Sunday, August 23, 2009

I got my kid a better Teacher!

Last year I had to transfer my eldest from the superb Treetops International Charter school in Euless, TX. To a neighborhood school here in Illinois.

Not only was the school rating lower, but his teacher was completely disinterested in engaging me as a parent. The students worked in workbooks ALL DAY!

He only had three weeks there, but it was torture. I am pursuing my teaching degree and I wanted to slap her with my righteous indignation. But, alas I did not. However, much like doctors, I think teachers should have to take a Hippocratic Oath of sorts.

So thank the Lord for personal contacts, because I was able to find a school whose attitude better fits our family. I meet his new teacher in Monday, and am much more excited than he currently is.

Let the learning begin!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Getting in the way of What I'm feeling

It is so much easier to dream grand dreams. And save the world in your thoughts than it is to get dirty and be used.

It's far prettier to touch a life in your heart, and launch an effort in your mind than it is to adopt an orphan. Or reduce your paper waste.

It's the stinky, smelly people, ungrateful persons that we meet in the alley that need our attention. Not the beautiful helpless creatures in our daydreams.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chicago's own Uprising

Hat-tip to Schools Matter for posting about the educational uprising taking place within the Chicago Public Schools system.

Apparently a organization of teachers called C.O.R.E or Coalition of Rank and File Educators has had enough of being ignored in the school reform process.

They have filed a grievance against the city of Chicago and are quite displeased with President Obama's Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, as well.

Over the past few years schools have been closed and wide swatches of experienced, and predominately African American teachers have been fired. The replacement teachers have been non-minority and less experienced than their predecessors. Educators have not be consulted or brought into the conversation on how to improve CPS.

C.O.R.E seems to have a legitimate arguments. It will be interesting to see whether their cause will spark national/statewide media attention, or the President's ear; since this is indeed his community.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Iran

My heart is with the Iranian people.

Friday was their Presidential election. It appears as though the entire episode was a sham.

Now the people have risen in revolt. They want their votes counted.

I stand in solidarity with these brave men and women. And I hope President Obama continues to express his desire to see the Iranians allowed to protest without fear of reprisal.

When Russia bombed Georgia in 2008, then Republican Presidential contender John McCain said we are all Georgians, however the U.S. stopped short of having any meaningful impact on the situation.

Today I pray that we are all Iranians. And that Americans would show their support for this nation of people wanting rightful representation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What makes People join Cults/Stay in UnHealthy Relationships?

Growing up I took quite a while to come out of my proverbial shell.

I was quiet and preferred the company of my mother as opposed to almost anyone else. But I do recall watching people. Their faces, listening to the words they used and the actions they took.

I thought mistakes were unnecessary. I wanted to figure what was right and do that for as long as possible.

Well, you can see how that could pose problems later. Not only did I fail to see the value of learning from failure, but I also had developed an all or nothing, do or die, judgemental attitude to life.

That thinking set me up to be the perfect candidate to join an Organization that claimed to have 'figured it all out'. Young, disillusioned and impressionable. Yep, I fit the bill. At least for a while....

After some years of mind control and manipulation, I began to do what I had honed as a child. I watched people. Their equivocations. Body language. Actions.

Next I did the unmentionable. I started to ask questions. Like "Why?"

Why is your answer the only correct one? What's wrong with debating something openly? Isn't this a personal issue that I should decide?

So it was all downhill from there. Or perhaps uphill, in that it took a while to trust my personal instinct and people again. I also had to forgive myself for having made a mistake. And accept it as life. Something that I have only just found peace with this very weekend.

The Organization used bullying, cajoling, then ostracizing in an attempt to minimize the affects of my defection.

The sad part; that made me relive this experience, is that I interact regularly with people who are still under the sway of someone else.

Some are in fact members of the said Organization. While others are just in unhealthy, life-draining relationships. Both lead to a sense of deep disturbance, guilt, and dissatisfaction. The type that can't be remedied or explained away.

Some of these individual understand the reasoning behind the listlessness and lack of joy, while others refuse to put their fingers on the pulse of what's wrong.

Its a hard, hard thing to do. To break away from something that is eating your soul alive. To do so would mean to set out in the unknown. It would also mean admitting to have made a mistake. To have "wasted years" so to speak. Sometimes letting your personal err become public keeps even the most brave people silent and sentenced.

