Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

If you follow me on Facebook [and if you don't you should - I am awesome] then you know there has been a major storm a brewin' here in North Cacalacca over the budget.  I do not talk politics for several reasons: 

1. I don't know much about politics.
2. I care but I ask people I trust to get explanation. 
3. I truly believe that 99.9% of them are just in it for themselves and the agendas of the person who has the most money to give their party or campaign.

But over the last several days, I have stuck my toe in the water. [Well, in one case with Mr. Kelly Hastings, I jumped in and just told him he was a pathetic idiot....I will get to that in a minute.]  Most of you know that I am a teacher and have been for 16 years.  This budget may have catastrophic results for education in North Carolina.

We have not had a pay raise since 2007.  In fact, we haven't made a significant step up since 2007.  We used to get a small increase each year....not since 2007.  I have been teaching 16 years, with a Master's degree AND my National Board certification, and I do NOT make the average salary for a NC teacher yet. I am STILL below the average salary. Two years ago we got about a $100 a month increase between the two of us but we ended up losing $40 a month because of increased insurance premiums....long story short: That piddly little increase COST us money.The budget Nazi [aka my favorite coach] just recently told me that our take home pay has stayed basically the same, give or take $20 or $30 here and there, since 2008  Explain to me what is not to get upset about with this situation? 

[There are other issues like teacher assistants losing jobs, money being funneled to charter schools and vouchers for private schools, performance based pay,loss of funding for supplies, etc. I only feel qualified to talk about no pay raises for educators.]

Fast forward to the last 36 hours or so.  A local representative, Kelly Hastings, has a reputation of being rude and disrespectful, especially with local educators, people defending education, anyone disagreeing with his positions, or basically, anyone wearing skin. This situation was no exception.  Several months back, when the budget was first brought to the public's attention, Craig emailed Mr. Hastings, [as we were asked to do by some of our NCAE reps] and he was appalled at the response to his questions. Mr. Hastings was rude, telling Craig his opinions really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  He never answered questions or gave any explanations for the cuts in the budget.  He was very short and not humble at all.

Fast forward to a month or so later when a fellow coach also inquired about the impending budget cuts, this time on Hastings' Facebook page [which is not private and where he boasts about things like renewing his NRA membership and all that he has done to save the world by being a NC rep] and once again, he was met with hostility on the part of Mr. Hastings. This coach's son, very active and knowledgeable about politics, also began to ask questions [his mother is an educator] and Mr. Hastings rudely cut him off, questioning this young man's experience and knowledge of the classroom. Again, he refused to answer any questions and eventually blocked both this young man and his dad from his Facebook page. [And I must say that this was such a gutsy move that took serious kahunas.  Way to go Mr. Hastings.  Good thing your middle school antics kept you from answering questions of the people that you represent. Yes. I am qualified to call your antics middle school like since I teach 8th grade.]

Yesterday I also posted a comment on said Facebook page.  Guess what? Yep, I am now blocked from looking at this page also, along with the wife and daughter of the above football coach, several other educators, and even other non-educators who questioned his stance on the budget.  Really?  I guess his next move will be to take all his toys and go home.  Tattle on us maybe.  

Yes. You can do whatever you choose with your Facebook page. I have no problem. But if you are dependent upon the votes of the very same folks that you are being rude to, in a very public forum and in a day and age of once its out there then someone has seen it, then what are you trying to do?  We are all very confused [also very amused] at this situation.  

I mean, I am no genius or political guru [though I do play one on TV] but that is a very funny way of getting votes. It seems as if we do not get on his page and give him an "atta boy" then he has no use for us.  Take for instance this little conversation, just this afternoon, found on his page [I am blocked but I am not stupid.  There is more than one way to skin a cat ya know.]:

