Friday, July 1, 2011

Quick Takes, including a dramatic home makeover by Danya!

I'm away from the computer for a few days, but yippee for being able to schedule posts in advance!!

1. Okay, this is the best thing ever. A while back, I lamented that my house never looks as pretty as the other blogger ladies' houses. I have always oohed and aahed over the "before" and "after" pictures of their home interiors, while being stuck with no taste and no talent of my own. Well, lucky for me, I have a friend named DANYA!!! Yes, our own dear Danya has done something for me that I could never in a million years do for myself. And she did it out of love. Are you ready for this? Here is a "before" picture of my living room:

What house full of boys would be complete without pink walls?

And now, after Danya and her beautiful daughter worked their magic on a shoestring budget, I have my own "after" pictures! Ta-daaaa!!!

Have to add one more, because Jesus is in it (over there on the left!), overlooking the peace and tranquility of at least one room in this house!
I am relaxing just looking at these pictures.

I mean really? Who else but Danya could make pink walls work? If you think that's amazing, you should see the photos from the baby shower she threw for me a year and a half ago. I thought it was a royal wedding reception!

Now, she is not done yet, as there are still some touches to add. A couple of glowing lamps, and a large, round mirror over the armoire ("rose window" style!).

Bottom line? Danya, you are the bee's knees, sister!

2. Since I am away from the blogging world for a few days, I asked the wonderful Stacy at Accepting Abundance to write a guest post. She was kind enough to accept, and her post on education, a subject she knows well, will run on Monday.

I won't be able to follow the comments, but I thought I'd throw out this interesting story, which sticks in my craw to this day: I was on an internet forum a few years ago (so what if it was a Clay Aiken fan group???), discussing educational choice with a staunch supporter of the NEA and the public school system. She kept talking about money, money, money, as if that were the answer to the problem of educational decline. I told her that my children attended a tiny private Catholic school which was housed in an old public school building, in a bad neighborhood, with no indoor toilets for the kids (the parents were in charge of cleaning the restrooms each week!). There was no library, no auditorium, no sports fields. The kids sat in mismatched desks and never saw a computer in a classroom. And yet, without all the "necessary" bells and whistles, my kids were getting an excellent and complete education, at a cost per student which was thousands less than the state was spending per student in public schools.

Do you know what this lady said to me, after I described the state of our school?

She called me a liar!

Seriously, I could not believe it! I still don't believe it! I politely asked if she were kidding, and she said it again! Oh, my. I know, I'm still bitter. But I knew then that some conversations are just not possible.

3. Speaking of liars, how about that Planned Parenthood? They are at it again, those crazy kids, and they are good! Check it out, here. If only the media would call Cecile Richards out. Ah, a girl can dream. Indiana residents, I hope you are all over this!

4. In the "eclipse of reason" file, from Sweden:

Those poor kids. 

5. Speaking of gender roles as "societal construct", how do the proponents of a gender-neutral world explain the difference between the lesbian culture and the gay male culture? They are very, very, very different cultures. What accounts for that, if (as we have heard on this blog) there is no essential difference between men and women? Of course, most of us realize and expect that gay men would be different from gay women, because (drum roll)... men and women are essentially different. Even when they are gay!

6. I challenge any reader, left or right, to listen to Dennis Prager on the radio for one week. He is Jewish, conservative (grew up very liberal), thoughtful and respectful, and utterly brilliant. I don't agree with everything he says by a long shot, but I am always edified when I hear him discuss matters of religion, politics, philosophy and society. If you like the discussions in the Bubble, you will love his show.

7. Finally, have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! May God bless America! And speaking of that, check out the amazing, faith-filled lyrics to some of our nation's most patriotic songs, here. I remember learning them in my public elementary school. Do they still do that anymore? If not, remember to teach your kids these national treasures!

Thanks to Jen, who's enjoying her babymoon, for hosting!



