A Dad Walks into a Charter School Convention

If you care about K-12 education at all, this is worth your time to read. Our family lives in a rural district, where our public school is our only option. What happens to schools like ours when the rhetorical framework becomes militant? Education shouldn’t mean war. It should mean open communication, collaboration, and the willingness to admit that one side isn’t right. One side isn’t perfect. One side doesn’t have all of the answers. But there is one side that certainly favors privatization, money, greed, and perpetuation of misinformation. I’m not against choice. I’m not against charters, or private schools, or homeschooling, or sending your kids to Mars, or whatever you decide. I’m for kids. Kids live in communities. All sorts of different communities – rural, urban, suburban. Why is it necessary for one “type” of school to “win”? By default, when an entity wins, another loses. If charter organizations frame education in terms of war, what happens to the losers?

Parents, kids, and teachers are not the only ones with something at stake. Everyone has a stake. Remember, even if your kids are grown, or you have no children, or you think this issue has no bearing on your life, it does. We all pay the price of a miseducated generation. We all pay the price if bickering and squandering take precedent over developing and nurturing the minds of our nation’s future generations.

Simply know the facts, in context, and then decide. And by “decide” I don’t mean take sides. I mean be informed and open-minded.

Great post by Dad Gone Wild.

Dad Gone Wild

image1Two weeks ago as I was settling down to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones, I got a call: “Did you know that the National Convention of Charter Schools was going to be held Monday, right here in Nashville, Tennessee?” I did not. “Yes, indeed, representatives from charter schools and related businesses would be here for three days to celebrate all things charter.” Wow, was all I could say. “You should go down there and then write about it” it was suggested. Of course, I thought that was a great idea.

That’s how I found myself last Monday morning, picking up my pass for the 2016 National Charter School Conference at the Nashville Convention Center. Perusing the program, I was impressed with the speakers. Dr. Howard Fuller, Secretary of Education John King, former tennis great Andre Agassi – they would all be addressing the throngs. Throughout the day would be sessions

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5 HIIT Workouts for Pregnancy

At 37 weeks, I can post this amazing list of 5 HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts that will not fail to bring your heart rate right on up to super speed. Hubs has been getting into these faddy HIIT workouts lately, and I often pout when he leaves to go outside for 10 minutes to do them. Why?  Because that means he’s not inside with me, in the air conditioning, feeding me and rubbing my giant marshmankles. Because I’m a little jealous. He can run without feeling like his uterus is going to fall out from under him. He can jump without fearing a double hip replacement. He can do a pushup without a monstrous growth and two inflated boobs hitting the ground first. He can bend over without feeling every organ inside his body be crushed by a miniature version of himself that’s sucking his life force from within. You get the picture. My day will come. Soon. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, I have my own HIIT exercises to keep me at peak performance. Cheers.

HIIT

Keeping house: a working mom’s secret

It’s August. And that means the kid is a 3 year old.

This summer has been a routine in balance. Balance between getting dishes done and hoeing weeds. Balance between walking the dog and trimming the bushes. Balance between finding out what that smell is once and for all and fixing the leaky pipe in the basement. Balance between repairing the leg on the washing machine and folding that one load of laundry that’s been in the dryer for three days.

There is no time for it all, and so some days the weeds peek over the brick edging, making sure I’m nowhere nearby with my trusty hoe. My absence confirmed, they call on all the strength of Mother Earth to sustain their roots and they propel themselves high into the air overnight, until suddenly we are “those people.” You know. The ones who let mutant weeds tower over the flower beds – who let their yard go just a smidge past acceptable before finally thwacking it off right when the neighbors surely begin to wonder about us.

The pipe has leaked all summer. We have the means to fix it. It’s a simple fix, so I’m told. But it gets lost, plunking droplets of water into the large bucket beneath, waiting for us. We dumped the bucket the other day, and I can’t imagine how many drops were in there, marking the minutes, hours, and days of deferred maintenance. But it’s all good. The bucket is big, and it’s been emptied, so we’ve bought ourselves some time.

