My American Voice

My thoughts and feelings on things that are important to me. Rants, raves, ideas, suggestions.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boston Public Schools Assignment Models Proposed

I will be spending the next few days wading through the Proposals made by the School Assignment External Committee - who with the exception of 1 of the gajillion proposals broke up the Roslindale Pathway - which is the model for the elementary to middle school feeder pattern they are touting for ALL areas! Proving that most, with a few shining examples like Ms. Mary Tamer, of the members were not paying attention....

Be sure to take the survey also:

Take the survey - families of BPS students be sure to weigh in! Could your child potentially end up going to a BPS school? TAKE THE SURVEY! 

Going through this survey, and using the interactive maps, plus careful reading of the questions t

o be answered shows how unfair all these models could potentially be.... there will still be over-chosen schools - those that are the better schools within a zone - and still ensure that K-8 schools like Lyndon, Kilmer, etc have no availability at Middle School level for anyone not already in that school for elementary school; we will still have all the same issues we face: buildings falling apart, schools having to cut programs due to budgets being cut, some schools getting more while others right down the street get less - even when they have more students (so much for the new per pupil system of budgeting). And yes, the Turnaround schools have improved, but at what cost? Has anyone else noticed that other schools whose budgets were cut every year, may now be struggling - hopefully not as badly as becoming a Turnaround school, but let's face it, check the scores and see how even those popular "great" schools have been going downhill both in scores and other areas :/ And what about the schools that were in the middle, or not quite turnaround level? How are they fairing? More to add to my investigation into the proposals....anyone want to help????

Despite the cries you will hear, this is not about segregation - with the exception of ELL & special needs students POTENTIALLY (need further info) - it is all about getting rid of busing in BPS for general ed students. The goal is actually to cut busing with the exception of those students who need it due to a disability. I already know the arguments: "But Karen, that will definitely lead to segregation of the races"
Not as likely - and not in nearly the same way it did way back when there was a larger number of whites in the schools. DESE BPS Profile breakdown:

Boston Public School Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity (2011-12)
Race                                                                      % of District                                % of State
African American                                                             33.7                                            8.3
Asian                                                                                    8.3                                           5.7
Hispanic                                                                            43.0                                         16.1
Native American                                                                 0.3                                           0.2
White                                                                                  12.6                                        67.0
Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander                                      0.1                                          0.1
Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic                                                  1.9                                           2.5

Still going over all of this and need some answers also because there are concerns besides the above, such as the fact that on the proposal page they state that ALL zone models will have a middle school feeder pattern, but in the survey they say it is a proposal - meaning that may not happen at all - so what becomes of the Roslindale Pathway?

And honestly, why am I beating myself up about all this? Honestly, my kids are past all this.... we only have one more school choice to go with BPS - high school, and that will not be impacted by these plans at all. But I do care, so I will keep digging....

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Post Katrina Pictures Louisiana

These are from a friend of mine, pictures taken just this morning *sigh*. The pictures speak volumes and this is posted here with his permission. :)

Today I did my usual 34 mile jaunt in the saddle...Today, however, I took the camera with me...I live in Slidell, Louisiana...about 30 miles north of the Big Easy (New Orleans)...For those of you that think it's all hunki-dori in the deep south...come on, let em show you what I see every day...

We may be down, but we do still have a sense of humor...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is on Pontchartrain Avenue right on lake Ponchartrain...Every third house survived...Prior to Katrina, you couldn't see the water...Out of every ten houses that are gutted in the region, only one is being rebuilt...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This house is from Slidell, somewhere. it still sits where the wave surge left it 2 years ago...this is about a half a mile from the lake and right on Interstate 10...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I at one time called this neck of the woods home...This is what "remains" of the Pink Panther RV and mobile home park in south Slidell on Old Spanish Trail road...As can be seen there are still piles of debris...8 Foot of water washed through here and it is more then a mile from the lake....

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A real fixer upper...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Heres a new meaning to the term "Dry dock."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Gilligan's Island...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A boat, a trailer and someones porch...I think...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A stellar example of Pre and Post Katrina construction...The home on the stilts was built right after the storm...The house on the right remains empty and will more then likely be torn down, eventually...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Dude, wheres my Car?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Valet parking is not recommended in these parts...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It "was" someones it is indeed a very mobile home...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This RV still sits where the wave surge left can still see debris on the roof over the drivers cab...New meaning to the term "Road kill."...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This house actually does belong on this lot...if it wasn't for that really stout would have floated away like the other 2 houses pictured in this roll...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

FEMA - Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency...These are "typical" FEMA emergency housing trailers...People have been living in these things since the storm...Only in southern Louisiana can you see every home with a camper trailer in the drive way...Litterally...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And they even have entire neighborhoods of FEMA trailers...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There you have it...34 miles from the eyes of Master Michael in this debacle called "post hurricane Katrina."


