Category Archives: Media

It’s my birthday, I can alienate folks if I want to…

This week’s hot topics (in no particular order): 

  1. Never-ending race-based police brutality (and denial of it)
  2. Call for extraditing the dentist that killed Cecil the lion
  3. Planned Parenthood funding
  4. Meek Mill v. Drake

I’m gonna talk about #3.

Amidst the histrionics on both sides, I’m having a hard time finding numbers.

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

This is my.. rudimentary start…
Planned Parenthood received $360 million in federal funding. That’s $360,000,000.

If only 1% of that went towards abortions, that means, it would be $3,600,000 … which is still $3.6 million. (Although I believe it’s 3% so.. let’s round to $10 million).

About 50% of federal revenues come from income tax. (

so $5 million of federal revenue goes towards abortions.

I know that seems really tiny. I know PP’s services are more than just abortions. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to shut them down.

But, my $0.02 is this.

I’m working at a school that focuses on our community. I don’t think we could do so much within our community if we were a huge federal organization (like TFA). I don’t know if “scale” is always the best when human well-being is in question. If we truly care about family planning, early pregnancies, relationship abuse.. I really do think it should be more localized. When organizations get huge, that’s when you get the callousness and depersonalization (which might be why we saw people sipping wine and discussing baby parts — let’s not decry the footage, the WHOLE thing is available online if you think it’s doctored). So, if PP were defunded, I wouldn’t mind. I’d keep working where I’m working, go down the pipeline, and figure out how best to PREVENT these things in the first place and how best to SUPPORT with long-term well-being in mind.

This year, an estimated 640,000 babies were aborted (less than 1% due to rape). Eeks. Since PP began, almost 7 million (7,000,000) babies have been aborted. (

Sure, to some a fetus is a “cluster of cells”, but let’s be real. Anybody who took high school biology knows we’re ALL a cluster of cells. Cell > Tissue > Organ > Systems > Body #amirite? haha.

So again, it comes to the question of personhood and when that begins. The line is getting grayer and grayer as people are now able to abort late-term pregnancies.

I get that we all have a right to our own body… but I’d like to quote a friend here (who’s currently pregnant):

I have a right to my own body. I DO NOT understand why I have a right to HERS. I support and am thankful for a woman’s rights to health, safety, and happiness. It kills me that those rights are not extended to the little one inside of me, and that I, her mother, am granted the right to take that away.

For me, the main mind-boggling part is it really just SEEMS like it has to do with *want*. If the baby is *wanted* the baby is a boy/girl. If the baby isn’t wanted, it is a fetus/parasite. That just seems so contradictory and unfair… that someone’s future could be determined by whether or not he/she is wanted. Especially since data  shows that there are many reasons for abortions – but only about 1/8 have to do with health risks.

Couple that with data that seems to show that abortion locales are predominately located in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and that females are more likely to aborted than males……. To me, this is where human rights truly come in and where I think I could give a voice to the voiceless.

This is why – even though I know many of my friends/contacts on social media would disagree with me – I’ll still pipe up when I can. At the end of the day, I can’t just go with what others tell me and what the Bay Area would deem popular (I used to support PP too). There is too much at stake for that.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

PS. Things that bug me

  • Reading invectives hurled at people who want their federal tax dollars to not go towards abortion.  Or just the fact that right now, people are using clever and humorous ad hominem, slippery slope, and strawman arguments…
  • Planned Parenthood’s power and political clout
  • This article reflects a majority of my views but speaks with so much vitriol, I wasn’t able to share it on Facebook for fear that people would focus on the bones and miss the meat  (aka throw the baby out with the bath water).

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The ups and the downs.

I read this article, “Where Have All the Teachers Gone” today.  In particular this stood out.

“An analysis just out from Georgetown’s Edunomics Lab argues that boosting class size for great teachers would save money that could then be funneled into bonuses for those educators taking on a larger load. The savings would come largely from a reduction in the overall teaching force, angering teachers unions and their allies.”

Calm down teachers unions.  What sane teacher would boost their class size for extra money?  I don’t want you to pay me more for added time or kids, I want less kids for the same pay.

Today was really rough. I had a hard time keeping the simmering anger down and when I got cut off on the bridge and there was weepy country music in the background, I couldn’t help but start to cry out of self-pity.  Amidst the excuses and trying to empathize with two students who made it hard today, I harshly told myself that maybe that time of the month was approaching.

But there comes a fault where it just can’t be my fault.  As I neared the last light before my house, I glared at the blinking red hand and railed against this piloted “rotations” system going on in my classroom.  I’m told that the light is closer than I think and I’m doing better than I’m giving myself credit for.  But at the end of the day, nothing feels worth it.