  • Kelly Hastings 4 hours ago near Cherryville On my way home from Raleigh today, I stopped to help an African American family who had a serious wreck. Two of the kids were seriously injured. I was one of the first on the scene and immediately told another man not to move the injured family; they probably had neck injuries. Next, we calmed the children down and made sure they weren’t bleeding out too much. We gathered some of their belongings to make them feel comfortable. As soon as I got home, some people were complaining because they did not get exactly what they wanted in the state budget. After seeing this injured family, I would like to ask those of you who are whining to quit whining on my page. Thank God you have a job and suck it up and drive on. When you start to whine, think about what our military men and women are going through, and think about people in the private sector who are losing their jobs and their homes. Like · · Share Kelly Hastings and 74 others like this. [Just a simple pet peeve of mine but who "likes" their own Facebook status?  Is your back bruised from all the patting you've been giving it?]
  • Response 1: Thank you for all you did this session Rep. Hastings. Good job! Now go home and enjoy your family, you earned it. If you come down to Brunswick County give me a call (***-***-****) and I'll buy lunch. 4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Response 2: Hear yee Hear yee!!! 4 hours ago · Like
  • Response 3:  May the Lord bless you for your courage and spirit of serving. 4 hours ago · Like · 
  • Response 4: I am one of those who is VERY unhappy about the budget and am in the private sector and MAY loose my job because THE NC GOVERNMENT continues to fund 3 and 4 year olds in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS and NOT in the private sector. We are a 5 star facility and jump through hoops to maintain a high certification and the school system continues to get SMART START funding. I agree that the PUBLIC SCHOOLS need more money... I have family members who are life long teacher.. and the cuts there are unheard of... as they are in the child care area. But my final note on this is THANK YOU for stopping and helping. I do not have to agree with what you are voting for...but I do agree that as an elected public servant... we should be able to reach you and express our thoughts and concerns... even if you consider it whinning.... 4 hours ago · Like · 
  • Kelly Hastings: Which provision of the budget upsets you? 4 hours ago · Like
  • Response 5:  I was always told that Compromise Is successful when no one is happy. Must be a good budget. 4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 
  • Response 6: You remind us of the parable of the Good Samaritan which is a parable told by Jesus. 4 hours ago · Edited · Like
  • Kelly Hastings:  I have to say, it felt good to comfort the kids. 4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Response 7:  Yes indeed 4 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Response 8: Amen....good for you!!! 4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Response 9: Kelly Hastings this is heart warming. This family will never forget you. I know that the wonderful folks that was with my **** at the wreck, held his hand and comforted him means so much to me. Thank you for your kindness. Sometimes people only think they have problems. 4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Response 10: Amen 3 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Response 11:  Bravo! Sometimes it is harder to comfort an injured person and to wait helplessly than it is to be that person yourself. That family is blessed that a person like you was willing to stop and help them in their hour of need. We should all be so fortunate.
  • Response 12: Thank you for the reality check. 3 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Response 13: Thanks for being a good Samaritan to this family. And thanks for putting a halt on the crazy spending that has been going on in Raleigh for years. Our taxes have been so high NC is known as the "Taxachusetts" of the south. Plus the unbridled spending that was going on, if continued, would just end up bankrupting the state. We don't want to follow down the path of Detroit, now do we? 3 hours ago · Like
  • Kelly Hastings:  Actually, it was a black SUV. I think it was a Chevrolet, but it was badly damaged and I really did not pay attention to that. I just know the SUV was black. 2 hours ago · Like
  • Response 14: Glad you were there to help those children. Praying for healing for all those involved. 2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Response 15: Thank God you was there to help them Kelly.. Sometimes we take life for granted when we should be thanking God for what we do have. I f we would just stop look around and think every now and again we would see and realize that There are a lor of other people in this world who are a lot worse of than we are. about an hour ago · Like
  • Response 16: TGIF..You were placed there at the right place and time..Consider it a god send..Does matter about the color of skin ..We all should be helping each other..Doesn't have nothing to do with any thing political..People can be so cruel........Thank you for all you do for us... about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 1
  • Kelly Hastings:  As for race, mentioning African Americans was not about politics. There aren't many African Americans in House District 110. We stopped to help them regardless of the color of their skin. It was an emotional day for me and I felt like sharing it. I am sorry if I offended anyone. 36 minutes ago · Edited · Lik
  • Response 17: Your heart was speaking, Kelly. You do not owe anyone an apology. God knows your heart and that is all that matters. 27 minutes ago · Like · 
  • Response 18: Kelly, I was a volunteer fireman for 15 years and had the opportunity to help a lot of people in some very bad situations. I can attest to the feeling of being able to make an impact especially on children. Thanks for doing the right thing. You guys...See More a few seconds ago · Like

I am by no means belittling his service to this family.  Kudos to him for being a good Samaritan.  

However... I suppose bravado [a little ELA literary term that means to display real courage or pretend to have courage] will get you a long way with many folks. What about all the comments asking for his explanation of current budget issues, particularly those that are affecting local educators?  Oh yeah - he deleted them and then blocked ANYONE that disagreed or challenged him to explain his positions. 

To me this speaks volumes to his character as a representative.  He is willing to take all the praise but none of the criticism that comes with holding a public office.  I believe in one conversation a word came up that describes him perfectly - pretentious. [Which means making unusually justified or excessive claims; showy] 

Use it in a sentence: Kelly Hastings is pretentious and not in touch with the voters.

I read that he hung up on a voter that he represents.  He called his voters "whiners", in a public forum.  He immediately patted himself on the back for pumping money back into the state through tax breaks [thank goodness those millionaires will get the much deserved the relief they so desperately need]. He refuses to answer very simple questions posed by his voters. 

This is the kind of person making very big decisions for the education of our children.  Ultimately, educators will continue to do all they can to make sure their students succeed.  If anything, this has made me more determined in my classroom.  I will not give up on the job that I love, that I was called to do. Short and I will continue to plug away at extra jobs to make ends meet, while raising four children [on a little money and a lot of faith].  

