Last night I watched a disturbing local news report about a first grader in Latta, Oklahoma who gave his teacher a dime and three nickels after hearing that Oklahoma schools are having money problems. I know it was meant to be a heart-warming “ahhhhh” moment about the thoughtfulness of a child, but it made me angry to realize that a child that young is even aware of our budget crisis.
A few days earlier this week I encountered a teacher who had spilled some change from an envelope she was clutching in her hand. As she picked it up she explained to me that it was “fund raiser” money that she had been collecting. I’ve already been approached this year by students in our neighborhood collecting money for various educational needs. Hearing a second-grader recite her little rehearsed sales pitch makes me wonder when and why we started sending our children out to beg. I don’t recall doing it when I went to school. The only time we raised money was for a charity or a crisis. Unfortunately our public school system is now in a permanent state of crisis.
This is just a glimpse of the crisis, as reported last month on Oklahoma Watch:
“Another $19 million could be cut from Oklahoma’s public schools as early as next month, potentially raising the total mid-year revenue reduction to $66 million.
The additional cut would fall on top of $47 million in cuts enacted last week by the state Board of Education, acting on advice from state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.
Shawn Hime, director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said if additional cuts occur, as projected by the state Board of Equalization, he would not be surprised to see layoffs at schools. State Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister last week predicted that some schools could close.”
And Oklahoma is not alone on this suicidal path. Nearly every state is facing education budget reductions that will impact the future of our children and our country. How ironic then that our presidential candidates are wasting more money each day on advertising than is spent annually to educate a child. These figures were reported in 2015 as the latest per pupil spending totals:
“States and state-equivalents spending the most per pupil in 2013 were New York ($19,818), Alaska ($18,175), the District of Columbia ($17,953), New Jersey ($17,572) and Connecticut ($16,631). States spending the least per pupil included Utah ($6,555), Idaho ($6,791), Arizona ($7,208), Oklahoma ($7,672) and Mississippi ($8,130).”
Last night I also watched a TV ad featuring Bernie Sanders, and I wondered for the hundredth time this year, “Why do the candidates bother to advertise?”
The purpose of television advertising used to be to introduce a candidate to the public and to clarify his beliefs and plans. In the past a man like Mr. Sanders might not have been recognized on the west coast and some viewers might have needed a refresher course in socialism. However, this campaign and these candidates have been on television, in the news, and gotten more FREE publicity this year than in any other election year. I am about to wear out the “mute” button on my remote because they are literally in the news EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Studies show that many younger voters don’t even watch television.
Television advertising is becoming less effective because people record programs in order to delete the commercials.
So why on earth is this group predicted to spend at least $5 billion on ADVERTISING?
I find it especially upsetting to think about the money they are wasting when most of their advertising is focused on damaging the reputation of their opponents.
I have absolutely no respect for the hateful rhetoric expressed by Donald Trump, but one has to admit that he has the ability to manipulate the media in such a way that he has required very little advertising. For a man with limitless funds he has had to spend very little to publicize his distorted views.
I have an idea for the candidates. Why not put your money where your mouth is? Why not donate money to your favorite cause or charity instead of to an ad agency? Believe me, we would all hear about it. Or launch an ad campaign about your plans for our future, not your rival’s shortcomings.
What if there was an individual going around the country doing good deeds, encouraging others, solving problems, spending money wisely, and telling the truth? I don’t think they would have to spend $50,000 for 30 seconds of publicity. And wouldn’t we want to elect that person?
It seems that everyone has a fitness or health goal- lose ten pounds, walk a mile, run a marathon, ride a bicycle. Mine is right there in the photo: plant those seeds. Any time I get discouraged about pounds or pain all I have to do is take out those pretty packages and I know I can stay on this path.
At first glance it seems that planting seeds is an easy task. Throw them down on some dirt and splash a little water on them, right? Well, Matthew says that will work, but with poor results. So if I want a beautiful garden this summer I need to be able to dig in the dirt, take out the weeds, level the soil, plant the seeds to the correct depth, water them well, and watch out for birds until they sprout. Then I need to make sure the plants get the water they need through the hot days of summer. For all of those tasks I need strong arms, strong legs, flexible knees, and a strong back.
When we first moved to town I was resigned to the fact that my physical condition would severely limit my ability to work in the garden. Now I’m beginning to have a little more confidence in my improving health, and perhaps a bit grander vision of the summer’s beauty. I promise not to get “carried away”, but the seeds of change are definitely ready to sprout.
Today was an awesome day!
It was sunny and not too cold.
Lots of birds came to visit.
I found a piece of historical information I had been seeking for over two years.
I got an email from a dear friend.
I didn’t overeat.
One of my students told me today’s lesson was “fun”.
My pain level was almost 0 for the entire day.
I increased my workout level at the gym.
I benefited from physical therapy.
My hubby opened the door for me when I came home.
I went to the doctor’s office today and found myself surrounded by young mothers and coughing children. The children were cranky and tired. The moms were worried and tired. I said a prayer of gratitude that I survived my days as the family nurse because I wasn’t always a good one.
My own mother was a much better caregiver. She had such a calm, soothing manner and she always seemed to know that to do. I don’t remember going to the doctor very often because her home remedies were usually successful. If they weren’t, she consulted one of my grandmothers. I remember a couple of times when my grandmother actually came to the house to consult with her about a fever or pain. Grandmother always plunged us into a tub of cold water, fed us a honey concoction, and rubbed Vicks on us.
Accidents were left to my father’s ministrations. Mom wasn’t good around blood. Dad could wrap up a wound, pull out the worst splinter or even extract a tooth. I think he would have set a broken leg if Mom had allowed it. When I stepped on a piece of barbed wire he dug it out, poured bleach on the hole in my toe, and wrapped it up.
