January 2009

Monthly Archive

More Test Scores

Posted by on 26 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I was very worried, but for Elementary Education subtest #1 I got 290, and subtest #2 I earned 281… passing is 240. I am still waiting for the report for the Basic Writing subtest.

Change at the Local Level and Beyond

Posted by on 21 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: children, education, hope, Making a Difference, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

New Superintendent of Public Schools has announced the changes to the obscene tests and testing process… End of WASLs is at hand!

But not this year, of course — though the tests themselves will eventually be changed so as to better and more reliably reflect specific areas of understanding, and the process for scoring them will be streamlined, and the teachers will receive results back in time to do something about it… it will take a little while to get things pulled together. I understand this. I just wish the Superintendent had the ability to suspend the testing for the year.

But he doesn’t, because No Child Left Behind is still in effect. Which means if Washington State doesn’t test in some way, Federal Funding will be withheld.

I hope this will be rectified shortly, I know that it is on the Obamagenda (my word, not intending to be disrespectful). There is an entire White House Page devoted to the highlights of change the new administration envisions for Education.

My dream? Big, but it includes: Provide funding so teachers have smaller classes and time to plan and opportunities to attend workshops. Provide funding so school-aged children have before and after school opportunities when their parents work. Provide a national framework so that when children from Arkansas move to Maine or Hawaii they can fit right in with the new school, and not be behind or too far ahead. And finally, take the emphasis off “testing” as the only type of assessment. There are so many other ways to judge learning…

Next Steps

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, economy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, hope, Making a Difference, parenting, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, teaching, Uncategorized

Well, after the partying is done and the confetti is swept up, after the last tourists have returned to their homes and life in D.C. resumes its normal frenetic pace, the president, his administration, congress and the people need to get on with life. The rest of us… we need to get on with life, too.

We were all urged, during the president’s first official speech after his swearing in, to be willing to go the extra mile, to do more, to demonstrate that, while the citizens of the United States have many good things, they are also tough enough to do the right thing. Like my grandparents, who were young adults during the Great Depression, we need to focus on the really important things in life, pull together and support each other, and do what we can.

I don’t know about you, but I was motivated by this. I had been putting off finishing the readings for my homework this week — and finishing the short paper that is due tomorrow. I decided that, blurry vision or no (I have an eye infection that makes it hard to process what I am seeing), I could do this. So I did. The readings are done, the paper nearly so (just tying up loose ends).

What else can I do? I will meet in a couple days with a student I normally see on Monday because the holiday meant we didn’t have a chance to work together and I don’t want to go two full weeks. I will meet for a snack with a friend on Friday. I will spend some time tomorrow looking for my address book so I can send out some new year’s notes. Connecting with people seems to be a good thing to do right now.

And next? Try to figure out a way to study for the next set of tests I will take… contact the school to be sure I am on the right track with my studies. Get my financial aid form filled out as soon as our current year’s taxes are complete. Clean out the closet, finding the clothes that I no longer wear that may yet be useful to others. Get the rest of the bookshelves up on the walls so I can walk around the house in bare feet again — the boxes of books are a bit in the way. And pick up the knitting needles and the rest of that large skein of yarn…

These sound like such baby steps. But they are important, to my productivity and to my family and friends, and to the people in my community. I am not likely ever to make a direct difference in the life of somebody in Africa or Asia, or even on the other side of Washington state, but perhaps if this corner of the world is a little better because of my actions, then the rest of the world will follow.

Our children are watching us! Are we teaching them how to take charge of less-than desirable situations and make the best of them that we can? Or are we teaching them how to complain and wait for rescue (remember the princesses in Shrek III)? We don’t have to solve everything today, or overnight, we just have to make a start.

The next steps are the first steps.

inauguration, reality

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

Barak Obama, President of the United States!

inauguration — expectation

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

After a full night’s sleep, out of alphabetical order, I know, here are my expectations for the new administration:

  • Restore the rule of law and constitutionality to the administration. Rather than going their own way and thumbing their nose at the legality of their actions, I expect this administration to be scrupulous in both interpretation and following of all laws.
  • Re-engage with nations that have been alienated by the outgoing administration, both friend and foe, even as they make clear that despotism is not acceptable even when done by our allies.
  • Emphasize education, training and job formation — while removing the barriers that the “No Child Left Behind Act” created
  • Lead the way. For young people, for immigrants, for parents, for politicians, for the world. I believe this new administration has the energy, the experience and the will to bring unity and hope to the world.

inauguration — tradition

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, citizenship, education, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, hope, musings, Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

Some families have long-standing get-togethers: summer reunions at the shore, grandmother’s birthday bash, even game night every Thursday with pizza and friends.

