sector.  What?  How is being a state representative a private sector job?

She goes on to pat herself on the back for choosing a career where she is a taxpayer that funds salaries and benefits for employees in local school districts, as if she is one of the elites that contributes to society.  I would like to point out to Ms. Pike that most citizens pay taxes that go to fund, not just schools and teachers, but also Congressmen and women, police, firefighters, parks etc.  Even TEACHERS pay taxes, so please don't give yourself all the credit.

She goes on to compare our education system with others (out there) in the world.  This caused me to wonder exactly how familiar Ms. Pike is with global education pedagogy.  Much of the world education system is quite similar to our own, which has it's roots and history in Prussia.  In fact the leader in education at the moment is Finland, a country that has NO MANDATED STANDARDIZED TESTING!  The people running Finnish schools are educators, not business people or military personnel or (gasp!) politicians.  And of course, "Teachers from all over the nation contributed to a national curriculum that provided guidelines, not prescriptions."

Perhaps instead of getting all hot under the collar because the people she works for (that's right Ms. Pike, your employers are the very teachers you are criticizing.)  She should listen with sincere concern and perhaps even educate herself in regards to the world and what they're doing to improve things.  I assure you it's not bashing the very people that care and educate our children.  Ms. Pike goes on to attack teachers unions.  While I'm not a huge fan of teachers unions, I unlike Ms. Pike, can see that without them our teachers would be further abused and marginalized thereby further deteriorated the state of education that is already cheating our children.

Ms. Pike goes on to do the unthinkable.  She suggests that if teachers are unhappy with their pay, they should look for jobs elsewhere.  I sincerely hope, teachers don't do this.  I have to admit though, a small part of me wants to call on a huge massive walk out by teachers and my hope would be that the community that daily relies on these individuals to care and educate our children stand in solidarity with them.  Part of me hopes the positions go unfilled, that mothers and fathers have to stay home from work to care for their children.  In my wildest dreams, this action would lead to an economic standstill, it would lead to corporations giving up on their ill-conceived curriculums and stop the Michelle Rhee's and the Walton's of the world in their tracks,  Mostly I hope it would lead to Ms. Pike actually having to find a job in the private sector.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Kids spend day after day asking why.  Why is the sky blue?  Why do birds fly?  You know the drill.  How often do we, as parents, ask why?  Parents come in all types.  There are those that suddenly find that they will be parents without any previous plan.  Some will welcome the news, some will worry or be sad.  Some plan for years.  Some adopt.  Some are young, some are (ahem) like me, a bit older.  What is true for many parents is that there is no real training other than how we were raised.  Some may have carried an egg around in high school.  I think we are all in agreement that raising children is as far removed from keeping an egg safe as you can get.  (Although there are those days that if you kept them safe, fed and changed their diaper on occasion, we call it a triumph.)

What if as parents, we asked why as often as our curious children?  What if the majority of the expectations, lessons, words etc. were prefaced with the question why?   What if instead of going through the motions on auto pilot because it's what your parents did or what your preacher tells you or it's what you do without thought, what if you stopped and asked yourself why you're doing what you're doing?  What if you asked yourself, what is the purpose of this word, this action?  What is my goal?  What do I want to accomplish, teach, gain, learn and why?

Yes, it might get as exhausting as answering your own child's why, but it may also lead to growth and purpose.  We are not striving for perfection, but we should be striving for purpose.  Answering why is what  gets us on that road.


p.s. Here is an unrelated link to a  wonderful "Why" post. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Change Is Inevitable

In just a couple of days Ivy League West Preschool and Daycare will be closing it's doors.  I want to thank all the wonderful children and parents that have been a part of our lives for the past three years.  It's been an honor and joy to share a small part of your lives through play and learning.

My family and I will be relocating back to So. California.  My parents are in their 80's and while healthy and cognitive, they are slowing down becoming a bit overwhelmed by the day to day minutiae of life.  So we are moving in to help and most likely at times to hinder.  Life is messy sometimes, this is one of those times.

Combing two households, four adults and two children (and a stray cat that comes and goes) is no easy feat.  Add to it the stages of life, two elderly, one mid-life, one Peri-menopausal and  two entering puberty (one boy and one girl to really shake things up).  Then there are the other stages; two retired (no schedule to speak of), one working full-time, one stay at home mom who homeschools (something I'm not sure my parents quite grasp), volunteers and likes to grow her own food and two children who are marching to the beat of their own drum (each different).  The challenges ahead are monumental.

If we survive (and I have no doubt we will) the rewards will also be monumental.  My parents and I have had our share of challenges.  I wasn't the worst child in the world but I know I'm responsible for at least half of the gray hairs (not that my mom at 80-something has any gray, thanks to a four week standing hair appointment).  Those two have always stuck by me through thick and thin.  Sometimes voicing their disapproval loudly and well, disapprovingly.  Sometimes biting their tongues until they bled. (figuratively speaking, of least I think).  So the short  story of why we're moving in with them is that I owe them big time.  Of course that's what I tell people who have no time or interest to hear the long version. 

To you my captive audience, to you I give the long version.  (lucky ducks!)

We're moving in because even though I'm raising my kids differently than I was raised, my parents were really wonderful parents.  They were involved but not too much (except during my early 20's, really that was a bit much.)  They worked hard and gave us some pretty memorable vacations.  They weren't just wonderful parents, they are great people.  People I would keep in touch with even if we weren't related.  They shared so much of their lives with me and I view it as an honored that they want to share more.  I think my children will benefit from being closer to them and seeing them more than two or three times a year.  I want them to know that you don't discard people because their old or sick or challenged or too young etc.  People have an inherent value.  These two people in particular who sacrificed for me to have a better life than they did, these two people who love us unconditionally, (even while at time disapproving of my actions)  are especially deserving of our love, compassion and patience.

Leading by example is not always easy but it's the right thing to do.  Wanting to do something (not just to provide a lesson) makes the right thing to do a little easier.  So it's not such a long version after all.  We're moving in with my parents because it's what we want and it's the right thing to do

Ivy League-West Educational Services will continue to provide support to parents, teachers and children.  Details of on-line courses and workshops in So. California will be posted here in the next couple of months.  Our Facebook page will remain open as a source of support and inspiration.  So stick around.  The changes are monumental and so will are the rewards.  I guarantee it.