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Thursday, February 15, 2007

More CSAP Garbage

Well, I've now taken to carrying a tape recorder with me when I pick my son up from school.

Last week my son was very ill and out of school the entire week. We took him to the ER Sunday and he was diagnosed with Bronchitis and sent home on a nebulizer and codeine cough medicine. Monday morning I received a phone call from the ER doctor and was told Ben had strep. So antibiotics were ordered and I called the school to makeup work ready to be picked up.

I was put on hold by the school secretary and suddenly the principal was on the line. Asking me how Ben was and how much he was missed (I started at that point to get suspicious as she's never inquired as to his illnesses that kept him from school before). She then immediately went into another spiel telling me why Ben should take the CSAP (that was coincidentally going on while Ben was sick) It was just a regurgitation of everything covered in the meeting the week before. I said "I'll talk to my husband about it" and hung up.

Later that day as I was picking up Ben's work from his classroom teacher, the teacher accosted me too. Only her approach was much worse. She stated that Ben not taking the test is going to jeopardize the rest of the field trips for the year and the class's participation in an upcoming play. I asked why? She stated that it had to do with percentages of kids taking the test. All I said in response was "Well, maybe the school or class needs to come up with different criteria for participation, especially since the test results don't come back until next year. Then she patted me on the back and said "Well dear, it's your decision".

This conversation took place in front of my son's entire class.

Ben will not be taking the makeup CSAP and I will now begin recording each and every conversation the principal and the teacher has with me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Organics!


The link provided today is a site called PickYourOwn.org. It's a lists of organic farms in your state.

I want to try to make it easier to buy local for everyone.

What exactly is organic you ask?

For meats it means the animal was given no growth hormones or antibiotics. Which means you and your children are not getting unnecessary hormone or antibiotic exposure.

For vegetables it means that the vegetables are minimally processed and without artificial ingredients or irradiation or toxic fertilizers

I found a site that will help with the meanings of the labels you find it's calledEco-labels.org, which will help you discern between state's labels
Eco-Labels


The other side of the coin is finding foods produced as close to your place of residence as possible. You want to eat as closely to the source as you possibly can. Which means buying from local farmers whenever possible. Many farmers have situations where you can buy shares of their season and be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables all season long.

To get closer to your meat products there is one site in particular that can connect you with local meat producers who graze feed their animals. EatWild


There are many options to bring you and your family closer to the source living. Do some research!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Aging, cafes, eating and kids


Birthday number 44 is fast approaching and this one seems to be the toughest yet. I didn't have a problem with 39 or 40 or 41, but this one is throwing me for a loop.

I think that some of it is due to the fact that I started a second family later in life and am having to wait even longer for my "life" to start. I've been a mom since I was 16 years old, not that I don't love my kids because I do. I'm a better and more patient mom this time around and I wouldn't trade this time for anything. I'm just ready for another phase. I do however, keep hearing my mom's voice in the back of my head telling me that I gave up my life when I decided to have kids. More specifically when I decided to have one at 16, but that's another story.

Patience has never been a virtue of mine and I am so ready to start my cafe or mobile food cafe. I know I can do this, I know I can make this work. I know that I can support myself and my family with my talents. I even think I can get my siblings involved somehow too. I just need that break. I need to figure out how to fund this and I need to do it soon. Before I am old and gray and don't have the energy to pull it off.

I realize that age is just a number but 44 is a shitty, shitty number I'm so afraid that it's going to quickly turn into 45, then 50 and then my kids will be out of the house and Dan will be ready to retire and I still will not have realized my goals.

I am making positive steps, I'm researching menu items and getting ready to sign up for a business plan course, but I'm also afraid that doing all this is just an exercise in futility. I'm at a point of wanting to get on with it or just give up. Not a good place to be, not at all

Friday, February 02, 2007

CSAP Drama Unfolds


I would like from the beginning of this note commend Ben’s teacher and the school’s principal for taking the time to discuss the CSAP testing issue. While I don’t think the conclusion of the meeting was to their liking, they were most gracious and put forth excellent arguments for Ben taking the test.

We had a lively debate regarding the bad and good of standardized testing and standards in general.

I, of course, was the boisterous contrast to my husband’s laid back, “authority” figure. He and I compliment each other well and make a pretty good team. His ability to command attention is the opposite of mine, but most effective and will serve him well in his pursuit of administrative positions in any educational environment.

The pressure for the school in getting the students all on board is immense and the pressure to pass is even more so. And I fully sympathize with the administration’s almost desperate situation. Control of the school hangs in the balance if more and more parents decide that their child shouldn’t be taught to a test.

