A Mother’s Way (Originally published to Plymouth Patch May 2012)

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle ~ Proverb

As mothers, we share the honor and responsibility for raising the future. It is up to us to advocate for the best interests of our children. It also means that if a child does not have a mother who can support them – for whatever reason – the imperative then falls to us, the moms who can.
I’d like to focus attention, however briefly; on the one issue that I believe is the most important opportunity we have to impact the lives of all children, everywhere. It crosses all boundaries.
Education
We, as a country, need to reaffirm our commitment to quality public education. We also need to reaffirm our commitment to teachers.
Teachers are an integral part of education and they should be treated like partners. Recruiting and retaining smart, dedicated educators by making teaching an attractive and viable profession needs to start with a living wage. We need to stop making them the enemy and vilifying them as lazy and unproductive. Do bad teachers exist? Sure. But so do bad doctors and plumbers and parents.
Advocating for education is not a one-time deal. We will need to do it loudly and often. Investing in public education is not just about money. It’s about taking what works in the classroom and tweaking what doesn’t. We need to create partnerships in the community between parents and educators. We need to dedicate our time and talents as mentors and role-models. We need to empower teachers to spend more time teaching the fundamentals and less time “teaching to the test” and cowering in a corner practicing lockdowns.
I am not an expert on education or education reform. I am, however, a pretty keen observer and I trust what I see.
I was able to spend a lot of time in the classroom when my kids were in elementary school and I saw amazing things happen when teachers are able to develop relationships with their students. I have watched as children began to master near impossible tasks come away with increased self-esteem and greater confidence. Children, when encouraged to try in a supportive environment, will try, even if they fail. They begin to understand that learning is a process, a joy.
I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone will agree with me on this issue. Honestly, I don’t really care. I dare anyone to tell me that investing less in education is the best policy.
I’m not suggesting I have all the answers.
I don’t. But there are people, people smarter than me, who study education and understand how to fix it. We need to let them fix it but we need to make sure we continue to pay attention so things don’t get off track or completely derailed.
Reforming our education system will not come without a fight and progress will be frustratingly slow. It could, potentially, take a generation or more of reinvestment and reinvention of our public schools before significant gains are achieved. This is a long fight and it is not for the faint-hearted.
Together, we can change the world.
How cool is that?
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I Am A Liberal – Part the Second

This is the second in a series. To read the first, click here

The Nanny-State

That’s what they call us. They say we want to intervene in peoples’ lives. Tell them how to live. What to eat. When to exercise. Blah. Blah. Blah.
You know what. It’s true. I do. My secret, all-consuming passion is to make sure that everyone has access to healthy, natural food. I want urban and rural recreation areas that are safe and well-maintained. I want pregnant women to have access to adequate pre- and post-natal care. I want children to have access to early education programs no matter their socio-economic background. I want to teach the world to learn so they can buy themselves a Coke!
These, to me, seem like reasonable and appropriate uses of public funds. You know taxes. Remember, I LOVE them. Sometimes I don’t think we pay enough to be truly effective. That’s right; I said it and you can quote me on that.
It’s why I’m annoyed about the retaliatory vote to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the important and necessary programming that it funds. You know, those lefty-subversives: Elmo and Big Bird. Seriously. Who doesn’t think Caillou is a smarmy little commie bastard? And Rosita on Sesame Street, anchor-baby! Oh, don’t get me started on Ernie and Bert. Oh. My. God. It is a bastion of liberalism. Maybe they are right. Hahaha – just kidding. They’re ridiculous!
I know another group that believes in the Nanny-State. Hint: it’s not liberals. But the only thing they seem to want to regulate is our bodies. Who we do, how we do, and where we do. It’s been said that they want to shrink the size of government so it fits in the bedroom; or a uterus. Guess what? Stay out of both. I don’t care what Bill and Jeff do as long as they both consent. Karen and Peggy too (you go girls)!
Abortion’s another thing. It’s legal you know. It has been for years. Keep it that way. You know the best thing about choice. You get to choose NO. Anytime you want. I’m done dicing up the abortion debate. Have one or don’t. It’s really that simple. Listen carefully: I don’t care if you get raped; have consensual, unprotected sex; or have a health-risk from a pregnancy abortion is a decision between a woman and whomever SHE brings into it. Be that her partner, her spouse, her doctor or her god. I don’t care what your views are. Don’t want one don’t have one. Easy. Peasey. Lemon. Squeezy.

Conservatives are on a mission to destroy everything they deem supportive of Democrats and the Democratic Party. UnionsP; making it more difficult to voteP; defunding educationP. It’s only going to get worse.

I have a word of caution for my left-handed friends – watch your backs, you may be next…

And my American Idol is….

Jennifer Lopez!
I have surprised myself with how big my girl-crush on JLo has become. Seriously, I could watch a whole hour of Ms. Lopez smiling and saying nice things to people. I’m not kidding. I’ve watched stupider shows.
I’m in awe of how she is able to extract the essence from a less-than-stellar performance, examine it, and hand it back with a recommendation. And she does this in a way that builds up rather than tears down. Masterful.
Case in point. Naima. Last night was a hot-buttered mess! Don’t even argue with me, it was. I love her; she’s my favorite girl in the game right now. But last night was just no. Not good. What did JLo say to Miss Hot-Buttered Mess? I’m paraphrasing here “It’s really hard to have control when you’re jumping around on the stage and singing isn’t it? That takes work.” Not calling her out in a way designed to embarrass her. No. She was empathizing with her about a shared experience: the difficulty of performing.
In that moment, she gave her several things: her intact dignity, constructive criticism, and a plan to improve.
More of this please, Idol.