Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why school background checks are doing a disservice to poor kids

In 2005 our state's schools started requiring a Criminal Records check before you could volunteer in your kid's school. This is a big mistake, in my opinion, because it presents yet another obstacle to parental involvement. Teachers will tell you that getting parents involved is the key to children's success in public schools. Inner city schools in particular, have a hard time getting parental involvement for lots of good reasons: language barriers, parents who work long hours, parents who have other, more immanent concerns like housing or food. This background check requires a form to be filled out and a copy of license brought in to the school, then a several month waiting period for it to be processed. This makes it impossible for a parent to chaperone a field trip *next week*. Kids in poverty move frequently. Each school change requires a new background check. Kids in poverty also sometimes have parents with criminal records. This policy discourages those with even minor offenses to try to visit their child's classrooms. No one wants their kids teachers knowing that they had been arrested. Even if the teachers have no knowledge of the results- it's not a risk many will take. Yes, children have a right to be safe. Every school has (or should have) a book of pictures of all the local sex offenders. Should any of them come near the school, the police can be called. But the rest of this is doing a disservice to our children, especially our poor children. Every classroom should be an open door for parents to come in and watch and participate. To discriminate against the kids who need the most parental support is disturbing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The low down on the economic crisis

This is the best explanation I could find about the housing crisis.

The other two main causes of this economic crisis (in my opinion) are the:

deregulation of futures trading (like oil) by this bill:
"Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000" now known as the "Enron Loophole"
This is causing the outrageous oil prices which are not consistent with supply and demand.

And the deregulation of banks with this bill:
"Gramm-Leach-Billey law passed in 1999"

which led to the bailout mess.

Both of those were pretty much the doings of Republicans if anyone is looking to place blame- which I'm not. But I am interested in knowing who is trying to fix this mess and voting for those people. Right now the people trying to fix the "Enron Loophole" are Democrats. Most recently Bill Nelson (D) of Florida
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:12:./temp/~bdVS6U::

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

College: the big rip-off!

I tip my hat to 20/20 for doing this story last night. College is sooo overrated. Sooooo over priced. My generation was told that of course we'd go to college, and just sign on the dotted line and take out all these loans. They didn't tell you that these loans will hang over your head for the rest of your life. That they are the only loan you can't write off in bankruptcy. That the government will even take their money back from your social security checks. It's a horrible catch 22 we've created. The bachelors degree of today is the high school diploma of yesterday. You can't even get an interview without that degree. Yet, it means little more than that too. But the cost is astronomical!!

I don't write this as any kind of personal sob story. I have almost no student loans myself. I consider myself lucky. But I speak for so many of my friends who got royally screwed. I know we will be giving our children much different advice than we got. We will lead our kids into apprenticeships, trade schools, or inexpensive college degrees with big payouts. (Like my community college degree in nursing).

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Friday, January 16, 2009

potourri

We moved this week. To a nice little three bedroom- horray! So I haven't had the chance to blog. This is my way of playing catch up.

PARENTING 101: I guess I should be surprised it took eleven years of parenting before experiencing this joy. This week I got to take Dimitri to the pediatrician and then the Ear, Nose, Throat doctor, who eventually was able to extract a cherry pit from his nose. :)

WAR IN AFRICA:
I saw a really good movies this week, that was also somewhat educational. I highly recommend it: "Lord of War", starring Nicholas Cage and Bridget Moynahan.

Also, I found this documentary online that looks good. I haven't seen it though, so I can't warn you if its violent or not. If you aren't familiar with the way children have been used as soldiers, this is a must see.

MY NEW FAVORITE THING: Enoki mushrooms! They started selling them at the Cambodian stores around here for a dollar a package. (In American stores they're more). Oh my gosh! They're so good! They're very mild. We eat them raw or cooked. In soup they taste like noodles! But so much healthier for you. I wonder if I can grow them myself. They sell kits online, but those cost more than the actual mushrooms at the store. doh!

RICE CONFUSION: Barack Obama is appointing a black woman named Susan Rice to some top position. Isn't that ironically confusing? I discovered this when I was reading some article and they were referring to "Rice" but it wasn't Condolesa and I was like "Who is this woman??" ha ha.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Are you skeptical of unschooling?

I have to do a "mid-year report" for the superintendent so I wrote this summary of what the kids learned the past few months and WOW! They learned a lot!! I consider myself an unschooler. I've evolved into that over time as I became more comfortable with child-led learning. I do no lesson planning, have no curriculum and do about five or ten minutes of actual instruction a day (mostly handwriting and two or three math problems). But check out this list of accomplishments!! I believe strongly in a child's innate desire to learn and believe that unschooling is the ideal way to facilitate learning. Public schooling is, in my opinion, a good resource if you have to use it. It shouldn't be the default option for all children though.