Time. You know, the thing we don’t have.

Well, we do. And we don’t. It will get done. Just like everything eventually gets done. But the stretch in between getting things done and keeping them that way is often wide, so that all of the weeds I toiled over on Monday and Tuesday evening have returned (along with their babies) by the following Monday. Because on Wednesday and Thursday, we had to do dishes and laundry. Friday, there’s that other thing we had to do. Is that chicken spoiling in the fridge? Better order a pizza.

I could get it all done. I could. If I arrived home, and we had a daily plan, we could get it all done and I could have one of those houses that looks like…well…one of those houses. Sidewalks festooned with vibrant blossoms doused in Miracle Grow. Window boxes spilling with lush vines. Bushes trimmed and groomed respectably. Don’t get me wrong. We don’t have a pile of spare tires in the front yard or aluminum foil in the windows or anything. We keep it tidy…ish. But the folks who live in those houses likely don’t have to smell the food in the fridge to determine its toxicity. We sniff. We sniff often. And sometimes we end up with an inadvertent science experiment like that one time with the pork that grew that weird white fur and– nevermind.

The point is that we just have no time. Actually we have plenty of time. But for some reason it slips away every night after we’ve filled it with dinner, followed by our evening walk together. A few minutes more trickle away in the time I watch kiddo ride his bike in the driveway. Who knew it took a whole half an hour to get that pesky little pretend spider out of a toddler’s armpit? Then we obviously have to smell his stinky toes at the end of each day and pretend to pass out – ten minutes there. Getting jammies on and brushing teeth? Let’s just mark 45 minutes and not think about how long it really takes to garner compliance from a 3-foot tall whirlwind who laughs hysterically at the frustration of others. Bedtime stories take at least half an hour.

And then it’s 9:30 p.m. And he’s still not asleep. And where did the time go? The dishes sat in the sink again. By 10 p.m. the whirlwind is still, and laundry is finally being folded downstairs.

I’ve learned a few things this summer. For one, weeds are obnoxious assholes. Secondly, toddlers like to ask questions. A lot of questions. The same damn questions over and over and over and over again…

One of these things will last forever. The other will not.

The weeds will come. They find a way to emerge and vine, through cracks and up buildings, and from beneath obstructions. And they will always be. Toddlers grow too. They grow into kids who’s toes no longer need smelling – who no longer ask “Mommy, where’s the guy? Mommy where’s that guy? Where’s his truck? Where is he? Where’s his doggy? Where’d he go?” As if the answer to his quandary is simply the key to understanding the purpose of life in the universe.

So it makes sense to tend the toddler with the toes and the questions. And leave the weeds to grow. At least for now. And that’s my secret to not keeping house.

How the prank call became extinct

drama

I lived about 12 miles from where all of my friends lived, in a different town. There were only so many telephone circuits between the two towns, so it was one of those loathsome situations where calls were long-distance unless you kept hitting redial a thousand times until your call went through for free. Long distance in those days was a big no-no because back then, phone conversations with friends and boyfriends could span hours. Parents brandished phone bills angrily in the air, demanding to know the meaning of a call that cost $5.62. That’s right. We talked on the phone. We relished extended periods of verbal communication that did not require our necks to bend perpendicularly to our developing spines, nor the exploitation of our thumbs. We laughed. We gossiped. We were comfortable with long pauses. There were “be right back” pee breaks when we were unwilling to hang up the phone for fear of losing the sacred non-long-distance connection.

