Saturday, June 12

On My Mind

It is in our collective interest that children be raised well, but evidently we are not doing such a good job of taking care of them: 21 percent of American children will be living in poverty this year, and 500,000 may be homeless (the link tweeted by @laura11D; her blog is here). And by we I don't mean that individual families are doing a poor job, but all of us, together.

And did you know that in April, Amnesty International declared that maternal health in the U.S.A. is in a state of crisis? From the summary of the report:
Maternal mortality ratios have increased from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006.... The USA spends more than any other country on health care, and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. Despite this, women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries.... African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.

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I'll finally be reading the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts this weekend. In the meantime, I'm still puzzling over why President Obama's approach to school reform has been so godawful. (One of these days I'll find the time to unpack the meaning of the Race to the Top, the title of which alone nauseates me, wherein the pursuit of an education is likened not just to a competition, but a zero-sum competition, in which someone must lose.) At the blog of The New York Review of Books, Diane Ravtich offers her thoughts on the topic, writing, "My sense is that it has a lot to do with the administration’s connections to the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation." Which doesn't really explain much, apparently unless you read her new book, which I don't intend to do. I'm actually also still puzzling over Ravitch's recent before-I-was-for-it-but-now-I'm-against-it switcharoo on No Child Left Behind.

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At the MomsRising blog, Rebecca Rodskog writes about wanting to go back to work after the birth of her child. From the conclusion of her essay:
No longer was it okay to just have a “job”. If it was going to take me away from my babies, it had better be pretty darn meaningful work. Being a mother made me a better judge of how I was applying my skills, and how I was spending my time each day—allowing me the clarity to carefully engage in only those things that mattered.
Alas, my job is not only just a job, but for the most part it involves pretty darn anti-meaningful work. I've written before about my ethical qualms about the way I earn an income for my family. My long-term plan is to keep on working at home (mostly) until our family is complete and the little ones old enough for full-time school, at which time I will begin teaching again. Yes, as a teacher, I will continue to serve the system. But, instead of working at my laptop on products for theoretical students and teachers (as I do now), I will be in an actual classroom with the actual children whom the system purports to serve, and I do believe that by giving my physical presence to children, I will be able to do meaningful work with them.

That's the plan, anyway. But the squirrels in my head have begun to chatter about finding other, more meaningful work-at-home work. Maybe I want to be a childbirth educator, or even a birth doula (not really work-at-home work, though). Maybe I can figure out a way to earn money from my writing (except that I don't know a damn thing about a damn thing). Maybe, maybe ... and I suspect that the squirrels are simply repeating something that the shitbird is whispering to them (straining my metaphor here ... can a bird whisper, much less whisper to a squirrel?), and that the shitbird is trying to distract me from the life I actually have, in which it is possible, on occasion, for me to write a poem ... or enjoy a sunny morning at the park with the Critter ...


Karen said...

Treasure that sunny morning in the park whenever you can!

raerae said...

Indeed! We're just back from a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I've missed the roses just about every year I've been in Brooklyn. But not this one!