Category Archives: Soapbox

Why I Didn’t Participate in the Women’s March

This is a blog I wanted to write on Saturday. Unfortunately, I split my hand open (never use Wusthof while discussing the inauguration) and went to the ER instead.

For TLDR folks, you can skim down – to the purple part. 

So, I grew up in CA. To be specific, I grew up in many parts of California – from LA to the Central Coast to the Silicon Valley, and now I live in the East Bay.  I find it mildly amusing that given how in high school, I was the “conservative one” (comes from a typical Asian-religious family upbringing), so many of my current peers consider me as someone with more of a “liberal bend.”

I benefited from a rich, liberal education in Palo Alto. I loved it!   Well, middle school, of course, sucked (I moved in 7th grade and had to deal with kids who were dealing with their own personal demons… I guess I just was an easy target?)… but high school allowed me to branch out with different interests and I’m still super fond of my memories and friendships from there.  Honestly, where else would a poor pastor’s kid get to try rich kid sports in a fancy pool, blow glass, study film, and do labs of the same caliber as an intro college class?  Also, Paly let me have a diverse (read: not Asian-only) group of friends.

In college, God saved me.  I always knew of the hypocrisy of the church, and in my own blindness, I sought to melt into a large congregation so that I could “do my duty.”  Through people that He placed in my life and through the Bible, the clarity of what it means to be a Christian (trusting in Jesus Christ’s finished work when he died for my sins and resurrected — not in any of my own actions or my own thoughts of who He is) … finally became clear. And in His mercy, I came to learn the beauty of the word, submission.  Of course, I learned other things too — but that’s my favorite part about college.

In graduate school, I finally realized how “minority” I was.  I began to be able to put vocabulary to elementary playground experiences.  And, the Internet had evolved to the point where I saw firsthand black and brown men being killed for being loud rather than docile.

When I began working, I began to learn what people might mean by “school to prison pipelines.”  How segregation still occurred via zipcodes and high school “accelerated tracks.”  I answered questions that I didn’t even know were allowed when I was a kid… questions like, “Why don’t they mention Korea in Asian history?” or “Where is Asia-America within US history?” or even “Wait, am I black or white?” because growing up, during that weekend where we talked about Martin Luther King, there was no other.

That’s me.  What else is me?

I’m a teacher. In the last 5 years of my life, I’ve worked with groups that I think may have more of a need for me than groups who have access.

I’m a reader.  I love books and blogs and news.  Never grew up watching TV.  I love satire, I love wit, I love intelligent reasoning, I love pathos.  I graduated from college, so now I have time to read whatever I want.  (I think while I was in college, I only read books of choice between June and August… oh wait, except for when the final Harry Potter book came out and the Twilight series. Don’t discount this blog post because of this confession).

I support public radio.  Grew up with KQED programming on TV (if we were allowed).  NPR is my jam. I just discovered KPFA (more local-er news).

I am Korean-American who grew up in a rural town.  This means that as a kid, I knew what it meant to be a victim of childish racism. This means that I know what it felt like to receive only one version of history.  This means I thought I was white but was the unattractive, flat-nosed, “chingchangchong” oriental on the playground.

I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that the Bible has truths that transcend our current social lenses. I believe that as a created being, my God, the creator, knows more about who I am than I can on my own.  I can go into the logic behind this — but that would derail. I only include this because it’s a huge part of …

Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.

.

Why I did not participate in the Women’s March.

Minor Personal Reason 1: I don’t know what we’re protesting.  Protesting a man makes no sense to me.  Protesting the voting system also makes no sense to me.  Historically, marches and protests were in tandem with asking for something specific, and then also using the provisions in place (which I don’t deny people are doing – with the internet, it’s so easy!).  I did not vote for DT. Seeing him makes me cringe.  But who a person is isn’t his policy (although…. listening to the confirmation hearings… okay, won’t go there).  I think he’s just the first president we’ve had where we can actually see who he is.  I realized, MOST presidents have decorum.  Until now, it was almost a given that you had to have a good facade to be president.  This man is ridiculous.  But quoting Aziz Ansari, “Change doesn’t come from presidents.”  We

