There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.
Illinois has big financial woes. Many of our larger city school districts are low performing. Most school districts that depend on local taxes are hurting big time. Starting salary in my city for a teacher is $39K. Most young teachers can't afford that because they owe so much in loans. Or if they take the much needed job, they live at poverty level if they have a family. Yet, our state is going to hire a storyteller. I'm wondering if this storyteller is going to tell fictional stories because the truth is pretty scary!
In other "factual" news, I almost have the room straightened up where we had the carpeting stretched. The guy showed up, on time, and after he finished, he said the job was more than he anticipated and that he had to restretch the whole room. I asked if he was going to raise the estimate and he said no, that wouldn't be fair to me. He also fixed a closet door in another bedroom because I asked him to show me how the bifold doors worked. He showed me, fixed it. So, I gave him $25 more than he said and he thanked me profusely.
Today I volunteer at school. I am working with some fifth graders on writing. It is sad how poorly they write and spell. A couple of them give me attitude claiming I don't know how to write and I just laugh as I work on their papers with them and correct the many grammatical and spelling errors. One of them said I didn't know what the teacher wanted and i finally told him that I have known the teacher longer than he has been alive, and I was the one who used to demonstrate in this teacher's class the writing model.
Our local paper is raising their rates yet again. This is the second time in a year. We seem to get less for more money and the mistakes continue to escalate. DH loves getting the paper and we can afford it, but it irks me we have to pay more and the quality isn't there.
Viewing the 'Education' Category
There are times when truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today's article in the paper proved that. Illinois is hiring a state storyteller to tell the good things going on in education to the tune of $47K.
We attended church today and part of the message was a parable in which a lamb is talking to his father saying how jealous he was of the pigs wallowing in the cool mud on such a hot day.
Papa Sheep told the lamb not to think about getting in the mud because "lambs don't wallow."
Of course the lamb waited until papa was out of sight and jumped in the pig pen and oozed into that cool mud...but the mud not only stuck to his legs, but to his coat as well and he became stuck. He cried for help and the farmer came and rescued him and cleaned him before putting him back in the fold. The father told the lamb the reason you don't get in the mud is we aren't like pigs, we get stuck in the mud so we don't wallow like them.
The message was basically this: we need to listen to our dad's advice.
A pretty cute parable for Father's Day, don't you think?
So, what advice did your dad give you that has served you well? One thing my dad always encouraged me to do was if anyone ever offered to teach me something, let them because you never know when it will come in handy.
How true that was. Long story short, I worked for a small newspaper in the late 70s. One of the typesetters called in sick so the other one after press time asked me if I wanted to learn to typeset. I said yes, and she did. That little education helped me pay for my college because it was a skill that I could use to make money.
Happy Memorial Day! I'm sure most of us have been touched by someone in the Armed Forces whether it is a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, child.
Today the news stations broadcast the president putting a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. It was a beautiful ceremony and made me remember a number of years ago when DH and I were on a trip and we saw the changing of the guard there. The ceremony was moving and everyone in the crowd was quiet and respectful. I think that helped make it special.
As we remember our soldiers, both those we know and those we don't, think good thoughts of how blessed we are to have people who have fought for us. I'm including a couple of photos from my vacation in 2009 and the changing of the guard.
Mondays are always a different day simply because it means getting up and at 'em and getting to work. Don't get me wrong, I really like my job, but that bed on Monday mornings is so comfortable.
Today was a tough day for a couple of reasons. My asthma has started to flare up and it means my lungs hurt. It makes breathing and talking uncomfortable. I think it is because of the change in weather and the high pollen count. I often get like this when weather changes.
The other reason is one staff member has decided not to do what was instructed. I don't make the rules. I try to help teachers with their work (I'm an instructional coach) and I'm rooting for both staff and kids.
This person, however, decided not to do the interventions our problem solving team developed because this person claims to know more. Hmmm This person just started at our school this fall. This person has had less than six weeks with the students. The intervention was started last year because this child was falling further and further behind. Yet the teacher said the child doesn't stand out.
