Just living my life, and making it work!

Archive for January, 2017

Just Say No To School Choice, and DeVos

Let me start by saying I am a conservative Libertarian who is pro capitalism. Choice and a free market seem to work really well in the economic sector. So well that initially I was very pro school choice. You can read here how I was a never public school mom who now has four kids in my local public school.  Once  I really started digging into he subject I realized school choice programs are a terrible idea thatt will KILL our education system

  1. Its not a free market because public schools have so many more mandates and requirements that cost a small fortune to comply with. Take transportation for example. Neither the private school or the charter school my kids’ attended offered transportation to anything. Even at the charter school the cost of renting a bus for a field trip was passed on to parents.  Think about it, that is like saying Wendy’s has $100,000,000 more dollars of regulations they have to comply with that McDonald’s does not. McDonald’s would be able o use that extra money to make their food better or lower prices. It wouldn’t be very long before Wendy’s went out of business no matter how good their food.
  2. Education is a common public good , not a product. The better educated our population is the better off we all are. This is why everyone pays taxes for schools no mater where their kids’ go to school, or even if they have grown kids, or kids at all. We all benefit from, and are responsible for, quality education. Can you imagine what would happen if people got to choose to spend their road money only on the roads they used?  We’d end up with a few super nice awesome roads that everyone would want to use. And mostly crappy roads full of potholes. People that lived in rural areas would be screwed because they wouldn’t have the combined money to fund their roads, but would live too far to enjoy the nice awesome roads. Same with the poor neighborhoods.
  3. We will largely give up our collective representation in the public school system. School Boards are elected by, and responsible to, the people. This means you have a say in how schools are run, and what your child is learning. If you are dissatisfied you have an elected governing body to voice your grievance, and demand change. Private schools, and charter schools have governing bodies, but they are not elected by the people.
  4. It isn’t as big of o choice as you’d think. If you are dissatisfied with one public or charter school you can just pick another one right? Wrong. Many charter schools and private schools are at capacity with long waiting lists and huge lotteries every year. Finding another one that has openings will be difficult especially if you want to change mid year. Not to mention changing schools is a luxury poor families who don’t have their own transportation don’t have. Lastly, private and charter schools do not adequately serve most students with disabilities, or ESL students. I have both kids with disabilities, and immigrant ESL  children. We have been to a private school, a charter school, and now a public school. The public school is the only place that I could get the services my kids needed.
  5. Mixing public funding with private religious schools is a terrible idea. Think about it, once a private school accepts public money they will have to meet certain requirements. It is giving the government permission to tell you what you can teach, and what kids of families you have to let into your school. Don’t like common core? Don’t want to teach evolution? Once you accept public money you may have to.

I know our school system is badly broken, but school choice is a solution in sheep’s clothing. It seems like it would work when you first hear about it, but once you look a little closer you realize it will be the death of our public education system. The only people who benefit from school choice are those middle class or above families hat can self-transport, the “normal” kids without disabilities or a need for ESL services,  and he corporations making money  off charter schools. Just say no to school choice reform and call your senator and tell them to say “no” too by rejecting DeVos as Secretary of Education





For At Leat One Child,No, Five Isn’t Enough

My husband and I have recently started telling our friends that we are ready to adopt again, and are actively searching for a little girl to round out our family. To be sure many of our friends and family have been excited and supportive. However, the most common response is a look of half confusion, half shock accompanied by the words ” What? Five kids isn’t enough for you?”.  They say it as if somehow we are being unreasonable or even irresponsible with our choice to add another child to our family.  It’s almost as if adding another child is like adding a luxurious accessory such as a sports car, or vacation home. I mean seriously, just how many of those do you need? Mostly I respond with a polite grin, and chuckle, but this is what I am screaming on the inside. 

For us, five is enough. It’s enough laundry, and meal prep, and homework, and after school activities, and, and, and……. 

But, for at least one little girl sitting in an orphanage half way around the world tonigh, five isn’t enough.