  1. Always love your posts... and your segues ("speaking of liars..."
    That whole gender issue is why, when one of my theology professors referred to herself as an "essentialist feminist" I knew I had found a kindred spirit! (She also started class by introducing herself as a "kick-butt feminist theologian". How could I not love that?)

    Have a wonderful and relaxing 4th of July weekend!

  2. Wow, that's amazing!! Can Danya come to my house and work miracles with my peach walls? (My living room has 3 peach walls and one red wall. Yes, RED. The former owners of this house were, I think, colorblind. Or maybe they just had horrible taste, as almost every room in the house is a different shade of peach.)

  3. Your before and after pics look fantastic! And my hubby loves Dennis Prager. He always says "You would not get annoyed listening to him, honey". Maybe I should give him a shot after all :)

  4. OH my goodness, Danya is amazing! I love it!!!! :) Have a wonderful vacation...blessings for a restful, relaxing time!

  5. Before I started staying home I worked at a small private school for special needs children. We rented rooms from an old Methodist church that was barely making it. We had absolutely no money. We relied on parent donations as well as staff donations for things like toilet paper, paper towels, books, educational toys, supplies, etc. We didn't have a cleaning crew. The staff did most of the cleaning as well as the students. We used it as a way to teach them lifeskills. Parent involvement was mandatory. And you know what, the kids got an education. It can be done without so much money you just have to be a bit creative.

  6. love the new room. But it so does not look like 10 people live there in the before or after! how do you manage that?

  7. Loooove the armoir! I have one for our teeny apartment... it's so peaceful to shut the doors on the flat screen TV, and it makes everything feel homier. :) Also great curtains.. that is one rule I have: we must hang curtains/sheers. Well, dh thought it was funny that mini-blinds were "beneath me", and he still hasn't hung our curtains. :) He also laughed at my insistence on "warm" floor lamps and table lamps. :) Anywho, the room looks just amazing! Danya sure is talented!

  8. Oh regarding being called a liar.... what???!! All I can think is that this person is just so entrenched in one way of seeing education that she had a hard time seeing outside that box. My public high school charged 12k per student (that's what was allotted funding-wise). This was 15 years ago. My younger sister attended a private school for much less per student housed in a series of trailers (this was after trying out the local public school) and did so much better in the private situation (for a variety of reasons). I mean I could on and on with stories... looking forward to Stacy's post.

  9. In reference to Quick Take #2, I find your position interesting. I'm wondering if it's riding the heels of the recent documentary, Waiting for Superman?

    I have to say that while your defense of educational choice is in the interest of Catholic schools (which is great!), there are many, many charter school "choices" that are ineffective and DO bleed public schools of the monies that they desperately need. So, unfortunately, you've lumped those together with Catholic schools. As for the effective Catholic and charter schools, they are not required by law to serve special needs populations, nor are they sought out by parents of students with special needs. Thanks, and rightly so, to the measures set forth in IDEA, the "unnecessary monies" in public education, that may seem superfluous to you, are used to serve these populations. For one child with special needs, the costs are extensive. To address our nation's "educational decline," many countries that we compare America to DO NOT OFFER special education. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO OFFER EVERY ONE OF ITS CITIZENS A FAIR AND EQUITABLE EDUCATION: the only country in the world. This means the comparison between our "declining" scores and say, China, is skewed. Huh. We were the leaders in the world until we set forth provisions for special education in the '70's. Huh. So when you hold public education against private school, and suggest that one trumps the other, you're really comparing two very different enterprises.

    Furthermore, public education funding has been so drastically cut since 2008 that, yes, public school children are now sitting in mismatched desks. Public school children are playing out in fields, or on play equipment built from bond money that cannot legally be used for academic purposes. Public school children are using old books and worn materials, too.

