I've Been Busy

I know.  I have been neglecting you, still.  Look, my kid, the Frustrated Son (who isn't really frustrated at all) is preparing for his bar mitzvah on the 28th, so the Frustrated Parents, who, like over half of once-married Americans, are not married, must do some cleaning.  Mom has the better house, so it will be there.

We spent the day weeding Mom's yard.  It has never been done.  Ever.  And there are blackberry bushes, and other prickly things.  But, being poor, we can't rent the ballroom at the St. Francis, so we need to have the shindig at Mom's house.  We needed to cleanup because it was all overgrown--nowhere to sit or set up folding tables.

As the son watched me sweat, I ripped out about 60 gallons worth of foliage, dead and thorny, with only minor injuries.  He watched his mom prune the overgrown tree and ivy that was covering the stairs down to the house. I am being unfair.  He didn't just watch.  He helped, then went inside to play guitar, then came out again, and then went in again.  He had a great day!

I will finish the yard tomorrow and next weekend.  I think I need to spread some wood-chips or something to cover what is now just dirt.  It can be temporary.  I have seen some wood-chips for free on Craigslist.

We have to buy ten pounds of cream cheese?!  And because lox is so expensive, we will put it in the cream cheese.  Maybe we need only 8 eight pounds of cream cheese--5 w/lox and 3 plain.  We talked about cream cheese for a long time.  It's the little things.

As long as we don't bring anything mammalian into the temple kitchen, we are good.  It's a reform synagogue, so they can interpret the laws of Kashrut however they see fit.

My father used to tell me a story of his grandfather who was a rabbi (who really knows if the story is true, and I don't care) in a shtetl.  Due to the fact that the community was poor, it often occurred that some form of food was available, but not necessarily kosher.  Great-grandpa was willing to bless just about anything so his community wouldn't starve.  My dad, a bacon eater like the son and me, said rabbi gramps would bless a pig if that's all there was to eat.  Life is worth more than religion, or something.

I come by my atheism via bloodline, apparently.

So, for the next couple of weeks, I will be blogging a bit less.


Three Progressive, Lefty Things...

When reformers talk about teachers having the biggest impact on student learning, they are right, and misleading.

Every study ever done to discover the correlates of student success point to out of school factors and the fact that they precede and complicate in school factors like teachers, curricular materials, physical plant and district leadership.

We need to be clear what we are talking about when we discuss school reform.  I propose a couple things:

1) Be precise about in-school or out-of-school factors when you talk about what influences a child's ability to get a good education and what we can do differently to influence each of the 2 domains.

2) Be precise about the age of kids you are talking about.  Are you talking about pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, etc....?  It makes a big difference in terms of discussions around discipline, methods/pedagogy, classroom management, and class size, among others.

The reformers (Duncan, Obama, Gates, Broad) never talk about the out of school factors in any meaningful way I think because they know that would mean Progressive policies, and Progressive policies don't make you rich.  Obama made that clear when he chose not to fight for a public option during the health care debate.  He has also made it clear by hiring Arne Duncan, who screwed up Chicago's schools and has instituted a system of winners and losers (RTTT) for much needed federal education money.

The schools that are suffering the most, and have always suffered the most, are the inner-city, Title I schools because they serve impoverished populations.  These populations live in more dangerous neighborhoods, they are often uninsured and therefore don't seek out or get proper medical care, grocery stores are hard to come by in the 'hood, often these households are headed by a single mother who may work 2 or 3 jobs just to get by, and so-on.

Poverty keeps you down.  Education can lift you up.  In America, we provide a free education for all our citizens, and even our non-citizens.  We now need to provide some basic necessities that almost every other developed nation in the world provides, like 1) universal health care, 2) free high-quality early childhood education, and 3) a more progressive tax code.

Providing these 3 things would do more than all the high-stakes testing in the universe to raise the level of achievement of American students.

Just my 2 cents.

Friday Cartoon Fun: Jobless Recovery Edition


Do You Know This Kid XXII? Updated

This kid was born in 1946. He is, and apparently was, a sports nut. Some think he is a genius, others think he is a moron. He is famous to some, infamous to others. He is related to famous and powerful people.

He is a douchebag.

Update: Dave Mandell got it, and got it fast.  This is George W. Bush.  He ruined America.


Wednesday Cartoon Fun: School Staffing Edition

I have been duking it out over at Eduwonk and neglecting you, my huge audience. I am very sorry and will try to be more attentive to your needs.


Congress Approves Reducing Food For Poor People

Well it looks like the bill to fund teachers, police and firefighters has passed, but at the expense of food stamps.  Did you know that nearly half (50%) of American kids will find themselves on food stamps at some point in their childhood?

Crappy schools are a symptom of the disease called poverty.

We need universal health care, free, high-quality early childhood education, progressive taxes, corporate non-person-hood and better school funding.

The rich and powerful are more rich and powerful than they have been in many, many years.  Why should we little guys help them?  They certainly don't help the little guys!

Eat the rich.  It may come to that for some.


How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?

We Are Everywhere

Yes, I miss him very much.

I was director of a summer day camp at the time and wrote a little thing about Jerry--a mini tribute-- that I can't remember in the Friday Letter along with the swim schedule and overnight packing list.

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