Tag Archives: gender

The American Public Education Factory: what is it producing?….Volume 1

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The American Public Education Factory: what is it producing?….Volume 1

I have been really trying to get some sort of an outline in my head about this topic for a while; I have decided to just start blogging it as it comes because every time I think I have it concretely fleshed out in my head, some new thought comes in about the social injustices associated with public school systems. From epistemology to NCLB, to “common core” to booster clubs, regurgitation vs. creative thought AKA actually thinking, ingenuity to different types of intelligence, to the perpetuation of rape culture and #Iammorethanadistraction, ugh the list can go on.

I am going to start with socioeconomic inequality in schools. Studies have shown that the more engaged in school a child is, the better they do. It isn’t rocket surgery. If a child is involved in sports, music, drama, whatever their choice of extracurricular activities are, the busier they are (no time for other naughtiness), the more invested they are in better grades, the more involved their parents might be in their world, “the more” everything. Things like teamwork, hard work, friendship, conflict negotiation, community, working for success AFTER failure, etc. are learned without the child knowing that they are learning it. But when these things are made to be so expensive that only the middle class and up can participate, well then, now we have yet another layer of oppression adding to the intersectionality of what it is to be a middle or high school student.

To over-share with a little self disclosure, I make what I assume to be a pretty “comfortable” wage, although it is definitely not the magical salary I was led to believe a masters degree would grant me. I make a little more than 50% of the “average median income” in America this year. I believe this probably makes me considered “middle class” but just barely. We still qualify for free lunch, thank sweet ancient baby alien space monkey Jebus, but it is not easy. I am still living paycheck to paycheck. I have come to terms most days with living one paycheck away from homelessness, mostly because as a housing case manager, I know what resources are available in the area.

I digress.

Anyhow, my point was that my child is involved in the school sponsored dance team, the fine arts credit required orchestra, and the foreign language credit required Spanish. We receive a discounted “activity fee” for the “sport” but the uniforms ($135 to start, with additional costumes throughout the year), “required contribution to the booster club” of $100 (which my child/myself get to harass friends, co-workers, family, and social media with in order to raise by selling coupon books or car wash tickets, not to mention the $1,200 dollar “Spring Break trip to Disney World” that all the “rich kids” get to go to, but sadly, probably not my child. This causes lateral oppression within the team of the haves vs the have nots; because the kids KNOW who will be able to go and who will not from the beginning. It is not fair. And yes, I know, “Life isn’t fair, Princess.” One+ more kiddo(s) financed OUT.

But come on! What is the booster club for anyway? Isn’t it there to support the kids who WANT to participate and work their asses off to participate? The answer sadly is, “No.” It is there to make up the difference between public support/donations from the school’s budget for sports. That is a shame. But go ahead, buy some more computers. Make the teachers learn a different way to teach because they aren’t churning out productive enough regurgitaters at the rate the country wants. That is a much better use of funds……And tell me again why kids here are obese and live online?

Ah, speaking of obesity….the school lunch. It is not what it could be. I recently read about France’s model and how lovely it is. What a pipe dream for good ol’ Merikah. Instead we have corporate sponsors, such as Subway and energy drinks in the schools. Which always look better than god knows what is really in the instant processed mashed potatoes and goo.

Spanish class requires fees. For what? I have no freaking clue. Is there a lab associated with Spanish? One+ more kiddo(s) financed OUT.

Orchestra requires not only a $100 fee per year to “pay for music” but also a rental of an instrument if you cannot afford to buy one. The schools do not even loan instruments anymore. How many kids love music but cannot participate in band or orchestra because of the cost?  I was told that because the school was making photo copies of music for the students they were fined $4000. Isn’t there some sort of fair use for schools to use copyrighted music?

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

Yeah, I thought so.

So tell me again why I have to pay for music for my child to continue playing in the school orchestra? And why must they also have “orchestral uniforms” which include for the gender binary, long black dresses for the females, penguin suits for the males. Could we not just wear black pants and shirts or skirts? We must buy these clothes for a high school class? Good grief. One+ more kiddo(s) financed OUT.