All I can do for the people I know and love is what my mother did for me. Love them. Listen to them.

And ask questions.

Sonia, Sonia!

Today President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor as the third woman and first Hispanic to the Supreme Court.

Well, I must say I have been rooting for her since Souter's pending retirement was announced.

Sotomayor is a Bronx native, who lost her father at age 9. Her mother worked as a nurse to support their family. Judge Sotomayor went on to attend Yale Law school and served as an editor to the Law Review.

If/when nominated Sotomayor will have more judicial experience than anyone currently serving on the bench (or for the past 100yrs for that matter).

Huffpost has blogged about her extensively.

I am sure some may get into an anti-Affirmative Action frenzy. But this Latina sister is well-qualified for the Supreme Court bench.

Chris Rock says in The Black List by Elvis Mitchell, "My father told me I could never beat white people, but I could knock them out."

I have never felt the need to "beat white people". Mine has always been a competition with myself and my peers, whether they be black or white.

But I understand the sentiment. This woman is deserving of this position and honor. And she has had to work darn hard in order to even be considered. She knocked the competition out.

However, today marks first day in the war to diminish her accomplishments.

But in the meantime.......I love you Sonia, Sonia!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stop in the name of LOVE

Ok, perhaps I have some living or growing up to do. But a "dear friend" of mine recently said something very hurtful to me. Along the lines of "You're a disappointment, I feel sorry for you."

And it truly broke my heart.

I try to respect the people in my life and especially those in my inner circle. And I have never intentionally and definitely not publicly insulted another person before.

I stick close to my sisters and fam. Any other friendships I have with non-relatives have either blossomed into sisterhoods or pleasantly remain as acquaintances.

So for someone to attack me for having an opinion different than their own really hurts.

I guess I'm not a heartbreak-by-your-former-sister 'virgin' anymore.

Thanks "Sister".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Say it Ain't so Uncle Sam, say it ain't so!

As a military spouse of eight years, I have seen and heard of many Heterosexuals dishonoring their uniform by unseemly conduct. Whether it be off color jokes. Inappropiate flirting. And in some cases violent behavior.

But I have Never, Never seen or heard of homosexual misconduct. Never. Not once in eight years. Not even rumors.

Now the realist in me knows, there had to of been cases of Gay service members caught in unbecoming circumstance at least some of the time. But the most prevalent and personally disturbing cases I've had contact with have all included Straight service members. (To my knowledge)

So imagine my horror when I click on The Rachel Maddow show, for the first time in many months, due to a military move. Only to find her speaking with a newly discharged Airman of 18 years. An F-15 fighter pilot no less.

Eighteen damn years!

An airman who not only received over $25 million worth of training and education from the service, but who had also served with distinction; having been awarded a number of medals.

He has been discharged for being GAY!

Not for disorderly conduct. Not for insubornation. Not for endangering his brethern. But for who he protentially kisses. I am sorry but WTF. WTF!

Really? This man cannot protect my country or my children because he like men? Really?

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is unqualified to preform his duties because he prefers dudes?


I am ashamed. Ashamed of my community.......

We must stop this. This discrimination goes against everything America stands for and everything he was willing to risk his life to protect.

I am ashamed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

California Dreaming

Watching the Miss USA pageant would have been torture for me, but I have read and viewed several clips about this weekend's show.

Apparently Miss California was in the running to secure the crown until she opened her mouth during the question segment. Perez Hilton asked her if she thought gay marriage should be legalized throughout the U.S. She balked, and then stated that in her country, er family, marriage was between a man and a woman.

Perez cut her with his eyes, some audience members booed and others cheered. And she lost.

Now my problem with this answer is her lack thereof. I don't really care how Miss CA was raised, even though I was raised the same way. As, I have recently learned in my Critical Thinking class, when giving an argument you should lay out why you believe the way you do, and how it is right. Miss CA neglected to do that.

In all probability Perez would have tanked her even if she gave him a thoughtful answer. But the fact that she did not rankles me. Why should your worldview be the law by which everyone else should abide. Don't we have laws that protect justice and equality.

Miss California not only simplified an issue that deserves open and honest debate, but she smiled while doing it. All things being equal, I think I would have booed her too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why it's a really "Good Friday"

We are entering a weekend where Christians all over the world remember and celebrate the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And don't I plenty to be excited about? It is finally Spring. Barack Obama is President. And my husband is gainfully employed. All for which I am extremely thankful.

