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Showing posts from July, 2007

Another Great Opportunity for Stephanie!

Some of you remember (and some of you helped!) Stephanie trying to raise money to go to the People to People Leadership Conference for middle schoolers in April in Washington DC. She went, and she's been invited to go to one next year in Paris and London!

I don't think I need to point out how exciting it is for a kid from East Oakland to be invited to this kind of thing - many of them never leave their neighborhood, much less their country. She's a talented, creative, intelligent girl who really does exhibit leadership skills.

Hi, my name is Stephanie. I'm 12 years old and in the 7th grade. I have been chosen to go to a People to People World Leadership Forum in Paris and London. I went to one last year in Washington DC. It was very fun and educating. I learned a lot about our government and our country's history. I also got to see a lot of interesting statues, monuments, and a lot of historical sites.

For me to participate in this forum, I will need $4200. …

Back To School Specials

Every year, around the end of July/beginning of August, the back to school sales and specials start. And every year around this time I think, "Oh no! I only have X more weeks/days/hours until school starts!" And I start dreading it.

I keep forgetting this year not to dread it.

It's not that I disliked the children - it's the same feeling that kids have when they go back to school and they have to start getting up early again and stop lounging around and being lazy. Teachers get that too. Only this year, I haven't been lounging around and being lazy and I don't have to dread school starting. It's very strange.

I can't quite get it through my head. I keep thinking that I need to go visit people before school starts because I won't be able to during the school year. Actually, this year I can! Or I'll hear an ad on the radio for a back to school sale and start planning where I'm going to buy a class set of crayon boxes and rulers (Septem…

Meet a Child: "Kobe"

This is a kid who moved away mid-year because his mom was terrified of all the violence - especially after someone came and threatened his teenage brother.

Writing about himself:

My name is Kobe. I am 8 years old and my birthday was born in 1998. My eye is dark brown and my hair is black and I like to play footbal. I like to play with my best friend. I am very talkative and honest. I am very cook and I am very nice. I make friends. I like school. Sometimes I get to change my card to Green that mean I am in trouble. Sometimes I stay on Blue. I got friends and we went to the coliseum the A's won the other day the other day the raider lost. I like school. I have a nice teacher.
On imagining he was in a scene from a book where the kids walked past a barbecue and a church:
I imagine I went to church and when it was over we had BBQ burgers. Our preacher was light skined with black hair. It was fun at the end and "We love God, and love you Jesus." In there it smell l…

Extra Work, Extra Money

I got another paycheck today. Although, this time I know what it is and why I got it. Also, I got it on the right day. The other one isn't figured out yet.
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At the beginning of the year, we were given the new school schedules for each grade and asked if we had any questions. Never being one to be shy, I said I had a question. "Why do we start earlier, get out at the same time, and have less time at lunch?"

What I got in response was not so much of an answer as an accusation. Something along the lines of "You're not willing to do it for the kids?" That wasn't the exact phrasing, of course. But it is a very common "answer" to questions that teachers ask.

Why do I have to buy a class set of scissors with my own money? Why do you have me working more hours than my contract states? Why am I being asked to be at a meeting during my "duty-free" lunch hour? …

Who Puts These People In Charge of Money?

I got paid today. I'm not complaining about getting paid, let me make that clear. But it is rather odd.

The schedule of payment for salaried employees (like teachers) is that we get paid on the last weekday of each month. Since I have 12-month deferred payment (as opposed to only getting paid Sept-June, they divide my yearly salary into 12 months), I will be getting paid on Tuesday, July 31. That's very straightforward.

The mid-month payments are a little more complicated. If we work extra hours (extra recognized hours that is - we all work extra hours), for example, in an after-school program, or an extra mandatory meeting or an extra training day, we get paid some mysterious hourly rate, turn in extra time sheets, and get paid on the 15th of the month.

So, why did I get a payment today, July 10?

Luckily, each pay stub comes with codes. They used to print the codes' meanings but have stopped that for some time now, so they must be self-evident. (Or so one would think i…

Victim of Violence

There was a story in the Oakland Tribune online about a 13-year old girl who was hit by a bullet outside of her sister's (chaperoned) birthday party in March. It shows some of her recovery and interviews with her, and her sister, who feels awfully guilty about the incident. Read it here, see the video here, then come back to read this post.

I can't decide how it makes me feel. I was so sad that something like this could happen to a 13-year old in our country. I'm furious that we aren't more upset about it. I don't want to believe that there is still this much entrenched racism - but does anyone believe for even a second that if this had happened to a white girl in the hills - just a couple of miles from where it did happen - that community outrage wouldn't have erupted? It's hard to even think about it though, because the truth is that is wouldn't have happened to a white girl in the hills.

These kids though, they live with it every day. They'r…