    If you think public education has money pumped into its veins, the initial glance at the "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY," may not be what you think. Title 1 public schools are schools that serve a demographic with AT LEAST 90% of students living in poverty. That means that those extensive monies that seem unneccessary are actually being used to GIVE IMPOVERISHED KIDS A FIGHTING CHANCE, and close the national achievement gap. While it may seem that public schools receive gross amounts of money per student, school districts have such diverse populations to serve, that I defend the right to public education just as much as I defend private school tax benefits -- (which are so wonderful for Catholic schools!). As for charter school choice, however, you'll find me hard pressed to defend most charter schools--where teachers aren't required to have state certification or required to be highly qualified to teach, and where regulations are seldom implemented.

    While I'm clearly passionate about this topic, it seems that the idea that "public schools can get by on less" is a trite argument. Catholic schools originated in this country to teach the Faith. Public schools originated in this country to create informed citizens capable of maintaining a democracy. If we hold to those foundational missions, there should be no "us" against "them" argument.

  10. WOW, Danya does great work. I love the colors and the simplicity. It's beautiful. Pink is good! See you all next week, I'm looking forward to it and THANK YOU Leila for asking. Have a good weekend!

  11. Love the makeover! That Danya is so amazing!

  12. Awesome pictures! Danya, you are coming over to help me redo my house. Yeah, that's not debatable. :)

  13. Love the makeover! Wish she could help me with my house! I also love the armoir! What is that made out of? Pine? (I love pine!)

  14. Your house looks gorgeous, what a great job!! If we're ever homeowners, I'll have to call your friend :)

    Happy 4th of July!

  15. Anonymous, forget Catholic vs. public schools for a minute. Do you believe in public school choice? Or vouchers?

  16. LOVE the redo!!!! Danya's amazing!!! It looks so cozy and intimate now...perfect for Little Cathlic Living Room chats discussing comment drama...

    Such as the comment above! Woah. Looking forward to STacy's post and the comments to follow!

  17. Anon - the public school I attended - which was NOT a charter school - did not accommodate kids with special needs. And it was still 12k per student allotted for *that* school per year - 15 years ago.

    Also, while some public schools do a great service accommodating kids with special needs, having worked in education myself and knowing parents with children who have special needs, often these schools do not really meet the children's needs and parents must fight to get the services their tax dollars pay for. Many have found more success home schooling their special needs children.

  18. Leila here....

    Two seconds here, on a strange laptop...

    Anon, have you seen Waiting for Superman?

    Also, my older kids go to a public, charter school, and they are provided a classical Great Books education (I've written about that elsewhere), for much less than the regular public schools. And our charter is housed in a church preschool building (we lease), no fields, outdated everything, no computers for the kids, etc. Just like the Catholic school that I mentioned in the story above. Our teachers are not all certified and we couldn't care less, because getting a certification at an education school is not a guarantee that they are competent in their field. We can hire and fire teachers at will, based on their performance and competence.

    Charter or private, give the parents the choice. We have plenty of special needs students in our charter school, by the way. Our charter and its sister schools are wildly successful, so much so that they have received national accolades. Are all charters good? No way. Neither are all regular public schools, many of which perform abysmally.

    Still not sure how charters drain the system, since the state pays so much less per pupil to fund them, and that frees up lots of space in the regular schools, which continue to cost an arm and a leg.

    I won't even get into my problems with the leftist agenda of the NEA and its affiliates. How I wish we went back to classical education, because that truly DOES fulfill the mandate to form good citizens, capable of sustaining this Republic.

    Anyway, I am sure there are good public schools out there, just as there are good charter schools as well. The difference is that in charter schools, there is accountability, parents vote with their feet, and we are not bound to the ridiculous mandates of the regular public school bureaucracy. And we cost the state considerably less. Win-win.

    sorry for any spelling and grammatical errors!

    And bottom line, let the parents go where they wish. And thank goodness for the innovation of charter schools, which at least in my state has shaken up the system and offered desperate parents real options.

  19. Leila again:

    Just a note to say that my assessment of the decline of public education was not based on any studies such as you mentioned, it was based on lots and lots of observations and personal research over the past three decades, two of those decades as a parent. I was a public school kid. The public schools do not teach now as they did then. I think the deline of the schools is not something that we need a study to show us. And, if one has a conservative worldview, the education is not only deficient, but corrupt. (Did you see that California schools will now be teaching of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered "history" or "historical accomplishments" of homosexuals as part of a mandated curriculum for children from Kindergarten up? If that does not smack of a political agenda, I don't know what would. Since when is it okay to discuss gay sexuality or ANY sexuality to small children?)