But I have another idea as to why this is a good Friday.

It's good because I will be returning home soon. Back to "NoGo". The place I so desperately wanted to leave almost ten years ago.

But this time I am returning with a heart of service. Arriving with the realization, that maybe, in a small way I can help someone out. Whether it be through tutoring or mentor-ship, I want to stop pointing a finger, and instead lend a hand.

There is so much that must be done if we are to revitalize our communities, let alone the country! And I am resolved to be part of the solution. All over the nation people are putting their hands to the plow. I join that effort. And I encourage others to do the same.

Whether its taking an elder in. Or driving a youth to practice. Tutoring, or even donating food to local charities. We can make a difference. There's nothing sappy about it. We have seen what happens when Americans fight one another and act suspicious of people who are different. This, our present circumstances, is what happens.

Divided we fail. And we all know just how badly we need to succeed.

If you plan to help out others, please comment and let me know. We can exchange thoughts.

America becoming a community of givers again, that gives me hope that today is truly a Good Friday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So this is what life is like....

My toddlers were arguing today. Yes, a two y/o and three y/o can actually argue.

As my head was volleying back and forth to understand their conflict, it dawned on me that they were really REAL.

I mean of course I've known they aren't dolls. I knew that when I had to wake up every two to three hours to nurse them as babies. But man, the realization that two of my Chocolattes' have independent thoughts and feelings, and positions for goodness sakes; already, was quite startling.

I feel as though its quite possible that when #2 is staring off into space he is really pondering something. It's kinda awe-inspiring. And frightening....

So I said this prayer:

Lord, help me to raise my boys to be thinking, thoughtful, and strong men.

Monday, April 6, 2009

How much do we really care about our childrens' education?

I had a Conference with my first grader's teacher last Thursday. We are moving soon, and I wanted to have a final check in with her about his progress, and what I might possibly need to watch for.

The meeting went well and she was very enthusiastic about the progress he made throughout the year.

After yakking it up for a while, I voiced my concerns to her that the school he would be attending next would not rate as high as Treetops. You see, in choosing a school for him I consulted GreatSchools for ratings, test scores, and parent reviews.

Treetops, a Charter school, ranked above average; and African Americans tested better than students at the school close to my apartment. FYI: I loooove charter schools! In IL, however, charter schools are rare. Not to mention, they are far from home, and local school districts don't accept outsiders, not even military service member's children.

Well, Ms. Sara looked me in the eyes and said, "An involved parent beats a top ranked school any day." And I thought wow. Really? They, I mean, We, do?

She went on to advise me to stay active in his education, and develop a relationship with his new teacher. And my son would continue to do well.

This was all well and good, and relieved a lot of stress I was feeling concerning the move, but was shocking as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are Army Brats Getting Short-Changed?

Is it fair for children of our Armed Forces to be moved so often? Does the relative lack of stability pose a risk to their mental health?

These are the questions I find myself asking lately. When my boys were younger they didn't know Kansas from Albuquerque. Or Tombstone from Tanzania. But now they do. Now all but one of them understand what it means when I them the movers are coming.

Don't get me wrong, we signed up for this way of life whole-heartily. My husband and I both had scholarships and had been accepted into two great schools in MO. I admittedly wanted to go to a traditional school more than he did, but we both had the option and changed our plans.

He signed up, I married him, and off we went....

It's been great too; from Kansas I learned all about family values and lots of religion (but that's another story). From Arizona I discovered the South West, open-mindedness, and met a few great friends that I still talk with. In Okinawa, oh my goodness, what can I say about Oki.

We. Loved. It.

Period, hands down, we loved it. I saw a beautiful culture, made Japanese and Korean friends, tutored children, helped with the FRG (army term for Wives Club). It was great. And the best part was that my boys loved and understood it's beauty, too.

So now is the hard part, saying good bye to friends once again. Getting new schools. And starting over. The older two are quite excited to be returning to their Grandparents, but in the back of my mind, I wonder. Is this too much for them. Do they need one community to call home?

That is what my husband and I had.

I know my children feel safe and loved, but this is a question I will pondered until we've seen our last Duty Station, PCSed for the last time, and waved good bye to that final base.

Any Army/Navy/Marine/Air Force Brats out there? Give me your two cents. I would love to hear it.

What's your Iced Tea?