Ok, I am in a mood.

Let’s chat about education.

Many people are posting memes imploring parents to support teachers and administrators as this nation faces decisions and circumstances never before seen in my lifetime.

People want us to be nice. Got it.

But this is an amazing opportunity to try to think CLEARLY and, perhaps, DIFFERENTLY than ever before about how and why we educate our kids.

I believe there is one vital question/concept that must be wrestled through first and foremost: OPEN, WELCOMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE EITHER ESSENTIAL FOR QUALITY EDUCATION AND VITAL FOR OUR NATION OR THEY ARE NOT.

Hang with me.

Doesn’t it make sense to answer that first? Ultimately we have had to answer that very question about hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons.

Have we seriously debated/discussed/contemplated whether or not schools are vital?

If they are, why is whether or not to open the focus, rather than how to open?

If they are not, why are we allowing the discussion to be dictated by the same people who have run the system we no longer consider to be vital?

As we are continuing this conversation, let me ask: Do we really want systemic change and better results for all people?


Don’t just answer because the obvious choice is the only comfortable choice. What we say with our words, and what we live are often two very, very different things.

If we do want solutions, we should talk about things that work.


In many ways, if we want something to change, the very best place to be is facing a problem that can be fixed with personal responsibility. Think about it: If the only way life can get better is for someone else to do something, we have very little power.

If the only hope for people suffering under the burden of systemic racism is if the system changes–that is an incredibly vulnerable place to be.

(I suspect some people will now need to take a deep breath. Nothing in the previous statement implies that systemic racism does not exist. Nothing implies that the systems should stay the same. It merely states the hypothesis that IF personal changes can change outcomes within the system, that is a better place to be than if outcomes can only change after the system changes.)

Again, hang with me.


There are a wide variety of international studies that support the following conclusion: The number one indicator of academic success is not race, gender, geography, class, or income. The number one predictor of academic success is whether or not a child is read to early and often.

If that is true, and if we want all kids to have the best possible chances in school, WHY are educational experts not screaming READ TO YOUR KIDS from the rooftops?

Do we believe teachers and educators don’t know this?

Think of the anxiety and stress burdening parents and teachers regarding open/closing of schools. What if the conversation shifted to this:

“The number one thing parents can do to support academic excellence for all ages is to read quality books aloud to their children. How can we help you, parents, develop this habit?”

I think that is empowering.

If, during the last few months on lockdown, families read Little Women, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Tom Sawyer together, do you believe they would feel as far behind academically?

Parents of little people could read the Little House on the Prairie series.

Language, history, attention spans, and connections would all be encouraged and developed.

Putting aside whether or not everyone would do it; or whether or not there might be economic, geographic, or racial disparity in who actually followed through; it is still a valuable option available. Willingness is the defining factor. If access to books is an issue, I suspect many moms would line up to help fill in the gaps.

Instead, people are confused and afraid, waiting for the breadcrumbs of ideas and plans coming from the people in charge.


It is time for even the most supportive public school parents to sit in the discomfort and face the fact that political ideology has hijacked much of the public education system.

That doesn’t mean there are not great teachers. It does not mean there are not great schools. It does mean that there is nowhere near a healthy amount of diversity of thought and there is a DRIVING desire by the people in power to control as much as they can.

As a general rule, it is far easier to control victims.

At the 2018 American Federation of Teachers convention, three of the keynote speakers were Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. The president of the AFT said this: “We are in a race, and the November elections are the key…[To] truly change America takes more than mobilization—it takes organization, persistence, and a sustained political effort.”

To believe that public school system is only about education and not driven by politics is, well, wishful thinking.

The Los Angeles Teachers Union has made its demands for what needs to happen in order for the schools to open up and get back to normal after COVID. You can read the entire document here. For those who don’t have the time, I will copy and paste the demands for you:


  • Federal Bailout…Many experts are calling for at least $500 billion in additional federal assistance this year, and a commitment to continue support over several years.
  • Fully Fund Title I
  • Fully Fund IDEA
  • Medicare for All

[That’s right. The Los Angeles Teacher’s Union is demanding they control what kind of health insurance I have here in East Texas.]


  • The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, aka Schools and Communities First [This is a proposition on the November Ballot. They are including an outcome of a yet to be held election in their demands.]
  • Wealth Tax
  • Millionaire Tax


  • Defund Police
  • Housing Security
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Charter Moratorium
  • Financial Support for Undocumented Students and Families

This is from their published document. I did not get this information from a right-wing news source, I got it from their own site. This is the conversation being driven by one of the largest teacher’s unions in the nation.

Does it match how you feel? Are these the hurdles you think should be overcome in order to best serve your child? Is this what you think education should be about?

