Sunday, February 21, 2010

Too Fat

So Kevin Smith suffers the fate that every fat person, including me, dreads when he is bumped off a Southwest Airline Flight. He's too fat to fly -- without purchasing two seats.

I can still get the arm rest down. I can still buckle the seat belt -- though I can't see over the boobs to exactly see the seat belt I'm buckling. If I suck it in, it will buckle. Hubby has the same problem. Except he doesn't have the boobs. He has the gut -- and huge shoulders -- but no hips. I've the hips but not the shoulders. We both have to squidge our shoulders tight to make sure we don't overlap our seats -- and infringe on our neighbors. Flying in today's aircraft is misery for the fat person.

We have the same problem at the symphony -- old theater, too small seats. We don't have the problem as much in a movie theater -- those seats are big enough to accommodate a bit of bulk. The recital hall where we go to hear monthly concerts is okay, too -- not roomy but not all squishy either. We can manage -- by overlapping each other and putting Hubby on the aisle.

The response I would like to make about this uproar on fat people in too small seats has been much better said by Kate Harding at Salon. Go read her article: Kevin Smith: the face of flying fat.

Amen, sister!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another One is Gone

Dick Francis died at age 89 today. Salinger, Parker, Francis all gone this year.
Okay. I won't actively miss Salinger. Frankly, I didn't get Catcher. But I did teach it because some of my kids did get it. Especially the boys.
But Francis and Parker brought me great entertainment and delight. I shall miss them incredibly.

I know that many thought that Francis didn't write his novels, at least alone. But regardless, my mother-in-law introduced me to him in the 1970's and I've read ALL his mysteries -- sometimes twice. Once summer I read them in chronological order.
The same for Parker. I've read all three series, and even the Raymond Chandler addition -- and loved every one. None as much as the Spenser series, but in dark times, in depression, in the times when I've needed escape dreadfully, nothing could replace a good Parker novel.
I shall miss the good times these authors brought into my life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From Kansas City, KS to Kansas City, MO

Now it's time for the Kansas City, MO School District's turn to be decimated. Goodby Northeast High School, Westport High School, Southeast High School. Goodbye Central Academy, KC Middle School for the Arts, and Westport and Lincoln middle schools. Goodbye to 30 historic Kansas City schools. Goodbye to their history, their maintenance, and above all goodbye to the the billions of dollars the district spent in the 1990's to renovate ALL these schools BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HELD THEN UNDER A MANDATED DESECRATION ORDER! And goodbye to all the staff members who had jobs in these schools.

When, in 1989 & 1990, we waged a public campaign against the district to save the beautiful historic Paseo High School we told the district they could NEVER maintain the infrastructure they were creating. For three years we attended EVERY Kansas City School District Board meeting and we said over and over and over (in the meetings, ar press conferences, in the KC Star): this is insane! You can't support this kind of building expenditure. You need to focus on improving education, NOT on building and renovating. We took the district twice into Federal Court trying to make them listen. We had 18 lawyers, 18 students, parents in the hundreds, and a full press of alumni who went to court with us, who held press conferences twice a week, who marched and held rallies. We gave our lives to the cause (and my 22 year teaching career in the district). But our pleas and our reasons always fell on deaf ears.

And now this news. What good does "we told you so" do to the students who have been forced to continue their education in the failing KCMO school district?

My soul burns with fierce anger over the continued revelations of the criminal negligence of this school district in my city. The people running this district for the last 40 years should be held accountable. And J.E. Dunn -- the construction company that got the most benefit from the district's unconsciousable free spending on renovation and construct? They should be forced to give every penny back!

Instead, generations of children have suffered. Generations more will continue to suffer.

Nobody could do a worse job of educating our children. The district needs to be disbanded. NOW! But will it? Of course not; these incompetent, racist, and hateful people who control the workings of the KCMO school district have too much power to be overthrown, no matter how much harm they cause to our now 100% minority district. And the decimation will continue.

My heart is sick.

Here's the news story, if you can bear to read it: KC to Close 30 Schools.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Serious Change

Tuesday night over dinner with friends, I talked about my future with the Kansas City Kansas school district. Though not tenured, I pleasantly announced I felt fairly secure that I would have a job next year, I liked my job well enough, and would be pleased to continue my employment. After all, I had just had a sterling review, was trusted to teach the subject I love best (English) in specialized courses that I was allowed to develop, and I got along pretty well with my co-workers. Next year I would earn tenure.

On Wednesday a special faculty meeting was called. The current superintendent, a nice, comfy woman and her replacement, a stylish and impressive woman who had taught in the district for many years, wanted to speak to us of "pressing and important" matters.

The entire administration of the school was sitting around looking exceedingly glum. The tension in the room was palpable. The thought ran through my head that , due to all the budget cuts in education coming to the state of Kansas, the school was going to close. But we have a strong alumni group, we are growing in enrollment instead of shrinking, and we fill a vital need to our inner-city community.

The gist of the situation was clearly and concisely explained. President Obama wants to make improvements in education. To that end, the Department of Education in DC has made a ton of money available to the school districts who have been identified as the five percent lowest functioning in each state. To accept the money one of four government endorsed plans must be enacted for each school.

Now, think about the state of Kansas. My district is the ONLY truly urban core area of the entire state. Every one of our schools is a Title One school. We are the poorest area in the state. We have the most non-English speaking students. Clearly, the schools in my district make up the lowest 5% in the state. It's a slam dunk.

My beloved historic high school has been chosen to receive the influx of government aid because we have low test scores and a dismal graduation rate. The academic academy in KC district (Sumner High School) escaped the designation, as did the high school at the furthest end of the district. The other two high schools have also been designated as "failing schools."

Because of the weather in DC we still don't have a full understanding of exactly what all this means. We do know that up to two million dollars can be awarded to each high school -- BUT only if they adopt one of the plans the government has pre-approved.

One plan, close the school, has already been rejected by the superintendent. The other three plans all call for either entire resignations by the staff of the school (and the take over of the school by a charter corporation) or resignations of close to 50% of the staff. All the administrators of the school will have to resign no matter what plan is chosen.

The final decision as to whether the district will accept the money rests entirely with the superintendent. How do you say no to $6 million when you have three our of five high schools designated as the lowest 5% in the nation? Especially when the media gets a hold of this information? How do you fire an entire staff of people? How to you fire your principals who have worked hard to make APA and bring scores up from 3% to 56% on the state assessments?

And how do you tell a staff that has worked their hearts out in these urban core schools that they have failed and the federal government wants them gone? Our superintendent did a loving and caring presentation to us. So did her replacement. They stressed over and over how much faith they had in both the school and the staff.

I worked in Kansas City MO in 1989 when the superintendent came in to the auditorium and announced to the faculty and parents that the school I had worked in for 18 years was closing. The speech, in essence, went: F*ck you, we're done and we don't give a sh*t what happens to you." This administration had to present basically the same information but in a gentle, caring, loving way. They did everything in their power to ease the blow and said continually, over and over: we care what happens to you. This really does make a difference in your attitude. It doesn't ease the situation but at least you can understand on a gut level why.

Still the hand-writing is on the wall. Big changes are coming.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Jon Stewart & Bill O'Reilly

I'm really liberal (the old 1960's hippie type liberal) and I rarely watch Jon Stewart but I do find him funny.

I do NOT on any occasion watch FOX network or The O'Reilly Factor.

But I love this entire uncut interview.

Watch it. No matter whose side you're own, you'll find this interesting. It will be 35 minutes of enlightment and enjoyment.