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Finding Heimat in Alt Ed: I’m a Mama to 120+

30 Apr

I’ve been mountain biking lately. I’m finishing up my student teaching. I’ve removed my mind from politics.

While teaching, you start to pick up on just how important your job is, even if you knew it in theory prior to teaching. You start to notice necessary leaders in the school; leaders who show their kids what it means to be a good, fair person. You start to notice how desperately so many kids need this example. Then you notice the money.

I feel as if invisible dollar bills, not air, is the force pressing so evenly against our bodies. Money, driving all actions, squeezing all pocket books. The reality that money (or lack thereof) will be THE factor in shutting down or crippling successful schools is ridiculous, for certainly, there is enough money in the world, especially the United States, to keep schools open and functioning.

Jay Z's MIAMI Mansion

I am thinking of the school at which I am student teaching.

I was lucky enough to have been born into a family where none of my needs went wanting, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Each individual has their own personal set of issues, but my family was a rock for me. When I remember childhood, it is a warm, comforting memory. I think of home and my mother’s meals, brothers and sisters, the banks of a pond, the peepers outside my window at night – all come back to me. Family. Shelter. Warmth.

This is more special than I can truly realize.

Before arriving at Marquette Alternative High School, I had never stepped foot in a school that replicated the warm feelings of home and family. I had spent almost 200 hours volunteering and observing in area schools, and that is what they always were – schools.

This is fine; not all schools must recreate the special dynamic of home. For so many kids, however, this is exactly what they need. A safe place. Family. Home.

In German, there is a word that does not directly translate in English; the word is Heimat. We translate it to mean “home,” but it carries a special connatation – the idea of warmth, family, safety. It is all wrapped up in one small word.

Marquette Alternative High School meets a need that money cannot create. Money can support the people who need to be there in order to create this safe place, but a family does not sustain Heimat with money. Unfortunately, money always plays.

Remove a father from a family and watch what happens in the life of a child. Take away an older brother or sister, an aunt or uncle, and the family is utterly changed.

Freud said once that as soon as a given state of things is upset, there arises an instinct to re-create what is lost. People who have had their families torn apart by abuse, substance, death, and adversity search to re-create the family which is lost. A person can take multiple approaches to such re-creation, and strangely enough, we often search in the same ways which destroyed our first family.

Finding real family, real Heimat, real love, can change this.

This is my plea to allow the song to remain the same at Marquette Alternative; this is my plea to put forth money to a place that provides a safe place for so many kids. Please, find it within your budget to maintain the level this building is at.

A Heimat is something that simply cannot be replaced.

My Second Family: The Wily Brood at MAHS

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Destroy the Free Will! or Hitler’s Take on Education

19 Sep

I think everyone who reads my blog knows by now that I am anti the national education movement. I do not believe in national standards, federal control, or politicians (businessmen?) who have little to no experience in the field telling us how to run our states and classrooms.

Ahem.

I am going to share with you, dear readers, yet another interesting find in the national education movement – this one has to do with Nazism.

“… the new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will…”

That line is a direct quote from Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation. Fichte is suggesting a new order of education because the old order is just not working (hmmm, sound familar?). The old order of education sought to “at most only exhort to good order and morality” (i.e. teach the kids what is a good, moral choice and allow them to make the choice). Fichte suggests crushing free will – note that he uses the word “destroy” – and replacing it with strict necessity in the decisions of the will.

Fichte. Maybe he got used. Or maybe he was a crappy philosopher.

Fichte was promoting Nationalism in the face of foreign invasion (the Napoleonic Wars), so the circumstances were a bit different. However, extremism is still extremism, and I can’t find myself agreeing with a modern nationally controlled education system. Fichte goes on:

“…(as) national education is concerned, we are firmly convinced that, especially among the working classes, it cannot be either begun, continued, or ended in the parents’ house, nor, indeed, without complete separation of the children from them.”

Oh, is that because working class people are too stupid to let their children be properly educated? They would probably teach their children the awful values that accompany a working-class life. Damn those hard-working, inadequately compensated working class parents. Damn you.

