Aside

No Child Left Behind?

This is a letter to the editor from a mom in Ohio who tried to exempt her children from standardized testing. I’ve removed her name and location out of respect for her privacy.

Dear Editor:

My mom guilt has made me sick. I’m disturbed with the knowledge that I’ve gained since August of 2013 about education reform in Ohio. The increased standardized testing and how they are coupled to the new Common Core national standards.

Changes in curriculum, the frequency of standardized testing, data mining of student information, Teach For America replacing real teachers in a classroom … it goes on and on.

On Aug. 25, 2014, I stood up to formally refuse standardized testing for my two older children, who aren’t old enough to do so for themselves. They are 5 and 8 years old, in kindergarten and second grade, respectively.

With that decision, I found myself traveling down the rabbit hole. I knew that it would be hard, but was not ready for the push-back, bullying and obstruction I received from our local district.

I can handle the bullying, which has continued through the district’s superintendent, who has called my home, long string of emails telling me what I can and can’t do with the education of my children. That I am not allowed to ask my children’s teachers anything about testing, curriculum, materials, etc.

On Sept. 26, the superintendent confirmed my children were standardized tested.

I believe in respectfully speaking truth to power and authority. I want you and I to be able to exercise our constitutional rights when we think something is important. I believe my parental constitutional rights have been violated in (my) School District.

(Name withheld).

School districts are supposed to serve children, their parents, and surrounding community and not the other way around. If we can’t determine our own children’s education while they are in school then why send them there. Deep down, I feel this is an attempt to sabotage our public education system. Over time it will push the wealthiest parents into private schooling, and the parents who can manage on one income into home schooling. As for the rest—the poorest who have no choice—their kids will suffer the most.

That’s the cruel irony of a law called “No Child Left Behind.” I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

A Journey Complete

WOW Award Badges

Last Wednesday, Anna completed her first Girl Scout Brownie Journey—Wonders of Water (WOW). I’ve tracked her progress on the blog this summer. Here’s a quick review …

Love Water. Date Earned 7/28/14

Loving Water.

Anna completed the first part of her journey by following water of the Willamette River from one of its sources in the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, collecting samples at four specific points along the way, and tracing the journey of a single water drop from a raincloud over Waldo Lake to a beach on the North Coast.

Then she created a water map following her hypothetical drop of water.

Starting at Waldo Lake, Anna traced a line in blue highlighter following the North Fork of the Willamette to where it meets the Middle Fork outside Oakridge, then following the Willamette through from Eugene to Portland where it empties into the Columbia, and then down the Columbia River, into the Columbia Estuary, and the Pacific Ocean.

She learned about water. Now it was time to care for it.

Continue reading

Saving and Sharing Water (Cont.)

Save Water Share Water

Update! Anna completed both her Save Water and Share Water projects this week. She redeemed enough bottles and cans by last Tuesday to exceed her $20 goal and finish her Save Water project. But she’d been promised a few more bags. She turned those in on Friday, and upped her total to almost $24.

We rounded up her total to $25, and this evening she went to Maddie’s Thirst (a charity:water September Campaign) and made a donation. In two weeks, we’ll make a matching donation of $25.

And that completes her Share Water project. All that’s left is to finish her Wonders of Water book and take her WOW pledge, and she will complete her journey. We’re so proud of what she’s accomplished!

Wondering how you can help? Make a matching donation of $25 (or whatever you want to give) to Maddie’s Thirst. All contributions to charity: water September Campaigns will be matched by a generous donor up to the first $1,000,000 raised.

And you can still take Anna’s Save Water Pledge. It costs no money, just a commitment to recycle.

Note: beyond sending you a thank-you email, I will not share your email with anyone or bother you ever again.

Sharing Water

Woman at a water tap

Photo via charity: water

As part of her Brownie work this summer, Anna is taking the Wonders of Water journey. She earned her Love Water Badge last month, and now she’s working on both her Save Water badge and her Share Water badge. The projects she picked for each badge work hand in hand, so she be earning both badges together.

You can read about her Save Water project here, but to sum up she’s collecting deposit bottles and cans (including water bottles which are redeemable for deposit in Oregon) and turning them in to keep them out of the oceans. On her first trip our local BottleDrop location, she turned in over $14 worth and her total so far in $16.60. We’re saving up a second bag and have a few other contributors lined up, and we hope to exceed her original goal of $20.

So where will the money go when she’s done?

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Saving Water

A seagull at Nye Beach

A seagull at Nye Beach (© 2014 by Anna Ozab)

As part of her Brownie work this summer, Anna is taking the Wonders of Water journey. She earned her Love Water Badge last month and now she’s working on her Save Water badge. To earn it, she read about how all animals (including people) depend on water, and how scarce and valuable a resource it is. Then she had to come up with a Save Water project that would help at least some of the creatures who depend on water.

Her inspiration was a simple question in her WOW Book. “How Do You Carry Water?” (Wonders of Water, p 52)

When you camp or hike, do you carry bottled water or do you use a canteen? Canteens and other containers that you can use again and again are better for the planet than plastic bottles of water. Why? Because plastic bottles are thrown away after one use and they often don’t get recycled. Some end up floating in the ocean, where they harm sea life!

That last sentence stuck with her.

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Loving Water

Water samples from Waldo Lake, the Willamette River, the Columbia Estuary, and the Pacific Ocean.

Anna’s water samples.

As part of her Brownie work this summer, Anna is taking the Wonders of Water journey. I’ve already written about our Oregon Coast Trip (Parts One, Two, Three, and Four) on this blog. Now I want to share how Anna completed the first part of her journey by following water of the Willamette River from one of its sources in the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, collecting samples at four specific points along the way, and tracing the journey of a single water drop from a raincloud over Waldo Lake to a beach on the North Coast.

Continue reading