 For the little girl who waits for a mamma to love her through the good times, and shepherd her through the bad ones, five isn’t enough.

 For the little girl who doesn’t get enough to eat, or have access to quality healthcare, five isn’t enough. 

For the little girl who even if she is lucky enough to get medical care doesn’t have a mom to advocate for pain management or even make sure her lunch is served in the hospital, five isn’t enough.

For the little girl who even if she is in a “good”orphanage still sleeps in a room full of cribs or cots, five isn’t enough. 

For the little girl who will be on her own after she ages out, and likely will have trouble getting a job due to her “orphan” status, five isn’t enough.

For the little girl who isn’t allowed to go to school because of her special need, five isn’t enough.

There is a little girl half way around the world who needs a FORVER family. A family to love her, protect her, and provide for her as much as they can for as long as they can. We have room in our hearts and our home for another little girl, so how could we not add another child to our family?  The saddest part is that six isn’t enough either. Neither is seven, or eight, or even 100. For that reason, my prayer is that every person who feels the tug of adoption on their heart would be able to overcome the fear and doubt to open their heart to “one less” little girl or boy who needs them. 

What the New Texas School A-F Ratings Won’t Tell You About My Kid’s School

Let me start by telling you right off the bat that I don’t even know what rating my kids’ elementary school received. Know why? Because I don’t care. I used to care about school rating sheets, and report cards. When it was time for my first child to go to school I was a NEVER public school parent. Under no circumstances was any child of mine attend a  public school. As far as I was concerned nothing good came from public schools. I can admit that my attitude was largely based on my local public school’s report card and statistics. Long story short, after spinning our wheels for several years at a couple different schools my kids went to our local public school for the first time last year.

Here’s what the ratings wont tell you about my kids’ school.

Last year we adopted a daughter from China. She did not speak English, and it was her first year in an American school. Our school knocked it out of the park! The teachers and students welcomed her with open arms. They allowed us to enroll her in a grade level one down from her age group to give her time to learn some English , and acclimate a bit, before pushing her into the hell that is Middle School. The librarian let her order some books in Mandarin for the library. Her language arts teacher went out of her way to find the books they were reading as a class in Mandarin. Her PE teacher encouraged her to play on the volley ball team even though she uses a wheelchair. The school counselor helped her on tough days when she was missing China, and had had enough of constantly listening to, and trying to learn in, a language she didn’t speak. And as far as academics goes…. she has moved to Middle School taking all Pre AP classes except for math which she is taking the advanced class. She does her own projects, and I rarely even need to translate her homework for her. Did I mention she has only been an English speaking American for 17 months now?

The ratings won’t tell you anything about the low vision teacher who taught my son to tie his shoes or use tools that will help him be successful in the future. She goes above and beyond helping me file summer camp paperwork, and giving each of her students Christmas gifts. It won’t tell you how the teachers work hard to foster an inclusive classroom quickly addressing any concerns of bullying, or how hard the math teacher and special ed teacher work to help my daughter on the spectrum succeed.

The A-F scale doesn’t’ take into account how many extra hours teachers work to prepare and grade lessons, or for the teachers who give their lunch to a child that doesn’t have one. It doesn’t take into account all the extra money teachers spend on their kids because they found some really cool thing that isn’t in the budget, but they know will help their kids learn. The ratings know nothing about the principal, and how supportive she has been to my family. It won’t tell you that I know if I have a problem with something in the classroom she will listen and do her best to work it out. She loves her students, and her teachers.

You know what the A-F ratings will tell you about my kids’ school? It will largely tell you how well the kids did on a developmentally inappropriate, invalidated, and hugely expensive exam that they took once. So basically the A-F ratings tells you more about who ate breakfast that day, and the educational levels of their parents which is more closely tied to standardized testing outcomes than actual academic knowledge and skills. So no, I didn’t read the A-F grade the powers that be gave my school. I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either.