Arming Ms. Apple

Of all the things that could be done to education, the worst would be the arming of American school teachers.

Seriously, it would be disastrous…Countless teachers would quit or retire in order to avoid having to carry gun in a school or work around them.  Many more would never entered the profession.  Teachers are under-fire in this country both literally and figuratively. We are praised by individuals for our work and demonized by the media and politicians. At the same time, we have to worry about the safety of our students. Today at my school, I had to twice remind our technology coordinator not to prop open one of the outside doors. Even after recent events, he still did not understand the issue with his actions. He acted as if he would be a deterrent to someone coming into the school which is connected to a dorm for teenage mothers who have no place to go. My words were lost on him.  He laughed them away.

If we want the attacks on teacher and students to stop on both fronts then we have to fully fund education, cease to make unrealistic demands and allow teachers to be the leaders in education.  No,these steps won’t stop all school violence, but there is a better chance of school personnel being aware of potential issues when they aren’t worrying about the next round of testing or how they are going to pay for little Luke’s braces.  Teaching used to be a profession that helped lift families into the middle class. Now it is the profession that middle class families look down upon.

As a teacher, I love what I do, but I am exhausted by the ever increasing responsibility that is being placed before me and the growing pile of bills at home. I am an example of how teachers are underpaid, overwhelmed and burning out.  Most still don’t make it pass their first five years in the profession.

On top of being responsible for how our students perform on standardized tests when they enter classrooms years behind where they are “supposed” to be, most of us regularly take work home, spend money out of our own pockets for classroom supplies and are told that we must take more and more classes in order to be “highly qualified” without increases in our take home pay; people are suggesting that teachers be allowed or even required to carry firearms in the classroom.  Really? That would like arming members of the postal service in the 1980’s. The answer is not more guns or less guns. The answers to school/gun violence are deeper than the current media debate will allow.

Teachers want their schools to be safe, but adding another weight for us to bear will only cause more problems.   If our nation put their money where their mouth is and funded all of education’s needs, we would be able to combat the achievement gap as well violence.  How often when you are overworked are you able to see a problem clearly. Schools need so much, yet legislatures continue to cut funding while demanding that students show improvement regardless of the other factors affecting them.  It is really hard to concentrate in class when you have just becomes a mother or your father was sentenced to life.  Their reality is so far removed from that of their teachers that they might as well live in another galaxy. Yet, teachers don’t give up.

Beyond that I think about Ms. Apple down the hall with a gun and I am incredible afraid.  She is a sweet woman, but the pressures she is currently under are nearly breaking her. She lives for her puppy dog, church and helping others. A simple and blessed life.  Peace would not be served by putting a gun in her hand. She would be more likely to make a mistake and shoot herself or worse a student.

I am not anti-gun.  They have been a part of my entire life, but they have no part in my classroom life. Nor should they. Instead of telling teachers what to do, how about listening to us. Please.

Vote America…

If you haven’t and you are registered, please vote. America needs you to do your part as a citizen.  Our country isn’t perfect, but it is home.

Voting is one of the few things that our country asks of us. Our ability to choose our own leaders is what makes democracy work. The leaders of our country need to hear our voices. We have the power; not them.

That’s all.

Now, go vote. And if you have already done so, thank you.



Wool Over Our Eyes!!

The United States of America  is in a crisis, not the financial one facing the economy; it is a crisis of conscious.   A crisis that I believe has been created by the media and the politicians to distract us from their lack of leadership. I also believe that it occurs on both sides of the political spectrum.

It didn’t start with the Muppet’s or with Chick-Fil-A. Both companies are exercising their rights. It has little to do with boycotts or Christianity.  The only thing I will say on issue of Christianity is that Jesus spoke of love not hate and said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  He didn’t say anything about hating our neighbors or legislating morality.

However, nothing sells papers or increases ratings like conflict. Attack people’s faith or religious beliefs, even allude to someone else doing it and they will shout to the heavens, not to mention post on Facebook. Words, we forget at times have power; more power than we want to admit. A blogger & author that I admire came out with a post against the boycott inferring that it was anti-Christian. I disagree with her, but I respect her opinion.  Something I was raised to do.  Something I believe in doing.

Somehow America has forgotten that basic ideal that disagreeing does not mean hating the opposition. It isn’t a us verses them. We are no longer in the Cold War. One of my best friends disagrees with me on the new healthcare law, another on conservatives issues and don’t get me started on the difference between me and my Papa’s political philosophies.  Yet, none of these people have un-friended me or told me I am going to hell. They love me and I love them.