I get that it is extra work and extra time. But, with the state laws, teachers are to provide interventions for students who are discrepant. And this teacher only has one child identified so it isn't like there are a ton of kids to work with.
Yet this teacher didn't make the effort and is making excuses instead.
I had a difficult time keeping my temper from flaring. I don't get angry easily, but this set me off. This kid needs help and this teacher didn't even make an attempt.
Hopefully I will deal with this wisely. I just know if I were this child's parent, I would be very, very upset to think my child didn't receive help when needed. The majority of our school staff works hard to help our students. Too bad this person isn't doing the same.
The last few evenings we have been viewing PBS' program on the Roosevelts by Ken Burns. Both of us enjoy history so it has been something to look forward to as well as enjoy.
We always knew Teddy was quite the character and this biographical flick validated and expanded on this.
Intermixed were stories of FDR and Eleanor the first couple of nights since they were still pretty young when Teddy was up and coming.
FDR has always been my favorite president and I think it stems from my father talking about growing up in the Depression and how FDR took some pretty strong action to try and help people work. I know I was devastated to learn years ago that he wasn't loyal to Eleanor and it still bothers me how such a smart person can make such stupid mistakes and have an affair. Nevertheless, I think FDR is someone who battled a lot to even become president.
The historian who wrote the series as well as one who is interviewed almost broke down in tears last night talking about how much FDR struggled with polio and how much pain he was in the rest of his life trying to appear "lame" instead of crippled so he could realize his dream of being president.
Yet I still believe seeing FDR and seeing history has become more real because of my dad's stories and his history. Often times things in the past are just things in the past, but my dad told about listening to FDR on the radio and how my uncle was a member of the CCC which had a project nearby -- refurbishing New Salem, IL.
The Depression was brought about by a number of things, but some of it was unsecured debt...sound familiar? People borrowing more than they could repay...Can we see in our own not to distant history our recession?
There's a quote about those who don't learn from history will repeat it (I'm paraphrasing) and this is so true. I know the economy goes in cycles and is unpredictable. But, folks who continue to make the same mistakes certainly aren't learning from them.
As I climb down from my soapbox, I look forward to another installment tonight of the Roosevelts.
Well, we have three months of having the booth under our belts.
I finished doing the paperwork today to see how we did.
One thing I learned is people around here do not buy deviled egg dishes. I sold the ones I had for what we had in them to a kind lady who was going to give them to a friend to replace the ones he lost due to divorce. I feel fortunate I didn't lose money.
Another thing I learned is to look at what everyone else has in their booths and not buy the same stuff. If it isn't selling in their booths, chances are it isn't going to sell in ours. So, we usually do a sweep every month to see what everyone has and look for different items.
In an earlier post I told my husband that we have to buy things that we ourselves might not like, but because someone else might collect it. It is difficult to do this because we usually gravitate to those items we ourselves like, but I have some things in our booth that I personally would not want. But we all have different likes.
In a previous post someone suggested to buy in such a way you can mark the price up to three times the amount. Sage advice, I might add.
I have been listening to what my friends say they buy and look for those items. One friend likes snowmen so when I find them reasonable, I pick them up and am storing most of them for more seasonable shopping, although I have a couple of things out. Another friend likes bird items and she has been a very faithful customer.
I think another thing I've learned is I have to do what I call, "hustle." I post photos on Facebook each week of stuff. I email people when I have items I think they might like. I move items around in the booth and exchange things out every few weeks so it looks different. We have seen booths that have looked the same for months. I wonder how they even make booth rent.
Our booth is small. I have it pretty packed. In all honesty, it has been fun.
So, I'm pleased to report that for the first month we broke even. The second month we made about $24. And last month we made about $36 after paying expenses.
We are using the profits to buy more items, but I think the education has been a benefit as well. I have no desire to go into business for myself, but it has been enjoyable.
We checked in on our booth and we have made enough to cover the booth rent for this month and a little besides! Yay!
