It was just a dime…

On my birthday this year my father called. We talked for awhile and he told me he had a gift for me. It wasn’t something he had recently bought. Later, when I saw what it was my heart jumped. It was my piggy bank from when I was a baby, it was the one I had in Germany. He had been saving coins in it from the year I was born. He had coins from so many places too, not just the US. But then he told me not to put any dimes in it because one of the coins that was from here and wasn’t my year was an important dime. I was confused but agreed. I was so happy with my gift. I could tell the smile was overwhelming my face. He said, “Now honey, I don’t want to make you sad, but that dime was grandma’s.” I looked at him with bewilderment and then back at my gift. “It was the only dime she had in her purse when she died and it was the last money she ever handled.” I couldn’t help it… there went the waterworks, I was crying. My grandma wasn’t the softest lady in the world. She was stern, slightly masculine, and no one would ever want to cross her, but I still loved her very much. I thought it was one of the nicest, most caring birthday gifts I had gotten in a very long time and I just wanted to share it with everyone. Sometimes a dime can still make a good gift. (Note ~ this is my other side of grandparents, not the ones that just celebrated 70 years of happiness together.)

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Happy Birthday…

No, not me, Star Wars.  Well, yes, I guess me too, but mine was yesterday.  I’m one year and one day older than A New Hope.  I love that movie!  I know most of us do.  When I was younger I always felt that it was *my* movie because my birthday was always right near the release dates and anniversary dates. As a small kid it made me feel very special.  Star Wars (A New Hope) was May 25, 1977, Empire Strikes Back was May 21, 1980, Return of the Jedi was May 25, 1983, The Phantom Menace was May 19, 1999, Attack of the Clones was May 16, 2002, and Revenge of the Sith was May 19, 2005, all close enough to mine for me to feel like they were mine. Hey, I was a small kid for the first three!  I don’t feel like that now… Ok, maybe a little. But what is life without the small things that make us feel like we were who it was made for. My oldest loves Halloween and feels like it was made just for her. My husband likes to use Easter break for his b-day.  My 11 year old used to think that picture day (at school) was just for her birthday. We associate these good and happy things with our birthdays to make us feel extraordinary. I would LOVE to read in the comments what others place with their birthdays that make them feel great about themselves on their special day or days… it doesn’t have to be a birthday.

For the love of books and libraries…

Yesterday, which was a Friday the 13th and I totally missed that it was but it did not miss me, I spent the majority of my day responding/ trying to respond on this article… http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0513-tobar-20110513,0,3002882.column .  I was shocked, upset, hurt, and many other negative emotions, first to the fact that these librarians had to defend their jobs in an interrogation way, as if they were criminals, but more so to the ignorance of about half of the comments.  Most of these people very clearly did not research before they spoke, which helps proves that we do need to keep school librarians.  I know the vast majority don’t live in CA and most of them don’t know what life is like here.  This would be true for me if we were to talk about Minnesota, the state my husband was born, I know very little about this state.  I’m going to try my best to paint a picture of what we have here in CA and give you, the reader, the ability to investigate all that I say here.
I am just going to state facts here, no opinion.  I want to point out four major things that people were saying: the amount high school librarians make, use of CA public libraries, school librarians are teachers, and students with computers.
I live in South CA or So Cal if you want to call it that. I live in Kern County, not in LA or the LA area. My husband is a high school librarian for a lower income school and I used to work for the public library. The first thing CA cuts when they cut the budget are the parks, the second is the public libraries.  So when people say the kids can use the public libraries, well, that would be hard since they are hardly open.  Most are now only open about two days a week and that’s during school and working hours. Please look it up at Kern County Library. org.  Keep in mind that we have a big county too, so it might seem like we have a lot of libraries but some of the libraries are over an hours drive to the next nearest library and some are as close as a 15 minute drive apart.
Because a lot of the students here in Kern County, and most of South California, are from lower income families a large number of these kids don’t have the internet or a computer at home. The school library or their computer room (which is often attached to the library) is their only hope to research on the web.  And the school librarian is the person who teaches them how and what sites are good and true and what are not.
One person started that school librarians are ‘not teachers’ and that they were trying to take the jobs away from ‘real teachers.’  A high school and middle school librarian has to have a teaching credential first, and most of them have spent many years in the classroom before becoming the school librarian.  Also as the school librarian they are the ‘go to’ person when there is a need for an emergency substitute.  Not only do they have to know the standards for libraries (yes, standards: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/lb/), but also be aware of all the rest of the curriculum for the school to have supporting books, know when new textbooks are to be adopted, keep up on resources for the classrooms, new technology for library and classroom, and constantly collaborate with teachers on lesson plans for use in the library or just to help the teacher on a lesson plan for the day since the classroom teacher sometimes can not think of something., this happens often with new teachers.
Finally, your typical school librarian makes about what the teachers do, around $47,000 – $70,000. BUT it takes about $10,000 – $15,000 to get the extra education for the librarian credential.  Look into it at Fresno Pacific University.  District librarians, which are not near as common, make near what an administrator makes and they have to have an administrative credential as well as the teaching credential and a librarian credential.
A little opinion here ~ Researching will help you find your answers.  Most school librarians are also technology teachers and show students how to surf the web for research, what is a safe site and what is not, they teach the incoming freshmen the functions of the library, along with much more.  My husband had to make a list of all his duties this year and that list was two full pages typed.  Just please, if you want to debate this, please, just do your research.
Now I know this is going to sound like a bit much, but I have two aunts who teach (one just retired but is now a sub and the other is retiring at the end of this year), I have a mother who (although we are not close) is also a high school librarian, I have a grandpa who is a retired superintendent /principle /teacher, an aunt-in-law who is an assistant superintendent, a mother-in-law who teaches 2nd grade, and a cousin-in-law who teaches kindergarten. All of them are in California, most in So.Cal; one is in the LA area and one is in central/ north CA. I know a lot of aspects in this topic, and most first hand.

