I read Vikki Kratz's incredibly compelling essay on the Walker budget proposal on Valentine's Day. It pierced my heart. While I've never met her, I'm pretty sure I'd love to see her at the helm of one of my kid's classrooms. Her obvious love of teaching is evident in every word.
I'm also pretty sure I am unlikely to meet her, or others like her, in any future classroom as the current budget proposal stands. Not just because she teaches pre-K, and my kids are whole lot older, but because frankly she won't be able to afford to teach much longer. Yes, there are many, many parts of the budget repair bill that I find distasteful. But anything that goes to make teaching a more difficult profession for a passionate educator to choose goes against every fiber of my being.
My father was an art teacher; my sister-in-law is an English teacher, my sister a college professor. For them, teaching isn't just a career choice; it's closer to a calling. My dad genuinely believed in the importance of shepherding kids in one of the poorest neighborhoods in DC toward creating something beautiful and positive in their lives. My sister-in-law feels privileged to be able to explain how to navigate financial aid forms (way after hours, mind you) to the families of first-generation college applicants. My sister, an intellectual historian, feels challenging college students to think differently about how ideas have changed the course of our history can actually change it.
My kids have had so many remarkable educators in the MMSD that it calls for a separate post. These teachers have inspired my children to work harder. They have hugged my kids when they needed it. These folks have instilled in my kids a love of learning that this mom would be hard-pressed to replicate on her own. I need these men and women, and I need them to be fairly compensated.
As those of you who have read this blog before know, I don't consider myself an overwhelmingly politically engaged person. I do a little research and always vote. Sure, I've been known to pass out a flier or two or make a few phone calls for candidates about whom I feel strongly. But at 44, I've never gone to a demonstration. I think that is about to change.
Ms. Kratz asked me to stand with her this week on the steps of the Capitol, a candlelight vigil (since she and other teachers need to be with their "kids" during the day) . No, my calling might not be as an educator, but as a parent I have heard her call and will answer. It is never too late to stand up for the things that will make a difference in the lives of my children, and all the children of Wisconsin.comments powered by Disqus
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.