Friday, March 13, 2015

My children are not for your profit.

I am refusing the test. "Opting-Out" if you will, of the state mandated Georgia Milestones Assessment for my kids.  In Georgia, the law only mandates that the students be offered the opportunity to test, and my students will be exercising their rights of refusal.

Yes, the test is stressful for kids and teachers. Yes, all children will be subjected to this test, even those with IEPs and 504s. Yes, the testing material is developmentally inappropriate. Yes, forcing children to take tests, to write passages, and write mathematical explanations on a computer is unreasonable for 8 year olds.  

Yes, the language arts curriculum is training our kids not to connect seemingly unrelated pieces of information to find innovation and/or truth by returning them into copy editors. (One topic sentence, three supporting facts, from THIS TEXT ONLY). Yes, this is making children reluctant to read, as all they know of reading is "informational" texts. (Remember monthly book reports? They don't exist anymore)

Yes, in the coming years up to 50% of  teachers' salaries will be tied to the results of these tests, effectively forcing the teachers to teach to the test to preserve their careers and livelihoods.  Yes, even this year, a year inwhich the   scores "don't count", if you will, teachers and students are losing weeks of instruction time to test prep. But this is not why I am refusing.

I am refusing the test because my children aren't for profit. These tests are projected to have up to a 70% failure rate. MY kids will (probably) do well on them (maybe), but if they are in the 30% that pass, it means nothing if the rest of the school is deemed to be failing.  

Now, I don't care if my kids are at a "failing" school, as long as I feel the school is doing well for them, but recently the Governor decided that he will have the State take control over the 100 worst schools in the state. Technically, he said those schools will have the "opportunity" to have the State take control of them, and the state will follow the lead of the Louisiana RSD.

In Louisiana, these schools were turned into charter schools, whose operations were then farmed out to private charter school companies to run.  So, effectively, these private companies are making huge profits these children's' "public" education.

Sure, it might not be "my" school this year, but one day, it will be.  That is how the plans are lining up. The writing is on the wall, and parents are too busy wanting their kids to succeed on THIS test to see the big picture of what that really means.  They are using our children to make billions in profit for private companies, i.e. the test writers, the book publishers, the test prep market, the software companies and eventually the private charter school companies.  

Speaking of software, guess whose foundation provided millions in funding for the push to transition to the Common Core Standards? The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. New testing software, anyone?

My children aren't for sale. Are yours?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This Day

I hope I remember this say. This day when I was so exhausted I debated the reasonability of going to work in long johns and slippers. How Mister and I texted back and forth about traffic and lazy dogs, and changing dog nose colors, and the unique pain of stepping on monkeys (the barrel kind) from a half a world away.

The day when I picked up Alan and Danielle and Little Guy and Little L from school and Little L gave me a present of  paper scraps to use at our next Daisy meeting. Then we all went to the gym and jumped on trampolines. I hope I remember that then Coach D said Little Guy was a bit timid on the Pbars and the kids ran amuck at babysitting and G and Little Guy got into a horrible fight at the end.  The time when Little Guy pouted under the toddler climbing structure and refused to come out until we wereliterally  walking out the door. I hope I remember how by bedtime, all was forgiven. How I rubbed oils on his back for his sore muscles and tucked him in like toast. How G let ZoZo upstairs for bed in her too big Braves Tshirt swiped from a bestie who moved to Pheonix and panties - no more matching PJs for my tween, but what a way to remember far
Flung friends. How Little L collapsed in my bed fully clothed and only stirred when I took out her ponytail braid. "Cow!" she said, thumb in her mouth.  

And I really hope I remember how Little Guy asked me to cover him up again with an extra layer because his feet kept poking out from under his fluffy blankets; the same fluffy blankets he has been covering up with for his entire life.

Tonight, I watched Grey's Anatomy and was bummed because this is the last season, and ate cucumbers and drank wine.  An unremarkable day.  But a day that was good because it was lived.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Following Directions

Little Guy brings me a box of frozen waffles.

Mom, it says right here, right here it says, KEEP FROZEN.  So. Should we eat them cold or.... is it ok to warm them up?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Press Play, then Repeat

No one told me that being a parent would hurt so bad, deep down in my heart where the ache lives. When I think about how I probably won't remember today, a good day, a day spent with family and friends, watching my son do gymnastics. A day when my oldest was happy and helpful and at peace. A day when my youngest sang to me,  "All I want for Christmas is my family" with her brown eyes sparkling and the burn on her chin still visible from when she tried to sneak an oven fresh cookie this past holiday.  I won't remember the way they smelled, the sound of their little voices at these ages, the sailor knot oldest made in the little one's hair. And it pains me. 

I wish I could just hit rewind and then repeat and do it all again. I wouldn't change a single moment. The happy, the sad, the stressful, the mundane. I'd just like to do it all again.  I love them so hard it hurts, and we've really just begun.

Play it again, Sam. Play it again.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bedtime astrophysics.

