Archive for the ‘Parenting Issues’ Category

A New Look for Civics Lessons

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

According to a survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, only two out of every five Americans could name all three branches of the federal government and one in five couldn’t name even a single branch. This is better than it has been in past years, but the survey unequivocally shows that Americans really need to know more than they do about how their country works. Fortunately, there is a solution.

High school civics classes, as you’d expect, make a big difference in an adult’s knowledge on the topic. With that in mind, Florida Representative Alcee L. Hastings, along with 62 cosponsors, has introduced a bill to allocate additional funding for civics classes as a means of addressing this issue. Rep. Hastings, however, is not the only one tackling the problem. The Center for Cartoon Studies might seem an unlikely ally in the push to increase civics awareness, but they could very well be the key to getting kids — and adults — up to speed on the way government works.

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Keeping Track Of High School

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

I try to be an involved parent, I really do. It’s hard, though, when you spend most of your time trapped behind a little desk in a cluttered little office, doing things that have nothing to do with your kids. Fortunately, however, I can at least keep tabs on their schoolwork, even while sitting at my desk. Our school district has an online system where parents can view their student’s grades, assignments, and attendance.

With my older two in high school, I want to make sure they are taking the classes they need, not only to graduate, but to get accepted to the colleges of their choice. Further, as part of my efforts to keep their resumes up-to-date, I want to be able to calculate their grade point average. While it might seem like a simple matter of counting up their As, Bs, and so on, giving each a value, and dividing by the number of grades counted, it is actually more complicated than that.

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Junior Resumes

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

One of the things I’ve done for my kids is to create a resume for each of them and keep it updated over the years.  Even if you’re not in the market for a new job, it’s always a good idea to update your resume on a regular basis to avoid having to try and remember what you accomplished over the years when you do decide to look for a new opportunity.  While kids may not have much in the way of real work experience, they do have other accomplishments to keep track of for when they do look for a job, apply for college, or audition for a part in a show.

My oldest is currently working on college applications and his resume has come in handy as a reference for the experiences and achievements he wants to share with colleges. My daughter actually has two, an academic resume and a performance resume. The latter lists, in detail, her skills, talent, and experience in the world of performing arts while the former includes a summary of her performance experience and training along with her academic accomplishments. They are two very different documents intended for very different audiences. My youngest doesn’t have much to put on his resume yet, having just started middle school, but nonetheless I’ve listed his musical instrument training (piano, trombone, and congas) as well as the sports he has been involved in.

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Two and a Half Years of Trump

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

At the end of 2016, I wrote about the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States and how to talk to my kids about it. I made some predictions about the effects of a Trump presidency, all of which came true. (Don’t congratulate me too hard; they were all quite obvious.) Even as he tweeted about Pride Month, the Orange Menace was rolling back protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

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The Future is in the Arts

Monday, March 4th, 2019

In his opening remarks at the annual San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) school site council planning summit, Superintendent Vincent Matthews, Ed.D. displayed the slide below. He explained that all the of these technologies had been developed in the last year, highlighting our need to ensure our students are prepared for a changing world

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A Not So Gilded Birdcage

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams are two of the funniest people ever to have graced this planet.  Put them together in a movie and you’re pretty much guaranteed outrageous hilarity.  That’s what happened in The Birdcage, a remake of the french farce La Cage aux Folles.  In it, Lane and Williams are a gay couple who own a drag club in Miami, Florida where Lane is the star performer.  They are also the parents of college student Val who has fallen in love with fellow student Barbara.  The problem?  Barbara’s father is an ultra-conservative, republican Senator, played by Gene Hackman.  Of course, Barbara’s parents want to meet their potential in-laws before consenting to and announcing the engagement.

To avoid friction, Val asks his fathers to play it straight when the Senator and his family come to visit and the laughs are pretty much non-stop for the rest of the film. 

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The Vacation Attraction Planner

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Many families, time and money willing, plan a summer getaway to, well, anywhere else. Whether you’re going to Paris, France or Paris, Texas, if you’re taking the kids with you, you’re going to have to figure out how to keep them entertained. For some destinations, that can be as simple as heading for the hotel pool to splash the hours away or letting them loose to roam the campsite creating their own adventures.

If hanging out at the hotel all day doesn’t tickle your fancy and you’re not headed for the great outdoors, then you’re going to need to come up with some activities and destinations that will keep them interested and engaged. The idea is to prevent the constant wailing and whining of “I’m bored”. So what’s the best way to figure out what your kids will want to see and do? I say ask ’em!

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Um, You’re Welcome?

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Photo by DodgertonSkillhause at Morguefile.comA while back, I ran into a fellow parent at the grocery store.  Her youngest and my oldest are in the same grade and had been in the same schools since kindergarten.  We hadn’t seen each other in a while, now that our kids are in high school.  I was pleased to see her again and we stopped to chat.  Our kids weren’t ever especially close, but our elementary school community was a close-knit one and we had gotten to know each other reasonably well.

She asked about Jared and I told her how well he’s adjusting and about his joining the robotics team and so on.  And then, I wanted to ask about her kid.

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Talking to Kids About Trump

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

My Daughter's Whiteboard Crossed out: Equality, Diversity, Constitution, and Education

My Daughter’s Whiteboard
Crossed out: Equality, Diversity, Constitution, and Education

Well that didn’t go the way I’d hoped.  Welcome to a Trumpian world.  Or perhaps I should say dysTrumpian.  In case you hadn’t heard, Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.

I’m sure there will be plenty of analysis about how this happened and what went wrong and who is to blame.  Personally, I blame those who underestimated the amount of racism and hatred that has been hiding and festering in this country for at least the last 150 years.  I also blame not only those who fought for Trump but also those who fought against Hillary Clinton.  Too many people went around saying that while Trump was a nightmare, they didn’t trust Clinton or believed she was dishonest or even simply didn’t like her.

But that’s not the issue I need to deal with right now.  What I need to figure out is what to tell my kids.

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The Point of Pride

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Ezra and Sara in their pride shirts, 2016

Shortly after the Orlando massacre, my family and I were headed for a local shopping mall and, as we often do, were discussing recent events on the way.  We arrived and parked and proceeded to get out of our minivan in the parking lot near a chain department store.  The area is not as upscale as some other parts of the Bay Area and the store is known more for lower prices than for its appeal to educated professionals.  In short, while still relatively liberal (it was, after all, still the San Francisco Bay Area), it was an area where one might run into a homophobe.

Getting out of the car and walking through the parking lot, I continued talking loudly about the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Florida and its effect on the LGBTQ community.  My oldest began trying to get me to quiet down and stop talking about it.  He said that one day, I would end up getting shot if I kept talking that way.  He was worried that some homophobic terrorist would take offense at what I was saying and respond with lethal force.

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