Hi, my name is Angela. My parents were in "extreme poverty" when I was in school with my 3+ siblings. We qualified for all the programs, especially the reduced breakfast/lunches! My parents were horrified with the meals that were served and chose to get creative at home. I packed a lunch every day from 1st grade to high school! I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in high school and have spent the last two decades studying and experimenting with what foods make me feel good and which ones send me to bed. I want great things for the children of America! My hope is that we will strive to be HEALTHIER and that we will take extreme measures to get there.
This appeared in my Facebook feed today and it made me so queasy I just had to blog about it. So McDonald's is offering a "FREE" breakfast to kids in San Antonio who are taking a standardized test. And moms are eating it up! I think some families have pitched tents already in order to be first in line for this freebie (joke).
So let's talk about how expensive this free breakfast is. And while we're here, we can touch on the food served through the federal government free breakfast/lunch program. There is little difference between the food served at McDonald's and the food served at your child's school.
The costs of victimization:
In low-income neighborhoods and cities (and Indian Reservations) we see a pattern of The People saying, "I'm poor." And then a government entity steps in and says, "You are poor AND miserable AND you need our help, or else!" And The People respond with, "Ok, we'll take your help!"
And the help shows up! Just fill out these forms and you can eat, sleep and live joyously for NOTHING!
And The People eat that up! They get the help they need and then POOF! they become productive members of society, make more money, stop making poor choices and SHA-ZAM! they no longer need the government assistance!
That's not how it happens, is it? No. The programs reinforce an idea, an identity. The People keep thinking, with every bite, every free program, "I am poor. I am a victim. I can't do this on my own. I'm miserable. I am really needy. I need more and more and more help from the government. Life isn't fair. I'll never get ahead. I'll never succeed."
Right? You've seen it. Experienced it perhaps. It takes tremendous willpower to break free from the Victim Identity.
The costs of poor health:
In terms of your salary, being obese is the same as not having an undergraduate degree, says one crazy study.
So we send our kids to "college-prep" schools, but then load them up with sugar and processed carbs and hope for the best.
"Well at least they're eating SOMETHING," I hear over and over again. Really? Do you treat your guests and your own children like that? Here, eat some cardboard. IT'S SOMETHING. If you have ANY sense of responsibility for the children who are truly starving, please feel they deserve our BEST food, not our worst.
Obesity and diabetes is on the rise, and this just further contributes to poor education, poor salary, poor quality of life. Oh, and death!
In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. ONE THIRD!
San Antonio is one of the most overweight cities in America.
76% of San Antonio students eat the Government-Served lunch, and 76% of those students get it for free (rough estimate based on years 2012-2014).
476,955 Bexar County Child Population 2013
317538 Bexar County Student Population (ages 6-17) year 2012
240,339 Bexar County Lunch Program 2013
183,314 Bexar County Free or Reduced Lunch 2013
44,000 San Antonio children in extreme poverty (50% of Poverty threshold) 2013
"Obesity rates among certain ethnic and racial populations in San Antonio are disproportionately high. For example, in Bexar County, 27% of black and Hispanic children are obese, while only 12% of white children are obese."
I'm so confused by all these numbers! They seem to indicate that the non-white kids are going hungry, and yet it's the white kids who are not obese. Which means the "ethnic and racial" kids are getting fat. How can a child be obese AND going hungry?
It's simple: refined sugars, processed carbs, no fruit, no vegetables. That will keep you hungry AND make you fat.
But really, I don't buy those numbers. There are far less kids going hungry than we're told. The "poverty level" is set comfortably at "living like kings" compared to other countries. Yes, there are hungry kids. But it's a handful! We do not need a meal program that serves 76% of students when only 10% need it.
The costs of a lost culture:
In our "impoverished" neighborhood my daughter hangs out with her friends. Many of the homes are run down and the grandparents or parents survive on a fixed income. But guess what--she always comes back with a full stomach and food to share.
Outside of America it is a cultural necessity to cook and bake and share food with family and friends. Even when you have nothing in the cupboard, you find something, you create something.
Government handouts in San Antonio have raped a culture of their food, their way of connecting and socializing. We have said, "We know what you should eat better than you do."
And so the pounds add up, and the people get sick. And the people lose their jobs. And the people are not people anymore; just victims waiting in line at McDonald's for another free meal.
What to do about it:
Stop participating! Refuse to fill out any forms about your income and do not let your child eat the federal school lunch/breakfast.
Send your child to school with a HEALTHY lunch and a full tummy.
Get healthy at home.
One fun game: My daughter is learning about plants in school. But there's no trace of a plant at the lunch table. At home she is taught, "We eat the thing closest to the tree." We play a game: what's closer to the tree? The apple or the apple juice? The candy bar or the almonds? Kids love this game and it's helpful in making those harder meal choices later on in life at an airport or even a vending machine.
What's nutritionally wrong with the McDonald's breakfast? It's just oatmeal! Right?! WRONG.
This weekend I took on one of the biggest projects of my life. For me, it was right up there with child birth. That's right, I put together a swing set. All by myself.
My daughter kept running over to the neighbor's house, just to swing on their rickety old swingset. I finally took the hint and looked around for a swingset for our own yard. I started at Craigslist, but since I have no truck, I opted for buying one online (delivery included).
The swingset arrived a day later than expected, which meant my husband would be busy with work for several days. I had made a deal with my daughter, which meant the installation was now up to me.
Just follow the directions, right? I realized right away that there were several pages of missing instructions. I hope this blog will help other parents in their most trying hours of swingset installation.
The Missing Directions for Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set:
-We do not offer an Anti-Gravity unit at this time, nor do we encourage your children to be in the circus, so please be sure to install the swings so that they are beneath the Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set and not above. If you find that you have installed the swings in error, simply go inside the house, cool down, get a cold drink (preferably one with caffeine), and then start over. Laugh at yourself and be relieved that the second time will be much faster (and that the neighbors weren't watching).
-The folks who post Used Swingsets on Craigslist ("bought this 3 months ago for $100; you take it apart and haul away for only $80") are naive and should be assigned their own special class in society. They have never assembled a swingset before. In order to disassemble and reassemble a swingset one would require a 1) photographic memory, 2) copious amounts of notes, 3) a helpful Youtube video to fall back on, 4) a degree in engineering, and 5) the patience of a monk. Do not ever plan on selling a used Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set. Just don't. And hope that the clueless woman who posted that ad at least made a sandwich for her husband who did the original install.
-We do apologize for neglecting to include the most important tool for the assembly of the Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set: Bug Spray [figure A]. Please apply and reapply bug spray from head to toe, and toe to head. Repeat three times. Ants and mosquitoes are especially interested in parents who are focused and holding very still--necessary components to the successful install of the Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set.
-We outsourced the design of the Super Fun Wave Slide to someone's nephew. He was going through a rough patch (he was expelled from Engineering School for showing up to class repeatedly in ballet slippers and a clown nose) and really needed a job. Fitting the nuts and bolts together on this thing will be the hardest part of the entire install. For this, you may want to try a soothing drink (Chamomile tea (with a shot of whiskey)), as a caffeine high will make you too jittery for this precision handiwork. Cheers to Someone's Nephew, right?
-Do everything in the order we suggest.
-Even the seesaw.
-Oh hell, your kid is an only child, she doesn't really need the seesaw. She'll never know that you totally screwed that one up (literally, the screw is stuck up there--by the bushing bracket [Figure B]).
-You are capable. You CAN do things you never thought possible. You can accomplish those tasks which you always intended to outsource (to a man). You can tap into those maternal instincts and harness the power of the Mama Bear to move a Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set across the yard to a flatter surface. You CAN.
-At some point (around page 4), you will be overcome with appreciation for your parents who installed a swingset for you when you were a kid. You will understand why they were snippy with you when you offered to help or begged to test out the swing before installation was complete. You will recall the swarm of mosquitoes around your dad's arms and legs, the bead of sweat on his forehead, and the look of complete and utter confusion as he read and re-read the instructions. Please hold off on texting him until assembly is complete (you may need to Phone a Friend when you're trying to install the final chin bar on the wrong side of the swingset).
-Cover that inch of skin around your ankles. Immediately.
-Yes, please include your child in the installation of the Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set. Their small fingers are instrumental in screwing in the nuts on the ladder rungs for the Wave Slide. And their young blood may keep the mosquitoes away from you for a minute.
-Watching your child swing and hearing your child SING while swinging will make the welts on your ankles and arms totally worth it.
-Let your husband know how proud you are of your accomplishment so that if he decides to "fix" any of your work, he'll do it in secret and keep it to himself.
-Thank you for your daring purchase! You are an awesome parent! And you deserve a medal (which may be purchased from your local Flexible Flyer Triple Fun II Metal Swing Set retailer).
I ask my Kindergartener how her day was. She says, "Blue!" Sometimes she makes a helpful side comment, "I'm not sure why, but BLUE!" or "Awful! I got a yellow!"
The local school district uses a color coding disciplinary system. Excellent behavior is rewarded with a blue mark on the calendar, then green, then yellow, then orange, then GOD FORBID--red.
In the first month of school I would hear what her color was, as well as the colors of her classmates. The kid with the perpetual "red" has ditched the school [in favor of a more color blind homeschool setting. Correction: This kid has left the school for unrelated reasons and is not being homeschooled]. Other kids aren't so lucky.
I haven't heard of any parents who are excited about this system. It is effective for the kids who love school and are eager to please their teachers. But to what end? What does this system actually teach children?
I taught a once-a-week Spanish class to children at a private Christian school in Minnesota over a decade ago. The 1st and 2nd graders could not handle my usual class structure: singing, jumping, playing, learning while having fun. Any bit of "play" and the kids were nearly climbing the walls and shouting uncontrollably. These kids were constantly told, by their usual teachers and the principal, that Jesus didn't want them running in the halls or screaming. They were shamed into compliance; it was horrifying. So what could I do about it? How could I get the kids to settle down and learn some basic Spanish words? And how could I demonstrate to the staff that I had some level of control over the classroom?
The kids needed to govern themselves. I could not personally restrain or quell the voices of the whole classroom, so they would have to do it themselves.
I returned the following week with folders and worksheets--something more familiar to them. Inside each child's folder was a chart to track their progress for the 8-week course. The chart asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and "What do you want to learn in Spanish class?" The chart gave kids a place to jot down their personal behavioral concerns. The kids filled in the information with a little prodding. Every student had to really think about it. The "well-behaved" kids were terrified of this exercise; the questions revealed their guilty consciences, their fears. Normally these kids could skate through a class by just being "better" than the other kids. NOW, they had to look inward and admit that they had room for improvement. The student at the top of the class was in tears in this exercise as he realized that his biggest fear in the classroom was "asking for help." I didn't expect that!
The student who was the Disruption King struggled with the exercise, too, but eventually was able to think through what his concerns were, instead of just repeating the mantra of authorities around him.
And then the big reveal: Now, students, at the end of each class, you will give yourself a Smiley face or a Frown face or a Star or whatever means something to you--to indicate how you did in class.
WHAT?! WE are going to grade ourselves?! But what if we lie? What if we just write in stars across the chart right now?
I reminded them of their goals and what they wanted to be when they grew up. I reminded them that this was for them. Spanish class was to HELP them in their goals and their dreams! I didn't care what their behavior was; but they should!
The revolution was immediate. The students were attentive, helpful and excited about learning for the rest of the course. The Spanish class went so well that the school asked me to return to teach an additional Music course. The kids matured in a powerful way. Instead of looking at themselves as shameful people who would never be able to prove their goodness--they saw themselves as people who had the power to make improvements, and be the beneficiaries of the changes.
I want this for my daughter, too.
Each night now, during Reading Time, she pulls out her calendar and draws a face. The face she draws is generally influenced by the color she was awarded that day at school, but on the weekends we get a more accurate picture. She'll review her day, "Well, I was really mean to you at the park, but then I solved a bunch of problems and had a lot of fun.... I'm going to draw two faces!" Kids are capable of measuring their behavior and improving it. My daughter has also recognized a pattern between her behavior and certain foods she eats. Some foods cause meltdowns, while others bring balance to her day. Wow! Kids are capable of being a part of the solution--they see a perspective that we might be missing. Since recording her behavior she has made healthier choices, even asking, "Hey, can we eat [balancing food] before going to the carnival? So I have a good day there?"
Kids have the ability to SHOCK AND INSPIRE us. Especially when we remove ourselves from the role of Judge and Jury, and just play the part of helpful Guide and Observer.
LIKE and SHARE this post if you would like to see your school district upgrade to a Self-Government Disciplinary system. Email a link to this post to your child's teacher and principal. This system requires NO additional funds and no additional effort for the teacher. Teachers will even win back some time and energy! Instead of teachers marking the colors, hand the magic wand over to the kids--they deserve to hold the power of their own actions, and the power of fulfilling their futures in their own hands!
September 1, 2104
Dear Witte Museum,
My daughter and I visited your museum today and we were particularly struck by the ancient relics of a time long past. Yes, no need to state the obvious, of course I am talking about the "Exercise Exhibit." We spent almost an hour in this exhibit marveling, along with other Average Americans about the concepts of heart rate related to movement. It was truly fascinating that your curators were able to restore so many tools from yesteryear, from an era when people moved freely from Point A to Point B, unfettered by the confines of cars, jetpacks and teleportation. What exactly were those devices with two wheels that really got the perspiration going upon pushing those things with our feet? I don't think anthropologists have seen those since 1987! My daughter was really taken with the floor with flashing lights. I mean, this is no different than the technology she has in her own bedroom, but we would have never dreamed of using it as her grandparents did--to exercise! What a concept!
Now, the Pull your Own Weight section was a little politically incorrect, don't you think? Considering the new Anti-Segregation of FAT (Failed Athletic Training) People, we were astonished that such a racey item was available for use by museum-goers. There were many FAT people who simply could not participate, and we did not think this was fair. But kuddos to you for riding the line! It was more of an Art piece than a Museum relic! Good for you!