Minor Personal Reason 2: The Popular Vote vs. Electoral Vote issue.  Okay, I get that lots of people feel angry/annoyed that their vote “didn’t count,” and I also get how there are different views on why/how the electoral college was created.  I think what people in large cities are ignoring is the fact that if the popular vote was the only thing around, our country would be driven by policies favored by urban areas.  Major Cities-driven politics is one very likely cause of why people rallied to DT.  Sure, gerrymandering may have something to do with it — but how many of us have actually paid attention to working-class folks prior to 2015/16?  I know at least at HGSE, everyone’s all up in urban education – ain’t no one setting a foot into rural ed.  So yeah, I don’t agree with the “2 million strong” thing either.  It would suck if counties of SF, NYC, Denver, and LA were driving politics for the whole nation, no? Even if they had more people?  Groupthink is real.

Aside: Here are the older links regarding the county votes:

Major Political Reason: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights is misleading.  As a young, female teacher of Asian descent, I agree that women deserve the same rights as anybody else and that we get to make decisions about our bodies.

But, you know, given education? … you don’t get a free pass for irresponsibility especially if that free pass includes, you know, killing a person.  No thank you.

Why am I claiming that it’s irresponsibility (and dare I say, selfishness?)

A very teeny number of abortions are due to rape or incest or health of the mother. The last actual percent fact I could find on the Internet was from 1989, so I’m ignoring that… but I did go to the CDC site (to check how many are done by kids <19) and AGI (reasons for abortion) to confirm that anywhere from 75%-95% of abortions are due to personal choice, or “a woman’s right to choose.”   What was super interesting is how people aren’t asking about the rape/incest cases after the ’90s.  My conspiracy theory? It’s because we don’t want to know / acknowledge that the “must” situations don’t actually exist.

By the time we realize they exist, they’re a mini-human.  At this point, we know that an egg is an egg, and a sperm is a sperm.  When they come together, they actually make a little fetus. A fetus that, by 8 weeks has fully functioning organs.  They react to painful stimuli at 24-26 weeks (jury’s still out on whether they fully “understand” that it’s pain though). They’re genetic makeup is completely their own.  And, the earliest preemie ever to be born was at 22 weeks (rounded up).. you can abort a kid at 24!.

I teach kids. A lot of them are unwanted by society – I know this because of the reluctance to spend money on them, the reluctance to look at research to see what’s best for them, and you know, how a lot of them are being killed.

I don’t know where you would draw the line on “This is where I stop advocating for unwanted people without a voice.”  Is it when they graduate from your class?  Is it when they drop out?  Is it when they’re “only in kinder” (nevermind that their brains are probably way spongier than when I actually get them).  Do I not advocate for them because they can’t speak words?  Because they’re small?  Is it because they’re in the womb?  Is it because it’s 3 days before they have all their complete organs?  Is it when they’re only a “blob of cells” (nevermind that if you give it a few weeks, it changes?).

I mean, is it only if it will affect me and my life that we’ll advocate for them?  People are now advocating for Bumblebees.  A bumblebee is smaller than an 8-week old fetus and is less complex. Come on now!  (PS: Also, I think people are substantially more important than animals – God made them in His image. Yup! I believe that! Obvi, this doesn’t mean abuse the earth – y’all know this girl is green.)

Again, choice, to me, sounds like, “If you’re wanted, you live; if you’re unwanted or , you die.”  

I think it’s SO interesting to me to hear my friends argue in favor of IDEA and working SUPER hard to make sure that all of our students get their plans and have their needs met, when the hidden elephant in the room is that in 5-10 years, as technology increases and as we clamor for abortive rights  …. we probably won’t even have children with special needs because they’ll probably be aborted if found with an issue.  Just google that – it’s no secret. (we might also lose females and minorities – because given world-trends, they’re the main victims of infanticide anyway).

 I feel like our solutions are ultimately, not out of a care for people, but out of what holds most utility.  This is why we have a tendency to overdrug kids rather than offering support in the form of people and time.  This is why the way we care for our veterans is so horrible — all the “new” innovations to help people overcome PTSD by engaging with other people is not new. It’s just time consuming.  Back to abortion – I know, it’s easier to terminate a pregnancy rather than deal, as a society, with unwanted children or low-income families.  But imagine if we spent all our time and money on that rather than on killing.