I am going to say this as clearly as I can: If we really want to deal with systemic racism, truly, we must acknowledge that the single greatest perpetrator of it in this nation is the public school system.

They regularly, publicly, promote a narrative that reinforces limited opportunities and demand handouts for people of color. Some of the worst schools in the nation are in predominantly minority filled neighborhoods. Rather than promoting education as the key to a free and better life, they ask for handouts that tether people to reliance on the government for survival.

And they fiercely fight against the opportunity for parents to choose better (or even just different) schools for their kids.

The benefits of school choice to minority communities are deep, wide, and profound.  As says: “For instance, students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps low-income students attend private schools of their choice, experienced a 21 percentage point increase in graduation rates.”

You can read more about the benefits of school choice here or here.

There is no more passionate enemy of school choice than the public school system, as the LAUSD teacher’s union’s demand to put a moratorium on charter schools illustrates.

We should celebrate every single child who is educated well. It should not be offensive or insulting if that education takes place somewhere else. One school’s success does not guarantee another school’s failure. There is more than enough room for a thousand different kinds of schools to succeed in teaching millions of individual students with unique strengths, interests, and needs.

However, in the public school system, as it stands, there is only room for one way of thinking: theirs.

This is a beautiful opportunity to change that. Rather than seeing this entire debacle-ish situation as a choice between one disaster and another, it could be an opportunity for radical, systemic shifts that are dynamic and thoughtful. Need ideas?

I thought you’d never ask:

What if school districts offered different types of schools, rather than similar schools in different locations? In this virus-filled era, there is no better time to consider several of these:

  • OUTDOOR SCHOOLS I am not an expert, but an outdoor school is more than simply having class outside. It is building learning and curriculum around activities that are–you guessed it–outside. For those kids who actually suffer when they have to stay still and clean, this is a beautiful option. Getting in touch with nature, learning about the ecological systems, gardening, moving, journaling about the experiences. Literature filled with stories about life outdoors, connecting reading to real-life experiences. How many kids would thrive in such an experience? Learn more here.
  • UNIVERSITY MODELS My daughter was educated in a university model high school, and we loved it. (“It” being the University Model Method, not necessarily the school we attended.) This quote sums it up: “The immediate goal of the University-Model® educational system is quality, cost-effective college-preparatory education accomplished in a way that gives parents more time for imparting the faith and values they hold precious.” It is designed to combine time at home and time at school. The time management aspect readies kids for college very effectively. You can learn more here. That is a faith-based program, but obviously it would not be in the public school system.
  • MONTESSORI SCHOOLS. A district in my area here in East Texas has a Montessori charter school. You can learn more about this method of educating here. This particular method of educating encourages self-discovery and exploration. It would be a very doable thing to add the cleaning and sanitizing of the stations, by the kids, as part of the learning experience. It lends itself to the teaching of hygiene.

Obviously, that list is not extensive. There are many more ideas, but why not start talking about ideas rather than limitations? Rather than growing a generation of kids that are afraid and think in terms of limitations, we could start something better than what has ever been before–and NOT have it dependent on voting the way the teacher’s union wants us to.

Why I Am Not Afraid of COVID

Why I Am Not Afraid of COVID

Before you get into a tither, let me START by saying it is fully rational to be wise AND not fearful. This is not a binary choice between being lawless and cavalier or being up in the night with panic; there is a third option.

We are where we are, and the only thing to do is hunker down and let it pass. If you pay any attention to the numbers in Italy and New York, you may come to the same conclusion as me: Proximity matters. The closer the people are, the more the people will get sick.

However, I have been living with rubber gloves, Clorox wipes, Lysol spray, and hand wipes in my car for a long, long time. That’s what life with family members with terrible diseases is. Perhaps that adds to my steady emotional response to the Coronavirus.

Here are some other reasons:

We already live with worse. My mom has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. It is a terrible neurodegenerative disease that presents to the outside world a lot like ALS. She was, on more than one occasion, diagnosed with ALS.

We have been in multiple doctors’ offices receiving news that literally makes the room spin. We have been told that it doesn’t matter what is wrong because there’s nothing that can be done. We have been told more times than I can count that there is no cure and no medicine and that it is a matter of when, not if, this will kill you.

Because she was diagnosed with ALS once, and “not ALS yet, but it will be” once, I feel connected to that community. I feel their pain as they are screaming for an incredibly hopeful treatment, Nurown, to be approved and used on a large scale; but their shouts are currently being drowned out by people hoarding toilet paper.

To many, this response seems out of proportion.

I follow the numbers. I check the progress of the disease on daily. The other day there were 452 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

That was just over 8 people per state. I live in Texas. It’s a big state.

