Upcoming Election

It’s looking like a quiet election – Supreme Court justice, one referendum, and is our county executive on the ballot, too? Must find out.

However (you knew there would be a “however” didn’t you?) this election is important. Aren’t they all? Yes, in a word. The referendum allows the majority party to appoint the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Whoa, there. Checks and balances, anyone? The judicial branch of our government has a purpose, and that purpose is not to beef up the majority.

We stepped into the Supreme Court chambers on our tour of the Capitol on Thursday. This tour felt very different to me, I’m sure, than it did to the students. I looked around the room and imagined the seven justices, remembered how one nearly strangled another (literally, folks, not figuratively), thought about the longevity of the current Chief Justice and how her extensive experience and knowledge could be lost if the governor’s lackeys decided he should replace or reconfigure her position.

I was pleased with the questions our students asked. They were observant, thoughtful, and appropriate. One spotting a brass circle on each Senator’s desk. The guide explained that those round pieces covered what used to be inkwells. The desks were original, and had come through generations of inkwells and ball point pens and now, iPads and laptops. My reaction? Pride that a young person had been curious enough to notice a detail and question it.

A few of our young people had the experience of sitting in Power Seats. Tyler sat in the Senate Majority Leader’s chair. Maggie sat in the governor’s chair in his conference room. I reminded them both that with power comes responsibility. And even though the kids and their parents chuckled at the statement, I saw each student nod in agreement.

They may be too young to vote, but they’re already thoughtful, curious, observant and- dare I hope — dedicated enough to want to make a difference someday.

That’s the best result to come out of a field trip – a look ahead to the future.

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Thinking Spring

Last year i posted Spring Fever related material more than ever. Our cold weather seemed to last forever. I started seeds, but they were ready to go outside long before the outside temperatures were ready for planting. I ended up in the hospital in late April, an experience that left me in pain and easily fatigued.

This year:

  • the seeds are started
  • the garage is emptied in preparation for its demolition and replacement
  • compost (some) is spread
  • so far, I’m healthy

It’s a short list, but it’s a good list. Come the end of April, I will have made it a full year without a hospital stay or surgery. That might just be reason for celebration, no matter what the weather.

 

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‘Twas the night before a field trip – encore

We had a field trip to the state capital today. Good tour guides, well-behaved students, and nice weather all fell into place for us. I behaved, I didn’t say or do anything untoward in the governor’s conference room, and we had Starbucks for a pre-trip snack. And – you guessed it, I was reminded of this post. To sleep, perchance to dream.

I was tired the night before the field trip. I thought “Good. I’ll sleep well, be rested for the trip.” I didn’t think, “To sleep, perchance to dream.”

In my dream, we were on a trip to the Capitol for a tour. We had plenty of adults along, so I slipped out to get Starbucks for the teachers. Somehow, I got lost on the way to the coffee shop or on the way back. I’m not sure which. When I finally found the others, I was missing my jacket and my shoes. I was freezing and damp; rainy weather.

In real life:
We took a field trip to the Capitol building for a tour.
We had plenty of adults around; most were very good with the kids.
I didn’t slip out for coffee – for myself or the other teachers.
I waited for a student to run back to the bathroom for something she lost or forgot. When she got back, we got disoriented under the Capitol dome and ended up going out the wrong door. We walked around Capitol Square and eventually made our way to the museum, our next stop. The classes hadn’t gotten there yet, so we waited outside for the rest. The girl understood why we didn’t go back to circle Capitol Square; she knew we could end up circling and circling while they did the same.
It was breezy and cool, but neither of us lost a jacket. One girl misplaced her jacket on the bus, but found it later. To my knowledge, no one lost a shoe.

Maybe I’ll pull an all-nighter the night before the next field trip. I’m a little afraid of what I might dream before we go to the Civil War reenactment!

Today’s trip, like the one years ago, was uneventful. I waited in Starbucks (oh, such a sacrifice!) while my coworker parked the rental car. I met several of my students (I teach online). I bought two tee-shirts and three books in the gift shop (oh, those are dangerous places for me) but I did not buy any shoes. I came home tired and sore from the walking, but relaxed and happy from a fun and productive day. 