Planned Parenthood? Please. This is a HUGE money-making industry.  Out of every 8 people they serve, 1 gets an abortion (in addition to their other services).  They count abortion (with its cost) as equal to giving someone a pregnancy test.  That 3% number is a myth… and this was where I got SUPER disappointed in the reporters I follow… how they are willing to get into the nitty-gritty of other facts, but not into this area. They know better – it will tank their careers because PP has a huge lobbying group.

Anyway, at the end of the day, we have science – we can see the craziest 3-D ultrasounds ever. Doctors have been prolonging life and saving life in times and places that our grandparents never even dreamed of.  So, this issue? Is mainly an issue of “my body mine” without concern about the risk you take.

How does your body make a baby? Sex.  There is a risk involved. There are also PLENTY of ways to mitigate that risk.  If it doesn’t work out – don’t just kill the baby because it’s smaller than you or an unwanted responsibility. 

Lastly, I don’t need to hear from people telling me to then put money into safe-sex programs because that is not the only other solution.  There are SO many things that affect this issue… and also, it’s again, really condescending, to assume that I’m not.

PS.  I did not know of any of the “exclusion” things that happened with the march until a few days later… I’m trying to sort of.. pause on my news intake until they calm things down over at the white house.  smh…. just saying this isn’t a response to that.

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Times likes these, HGSE love!

I don’t normally plug my grad program.  I’m ambivalent about the stances they take and the directions their churned out alumni run towards.  BUT I’m REALLY thankful for the research I got to dip into AND the classmates.  Even people (like the two below), with whom I’ve only had very brief encounters with (well, I guess with M, it wasn’t brief since we ended up driving across the continental states together), because we bonded over shared ideas, I CAN STILL HIT THEM UP NOW!!!!

Anyway, I love the resources that spill out of this convo. I feel like they’re pretty rare too. SO, if you’re interested in bringing in relevant and thoughtful resources surrounding native history in the US, look through this convo!

  • Junia

    Hey ladies – just took over a 4/5th combo class. They haven’t started US history yet. We’re starting by looking at regions and I’m doing a slapdash job of it.

    If you guys have references for how to do due justice to native history (upper elementary reading level) pre-Columbian.. I would totally be grateful.

     12/5, 8:39pm
    Amanda

    Hey! I haven’t looked too much through it but this was created by a friend who works at NACA in NM: http://bbdkricky.wixsite.com/nisnresources

    nisnresources
    HOME
    bbdkricky.wixsite.com
    12/5, 8:41pm
    Amanda

    I think the key would be to connect the narrative of history to the narrative of today (i.e. native people are still alive – funny how often that isn’t taught lol expose them to the traditions but also modern day native authors, music (tribe called red), art (Steven paul judd) – some well known ones

     12/5, 9:26pm
    Junia

    I’m trying to teach it as waves of immigration but yeah – THIS is what I need like – names / people to look into

    12/5, 9:27pm

    Amanda

    do you follow adrienne keene’s blog native appropriations? there’d be some good resources there, too

    you could have kids do a media or report on an article on a native news site perhaps

    as a way to help them see natives are alive and have agency in their communities

    12/5, 9:31pm

    Junia

    i’m clicking everything you’re sending me – I really appreciate the quick turn around and ideas.

    12/5, 9:52pm

    Meaghan

    Check out “time immemorial” — it’s the curriculum created by tribes in WA state! I’ll find a link

    12/5, 9:53pm

    Amanda

    no problem! wish I could help more!