Did I mention all these fees are due either at registration or during the first MONTH of school (save the spring break trip, luckily “they understand what a hardship it might be for some families so they give them until late winter to confirm these amounts.” Cause between you and me, as a single FT working parent that gets minimal child support, registration, extras, school supplies, school fees, school clothes, and anything else needed at the end of summer/beginning of Fall, is freaking HARD to figure out.

These examples and many others show it is unaffordable for many if not most kids to participate in the activities that studies show teach resilience and community. It is unreasonably expensive for ALL kids to get the protective effects of participation in these activities. So they must find other outlets and no one seems to like those outcomes, and yet…..

I contacted the school to find out what options are available as a low income parent. You know, because despite being on whatever magical list they keep us free lunch families on, they do not send home any information on these sorts of options. There are some “scholarships” available the first week of October, I was told. But it doesn’t cover everything. It’s a first come, first serve sort of deal where a committee decides who gets it. Based on what? I don’t know. But you better believe it is not a blind decision. Someone is making judgments either internally or perhaps even out loud. I imagine fucked up words like “deserve” and “worth” and “investment” are tossed around in that conversation.

So back to the original point and not my own personal struggle…The socioeconomic injustices of a public school system…. You want a college scholarship? You want to take classes you might *GASP* be interested in? You want to do sports? Music? Drama? Prepare to pay my friend cause this is college. Public High School.

If your parents can’t afford it, screw you.

If your parents feel shame asking for help, screw you.

If your parents don’t speak English as a first language and aren’t sure how to advocate for you/your family, screw you.

If your parents are too busy because they work 8,327,498,374 hours a week and don’t have the time to contact the school, screw you.

If your parents have nothing but time because they are unemployed, depressed, worried, stressed, whatever, screw you.

Welcome to Public High School.

To be continued.

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When I am wrong, I admit it.

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When I am wrong, I admit it.

Sometime last year my friend Daniel posted a video of a girl sitting in a car with a crazy system. She appeared to be, well, really enjoying it. I called bullshit. Maybe if it was a Harley I said, but not “just” bass.

Well, this previous summer I had to buy a hamster car…totally stock 2013 Kia Soul, but it has a freaking badass stock system. This song came on my Pandora station and suffice it to say, I was driving down I-84 and had to pull off for a second or 4 minutes.

Straight up.

No joke.

I doubt most computers can pick up the low frequencies in this song, but if you have a way to find it and play it through a good system, it’s pretty effing sweet.

Ladies, you are all welcome.

Men, you should buy this album for me. er, your lady, if you like ladies.

Poverty. Totally a choice.

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Poverty. Totally a choice.

Bootstraps. Pull yourself up by them!

Unless you are barefoot and pregnant….and that was YOUR decision. Fu*king breeders!

Just kidding. I get tired of feeling like I have to explain my clients or enlighten people on oppression and poverty and every other ism that exists in my world (your world too, just FYI). I digress.

When I started out down the social work path, I was very vigilant and ready to educate the masses; I was excited to understand the criminal justice population I had previously been working with in another light. I wanted to fix the world, change society.

Now I just want to help individuals. I am sure that is why nothing changes and if it does it is a very slow painful process….because all our passion gets sucked out and replaced by not apathy but sheer exhaustion. Or we feel liuke we did something by liking something on Facebook or blogging about it or signing a dumb ass petition on change dot org….

You can’t fix ______________ so you just try to negate the damage.

It’s sad, but it is what it is.

I read this today and thought it was a nice look into the lives of the people some of you are blaming and bitching about.

http://killermartinis.kinja.com/why-i-make-terrible-decisions-or-poverty-thoughts-1450123558

And just for fun, here is my favorite explanation of white privilege for you white boys who don’t believe in it.

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/

I hope Daniel reads this.