I have decided it is a game...what can we buy that truly interests others? DH is having to learn that just because he likes something, doesn't mean a lot of others do. I bought a couple trinkets that he questioned me on last week. I put them in the booth and they both sold over the weekend. It was luck, shot and simple, but it wasn't something I would particularly like for myself. So, it is learning to think beyond my own likes and dislikes.
We are halfway through the first month of this antique booth. We have not quite made booth rent yet, but I am hopeful. It is a learning experience...things we thought would sell immediately haven't and stuff I added for filler have sold. Go figure!
Today they are supposed to have a vintage car show in the parking lot and they are supposed to sell food with the profit helping a homeless shelter. I certainly hope we have good weather for this to bring in lots of customers. I know not everyone will buy, but I figure if we have lots of folks going through the antique mall, the better our chances are. They were supposed to have an outdoor flea market a couple of weekends ago and because of the bad weather, they cancelled it. This place isn't quite a year old so the foot traffic isn't great...I hope activities like the car show help bring in other people.
I'm going to post some photos of some of the stuff in our booth so you get an idea of the stuff we are trying to sell.
Thank you to everyone who comment on the previous post about the booth. I am taking your advice that was generously given.
It is interesting that one’s high school experience can still forge one’s lifetime decisions.
For many, high school was their greatest time of life – making friends, going to dances and parties and growing up. I made friends and learned an incredible amount of the politics of society. I wasn’t in the popular crowd. I didn’t go to dances. Some of the folks who were in the popular crowd were pretty snobby. I had friends and we did things and it was OK.
I’m 50, yet I’m surprised at how some people my age are still trying to relive their high school days. Someone I work with was a wanna be, in other words, she wanted to hang with the ”in” crowd. Well, she is trying to relive this time because someone she went to school with is someone she now works with, and they are now “friends.” Yet she copies everything this person does, right or wrong, because she still wants to be what she perceives as the “in” crowd. It is kind of sad, really. This person’s “friend” is accepting of her because she is using her, not because she really likes her. How incredibly shallow. I guess everyone wants a peep or two. And this person still wants to be accepted by their “hero.”
Some folks talk about high school being the best time of their life. And I’m sure it was. It wasn’t for me, but I learned that being popular isn’t always the most important. Doing what they consider boring isn’t always boring. It is often lonely standing up for what is right. I learned that even when a school district has little money, they will save the sports program at all costs, even if it cuts into academics, and that there is a pecking order in both the student body and the faculty. I saw emotional turmoil and such hatred in those who vied for the popular status and the hollowness of those fake friendships. And one day they were friends, the next day they were back biting, venomous enemies, only to start over the vicious cycle. Yet, I saw the depth of the good people I hung with who were not considered popular – they were the ones who stood by their friends, even if it meant getting made fun of. I saw teachers fighting for what was right. There was both good and bad and so much to be learned besides what was in the textbooks.
Some of these were not fun lessons, but they were certainly life lessons.
I think my pastor likes to be funny. So far we haven't been rolling out of the pews laughing, but he does have his entertaining moments.
Today he was talking about people think that good people shouldn't have bad things happen to them and if it does, why some folks believe it happens. He was discussing that God still cares for us and although bad things happen, it isn't because God quit caring or that he is powerless. It's because we live in a fallen world and that there are consequences to our actions. No kidding.
He then went on to share how he needed to be someplace that was an hour and a half away but only had an hour to get there. Being the brilliant person he is, he figured that if he drove a third faster than normal (he figured it out mathematically...I told you he was brilliant) he could make it. Unfortunately, that was 85 mph and police officers rather frown on one traveling so quickly. He made a choice and paid the consequence...he received a speeding ticket.
It's nice to have a religious leader who will admit to mistakes. He uses it as a way to teach us things. And it makes us smile as well.
We all have consequences in what we do whether it is to speed or skip a step in baking. If I skip a step I might not get the finished product I had planned on. Or, I am wearing the consequence of not being careful when I pulled something out the oven, not once but twice. I have two "brand" marks on my right arm where I touched the hot rack. Stupid? Yes. Have I learned my lesson? I certainly hope so. I just tell folks that my modeling career is over. Which is the truth to an extent...I am not modeling material to begin with. But, I digress.