    12/5, 9:53pm

    Amanda

    Buzzfeed’s Another Round and #NoDAPL
    Just a quick post to let ya’ll know that I was on Another Round on Buzzfeed again, and had a lovely conversation with Heben (she’s back!). In addition to talking Standing Rock and #NoDA…
    nativeappropriations.com
    12/5, 9:54pm

    Amanda

    “We Are Still Here” — A Documentary on Today’s Young Native Americans
    What is today’s young Native American’s life like? What are the challenges they are facing? How the historical traumas influenced their life? This short docu…
    youtube.com
    12/5, 9:54pm

    Amanda

    Also, could be interesting to have them draw similarities between AIM (american indian movement) and BLM

    12/5, 9:55pm

    Meaghan

    Here is the curriculum: http://www.indian-ed.org

    Indian-Ed.Org | SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL
    Article VI The constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in th…
    indian-ed.org
    12/5, 9:55pm

    Amanda

    Native American Girls Describe the REAL History Behind Thanksgiving | Teen Vogue
    6 Native American girls school us on the REAL history of Thanksgiving. Still haven’t subscribed to Teen Vogue on YouTube? ►► http://bit.ly/tvyoutubesub CONNE…
    youtube.com
    12/5, 9:56pm

    Amanda

    Naelyn Pike, Danny Grassrope, Bobbi Jean – all young native activists I met at a recent summit, Naelyn is still in HS – could be cool for her to FB live or skype into your class she’s awesome! you couod prob google some of her videos

    12/5, 9:56pm

    Meaghan

    Also I would check out the stanford history education group’s “reading like a historian curriculum” — it is a teaching framework for getting kids to use “historical thinking skills” and simulate historian’s practices — namely using primary sources to view history as the construction of narrative. they have a lesson on the battle of little bighorn that is GREAT

    12/5, 9:56pm

    Amanda

    From Times Square to the Capitol, Apache Protestors Fight U.S. Land Swap with Mining Company
    Apache protestors pass through Times Square on the way to the Capitol to fight a federal land swap with a copper mining company.
    dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com
    12/5, 9:57pm

    Meaghan

    they also have a great lesson on retelling the story of Pocahontas — that basically has kids pick apart disney (really engaging)

    12/5, 9:57pm

    Meaghan

    U.S. History Lessons | Stanford History Education Group
    The United States Reading Like a Historian curriculum includes 71 stand-alone lessons organized within 11 units. These lessons span colonial to Cold War America and cover a range of political, social, economic, and cultural topics. Each lesson includes a 1-2 day plan that outlines the lesson’s activ…
    sheg.stanford.edu
    12/5, 9:58pm

    Meaghan

    keep an eye out for articles on Standing Rock on Newsela.com. I do freelance for them and they’re going to have a series of articles on grade level with assessments aligned to CCSS

    5th graders would also eat up “absolutely true diary of a part-time indian”

    might be interesting to contrast a contemporary native story to the stories told of native people as history and not as modern

    also — for humor, the 1491’s have really create satire. not sure if 4th/5th would get it all, but could be interesting!

    12/5, 10:01pm

    Meaghan

    pocahontas lesson i was talking about — https://sheg.stanford.edu/pocahontas

    1. Pocahontas | Stanford History Education Group
    Thanks to the Disney film, most students know the legend of Pocahontas. But is the story told in the 1995 movie accurate? In this lesson, students use evidence to explore whether Pocahontas actually saved John Smith’s life and practice the ability to source, corroborate, and contextualize historical…
    sheg.stanford.edu
    12/5, 10:22pm

    Amanda

    yes 1491s for sure you might be able to find some that are approps

    12/5, 10:35pm

    Meaghan

    Oh man remember when they came to Harvard??

    12/5, 10:38pm

    Amanda

    Yea!

    Ahhh let’s all just go back 5 years 😬

    12/5, 10:39pm

    Meaghan

    yeah lets!