(For more information on unschooling, I recommend the book Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves.

MATH: Long division, times tables, +, -,/ and x fractions, some algebra, some geometry, pi, tabulating savings rates, counting money
CAMBODIAN: Vocabulary
PHYSICAL EDUCATION: At the YMCA- swimming, racquetball, basketball, obstacle course and cardiovascular exercises on machines. At home- dancing, running games like tag, football, sledding.
WRITING: Cursive. Lessons on the proper use of conjunctions, possessive "its", the proper spelling of there/their/they're, capitalization.
SCIENCE: Rocket launching, pH experiments, decay, polymers, bones
READING: Listened to a reading of Otto of the silver hand and Golden Goblet. Read various books on his own including the entire Twilight Series (6th grader) Max the Muddy Puppy and Worst Person's Christmas (3rd grader)
CRITICAL THINKING: The strategy board game: Puerto Rico
SOCIAL STUDIES: Attended a political rally in New Hampshire, a protest in Boston and a nomination party in Westford. Assisted in door to door campaigning to get out the vote. Participated in the voting process on election day. Vaguely informed about the economic crisis. Some American culture lessons.
ART: Drawing an anti-tobacco poster, sketching dragons
LIFESKILLS: Memorization techniques, internet navigation, learned to skewer beef Teriyaki, personal hygiene, baby care

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

End of America?

Did you hear about that Russian professor who predicted the end of America by next year? It sounds kind of silly. I mean, I never would have believed it until this past summer. Now, it seems we're spending ourselves into oblivion. Could he be right? (Scratch head). I guess we wait and see. I'm not going to worry too much though. Just eat some popcorn and watch.


I came back to add that I've been pondering this since I blogged it yesterday. I have to admit that I almost fantasize about the idea. I have no savings or investments in American dollars, so I have little to lose. Since we're on the Northern border I imagine we might be taken over by Canada. If so, we'd automatically get Universal Healthcare. I drool at the thought of that. I imagine having to fly a different flag. How weird would that be??

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that breastmilk cures pink eye? (yes,applied directly in the eye). My baby had pink eye this weekend and I was frustrated that there wasn't a doctor available to see to get medicine for her. But then I remembered that breastmilk works. I've even used it on myself in the past (via spoon) It's a wonder why nurses don't tell new mothers that when they're babies get pink eye. (It's common in newborns). It would save so many the hassle of going in.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

SHAMEFUL scam!!!

Those email scams are annoying, but when my husband got this one this morning I was really ticked off. Shame on those people for using the name of our soldiers to try to trick someone.
I'll copy and paste the letter for you here. Towards the bottom it mentions an "Asian man". Did they assume (correctly) that my husband was Asian by his name? Would they have said "Hispanic man" if his name were Rodriguez?? They are reaching new levels of despicable lows.

Dear Friend,

With a very desperate need for assistance,I have summed up courage to
contact you.I am presently in Iraq with the USA marine platoon;I found
your contact particulars in an Address journal.I am seeking your
assistance to evacuate the sum of $900,000.00(Nine hundred thousand
dollars)to you,as far as I can be assured that it will be safe
in your care until I complete my service here.This is no stolen money,and
there are no dangers involved.

SOURCE OF MONEY:

Some money in various currencies was
discovered concealed in barrels with
piles of weapons and ammunitions at a location near one of Saddam's old
palaces during a rescue operation,and it was agreed by all party present
that the money be shared amongst us,this was quite an illegal thing to do,
but I tell you what? No compensation can make up for the risks we have
taken with our lives in this hell hole.

The above figure was given to me as my share,and to conceal this kind of
money became a problem for me,so with the help of a German contact
working here,and his office enjoys some immunity,I was able to get the
package out to a safe location entirely out of trouble spot.He does not
know the real contents of the package,and believes that it belongs to an
Asian American who died in an air raid,and before giving up,trusted me to
hand over the package to his family.

There is a secured way of getting the package out to a safer country for
you to
pick up,and i will discuss this with you when I am sure that you
are willing to assist me.One passionate appeal I will make to you is not
to discuss this matter with a third party,should you have reasons to reject
this offer.please destroy this mail as any leakage of this information
will be too bad for us.

I do not know for how long we will remain here but hopefully before the
year runs out,I have survived 2 suicide bomb attacks by the special grace
of God,this and other reasons I will mention later has prompted me to
reach out for help.

Respectfully,
Capt John Nielsen


 
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