It Was Called Segregation, Honey. Choice Had Nothing to Do With It.

President Donald Trump’s efforts to bolster relations with historically black colleges erupted in controversy Tuesday after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement equating the history of the schools — founded during an era of racial segregation — to “school choice” policies.

“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in the statement, released Monday night in advance of Trump’s planned signing of an executive order giving the schools more clout. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”

Image result for school segregation


Yes. Let’s Go Back to the “Good Old Days.”

From a Trump rally in Janesville, Wisconsin:

As Trump spoke, some listened. Peggy Sue Metz, 47, a trucking dispatcher from Rockton, Illinois, lamented not making it inside and being forced to share the sidewalk with the protesters, who she suspected, were raised with the values of unionized schoolteachers rather than those of their own parents. “It would be nice go back to the days when the father worked and could support five kids and the mother could stay home and raise the kids properly,” she said.

In other words, Donald Trump will make sure women stay pregnant and in the kitchen if he’s elected.




The Case for a Little Benign Neglect

I came across this 2009 post of mine deep within the bowels of my blog’s archive. 

(Sorry for the colonic imagery.) 

I think it’s still relevant today, so…here you go.

AUGUST 24, 2009

By today’s standards for parenting, my entire generation shouldn’t have made it to adulthood.

lg_27helicoptersThe other day my daughter attended a “meet and greet” with the teachers at the private school my grand-kids attend.  She figured it would be the usual get-together where the teacher expounds upon the lesson plan for the year, the parent listens while politely munching on a cookie provided by the room mother, and then the teacher fields a few questions on mundane topics such as “can little Herkimer wear his orthodontic headgear in class.”

Instead, my daughter was taken aback by the grilling some of the mothers gave my grandson’s second grade teacher, Miss F., a young single gal with a bookish demeanor but, apparently, nerves of steel.

The intensity and depth of the questioning were quite surprising.

Sarah Palin was given more leeway by Katie Couric than the young Miss F. received from her inquisitors.

The climax of the interrogation arrived when one of the mothers said she wanted to personally deliver a Subway sandwich to her daughter every day for snack time.  (I will interject here that the kids in kindergarten through second grade get out of school at 12:15, so there is no actual lunch period.)

Our Miss F. maintained her cool while informing the mother that this was not an option.  She explained if the children want a snack, they must bring it with them from home.  Anything out of the norm would be disruptive to the class and interfere with the egalitarian atmosphere that the school was trying to project.

The mother wasn’t listening.  She pressed on by asking if she could just “hang it on the classroom doorknob” so as not to disturb anyone.  Miss F. wasn’t buying this either, but apparently it took some discussion before the case was closed.

When my daughter related this conversation to me, I raised my hands to shoulder level and made little fluttering motions with my fingers.

“What is that?” she asked.

“Helicopter parents” I said, to clarify that I wasn’t having a stroke or something.

She hadn’t heard that before, so I went on to explain the concept of parents who continuously hover over their kids, anticipating their every need.  These are parents who have completely invested themselves in their children, possibly setting up their kids for a rude awakening at some point when they discover the universe is not centered around them.

In the days since hearing of Miss F.’s inquisition, I’ve been reflecting upon my own upbringing.  Certainly my mother worried about things like me putting my eye out if I ran with scissors, but there wasn’t a lot of concern about many of the things that are taken for granted with child raising today.

We rode bikes everyday and didn’t wear protective helmets.  We wandered around the neighborhood and beyond all day and into the dusk, only returning home after hearing my father’s loud whistle from the front yard.

My mother used to put big gobs of Vicks Vapor Rub up our noses when we had colds.  If you actually read the directions, it emphatically says not to use it anywhere internally, only on the chest.  I should be dead right now.  But, if my mother had her way, she would have found a way to cure cancer with Vicks, she loved it so much.

My parents had a baby-blue Oldsmobile.  There were no seatbelts and the dashboard was solid metal.  We kids used to rattle around in the backseat and very often I would ride in what we called “the way back”, that spot that was sort of a ledge behind the backseat and below the rear window.  If there had been a quick deceleration, I would have been a projectile object.  No one gave it any thought.