Kicking my own ass

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Kicking my own ass

I find myself struggling at times to keep my head out of my head; I try very hard to stay present and in the moment so that I enjoy things without over-thinking them, diminishing them, or writing them off as hormonally/chemically influenced experiences. When you think and feel something but aren’t sure if you should say them or not because of the weight they can carry, for instance…But there are also times when I give people advice about such things; from how thoughts are things and intention and energy and love and self image, etc…

I talk a good game but these things I advise others on are very hard for me to stay conscientious of myself from time to time. For example: Even at my heaviest, I thought I was hot. I carried that attitude and put off that energy and like a magical little glamour…others saw me that way too. And now, at my lightest in a few years, I find myself more critical of myself. I still think I am the kitty’s titties, but the older I get (and not terribly unrelated…the younger the collective THEY get) the more I compare myself to the THEM I think I am competing with. I know I am not, but it is still something I find myself doing.

How do you stop that?

I’m not a typically insecure person. In fact, often the opposite. I generally find myself feeling like a judgmental schmuck because I probably do think I am smarter and hotter than most. HA.

But social media (usually Facebook) really makes me feel less than.

It’s like a commercial bombardment of peers and celebrities and things I wish I was all the time… and you know what others think about them thanks to the fucking little ticker on the side. Ugh.

I just want to shut it off again.

But then I would go nuts wondering what was going on and what was being said etc.

Not to mention the lameness of my “friends” who don’t contact you unless you are on Facebook. Boo.

I miss the 90’s. Fuck this shit.

Lions, Lambs, and Rabbits…..

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Lions, Lambs, and Rabbits…..

Devour or be devoured, I suppose….

Appreciate and reciprocate….

I believe in Energy.

I believe that all the energy that ever was or will be is already here.

I believe it can be stolen, given, shared, transferred, manipulated and controlled.

I believe that it is cyclic.

I believe that dark isn’t always a negative and light isn’t always a positive.

I believe that you need good and bad and that both terms are relative.

I believe that people need to name it.

I believe it is, but is not conscious.

I believe everything you ever need to know can be learned from the ocean…

When the tide goes out, you can be confused about whether you are sad that it is leaving or happy that it is leaving….

But the tide, it always comes back…

And you never know what is under the water, in the tide pools, on the rocks, until the tide retreats…

The full moon sheds light on the beach, just as much as the sun does;

While treasures wash up on the beach, so does trash and dead things;

“And I threw bitter tears at the ocean but all that came back was the tide…”

I believe in love.

“”true” love is about the extending of one’s ego boundaries to include another, and about the spiritual nurturing of another, in short, love is effort.”-M. Scott Peck

“This is a gift, it comes with a price;
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight”

What every teen girl should know about sex and the alleged men they are having it with….

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What every teen girl should know about sex and the alleged men they are having it with….

This is a first draft excerpt of something I am working on….

            As she walked down the sidewalk, barefoot and confused, she tried to put together the jumbled pieces of what the last few days had involved. Thoughts floated in and out of her consciousness, alternating between internal processing of the previous night and external concentration to avoid stepping on glass and goat heads in the gutter. Her feet were leathery tough from years of being barefoot, but it still took effort.

            Self-conscious, she tried to smooth down her long strawberry blond hair which probably hadn’t been brushed in a few of days. She was certain that the people in passing cars were staring at her, knowing all her deepest secrets simply by looking at her. Frustrated by her inability to recall simple details, she knew she had started out the day before with Laynie’s sunflower sandals. She was positive that she remembered taking them off in his mom’s room, but when she went back in there this morning to get them, they were no longer there.

            It was all pretty overwhelming; trying to put memories in sequence after having only just slept a few hours after not sleeping in several days. The first thing she could remember definitively from this last episode was Laynie taking her to the mall to lift some new Mossimo clothes, then flagging down two boys named Shawn and Brody in the parking lot…..but it started much longer ago than that; it had really started the morning she began working at the Western Inn.  That was the first time that she met Katie Kizer.

            Katie Kizer was a pretty girl with a chip on her shoulder you couldn’t see because of her beautiful and thick black hair. She had moved to Belnesse from Portland, Oregon and Lila was immediately taken with her. Katie had stories that made fifteen year old Lila’s small town adventures of sex and drug use seem very pedestrian…. 

To be continued….

And the hits keep coming…

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And the hits keep coming…

I have lots of really dumb, superficial bullshit woes lately. All I can do is laugh and drink, wait for Monday. I don’t really know what else to do…

My best and worst qualities are often the same things…. For example, I am entirely too hopeful and trusting. I also listen to my stupid feelings too much….put too much stock in things….