    Parents are just fed up....

    I hope you can understand.

  20. Also, while some public schools do a great service accommodating kids with special needs, having worked in education myself and knowing parents with children who have special needs, often these schools do not really meet the children's needs and parents must fight to get the services their tax dollars pay for. Many have found more success home schooling their special needs children. "

    Let's try this again.
    Just was going to say I agree w/ Sarah's statement above. I home school my son, who has autism, because I couldn't reach an agreement with my son's school for his needs even though he has an IEP. Public schools are fine, but being a special needs student once myself, I think parents would be shocked how some of these students are treated. My own school-my own special ed teachers used to do my homework for me because they said, "It's faster this way."
    I'm not saying all schools are like this--my mom was a special ed teacher and a great one who loved her students, but it seems that public schools have gone downhill over the years with their low expectations of their students. That is why I choose to home school my son (actually, my mom, the retired special ed teacher does it for me--thankfully!) and he has a much more positive attitude about school, better self-esteem, and better grades.

  21. Love the makeover. I also have no gift for decorating. Will Danya do consults?:)

  22. My daughter goes to private school and they *do* accomodate special needs. They are technically "not equipped", but they work closely with the public school district for those "issues".

  23. Hey Leila,
    I didn't mean to pull you from vacation. Goodness, take a break.

    I raised my argument simply because I heard a negative connotation associated with the alleged fat-cat public schools. I am an elementary schoolteacher currently sacrificing all that I have to give my students a standards-driven, constructivist-based dynamic learning experience, fully adapted to their many needs, as many of my students enter my classroom below grade-level.

    I'm tired of public education being the
    punching bag...always the monster. In reality, while you might know of a few special education cases where parents were dissatisfied, severe emotionally disturbed and behaviorally challenged students are NOT served in charters and Catholic schools. This fact cannot be swept under the rug. Public schools do, by law, serve EVERY child. Charters don't. Many of my special needs students wouldn't last a week in Catholic schools before being expelled.

    Yes, we’ve established that charters don’t cost as much as public education, because they are different entirely in their mission and purpose. The claims you make about pleasant conditions in your charter school reveal that your charter schools do not serve those with severe special needs. You also fail to acknowledge your parental role in your children’s education. Do you, possibly, provide for your children’s education outside of school? In public schools, most impoverished children don’t have those privileges. So that huge budget you scoff at? It goes to ensure homeless students are fed: free of charge, provided before and after school care: free of charge, transported: free of charge, engaged in tutoring and clubs afterschool: yes- free of charge. The money that you see built up around public schools is a lifeline for students who would be on the streets otherwise. Yes, your charters don’t need or use that money…cuz they’ve got you – parents. Who are we, as public educators? We are parents to those kids who don’t have them in many ways.

    Your lack of response to my question as to whether your argument for educational choice is fueled by Waiting for Superman gives you away. Clearly, you’ve form your opinion based upon an informative, albeit a severely skewed representation of the state of education. Any documentary that paints such drama into bureaucracy is sketchy from my point of view. I wouldn’t buy into Michael Moore’s documentaries any more than I would Waiting for Superman. You see, Waiting for Superman has taken the state of education in a select few districts, and colored the whole country with that representation. The filmmakers are propaganda pushers who are speaking of public schools as if they themselves sit in the front row of Miss Kilpatrick's classroom every day and therefore are experts on the issues of education. Certainly public education has its flaws, especially the top-heavy administrations that milk public educators out of standard materials. However, their suggestion that teachers be paid based upon merit defuses the construct of a professional learning community – that the best educators are ones who share their ideas and build a team approach to student learning, not educators who turn academia into commerce through fighting for their commission.

