Setting the Bar…

Yesterday afternoon was my first parent-teacher conference regarding Austin. I tell you, that kid went and set the bar really high for himself. He’s gone and become one of the smartest kids in his class, reading and writing his letters with ease, and remember lots of his Spanish and Sign. They’re opening a new room for slightly older kids in a couple of weeks, and he’s getting bumped up, too. Michelle and I are ridiculously excited about it, and even the teacher said that as soon as she heard it was being opened she thought of how happy we’d be. I guess we’re that obnoxious.

This all spells out a dark day for Austin. Henceforth, I will hang this over his little noggin. Even when he’s fifteen and getting a C in basket weaving, I will be able to say, ‘You were such a good kid, we raised you so well, even back in daycare you were brilliant. Shape up or ship out!’ Something along those lines, probably adding in some phrase regarding disappointment. Needless to say, if he ever falters once in his whole life, falling at all below this new benchmark, he will be in serious trouble.

Speaking of serious trouble, Michelle and I just signed back up to play World of Warcraft. Now we each have our own account and can play side by side. It’s a fun, relaxing thing we can do together that lets us talk to some of our friends in California and it beats just sitting in front of the tube never talking to one another. Plus, it’s a much more fun game to have someone to play with at almost all times, especially if they’re in the room with you. I think our friends are pretty stoked to have us back, too. I know I’ve missed talking to and playing with them.

I’m still looking for good summer work. If anyone needs anything that I can do from out here, let me know~

For Consideration…

I’m working on applying to Hamline University in St Paul, and below is my first draft of the essay I have to submit for my application for the Master of Arts in Teaching program. Any suggestions or corrections would be greatly appreciated.

When asking myself why I want to become a public school teacher, I have come to understand that it was less a decision and more a discovery. In my experiences through college and now into my current occupation, I have found that I have a natural knack with children. And not only do I have a knack, it turned out that I truly enjoy working with kids.

This self-discovery came about years ago when I volunteered to cover someone for the younger half of a summer music camp (5th through 8th grades). I was to just come in and teach saxophone and assist in large ensemble rehearsals. The kids surprised me when they were laughing at my jokes as I taught them things, and I surprised them and myself with my energy for the whole endeavor. Even more surprising was that they were actually wanting me to return the next summer.

After that experience, the spark had lit. I went out of my way to begin teaching music lessons at local schools and worked two more years of camp beyond that first time. The following years, I was a resident counselor, in charge of kids overnight in the dorms, as well as taught more classes. There were rave, though often odd, reviews of me by the students (it is quite amusing how 12 year olds express themselves sometimes).

Beyond my college education, which culminated in a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, unfortunately without a teaching credential, was growth in my personal life. I have gotten married and have a young son who has taught me more patience than I thought I had capacity for. Being the very strong-willed, spirited child that he is, has tempered me and shown me the joy of watching someone learn over a longer period of time than a few short summer weeks.

Since graduating and moving halfway across the country, I almost exclusively sought work in the educational field. My seemingly bottomless well of good luck landed me as a computer technician for an arts-oriented, public middle school. I work with 6th through 8th grade students daily, as well as have been able to teach after school music and technology classes on top of that. I greatly enjoy what I am doing now, and look ever more forward to having a classroom of my own. Integrating all that I know and have experienced already and adding in all the teaching techniques I will learn is an exciting prospect and challenge.

As for working toward a specifically public school teaching license, there has not been any consideration otherwise. I do not particularly care for the idea of non-public education, as I think it should be free and equal for all. But aside from that, I have always enjoyed working with other people and students from all walks of life. Having so many different perspectives and stories only lends itself to the enrichment of the room they are in, and I would be rather disappointed to teach in anything less.

More Testing…

Okay, we have now moved past the reading testing and on to math. These kids are doing multiple choice questions regarding algebra. This, my dear readers, is the dumbest thing ever.

3x2 – 6x = 0

a. x = -1
b. x = 3
c. x = -2
d. x = 2

Now, to point it out for those who have nearly forgotten our 4 years of math like myself, rather than reducing and solving properly, all you do is put each of the four potential answers in for x and you’re there. That is, as my generation is wont to say, weak sauce.

Free Books…

Rummaging around the web during my free time surfaces some funny things. Here is an initial listing of places to get free books.

I tried the top of the list, which was manybooks.net, which has electronic versions of a who ton of books. I just downloaded Dostoevsky’s The Idiot and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It will just be a matter of finding little pieces of time to read those, you know, along with all the news the world produces every moment, blogs talking about the news, writing my own blog, oh yeah, and working. Lousy work keeps getting in the way (although, it has given me a few programs to play with that I would not otherwise have had in my arsenal).

Oh, and I also found this site from the free books list that my wife might find useful when loaning (or as many people say so very incorrectly, borrowing) books to friends.

Pay Equity via Taxation…

My wife brought to me the other day an article from the Star Tribune titled Taxing women less: Gender pay equity? When the idea was first mentioned, I admit to being a little skeptical, as I am when intentional inequity is put anywhere into law. However, it was definitely an idea worth pondering.

Through much of the article was the presentation of those who originally came up with the idea. They say that to even the playing field, women be taxed no more than 80% of the level a man does, and most likely less than that. Though this creates a discrepancy, there are already plenty of others in the tax code for marriage, children, etc. So adding one more to entice more people into the workforce would not be unreasonable.

That is the primary goal of reducing the tax rates for women. The reasoning is that by lowering the tax rate, more women could join the work force and actually increase the amount of income to the government through greater numbers of people being taxed. It is a grand idea, and I would be in favor of it if it were on the table.

The authors claim that women tend to be more attuned to changes in tax codes than men, and I can vouch for that. My wife takes into account more of that, whereas I would rather just see a bigger number on my paycheck. My theory is that women like to figure in discounts more than men (“Aren’t you glad I found this unnecessary expensive item on sale!?“) and taxation brackets bear similarities to that.

I think the biggest argument against this idea, as good as it is, is the reason most women do not join the workforce has little to do with money and is more of a personal choice in life. Also, if child care was not so bloody expensive, it would be far easier to justify going to work and paying that care expense. Even having just our one child in daycare cuts out a huge chunk of our income, to the point where unless one of us broke enough past even on that, she or I would just stay home with the boy instead of working and him going to daycare.

I am not sure how many women a lowering in taxation would bring into the workforce, but if the US truly needed that many more people working, I would not oppose it. I think it is a good idea and a rather viable one, and even if it turned out did not make a difference, would be worth trying. If nothing else, it would give single mothers a better shot at raising their children in a more economically stable home, and I do think stability in general is an important factor in raising kids.

That all being said, I would like to state that my opinion is the world will never have full employment equality based on numbers. Equal pay for equal work, that is certain to come, and it damn well better soon. But I do believe that there will simply be corners of employment where men should exclusively rule. Why? Because we men are expendable.

Yes, I do see women as fully capable of operating as well as men deep in dangerous mines or on battlefronts. But when it comes to the most dangerous of work, we as a species (a supposedly intelligent one at that) have a responsibility to not put the carriers of our offspring into harm’s way. I do not feel this is sexist; it is just reasonable to say that men are better off being killed as they will never be capable of bearing our children into this world.

Or maybe it’s close to Mother’s Day and I’m just protective of my mom and my wife.