Friday, October 31, 2008

Random Political Thoughts

1. I'd like to save constitutional amendments - whether state or Federal - for things that really really need to be amended. Not for laws that people have attempted to pass and failed. I'm tired of voting on this issue.

2. The dumb local Alameda robocalls should be made earlier - I already voted, people!

3. If Christians followed what was in the Bible, we would not be spending time arguing about abortion or homosexual marriage UNTIL we had established justice in the world, fed the hungry, helped the widows and the brokenhearted. The Bible says to love our neighbor, to bring justice to the oppressed, to feed the hungry, and a lot of other things that we are not doing. When I hear people talk about how government shouldn't provide welfare and social programs, but instead, it should be faith-based institutions, I want to shake those faith-based institutions. Let's STEP UP and help already so the government doesn't have to!!

4. I actually LIKED John McCain until he got weird and grumpy and spent all his time defending Sarah Palin. I used to like him. All of a sudden, he's seemed to switch his opinion on many of the hot-button issues, which makes me wonder what will happen if he's president. Also, he's gotten a lot less "straight talk mavericky" and a lot more grumpy old man lately. If he were one of my third graders, I'd call him Mr. Cranky Pants.

5. I don't like Sarah Palin. At all. I'm sure God loves her, but I am not God and she doesn't think I am part of Real America.

6. Fox News Sucks. This is old news but when they ran their little thing saying "Outraged Liberals: Stop picking on Obama's Baby Mama" thing while someone was talking a few months ago, they totally lost me. Do white people have any idea how offensive that is? Can you imagine if John McCain said something about laying off of Cindy and someone referred to Cindy McCain as "McCain's Baby Mama??" I can't imagine that it was meant for any purpose other than trying to make Obama seem scary and ghetto and too black to be president.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Proposition 8

I just have a minute but I want to say this.

Point One: No matter what your views are on gay marriage, and I don't supposed I can change them, whatever they are, as a schoolteacher, I can tell you this: The yes on Prop 8 people are lying. Gay marriage will not be "taught" in schools. Marriage is not taught in schools. There is no part of the elementary school curriculum that "teaches" marriage. Good heavens, we can hardly teach math and never teach science any more with all the dumb literacy testing. Does anyone really think there will be time to "teach" gay marriage? Quit lying, people.

Point Two: I have worked with excellent gay and lesbian teachers (I can't believe I even have to state that, like that's a category of people who might be in danger of not being good teachers, but apparently I do). None of them have talked about their sexuality to the kids. Just like my heterosexual colleagues haven't. None of them have tried to "advance the gay agenda." None of them are scary. There has been no difference between them and any other teacher I've worked with... except that these particular people I'm thinking of were possibly more committed to the students, if anything.

Point Three: If Christians (and yes, I am one) are working so hard to protect the sanctity of marriage, why is divorce OK? Why is the candidate that the Christian right is going for someone who cheated on his first wife and is divorced? I'm not saying that my divorced friends are wrong. I'm just saying that if we're going to talk about the sanctity of marriage, well, don't be hypocritical please. Please.

And write to the Oakland City Council. (See below)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Chance for Activism

OK, I know we're in tough economic times (just ask the clients who haven't paid me yet... grrr...) and that cuts may need to be made. However, this is not the place to do it.

The Oakland City Council may stop funding its Cultural Arts Program. The two programs I am familiar with are MOCHA (the Museum of Children's Art) and the Circus Theatre Program.

MOCHA has low cost field trips (that I mostly just paid for my own self rather than try to get them approved by the district) that are now often the only experience to art that kids have. Their teachers are artists who are respectful and experienced with children and can handle my students, which not everyone can. My kids have learned about the color wheel, made sculptures out of recycled objects, made books, and done many other art projects there. They love it and look forward to it and ask me when they can go back. In fact, I love it there too.

MOCHA has also started to create an art curriculum that goes along with the extremely rigid mandated reading program so that kids can actually learn art and their teachers still be in compliance with No Child Left Behind. I've only seen the kindergarten pilot program, which was a few years ago, but it was great.

The Circus Theatre is awesome. Fourth and fifth graders learn real circus arts including stilts, unicycle riding, juggling, and more. I have known several kids who only went to school (yes, fourth graders ditch school) in order to be in this program. It helps them stay in school. Just like anything else, we'll pay for it later if we don't pay for it now. I guarantee that it will be more expensive to keep these kids in juvenile hall and while it may sound like I'm catastrophizing, I really don't think I am. They need to keep this program.

Feel free to write and express your displeasure: (I'm happy to answer any questions you may have)

Oakland City Council
One City Hall
Oakland, CA 94612

The City Council members are here along with their email addresses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Questions about Subbing

So, I'm doing the paperwork to be a sub in the little island-ish town (OK, little for the Bay Area) that I live in and I have some questions:

1. If I needed to go to college and graduate in order to get into the credential program and needed to graduate from the credential program to get my credential, why on earth do I have to submit official transcripts as well as the credential? Shouldn't the credential be enough?

2. Fingerprinting is all online now. Shouldn't they just be able to save my fingerprints and be done with it forever? I've been fingerprinted more than most convicted felons.

3. Why on earth would they put the HR department in the place where the directions have to be:

"Go into the district office, walk through the adult school, turn right, go down the stairs, go out the door, then turn right and when you don't think you have anywhere else to go, there's the HR office in the corner by the fence."?

4. What do they do if you actually have TB when you take the test? And why is that the only disease tested for in any district ever?

5. Why is everyone at this district office nice and happy and smiley and at my old district, they were so.... not?

6. Why did I not start out in this district?

It was fun to see the change in demeanor from "Do you have a sub permit?" to "Oh, you're a credentialed teacher who wants to sub!?!" Guess I won't have to worry about getting jobs.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Some educational, some not.

First, the happiest:

A message I got on my phone: "Ms. H--, this is "James," I just wanted to let you know that I got a 3.0 on my first report card of middle school."

Yay! Kid had problems reading but worked really really hard. And so did his parents.


Second, the most confusing, at some sort of town hall meeting.

McCain supporter: "I don't trust Barack Obama because he's an Arab."

McCain: "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man."

Wait a minute... the opposite of Arab is decent family man? What? Anyone else confused by this? Please tell me there's something I missed here.


Third, shameless self-promotion. I sold a rat scarf on and someone told me that I should sell them on my blog. I can't really do that but I can post pictures and you can tell me if you're interested in buying a rat scarf, a sheep scarf, a dragon scarf, or any number of other fun knitted items. The rat scarves come in any color and have red or black little beady rat eyes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Central America Pictures

I have a lot of photos.

They are here, here, here, here, and here.

I told you, a lot.

Now I am busy frantically trying to get enough writing/editing/tutoring/anything work to pay off the vacation. More soon. Send any extra work you need done over here, please. If you're paying.