Wednesday, June 22, 2011


So have you ever read something on the web that just riles you up so you slam out a rebuttal comment (or two). But even after you say whatever, this is bs and I'm not thinking about it anymore, you just keep on fuming and posting and fuming?

That's what happened to me yesterday over here. After posting 4 times and really not getting my point across as far as I can tell, I'm resolved not to say anything more. But I'm still fuming, so I think I'll post on my own blog.

Here's the quote that was posted, in case you didn't follow the link above. It's from Diane Ravitch's Book "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education":

“Do we need neighborhood public schools? I believe we do. The neighborhood school is a place where parents meet to share concerns about their children and the place where they learn the practice of democracy. They create a sense of community among strangers. As we lose neighborhood schools, we lose the one local institution where people congregate and mobilize to solve local problems, where individuals learn to speak up and debate and engage in democratic give-and-take with their neighbors. For more than a century, they have been an essential element of our democratic institutions. We abandon them at our peril.

Business leaders like the idea of turning the schools into a marketplace where the consumer is king. But the problem with the marketplace is that it dissolves communities and replaces them with consumers. Going to school is not the same as going shopping. Parents should not be burdened with locating a suitable school for their child. They should be able to take their child to the neighborhood public school as a matter of course and expect that it has well-educated teachers and a sound educational program.”

Look, I'm all for stronger neighborhoods and better schools. I think a sense of community with everyone is totally critical to raising kids. And by everyone I mean the kids that are "at risk" with sucky parents as well as the super-smart nerds with overly driven parents. That's one of the issues I have with homeschooling. We might not be in our neighborhood school, but economic and social diversity is real in every City School my kids have gone to. Way more than if we had moved to Timonium to solve our school problems with our zoned school.

But really, what planet is this woman from? She's supposed to be an expert in urban schools and she's thinking about democracy in broken neighborhoods, to say nothing of broken schools? There's no democracy in a place where people are afraid to talk to the police even after they see a kid abused by their parents or shot by a rival gang.

There are some neighborhoods in Baltimore where her prattle rings true (I'm thinking Roland Park and Mt. Washington), but those schools are in fine shape so choice and zoning aren't the issue there. Really, the vast majority of kids in Baltimore need an escape from the same-old-same-old of the established social order of their streets, which just carries on in failing neighborhood schools. Democracy? This stratifying social order is more like bondage as far as I can tell.

But really, there's just one sentence from this quote that I want to scream at, and yell at ,and banish from existence - "Parents should not be burdened with locating a suitable school for their child." Really? Parents shouldn't be burdened by the responsibility their kids force on them? Really? That's the whole big deal about being a parent. All of the sudden you need to become responsible. Do some parents fail? Yes; almost all to some degree and it's tragic, but you are responsible. The state can support you, the schools can help you, your community can pitch in, but kids are a burden (and a joy) that you have to handle. Look into schools, figure out who their friends are, make rules that they hate, go to PTA and teacher conferences. It's what makes you a parent.

I'm shaking my head in disgust. This is the expert that fights to save our schools. Really? Baltimore is making progress and these platitudes make people who have no experience in the reality of City Schools think they know the real answer. Really? Please.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Special Hockey International Tournament

So I promised a post about this Spring's hockey tournament when we got back. Clearly, I'm running a little late, but at least this post came before summer.

Msk and I went to Boston for the Special Hockey tournament. Two years ago we went to Buffalo for a tournament, but this year was very different.

Two years ago I was tying to will msk to not skate into the net. I was hoping he could pull his attention away from the count-down timer. He skated fine, but comprehension of the point of the game was very low. Not that I'm complaining - I was thrilled, if a little nervous, that he was participating.

This year, along with a growth spurt, msk seems to finally want to get praise. This might seem like a strange concept to some, but compliments in the past have never been a motivator for him. You wouldn't believe how hard this makes it to encourage (or discourage) behaviors. Up to now it's all been about what msk wanted to do by himself, for himself. But this year he scored two goals and after getting praised he repeated to himself "I'm a good hockey player." It's the kind of moment that chokes me up even months later.

Then, add in the freeing feeling of being with people who were happy to cut msk some slack if he melted down or couldn't stand still waiting in line. No angry glares when he threw his hockey bag down the stairs. You get used to the stares to the point that you forget what it feels like to just relax. And everybody cheers for everybody, because even the simplest task is someone's major milestone. So many smiles.

He grows more mature and I grow more accepting. It was really a quite wonderful five days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Far, far away

So, it's been 17 years since hubby and I have spent a night together without one or more of our kids under the same roof. Yes, that's the age of the oldest. In a week we'll be breaking that streak. I've got a business trip abroad and instead of turning them down we're working on a plan to leave the kids in Bmore and use the passports for 8 days.

Can I say I am nervous beyond belief? Msk has never spent a night away from at least one parent. The autism waiver is making this possible. We have respite hours and the behavioralist that works with msk is going to help us out. But still... I worry.

But opportunities like this come around... well really, hardly ever. And I want my job to think of me as a "team player" - single income families need to stay employed. And hubby needs a total break.

So I try to get these boxes to cooperate and hubby looks into sights, restaurants and music venues, and both of us work on saying merci.

And I try not to worry.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad