On Looking Out for Each Other’s Children

The title of this piece is a bit sensationalist, thought it’s a very real issue. I like the article, though, for the specifics it has regarding ways we can “look out for each other’s children.”

Back when my 17 year old was 3 or 4, one time we were at a park with playgroup Moms & kids. There were some older kids there (older, as in age 8-10 : ) ) who were running around and knocking over toddlers and preschoolers. They weren’t trying to be mean, just having fun and oblivious to the consequences. I remember looking around, seeing no parents who seemed attached to these kids, and having an epiphany: “I’m the Mom. I can say something to these kids.” So I did. And the kids listened and stopped running into the little people. 

While this particular moment had little to do with the safety of the “big kids,” the incident speaks to the ways that we *are* in community, the ways that we build community and cultivate safety simply by thinking: “If there’s a kid without an adult, I am willing to take action to look out for that kid.”

Have you ever helped a child in your neighborhood feel safe? It might simply be saying hello to them while they’re walking home from school. Some might call me a Pollyanna or naive, but I truly believe that these small choices we make day to day, week to week, are the building blocks of a safe community.

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On the PARCC Test

Alongside the balance that I have encouraged in thinking about the Common Core, it is only fair to add my concern regarding the PARCC Test. Thanks especially to Jennifer Hierbaum Pastore for prompting me to think a bit more about PARCC this week.

So much of what we hear about Common Core and PARCC testing isn’t local. These issues are impacting schools, students, staff, and families all around the country, and I enjoy perusing what people are saying in different states. Ultimately, given the nature of our *United States* of America, these decisions are political decisions at a state level. In this moment, I’m not using the word “political” to express concern or a negative bias. I simply mean that the decisions are being made by states in state legislatures. Every state government is appropriately interested in the education of its children. And they each approach things in a different way. That’s just one of the myriad of reasons we see Common Core playing out differently state by state.

The PARCC Test is (last I recall) being used by only 7 states. For this reason, I think it’s especially helpful to hear from school districts right here in Illinois. The following testimony was offered at an Illinois House of Representatives hearing just this past Wednesday. The speaker is the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction for Leyden School District, up by O’Hare. His position is comparable to Assistant Superintendent Faith Dahlquist in District 200.

Take a look at the testimony. The recording is particularly interesting as well. I appreciate the detail of the commentary regarding the impact of testing on students taking the test and those who aren’t. Pay particular attention to the comments about high school, where very few students are actually required to take the test, but the schedule will impact every student.

I’m not to the point of solutions. Right now, I’m simply sitting with some concern and wondering what to do. Any thoughts?

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On Allowances

Allowances. I’m not sure we’ve ever approached this aspect of parenting well or consistently. We got better at it when our kids hit the teenage years. With our older two, we manage things electronically with checking accounts and debit cards. I feel good about this. Those early years, though, I feel like we struggled to teach consistently about finances and financial management.

What do you think of the principles in this article? How do you handle allowances at your house?

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On the Misperceptions surrounding the Common Core

This article is a fascinating look at the misperceptions surrounding the Common Core. Seems like a PR disaster. I wonder if the political dramas playing out in so many states might have been avoided with a different sort of roll-out a few years back.

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On the Common Core and Its Impact on the Achievement Gap

Another article on the Common Core, this one on its potential impact on the achievement gap.

“In other words, while the Common Core may provide the “map,” it’s up to the school districts to undertake the journey to make sure the new standards fulfill their promise for students whose futures depend on them.”

Interesting commentary and vignettes about what Common Core is looking like on the ground. To be honest, I wish my kids were in Kindergarten this year, getting in on the ground floor of this way of thinking.

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On Weeping

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” (Kahlil Gibran)

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On Things Being Alright

“Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then trust me, it’s not the end.”

— from “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly & Beautiful)”

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