Anger, Back to School, Christianity, Don't Judge, Education, Fake Christians, Gun Control, Lies, Making Excuses, Respect, Respecting our Educators, School Shootings, Taking responsibility, Uncategorized

No, We Have NOT Taken God Out of Our Schools!

Well, I may make a few enemies with this post, but I’ve had enough.  Every now and then, I see a post on social media about how schools have “removed God.”  This is complete and utter nonsense!  I’ve also noticed that the people who post that garbage are the people who DON’T work in schools, and have no idea!  Oh, and the most recent statement I saw was in response to the latest school shooting…..give me a break!

First of all, there is no law saying you can’t pray in school, or mention God.  None.  The law states that you cannot force anyone else to pray the way you pray, and educators can’t inflict their beliefs on their students.  I’ve taught in public and private schools in several states, and have witnessed with my own eyes and ears how much God is present in our schools, through the people who work there, and the students they teach.  I see teachers bow their heads in prayer.  I hear teachers say, “God is good!” or “Praise God!” or “Thank you, Jesus!” on a daily basis.  Frankly, if someone were forcing me to pray like them, I would be very unhappy.  My relationship with God is MY business.  I’ll pray the way I choose, and when and where I choose, which is exactly the reason for the law.  Even Christians differ on how they worship.  No one should be forced to do anything when it comes to religion.  I have seen teachers hold hands and pray together, form Bible study groups, and offer prayers to co-workers, students, and families.  I’ve also witnessed prayers around the flag pole, music programs which featured hymns, and silent prayers for veterans, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and tragedies our country has dealt with.  How is that removing God from our schools?

I never remember people praying in school when I was growing up.  Maybe they were quieter about it, but I don’t remember seeing it or hearing about it.  So when did we exactly “remove” God from our schools?  I see and hear more about faith and religion in schools more now than I ever did as a child.  My children were members of FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes when they were in high school (actually, I think my daughter went for the free food, since she wasn’t exactly athletic).  That didn’t exist when I was in school.  I am familiar with at least one public high school that taught a Biblical history class in recent years.  How is that removing God from our schools?

Another famous falsehood that circulates throughout social media is that schools no longer say the Pledge of Allegiance.  We don’t???  Again, this infuriates me because it’s completely false, and comes from people who have no clue what they’re talking about.  Yes, we say, “One nation, under God….” EVERY day!  The only students I’ve ever taught who didn’t say it were the Jehovah’s Witness students.  They pledge allegiance to God, not the flag, and most of the ones I have taught have been instructed by their parents to be respectful, but are not required to say it…..and it has never been an issue, so why should it be an issue for anyone else now?  We’ve respected their rights, which is exactly what we should be doing for everyone.  “One nation, under God….” How is that removing God from our schools?

By claiming that we have removed God and prayer from the schools shows very little faith on the part of the idiots saying it.  I mean, if you are true Christians, does that mean you are able to just leave that part of yourself at the front door while you enter public buildings?  Isn’t Christianity a way of being?  A way of life?  A commitment everywhere you go, and how you love and treat others?  Aren’t you supposed to be a reflection of God’s love?  Then how do you just take off that hat and leave it at the door?  Statements like that make you appear very uninformed about not only what goes on in our schools, but also about what it is to be a Christian.  I don’t think it’s that easy to take Christianity out of someone who is a true believer, and lives their lives according to the Bible.  Actually, I know a few atheists and agnostics who are more in tune than some self proclaimed Christians!  Doesn’t make you look like you are very dedicated to your own faith, now does it?

Instead of placing blame for school shootings on the lack of prayer (even though you’re free to pray wherever you like!), why not look at the combination of so many other things?  Parents on drugs or in jail,  poverty, lack of parental involvement, the availability to mental health care, gun laws that need to be updated according to our current needs, etc.  To invent a reason such as no prayer in schools, is like saying the shooting happened because we started singing show tunes every day to start the day….it simply isn’t true, and is ridiculous!  And I’m sick of it!

Stop blaming the schools!  Stop spreading untruths on social media on this subject!  Before stating something you think is fact, why not ask someone who does know?  Better yet, how about YOU go volunteer in the schools, and see what actually goes on?  Then, you’ll be free to form an educated opinion!

 

 

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Anger, Be Kind, Being Strong, Bill Cosby, Coping, Egos, Insensitivity, Laughter, Make a Difference, Racism, Respect, Respecting our Educators, sexual assault, Speak Up!, Uncategorized

Bill Cosby’s Sad Legacy

Bill Cosby……Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids……The Huxtables…….the Jello pudding guy…….I Spy……..the Little Bill books……so much a part of my childhood, as well as my children’s.  I’m not here to argue his guilt or innocence….the verdict has been handed down.  It is what it is.  And it’s incredibly sad…..

