Archive for June, 2009

Teachers as political prisoners?

Here’s an interesting little article on what happens to teachers who aren’t allowed in the classrooms anymore due to various accusations:

700 NYC Teachers Are Paid To Do Nothing

What I love most of all about this article is how it spins to sound as if every teacher in those little rubber rooms has been wrongfully accused.

Chances are, yes, some of them have been wrongfully accused. But then again, chances are, quite a lot of them have been rightly accused, too.

Seems to me, more and more, that the public education system really isn’t about teaching kids at all anymore.

If it ever was, that is.


Artiste at work.

Question: What do you get when you cross a stuffed pig, a bin full of Bendaroos, and a mildly bored 8-year-old who’s stuck in bed with a sore throat?




Answer: You get a moment when RegularMom is actually glad that RegularDad bought the kids Bendaroos.

Bendaroos used to rank in the RegularMom’s Top Five Least Favorite Toys Ever Given to the RegularKids. (Outranked only by Moon Sand, Lite Brite, and any dolls that come with shoes smaller than my 6-year-old’s pinky fingernail.) But then, my 8-year-old used them to create this Fabulous Artiste, and now I love every single piece. Even the ones stuck to the bottoms of my socks and melted into the carpets.

Vive les Bendaroos!


“Sweet tea,” said my 6-year-old, from the back of the van.

We were waiting for our “food” in the drive-through lane at McDonalds after karate. I looked at her in the rearview mirror. She was gazing through her window into the interior of the McDonalds window. There was a huge aluminum tub near the glass, with a cheery looking label on it that read: “Sweet tea.”

“Yes,” I said. “Sweet tea.”

We got our bags of “food” and drove off without further comment. She’d been doing this sort of thing on occasion since last fall, and each time, I just let it slide without making a big deal out of it. It had become a much more frequent thing by this spring, but still, it was better to not talk too much about it.

Lest we jinx it, or something.

That was two or three weeks ago. The beginning of her breakthrough. Each day after that one, she’d accidentally, automatically read something, at least a dozen times. A store sign, a book title, food labels, all of it began to snowball. Within a week, she was automatically figuring out suffixes and two and three syllable words. Which we haven’t even gotten to in her primer yet.

And primer? Yeah. Now she loves it. She wishes we could do two lessons a day. She counts the numbers of sentences in each story in her primer and cheers for the longer ones. She sits quietly, reads the words with a smile on her face, and eventhough she still squirms when she can’t figure it out and I have to help her, she gets through it without any tantrums.

She’s upstairs right now in bed, with a dim light and a copy of the complete collection of Dick and Jane. Once she’s blown through that, there’s the complete collection of Biscuit stories waiting on the shelf. In six months she’ll be wandering around with an apple and a copy of Black Beauty and I’ll have to tell her to stop reading when she’s walking. Or to stop reading in the dark.

I need to seriously re-think my library schedule.

What a long haul it’s been, teaching her to read this year. We struggled all winter over it, after the newness of it had worn off and it became the hardest of all her work, her only absolutely REQUIRED subject. How many mornings when we both gritted our teeth and growled at each other. And sometimes, we cried over it. She wailed for all the world to hear. I sniffled quietly alone late at night, wondering how long we’d be able to go on like that.

And with two little words at the drive-through, it all began to change.

Remember that scene in Apollo 13, near the end, when the Gary Sinise character finally figured out the re-entry plan? Remember how quiet it was, and they were all watching that Amps needle to see if it would jump into the red, and it hovered right there at the mighty edge, and that scientist guy said: “Is your computer up?” And Gary Sinise was all: “Yeah, it’s up. Did I go over?” And the scientist guy said: “I think we got it, buddy.” And then Gary Sinise sort of collapsed in an exhausted heap in the simulator, and how the trumpet-music in the background went duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH!!!!! in that uber-dramatic way?

Remember that?

Yeah… hitting the breakthrough is Just Like THAT. With the trumpet music and everything. So, if you find yourself in THAT PLACE someday, the place that you get bogged down into, when primer seems like a struggle that will NEVER FREEKING END? Hang in there. The breakthrough is coming. And it’s AWESOME.

Sweet tea, she said to me.

There’s nothing sweeter.

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