Monday, March 12, 2007

Memorial Day & My Daddy

I stood and looked at your grave today
Remembering the love you gave me
The morals you taught,
and the love for a country so strong

Once upon a time you stood for this country
Through two wars and countless conflicts
And left a family who loved and missed you
To do the honorable and right thing

You weren’t drafted
No one forced you
You volunteered
For all the hardship and lousy pay

And you did all of it with pride
Honoring your country
The flag and those gone before
Meant the world to you

Once you returned you made sure
To teach us all the same beliefs and values
No matter who is in charge, this country is ours
It will be what we make it, but you have to be active in the building

Some of us followed your path
Joined and served – voluntarily
With pride, honor and strong beliefs
And the best part was you were proud of us for it

I fly the flag every day Daddy
As you taught me to do
And I will always think of you when it waves
And salute it with pride and love

Now I am the one left behind, by you
And the man I married
Who is so much like you it amazes me
But I know you would approve

Many friends of mine who you knew
Are in other countries fighting battles not their own
And doing it with the same pride and love for country
We all got to learn a little of from you

I miss all of you
My heart aches, the tears flow when I hear certain songs
But I also swell with pride
for none chose an easy path

Many attack or protest their existence
Our flag, our country, our policies
Not foreign governments but our own people
Yet those special few stand with pride and smile anyway

They know, as did you
That without them there would not be all the liberties
So many take for granted
Without a thought for what all of our men and women give up

A father misses his child’s birth
A mother cries while clutching the blanket of her baby left behind
A son is unable to go to a funereal he should attend
A sister misses a wedding she should be in

And though they are sad,
They would do it again
Because these men and women are unlike others
And have in their hearts a higher purpose

They are the red, white and blue
Their hearts will always swell as the flag is raised
Their bodies will stand strong no matter how tired
Their mind is always on the next mission

I thank them today and everyday
For my life would not be what it is without them
And I think of you, gone now, but not completely
And the ones I love, so far away but always in my thoughts

-Copyright May 30, 2005 Rebel in Boston

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

VOTE: The power we hold

Voting is a right that every citizen of the U.S. acquires at the age of 18. Immigrants who become citizens can vote also - and should! So why isn't everyone who CAN vote out there voting?

To someone like myself, who has voted in every election since I turned 18, I don't understand the apathy of the people who do not vote. Some may argue that the lack of education is one reason for this. And though I agree that it may be the case to some extent, I honestly believe a lot more of it has to do with just plain laziness! How sad for our country, the memories of our forefathers and those men and women who died defending our beliefs, values and the Constitution of the United States of America!

This country was divided several times over the right to make our own laws, by and for the people, and with that the right of every single citizen to vote, from the date of our revolution, through the suffrage movement which became our 19th Amendment to the Constitution (ratified on August 26, 1920) to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which strengthened the provisions of our 15th Amendment that held that
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

So why when our latest battle on this issue was only strengthened by our government 40 years ago, think about that!, are so few of our population voting? A hundred years ago, I, as a woman, would not have been able to go and do what I did this morning - VOTE for my choices for government representation!

So close to the death of an amazing woman, Rosa Parks, who stood up for people of her race, how can it be that the projected amount of voters who will actually get off their asses and go vote is only 20-30% in such a huge political city as Boston? Yes, 20-30% voter turnout is the projection for today! Its not raining, snowing, there is no reason that should keep all of us from getting out and doing our civic duty, so what's the deal?

So many people bitch and moan about how they hate the politicians, the laws, the regulations, the taxes, but how many get off their asses and do anything about it? And it goes back to my piece on activism. Not everyone can be or should be an activist, but voting, once a year? What does that take time-wise? I walked to the school where I vote, 1/2 mile away and back in less than 1/2 an hour! How hard would it be to stop on your way to or from work/school/errands or to get up off your butt and go out to your voting venue and fill in some circles on a piece of paper?

