Archive for July, 2006


The Drinking Age

I was watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (don’t ask me why) and it was discussing the drinking age. Of course, the way they handled the subject ended badly for everyone, but they made a point that we seem to have forgotten: If teens learn to drink in a safe and responsible environment, they will carry those habits with them the rest of their lives. If they learn to drink 40’s in the middle of nowhere and drive home drunk to make curfew, THOSE are the habits they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. The only reason OUR drinking age is so high is that our government doesn’t believe that parents can turn their kids into responsible adults. Instead, they feel the need to regulate anything that might hurt us, thereby taking the decision-making out of our hands.

I think it’s a better idea to talk to kids about alcohol and teach them to use it responsibly at or before (with direct parental supervision) the age of 16. The countries where the legal drinking age is 16 or lower have very few problems with alcohol. People are taught not to drink and drive (which works better when there is a good and SAFE public transportation system), not to over-indulge (for reference, visit your nearest college), and what their limits are (which isn’t happening here, as evidenced by AA and the 12 Steps) in a safe environment surrounded by people who care about them.


Truth, Justice, and…

Superman Returns seems to have gone slightly political. Many people see Superman’s slogan change as minor, but I think it represents a larger world view, one that cannot be ignored. It is difficult for Superman to fight for truth in a world where its definition is hazy. We watch news conferences filled with spin and “reality” shows that do absolutely nothing to mimic real life (mostly because that would be incredibly boring). When our soldiers are fighting a war for lies and no one is held accountable, there is no justice.

And what exactly is the American Way? It seems to have more to do with the work of Haliburton than with the work of Green Peace. It is consumerism (oil, and our disposable, planned obsolescence society), greed (Haliburton), superficiality (just watch Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, etc…), colossal errors in judgment (Bush), and abandonment (the poor, the education system, those in need of health care, Social Security, immigration…). We have run this nation so far into the ground that even Superman doesn’t want to be associated with us. Even my father, generally the winner of “Staunch Republican of the Year”, thinks we have a better shot at raising a family and doing well for ourselves in Europe or Canada.

2,543 US soldiers killed in Iraq
18,874 US soldiers wounded in Iraq
Accurate count of Iraqis killed: Unavailable



As an English teacher, the significance of words means a lot to me. Words are powerful, if you use them correctly. I have always been intrigued by the power people give to certain words, as it they should somehow mean more when there are other words that mean the exact same thing but are somehow less offensive. For example, I heard one of my neighbors tell her ten-year-old son to use the word buns instead of ass and I thought, “What’s the difference? He’s just substituting one word for another, and all you’re really telling him is to use a different word around you.” Why should he do that, especially when everyone knows he’s going to say ass when he’s around his friends and buns when he’s around his mom. It’s not a sign of respect that he doesn’t use “bad” language around his mother.

The truth is, there’s really no reason not to use “profanity”. The actual definition is “to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt”, and the last time I checked, asses, shit, and sex certainly weren’t sacred (unless you’re uber religious, in which case your opinion doesn’t count). Some of the smartest people I know say fuck all the time. Does that cancel out the rest of what they say? No. So what’s the big fuckin’ deal? Why does it really matter if you say poop instead of shit or ass instead of tushie? It only really offends those who have a fucking stick up their asses so far that they believe their shit doesn’t stink. Why humor those people? Why limit our freedom of speech just because it upsets someone? Putting up a front so as not to offend anyone is pretty much just lying about who you really are.

*NOTE: Please note the definition of profanity in the title link. Words that are considered to be name-calling or hate-speech, such as bitch, cunt, nigger, spic, etc… are not in the same arena as the so-called seven words you can’t say on TV. Though people have the freedom to use these words if they chose, they are considered to be inflammatory when directed at a particular person, and are NOT socially acceptable for general usage. In any case, I DO NOT demand that people stop using them, however, I will not allow their usage in my presence. Part of a free society is the ability to walk away (or delete if necessary).


Dissent Through Homeshooling

I don’t know when people started of thinking of homeschooling as something for people who are religious or crazy, though in most cases they’re the same thing. In the past several years more people with time or money have begun to homeschool they’re kids, and most of them aren’t nuts. They just want the best education possible for their kids. The Internet has made information so accessible that people can create a curriculum for their children by consulting an education specialist, various homeschooling sites, and their local school districts.

Who decided that the government can educate our children better than we can, if we are educated, well-grounded individuals. When the government controls the curriculum the way they currently do, they control, by extension, the minds of your children. Public school curriculum is guided by policy and the greater good. Only you or an educational consultant can construct a curriculum suitable for each individual child in your home.


The Children Left Behind

As a teacher, the words “No Child Left Behind” strike fear into my heart. Though I know that what I think is irrelevant to those passing the laws and deciding on curriculum, it helps just to say it. No Child Left Behind is a bad program, and it’s getting worse.

The current government administration has hinted that teachers don’t like the plan because they will have to be held accountable for what they do in the classroom. Teachers do need to be held accountable for what they teach and how they teach it. Taxes pay our salaries and taxpayers should know what they’re paying for. So, my fellow taxpayers, here’s what you’re paying for:

You are paying for me to spend at least an hour of my 90 minute classes on preparing students to take the Standardized Tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act. Focusing on vocabulary integration and analyzing various works of literature would expand their horizons and possibly interest them in some way. Instead, I was ordered to spend a majority of my class time preparing students for the test even though that means we have to forgo reading novels.

You are paying for schools to put money into resources to help teachers prepare students for the Standardized Tests. There are practice workbooks and books entirely dedicated to teaching students how to take them . Our children are reading these books instead of classic novels, poetry, and plays.

You are paying for principals to tell students that they cannot graduate high school or go to college because though they may have a 3.5 GPA, they still have not passed the Standardized Test. These students lose all hope, feel like complete failures, and end up letting go of their dreams to find a position their school has told them is much more suitable to their ability, such as landscaping or waiting tables.

The bottom line is that regardless of what the President may say, our children are being left behind. They are undereducated and underprepared for the real world. As a teacher, it terrifies me to look at the generation of students I am teaching today because I cannot see the future in their eyes. I see a lack of hope, a sense of defeat, and an aversion to being in the classroom.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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