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Justice League – Not in Lego Just Yet

Oh, Lego. This would be awesome. I’d buy a set to sit on my desk at school. After all, it’s art and it’s history, both of which are on my course load.

Justices in Lego Brick

Justices in Lego Brick

Unfortunately, this set of fancy Lego sculptures can’t be purchased anywhere yet. The Lego design team refuses to manufacture the female Supreme Court justices, claiming the set would be too political. 

I guess I’ll have to settle for the Lego White House model.

If you’d like to sign a petition to pressure Lego into making this awesome historical piece, look no further than here. 

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Spring memories – frozen memories

This weather event happened in April of 2013. We were lucky on several counts. We lost power for hours, but not for days. Amigo and I stayed warm in the den with a fire in our fireplace. We charged our cell phones in the minivan when they needed it. Mostly, we relaxed with blanket throws and books. Seriously, though – April? 

We joke about our football team playing on Frozen Tundra. In reality  grass does grow here. It’s also reality that we can see schools close due to winter weather – in April.

We had no power that day, which was also the case for several school buildings in my town. Ice, ice, and more ice coated the trees, wires, and anything else.

Icy Cherries

Icy Cherries

Home for oregano - later.

Home for oregano – later.

And finally, we really enjoy our neighbor’s sculptures. When coated with ice, they were even more lovely.

icy sclupt blue close sm

The unique beauty of an ice storm is fleeting. Fortunately, the powerless state was also temporary. Power came on just in time to cook a warm supper, simple though it was.

Now, Mother Nature, can we please have spring?

 

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Pennywise

I’m de-cluttering and de-junking again. Maybe I should say still. As I’m pushing the thick winter sweaters back on the shelves and bringing forward the lighter ones, I’m tossing a few into the ever present bag for thrift donations. Chuck is cleaning out the garage in preparation for its demolition and replacement in a few weeks, and there are items we can donate or sell outright.

Meanwhile, I’m making certain I get all of the wellness “rewards” I’ve earned. I grumble each year, but each year I find myself going through the motions like a rat in search of cheese or a donkey following a carrot. I get blood drawn, take the online health self-assessment, and I’m considering whether it’s worth my time to complete one of their online programs. What’s it worth, really? At this point, I’ve already earned $75 worth of gift cards. The online program would earn another $25. Hm. Think. Think. Think.

De-junking the house will make it easier to clean. I detest cleaning, so making it easier is a good thing. It’s not earning or saving any pennies, though, unless you count the money I’m not spending to hire a cleaning crew.

My products on Teachers Pay Teachers have been selling steadily. I plan to upload a few more when I get time – in June, most likely. It keeps the PayPal account active. Now, the dilemma. Should I sell my teacher books on eBay? And should I sell Amigo’s old baseball tee to Play it Again Sports, or is there a better outlet for that kind of thing? Anything like this will fill the penny jar a wee bit more.

Advice, peeps? What’s the best way to get a few dollars from the de-cluttering process? I welcome your comments.

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Signs of Spring – encore

It’s been a long winter, and it’s not over yet. Let’s think of spring and summer.

(source unknown)

(source unknown)

The incredible racing sausages pack up for spring training!

Then we have May and Mother’s Day. How about this mug?

okay by me!

Okay by me!

I posted that one in my cubicle along with my OK Hardware and Highway OK road sign. A student gave me “World’s Okayest Teacher” for Christmas, and I love it.

 

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Lunch Plans

Lunch – sometimes it’s exhausting to plan a week’s worth of lunches. I usually put the leftovers together at night, and if I don’t have something I like I’ll make a sandwich or a salad. I haven’t taken the cafeteria lunch since…well, in quite a while. Maybe I should – or I should at least read the menu.

From a coworker —

According to the lunch menu, today we’ll be having seasoned refined beans. How sophisticated! 