I am thankful that we have a great pastor who is willing to use every day activities to show us a better way to live. It certainly doesn't hurt that pastor has a good sense of humor and can teach a lesson in a humorous way. I am grateful that I have had many good people in my life who have cared enough to direct me.
So, what about you? Are you grateful that you've had someone in your life teaching you?
Sandi Patti has a Christmas song called, "The Gift Goes On."
The basic premise is we were given a great gift and we then live joyfully and in a giving spirit.
OK, it's not Christmas...but I read an email from a friend of mine that made me stop and take a breath.
He's superintendent of a Chicagoan surburban school district. One of his teachers has been diagnosed with ALS. She's only 50. He said he wanted to keep her working as long as possible for her sake ... both money as well as doing what she loves...teaching.
Fellow staff members are stepping up by helping with things to make her life easier. They are even collecting money to help with financial concerns.
But the most surprising thing I read was the school board told my friend to do whatever it takes to keep this gal working as long as she wants. So, he's been rearranging jobs and schedules to help her and keep the education of the students going.
Are you teary yet?
This school district is teaching a great gift of showing compassion and kindness...can you think of any better lesson for children to learn?
I live in Illinois and for grade school and middle school we have the ISAT which is Illinois State Achievement Test.
It's a component of the NCLB -- No Child Left Behind. It's a way we are to be held accountable for how we educate students.
On the surface that sounds so good. I mean, no one wants a teacher doing nothing and a kid not being educated. We all know there are great teachers out there who do their best and then are the duds.
However, we've come to the point where a school has to make 85% to pass. On the surface that doesn't sound totally unreasonable. But it's not a straight 85%. Each year it goes up and each year it gets more and more difficult. This percentage not only means the total folks taking the test, but the subgroups. Subgroups contain 45 students and can be gender, race, special education status, and economic status. All subgroups have to make 85%. Confusing? You bet.
My school district is a poor district so we have a lot of folks on free and reduced lunch so just about every school has that subgroup. Of course we have boys and girls subgroups. We have some race subgroups. Some schools have the special education subgroup.
On top of all of that, the school has to maintain a 91% attendance rate. Even if they pass all the academics, they have to have that magic attendance number or they don't make AYP or adequate yearly progress.
This is just a simplified version. I cannot really figure the scores the way they do because there's a lot of this and that ... it's not just 85%.
If a school doesn't make AYP they are labeled failing. I understand the reasoning behind it, but some of the questions on the test I'm not sure are things children will use. We spend so much time teaching to test -- we have to because we don't want to fail -- that so much other stuff is left out.
We look at kids as test scores -- remember when people complained that they were more than a number? Well, it's getting that way in education. A kid is a test score. One school that isn't a true district school, but sort of has district privileges didn't make AYP when the scores were lower. They do now. How, you ask? Well, from what I can tell they don't keep kids who don't pass the ISAT. They send them back to their home schools. Truly survival of the fittest!
I truly believe there should be accountability in education. But I don't think a test given in the spring should be the only way to hold schools and districts accountable.
One of my former schools didn't make AYP. It's not a bad school. It's in a high poverty neighborhood. The teachers work very hard instructing kids. I've seen teachers bringing in things from home to help the kids like clothes, snacks, shoes, etc. One teacher's church has volunteers who come every week to work with the kids on materials she puts together. When a family had a fire, the staff collected money and items to gift to the family. Kids brought in what they could for donations. I think educating people for life is far more important that teaching them to take a test.
I bet you won't see a question on how you can best serve your neighbor on a high stakes test.
I admit it. I'm a big softie. Especially when it comes to soldiers and patriotism. Last year I wrote a a soldier weekly when he was in Afghanistan. A few years ago I wrote another soldier while he was in Iraq. It was nice to hear from them, but I didn't feel like they had to write a lot...I felt like the soldier was already doing enough by serving our country. Right now a friend's son in in Iraq and I try to write or send a card now and then so he gets something at mail call.
On Facebook a friend posted this YouTube video called "I fought for you" and it is very powerful.