  24. Teachers have been weary for awhile now...taking the blame for the alleged "failure" in schools. We're not weary any more. We're mad. Leila, to suggest that teachers do not need certification sounds preposterous. My nurse doesn’t need to be an R.N. either. I’m fine with someone who’s “read-up” on medicine themselves. Sure, stick a needle in me, you’ve read WebMD, right? As a matter of fact, why does my lawyer need to pass the bar? He’s fine. He read the Great Books.

    Oh, but you can fire any teacher at will in charter schools? So too can teachers be fired in public education. I’ve witnessed it first-hand. There’s, of course, due process for poorly performing educators…but bad teachers are FIRED. Our tenure is factored into our evaluations only on the fifth year of teaching.

    Have you invested at all in public education, or just caused dissention through pulling money away from the system of public education without truly experiencing public education? You say, “Let the parents go where they wish.” You know where that’s gotten us in Arizona? WE HAVE SCHOOL HOPPERS: children who are transient throughout multiple schools with parents who are searching for the “mecca” of charter schools. It doesn’t exist…and their students fall behind because they’re not growing and learning consistently in one place.

    Leila, are you kidding me? "Did you see that California schools will now be teaching of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered "history”?" This is not the agenda that typifies public schools. This is an outlier. Did you know that I teach my students, legally, the story of the Nativity at Christmas and the Resurrection at Easter? Did you know I even reference the lives of the saints…in a public school. I know school law, and I can legally present this material if it’s historical, or intertwined with mythology/fiction…but my students know Truth.

    Charter schools suck the money that would make public education better. They haven’t offered Arizona real options because Arizona is still failing. They aren’t the enlightened answer. I believe, strongly, in private education. I strongly support public education, and public school choice: open-enrollment and magnet schools. The majority of charters are poorly designed, poorly run, and fail our students.

    I can grab a video camera and record my own documentary, a better movie - Superman is HERE. The movie, Waiting for Superman, contends the number one contributing factor in a child’s performance is the teacher. I guess that kind of debunks the myth that charters are the answer. No, teachers are.

    The FUNNIEST part of the movie Waiting for Superman is the accuracy of the title: parents sitting around waiting to be served, like public education is a menu item at a restaurant. INVIGORATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Let’s make them great together – not by pulling away, but by contributing! Let’s believe in a better America than what we’ve got today…not by being oppositional, but by investing in schools.
    Leila, I’ve followed your blog for over a year, but your oppositional nature is bothersome. I won’t be following any longer.

  25. Anonymous, I'm kind of tied up this weekend, but I've got a lot of thoughts on "investing" in education and would love to discuss it with you starting Monday. I have some research and numbers in my post, and a lot more in my head that I've collected over the years. My husband and I have taught at all levels from Kindergarten to university. Throwing more money at education won't solve the problem, in my opinion.

  26. Love your room! I was watching a home improvement show yesterday, and now your photos, I think my living room is getting an uplift soon.

    So in a genderless, pronoun-less classroom are they replacing pronouns with first names? That would take a while to get used to for both speaking it and listening to it. "Johnny's brought in treats today for Johnny's birthday. Johnny's turning 6 today and Johnny wants to show you Johnny's new toy." Ugh! There goes literature, too!

  27. Disclaimer: I'm a public school employee (reason for anonymity). Public schools today are in need of a superman overhaul, but in the process we shouldn't overlook the superman and superwoman efforts of so many fabulous teachers. You shouldn't break the good sink when trying to fix the leaky bathtub, and I'm afraid some 'reforms' do just that.

    Regarding certification, the process is flawed in a lot of states. For one, a university professor of history could not teach at a local high school in my state. That is a problem. You can train good teaching but you can't train passion--something lacking in our classrooms today due to the "general ed." emphasis. I was alternatively certified, and most of the process was irrelevant and time consuming. BUT, I can imagine for someone who isn't naturally a teacher, reviewing what was reviewed in the alt. cert. program would be important. Teachers must know how to appropriately measure student progress, classroom manage, etc. Managing this for a small private school is A LOT easier than a large public school (I've worked for both).