As much as I wish I was a man, I am a fucking woman. Gah.

Money is stupid; useless and useful all at the same time…

I really look forward to the day I don’t have to be accountable to anyone but myself….I won’t have to have a house unless I want one.

And it can be anywhere I want it to be.

Or not be.

And looking back at all this “bad shit” I will realize how ridiculous and transient it all was.

And I will be happy, if only for a moment.

I will stare at the sun.

And be happy; I can feel it, even when I know it will go down soon….it always comes back up.

That’s what it’s all about.

Huh, well I’ll be damned.

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Huh, well I’ll be damned.

Most of my life, I have really enjoyed being around people that are very different from me; that being said, I also spent a lot of my life being incredibly irritated with people who disagreed with me and felt particularly defensive. I love being right. Don’t f*ck with me, I will Google that sh*t.

Recently however, I am noticing that I am less inclined to enjoy being around people who agree with me. Like-minded people are not necessarily people who agree with me. It’s been a real epiphany.

They don’t encourage my passionate debate. And that sucks, because it is one of my favorite things. It’s not that I like to argue…Really. I like to learn….Read on…

I’ve spent the last three years in graduate school: the first year was spent in a very small cohort in a very small town. It was nice, I really love some of the people there…others, meh. It wasn’t very diverse, that is for sure.

The second two years were spent in a much larger metropolitan area with people from all over the place. Very diverse. Sounds cool huh?

Not always. Now, mind you, I have met amazing people who I have no doubt that I will be involved with my entire life in that program. But there are others that were in the program that “agreed” with me, but they just made me feel really robotic about my thoughts. I have been trying to critically reflect on this and what I have recently decided is that my learning ends when I am around people who agree with me.

 

And it doesn’t matter what the topic is.

Politics, economics, race, religion, class warfare, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, social work, or even something as benign as micro brews or freaking music. I find it much more conducive to the fine tuning of my own opinions, my own truth if you will, to have to understand someone else’s point of view and more thoroughly explain my positions without being defensive. It is a real skill. I like having practice in it and I cannot practice with people who are all “oh, yeah, I totally agree.” 

I’ve always told my kids that if they can’t explain something to me, they don’t understand it well enough…go back and study or try again…

And yet, I haven’t fully held myself to that.

It’s nice to be undefensive and feel validated in your opinions. 

But only for a minute. 

Until you look around and realize that you are either surrounded by “Yes, people” or people who you intimidate that aren’t going to question what you say. Talk about boring. *YAWN*

I am really enjoying learning from people who are different from me. I am really enjoying the fire in my gut that lights up when someone says something that gets my hackles up….but learning to control that fire long enough to come up with an awesome counter to continue the conversation? 

Oh yeah. That’s the good stuff. 

Bring it on.

 

Mother, Mother

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Mother, Mother

Maybe not meaningful to you but meaningful to me is the fact that this song came out the year I became a mother…albeit a pre-birth mother, but a mother aware of the child inside her all the same…

I identified with this song so much.

Somedays, I still do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the men and women mothers or mother role holders, even the ones that weren’t close to perfect.

Oh my poor vanilla car.

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Oh my poor vanilla car.

The first time someone told me I didn’t live in Portland and my bumper stickers were going to cost me jobs, I rolled my eyes and laughed.

regina

The second time someone pointed out people might be suspicious of me as a social worker because of my bumper stickers, I was like “oh well, people learn when they are uncomfortable.”

judy

The third time I was like:

“OK FINE SWEET JEBUS. No, I don’t want to alienate my damn clients.”

walter

grumble grumble grumble hiss

So I finally stripped my poor car today.

Luckily, I was married to a redneck who did auto body and paint once, soooo I knew how to do it with out scratching my car but gees…

My poor car is humiliated.

She is vanilla.

She is now an asexual gender neutral it.

It is now apolitical.

The only thing that could offend my client’s now for sure is the fact it’s not American made.

Oh! And that it’s white. Damn it!

I have to draw the line.

But I suppose this is what being a grown-up anti-oppressive practitioner is.

Boo.