The Heat Sensor screen really played up the Political/Artistic message of the whole piece, actually mirroring one's place on the health spectrum by color--for ALL to see! Wow! That takes guts! I sure hope no one lost their job over that move.
We also really enjoyed the attention to detail with the bathrooms. I had to explain to my daughter how people used to be able to fit into one of those tiny stalls, before the FAT laws. That truly was another time, and you captured it beautifully!
We do hope you will continue to share these ancient relics that hold so much inspiration for today's world.
Just went through a 2-part series on the Unity founders, Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore at the Unity Church of San Antonio. Always great to hear that story!
I've been saying those words: I am a child of God and I do not inherit sickness. And WOW. If I don't inherit sickness, maybe I don't inherit poverty. Or depression. Or poor communication. Or frustration in my marriage. And come to think of it, I don't think PMS or fear or lack runs in God's side of the family. I AM a child of God. I am royalty. I am valued. I am worthy. I am loved.
It's so great to say these mantras aloud. It has brought up many discussions with Franki. Her biological father passed away a month ago from his failing health. As she has relied more and more on me, we have noticed more and more similarities. Instead of, "You're so much like your dad," it has turned to, "You're so much like your mom." But as a child of God, all of the silliness of our human condition fades. We don't have to identify with the ways of our parents, with their sickness, with their premature passing, with their bad luck. We can simply recognize the LOVE that unites us all!
Unity teaches a positive approach to life, seeking to accept the good in all people and events. Unity began as a healing ministry and healing has continued to be its main emphasis for over 100 years. It teaches that all people can improve the quality of their lives through thought.
I just enrolled my daughter in Kindergarten at Agnes Cotton Elementary School in San Antonio, TX.
First, let me say that it was a great experience--the staff was wonderful. The principal was attentive and kind to every parent. Everyone was Texas-Nice. That was a welcome surprise compared to the charter schools I tried to get into (we are still 150th on a waiting list somewhere!). My residency and immunization forms were not A+ work, but they smiled and helped me out.
On one form I had to admit that my daughter was (shhh) white*. Minutes later I regretted sharing that tidbit of information when I chatted with one of the smartest, most charismatic women in the room. She was playfully teasing me about my daughter's name**, which I much prefer to the awkward silence and, "Oh...k" when they try to pronounce it. Turns out the woman is a kindergarten teacher. I hoped my daughter would have the good fortune of being in her classroom. Nope. She's the bilingual teacher and will only be working with the lucky Hispanic children. We chatted about the possibility of immersing my daughter into the Spanish language; she talked about the benefits of knowing more than one language. Of course, we agreed, there are a million reasons to speak, write and read both Spanish and English.
And that's when I felt it.
One third of the students at my daughter's school will be learning two languages, while my daughter, because of her unfortunate place of birth, will just be learning how to apply extra layers of sunscreen. Knowing only English, she won't have a chance at the extra income and opportunities almost guaranteed to her bilingual peers.
My husband and I should have agreed to only speak Spanish in our household since her birth. We could have. We would have if we had known that growing up in a Spanish-speaking home was the only way she would qualify for this free education.
I'm not complaining. I believe there are solutions and that we have the power to create and implement them.
Solution 1: Make all San Antonio public schools Spanish Immersion schools. Teach kids equally. If necessary, give extra support in English or Spanish according to the needs of the students. Give kids a relevant education! White* kids are waiting in 3 year lines to get into Spanish Immersion schools when the public schools already have the staff, the curriculum and the infrastructure to share this education with all.
Solution 2: Stand up for your unique culture. This is TEXAS, right? Be proud of your heritage and your language. Rather than asking the Federal Government for hand-outs because of the large Spanish-speaking population, USE IT. The school administration knows how valuable Spanish is; demand that Standardized Tests be provided in multiple languages, or that bilingual schools be allowed to opt out. Let your test scores reflect the true academic prowess of your bilingual students. Your students are SMART and LUCKY! Stop making the Spanish language an excuse. You can't be a victim over something that white* kids want, pay for and fight for. You can't be a victim over something that gives you an increase in pay.
Solution 3: Offer 30 minutes a day of Spanish as a Second Language to interested students. Offer a complementary Spanish class for parents in order to reinforce the concepts and give the English-speaking children a chance to succeed in the lovely City of San Antonio.
I will be brushing up on my Spanish, and I will be speaking to you and my child in Spanish. The next time you hear "Si" coming from my mouth, please know that I'm not trying to spell CAT. If Spanish is the only way to get ahead in this town, then count us in.
**Frankincense: ˈfraNGkənˌsens; an aromatic gum resin obtained from an African tree and burned as incense.
The Magi (/ˈmædʒaɪ/  or /ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings were, in the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They are regular figures in traditional accounts of the nativity celebrations of Christmas and are an important part of Christian tradition.
Angela's Musings about Public Education, Web Design, Business.