11 February 2016

"That's retarded!" or "What a retard!" or "Are you retarded?"

"I was bullied today.  I was made fun of, and swore at."

-- a guest post by Bek.

This is my son’s worksheet from after an incident at school today. It wasn’t the first incident. Today, though, they surrounded him and joined in and taunted him. It started because one student called him a retard.

This is not ok.

I realize many people still use the “r-word” casually and I realize many people use it and think it is ok if they use it because it was considered acceptable when we were growing up. It is not acceptable now. Please consider what you are saying when you are calling a friend “retarded” or “a retard” or calling their behavior “retarded” as in “that’s so retarded” or “you are such a retard“. You are saying (even if this meaning is unintentional) that people with developmental, cognitive, and physical (people assume far too much about cognition based on just a glance) impairments and disabilities are less than you, are less than “normal”.

Our community has fought, and continues to fight, just to live as others live and to have the same rights as Joe or Jane Average. We all have dealt with adversity, even the youngest in our ranks.

Do not add to the vitriol and mistreatment by using that word.

If you use it now, please stop. If you use it by accident… That happens, but think about the child or adult you are really hurting, and vow to never use that word again (and share this message. Please.). If you hear a child, your child, a nephew, niece, neighbor, etc… use the “r-word“, tell them what I am telling you here. Tell them it hurts. If you are a teacher or school administrator or support staff, please consider spreading awareness that this word is inappropriate and too many students are still aiming it at other children, and not always in a casual way.

Some of those children, being called retards or asked, “are you retarded?” on the playground, in the halls, in the cafeteria are children who have been fighting hard their entire life just to have a seat at the table and in many schools, inclusion means that the table has kids with disabilities.

If you think it’s not a big deal, ask those kids and ask their parents how they feel about it. Ask an adult with disabilities. If you don’t know any you feel comfortable asking then please ask me. It is a big deal.

I was called that dreadful word, as a child with developmental delays, and my son has been called that word daily, at school.

My kid isn’t “normal” (which is a word we also don’t use in our home.). He’s better than that. His response to these lunchroom bullies is to explain to them why the r-word is not an acceptable word to use anymore. He is so much better, kinder, smarter than those nasty 8th grade boys. He would never call another child anything other than their first name, because he has been tormented and he knows that teasing and bullying is wrong. He is so much more mature than they are. He can’t fight back the way a developmentally average child would. So he explains. He tries to explain to these bigger kids why they are doing something wrong and mean. Which, of course, makes things worse, and magnifies his differences (which I see as such magnificent strengths) to these bullies. And the taunting increases. Where do you think these kids first heard the r-word? Probably at home, either from a parent or in a movie/on a tv show, and then they spread it around.


Sticks and stones may break bones, but the reality is that words do so much damage, and until you have been at the receiving end of them, for a lifetime, it can be impossible to fathom the destruction they can cause.

Please share this and share this link: http://r-word.org/r-word-why-pledge.aspx#.Vr0azN-rTdQ

Please take the pledge and spread the message to family, friends, coworkers, classmates and ask them to move the message forward that the “r-word” is not acceptable in 2016.

Thank you.

Schools to Grade Parents Under New System

Sometimes, children enter school struggling with concepts such as writing letters and numbers, lining up, taking turns and so on.  Often this is due to developmental difference (late bloomer, anyone?) or simply not being exposed to a preschool environment which is a little more institutional than a home.  It doesn't mean the parents aren't involved, but apparently the school wants to take it that way.  A new proposed Mississippi law will allow schools to (somehow) grade parents for their involvement.

Undocumented, ungraded reading happens in our house.  Shh.

Maybe giving you a grade will "shock you into reality," so to speak.  The "reality," I suppose, being that when homework's assigned, it had better get done or you will get a bad grade which will be tracked by the state.  

It's outrageous, really, that schools would have the audacity to judge someone's parenting based on whether reading logs are completed and Mom shows up for the dopey Parent-Teacher conference when she knows how her child is doing anyway.

The thing is, guess who doesn't show up to those conferences?  Often, it's the mom with two jobs who can't possibly make it and still have time to feed her children dinner, or who can't afford a sitter.  Other moms know their child is doing horribly and really don't want to make a two-hour round trip in the cold, battling other parents in the parking lot and wait around just to be told how miserable things are (implication: bad parent).  We all know that real solutions aren't grappled with in these conferences anyway.  There really isn't a point to going, not in 2016 when we have skype and email.

I find it over-the-line, really, to grade parents.  It sets up an antagonistic relationship to boot.  If the end goal is to help parents to do some of the things the school would like to see happen, this is not the way to go about doing it.

06 February 2016

Learning Through Games.

The children want to play some of the fifth grade games on ABCya, but they don't know how to convert fractions to decimals yet.  So I've compiled a small guide that at least gets them through the first level or two before they get squashed.  Yay!

"Have I Died?"

Apparently cab drivers in Japan keep picking up passengers who later figure out they're dead and disappear.  Ever see the Sixth Sense movie?  They want to go to the area of the tsunami, get confused in the middle of the ride, ask weird questions and then vanish.

The only reason we know this is because a sociology student asked 100 cab drivers about whether anything strange happened after the tsunami and this theme kept recurring. 

05 February 2016

Everyone Has a Secret

Ella Rae and Carrigan are the impulsive ones, but Laine has always been the sweet one who wanted her friends "to get baptized once a week, run a soup kitchen, volunteer at the local day care, and neuter dogs on the kitchen table."  The trio have been besties in the little town of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana, ever since kindergarten.  They often fight each other's battles and always keep their secrets well-guarded.  In a little town like this, you can't be too careful! 

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale is about their changing friendship in the wake of an unexpected, life-changing crisis.  It's about how secrets can't always be secret forever.  It's about how no matter how much we wish to direct our own lives, God orders our steps, and sometimes He takes us places we don't want to go. 

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this set free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

04 February 2016

Parents Face Jail Time for Missing Paperwork Deadline

Up to 23 years in prison for a simple paperwork error! 

Look.  I understand paperwork is rilly rilly important.  The IRS rathermuch frowns on your not getting your crap in on time.  But they don't send you to jail for 23 years for being even several months late.  Crazy bureaucrats in Ohio, however, would like to jail homeschooling parents for their mistakes and even count their children as being "truant" for not being up-to-date on registry.

In my state, I have to keep a record of the stuff I'm doing and in 9.5 years of homeschooling, I haven't been checked up on even once.  If I lived in a state where paperwork was a must, you betya I would have my stuff in on time or even early.  I'm not excusing the lack of paperwork, mind you.  I'm simply saying that what could happen to these parents is nowhere near proportional to the "crime" that was committed.

What do they do to tenured teachers who forget to submit paperwork or keep good records?  Do they send them to jail for 23 years?  Do they lose their jobs or even lose any pay? 

 Drug dealers.  Say you have a whole buttload of drugs n' stuff in Ohio.  Maximum penalty is 10 years and $20,000.  There's a whole movement out there whining that drug penalties are way too strict because people are addicted and bla bla bla.

But yeah, throw the book at the mom who forgot or was plain ignorant, why don't you?

Ok, the people in Flint.  Is anyone in prison for poisoning a whole community? 

I'm not even saying there shouldn't be a penalty and all that.  I'm just saying that when someone tells you that the system is out to get homeschoolers, mayyybe that's not just paranoia talking sometimes. 

29 January 2016

Rights of Religious Minorities

Muslim leaders from all over the world gathered together recently in Marrakech, Morocco, for a historic declaration on promoting the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.  Text