I remember being upset and disappointed in the downfall of O.J. Simpson.  He had been such a charismatic personality, and the events playing out on television each day became part of our lives.  It was sad, but O.J. had not had the same positive impact on lives as Bill Cosby has.  Bill Cosby depicted African Americans and their families in ways that were positive, and lifted them up, during times when a lot of America was only portraying the negative, perpetuating ethnic stereotypes.  He helped them believe that everyone can make something of themselves with an education and hard work. He contributed to charitable causes such as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.  He was a supporter of educators and literacy projects (his son was dyslexic).  The Little Bill books that my son had taught life lessons to early readers in a sweet storybook.  He and his wife have created scholarships for hundreds (maybe thousands) of recipients. And he made ALL of us laugh.  You can’t deny it.  He was funny…..especially when it came to his skits with children.  He brought a lot of good to the world, and yet behind closed doors, had a completely different personality.  All of those good things he did will now be tainted or scarred because of his conviction for sexual assault.  I can’t watch the news because it makes me so sad.  Of course, he wasn’t who we thought he was (what television personality is?), but he was doing a lot of good things…..and unfortunately, bad things.

I have heard a story that Cosby wanted to buy NBC, and there were people who didn’t like this because of his color.  They knew he had these allegations against him by different women, so they used it to bring him down, in order to keep him from buying the network….”we’ll show him!”  Now….this could be an excuse.  It could be his team playing a bit of the race card.  Or, it very well could be true. Whether or not you want to admit it, racism is alive and well!  I’ve seen it more than I want to admit.  There are an awful lot of powerful white men who have been accused of the same type of behavior, and are not facing jail time.  Sure, they may have lost their million dollar jobs and their status in their field, but they’re not facing charges in court……yet.  To be honest with you, I don’t believe every woman who makes these accusations.  I do think that a lot of them are out for their 15 minutes of fame, money, or to ruin a man’s career and/or life.  But each one should be heard until a decision/verdict is made.  The deserve to be heard.  We can’t ignore them.

Bill Cosby should pay for his actions, as anyone should who commits the same type of acts.  But what about the good things he did?  Do they just get erased?  Are the scholarships now gone?  One of my students was looking at a “Little Bill” book the other day.  Does Bill Cosby’s conviction mean that the lessons in these wonderful books are no longer relevant and helpful?  I know I also learned a lot of lessons from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids every Saturday morning.  And what about the Huxtables…….you know there were a lot of other people involved in the making of that show.  There were other actors, writers, producers, directors, stage hands, etc.  By pulling the show off of television, those other actors also lose their royalties, and they did nothing wrong.  Many of them were children! How about keeping the show on the air (it has been syndicated for many years), and ordering Bill Cosby to give 100% of his royalty shares to programs that help victims of sexual assault? If you don’t want to watch it, then don’t, but at least he would be forced to make amends in some way, and the rest of the cast can receive the money they deserve.

The man obviously has a dark side, but he also had so much to give.  It’s incredibly sad that all of the good he did will now be forgotten.  Yes, his accusers did the right thing.  I fully support them.  But let’s not erase the good things.  In fact, let’s continue some of those good things.  Let’s contribute to charities, literacy programs, help children learn valuable lessons, look past color and stereotypes, and always, always, ALWAYS have a sense of humor.

Now let’s move forward, respecting each other, hearing each other, helping each other, and….making each other laugh.

 

Back to School, Educator Discounts, Respecting our Educators, Teacher Salaries, Uncategorized

Where Are the Educator Discounts?

My husband and I just finished our first week back to school for the 2017/18 school year, and we are exhausted!  I slept for twelve hours last night.  I am back in 1st grade for the third year in a row, and Al is now working in an ESE classroom, which is a huge challenge, and takes a lot of patience.  Each year seems to take more energy and more money.

When I started teaching, I was in love with the profession.  I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up.  I remember being 5 or 6, and playing school with my friends.  My mother taught me to read before going to kindergarten.  By the time I got to college, I was having second thoughts, and delayed making my decision, but I finally made the decision to go that direction.  Through all of the positions I’ve had, I have loved my students and the challenges presented to me each day.  But it’s harder now. Financially, it’s killing us.

What can be done to help those of us who are struggling financially?  We have all heard the testimonies of teachers who spend their own money to resource their classrooms. Some of us know about how high the health insurance premiums for educators are, and the health risks of being an educator.  My own district right now is at an impasse over our contracts from last year, denying us a raise of any value.  What happens with this is that when our insurance premiums go up (they do every year), our take home pay goes down because the minimal raises we receive don’t cover the cost (we worked all of last year with no raise so far).  I made less money last year than the year before, and will most likely make less this year than last. Currently, I make what I made twenty years ago, and was able to support a family of five.  Now that it’s just the two of us (and an aging dog), it isn’t enough because everything is more expensive.  It isn’t a unique situation.  It happens all over the United States.  A lot of teachers have extra jobs just to pay the bills.  Professionals having to tend bar, wait tables, or work at a big box store to make ends meet should not be happening.