Of course there were always diseases and conditions that were beyond home care. My parents were aware of what polio could do because our neighbor’s child was in an iron lung. Ear infections worried Mom because mastoiditis killed her young brother. And of course we witnessed the horrible consequences of the Thalidomide tragedy. Serious symptoms weren’t ignored by either of my parents.
Now a dangerous virus threatens our children and no doubt will keep many moms from getting any sleep tonight. Others are worried about the lifetime affects of lead in their drinking water. And the normal winter ailments will force another group to gather at the doctor’s office tomorrow. I hope you will join with me in praying for all the moms who are taking on the role of nurse this week. And please pray for their sick babies.
As I watch the daily political circus the wisdom of Socrates comes to mind. He defined an educated man as one who possessed not just knowledge, but a set of behaviors. He believed that educated men are…
He also advocated considering if something was “true, good, and useful” before sharing it with others.
If only the candidates could adhere to half of his principles.
You might guess that my new job is occupying my thoughts this week. I’m adjusting to a new task, new age group, new routine, etc. However, most of what I’m teaching is familiar because it’s what is required of any age group: read and understand words on a page. And before you skip the rest of this because you’re an adult and think I’m just writing about teaching children to read…be patient…I’ll get to you in a minute.
Two problems prevent most children from reading at a level that makes the task enjoyable. They have difficulty decoding words and/or they don’t understand what they read. I won’t attempt the lengthy article that would be necessary to explain the first problem. It’s the second problem that I plan to focus on with my tutoring groups and the one that you can work on every day with any child within your circle of influence.
We make a huge mistake when we assume that because a child can pronounce a word correctly, they understand what it means. If a child is reading to you, or even if YOU are reading to them, don’t hesitate to ask them to explain the meaning of a word. One word can totally change their understanding of what they are reading. And if you don’t think so, take a quick look at some of the test questions that accompany reading assignments.
Here’s an example of a question from our reading yesterday- “Which sentence is not an example of the encouragement Walt Disney received for his work?” How accurate is a child’s answer going to be if they don’t understand the meaning of the word “encouragement”? Other words the students could “read” but did not fully understand: nomad, animation, combination, marketed.
Vocabulary is important. Reading and understanding each word is important. Word choice is important. I had to explain yesterday that “Walt Disney was a pioneer in movie animation.” Did NOT mean that he traveled a lot. Some of you are laughing, so here is your test:
Explain the meaning of “caucus”. You’ve heard it, read it, talked about the importance of the Iowa caucus. So what does it really mean? Yes, it’s one of those terms we all vaguely understand, but some of us can’t clearly define. Go Google. That’s your homework for today.
Durant ISD was the first school district I worked for ages ago, so it seems fitting for me to top off my teaching career by tutoring for them. Yes, after much prayer and consideration I have accepted a part-time job as a reading tutor. I’m excited about spending a few hours each week in education and I’m thankful that I’m physically able to do so.
My physical therapy will continue for a few weeks and I plan to keep working in the gym for as long as I can walk through the door. I can’t say enough good things about the power of PT. I would not be able to do this without the team at Durant Physical Therapy & Fitness.
I’m very pleased with this answer to my prayers and I’m excited to see what happens in the next few weeks. BTW, this is a photo of me at Robert E. Lee.
It seems as though it has taken me forever, but given my challenges this past year I am quite proud to say that my largest flower bed is now clean and ready for spring. It went from being a neglected herb garden, overtaken by mint, to the blank canvas for my spring butterfly garden. I still have much to accomplish in the next few months, but I feel so blessed to be able to garden at all.
In the twenty minutes that I was able to work today I finished off the last foot of the flowerbed, created a new bird feeder on the end of the pole next to the grapevine, trimmed the rose bush, and raked a few leaves to put into the compost bin.
I was very happy to see a couple of bees flying around today! I suppose they were attracted by the henbit that is already blooming in the grass.
I know we still have snow and ice ahead, but when the storms are over I’ll be ready to fill in this bare dirt with some lovely flowers.
At least three times a week I go to the gym and get my weekly doses of exercise and lies. The exercise is a choice; the lies are a “bonus” that comes with the environment. Like many gyms, the one I attend has a couple of televisions near the treadmills so people don’t die of boredom. However, during an election year, boredom might be a better option. In the middle of almost any session I find myself either gritting my teeth or talking to the television.
Political campaigns seem to naturally bring out the “ugly” in people. Resumes and records of accomplishments are not enough to win votes. Each candidate has to prove that their opponent is a terrible person who doesn’t deserve to sit in the oval office. Each aspirant has to polish his own image by slinging mud at his rival’s. I guess it has always been so, but the candidates seem particularly vicious this year, and their supporters aren’t that kind either.
Facebook and other sites where people gather to exchange opinions are full of endorsements for each candidate. It doesn’t matter who they are or which party they represent- the fact that they are still in the running means someone out there believes in them, and believes what they promise to do once they are in office. Someone believes they are who they say they are and they’ve done the things they claim.
I guess I’m either a born skeptic or I’ve just been fooled once too often. I seldom have complete faith and trust in someone until I’ve known them for quite a while, and even with that criteria I’ve been deeply hurt a couple of times by people who turned out to be less than genuine. I know that all of those smiling faces on the screen can be masks of deception. Just this week a local doctor and a national charity have been caught telling major lies. So how do I convince myself to trust a total stranger who wants to be the leader of our nation and have significant control over my life for the next few years? How do I tell who is a liar and who is a bigger liar?
I have ten months to listen, pray, consider, and figure it out.
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.