    Looking forward to Stacy's article on Monday!

  28. I am a product of the public school system, and I have to say I did get a good education. However, this was primarily due to parental supplements. My personal beef with the public school system is the huge emphasis on standardized testing to evaluate the success of the school. I am from Florida, and we have a standardized test here called the FCAT. Schools are required to purchase the tests, pay for the costs of administering the tests, and (my biggest beef) buy test prep materials from the company that makes, which then have to be used during class time. I should note, most critics of the test say the test doesn't actually test what it says, and I agree; my mother has a graduate degree in English and taught English for ten years before I was born, and she couldn't pass the Reading part of the test. The test forces you to teach for it instead of for the subject, which is how schools that do well on the test can produce poorly-educated students.

  29. You're right, I do need to take a break, ha ha, but I do have a couple of minutes. Anonymous, first of all, I would agree with you about documentaries having an agenda. Usually. The funny thing about this one is that the makers of Waiting for Superman were the same lefties who made Al Gore's documentary. So, the fact that they found something that actually bolsters the more conservative sides of the argument should really tell you something. It's not like they were out to push a conservative agenda.

    As for the idea that more money will save the public schools... How much more would do it? I think over half of the budgets of most states go towards education. That's a lot! How much more money and how much more time (and how many more kids sacrificed) before we can finally be satisfied and say, "Yep, this isn't working." It's a serious question: How much more money and how much more time?

    A lot of what you are talking about is a result of the breakdown of the family. I wish we could address that culturally, rather than throw more money into trying to fix these kids at school. Why can't we build strong families again? Oh, because it wouldn't be politically correct to do so. Too judgemental (not saying you think that way, but the NEA and their ilk do).

    Also, some of the greatest teachers my kids have had have been without the certification of a school of ed. I am not impressed by what the schools of education teach. Sorry, I'm just not. Funny story (well, sad story), my kids' Catholic elementary school is run by a husband and wife team. The husband was a chemical engineer and when back to get his teaching certificate at the major university in our city. His focus was junior high science. Guess what one of his final exams was? "Describe how you would 'gay' the curriculum" of a junior high science class!!!

    I mean, seriously? This is what we pay the universities to teach the teachers to teach our kids? This is the kind of "certification" they are getting? I am not impressed. Sorry.

    And if you think I am too confrontational, I am sorry for that, too. I am not trying to make friends and make sure I am offending no one. I am not trying to be rude, but I also need to speak clearly and say things as I see them. That has to be worth something in this PC age. I definitely won't stop.

    I wrote about how its important to be kind, but not "nice", and I will attach that in a minute if you are interested (still working out the kinks with this computer.) And, I hope you will read Stacy's article, soon to run, and dialogue with her. She is much kinder and nicer than I!

    Anyway, I hope you will keep reading, but if not, I wish you well. I am sure you are doing wonderful things for your students. :)

  30. Here is my post on being kind but not "nice":

    And, thank you all for your sweet comments on the room! Danya is a miracle worker....

  31. Anonymous, you said:

    "Your lack of response to my question as to whether your argument for educational choice is fueled by Waiting for Superman gives you away. Clearly, you’ve form your opinion based upon an informative, albeit a severely skewed representation of the state of education."

    It gives nothing away, because I never saw the movie. I have heard about it, but never saw it. Sounds too depressing to me. But I have written and researched about public education (and my husband was an expert in K-12 finance) since way back in 1994, when I was writing a column for the newspaper, and was worried about my (then) toddlers' educational choices. I believe charters were either not quite around yet, or had just begun.

  32. Haha..."She is much kinder and nicer than I!"

    Um, no! I never saw the Superman movie either, for the record. I never even heard about it until this thread. Leila, I hope you are having a great vacation. Happy Fourth to all!!!