I try to concentrate on the rest of the kids.  The laughs.  The miniature successes.  And how with a rotations system, I can finally give some of my higher kids extra attention too.  But what do I do about little Bo Pete who stares at me blankly.  How many more emergency meetings are we going to have on differentiation and outlier students?  I’ve heard the science teacher explain her differentiation piece three times now in three meetings with I’m sure the same audience.  I’ve heard us voice the same issues.  Kids know that all they need to do in my class is work hard.  If I have Mr. Freshly-Tested-Out-of-His-IEP and Ms. ELL/IEP/Missed-class-because-of-broken-leg thriving, what’s the excuse for the kids who claims that “I get him in trouble” or “nothing will change” or “it’s because others distract me”?  How do  I respond to ridiculous requests like, “when I’m distracted, let me go for a five minute walk, let me listen to music, seat me somewhere else, seat me near a friend?”

Do I reward you because you, as a fourteen-year-old, can’t hold it together?  Sure, go on your five-minute walk.  Then come back and be more confused than before.  And then get more frustrated!

Or sure, go ahead and listen to music.  Oh wait, you don’t know what’s going on because you’re spacing out even more?  I’ll take time out of my lunch break to help you out.

Oh sure, sit with your friend who’s going to “help” you.  Wait! Now you’re both throwing things at someone else at the table?

Give me a break.

And while I’m juggling kids, there’s people who promise help and never deliver. That’s even worse.

And I promisepromisepromise you, I have it really good here.  How do I deal?  Money’s definitely not what’s going to sweeten it.

What’s interesting though, is that when kids are rotten, something sweet happens with the school.  And when school things discomfit me, the kids are pretty sweet.  I’m thankful for a happy end of the day.  Now onto the massload of emails concerning students I sent to the office, a failed conflict-management, and phone calls home.

Dear “Education Innovation Grant Donors”, I really really really dislike you.

Dear Education Innovation Grant Donor,

I really dislike you.  You come into cities, districts, and states with your shiny, quiet offices and fancy titles to dangle all this money right out of our reach.  It’s quite easy to get this money, you say.  All you’re looking for are schools that are serving their kids, being innovative, thinking outside the box, providing 21st century skills.

You lie.

What you really mean is you want us to be like [insert some school you love here].  What you really mean is that you want us to flood our classrooms with yet untested technologies from partner* companies.  What you really mean is that you will look at the numbers instead of delving deep into what’s actually happening at a school.

You’ll give a school a gold star just because their data appears stellar (high test scores, abnormally high college acceptance rate, serving low-income population), without actually looking at how they’ve achieved it (paternalistic disciplinary practices, no extra-curriculars, no college graduations).  You’ll give us lofty ideas and advice (try montessori, try flipping the classroom, scale your model, blow up your model) without a clue as to how implementation would work. You’ll encourage us to pilot, pilot, pilot without acknowledging that in reality this is experimenting on kids who don’t have any other options.

You are a parasite disguised as a benefactor.

You don’t actually know what teaching entails.  You have a vague notion of what success means.  You think that all you need are good managers and consultants to help you get your innovative grant donor-ing group to do well.  You think that your two years of teaching experience and grad school has earned you the right to march into our buildings and “consult”.  You think your ideas are news to us and that they will help us turn things around.

And guess what?  You have so much money, that we are willing to listen, meet, pander, and spin our schools at different angles just so we can get some.

Because we don’t really have a choice.  Do we?

In truth,


*aka, you serve on their board or payroll

Links Dump! Because today is interesting

Being Bored Makes You Brilliant!  This article is about the time people spend on smartphones and how rarely people are bored.  And yet, it is in boredom that  brilliance happens!  An iOS app (Moment) is mentioned and a challenge (less phone time) is issued.  Oh yes and a video (of people in NYC on phones) is shown.  As a new smartphone owner, I prided myself in not being connected.  But lately I’ve gotten the hang of Instagram and…

An Algorithm Teaches Math!  Okay, basically, it’s 100 kids in a gym-like classroom with partitions and 15 teachers and assistants and a computer.  I like this article because the grain of salt is in it.  It’s another approach at Blended Learning, and I can see this style definitely being issued because honestly, at a certain point “disruptive innovation” is not about getting the most quality but getting a “good enough” for the most amount of consumers.  Sadly, in this case, consumers are our students (aka, our future) and “good enough” is not good enough!  Anyway, off my platform.  This article is INTERESTING in its descriptions, caution, and qualifiers!  And again, creativity and critical thinking gets the boot.  sigh.   (ps: spoiler alert: blended learning is not cheaper)

East Palo Alto v. Silicon Valley – This article will take multiple sits as it’s super long.  Yet it’s very nuanced and covers the history of the more implicit racism at play from the 50’s and onward.  Having lived here for 5 years, I recognized a lot of buildings and areas and ideas that I took for granted.  We studied A Raisin in the Sun in high school.  I wonder why although we touted diversity, we were never pointed to the glaring pink elephant right over the bridge.