I practiced a form of benign neglect with my own kids.  Yes, they wore seat belts, always.  (By that time we did have them, thankfully.)  But when it came to overseeing every little detail of their day, that I didn’t do.

Maybe this attitude of “live and let live” was a result of my mother always wanting to know what I was thinking.  It wasn’t out of concern for my well-being.  She just wanted to know what was going on in my little head at all times.  So perhaps allowing my kids to have some independence from the Thought Police resulted in my being more of a laissez-faire parent overall.

Yes, things have changed in this country since the 50’s and 60’s and not in good ways.  There are a lot more threats out there to children than there used to be.  But kids need room to grow into individuals and they can’t do it with Mom and Dad always fluttering overhead.

Be like my mother.  Send the kid to school with a warm tuna sandwich.

Now, that’s living dangerously.



And You Thought Latin Was a Dead Language

mani pedi

I saw this cartoon on The New Yorker website today and had to laugh because I knew my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Maruxa Cargill, would have appreciated it.  Our Latin II class was very small, maybe 10 students.  I adored Mrs. Cargill, a petite, classy intellectual originally from Argentina, who taught Spanish as well as Latin.  To bring the language alive for her students, every year she organized a Latin Banquet where we all dressed in togas, competed in games, and ate a lot of pizza.  Often in her classroom I was chosen to read aloud from “Winnie the Pooh” in English while she followed with the Latin version from her book “Winnie ille Pu.”  Fun times.

So it wasn’t too much of a reach (for me anyway) to connect this continuance of the famous phrase “veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) to another one—“rock, paper, scissors.”  And, of course, we come to the episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon adds to it in the form of—“rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock.”

And here it is:


Out of the Mouths of Babes

For a little over a month now I’ve been volunteering in a reading program for kindergartners at our local primary school. 

Since my grandkids are in school pretty much full time now, and my daughter has either been working from home or at her new office digs during school hours, I found that after eight years “on the job” my services as child caregiver were no longer required. 

I knew all along that day was coming, but it arrived a little sooner than I’d bargained for, leaving me with feelings akin to being told by a supervisor to pick up my severance pay from human resources and it’s been nice working with you.

Even though I’m essentially a creative, “free spirit” (cough) Gemini, I’m still a creature who needs some structure in her life in order to feel grounded. 

To me, one of the worse things that can happen to an otherwise healthy person who’s retired is not having a reason to get up in the morning. 

I know too many people who have taken to tippling during the day (and night) after retirement because they don’t have someone or something that needs them; something that requires their attention on a regular basis. 

So my “something” has become five kindergartners, four days a week, in one-on-one reading sessions that usually last about twenty minutes each.  I have two girls and two boys on Mondays and Wednesdays, and one teeny, tiny little ESL (English as a second language) girl on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you want to maintain a young outlook on life, go no further than a bunch of kindergartners. 

They are a hoot.

Today, one of my boys was regaling me with a description of a picture he said he’d seen at the library of a horse giving birth.  (I’m thinking he must have seen it at the public library, not the school library which has books just for Pre-K through kindergarten.) 

Needless to say, it involved some very inventive thinking about horses’ butts and things that emerge from them. 

I don’t know who was getting more of an education—him or me.

But when it comes to inventive thinking, today’s prize has to go to my first little girl of the day.  She and the other girls came twirling into the reading room decked out in construction paper Indian headdresses and macaroni bead necklaces in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

As I admired her get-up I murmured something about how clever the necklace was, being made entirely of dried macaroni of various colors.

My little Pocahontas wanna-be laughed at my patent cluelessness and said:

“That’s not macaroni!  That’s dead food!”

I stand corrected.

Although, it could have been that the teacher had told them it was “dyed” food. 

And, more likely, it could have been, with my diminished hearing, that I misheard entirely what Pocahontas said. 

Either way, a good time was had by all.

I can’t wait to get up tomorrow morning to see what the day brings.


E Pluribus Unum

Mom fights school district over Spanish ‘Pledge’ assignment

EDMOND, OK (NBC) – An Oklahoma mother is fuming over a mandatory assignment given to her son.