  33. Leila,

    Unfortunately, somehow you have encoutered a few people who have had gay agendas in the field of education. I'm sure just as many people have those agendas in every other field, as well. That doesn't mean that public education is trying to "gay" a science class. Wow. That was certainly something I was never exposed to in my preparation. I've attended three separate universities for my undergrad, master's degree, and specialization...all of which prepared me in a diverse, and highly marketable pedagogy. The problem with hiring chemical engineers to teach, is that, although highly intelligent, they don't have the background in instructional strategies. Sure, maybe they have talent, but just like an accountant maybe an amazing mathematician, he's not a C.P.A., and therefore, needs to be accountable within his profession. I mean, if teaching really comes naturally to you, it won't be a problem in the slightest to back your profession with credentials. Most exam questions will as how educators will diversify their teaching for all levels/ELL students/special needs students/gifted and talented students. It's not rocket science...but it takes an adapted skillset to provide instruction for students from all walks of life. Sorry. It just does.

    Reading through the comments of both Stacey's post and this one, you are all only referencing your personal experiences. Have researched beyond that?

    I'm actually not asking for MORE money as a solution. But, in Arizona, the $400 million in budget cuts for the fourth year has hurt students. Why continue to cut education funding? Before we attack the budget. we really need to assess the necessary and unnecessary departments found within education. Seriously. What you see in your charters is a system that cuts the fat. That's what needs to happen in education. Unfortunately, because regulations have not been revisited, every budget cut attacks teachers. Class sizes are maxed out at 45 students per teacher. Teacher are laid off left and right. All while, personally, my own school district shells out 2.2 million a year for our 5 superintendents. Sounds a little top heavy to me.

    Although you may see schools spending 10,000 a year as unnecessary, again, we need to revisit the concept of special education. Public schools provide speech/language pathologists, school psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, school nurses, personal care assistants for our handicapped students, community workers who provide food/clothing/etc for low income families. It's not the outlandish budget that you think it is when you address all of those diverse needs of special needs students.

    Leila, I've known you to be straightforward, that I like. And I grew up in household with mother just like you, who claimed Catholic schools got by on less and did better than public schools. Then I grew up. I began teaching. I student taught in a Catholic school, but made the choice to work in a disadvantaged public school -- because no matter what I did in a Catholic school, the children who attend there always had a lifeline -- they all had a parent, if not two, or an uncle or a grandparent advocating for them, providing for their future. In public education, I serve students who are not only living in poverty, but who are facing the poverty of having no one there for them. Until that changes, your charters and your private schools will always look like they trump public schools. I'd like to see one Catholic school or one charter school face the challenges the public school system embraces, and do as well. Oh, the system is indeed broken, but take away the money we have right now, and things will continue to decline. Before you pull money away, think about who that's really going to impact.

  34. Anonymous, Leila is on vacation. I'm stepping in.

    It keeps me awake at night too thinking about children who have no one to care or pray for them. However, I fail to see how more money in the porous pipe of government demands will help them.

    Changing our culture helps them.

    Sure there needs to be programs for children paid for by taxpayers. No one argues otherwise, but at some point you need to realize that the money (just like in developing countries!) taken by the government is not going to help children. It's going to the people in power (unions, administrators).

    Greed, immorality and evil - hurt children. That's what needs to be opposed.

  35. Anon, I don't disagree with a lot of what you have said. I agree that we need to cut the fat. Let's do it! Why can't it be done? I think the NEA and its affiliates are a huge, huge problem.

    By the way, my kids' charter school, a classical education (Great Hearts) runs a school in the inner city. Very underserved area, lots of poverty, single parent homes. Here is what they are getting:

    And the Great Hearts schools have actually started them out in third grade and below, to get them caught up. I think that is a great use of tax dollars. Those kids don't deserve any less of an education than my kids. And there is no reason many more regular public schools couldn't teach the good stuff. But they won't. It's sad to me.

    Anyway, great conversation, thank you!


    A PERFECT example of the problem with public schools, and a great solution. It's time the unions lose their ridiculous power over schools and teachers and children and taxpayers.


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