In fact,[put feet to those promises], Mr. Hastings [and anyone else at the state level making decisions that affect my students] has an open invitation to visit my classroom.  I can assure you that unlike him, I will be cordial, respectful, forthright, and confident in my abilities that I am doing the very best for the the students I am serving.

It amazes me how much negativity is thrust at educators.  I spent a large part of today reading through commentary and articles about the budget. I guess that it isn't important to note that public education means just that - public. We teach everyone.  We do not turn away children based on behavior, disabilities, lack of money, etc.  We are responsible, many times for meeting more than academic needs - we feed them, clothe them, make sure they have school supplies, etc.  Many times, through no fault of anyone, parents expect schools to do these things and more times than not, educators take on these burdens because that is what we are called to do.  But based on things I read today, teachers are the cause of the decline of education in NC.  It is totally our fault that students do not graduate. It is our fault that test scores do not increase. It is our fault that parents sometimes choose not to take part in their own child's education.  [Where did I get a lot of this information?]  Apparently, in one commentary I read, teachers and schools tell parents that what they believe and want for their child is not important enough to be valued.  Honestly, I was stunned when I read this one ...I have worked in many schools - highly affluent to exceptionally poor - and I have watched countless administrators, teachers, assistants, district office staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc. bend over backwards and cut flips to make sure the needs of children are being met and are fully in line with parents. I just don't see this as the rule of thumb for public schools in NC. Am I naive enough to think this doesn't happen?  No. But is it the rule, enough to be written in a commentary. I just don't see it.  [Oh yeah, I am a highly-involved-don't-mind-rockin'-the-boat-kind-of-parent so I have more than one perspective.] Mind blown was what I was after reading things today...
educators just seem to have no value at all and certainly, according to people like Kelly Hastings, have no room to voice any opinions.

Its almost as if public schools are the whipping boy for much of society's lack of responsibility to our children.  None of us can raise the little boogers on our own - none of us.  I need my children's teachers to guide them and challenge them. I value my church and the tremendous influence of the Godly people who help me guide the spiritual growth of my babies.  I am in awe of grandparents [Mom and Dad to me] that advise and nurture all of us. I love my husband for being a man of integrity that they see and can imitate.  I am an honest, hard working, Christian woman who makes dinner, shuttles kids to practice, braves the elements for ball games, and who is thankful for all that she has, including her job as a teacher.  And I am not bragging when I say this so please don't take it like that, but I see my kids many times as the exception to the rule and I will tell you why:

Society tells us its OK to quit when it gets hard.  When this happens in the classroom it often becomes the fault of the teacher.  Society tells us that everyone deserves a plaque and a trophy and recognition.  When this doesn't happen in a classroom then the teacher doesn't like a child or isn't treating them fairly.  Society tells us that its OK to make our own rules. When rules are not followed at school consequences are often challenged or even worse, changed to fit individual needs. Society tells us its all about us - this "Imma do me and you do you" crap.  When we try to teach cooperation and diversity and respect of individuals then we are stifling this notion that its your world, we just live in it.

I am not raising my children to the standards set forth by society and I certainly am not relying on anyone, including educators, to raise them for me.[No. I am not a perfect parent.  I screw up on a daily basis. But I know that according to Ephesians 3:20 that God can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.  That gives me hope that I do not have to fear society's ever present push to let everything else be in charge of teaching my children...God has me in His hands.]  

If we want schools and educators to simply save the world and raise children according to the rules of society then I quit.  I can go work a 9-5 job that requires nothing of me past quitting time like extra conferences, sporting events, or PTA meetings and make as much or more than I am making now. 

I am not giving up.  I am not giving in or compromising my beliefs about my job and my responsibilities.  But I refuse to believe that our desire, as educators, to be treated with dignity and respect, is asking too much.  

I am not a number on a data sheet. I am an educator who follows standards and creates lessons to engage and challenge my students.  I am their biggest cheerleader and advocate in my classroom. 
I am not a growth score at the end of the year. I am an educator trying desperately to infuse a love of science, but more than that, a love of learning, into every student that enters my classroom. 

I am not the enemy when a student is struggling or a punishment is handed down. I want to help. I want to teach them to help themselves. I want students to be successful, not for me, but so that they feel a sense of accomplishment. 

I am not a "whiner" who is constantly begging for money.  I just want to be considered a professional, like my peers in other professions that have the same education that I have.  

I am not looking for votes. [Though I am not opposed to anyone sending money to me.]  I am not looking for pats on the back. I write what I feel - like it or leave it. 

As always, even when being "blocked" by Kelly Hastings, life as a Shortie [and a teacher] is good and I will keep swimming...just keep swimming.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Standing in the Gap

Confession time. [God has really been working on me for several weeks but especially today.] 