Melissa Taggart is now taking her fight to Edmond, OK Public Schools after her son was threatened with a zero because he wouldn’t complete an assignment that would require him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish.

“My husband and I are appalled by it. We don’t believe in it and I do not want my child doing it,” Taggart said. “I just feel that it’s wrong, that he’ll have to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America in Spanish. That’s not how it should be taught. That has nothing to do with the Spanish language.”

Officials with Edmond Public Schools said that Melissa’s son was going to receive a zero for the project. A few hours later, they changed their minds and are now offering him another assignment.

“There are poems, lyrics, and great writers that she could have chosen that emphasize the Spanish culture … Why the Pledge of Allegiance,” Taggart asked.

When I was in high school back in the Stone Age of the 1960’s, I took Latin as my foreign language choice.  My teacher, Mrs. Cargill, was from Argentina.  Besides Latin, she taught Spanish and had a working knowledge of Italian and German.  Even though she was one tough cookie when it came to making us toe the line, I adored her.

Since our class was during the first period of the day, we heard the principal’s morning announcements over the room’s intercom.  These were always preceded by the Pledge of Allegiance, which he recited while all the students in the school stood and recited it in English with him. 

Except for us. 

Mrs. Cargill thought it was important to take advantage of any opportunity to bring the language alive by using it in situations that got us outside of the textbook.  So, we memorized the Pledge in Latin and recited it that way while the principal spoke it in English.

My, how subversive.

I wonder if this same parent would object to the Pledge being recited in Latin. 

How about French?  German? 

Somehow, I suspect there wouldn’t be anywhere near the fuss.  The Pledge is not a sacred text that will be defiled if translated into Spanish.  If anything, instead of giving a robotic and rote memory recitation as many students find themselves doing after years of saying it in English, it may get her son thinking about what the words actually signify. 

 Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Here’s to you, Mrs. Cargill.  I’m sure you would be “appalled” that a valuable learning tool could be twisted around to such ignorant ends.

     Ego vexillo Unitorum Statuum Americae ac rei publicae, quam refert ipsum, fidelitatum voveo: Uni Nationi sub Deo indivisibili, cum Libertate atque Justitia omnibus.


Early Bird Special

My husband and I went to a school function this morning for our granddaughter who’s in first grade.  She and her brother attend a small private school, one which has a fantastic curriculum with a particular emphasis on reading and the arts.  (Some of the kids’ paintings would put many adult would-be artists to shame—myself included.)

Today’s special program was a puppet show presented by the first graders.  It was an adaptation of the story “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”  Each child in the class had a role and created his or her own puppet to go with it.  Our granddaughter, S., was chosen by the teacher as one of the two narrators of the story.  Her best friend, C.K., was the other one. 

Wow, can these kids read!  They stood up to the microphone and did an excellent job—even when the microphone started blaring feedback shortly after S. started.  Luckily, that was corrected and S. continued with her narration, completely unfazed by the air raid siren volume of racket that so rudely interrupted her.  I was exceedingly proud of her.  I told her teacher that only a couple of years ago S. was a shy little flower who didn’t want anyone to look at her and got very upset if she thought anyone might be laughing at her. 

Today, she was Ethel Merman on Broadway.  Way to go!

The puppet show was scheduled for 11:00 am and since we live about eleven miles outside of town we calculated that we should leave home about 10:20 to give us enough time to get to the school before the show started.  (I hate to be one of those people who comes straggling in after something has already begun.  Maybe it’s because everyone turns around and looks at you—gee, I wonder where S. got her phobia about not wanting to be looked at?  Hmmm…..)

It turns out we left home a little early, about 10:15, so we arrived at the school just a bit after 10:30—way too soon because the kids were out on the playground and there weren’t many other cars in the vicinity that looked like they belonged to fellow puppet show attendees.   We sat there for a minute and then decided we’d go to the post office and pick up our mail first and then come back.

My husband asked “Why is it old people are always early to everything and young people are always late?”

I just looked at him and replied “It’s because young people have a life.”

But, if we did have a life, we might have been too busy to see Ethel…er…S. in her big performance. 

I much prefer it this way.  Here’s to the Early Birds.