Hitler capitalized on nationalistic writing to form organizations like the Hitler Youth. Currently, businesses may be capitalizing on schools’ failures to meet AYP (No Child Left Behind – arbitrary federal law?) to make profits. School is not a business.

While America is not yet tearing children from their parents and educating them in private institutions, I must ask We the People to consider the consequences of moving toward a rigorous national curriculum in collaboration with privatizing education. The function of today’s schools is to help the growth of the individual, to make students conscientious thinkers, and above all, appreciate free will by the ability to make intelligent decisions (i.e. SMART consumerism! Responsible usership!). Schools and teachers want kids to do amazing, incredible things and to pursue their dreams successfully; support your local, public schools. Help reform them – vote. Get involved. Support learning for all students; public schools offer this gift.

Know what you’re buying BEFORE you buy it. Canned curriculum, federal standards, privatization of schools, and teachers without rights just may not be the trick to fixing education.

Activism takes root early – keep your voice! Make it heard!

Down with Bipartisan Labeling (or, Use Your Goddamn Brain)

10 Sep

Let’s read some positive news. I had a teacher in high school who once said, “You have those on the far left. You have those on the far right. Somewhere in the middle, the gray area, is the truth.” I re-read this sentiment while reading a editorial on the Missouri law that tried to ban teachers from using social media to connect with their students:

“It’s time that Democrats, Republicans, teachers, charter school supporters, superintendents, urbanites and suburbanites and others who care about educating our next generation take a step back and refocus on lessons in communication from our early school days.

Talk nice. Take turns. Listen. Share. Work together.”

That’s right. Bipartisan labeling and side-taking is absolutely ridiculous. Think about the issues. Think about the ideas. Use your head and make an intelligent decision, free from the chains of political names. And for the love of Pete, stop talking and LISTEN UP.
Next time I pray, it’ll be for compromise.
Also, the title’s a shout out to my good man and a great read, Mr. JD Salinger (check him out HERE).

Must love the rebellion when the spirit calls

Read more about the Missouri Law here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/article_70dc0b06-17af-5a97-ad91-4257bb692b06.html#ixzz1XWSTkeYe

Recent Research Suggests Gov. Rick Snyder May Be Cold-Blooded

6 Sep

Gov. Rick Snyder may be cold-blooded, recent research has revealed from a local university.

“After studying his actions in office, similarities have been identified between Snyder and a common, venomous snake found in Michigan,” says Dylan Sanders, a herpetologist with Macomb County DNR, “Perhaps the most shocking was the propensity to eat his young to support himself.”

Scientists came to this conclusion after Snyder passed House Bill 4361, which cuts taxes for business by $1.8 million and takes the firstborn from low-wage earners. Macomb County resident and Waste Management Laborer Jim Blokee still supports his vote for Snyder. “Snyder promised job creation and incentives. I trust him.”

Blokee stated that while he cannot afford to put away for his daughter’s college education, perhaps jobs would exist for her in the future. “I know there’s no guarantee,” he said, “But if I have to take a hit so Carrie can find a job down the road, then so be it.”

Sanders is still in shock from the recently released results. “The evidence certainly suggests a strong resemblance between Governor Snyder and the Eastern Massasauga. It’s uncanny.”

 

 

About House Bill 4361: http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2011/03/pro-union_demonstrators_to_pro.html

The Think Tank Behind Snyder: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/michigan-snyder-mackinac-center

More of The Incredulous – Michigan Actually Did This?

4 Sep

I’m trying to read more/do more research on education policies in Michigan so I can be better informed and thereby better inform my readers. I just read this, straight off the MDE website (MI Dpt. of Education):

“Who pays Emergency Financial Managers? – Pursuant to Section 18 of the Act, an Emergency Financial Manager is entitled to compensation paid by the unit of local government for which he or she is appointed. The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board establishes the level of compensation and also approves actual and necessary expenses.”