I will at this point make the point that Ben’s school does a fabulous job balancing teaching the test and including other subjects not covered, providing a good all around education. That is precisely why Ben is attending that particular school. But the principal even conceded that there are many schools who spend their entire day and year teaching children how to and what’s only on the test exclusively.

Ben’s teacher has a heavy emphasis on Science in her class, something that isn’t taught on the test. And my husband and I appreciate that. It’s the fact that not all teachers are as conscientious in this area.

The punitive nature of the testing itself is enough for me to say no to it. There is no reward for doing well on the test. There is only the promise of continued autonomy as long as you are up to par. Not to mention the amount of money it costs to administer and grade the tests.

There are so many reasons that Ben will not be taking the test and the situation would have laid less heavily on my mind had his principal not been so reasonable and agreeable.

What it comes down to is that it’s the principle of the matter, a matter of differing philosophy, an unwillingness to work within the system if working within that system means my child will be taught to take a test. It’s the fact that Federal mandates are bullying our children’s districts and schools to adhere to punitive and negative policies that will keep my children from a full and liberal education.

Monday, January 29, 2007

CSAP Drama Begins!

Well, I just got a phone call from my son's principal regarding the letter sent her last week. She wants to meet with me and Dan regarding Ben's not participating in CSAP testing.

In the phone conversation she started the pressure tactics. Intimating that I don't understand the impact that his not testing will have on the school. But as I have stated before, the school exists for benefit of my child, my child does not exist for the benefit of the school!

To be continued...

Weddings and Moms


My eldest child Todd, is getting married this July. I'm so proud and happy as he picked a delightful young woman to spend his life with

I am trying to come up with something that I can make for them as a keepsake. Something that screams DANDY!

Here's what I don't want

Cute frilly crap! Like in the clipart I just uploaded I don't do cute

I was thinking an altered book of wedding life, but I'm not sure which book to use. Maybe a Maya Angelou (though I feel guilty about even touching or using her words in that way. Kind of a blasphemy) But she's so wise and I could use lines from her books so easily.

I need to find the perfect book. The book that has enough of a love story with enough good lines to make it sweet and enough sappy lines to make it smartassable.

Or I am very good at embroidery but I can't find sort of design that isn't frilly and makes me want to puke.

Anyone who reads this, (though I see few do) with an idea, please post!

Bagels


I have a hankerin' for bagels. Real, chewy doughy bagels. Last night I was reading a comfort foods cookbook and ran across a recipe for bagels that looked fairly easy and made only 18. Eighteen seems a manageable amount to me for a bagel recipe.

I like my bagels rather traditional in flavor. Egg, or plain with sesame or poppy seeds. No fancy shmancy chili bagel with cheddar jack mixed in. A nice plain bagel with a smear of good cream cheese.

In search of a recipe!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Penny Social

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CSAP A Big NO

Today I will be writing a letter to my son’s school opting him out of the state assessment test, The CSAP.

I realize that I am part of the silent minority on this issue, but I’d like to be heard. Finding any sort of support or group of people that feel the way my husband and I do is near impossible. Mainly because most people are blindly accepting the CSAP as a way to make schools “accountable”

I would like to outline my reasons for not allowing my son to take the test. First and foremost among the reasons is the fact that my son does not exist for the school’s benefit; the school exists for my son’s benefit.

My son gains absolutely no benefit by taking this test. The results cannot be used to assess my son on the level he is currently, because the results don’t come back in time to make any personal adjustments for my son. If there were a test that was taken at the beginning of the year and then repeated at the end to measure his progress, that would be a different ball of wax. But that is not the case.

Another reason for opting out is that the anxiety suffered by the children and the emphasis or “teaching to the test” aspect. The pressure for children to pass is very high and the children are being forced to think and literally write inside the box. Emphasis placed on how to take the test, takes away from my son’s learning time. Not to mention the emphasis on “core” subjects that are featured on the test to the neglect of subjects such as Civics, Music, Foreign Language, and most importantly Physical Education.

Other reasons include the fact that the CSAP’s connection to NCLB takes control of my child’s education out of a local level and to the Federal level…with no funding from the Federal level for these initiatives. It costs between 14 and 17 million dollars for the state of Colorado to fund the CSAP. That is taking a great deal of money away from more important school issues, like music education, physical education and school lunch programs, or even higher teacher pay.

The letter went out into the mail this morning, so we should be hearing something soon. Because based on what I’ve heard of the principal, she won’t let this go at a letter.

In conclusion, I’d like to keep the idea and my options open on this issue. I’m not quite clear on how I’m going to follow through with this yet as there does not seem to be a group yet, of parents like me in this area. So, if you read this and are part of District 51 in Colorado, give me a holla'!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Get Your Political Brawl On

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The Political Brawl Hall

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