Thoughts on BET Awards and Appropriation and being Yellow and Jesus

So, I just read, “Dear BET Awards, Why did you think it was okay to Appropriate Asian Culture?”  And to be completely honest, I didn’t watch the BET awards. I didn’t even watch the Jesse Williams’ speech that all my friends shared.  However, I clicked this letter while wondering if the blogger was just being “oversensitive.”
Then I read the letter. Then I watched the video.  Then I wondered about it means to “appropriate.”  Then I thought a lot of things.  I’m going to try to walk you through my thoughts because my ultimate point isn’t to point to hypocrisy or to even assume it was intentional, but to perhaps make connections between trends that both I see and others seem to be uncovering.
[[Ten Second Word Association Break:  APPROPRIATION: Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Blackface, Kimmy Schmidt Season 2, Oriental, Blackish, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tiger Lily, Halloween, Awkward Black Girl]]
I’ve been listening to a lot of Hamilton and I just super admire Miranda’s choice to use minorities to represent the US “immigrant/minority”-founding fathers because it’s true – even though our founding fathers were white, the point is that their status was that of what an immigrant minority might be today. (I also love how he uses rap as the “new” language and traditional, harpsichord, musical-y singing for the British king.)
Rough US history that’s more or less accurate-ish (notice how noncommittal this title is)
  • Back then, the British looked down on the colonists.
  • Then the British-heritage Americans looked down on immigrants from other nations.
  • Then the white Americans looked down on black and brown Americans
  • Maybe now that Black/brown people have more of a voice, they look down on the yellow?
Is this intentional? I don’t think so. But perhaps it’s a lesson about sensitivity.
A friend of mine was saying how the racist Red Cross posters  that were trending yesterday seemed blown out of proportion.  I looked at it today, and I see it. Maybe because I study this. And I do believe that there are certain defaults that people do because of our history, our schooling, and our unconscious biases.
I think we notice things that are dear to us.  And I guess up to this point, most people would agree.  Then we’d split into the “It wasn’t malicious, move on!”-Camp or the “Blow the whistle and change!”-Camp.
And maybe because Asian people aren’t loud about offenses, because of the fact that we’re used to the way we’re portrayed, that it has been a “non-factor”. Or maybe because of the desire to “unite” and support other minorities, we turned a blind eye to the racism thrust at us.  (For example, I was never comfortable with how this Chinese girl was treated when she shared an anecdote of experiencing racism from a black person, but I felt that maybe it would distract from the rallying cause of blacks, and maybe it’s better to just wait…)
[[ Aside: This year, at one of my schools, one girl (who also just had many other issues), kept swearing at me (3 times) and referring to me as “Chinita.”  I asked for a conflict-res conversation , andwhen the adult who was supposed to moderate this for me came to “prep” me, he mainly explained how in latino culture, it’s normal to call Asians “Chinita” and that no offense was meant by it.  Then in our conversation, it was about how this girl “hurt my feelings” until I veered the conversation towards community and the message that it sends to other people when you call someone a “chinita.”  I mean honestly – I didn’t want a conflict-resolution because my feelings were hurt – it just shouldn’t be a non-issue that the one Asian teacher is being called this!]]

 

Okay, the point isn’t to point out grievances against Asians.  Nor is it to point out how other minorities are also racist, because let’s be real – even WITHIN races and ethnicities, there are prejudiced factions.  I guess it’s that.. if I assume positive intent (hur hur), the learning for  communities may be that many times, the more powerful group doesn’t intend racism – so we don’t need to jump down their throats when they make mistakes, and we should be patient, because… the same mistakes will probably happen again… and there are many ways to get your way – so think about how you want to go about getting it.

This doesn’t mean you have to just let it go by.  But perhaps it means being more gracious when you do point it out.  [[Here is where I erased a few pointed/snappish remarks. I don’t think they translate well into type but you can hear it from me in person if you’d like]].

[[Final Aside:// This reminded me of a sermon my pastor preached a few weeks back in Ephesians 2:11-13.    K, I know the verses seem super random and hard to get and the sermon itself is a 78-minute doozy, but let me briefly explain the context.  As Paul writes this letter, he’s reminding the people of Ephesus, the Gentiles (aka non-Jews) about their background.  This piece here also serves as a huge reminder of how basically, in one generation, the gap between the Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles/goyiim) – one that has historically been preserved since Israel was a nation and has definitely been hostile – was bridged by the gospel… and I think that’s what’s super interesting about a truly biblical church. You go in and the commonality isn’t in ethnicity, socio-economic status, or whatnot, but it’s in the commonality of Christ.]]

Basically… people! Understand that you might be oppressed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also be an oppressor.  So, Be. Gracious. And… if need be, admit that you’re wrong.  I promise, it won’t make you look weak or lose ground.