Hopefully the url will come through and you can watch it if you wish. Whether you agree or disagree with the war, I hope you will remember these men and woman represent us and are doing a brave job. Without the freedoms we enjoy, we wouldn't have the pleasure of saving money or spending it or blogging about it. I hope you find the video as inspiring as I did.
There's something about the back to school sales that put me in the back to school frame of mind.
Fortunately I don't need to buy notebooks and pens and paper, but I need to gear up and think about what I'm going this year.
My job has changed and I'm delighted. I will be working with a lot of data. Hopefully my work with data and sharing it with staff will help them.
Sometimes we are data rich and although it sounds like a good thing, but if the data doesn't tell us anything, it's like eating too many candy bars. They were good at first, but boy, what a silly thing to do!
I am getting excited and thrilled as the school year approaches! It's like a New Year with all kinds of hopes and dreams!
Do you remember your first job?
I do. I was in high school between my junior and senior years. I was a sampler for Coca-Cola. On Fridays and Saturdays I would give out samples of Coke and coupons for the products. It was a good job – I learned lots about working on that job – dealing with grocery store managers, my boss at Coke, and my dad. You see, my dad had been employed at Coke and he’s the one who suggested I apply for the job. I’m sure it helped that the boss knew him for me to get the job, but it was up to me to keep the job. I had to show up, do the work, turn in a report, and keep everyone satisfied.
I thought it was wonderful – I worked two days a week and could go to school Monday through Thursday. I had learned earlier that school year that our local community college would allow you to take a couple of classes if you applied and got a letter of recommendation from the principal. So, I took two classes and worked two days a week. I made a whopping $4 an hour when minimum wage was just under $3 an hour. They even gave me money for lunch.
I won’t say it wasn’t hard – loading up product, and standing all day and being nice and friendly. But there were harder jobs and I knew I was fortunate. But, it was a job, I was inside, and in some ways, it was fun. It enabled me to save money for expenses and also for college. It wasn’t glamorous or exciting, but it was a stepping stone to future plans.
I did go to college. I worked in college to help pay my expenses. My folks were the working poor. Hard scrabble might be the term for it. Neither of my parents finished high school. My dad left school to work to help provide for his mom, stepdad, and brother. But, my parents were smart. My dad would talk to me about working and he said if an employer ever offers to give you training for anything, take it…you might be able to use it to either help yourself or in another job. My mom talked about how she went to a local business “college” to learn some office stuff to help her work. They kept telling me the more education I can get, the better off I will be.
So, that’s what I did. I took a class on office machines which was basically a class on using different types of adding machines and calculators. I can tell you with the world of technology, being able to use the number pad has helped me a lot. I took two years of typing in high school. This was before computers were around and using a manual typewriter was certainly a workout!
I’ve worked a few different jobs. Some were great and some were, well not so much. No job is perfect. I think we’ve all been there. My first job out of college, I made $1000 more than my dad who had worked at Coke for over 22 years. It wasn’t a fancy job and it wasn’t really for what I went to college. It was a job, I was employed, and I wasn’t a shame to my family.
I was looking at the SA forums and someone had an article from the NY Times where a college graduate turned down an entry level position that started out at $40,000 because he wanted a higher management job. He’s living at home and thinks because he has a college education he should get better than an entry level position. His parents are upset because they think he should view the job as an opportunity. That and the fact his parents are basically his meal ticket. It has been interesting to read what some of the other SA folks are saying. Most think this kid, in the world of so many people not having jobs, is pretty ridiculous. I would have to agree.
So, are you still working at your first job? Was it a job or an opportunity?
Be true to your foooood! OK, think of the Beach Boys’ hit, “Be true to your school!”
Yesterday I went to one of my favorite places…the library. I checked out an assortment of DVDs, magazines, and books. One of the books was a nonfiction tome entitled, “True Food”. It was published by National Geographic and came out this year.
I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to read instead of toss and turn. The purpose of "True Food" is to give 8 simple steps to a healthier you.