Some cultures are filled with holy days: Eid al Fitr, Yom Kippur, Easter, Dia de los Muertos.

Some countries are full of pomp and circumstance. The Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, or the Opening of Parliament. The Birthday of the Monarch or the Jubilee Celebrations. The remembrance of the war dead, or the founding of the nation.

The United States has its traditions, too: Fourth of July (the day we declared independence though it was 5 years and then some before the war was over, and two more to make it official), Thanksgiving, Memorial Day.

Every person resonates with traditions in their own way. Every person has their own stories of the most bizarre iteration, the best time ever, the time it just didn’t happen. Different communities celebrate or observe these events in their own ways, with great variation… but by and large, even those who are not “observant” take note and they become ties that cement society.

In the United States, in over 230 years, we have a tradition of a peaceful, orderly transition between administrations. We pride ourselves on the “ease” with which one government morphs into another. No bloodshed, no shaky weeks after one government is dissolved and another one is forming, no military coup and martial law. Like our annual national holidays, the quadrennial inauguration is as certain as the rise of the sun tomorrow.

But unlike the other holidays, which commemorate things in our past, this one heralds our future. Rather than looking backward shoring up our cultural myth through remembered heroics, inauguration day signals beginnings, possibilities, hopes and dreams. It points the way forward, encouraging and beckoning us to renewed and greater effort on the part of our country, our people.

Today is the day for the inauguration of the forty-fourth president. Today we look toward the future, with confidence, with hope. Today, regardless of personal philosophies or ideologies, we can take comfort in the traditions that tie us all together. Our government, our nation, continues with no interruption, no alteration in the basic structure of our lives.

That is a pretty nifty tradition.

inauguration — recreation

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: fun, Uncategorized

This is just for fun.

In the middle of all the serious, sublime and surreal (and yes, the silly)…

stidmamabamicon

Here is a link to three I have already made, toward the top of the page in the center is a “create” button… you probably want to sign up for your free account first — I lost the first one I tried.

inauguration day – inspiration

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, citizenship, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Peace Making, poetry, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

It’s not just adults who are interested and engaged in these times.

Children are writing Letters to Obama Poetry

and Slate Magazine invited its reading to craft aninvitational inauguration speech.

and here is how Obama inspired someone overseas, writing in The Daily Telegraph.

inauguration day — anticipation

Posted by on 19 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, citizenship, editorial, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Making a Difference, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

In fifteen hours, give or take, Barak Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. The whole world waits with anticipation, some eager, some fearful. Many have expressed their ideas through speeches, editorials, marches. Though it is possible to directly send ideas to his “team,” I haven’t sent much. I just don’t know which of my hopes and dreams to articulate, what is the highest priority?

  • Do I hope for support for families that are able to afford to have a parent stay at home — something along the lines of having those year(s) “count” toward social security retirement and disability status?
  • Do I hope that education will become a higher priority than incarceration?
  • Do I hope that children and adolescents will be given developmentally appropriate education and support?
  • Do I hope that remaining areas of wilderness that contain fossil fuels will be protected, so that the earth can begin the long process of restoring ecosystems?
  • Do I hope that people will regain their sanity as it relates to employment — doing a good job for reasonable pay, benefits and some security?
  • Do I hope that the insane profit-taking of the last twenty years will end and business owners and shareholders will return to a healthy appreciation for the worker?
  • Do I hope that the United States will, rather than run roughshod over other sovereign states, re-engage in a polite and respectful dialog with them?

Yes, and more.

I am still in the middle of gathering my thoughts. Anticipation…

anticipation
3 a: visualization of a future event or state
4: the early sounding of one or more tones of a succeeding chord to form a temporary dissonance

(from Merrian Webster’s online dictionary).

I chose just two of the definitions, the first being the one I considered as I began to write this post. I, like millions (billions?) of people around the world, have certain ideas about what the change in administration will mean. I have ideas about how history will now shift; hopefully away from the aggressive, antagonistic policies of the outgoing administration that alienated many forms allies, and toward a more inclusive, cooperative set of policies that re-invite the world to participate in solution-finding.

And then, as I read the definition, the last concept hit me – between the ears, as it were: We are moving away from the bombastic final chord of a martial movement in the symphony of our history. A new note is sounding — a clarion call, fresh and new as the next movement gathers itself before bursting into full harmony. How will the lingering chord resolve? How will the first hestitant notes of the next theme find their way? What surprises are in store?

Poetry for Grown-Ups

Posted by on 18 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: poetry, Uncategorized

I think… this is a book by the father of an acquaintance. I have to admit I don’t understand this review, but I also have to admit I don’t read much modern poetry.

John Taggart’s There Are Birds

If you are a poetry reader, you might find this one worth looking into.

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