(But then ultimately, what change can there be until our hearts are changed?)

#rockandahardplace #imout

 

 

CA Charters (+ regular public schools) Need Real Accountability

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.22.24 PM
I’ve seen this petition floating around on Facebook, and I was planning to sign it. After all, why not? I work at a charter school, 4 out of my 5 years teaching have been at charter schools, and I believe in the charter philosophy of giving teachers voice, families choice, and using a “free market” idea to effect such agency.  Yet when I saw this message that I would be sending to my state assembly members and senator, I couldn’t help but scrutinize it.  Interestingly, Diane Ravitch just published a blog on Bernie Sander’s comments on charter schools and she just neatly outlined some issue with charters.  Anyway, below is part of the message that I disagreed with.

…I believe that charter schools are an integral part of our public education system… Hopefully you are well aware of the incredible things that charters are doing for students in communities like mine. If not, I urge you to visit our campuses, talk to teachers, meet with parents and students, and observe the classroom instruction and extracurricular programs. You’ll find a level of caring, a belief in every child’s potential and strong academic results that will inspire you. I can’t imagine ever losing my charter school. I hope and expect that public officials like you will do whatever it takes to protect great public schools like mine.

I don’t think charter schools are necessarily an “integral” part of our public education system. I think it makes public schools think and scramble, it allows us to try things more quickly than we might in a district school, but at the same time, if our public education system were functioning well, we wouldn’t need charters.

I wonder what this petition exactly desires.  Do we want more “support” from our State senators and assembly members?  What does that exactly entail?  What I would like is actually more scrutiny on charter schools.  After working at an especially heinous one, why can’t there be more surprise visits, more deep probing questions of students and their families?  In CA, charter schools gets their charters renewed every 5 years.  At some charter schools (like more current one), they take the opportunity to revisit their vision, recalibrate with the whole community (teachers, admin, students, families), and figure out why and how to move in a specific direction.  In other charter schools, they make teachers sign something (without specifying what the teacher is signing, and the teacher doesn’t really have a choice), they pause distasteful practices during the walk-throughs and visits, and shmooze with local politicians… and voila, a couple visits + high test scores and it’s given the CA stamp of approval.

That sucks.  And if that’s the continued way that CA is going to keep “supporting” charter schools, then I think they should just stop.  They should shackle down our system and slow everything down if it means that all students can be somewhere safe.

Actually, I take that back. Because it would just be horrific to send my kids to some crazy, huge high school instead of a small charter high school.  Yet at the same time, there area really awful charters out there!  And the worse part is they have very LITTLE scrutiny because they’re a charter — district schools have way more hoops to jump through!  I mean, why can’t we just carefully provide more resources, continue the small-schools movement (a la Oakland), and maybe even go that hybrid-charter route (like ASCEND), and just.. grow?  Why can’t CA stop being lazy and giving lip service to kids and give an actual hoot about their wellbeing?

Okay fine. Support our charter schools. But maybe also have some sort of hotline that we can call for when schools are heinous.  And then drop by randomly and watch it all unfold.  And ban schools that pride itself in giving students 1 hour of homework per subject and promote teachers to principals in 2 years.  Oh wait, our whole nation’s doing that? And we think it’s promoting bright innovation into school leadership?

Just great.

 

PS: I realized these past few years, as I continue to keep up with my students that part of the reason why few parents and students ever complain at these  really awful charter schools is because they have nothing else to compare it to.  To them, it’s normal for them to not have any say in the school’s decision to not observe MLK day, or have Spring Break school, or make kids wash the floor with toothbrushes, or take shoes off of kids, or not let parents talk to the teacher.  And coincidentally, most of the teachers at such schools are really new to the state or to teaching… so they don’t realize what’s up until they leave too.  I’m looking at you, Amethod Public Schools and American Indian Public Charter Schools. Seriously. Makes my blood curdle.

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. (nationalpriorities.org)

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. (http://www.numberofabortions.com)

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).

Teaching (reading)

The worst thing a teacher could have is unteachability.  If you’re smart and you go into a teaching program and roll your eyes through the whole thing, because for some reason, you and your 2 years of teaching experience are more valid than your instructor, you are going to end up being one crud teacher.

