Friday, February 06, 2009

Tried to get up early yesterday morning and failed a little, but I managed to get a few things done. Blanched some almonds and pistachios, got the little guy off to school, then came home and made what was supposed to be marzipan to stuff dates with, but is actually some sweet-tasting goop that has the glow of U-235. I suppose I feared what happened to me last time I tried to do this and actually undercooked the simple syrup. I can bake like nobody's business, but almond paste just kicks my ass every time.

Things could be worse....the convection oven was flipped on at the synagogue and the brisket within left to cook for 3 1/2 hours - but the folks who flipped it on forgot to check to see if the gas was on as well. At least the meat is nicely marinated.

While I was blanching nuts, I listened to some tidbits of news on the radio.

Found that in college nowadays, those with scrips for ADD-ADHD medications are having the last laugh. Is it just me, or do good study habits need to be reintegrated into our kids' schooling? Perhaps encouraging more kids to turn off the tube might help...but then I think about all the bad grammar and misspellings my son is gleaning from checking out this website from time to time. On the other hand, he is getting some further development of his sense of humor, because I frequently have to explain why the pictures and captions are funny. "Here's the anatomy of a funny, honey..."

The other day, a discussion was held on the bloggers listserve about a notice someone posted concerning the economic stimulus bill and how it will affect our current "system of public schools" here in New Orleans. Since over 60% of our schools here are now charters, and since things are so damn bad financially all over the country, there really isn't much of a choice anymore - whilst kicking and screaming, protesting the emergency order still on the books that largely removes parent and teacher involvement in the process of approving a switch to charters, and cursing with all our might the farce that is the applications process for all these supposed "choices" we as parents are now falsely empowered to make, we have to support the current system.

Those last seven words are tough for me to say, and they come with a major caveat.

"Falsely empowered"? What's that about? The mad rantings of a disgruntled mama who didn't get her child where she wanted him to go? Tough toenails, lady. Tighten your belt and go the private school way.

My child is in a great school, in fact, a charter. This is his third year there. I'm grateful that it is doing well by him, as I'm aware that sometimes kids and particular educational environments don't mesh, and I could well be on the hunt right now for some alternatives.

Problem is, I was asked recently about the current state of public education here and what the prospects were for a child trying to get into a good public or charter school right now. And I found myself scrambling for a good answer, one that could give great hope and ensure that kids were in the right places without it costing an arm and a leg until college came around, because that's how it's worked for ages, right?

Well, right now, the New Orleans system of schools needs to put up a huge sign at the doors of every school under its umbrella, get the word out on every website, slip notes to every parent considering a move here, and just generally shout out that all ye who enter this farkakhte application process, abandon your hope and find a pot of money with which to send your kids to a good elementary school, because the good public schools here pre-8-29 are still the good ones, and they are full-up. The rest of the charters haven't been around long enough to make any statistics really stick on how good they are, and classroom and school experiences like these are still common.

Fact of the matter is, I bought my lottery ticket/got an application in to a good charter back when there weren't many other people doing so, and I got lucky. About the only thing I can advise people to do right now is to enter that lottery and get the kids on the lists for the good schools, at least...because the old joke about the fellow who prays to a saint asking him to help him win the lottery still applies: eventually, the statue of the saint looks at this poor soul in front of him, comes to life and says "My son, please, please, a ticket."

All that's left to us now is to support funding for the good charters, because those ones will be here to stay. Hell, even Paul Vallas will be leaving, not that that was entirely unexpected. We just need to demand some things like accountability, a true addressing of what teachers and parents are going through and better steps taken to actually solve those problems rather than just decentralizing the system and changing who is ultimately responsible, and a rescinding of a certain emergency order that is still on the books, paving the way for more charters to enter this city on an autobahn while the parents and teachers are chugging along on a country road under construction.

The choice, in this case, is up to you, the reader, now.

I give you the following. You decide if you want to support it or not. I myself am still torn.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan (ARRP) – otherwise known as the federal economic stimulus bill—proposes an increase in federal funding for education in many areas. However, in the section of the bill devoted to school facilities and modernization, the House and Senate are at odds about how to distribute the money and whether charters should have equal access to it. The House version is favorable to KIPP and charter schools' reform agenda because it includes charters explicitly as being eligible for funding, just like all public schools. The Senate version is not has no specific language including charter schools in the distribution of funds. favorable to KIPP and charter schools' reform agenda because it

What You Can Do

Please take a few minutes to email your local Representative and Senator. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has an excellent web-based system for emailing Congress that we can use to relay our message about ARRP. We recommend that you use this system instead of emailing or letter-writing because this is absolutely the latest technology and is designed to streamline the process vs. all of us reinventing the wheel on our own and it is much easier than writing on your own.

7 Quick and Easy Steps for Sending an Urgent Message to Your Federal Representatives

*** Please note that volume is important here! Everyone is out there hustling, so let's show our terrific representative in DC that KIPP and our charter allies are in the house! You can send multiple messages, all from one computer, as long as you have each person's name, address, phone number and email.

Navigate to:

Enter Your Zip Code to Find Right Targets: Fill in your school's zip code to pre fill the right people who should receive your message:

Choose the ARRP Action Alert: Once you fill in your zip code, you'll be taken to a page with a box that says "Action Alert," click on the first one that says, "Public Charter Schools Deserve Equal Access to Federal Support."

Check the Representative and Senator information is Correct: The next page will show the Action Alert language at the top of again, "Public Charter Schools Deserve Equal Access to Federal Support." Scroll down to see the Representatives and Senator to whom your message will be sent. You should double check that these people are right and your zip code wasn't entered incorrectly.

Customize Your Message, if desired: The system has already created a beginning and end for the message that will go out in your name. This might feel a bit contrived, but it is much more effective to have this set language so we all advocate correctly for the dual outcomes of: a) changing the Senate bill to match the House bill and b) having the House bill language prevail at the end. There is a small box for you to add your own customized message.

Add your contact information: Include the KIPP school or region name in the address box (for example, KIPP Bay Area 426 17th Street, Suite 200) so that your KIPP name is included along with your personal name. A copy of the message sent through this system will go to your email inbox so you have a record.

Send the message: Click, "send message."

Thanks to everyone for making your voice heard and supporting the work of the KIPP New Orleans Schools and Charter Schools everywhere!


Cold Spaghetti said...

I've had little fantasies that someone suggest one of my kids needed an ADD/ADHD med and give us a script. The fantasy part is that I would go ahead and fill the script and use it myself. Super-fueled! I get all giddy when I think of all things I could do...

No offense to those who really rely on these meds.

I guess I could use cocaine, but I figure since I'm a Mom, abusing my kids meds makes more sense.


Leigh C. said...

Puts "mother's little helper" into perspective, doesn't it?

At the same time, these are drugs that are habit forming. They are not to be taken with the short-term gain of "Hey, I can focus so much more and pass this physics exam!" It's one of these occasions where young, pressured, and dumb trumps good planning and an environment in which one can study and excel on one's own. It's something that isn't as easy to create as we all might think, and using drugs to create it is a pretty disastrous move.