Thursday, September 18, 2014

For My Friend Scottius Maximus

Ruh-roh. Do you think this will affect the Cardinals playoff chances?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update on Common Core Stuff

The Dancer has told me that one of her recent Spanish assignments was to pretend that she was a girl from Costa Rica, and write a letter to one of the other girls in class, who was pretending she was a girl from Colombia. They were to learn some facts about the country and then write a letter describing some of what their country was like. Mind you, my daughter is in Honors Spanish III. Both the Musician and I agreed that an assignment like that is pretty Spanish I type of stuff. Does anyone have any input on this? Obviously, it depends to an certain extent on the complexity of the writing required, but this doesn't seem to have been a very complicated letter. I know the Dancer thought it was kind of a silly assignment. She has been keeping me up on things, now that she has seen my previous post on Common Core. By Honors Spanish III, one is generally getting into the more difficult parts of grammar, and learning more advanced vocabulary. This assignment doesn't seem to have fit that bill.

I heard from the one mom I know well enough to contact about this. She said she didn't know what we could do about it. Hmmm. I have heard that there is an Ohio House Bill under discussion which would repeal Common Core for the whole state. I already called my State Representative and told him that I support it, even though it's still just being talked about. That may sound silly, I suppose. I wanted to let my rep know it was already being talked about by the larger community, and that there are people that support it. Ironically, I heard about this bill when I put up a Tweet with a link to my previous Common Core post. I also heard about Ohioans Against Common Core this way. The Evil Genius in me wants to buy an anti-Common Core shirt and wear it to home football games.

At least my daughter's AP US History class seems to be going the same way it was when the Musician took the course, BCC (Before Common Core.) They are using the same textbook, which I think was older already when the Musician used it. I am keeping an eye on anything they might be using outside of the textbook. Also, Mr. BTEG was a chemistry lab assistant in high school, and minored in math in college, so he is knowledgeable enough on both of those subjects to make sure the Dancer is getting a solid foundation in those courses. I wish every student was so blessed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Still Looking Ahead

My medication difficulties continue. Being off of the one med was helping me as far as general mood and energy, but I did have a couple of mixed episodes fairly quickly. If you are not familiar with bipolar, a mixed episode involves manic and depressive symptoms together. You are agitated, angry, depressed, apt to act out. So long term, I do need some kind of medication beyond the two I am still currently taking. My doctor prescribed me something newer, which is not supposed to have the side effect of raising cholesterol. However, I'm starting to exhibit sleep deprivation symptoms. Melatonin does not seem to help, and I can't stand any kind of tea. In the meantime, I'm keeping on as best I can, on the road to a healthier me. I'm thankful that we have two cars, and that the Musician is home a good bit of the time, when she's not at work, and can drive and help out. I'm also extremely thankful that I don't have an outside job. Mr. BTEG is a great support, in every way.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Common Core Is Rotten

I'm sure you've already heard a bunch of other people express frustration with how poor the Common Core curriculum is at actually teaching kids. I knew Common Core was not a good educational system, but was hoping that since my daughter was a sophomore in high school this year, she wouldn't be affected much by the issues. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be showing up in her math, science or AP US History classes. She is having to read some worthless non-fiction books for English. Their reading assignment over the summer was The Talent Code. Is that truly useful for the majority of 15-year-olds? What made this book stand out among the sea of self-help books out there, that an English teacher picked it out for my child? Now she has to go through a list of other books of this type, and pick out another one that she would be interested in reading. Fortunately, they are also reading the traditional fictional literature that has been used in English courses. I'm still displeased with what I feel is a waste of my daughter's learning time.

She also informed me tonight that her Spanish class is being changed by this stupid system also. They're not actually concentrating on learning vocabulary or grammar in class anymore, the Dancer says. They're supposed to be magically learning that at home, then spending class time applying it. What? My daughter is luckier than most, in that I studied Spanish for seven years, and my eldest daughter took three years of Spanish as well. We can help her if she runs into difficulties because she's not getting what she needs in class. But I want my daughter to be studying grammar and vocabulary in class! I shouldn't feel like I have to help her, or supplement her education, at home.

At certain blogs, in this era where educational standards are falling victim to political meddling, I've read that not homeschooling your child amounts to child abuse. I resent that bitterly, because I know my daughter better than anyone else. Homeschooling would not be best for her at this time, because of personal reasons that are none of anyone else's business. I'm going to start by talking to some of the other mothers that I know, and see if anyone else is unhappy with the way this school year is starting out. Depending on whether I get a positive or negative response, Mr. BTEG and I will have to think about things from there.

Should I have tried to fight Common Core when our school district first talked about implementing it? Perhaps. To be honest, I don't have any friends that are fellow moms here in my town. I thought about joining the local PTA long ago, but decided not to when I started getting spammed with email from the national PTA, telling me to vote for things I would never have any intention of supporting. Even the PTA is all politics, all the time, and that disgusted me and put me off the entire PTA idea. So I definitely didn't feel like trying to lead what seemed to me at the time a single-handed crusade against our school board and superintendent, who described Common Core in gushing terms. If I can find some parents that are unhappy about how this is working out in practice, instead of theory, maybe we can band together to get something done. Or as I said above, Mr. BTEG and I will have to take a serious look at the rest of the Dancer's high school years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick Note

Emotionally, I'm doing fairly well being off of one of my meds. However, I've been suffering from a lack of sleep, which is not uncommon when stopping this medication. My skin has also gone ballistic, which is not common, but not an emergency situation. I will be seeing my doctor soon, in any case. It has been very difficult to want to blog, though, when I barely have enough energy to sit up straight. Today promises to be better, but I do have a lot of catching up on normal life to do. We'll see where my health and my energy levels take me for a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

City Policies and Their Results

As someone who has lived near the city of Cleveland most of her life, I found myself in agreement with a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson at National Review Online entitled, Who Lost the Cities? As Jesse Jackson talks about "a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression," Williamson asks the question, who is responsible for this crisis in cities such as Newark, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland? Williamson's conclusion? "The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black." While this might be provable by a simple look at political offices and economic statistics, I'm sure that diehard progressives will deny to their last breath that there is any causality between a city's politics and the living conditions of its poor. But isn't that just a ringing endorsement for Williamson's counter-argument, that individuals, families and private businesses should be free to act outside of regulated government influences? If, for example, the public school district in your system is failing not only to teach children, but to provide even a safe environment for them to learn, and this has been going on for decades, why think electing a new superintendent will magically solve the problem? Especially when that superintendent will be paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars or so a year in salary, and can easily move on elsewhere in a few years, while residents are stuck with the same schools? If you are a parent, who do you think you can best trust to make sure your child receives at least an adequate education, you, or some bureaucrats who are consistently not held accountable? Politicians have offered many fixes for urban woes, and I'm going to write about some of Cleveland's proposed solutions. I will simply state here that while downtown Cleveland and its neighbor, University Circle, may have some very lovely areas, the overall environment of the city of Cleveland has not changed... yet. You may want to give the government a chance. You may want to search for direct solutions for your family and yourself to improve your personal situation as much as possible on your own. It's not like politicians' promises have never failed before.

Update: this post was edited to better clarify my points, and to change when I will next post about this.