One solution that would help this is for teachers to receive educator discounts, much like the military or senior citizens.  And before anyone comes at me for being anti-military, stop right there.  I’m not saying that the military doesn’t deserve it.  They do….but so do we.  Some places, such as book stores, have an educator discount, but sometimes there are stipulations that it has to be spent on educational items.  Sometimes during Teacher Appreciation Week, restaurants might offer a discount to teachers.  Why should there be any restrictions on how we receive the discounts?  There are no restrictions on military or senior citizens.  Many times, I’ve been asked by a cashier if I’m “military” for a discount.  I tell them I’m not, but I ask about an educator discount.  They look at me with a blank stare, and tell me there isn’t one, but then agree with me that there should be.

Without teachers, there is nothing.  There is no military, no law enforcement, no medical or legal profession.  Why don’t we deserve discounts on retail, restaurants, insurance, utilities, auto financing, and home mortgages?  We deserve it!  Teachers are the hardest working people I know.  We should not have to have second jobs to just stay afloat. There should be educator discounts across the board, for anything we spend, much like the military. I promise it will not break any company to do this, and will most likely help their business if they show respect to our profession.  We earn it.  We deserve it.  We NEED it.

I am going to be asking businesses and companies to start offering educator discounts. I am inviting other educators and individuals to join me in this.  Let’s start showing respect for this profession, and those who dedicate their lives to it.

Back to School, Respecting our Educators, Teacher Salaries, Uncategorized

Back to School…..and the Poor House!

Well, it’s that time of year again…..back to school!  I’ve seen the displays in the stores since right after the 4th of July, which I believe is way too early.  When I was younger, school didn’t start until late August, or sometimes (depending on where I was living), after Labor Day.

Getting school supplies was always a high point when I was a child.  I would take them home and organize them, and my mother would write my name on everything, in her beautiful handwriting.  I remember taking my own children to get their school supplies, and letting them pick out their notebooks, folders, pencils, lunchboxes, backpacks, etc. Excitement was in the air!

As an educator, I still have to buy school supplies.  I usually wait for the tax free holiday to save some extra money.  You see, I teach in a title school, and most of my students can’t afford supplies.  I buy extra, and try to stock up during the back to school sales, to get through the whole year…..extra boxes of crayons, glue, paper, scissors, pencils, erasers, highlighters, dry erase markers, folders, 3-ring binders, tissues……and so on.  That doesn’t include the trips to the teacher supply store, buying new charts and classroom decorations.  Elementary school teachers need to make their classrooms appealing, inviting, fun, and colorful.  It needs to be a happy, friendly environment for our students. I could easily spend $500 on this.  Then throughout the year, I have to replace these items, and buy more supplies.  I can spend over $1000 every year just on my classroom.

Here’s the problem….in case you aren’t aware, teachers don’t make a lot of money. Currently, my district has yet to settle on our contracts for the year we just finished, and now we are going into another year, working on a contract that is two years old.  This is quite normal, so I’m not criticizing just my district.  It’s the whole establishment.  With increasing insurance premiums, some of us make less money each year without our cost of living raises.  I’ve been in this profession for 27 years, and currently make what I made 20 years ago.

Times are hard. I saw a teacher on the news this week who took to the streets with a sign (much like homeless people do), requesting funds for her classroom.  I thought it was a brilliant idea, but why should we have to swallow our pride, and stand out in the 100 degree heat to have enough money for our classrooms?  We are college educated professionals.  It shouldn’t be this way.

My district pays us in June for the whole summer.  We won’t receive another paycheck until September 15th.  If there are any unexpected expenses throughout the summer, it can set you back, and leave you short of funds.  In my case, I have had health issues the last two summers, resulting in medical bills not covered by our insurance.  Where will we find money to pay for our living expenses?  House payment?  Car loans?  Medical bills?  Utilities?  Oh, and then there’s those school supplies that everyone expects us to buy…..  We don’t have it.

I once had a school board president tell me that teachers are not the “sharpest tools in the shed” because if we were, we would have chosen a career that paid better.  He inherited his position as president of a manufacturing company, and I was apparently sharp enough to teach his son, but he didn’t have any respect for me or the profession! This was one of the most disrespectful comments I have ever heard when it comes to educators, and from a board president, no less.

I won’t go into detail of how packed our days are at school.  That would take entirely too long.  My day starts at 4 AM, and it’s an exhausting day!  Let’s just say if we were paid what we are worth (education, experience, professionalism), none of us would be struggling financially, or begging for supplies or financial assistance.  And maybe we/I wouldn’t have health problems if I weren’t worried constantly about finances.  Yes, we get our summers off, but a lot of us are working 2 or 3 other jobs during this time to make ends meet.  And, with health problems, it makes it hard to work another full time job in the summer.

Something needs to give when it comes to teacher salary.  The powers that be need to start respecting the profession, and those who have dedicated so much of themselves to educating our future.  My bank account can’t afford this, and neither can my health.