Michigan Governor Snyder’s plan is somewhere between ridiculous and downright evil: by taking away $700 more per pupil, it will throw districts into Snyder’s “emergency” status, thereby allowing the State to run the schools. It’s so blatantly wrong and heavy-handed, even I see through it. So many others see it that way, too: The Michigan Messenger, The Washington Independent, The Michigan Education Association, and Rachel Maddow (see below).
While it seems to be legal according to Slate, that doesn’t mean it’s right or decent or intelligent…or will achieve anything positive unless you like the notion of state run schools or top-down authority or black-white thinking or, dare I say it…totalitarianism (if you’re not detecting my anger yet, picture everything in capital letters and bolded).
I have recently been talking with two teacher friends (who happen to be named Jack and Jill…I’m not kidding) and we heard some whispers of the “s” word…the one that rhymes with “pike” and there are three of them in a baseball game. It’s illegal, I know. And it might not make any difference. However, it may be akin to the rain example: a little is no big deal, but a lot could kill you. This paragraph is written in code, so if you don’t understand it, don’t worry.
Federal funding for the National Writing Project (NWP) was cut. If you have read my blog before or talked with me at all, you know the impact that my local writing project, the Red Cedar Writing Project (RCWP), has had in my professional and literary life. If you are new to my blog, I will give you a quick summary. When I attended the Summer Institute at RCWP in 2003, I was questioning whether my teaching career would last much longer. I was adopting a negative attitude and approaching burnout for a number of reasons. During those weeks in the summer of 2003, I began to see that teaching could be a growth experience; I was suddenly a part of a community of teacher-learners who promoted writing by being writers. I was challenged to read, write, demonstrate my teaching, and participate in groups in an intense, rich environment. I willingly jumped in with both feet, produced my first online portfolio, and have not regretted a minute of my relationship with RCWP. The past eight years have been a reflection of that summer: sharing my writing with my students; reading many texts that push my teaching; incorporating technology into the curriculum in carefully chosen, meaningful ways; and presenting at conferences on how my teaching and learning have changed. But aside from my story, NWP has enriched the lives of teachers and students across the country in millions of ways. My friend, Kevin, wrote the most articulate piece on the topic and I suggest you read it.
We suddenly and without public discussion are in Libya. The president I voted for (the same one who signed the bill in Reason #2) is acting a bit too Bush-like for my liking. A tad too W. Yes, the situation is terrible. Yes, time is of the essence. Yes, the UN approves. No, we don’t have to spend millionsbillions whatever, send our flyboys into harms way, fix the world…especially without some discussion in a government space, but possibly even in a public space. I’m not the only one upset over this decision, but so far it’s a pretty silent group. I do appreciate a New York Times article that takes on this decision, but I don’t see the outrage I expected. The NY Times article lists some of the things we should be talking about: How involved will we be? Who are the rebels and what’s their agenda? Why are we choosing this “battle” when there are other areas of the world could use our assistance?
I can’t keep up with the wars. “Odyssey Dawn” sounds like we are coming up on the edge of (according to my dictionary) a ten-year attempt to get back home or a series of wanderings. Why not call it “Operation Knee Jerk” or “Change…for the World.”
It seems as if the federal government won’t be funding National Public Radio. Okay, so it probably won’t kill NPR, but it sends a message. A terribly unsupportive message. NPR keeps me up to date with the world (Fresh Air, All Things Considered, Morning Edition) and makes me laugh (Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion). I want my tax dollars going to this cause (is there a box I can check?) instead of the crap cause in Reason #3.
The Earth, itself, seems to be having a nervous breakdown.
My thoughts are with the people of Japan as they slowly sort through the devastation, come to grips with it, and re-build their country. The earthquakes they’ve had and the tsunami tragedy are only two examples of how the Earth seems out of whack lately.
Fortunately, I like to balance all of the non-sense with humor.
Counter Measure #1
A little over two years ago there was a Saturday Night Live sketch called “Fix It” that keeps me laughing (it’s about half-way into the video on that link).
Counter Measure #2
Here’s OK Go’s Rube Goldberg machine wackiness to “This Too Shall Pass.” And… the story behind it.
Counter Measure #3
Jerry Lewis’ Cinderfella dance always makes me happy. As does the SNL Dancing in the Dark sketch with Steve Martin and Gilda Radner, which Lewis surely inspired in someway.
Counter Measure #4
And there’s something about the innocence and hope of young children that keeps me going. This 3-year old reciting the Billy Collins poem “Litany” does just that.
Counter Measure #5
And then there’s the following letter. I’m not really sure if I have permission to share it (it’s from a friend of a friend), but I feel others need to hear her message. It’s…
From a American teacher in Sendai,sent to her loved ones here:
Subject: from Sendai, Japan
>>> Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,
>>> First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.
>>> Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
>>> During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
>>> Utterly amazingly, where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”
>>> Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.
>>> We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on.
>>> But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
>>> There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun.
>>> People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.
>>> Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.
>>> The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
>>> And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entrance way. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
>>> They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
>>> Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
Thank you again for your care and Love of me,
With Love in return, to you all,
By the way, the title of this blog is in partial reference to an earlier entry called “Trying to make sense of it all”