In other news, if all teachers understood a little bit more about reading development*, zones of proximal development**, and race-power relations***, I’d be more motivated to collaborate.

As it is, it’s tiring to hear someone say that X, who has an intermediate English language level and has to look up every 4th word, has the ability to fully read and understanding a book that is 2 levels above his grade level.  Sure he has the ability.  Just not in the way you mean it.

It’s really tiring.

*reading development: For the average educated adult reader, the following excerpt from a random abstract will be very difficult to understand:

An interpenetrating network structure created by a maleic anhydride (MA) compatibilizer imparted additional interactions between the two matrices, which has resulted in increased miscibility within the blends. A modified interface has been characterized using morphological analysis through FT-IR and SEM analysis. Because MA compatibilization distributed flexible intermolecular hydrogen bonding within the blend matrix, elongation at break and Izod impact strength has been reported at a maximum of 540.17% and 99%, respectively, compared to those of the PLA matrix.

Unless you have background in this, there is at least one word per sentence that you may not know.  Sure, you might gain a general gist using your context skills and sentence-structure knowledge, but would you be comprehending this?  No.  You may be “decoding” this, which means, simply using proper vowel/consonant knowledge to pronounce each word. But by no means could you comprehend this.  In fact, you might be able to provide a nice written summary without actually understanding what this says.  We know, perhaps intuitively, that having a student read books that are too easy for him will not help him learn.  However, if a student reads at a level that is too high for him, he will not improve in reading comprehension either!  Even if this student did, he would not improve as quickly as a student reading at his level.  How do you determine an at-level book?  Try the five-finger rule (read a page, if you missed 1-2 words, it might be too easy, 5 or more words: too hard).  Or give a quick reading assessment.

**zone of proximal development:  Think: Vygotsky.  Basically, think in terms of onion layers ( Shrek!).  A student’s brain and ability is sort of layered.  In the center are all the things he can do independently.  The next layer might be things he can do with help.  The last layer is something he cannot do even with help.  The zone of proximal development is that space between where he can do work with help and where he can’t do work with help.  That is the space where you want your teaching to be.  This way, the student is constantly being challenged but not overwhelmed.  By crafting good questions to encourage investigation on the part of the student, you’re growing this student’s previous layer.  You want your student to always be hovering at the edge of the layer of what he can do with help and what he can’t do with help.. so that gradually he can do more and more things with help and independently.

That makes sense too, right?  This also means, don’t stick your teaching in that awful outside layer where the kid couldn’t do it even if they kid had help.  Such as, giving the kid a book that’s 2 grades above his level in terms of content and reading ability.  What is so wrong with having a kid read a book he might enjoy or at least could feel confident that he could read on his own?  If it’s too easy for the other kids, then pull out your learning taxonomies (Bloom’s, Costa’s, whatever), and start getting your kids digging deeper.  Don’t throw your weakest kids under the bus just so you can feed your ego and work through “challenging” texts.  There’s a difference between challenging and impossible.

Guess what?  The 60% of your class who are amazing can still be amazing without you.  You are not the reason for their success – although you definitely could be a factor.   Most likely that 60% just needed a break in that they could go to a school that held actual expectations.  Now, the 40% of your students who struggle are the ones that are true measures of your ability to inspire, coach, instruct, and guide.  That means finding their level, and then figuring out how to push them beyond that level.  It does NOT mean lecturing on a book the whole time and giving them all this background information and preloading a bunch of vocabulary etc.. Students aren’t learning to read.  They’re learning how to think like you and pull opinions and thoughts off of your own presuppositions.   What are you?  God?