She pointed out the error to the cafeteria staff, and they were clueless. They simply stared. The worst part? She said the refried beans weren’t very good.

So in honor of the cafeteria’s “Refined Beans” I give you – ten ways to use leftover frijoles, or refried beans.

  1. Use to thicken a bean soup.
  2. Serve atop Spanish rice.
  3. Add to tacos.
  4. Add to Calico Beans (Calico Beans are already a mix of flavors.)
  5. Mix into a meatloaf before cooking.
  6. Mix with chicken fajitas.
  7. Serve swirled in a cheesy salsa.
  8. Heat up with leftover rice and corn.
  9. Hide in leftover chili.
  10. Refine it with chili peppers and a margarita. You won’t know the difference.

Luckily for me, we ordered Chinese on Friday. I only ate half, and I saved the rest for Monday’s lunch. If only I had an extra fortune cookie.

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Teaching – it’s still political

This is an encore from 2008. 2008?!?! How can it be that a post I wrote in 2008 is still relevant? No, don’t answer that.

I get my news from a variety of sources: my local newspaper, news websites online, and more. I find people who are like-minded online, too. This primary election — you know, the longest one in recent history — isn’t as dull as some say. In fact, even as I worry that Party conflicts may provide the opposition with too much ammunition, I’m finding it downright fascinating.

Teaching is a political profession. Besides the internal district politics, administrative power and control, my daily work is affected by decisions made in the state capital and in Washington, D.C. When my friends tell me that they just want to “close their doors and teach,” I want to grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eyes, and say, “You can’t shut out the laws! You need to help make them! And change them!” And then I want to go home and write a letter to my senators and congressional reps.

A few years ago Rod Paige, then Secretary of Education, called my national association (the NEA) a nasty name. He asserted that our tactics were terrorist in nature. I wrote letters. I sent emails. Many, many educators did the same. By calling teachers terrorists, he put us in the category of those with whom our government is at war. This kind of outlook in the Bush cabinet has been very damaging to public education.

Now the NEA (National Education Association) is looking for slogans to help publicize the need for professional wages in education. I have a few ideas, and I know there are clever educators who can access their inner salesperson and come up with a really good campaign. What do you think, boys and girls? Women and men? Ladies and gentlemen of the classroom and beyond? Educating everyone takes everyone — in the village and beyond — and it’s not cheap.

My slogan thoughts so far:

Do the math: pay like a pro.
No Classroom Left Unfunded
A “free” Public Education is priceless, not costly.

There are slogans built into existing quotes, too:
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

But for now, I’ll keep informed on the upcoming election and I’ll keep writing creative and effective lesson plans to connect with students in every way I can. I feel fortunate to work in a great field, one where I can make a difference. My votes can help ensure support from the legislatures and the White House.

Yours can, too.

And if you’d like an updated perspective, look to The Broad Side. You’ll see why this is sadly still relevant.

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I’ll Buy it Myself.

The conversation ended something like this.

“And here we go again; every discussion seems to center around how we can get books for our students.”

“I give up. I am just going to buy the books myself and write it off on my taxes.”

And the meeting went on for a little while, but that statement was the end of conscious debate. We quit looking for solutions, and it just felt so wrong. And then it dawned on me.

That’s what “they” want. That’s what the Powers That Be count on. They’ll keep cutting the budget, they’ll keep knocking down workers’ rights, they’ll make sure those of us who work in education can’t get anything for the students we teach. We, the nurturers, the teachers, the counselors, the caretakers, can’t stand to see students get shortchanged. If it’ll hurt our kiddos, we’ll make it go away.

It’s time to stop.

Nothing will change for the better, and the state of the state will certainly continue to change for the worse, as long as the nurturers and caregivers and teachers keep making do. As long as we keep putting bandaids on the wounds (and buying generic bandages out of our own pockets), the educational system will continue to bleed until the entire body, er, system collapses.

And why won’t anyone listen? The folks we call the “general public” doesn’t see a problem because we keep making it invisible. 

It’s time to stop.

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