Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moustache time again

So once again Baltimore City Schools are participating in Moustaches for Kids. This is a fun project to help raise money for specific projects at specific schools in Baltimore via Donors Choose. Donors Choose is a great idea. Teachers put in proposals and donors search for projects that interest them. The direct connection is wonderful. You get personal emails, detailed descriptions and you feel totally connected to the classroom that you're helping out.

What's the connection with moustaches you ask? Several brave men involved in City Schools (there's a list here) pick projects and grow moustaches. As time goes on they post pictures of their endeavors.

I've put a widget on the side of my blog for the grower I'm supporting - Nick Greer. You can also get to his page here. He's a great teacher - Baltimore's Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was also the grower I supported last year. By making a donation your are:
  1. Supporting City Schools
  2. Showing support for Baltimore's Teacher of the Year
  3. Supporting teachers in Baltimore's schools
  4. Letting me know that people read and are influenced by my blog

I admit reason 4 is pretty lame, so let's focus on 1 -3. Baltimore's schools need all the help they can get. Nick is an outstanding teacher. But for me the biggest reason is - Who can turn down teachers who are putting in extra work to support their students and student's in their colleges' classrooms?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"For Absent Friends"

Some words I wrote in comment on an Inside Ed comment (in italics below) got me thinking:

"Remove the politics from education" - you're kidding, right? What in the world is more political than education? We've got public education which is obviously funded by politicians with poor districts vying for fair funding vs. rich districts with a political formula that is used to decide funding. You've got the wealthy and those who aspire to raising their standing in the class structure opting out of a failing public education for an expensive private education. Is there anything more political than class structure? You've got parents and their tax dollars moving to districts with "good schools" and abandoning districts with "bad schools". You've got NIMBY attitudes about schools and students from neighbors who are victimized by crime (or a perception of crime in some cases) radiating from schools. You've got astonishing disparities in school buildings, technology, social service needs etc between schools and between school districts...

Having and raising kids is an activity that's bound to change your perspective on many things. My two "neurotypical" kids did a good job convincing me that the path I had taken (public school education while my non-public school peers and their parents were appalled) was really about the same 30 years later. In the same way that I could find ways to connect to people outside of public school then, my neurotypical kids have non-public school friends now. Because of them I have friendships with parents of non-public school kids.

The new perspective has come from my autistic child. Integration and inclusion were things that were new and were pretty idealistically approached when I was a student. For msk they are a concrete need and a legislated right. When friends that are parents opt out of public schools (and I've got to say about 95% of friends that I knew before kids have gone that path), they are opting out of letting their kids be educated alongside msk or other special needs kids. Special needs kids like msk will not be found in private schools, whether they are the prestigious ones or the liberal ones or the arty/experimental ones. No school that any neurotypical kids of friends attend, would ever consider allowing msk to attend. No homeschoolers will ever interact with him in an academic setting and the chaos of parties is not the place to get to know msk. Honestly, we don't attend too many parties with msk except those related to his school friends or family affairs.

There's a social justice issue going on here and I'm saddened that so few of my pre-kid friends can be directly involved. It's a passion for me - education is a right for special needs kids and for the economically disadvantaged that make up the majority of kids in Baltimore's schools. When friends opt out they push msk and myself out of their lives. I am saddened.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What made this weekend insane

I love my life and kids, and I'm not complaining, but I just want to write down the agenda from this weekend. This was an especially tough one because my dear husband was sick and incapacitated for the duration:

  • Leave work early to make it to Fells Point to buy corn husks (middle school kid volunteered me to make tamales for a Day of the Dead party on Tuesday)
  • Go home to whip up pot luck dish for a dinner meeting for elementary school kid parents
  • Go to meeting with all 3 kids, older ones acting as chaperons - ends around 9:45 which is a late night for msk
  • Get msk to bed pronto so he won't be a disaster on Saturday
  • Count money and do book-keeping to prep for Girl Scout Cookie booth sales
  • Get msk to Special Hockey in Reisterstown - spend an hour cheering and encouraging
  • Rush home so that msk can make it to a movie with his aide and classmates
  • Rush to Girl Scout leaders home for cookies for a booth sale
  • Spend 3 hours at a booth sale with high school kid
  • Drop off remaining cookies and pick up pre-packaged salad for Halloween Pot Luck
  • Take 2 kids to Catonsville for Halloween party
  • Come home and take msk trick-or-treating - a challenge for an autistic kid, but he loves it
  • Wait for midnight to pick up kids from Catonsville
  • Normal grocery shopping with msk while kid #2 does Sunday school & church
  • Figure out some books that look new enough to give as a birthday present for a 5th grader
  • Start laundry
  • Rush to birthday party in White Marsh
  • Spend 2.5 hours trying to keep a very excited autistic kid in line in a hyper-stimulating environment
  • Come home and continue laundry
  • Start cooking pork and Chile sauce for tamales, finish with kid #2 when she returns from youth group meeting
  • Fix dinner
  • Help get a school project to print-out right (adjust columns for a tri-fold brochure)
  • Stay up too late doing laundry
Monday's plan (post script of the weekend)
  • Take msk for a haircut- often a challenge for an autistic kid
  • Roll & steam tamales with kid #2 into the wee hours