Category Archives: Education

The High Cost of a College Education

It is the time of year when hopeful students are visiting colleges, attending auditions and waiting.  Waiting for scholarships, waiting for good news and filling out their FAFSA forms.  Student loan debt is in the trillions and though the efforts of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and the comments President Obama are constant, and the entire situation would suggest that the epidemic of this loan debt is really hurting our economy, it seems that the epidemic is unstoppable.  Students want to go to college, and in fact, do need that four-year education to compete in the job market.  Colleges have been raising tuition costs for more than 20 years.  Middle class parents cannot afford to cash-flow college and cannot qualify for assistance of any kind.  What is the solution?

Let’s take a look at alternatives to the traditional college experience:

2-year college is a very viable option and much more cost-effective.

Working and living at home can save thousands of dollars.

Re-thinking what constitutes a good education by evaluating the outcome of that education might make students reevaluate their college choice.  Most students do not come out of college trained to begin employment.  College is a great place to grow up, to gain four years of experience, to make friends, to live away from home and to begin to figure out what career you might be interested in, but unless you are becoming an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse or a teacher (and there are a few other careers in this category) your chances of graduating ready for a fantastic career are slim.  Of the above careers, only three will enable you to pay back your student loan in a timely manner.  Most students carry their debit well into their 30s and 40s.  Sadly, many parents are carrying their debt to the grave.

Student and parent loan debt has frozen our economy for many, many people who cannot purchase homes, spend money in retail stores or save for their own children’s college education, or their own retirement.

The change has to start with our attitude, beginning with what we tell our children about college and what they are led to believe they will get from that education.  An honest evaluation of what we are getting for our money might reveal that times are changing and new traditions are beginning.  The focus on employment, income projections and the ability to attend college without going into financial duress is as important a discussion as which campus looks like a fun place to spend four years.

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Filed under Education, Life thoughts

Working Together

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You might notice a few little “badges” on the right side of this page.  Two will lead you to the wonderful website:  http://www.writingourwayhome.com, the home of Small Stones and other cool writing motivators.  Note the new “Small Stones” page on this blog where my  Small Stones of the January 2013 challenge are residing.

The third will lead you to my inspiration:  http://www.leoniedawson.com.  I first discovered Leonie’s website a few years ago and it has ballooned to a huge success for her, and in turn, for those of us lucky enough to play with all the Goddess courses and books.  I was so inspired by her practical approach to goal setting, and more importantly, goal reaching, that I followed her methods to start my business, create a website, and write my first book.  As a long time teacher, all of my efforts are focused on helping students achieve school success by incorporating the habits of visualization, yoga, positive thinking and manifestation techniques I have been weaving into my life for years, into the lives of students.  I have been so inspired by:

Leonie Dawson

Brene´Brown

Diana Lang

Louise Hay

Mike Dooley

Michelle Jacob (website on the way!)

Holli Rabishaw

Colleen Carroll

and the many others who inspire so many to find their true purpose and live authentic lives.  This can be done in so many ways and I want to inspire children to find the path that is their truth.  We are all unique and it is when we share that special part of ourselves that we leave an imprint on others.

Take a moment, explore those that have inspire me, or begin the search for your own inspirations.  It is by allowing ourselves to lean in to who we are meant to be that we become models for others.  Please share any information you find useful. Comments welcome.

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Filed under Education, Life thoughts

Why I’m not a bad money manager.

I am not a bad money manager.  I have been thinking for the past four years, that something was wrong with me, after all, why am I continually coming up short in the budget department?  Why, when I keep cutting corners, eliminating experiences and streamlining personnel services, do I keep receiving warning notices from Mint.com that I am over my budget for….food….gas, you know, little things like that? Reading David Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is illuminating, but this summer, I realized that simple envelope systems and debt-snowballs are no match for giant reductions in income.

This summer, I was, once again, reviewing and modifying my budget, looking around my house for more things to sell or donate in a feeble attempt to live more simply, when I happened to check the State Franchise Tax Board website to be sure my last payment had been recorded.  The site has this really cool feature that allows you to see archives of the last four year’s wages earned and taxes paid.  It was then that I realized the enormity of the Los Angeles Unified School District pay cuts and furlough days. 

Between 2008 and 2009, my pay decreased $1,072.15

Between 2009 and 2010 my pay decreased $1,572.04

Between 2010 and 2011 my pay decreased $5,977.17. 

If you have been keeping up with that math, the difference between my teacher’s salary in 2008 and 2011 is $8, 621.36

I would add an exclamation mark, but there is nothing to be excited about. I am coming up short about $862 a month.

This is not entirely the fault of our union, UTLA, for weak negotiations with the District or the LAUSD, because their budget is controlled by the California.  This is not entirely the fault of the California because the State budget is dictated by the taxes collected in the State both income and property tax and some sales tax revenue thrown in too.  Our State is suffering, just like the country, in fact we are just a small part of the entire global economic downturn, but that down turn was caused by the few and mighty who control Wall Street. 

So when I’m feeling the pinch and thinking of second jobs, launching a business, writing material to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers and my own ebooks and independently published books, it is my effort to retain a shred of dignity after 34 years of teaching almost 600 children to believe in themselves.  It is time for me to believe in myself, regardless of whether the LAUSD, UTLA the California, the Federal Government or Wall Street investment bankers believe in the value of teachers.

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Filed under Education, Life thoughts, Teaching

Thinking About What We Are Meant To Be

 

“Everyone is smart, but if you tell a fish to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

 

I am spending a lot of time thinking about life choices, paths and opportunities.  We often spend a large part of our lives trying to figure out what we are meant to do, or who we are meant to be.  I spend a lot of time watching children, being a teacher and all, and I think we need to tune into the natural, innocent “knowing” that children poses.  We try to make children conform to our preconceived notion of who they should be or to fit into the mold that the experts determine is right for children, what they should be able to do by a certain age, how they should learn, and how we can measure their knowledge.  But, what if they are wrong?  What if children are born to be something else, to learn in a different way and perhaps even to teach us?

Observation is a great tool that is often underutilized but always available.  The next time you have the opportunity to observe children at play, take the time to really watch their actions, interactions with other children and choice of play. Some choose solitary play, quiet time alone.  Perhaps they a retreating from an overstimulated life.  Some chose to softly sing or hum, giving their life a soundtrack, future composers in the making.  Some chose to recreate family situations that need more processing to understand totally.  Some choose to draw elaborate scenes of dream worlds or scenes of events from their past.  Children need to process information and they need the time and medium to do that without interruption of adult direction.  Play is the method through which children learn and they need time for unstructured, child-centered play.

Take the time to think like a child.  Instead of completing a list of “have too” tasks, create a list of “want to” activities.  Think like a child.  What will help you process your world?  A quiet walk along the shore?  A hike in the mountains?  A dance class or listening to a concert?  Sometimes creating art is a way to process reality.  For me, it can be all of these things, but writing is the way I process-thinking on paper.

Children are innocent and don’t rely on preconceived notions, just on immediate desire.  Their play erupts from ideas hatched spontaneously, relying on instinct.  Trust your children to know their path.  At the most, you will give them the gift of acceptance, at the least they will be happy trying.



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Filed under choice, Education, Life thoughts

What if?

What if?

I am beginning with the premise of “what if?” today.  The idea came to visit me in a dream last night and I woke up with it floating around in my head, forming words that had to come out.  What if I come from a place of love when relating to all of the people in my life?  Of course there are many people in my life that I genuinely feel love for, my husband, my daughters, family members and dear friends, but what if that love could extend out like highways stretching across the map of my world?

I have been reading bits and pieces of a website/newsletter called Love and Logic and besides enjoying the title, I am interested in the premise: raising responsible children and having fun while doing it.  We spend a lot of time setting up behavior plans and consequences, structuring our children’s lives for success and focusing on preventing negative behaviors. What if, instead, we came from a place of pure love and helped children become positive, independent thinkers whose actions rise up from a thoughtful beginning?  What if we stop solving all of our children’s problems and throw the ball back to them?  What will happen?  According to Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline M.D. expectations are high.  I am willing to give it a try.