Mom, why does the earth orbit the sun? Why does it tilt on its axis? If it's winter here, is it summer somewhere else? Are there other planets like ours? What are we made of? Where did we come from? How come some animals have babies and other ones lay eggs? When did that happen? How did the air get here on the earth and why doesn't it float away? How can the earth orbit the sun because of gravity when there is no gravity in space? Are you getting tired of my questions? No? Ok, goodnight.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Perfect day

Today we slept in late (because of the fall back). G and I went to the grocery in our pjs and bought ingredients for pumpkin pie and the Sunday paper. We came home and cooked, cleaned, built a fire and the kids played together. Little L got the Spider-Man car stuck in her hair TWICE. She and My Guy had such fun putting a tiny stuffed pig on it and running it around the house.

My Guy and Little L spread their Halloween candy out all over the Xmas tree room floor, and ate it all, leaving the room littered with candy wrappers. We watched Big and talked about our upcoming trip to NYC. The girls stoked and billowed the fire and we used up all of the logs. We watched Frozen and drank hot cocoa with whipped cream and cinnamon. Little L used my iPhone to play music and dance
around the living room by firelight.  We all stayed in our pajamas all day long.  It was a Perfect day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We got this, sister!

At the bus stop this morning, I actually got out of my car and walked my kids to the curb. Normally, they just let themselves out because often I am not wearing any pants. (Hey! Mornings are tough!) Anyhow, today I wore pants - old paint-splattered pants and a ripped up tank top and a trucker hat to boot. And shoes! Well, flip flops.  It was a good morning.

But I digress. I got myself to the curb with my kids and actually talked to the one other mom that brings her kids to our stop. Now I have "known" this mom for years - same neighborhood, wave at the pool, etc - but rarely have we conversed.  She is beautiful. Fit. Always put together. Works full time. Always wears pants. (Or at least a skirt.)

We talked about the kids' new teachers, our school that we both love, and curriculum night which was held yesterday. I, of course, was yawning and tired, because I did not get home until 9 and then had do do the work of the house and bedtime alone, as Mister is currently in Egypt.  She, of course, was not yawning, because she is seemingly always alert, even though I know she also had to do her nighttime routine alone. She is a single mom, you see.

I mentioned I am a room parent for both my kids' classes this year. She said, "Oh I can never do that stuff", flippantly with a hint of defensiveness and guilt ringing through her words. I cut her off and was like, I know sister! You can't! Someone's got to bring home the bacon!  Working full time is a full time job.

The thing is, I get it, really I do. There are years I am so uninvolved that I hardly know the teacher's names.  There are other years that I am super involved, because I can be. And on those off years, I know that the room parents and teachers and faculty are taking good care of my babies. They have got my back. 

And during the involved years, it is my turn to step up and be part if the village.  Without judgement. Without expectation. 
And definitely not because I am some over involved mom that needs to hover over her kids and know every little detail of their lives.  Simply because I can. This time, I can.

So to this perfect mom, and all the other moms (and dads) in my kids' classes I say,

We've got this, sister! Together, we've got this.

It's gonna be a good year.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sitting with it.

Sometimes I get caught up in this thing where I have a very gossipy story that I must talk about incessantly to my closest friends and family, so much so that I hear "you just can't let it go, can you?" from them and then I realize that something needs to be done. Not letting it go, mind you, I don't really think we can let things go anyway - we can only move on -  but what I need to do is to sit with it.  Let it be. Turn my attention elsewhere until the silt of my true feelings can settle down to the bottom of my brain and I can finally see it clearly for what it is.  Concern. Pain for my friend. Anxiety about their future. Love.

Then the real work begins.

Time for a change

I can feel it in my bones.  Things are about to change.   We are on the precipice of something.  A fresh start? A new place? I don't know exactly know how... but I think it will be good. 

Monday, June 2, 2014


Little Guy turned eight this past winter. All he asked for was Pokemon cards and money to buy Pokemon cards. He was a little obsessed, especially because he loses them almost as quickly as he acquires them. One of his buddies smartly gave him a gift card to Target in lieu of cash which is easily lost or thieved by his sisters.  

A few months later he was itching go to Target, just really talking about it incessantly.  After the third day if nonstop Target talk, I took him by for a quick spree before his gym class.  He spent almost the entire gift card on a big box of Pokemon. He was so stoked.

The next day, after school he asked to go to Target to use the rest of his gift card on one single pack of Pokemon.  "Little Guy," I said, "I just took you there. Where are the Pokemon that you bought yesterday?" "I don't have them anymore. I have them all to David." He said.  "WHAT?!! Why?" I asked, annoyed that after all that nagging and the special trip, he gave them all away.

"Because he didn't have any. And I have enough."

And enough is plenty when your friends have none.

I have learned much from that Little Guy. Now, when someone insists on paying me when I watch their kids after school, or teach them swimming, or do anything I would have done for them anyway, sans compensation, that money gets pinned to the bulletin board. Mitzvah money, we call it, and it stays there until someone we love is in need. Even G puts money on the board, when she gets overcompensated for babysitting or cake baking. 

And eventually, it gets used,  paid forward, because although we don't always have a lot, we do have enough.