houlihans is a go for tomorrow

There is a ton we can talk about, but I am really interested in identifying action steps, specifically for things we can do this month. Bill and I have continued the budget conversation and he has been trying to arm wrestle ArcGIS into submission. There is a Parent Advisory Group (aka, Advocacy) that will hold their first meeting on Sept 24th (same night as the Budget Public Hearing, different building). Dr. Taylor’s Social Committee kicks off on the 17th 27th (link to U4 schedule).

I am thinking it would be really helpful to come up with one or two things we want to consistently say at board meetings and in letters to the NG editor. I am having a hard time boiling it down to one or two, though. It already seems like Unit 4 is putting a lot of eggs in the DeJong-Richter basket, so my balloon of conversational meetings and public engagement is a bit deflated. I very much like that Tom Lockman is repeating the message that “they” (again, I assume the board) need to go out and get the feedback from the people (he used the word “incumbent”).

In talking to Cathy Mannen and Deb Foertsch about the CFT “informational picket”, I am now reflecting that it was a successful and well-done publicity stunt; it got their concerns in the public’s eye and got people talking. Although, reading the somewhat anonymous mud-slingers who post in the online NG is a bit disappointing, it is obvious that there is still a lot of confusion about where our taxpayer dollars go, who gets them and most importantly, who makes all those decisions. In fact, two commenters in particular are making it rather personal, as if teachers have any choice about how the district spends their money. Which brings me back to the picket in the first place; the public has no place at the negotiating table currently, so it is rather useless to get the public riled up. I think. Now is it good and proper that the public is not at the negotiating table? I have no idea whatsoever. The publicity stunt just puts more pressure on the board. Maybe it is good pressure. Again, I don’t know for sure. An interesting turn of events though is that maybe the PTA Council will be able to host both the CFT and the School District at an upcoming event. I am rather hoping so.

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6 Responses to “houlihans is a go for tomorrow”

  1. Chuck Jackson Says:

    One of us has our dates wrong, I have the social justice meeting set for September 27 rather than the 17th as you post. I’d be surprised to have a non-BOE meeting at the board room on a Monday.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Corrected and linked to U4 website for the OFFICIAL schedule. Thanks.

  3. Karen Says:

    Did Unit 4 ever do the Courageous Conversations thing here? Some food-for-thought maybe for today’s lunch meeting:

    http://www.examiner.com/article/school-principal-frets-over-racist-sandwiches

    I know most of you find my challenging of this ‘whiteness’/’white privilege’ stuff (from Unit 4’s School Climate Survey) offensive (at best), but, isn’t it racial stereotyping to assume people of a particular race/ethnicity eat only certain foods? Does diversity not include learning about other cultures? Even the evil oppressive white culture (aka American culture) has cusine unique to it. Cultural relevancy. For the sandwich-uninitiated living in America, isn’t there, as they say, a teachable moment somewhere in there? Ethnocentricity misses many teachable moments IMO. Word knowledge is world knowledge and it correlates with various measures of ‘success.’ Are we doing kids any favors by potentially limiting their learning worlds through ethnocentric (culturally ‘relevant’) focus? American culture should be relevant to all living here, to some degree. Otherwise we’re a bunch of people living side-by-side with nothing in common. I know, I know. Assimilation is now considered bad. Melting pot racist.

    ‘Various factor analyses have consistently shown that knowledge of word meanings is the dominant factor in reading comprehension” (p. 16). “Vocabulary level is a useful predictor of academic ability, even for courses like Chemistry that do not emphasize language usage” (p. 16).’

    https://www.wordsmart.com/articles/Annotated-Bibliography-on-Vocabulary-and-Success/

  4. Karen Says:

    Is promoting a language-rich environment in the preschool years(that correlates with all kinds of ‘success’) racist or classist or ???, because it’s not ‘culturally’ or class-relevant? At what point does promoting life context relevance become more of a hindrance than a helper to students?

    Many kids come to school with much smaller vocabs and less complex language structure (both oral and comp). They can be considered at-risk because of this. Do we preserve the home culture or whatever you want to call it (keep it culturally relevant) that or do we have an ethical? moral? duty to get them up to speed? Is getting them up to speed an oppressive dominant white culture thing that should be resisted? Sometimes I really feel like the baby is being thrown out with the bath water.

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    Karen,

    Speaking for myself, I have yet to be offended by your challenges – I welcome it. I have to confess that this is totally out of left field for me, though – I have to do a major context switch in my head just to begin wrapping my mind around your point.

    I think at any point in time we can pull out the magnifying glass and fall into the trap of missing the big picture. Whether we call them PB&Js or tortas or pitas or whatever, it is almost impossible to escape the “normality” of ones own culture. My take on where racism (or more appropriately, culturism or even classism) comes into the picture in a negative way is when one has unresolved insecurities and expresses oneself in perhaps a subconscious manner or even as a mode of self-defense.

    When I think of the social ills around us, I think more of how some members of society have been stripped of social capital – some with their own consent, granted, but still stripped. I am convinced that we need to re-empower a sense of value and belonging as a means of stopping inappropriate expressions of loneliness or insecurity (which sometimes expresses itself as superiority or being one’s own authority). My take is that the more we invest in each other and bring each other to the table to engage in deliberation, we achieve a very healthy and very helpful form of democracy.

    But I could be way wrong. In my own readings, it seems like in certain circumstances, it is helpful for me to acknowledge things like ‘white privilege’ as it pertains to an attitude or even an expectation that others may lack simply because of their skin color. I cannot help but think that it comes down to forming relationships and throwing stereotypes out the window. But then I struggle with that – some folks cling to cultural heritages with a herculean grasp. I can’t say that should be thrown out the window, for it forms a part of that person’s identity.

    In the end I am still confused. But I want to learn. I am convinced, however, that there is no one correct answer to your questions.


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