***Race-Power relations: Now this topic is sensitive, so I’m going to keep it simple.  Most of us come are not where we are because of merit.  There was some uncontrollable factor in our lives that allowed us to get to where we were in the present.  The fact that you were born into a stable family, the fact that you never had to worry about your meals, the fact that you didn’t need to worry about being accused or given the second degree due to skin color or ethnicity.. those are all privileges that allowed you to be where you are today.  We are all biased.  So stop acting like middle school kids ought to reap the consequences of every crappy decision they make.  They’re in middle school – it’s time to make mistakes.  Help them learn from it.  Meet them where they are and then help them rise above it.  Acknowledge that their circumstances are tough, and sure, you don’t need to baby them or “dumb down the information.”  In fact, thinking like that, again, makes you appear incredibly condescending.  Affirm what they can bring to the table and build on that.  And don’t assume that you understand everything, because we don’t.

Maybe one day, if I have more time, I’ll stick this into cartoon form.

I get so incensed about this, because… why would a kid be motivated to read and learn to read deeply if for him, reading is work?  If reading is equated to difficulty?  Reading shouldn’t always be difficult – at least not in the way we present it.  It shouldn’t be all this busy work of looking up all these words.  It’s freaking Middle School.  Start building motivation and enjoyment so that when they do hit the hard books in high school, they don’t groan.  When they hear an author’s name, they don’t immediately equate it with a miserable 7th grade experience.  Make it GOOD.  DAH!

The only people defending teachers are teachers.

Usually.

My teacher friend just shared this Thought Catalog article, “Parents need to be reminded that teachers are people too.”

The usual snark accompanied this article as well.

This year, I’ve chosen to be more vocal about my issues with the teaching industry.  In some ways, it’s a coping mechanism, in other ways, it’s because my school is very representative of all the issues with our education system.  Throughout most of this, I’ve gotten blanket (and useless) sympathy where it’s come to a point where I hesitate to talk about my day or my weekend or how I’ve been because I feel bad only talking about school.  (It’s also a bit hurtful when you see people’s eyes glaze over at your endless lists of obstacles you face).  However, the worst part are the well-meaning advice I get from people who have never been in the teaching profession but feel they have the knowledge to give me advice or criticism.

Sure, they’ve worked with kids.  Sure, they have kids.  Sure, they’ve researched kids.  Sure, they’re in policy; they’re in outreach; they’re in youth development; they’re in justice empowerment.  Great, great, and GREAT!  I am glad to have peers and colleagues who are doing amazing things in the world.  But guess what?  I used to be in those environments too.  And I know I had the same mentality as you.  Back then, I’d look at my amazing students as they come in tired after school, with loads of homework, loads of emotional burdens, and I too would blame the teacher and the school.  But, that’s just not fair.  Because you have never taught before.

I agree that good intentions aren’t everything, but, you need to give teachers the benefit of the doubt.  A lot of former teachers at grad school would always belabor the topic of “professionalizing of the teaching industry” and point to doctors, lawyers, business execs, etc.  I’m not even shooting for being treated like a professional.  Just don’t belittle me.  Don’t condescend.  Thank you for reminders.  Thank you for your concerns.  Keep them coming.  But try to couch them the same way you would when giving feedback and reviews.  I’ve only had a few interactions like this – where the person felt concerned about something, exactly explained the concern, and then acknowledged what I might know / what I might already have been doing.  The rest have just been offhand thoughtless comments.

It doesn’t help that apart from social circles, the media out there has an equally shallow perspective.  The same mundane compliments or coverage or sensational criticism.  I know that if I were in a teaching environment where I was supported internally, all that is happening externally wouldn’t bother me as much.  But I’m not, and most young teachers aren’t at schools with healthy, supportive environments.  In this case, being peppered by little daily comments turn into blows.

teacher meme

I’m a pretty confident person, but these past few years have a done a number on my self-esteem.  It takes all the mental battling in the world to remind myself of my true identity in Christ, and yet I despair at the fact that I feel that all I do is smear the name “Christian” through the mud.  Does that mean I just sit back and meekly take what everyone else dishes?  I don’t think so.  I think in my conscience, I’m not just writing to defend myself; I’m writing to keep a record of what is happening in schools.  People avoid difficult issues and would rather talk about some basketball athlete’s injuries than about the fact that there are natural disasters, moral disasters, and social disasters everywhere in this world.  I’m sorry to rain on your parade but if no one’s going to speak up for teachers in your circles, well, at least you’ll get a little somethin’ somethin’ from me.