We are all Americans. We have the right to choose where and how we spend our money.  I boycotted a locally owned business for the better part of ten years because of the insulting manner that two of my friends were treated at that store. These two people had actively support the company and were humiliated in front of friends and customers.  I made the decision after a sermon at my church on economic power and faith.

I may be one person, but my money has power and where I choose to spend it has meaning.  So I stopped shopping at the store until the owner  changed how she treated her customers.  I didn’t condemn anyone who chose to shop there. When asked I told people how I felt and didn’t worry about whether they agreed with me or not. Nor did I criticize them when they decided to shop there.

In harsh economic times likes these sometimes the only way to protest is to boycott. If you hit them in the wallet, it can sometimes cause them to rethink their decisions. I learned that lesson in history class after the lesson of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

I am not going to allow a politician or media personality to tell me what to believe or what attacks my faith.  We need sound economic policy, an education systems that is supported by funded mandates and continuous improvements on infrastructure.  As a teacher, I see the damage done to students when the system fails them. When people look the other way because it is just too hard to help them or worse they don’t believe they can learn.  Some kids can survive it if they have the support of their families and faith in something more than themselves. Those two things can not be legislated or willed into existence they have to come from the home and the heart.

The wool has been pulled over many American’s eyes and it is time that we all take the blindfolds off and stand-up for what we want and need our government to do for us. Our nation was founded on many principles; the Separation of Church being one of them.  A principle that I learned while attending Catholic school.

Listen to both sides, think, reflect, pray and then act.

The Nation’s Critical Thinking Test

Each day brings us closer to election time.  The news is already on information overload. Both candidates have supporters, ads and an agenda.

The country if you believe the media is crisis and it may very well be.  Things are definitely not going well. People are angry and rightly so, but are they angry about the right things?

As a teacher, I have felt how my profession has been attacked in the last couple of years.  Teachers and other public sector workers have come under fire. We are according to some greedy selfish individuals growing rich off of the public’s money. I would love to challenge these individuals who believe that I am somehow living high on the hog.  My bank account and credit score are tangible evidence that I am not. My health benefits and retirement plan were suppose to be my compensation for being paid less than I would make in the private sector.

The upcoming election is a test of our nations ability to make decisions for itself.  Do we have the ability to separate the propaganda from the facts? Do we know what we truly want for our nation? What is actually best for the country as a whole not just for ourselves? Can we separate our emotions from the facts in order to make a logical choice?

Politicians from both sides count on us voting with our hearts instead of our minds or better yet both.  I admit that I was guilty of this early in my voting career.  I voted the way my birth father did because I felt that our shared values dictated it. It was only later as I walked further and further into the adult world that I realized while my values had not changed my perception did.  I have lived on minimum wages, without insurance and in public housing.  The view from the middle is vastly different from the view from the bottom of society.

Neither party has the perfect solution for the country. It will take compromise and innovation to get us where we are once again prosperous.  In the next election, it really does matter if you vote and let your voice  be heard.  No voting is how Florida ended up with Governor Scott, who hasn’t been the boost to the state’s economy that he promised.  A few people decided what was best for the rest of the state. Now, my paycheck has been decreased in the name of conserving money and being responsible.

While the media debates the issues or what feel are the issues, it is up to us as everyday Americans to decide what are the real issues that affect us.  Then seek out information from multiple sources and reflect on what it means for us.  It will take a sacrifice on our parts. We will have to give up our valuable time for the future health of our nation.   And then we must  vote accordingly in the fall.

The Tree of Liberty

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of United States of America, is quoted as saying that “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Independence day marks the anniversary of our country beginning its fight for independence.  The tree has been water time and time again by the blood of patriots; their bodies fill numerous cemeteries.

Both of my grandfathers have served and watched their friends bleed and die for our freedom. Two of my sisters have served, one of whom is still serving, have done the same. My beloved, Papa, served in Vietnam and came home wounded; forever marked by the war.  Politicians will stand with soldiers and honor them but few really know their sacrifice, even myself.

This Fourth of July in between the celebrations and the fireworks remember those who can no longer celebrate with us.  Remember them every time you raise your glass or take a bite to eat.  Remember those who stood for freedom and those who are still standing for freedom all over the world.

Don’t forget them tomorrow either.  Or in the months to come as we decide who will be the next man to lead our country.  They gave their blood, sweat and lives for us, the least we can do is vote.