In a nutshell:
1 Eat local food
2 Eat a variety of foods
3 Aim for organic
4 Eat lower on the food chain
5 Eat fresh food
6 Eat whole foods
7 Stock your pantry
8 Green your kitchen
Most of these are pretty easy to figure out. Chapter one was try to buy food grown locally or grow your own. Chapters 2, 4, 5, 6 were very similar – eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. There was quite a bit of information on herbs which was good as well as vegetables and their nutritional value.
Stock your pantry was instructions on buying less processed foods like all purpose flour and more foods that are natural.
Green your kitchen had some ideas such as use kitchen towels instead of paper towels, reuse glass bottles instead of plastic, and make your own cleaning supplies instead of purchasing harmful chemicals.
It was an adequate book, but I didn’t really learn anything new. I guess I had hoped to find some new truths. Fortunately I did not purchase, but borrowed the book from our local library. I'm sure for a newbie, they would find some merit in reading it.
I guess it pays to be a cheapskate!
I did, however, see a recipe I want to try tonight: shoestring zucchini with rosemary:
1 very large zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour or unbleached all purpose
1. Cute the squash lengthwise into halves, then cut into ¼ inch slices, then cut those into 1/8 inch slices
2. Sprinkle and toss with salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for 30 minutes. After draining, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands
3. Heat oil in a skillet – you want the oil very hot, but not smoking
4. Toss zucchini with flour in a bowl, and then add it to the oil in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is just golden, then toss in a few leaves of rosemary. Cook for another minute until zucchini is golden.
5. Drain zucchini on paper towel and served immediately.
If nothing else, I am true to zucchini!
"A chicken in every pot!" was the campaign promise of Herbert Hoover when the depression was going on in the 30's. It's actually the 21st century, but I have a chicken in a pot, a Crock pot, that is!
It's Friday night and it just doesn't seem like home not to have a chicken being warmed and "loved" by that slow cooker wrapped in some vegetables to make a savory broth.
My husband said I get my money's worth out of that chicken. I make a few dishes ahead for the week with the chicken and the broth and add vegetables, pasta, or rice.
Unfortunately Hoover was a victim of his times -- the economy didn't turn around and many people didn't have a chicken in their cooking pots. My dad said he hated grape jelly because someone gave his mom a bunch of grapes and she made grape jelly and many nights that's what they had for dinner -- grape jelly sandwiches.
I don't think his family was alone. And I think during the current recession, there are families who are struggling to feed themselves. I know we are blessed to have enough and I can choose to cook chicken on Fridays to make all sorts of dishes for the coming week. At one of my schools, it is very high poverty, and the children seem hungry most of the time. I've baked bread with them as a way to show them that bread just doesn't appear at the store and also gives them some experience in measuring. They inhale the bread and butter when it baked. We made "Stone Soup" one time and not many of them turned up their noses at all the vegetables in the soup -- two huge Crockpots full and homemade bread besides - it disappeared within minutes. I had kids ask about the recipe and when I explained it was basically using some canned goods and broth, they all thought they might be able to help their mom or grandma make some!
I hope that if you are also blessed with enough food, that you will consider putting some nonperishable items by the mailbox tomorrow (Saturday) for the National Mailcarriers food drive. I know you will be aiding families who need a little help. God bless you!
Greece may not be the most popular country right now due to the financial troubles and the fact it made the Dow drop big time, but ancient Greece has been considered quite the splendid civilization. Money aside, a lot of things we enjoy are from the Greek culture.
Tonight my dear husband and I are joining a friend to enjoy some Greek food at the local Greek church. The church does it once a year as a fund raiser and it is popular enough that the tickets are sold out in advance. They have a bake sale and I envy the baking skills of many of these Greek women. The intricate blending of Phyllo dough and honey that makes it sweet enough to enjoy and light enough to think you aren't eating a lot, but fills you up nonetheless.
Besides the delicious and mouthwatering food, they have a band from Greece and dancing. We enjoy dancing vicarously, especially after a big meal, but it is a lot of fun and nice to partake the gifts the Greeks have given us though the years. I'm not sure if other cities have such a privilege and delight, but I'm sure pleased we do. Opa!