Over the past 32 years of teaching I have noticed a shift in the behavior of my students.  What is the cause?  Influence from the media?  Lack of concern from parents, or adults raising the children?  A collapse of our social structure and the standards we hold kids to?  A lack of real consequences for the actions kids choose to take?  It doesn’t really matter.  Using a method such as Love and Logic, offers a plan, hope, a solution.  I am willing to add this to my repertoire of love-based approaches to guide my students.  I have had  good success with One-Moment Meditations, Yoga, and Council, all based on coming from one’s heart, from love and from pure thought.  Teaching kids to calm their active bodies and minds allows the truth to enter.

I always think it is such a happy coincidence when the universe is able to line things up for a good idea.  During my class’ visit to the school library I came across Jon J. Muth’s books:  Zen Shorts and Zen Ties.  The title interested me so I checked them out.  What a nice surprise!  Books written to enlighten children through a wise Panda named Stillwater.  It was another nice coincidence when he was on NPR yesterday being interviewed about his new book, Zen Ghosts, and his creation of the character Stillwater.  Zen is infusing my life.

What if I come from a place of love?  Not just for those around me, for those I teach, for my family and friends that I love so dearly, but for myself?  What if I continue to nurture myself through yoga, meditation, walking, mindful eating and lots of writing?  Maybe love is contagious and everyone around me will catch it too.

John Lennon would have been 70 years old yesterday.  Listening to “Imagine,” the soothing chords, the true words and the vision revealed, reminded me that “all you need is love” is not just a wistful dream from the 1960’s, but a cry for change in 2010.  Beyond test scores, API, value-added, and seniority lies the love we are responsible to share with the people in our lives.  What if?

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Filed under change, Education, Family, Life thoughts

Sorry Mom

Dear Mom,

I am sorry to tell you that after more than 50 years of waking up to the Los Angeles Times for breakfast, and having watched you spend a couple of hours reading it cover to cover every day, I am cancelling my subscription.  In a way it feels like sacrilege, but I just cannot support a newspaper that endorses irresponsible journalism.  I tried to ignore the pleas of my Union and covertly read the paper for the past couple of weeks, but after learning of Rigoberto Ruelas’ suicide in reaction to his name being published as “less than effective” in the Times, I cannot support this paper any longer.  I will miss the morning ritual, and the comforting remembrances of you mom, every morning.  I will miss reading the writers I love and have been reading for most of my life.  I myself had a small editorial published in the paper years ago.  But I cannot believe that the writers, Jason Felch, Stephanie Ferrell, Megan Garvey, Thomas Suh Lauder, David Lauter, Julie Marquis, Sandra Poindexter, Ken Schwencke, Beth Shuster, Jason Song, Doug Smith, of the education article on Value Added Evaluations of teachers could not have done the same article without naming names and humiliating hundreds of decent, hardworking teachers.

As a teacher, I know we are not in this profession for the money or the glory.  We are in this profession to help children.  I am not writing about evaluation methods, simply about the notoriety seeking journalists that are making names for themselves on the backs of many teachers.  I would like to see Value Added Evaluations of those in the following professions:

Journalists-how many people benefit from your articles?

Lawyers-how many cases were won/lost?

Doctors/Dentists-how healthy are your patients?

Money Managers-how successful are your investments for your clients?

Accountants-how many of your clients are audited?

Automobile Industry-how safe are your cars?

Parents-how ready are your children to start school?

Let’s start naming names!

Students arrive at 5 years old, but the five years before formal public school are filled with the impact of many others including parents, preschool teachers, siblings, relatives, television, video games, neighbors and environment. I know there are claims that Value Added takes all of this into account, but can’t it be used to privately help teachers who need support and publicly without naming names?

For public education to succeed, we need the support of the students, parents, community, government, and media.

I am sorry mom, but really I think you would be proud of me because you were a wonderful teacher; in the classroom and in my life.  I love you.  Good by L.A. Times.

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Filed under Education, Mom, reading