Speaking of the 50s…

Photos of Korea in 1952 – Korea.  Because the war was still going on.  These are photos from Captain John Randolph Coupland III from the US Army.  It reminds me that in order for any country to be “fully developed”, they need to go through the awkward “developing” stage.  It causes me to admire the Korean spirit in how they are always so determined and so FAST at trying to accomplish.  It also causes me to mourn because it’s so broken with totalitarian brainwashing in the north and mindless consumerism in the south.

Pushing Back Against the “School Saves” Narrative

An unpublished post from 2/20/14 (two months ago).  Still applies.

We’ve seen this everywhere: stories, op-eds, movies.  The teacher or the school flies into the neighborhood or town.  Takes out their Mary Poppins carpetbag of tricks and voila, students change!

I watch clips like these, and I’m not gonna lie – it gets me every time. I cry, I weep, I feel guilt, I feel relief.

Yet at the same time, I feel scorn, and I know the satire and the naivete. And it reeks.

I see someone of privilege come in and say the exact words I say to my kids:

The positive, “I know this is not you – I know you can do better, you are better.”

The strict, “You gotta give respect to earn respect!”

The risque, “After you die, you rot in the ground, and everyone else will go on living!” ..  That sort of response is supposed to achieve a hush-hush effect, the whole “did she really say that?” thing.  The words that adults disapprove of yet also admire and defend showing how this teacher is “level” to the kids.  This teacher was just spouting “real talk.”

Honestly, it sucks.  How does a teacher from a middle class background actually know anything about their students?  How can they realistically speak “hard” “street” words when they drive a car and have insurance and a savings account?  Half of these teachers are in their first jobs out of college and they weren’t going to make it as I-bankers or get into law school right away, so they’re here to make themselves for competitive.

I’m not saying baby the kids.  They don’t need that.  But… there has to be something more.

I know Lisa Delpit and David Whitman could probably give a more nuanced explanation/critique. But my poor poor mind is so frizzled that at this point, only the emotions that I felt from grad school remain.  The actual research and analyses?  Buried somewhere in the recesses of my brain (or so I would like to think).

Reflecting on this week

This was a good teacher week.  It was a good teacher week because I felt that there was at least one lesson that really hit the kids.  It was a good teacher week because we ended positively.  It was a good teacher week because I slept a lot.  It was a good teacher week  because two different people from my childhood showed me they cared because they saw an area where I was needy and provided.  It’s things like that — not advice, not suggestions — just physical funds, resources, or labor, that really speak to me as a teacher, right now. 

Today, I also happened upon THREE DIFFERENT teacher-related links that were all so good.  I think these are good for everyone to read.  It speaks to me, as a teacher, but should also let people know a bit of what teachers experience.

How To Be a Teacher for More Than 5 Years Without Killing Yourself

I’m working on different parts of this list written by Justin Stortz, a former teacher who is incredibly vulnerable in his posts.  Last year, I was thisclose to burnout, and I wish he had written this post sooner.   And I’ve already learned the hard way why it is important to stay humble and not “set yourself and your class up for failure by letting your ego get in your way.” :-/  Also, this year, I’m trying to maintain a hobby (working out and writing), trying to cook more, and I put myself on a sleeping schedule.

The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

Inspiring kids? Inspiring kids can be downright damned near close to impossible sometimes. And… it’s downright damned near close to impossible to measure. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s test scores. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s grades. You measure inspiration 25 years later when that hot-shot doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur thanks her fourth-grade teacher for having faith in her and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Maybe that’s why teachers get so little respect. It’s hard to respect a skill that is so hard to quantify.

Fellow teacher friend and HGSE grad shared this link on Facebook.  Dennis Hong, a molecular biologist – turned – teacher shares a few tidbits on what teaching is and why it’s so hard.  A short, thought-provoking piece from an apologist for teachers.

First They Came for Urban Black and Latino Moms (For Arne Duncan)

A few months ago, I walked past a “successful” charter school here in Harlem, NY, speed-walking to get my school supplies for the coming school year. I noticed a huge crowd of mostly Black and Latino families all waiting to pick up their children when a taut, pony-tailed White man came out with a clipboard and yells, “Alright, parents, we need everyone to line up!” My inner voice yelled “What!?” at the entire scene. No one protested. A few snickered and rolled their eyes. They all got in one straight line, parallel to Malcolm X Boulevard to pick up their children.

This would have never gone down at a suburban school.

Jose Vilson, hits on a piece of white privilege that we so often ignore.  Also, coming from a successful charter school, I see this all the time.  It’s articles like this that reminds me that it should not be so normal to witness this kowtowing as schools begin to own the children.  I rage about families that don’t support their children, but in the same sense, we should be helping families support their children, not just forcing our parenting upon the families.