I have been a single parent for most of the summer. Craig has taken Molly to all of her tournaments [not that the rest of us don't enjoy being there to watch her play but its a tad bit expensive and she really likes it when here daddy is there to help coach her] and he has worked for Broyhill Leadership Camp three weeks, including since last Thursday,  this summer [to pay for the *^%$@ bathroom that the &^%@# insurance is NOT paying a dime for].  We took time today to visit with him before Flossie leaves tomorrow for camp and we met him in Gaffney.

We met at Wal Mart [like every good, redneck family] but we got there before Craig [Shocked I too!] and we drove past a small family in the parking lot.  The mother appeared to be holding a sign, saying she'd lost her job and God bless.  We parked right where Gabe and Emma could see them and Gabe became very concerned.  He kept asking me, "What are we going to do for them?" Rain began to fall from a dark sky and the family ran quickly to a parked van, but the mom remained in the rain, holding up her sign.  Craig arrived a few minutes later and we went in to get Emma's camp stuff.

I did nothing. Even after Gabe questioned what we were going to do.  I did nothing to help this mother. 

I am ashamed. Very, very ashamed.

I have had a tough summer but by my own doing.  I've spent the summer worrying about losing weight and eating better, stressing over how we are going to pay for the bathroom, losing sleep over paying for college in a year, and wasting time worrying.  

This mother, with one toddler and one baby, stood in the rain, hoping for someone to give her money for food for her children and I did nothing.

What is wrong with me? Me.  I am what is wrong with me.  So self consumed, self absorbed, selfish that I've spent all summer worrying about me.  How ashamed am I right now?  

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 
Matthew 25:40

One simple task I was given and I blew it - in front of my children - because I was worried that I didn't have enough money to give. God provided me with an opportunity that I didn't take.

Wow.  Hurts my heart. 

We are supposed to stand in the gap for people when they need help. [This next point just drives home that ridiculous song by Alanis Morrisette.]  As we munched on our delicious [and oh so nutritious] meal at Cook Out Craig shared a story from Nehemiah: When God commanded that the wall around Jerusalem be rebuilt the people in Judah said there were not enough laborers to build and defend the walls from the threats at the same time.  

And this is what Nehemiah told them: Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome,and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:13 -14

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome...somehow, I've let me get in the way of knowing that and today, I failed to stand in the gap for this family.  

Tomorrow is a new day and time for new opportunities.  I am not sitting around here, waiting to worry and stress.  

I will stand in the gap for those that need it.  

As always, life as a Short, is a huge blessing.  You see, several people have stood in the gap for us over the years.  In fact, just these past three days, more than one person has stood in the gap...helped us when we couldn't help ourselves.  All we had to do was ask.  No signs, no begging, no uncomfortable stares.  

I will not miss another chance. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cutting Losses

Whew...what a lazy summer I have had.  [And my being lazy this summer is different  than my being lazy some other time?]  I have so enjoyed sleeping late, staying up late, no make up [sorry if you've seen me like this], and just spending time with the Shorties.

Cutting losses?  What's up with that? Well....let me 'splain.  [Disclaimer: I won't go into loads of detail to protect those involved but you should get the picture.]

Sometimes people say things about your children and it catches you off guard - good and bad.  I've had people tell me things about my children and in my mind I am thinking, "You cannot be talking about my child in such a positive light.  You must be on crack."  Other times my thoughts are something like this, "Do you realize that I am crazy and I will cut you?  Word."  My last post was about not being "that mom" because I don't want to always fight their battles or get involved - especially the older two. But sometimes it is necessary to step in or take a stand for my children.

I hate confrontation, especially with people I am friends with or am close too. Some people thrive on being defensive and questioning everything but I don't at all. [My dad would probably disagree because I think I spent several years doing those things but we aren't asking him right now.  This is my blog.]  I am a pleaser - I really, really, really want to keep everyone happy with me.

I felt it necessary to step in and defend my child because there are always two sides to every story.

My nerves have been shot.  I mean S.H.O.T.  So bad so that I had an anxiety attack today.

Then I realized something for myself that I often use with my children:  I cannot control how other people react, just as they can't control my reactions.

Was I expecting this to be easy?  No.

Was it easy? No.

Honestly, right now, I feel like there is a huge target on my back.  

I cannot take back anything that was said [the words came from my heart and the tremendous guilt I felt for not standing up for my child sooner] and I don't think I would take them back.  I am not perfect. My child isn't perfect.  But I couldn't stand by and just continue to hear about all of the things that were done wrong by my child.

So I am giving it up.

I am giving it to God.  

It is not my burden any more and I am at peace.  Sometimes [as my favorite coach puts it] its "addition by subtraction" when you cut your losses and move on.   

Who I am does not depend on what they think about me.

And I am good with that.