Hold a goshdarn minute here, folks. Did I just read that when the state decides to shut down local government due to financial instability, the state requires the economically starving local governement to compensate the very person that has replaced the authority of the local government?

!!?!!?!?!?!?!?!

What!?

I thought that the reason the Emergency Financial Manager was coming in was to repair the destitute condition of the decaying district, not scrounge up the remaining dollars and lap them up like an insatiable hound.

Roy Roberts, feelin' smug.

Great job, Granholm and Snyder.

Read the document HERE. It’s downright scary.

Why We Need More Bill Nye and Less Government Intervention

2 Sep

Okay, so EducationWeek has this really cool interactive timeline on American education policies since the Reagan era (81-89). I know you’re all chomping at the bit to get to it, so CHECK IT OUT HERE.

Honestly though, this timeline is pretty cool. It’s great for some perspective. For instance, did you know that in 1983, education pundits were worried about the new technology of computers not allowing for equal education opportunities to all students? 38 years later and it’s the same battle with computers, Internet access, Smartboards, and oh, let’s not forget up to date textbooks and up to code buildings.

The next report in the timeline, also 1983, declares that the American education system has lagged into mediocrity.

Later in ’83, Reagan “seizes educational initiative” by suggesting a reformed method of paying teachers – merit pay (basing teacher pay off student performance on standardized tests).

Later in ’83: a shortage of teachers for math and science! Let’s create incentives.

1984: The Secretary of Education creates a program that will give $1 million in grants to districts ONLY IF they implement merit-pay measures (Race to the Top, any one?)

’85 – Bilingual policies have failed. (Fast forward to 2011 – still failing)

Later in 1985 – Vouchers are approved for private schools!

1987 – I was born.

Why is it that the issues we were fighting to solve 30+ years ago are the same issues we’re fighting to solve today? Shouldn’t we have made some progress?

Nope. Instead we’re suggesting the same solutions that failed to work in the 80’s. Let’s get teachers on merit pay, even though standardized tests are supposed to be used a tool to understand individual student achievements/areas of need so that we can better teach the individual. Let’s keep sending public money to private schools via vouchers. Let’s force districts into implementing laws by dangling big fat funding in front of their faces. And it’s still impossible to interest any one in teaching science or math.

My ideas: let’s do away with the idea that standardized tests indicate intelligence, create better evaluation systems for teachers and better assessments of student progress and academic growth, STOP giving tax money to private ventures, DO give the federal government the boot when it tries to bully/coax states into legislation, take back our ability to self-govern, and hire Bill Nye to motivate college students to become science teachers.

One look is all he needs to make those kids switch degrees

If all that is too wistful, we can always go back to to the interactive timeline and wonder at our inability to change.

A $40,000 SUV: the Natural Choice for a Dying District

11 Aug

Sometimes you need to search for the incredulous. Other times, it hits you in the face.

A news article I just stumbled upon could have been found on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Titled “DPS’ chief Roberts defends purchase of $40,000 SUV with district funds,” I doubled checked my news source. Yup. Detroit Free Press. Doubled checked the acronym. Yup. Detroit Public Schools.

The same DPS that is $327 million in debt? The one that’s closing half its schools? And what about that new budget?

Oh, that’s right. When the old guy failed to resolve the $327 million in debt in five years, we (or should I say the Honorable Governor Snyder, who took away Michigan citizens’ voting power)  replaced him with a guy who talks about $40,000 SUV’s as if every man, woman, and infant baby in Detroit could purchase one.

“”I’m driving the heck out of it.”

Haha! You’re a funny man, Roy Roberts!

There she is, Big, Shiny, and Oh-so-necessary.

Roy Roberts and his jocular manner regarding his new purchase with district funds reflects on his ability to act as DPS’ “Emergency Financial Manager.” The lone wolf (dare I use the word?) with ALL THE POWER thanks to Snyder’s new law. Did I mention he’s an ex GM executive? Oh, and his measly contract of one year only allows him a salary of $250,000.

How strange.

For more info on Michigan’s latest snake:

“Roy Roberts New Financial Manager For Detroit Schools”