Big opinion ~ One other thing I kept seeing in the comments was people discussing administrators.  Now from all that I have witnessed is that when it comes to admin taking a cut the entire district takes a cut of the same percent (example ~ admin 8%, teachers 8%, janitors 8% and so on).  At my aunts school the entire staff was forced to take a 10% cut so no one would be fired.  In my aunt-in-law’s school they all took a 5% cut for the same reason.  So when people say, ‘Admin has been cut over and over.’  This is not true.  Now I understand that schools need to be run and I’m not saying, ‘fire the lot of them.’ I am saying that schools who have two vice principles and one principle might want to cut down to one V.P. as people retire or move on. And districts that are one to two schools big might want to think about having the superintendent act as both principal and superintendent for at least one of the schools. Or, another idea, all vice principles could be cut so they make only $10,000 more then a teacher with the same number of years under their belts (example ~ Teacher works 15 years and makes $50,000 a Vice Principle at the same district works 15 years and makes $60,000).  I do feel that admin does seem to make a lot more then they should and I have witnessed them, in the past, getting a 10% raise while the teachers get a 2%. I just don’t feel that most of them should get the sack.
Here is a new link at what the admin makes in the same district that is letting all the librarians go. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/05/high-level-salaries-approved-for-new-top-administrators-at-cash-strapped-la-unified.html I take that back, maybe some of them should get sacked.

Happy 70th Wedding Anniversary Grandma & Grandpa…

I talked to a lot of family yesterday and although this has nothing to do directly with my writing, it has everything to do with who I am. If you’ve read the ‘about me’ here (which is in desperate need of an update) you’ll know that my grandparents mean a lot to me. I love them dearly. Well, today they have been married 70 years! That is not a typo. Seventy years!!! I get dizzy just thinking about how I’ll have been married 8 years this Oct, 70 years seems like a dream. Who knows if any of us will even live to be 70, but to be married that long, wow. And for those of you wondering, they were not 2 when they got married. They were 21 and almost 21. My grandpa was born in the fall of 1919 and my grandma in the summer of 1920. They amaze me. My grandmother is sweet, loving, nurturing, she is doing very well, and the only medication she has is eye drops. Neither of them needs a walker or wheelchair and both can still drive. My grandfather is also amazing, he still teaches us after being retired from a teacher/principal/superintendent for as long as I can remember, he’s a proud WWII vet, and he survived a heart attack a little over 10 years ago. They have 6 children, 13 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren with 2 of the great-grandkids who are now adults and living away from home and 2 of them under a year. I hope that my grandparents stay healthy and get to live to see their 80th. Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa, we all love you!

For the love of books…

Grumble *blanked blank blank* stupid morons…
“Reading is not standard based” according to what my husband was told by his work and the high school library is hurting gravely because of it.
Question ~ How can one READ the standards if one cannot read at all?
The reading programs gone, the library is a shell of it’s former self. A tumble weed passes as dust swirls behind it from a gust of wind that leaves an empty ringing in ones ears. Hey, how did a tumble weed get in the library? Oh yeah, it was let in from the door of imagination. A door that is being slammed shut by administrators, budget cuts, and ignorant people who think reading is a waste of time. If we don’t allow reading in schools, what next, do we take away water from drinking fountains? That’s right I forgot to mention that part. The English teachers are not allowed (NOT ALLOWED) to let the kids have 15 minutes a day of reading time, that was taken away too. So there are no reading books in school, and this time it’s not because they are replaced with e-readers, it’s because reading isn’t part of their education. If this keeps going on, I picture in 10 years the books being removed from their dusty, cobwebbed shelves, with brittle, weak, unloved spines that break as they are heaved into a disgusting, filthy dumpster. Where, written on the outside of the dumpster, well, more drawn, are pictures scribbled in graffiti by former students whose education took the same turn as those poor books… the dumpster. My poor husband has fought to the point of fear of losing his job, something no one can afford. Soon the goose step will be the only step these teachers are allowed to make, come on America, this is not Hitler Germany, books are great things and children should be encouraged to read them and the more the better, not shot down for it. There should be something we can do to save our books, our libraries, our schools, and most importantly, our children’s education.

*** Additional 5/06/2011 at 3:24 pst~ I had almost forgotten one other thing they did regarding the textbooks and reading books. Last year the English teachers were teaching with Springboard (link-> http://springboardprogram.collegeboard.org/?s_kwcid=TC|7002|springboard||S|e|6822379724 ).  This wonderful program allowed teachers to have the students read excerpts from a very large variety of novels, news articles, and also watch clips of movies. Oh, and did I mention that these books were free and consumable so the kids could write notes and such in them? They were free on a grant from Paramount Farms (link – http://www.paramountfarms.com/#perfectgrowing ).Paramount is awesome, they love helping education and giving scholarships, but the grant was only for Springboard and with that gone they were not going to buy the English department new textbooks. Yes, the school took away Springboard and said that it didn’t state the CA standards in it.  This meant the school needed to buy new textbooks.  This cost about $125,000 and caused an uproar. The teachers and students both don’t like the new textbooks. Little can be done here because the grant is now lost and the students and teachers are stuck.