Monday, June 30, 2014

Oh No They Dih-Int!

But yes, yes they did. In the typical nutcase-versus-hippie split decision the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a 5-4 decision which favors private companies' rights to exempt themselves from portions of the Affordable Care Act. Medical treatment or prescriptions otherwise allowable under the law, and decided upon by a licensed physician in consultation with a patient, can be excluded from coverage if a for-profit, private business can demonstrate the treatment's conflict with the business' religious views.

Because in yet another stunning victory for stupidity, our highest court has underlined the essential passage from the Rich White Man's true scripture: Chapter 1, Verse 1 "Corporations are people, my friends."

That's right. You heard it from Mitt (ironically, a Mormon) first, but the Supreme Court has generously donated tons of credibility through its display of complete disregard for history, our constitution or a freaking dictionary. A corporation's ability to act as an individual has now become its identity. I suppose corporations can have color preferences, allergies to legumes and dating habits, too?

What I find most fascinating about the absolute dirtiness of this decision and its implications is the trading of one kind of morality for another. So we say, in the voice of our highest secular authority:
It is more moral to support a corporation's desire to wear the cloak of human characteristic than it is to afford every citizen equal rights under the law. 
I can just hear Jesus giving up the "what what!"

Are you surprised that women are the subjects of this degradation? I'm not.  If corporations attempted to wear religion in order to deny men a service or treatment you'd be hearing the laughs for miles.

Are you at all taken by the fact that the 'winners' in this case are Christians? I'm not. Because you'd be hell bent to find the Tibetan monk who would get this case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court and you'd never find him. Same for the Orthodox Jew or the Muslim who might want to win the argument to have you cover your women up when you bring them into their shops, their restaurants, their offices.

The whole thing is embarrassing.

Americans do not win this one. Christians do not win this one. We fail. We fail to love one another as He loved us. What greater sin against God is there?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where I Reside

I haven't talked to the man I think of as my father for nearly thirty-five years. I should wonder if he cares, but honestly the years have worn away the care. Now, it is nearly bore.

That is what I will tell you. I am loud out here so you cannot see me in the quiet.

The man my mom married was not my biological father but for as much as it mattered, he was. I had aunts, uncles, cousins, a grandmother. A whisper. When the marriage ended, the relationships carried on for a while. Then days and distances and no more.

They are my family. But then, too, for as much as it matters they are not.

And all the accoutrements of family -

the comfort and taste of my aunt's food

the familiar ripple of my uncle's gold chain against his neck

the laugh that shares and shakes cousins on a couch too small for all to fit

those are for dreaming days in a waking world.

And there's no one to blame and no tonic but your own.

I'm currently on a path to reconnect with my father's family, a ride on an un-beckoned wave. For what purpose? Really, I will not know.

I'll say I go to show my children. I do not urge them past their own fears or deepest weakness capriciously. I travel in the direction of my hurt as I would point them in the direction of theirs, to face it. When for them, I hold them firmly against me so my heat can be felt through whatever armor, so they know they are loved. We walk together.

Still, I fail in that I do not believe it for myself.

That is the damage that cannot be undone.

Most people look at the family I have made and think it's idyllic. I am cured with that irony and laugh for its deliciousness. It is real. And then, despite my wanting not to, I brace for the hurt and return to the quiet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For JB. And The Rest of Us Who are Being Ruined by Education.

My friend JB found herself at once pleased and alarmed that she was able to use the word 'rigor' in a game of scrabble. Pleased, because, heck, any well-placed word feels good in a game of scrabble. Alarmed because she found herself using the buzzwords of the edu-world in her non edu-life. JB is a teacher.

As such, rigor is really the least of her worries. She could find herself trying to ALIGN everything in her life. Alignment's a big deal. Check a teacher's pantry... it's either eerily OCD, bordering on the 'needs medical attention' or rebelliously chaotic - jars and cans facing opposite directions for no apparent reason, on the same shelves with boxes and bags, madness! Edu-speak is ruining them.

Then there's the question of SCAFFOLDING and let me stop you right there! This has nothing to do with construction or window-washing downtown. If that's what you're picturing, you don't know squat about education.

Are you familiar with all the PIECES? When you try to fit that piece in or when you talk about that piece or think about that piece you need to be aware that there are lots of PIECES in education. Lots. Not for the weak or weary, the pieces.

JB ought to be pleased she didn't find herself blurting out ROBUST! in answer to a question. Sure, people of a certain age will remember a coffee commercial with an excellently placed nose over a teaspoon of Sanka grounds, but those people should banish that image from their memories and replace it with an image of curricula. How do you picture curricula? That's not the point. The point is curricula should be robust. If you don't know that, back away from the education.

Speaking of backing away, I might suggest a little BACKWARDS PLANNING. This one kills me. 'We are intentionally backwards.' Really? That explains so much.

In fact, we're INTENTIONAL a lot. Very important. Be intentional. (Don't accomplish anything - 'accomplish' is not an important word in education. Just intentional.)

Everything is about METRICS and MOVING FORWARD, even though you are backwards planning, which may explain why often you are traveling right off the edge of a cliff. Irrelevant. Just measure and move.

And make sure you're NORMING and ASSESSING all the while! If you're not, get out of the game. You have no VALUE-ADD.

Something we don't talk about too much? TOUCHING. You have to look at how many students you touch, whether or not you touch them at all, whether you failed to touch. Interesting, isn't it? Because you have to do a lot of touching, but you can get pulled off the floor for hugging a kid.

And don't forget to address the needs of your DIVERSE POPULATION. If your population is not diverse, make that up, because having the needs of a diverse population is mission critical. Then, you have to address the needs. You don't get resources or support in doing that. You just have to do it. Like magic! Isn't that fun?

Last but not least, make sure you are DIGGING DOWN if you plan to get into the edu-world today. You need to really dig deep. Big deal.

In fact, invest in a shovel. It'll come in handy for more than one thing.