Thursday, June 26, 2014

Approaching 50

Next week I will be one year closer to the half century mark.  According to the rules of rounding, I already should be rounding up to the big 50 but in my mind I wasn't.  Soon.God willing, I will be need to think of myself as in my 50's.

I joked this week that maybe it is time to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  Sounds trite but it is actually very much on my mind.  I have never had a definite career.  Life got in the way and I did what needed to be done as a mother and as a wife. My time is slowly becoming my own again.  Once again I can start to schedule my life according to my wishes.

For the second time this year, I started a new job.  Once again, I like the job and feel it could become a career.  I really like my job.  I get to help people find jobs.

It has been an emotional roller coaster.  Stability will be nice.  Financially stability would be even better.  Time to pursue my craft and my writing would be beyond incredible.  I have trouble knowing what to do when I'm not panicked about money.  It has been way too long.

By the time I am really 50 and not just approaching 50, I will finally have chosen a career.

That is my goal.

Let's see if Life cooperates.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Forced Child Labor in America- Modern Version of Slavery

The United States of America is a civilized country that has laws protecting our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.  These laws, including child labor laws, have been in place for decades.  Our children are to be in school learning all that is necessary to become responsible and productive members of our society.  Of late, school has changed.  It has become a place to be even more dreaded by students and loved by the opportunistic educational supply companies.

In the good old days when I was in school, our district only tested us with standardized tests every couple years with the California Achievement Test.  We were told to just relax and do our best.  The results didn't effect our grades.  They just provided information for the teachers.  Not much fuss was made about the results.

In college, I studied pedagogy otherwise known as teacher education.  I sat in class that ripped apart the effectiveness of standardized testing.  Culture, language, and economic factors vary greatly across our country and the world.  Standardized testing cannot accommodate these variations.  Subsequently, one group benefits and the rest suffer.

Ironically, this was the same time period when standardized testing was beginning to gain momentum in education.  The NTE (National Teacher Exam) and grade level mandatory achievement test were implemented.  I remember thinking that this madness should end long before my sons reached high school.  I was wrong.

Why the increasingly desperate push for standardized testing and now the Common Core Curriculum?

Money and Politics

Bashing the current education system is a simplistic but effective campaigning tool.  Terrify the constituents into believe that the schools are doomed and can only be saved by your new program.  With each new program, the schools need to buy new materials.  Millions of dollars are funneled into the pockets of the publishers and education "specialists".
Each test costs the school money.  Each test is taken by a student.  Not only are they taking this test which feeds the database, they are losing essential time for other more productive activities.  The students from Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts opened my eyes to the reality of the situation.  They are being forced to essentially work for Pearson and other such companies but are not compensated.  Neither is the teacher nor the school administration.

People profit greatly from these tests in part because of the use of forced and unpaid labor.  It is, in reality, akin to slavery.  The profits would not be there if the schools weren't forced to partake.  Not only are they not compensated for "trial runs" but they are forced to pay for the final versions.  The whole education model has become a slave of the standardized tests and the Common Core or the latest and greatest "revolutionary idea".

This sickens me.  It outrages me to see the effects on the schools.  The stress of my sons as they prepare for tests is ridiculous.  The number of bright students burned out by high school shocks me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Break Begins- Celebrate!

Today is the first day of summer break since I don't count Saturday or Sunday.  We never have school on the weekend.  Today, the kids will wake up for the first time and not have to worry about making it to school before the tardy bell rings.

I wonder how many kids will sleep until 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, or even later.  Bad habits will start today that will make going back to school difficult.  Sleep late, eat at weird times, and become a night owl.  That is all part of summer break, right?

Not this year.  Not for my boys.  I have a plan.  I want to do things.  I want the boys to look back at the summer and say, "Wow.  Look at all we accomplished."   That will not happen unless we make it happen.

This summer we will:

Outside the house
1. Finish the patio and move the camper.
2. Plant a garden in the old gazebo/patio area.
3. Move and split the plants that need it. 
4. Replace the trim that the woodpecker has attacked.
5. Paint the trim.
6. Seal the driveway.
7. Mulch

Inside the house
8. Paint 
9. Purge
10.Clean (made easier by the purging)

For the brain
11. Read daily
12. Study for the ACT
13. Practice problems solving by accomplishing all the other tasks we need done.
14. Visit the zoo often
15. Visit various museums
16. Go fishing
17. Visit and explore new places.
18. Have campfires and roast marshmallows.
19. See movies.

***20. Put together as many old Lego sets as we can from the huge storage tote of Legos***

Lots of work to do.  Lots of fun also.  I'm not a horrible task master.  I won't start playing the piano and singing loudly until 7 am.  We have a small house and the sound reverberates nicely.

Oh...and the Lego project is mine.  I already have two large Star Wars sets almost completed.