***Edit: It turns out my son sometimes reads my blog. That is a surprise! It turns out he does not take my facts at face value without researching himself. This is NOT a surprise. He brought up a valuable point: The WORLDOMETER site updates daily. Clicking the link now gives much larger numbers than when I wrote this. The numbers swing wildly. I am still not afraid.

So far there have been 311,357** (updated) documented cases in the United States, with 8,452** (updated) deaths. In no way am I minimizing those deaths (each life matters) but the CDC estimates that between October 1, 2019, and March 28, 2020, there have been between 24,000 and 63,000 deaths due to influenza.

My mom was originally diagnosed with ALS in December of 2017. The 2017/2018 flu season DID scare me. It seemed so much deadlier to me.

The death rate of COVID is simply not that high. 50,000,000 people worldwide died of the Spanish Flu in 1918. 675,000 of them were here in the United States. In 2009, we had H1N1–the Swine Flu. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that swine flu infected nearly 61 million people in the United States and caused 12,469 deaths. Worldwide, up to 575,400 people died from pandemic swine flu.”


I didn’t have a life before this. We already homeschool. There have been changes at church in the preaching that made it a struggle for my family, so that’s doesn’t feel like a real loss. Most of my time each day is spent at home or going to doctors appointments or therapies for my parents or my daughter, so there’s just not much that has changed.

My favorite pastime is going with my husband for appetizers and a drink to watch the Astros games. The Astros are currently the least liked baseball team–maybe ever. I can’t be sure their games would be ON in any restaurant…but we still miss them.

I do need to get a life, but now I get to blame everyone else for not having one. BONUS!

I see so much good happening. Watching the Navy hospital ships Comfort and Mercy pull into California and New York, bringing help and room for patients was breathtaking.

Watching companies shift gears to produce things to help in the crisis is the American spirit I want to grow. The New England Patriots’ diesel truck filled with 1.2 million face masks to be delivered to New York hospitals was fabulous. Restaurants are donating food. People are sewing masks. Bible verses are everywhere.

There is so much to gain by families spending more time at home. I hope we read more; use technology less; take time to think about what we want our lives to be. This can be a magic moment in so many ways, if we let it.

I think the responsibility for those who are at greatest risk, lies mostly with those who are at greatest risk. Hold on.

Take a deep breath. Don’t let yourself get too upset, yet.

I saw an Instagram post saying something along the lines of, “MY MOTHER IS NOT DISPENSABLE,” in response to the idea reopening businesses.

If we don’t reopen businesses, MANY, many businesses will die.

This person’s fear was that if we DO reopen businesses, her mother would die.

My youngest was born with special needs. She was medically fragile and highly susceptible to illness. The responsibility to keep her safe was ours–my husband’s and mine. The onus was not on the rest of the world to cease normalcy because our life was no longer normal.

Those who are the most at risk need to take the responsibility for their own safety seriously.

That being said, we all need to be respectful.

My college age daughter spent her spring break in New York state–ground zero for COVID-19 US. She was also exposed to someone who was exposed to someone who tested positive.

When she came home from college, she self isolated for two weeks because she does have a sister with special needs and medically fragile grandparents. She, at 18, behaved in the most respectful way possible because she believes she has a responsibility to the world around her.

She’s awesome.

Earlier this week my Dad fell in the middle of the night. Normally my husband goes and gets him up, but this time he seemed to be in considerable pain, so my husband called 911.

I headed over and got to the gated community just behind the ambulance. We were having trouble getting the gate open, so I took a moment to chat with the paramedics. “My dad has to be really, really hurt before I will take him to the ER,” I said. “His doctor’s office has an x-ray and a lab to do blood work, so if it is possible to give him a pain pill and tuck him back in bed, that is the plan.”

They were totally on board.

I am not terrified of the contagion, but exposing an elderly man unnecessarily while also giving potentially overworked ER staff ONE MORE THING to do is something I will try to avoid.

We need to gut it out. We need to keep away from others when possible; wash, wash, wash; don’t touch our faces, which, as it turns out, is THE VERY HARDEST THING about this entire situation; try to support local businesses by ordering take out or buying gift certificates; and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.

The most vulnerable should completely isolate. The church and friends and family should support that by filling in the gaps for them.

ANYTHING WE CAN THINK OF TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES we should do. I am in the camp that believes the economy will come roaring back. The people on the front lines, working day and night, will someday stop working day and night and will be looking for food, fun, and some pampering.

Businesses that are currently closed will have to open early and stay open late to accommodate the massive flow of customers. This day is coming.

VERY SOON the numbers of recovered cases will skyrocket. Once they hit 6 digits, the conversation will change. THIS, TOO, WILL PASS.

Let’s simply decide not to destroy ourselves with fear in the meanwhile.