I begged for my own phone. I had the kind you could get for $9.95 at K-Mart, with the buttons in the handset. Phones used to emit a satisfying plastic-y clack when the handset met the hook. I’d twist the cord around my finger or around itself until it became a tangled knot that squeaked like only the gummy membrane of a phone cord can. I also had a sweet Garfield phone. Do you remember those? My friend Heather gave it to me in junior high.

phone

Occasionally, during late night calls, my boyfriend and I would hear a muffle or nearly inaudible click that signaled someone may have picked up the other line. We’d freeze, holding our breath, hoping we hadn’t been caught talking at 12 a.m. on a school night. In which case a baritone voice would interrupt the call by saying, “You’d better get off this phone right now” through clenched teeth. When it was my dad, I’d follow a pattern: 1) squeak “Bye!” and hang up 2) come to Jesus immediately and 3)break up with Boyfriend the very next day because I’d disappointed my father, and that required a complete reevaluation of my life and a future that didn’t involve boys.

Anyway, I chuckled to myself while lying in bed the other night, thinking about those nights I got in trouble for being on the phone late with my boyfriend (who incidentally ended up being my husband and with whom I had the son who inspired this blog). I thought about our little almost-3-year-old dude and what it will be like for him someday, and I was a little sad.

I’ll never do that, I thought. I’ll never pick up the phone one night twelve years from now to see if my son is on the line past bedtime because there will be no line to pick up. There are no circuits to break through and phones no longer come in two pieces linked by a vinyl curly-Q. He won’t spend hours on the phone, because our silly culture has run away with us to Pleasure Island where we’ve eaten the ice cream and smoked the cigars and upgraded our smart phones until we grow long brown ears and tails and—HEE HAW! – we become jackasses who text and drive, “sext” naked pictures of our hoo-hoos, capture videos of victims rather than helping them (but not without snapping a selfie first)…you get the picture (pun intended).

But it’s no wonder texting is preferred in the absence of a cord to occupy our fidgeting hands.

Yes the absence of land lines has caused quite a pickle. The dominos have toppled from one to the next until every aspect of our future has been altered.

Prank calls, people. Prank. Calls. Don’t pretend you’ve never done it.

Call so-and-so’s mom from a slumber party and pretend you’re selling condoms at a discount, even though you really had no clue what that even was.  Dial 1-800-TAMPAX and giggle while telling the operator on the other end “It’s stuck in there. I can’t get it out!” Then dial back and order free tampon samples but have them sent to the boys in your class, getting their addresses from the … wait for it … phone book. (Side story: This one time some boys in our class prank called my house while I was out at my friend Heather’s house. My dad answered. The boys pretended to be radio DJs and told my dad I’d won something. He muttered that I was over at my friend Heather’s house and they immediately said, “Ok, thanks! Bye!” and hung up the phone. It didn’t take Dad long to realize he’d been pranked, which really pissed him off. He showed up on Heather’s doorstep in record time following the call, demanding to know who the pranksters and where they lived. I gave him vague directions to prevent Dad from verbally kicking their asses. You’re welcome, boys.)  But *69, followed by caller ID, followed by cell phones took away forever, the rite of passage known as: the prank call.

Disappearing landlines are also cause for thousands* to lose jobs as telemarketers (*that number has not been verified). I wonder what happened to the nice folks who called during dinner time to harass ask you to switch long-distance carriers. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to a nice gentleman continue to call me “Mrs. Scott” while prattling on to a 13 year old about how switching from AT&T to Sprint could save our family five cents per minute on long distance calls after 7 p.m. I’d welcome cell phone carriers to jockey for my business the way long-distance carriers did back then. Are you kidding? But they don’t. They don’t have to. They have us all by the balls and bits with their 2 year contracts and exorbitant unlimited data rates, which we’re all willing to pay every month because “What if there’s an emergency? I need Google Maps. How will I track my ovulation without my lady parts app?”

Pardon my Andy Rooney-ness. I get it. I’m not mad at technology, which provides enjoyment, convenience, and value. I simply feel that it may have pickpocketed a few precious coins from the sacrament of childhood, as experienced by my generation. Who knows what fresh hell adolescence will bring for today’s toddlers. It’s too soon to tell. I only know that long talks on a school night about someday “moving to the city” won’t resonate from a landline.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check out Pinterest. I want some DIY ideas for upcycling old telephone cords.