Okay - you should know who and what you are voting for, what does one politician have over another that will make you vote for them? So yes, a little more time is involved - you should at least summarily review the campaign rhetoric of each candidate. If they have held public office then you can also find out what their voting records are on any given issue. Yup, takes a little time, but if you keep up with it, say weekly, what do you lose? Nothing, and potentially you gain insight, education into the way this city and country are truely run AND the true right to say 'I voted and I CAN bitch if I want to!' LOL!

So, if you haven't already and are reading this - get out there and vote please!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Aftermath

I have friends all over the country thanks to the work I do. Over the past couple months several friends have been affected by both Katrina & Rita, some I am still waiting to hear from. Well, a very dear friend who had to evacuate due to Rita a few weeks ago finally emailed me this morning. Her email relieved me as I was quite worried for her, but it also made me mad.

I don't live anywhere near the affected areas obviously, but my heart goes out to those who do. From all the media attention, the focus on FEMA & Brown's resignation, the Army & USCG appointments, etc, those of us not down there thought that finally things were getting done. Guess what, we were wrong!

According to my friends email, the area she lives in, near Lake Charles, though now having water and electricity, looks like a war zone. Towns all around the areas hit, both in Texas and Louisiana, are still without basic necessities for life available to them and are being ignored by those organizations and the governmental factions that are supposed to help them. There is no excuse for this whatsoever. From my friend's email to me:

The whole town is a disaster area. The yards and sidewalks are full of trees piled so high that you sometimes can't see the house behind the piles. Trees and street lights crashed over through people's homes. Destroyed buildings and homes from several tornadoes that ran pathways through the town at many different locations. It ALL looks like a war zone. No Postal Service, no delivery services of any kind, no trash pick up and the neighborhood trash cans stink from all the rotten food we've all thrown away from our putrid refrigerators. Our houses smell putrid from putrid food and humidity. Our bank is still not open and closed its doors before we could ever get there to withdraw any cash for the trip. It's been a nightmare without a bank all this time! No supermarkets open, no drug stores are open, hospitals only taking bonafide emergencies, and the list of all the daily conveniences we all so take for granted are absent.

How am I? We are glad to be alive and together. We feel blessed that our house is secure and was spared from horrible damage as we can see just 2 doors down from us. Beyond that, I'll tell you, I am not too very good and nor are 95,000 other people who live in this Lake Charles area. Many evacuees we met in Texarkana and neighbors we've been visiting today say they just want to move because the devastation is just too much. The Texans are furious over the constant media coverage given New Orleans! They took it extremely hard too in towns we love to frequent for estate sales. The Texas towns of Beaumont, Port Arthur & Orange are part of our weekend life as a healthy and happy distraction from our struggles over this past year. But those towns are now in desperate need of help and are still neglected. Texas gave all its attention to Houston and little or nothing has been seen in these other towns I've mentioned. It's terrible down here

I understand our resources are spread thin, I know as a USCG wife, that a huge chunk of the USCG budget, still not approved by Congress, has gone to help in the disaster relief. And none of the monies approved to help with rebuilding will go to our military branches - and it shouldn't! It should be spent to rebuild, bring relief and ensure those citizens have what they need to survive and recover.

But this email to me begs me to question, where IS that money going? Who has it, how is it being used and I want to see the damn receipts! When a friend of mine, who is full of life & one of the most positive people I know, is now depressed and devestated by the lack of response by those who should be ensuring her safety, health and welfare, well, it makes me want answers. Are we going to find out that most of that money approved, 52?billion I think I last heard, but will check, went the same way as most money seems to in this government? That it was spent on kick-backs and graft instead of gas, food, supplies and all the humanitarian aid that it should be spent on? Will we find out that most went to the big cities while our small towns and suburbs languished and struggled? I fear we will!

As an American I do take things for granted, I admit that freely. I expect to have life, liberty and be able to pursue my dreams and happiness. I expect my government to work for what is right for the American people, not what is right for their big company contributors (I am saying I expect it, and I do work with those to hopefully realize THAT dream in my lifetime). I expect my country to show compassion, caring and open itself to help others in their time of need.

But here we are, a couple of natural disasters on our own turf, and our government is stuck with its finger in the hole trying to damn the flow, hearings are or have taken place in D.C. - that is a joke, nothing is being resolved there either, and in the meantime our fellow citizens are left to suffer and try to clean up without money, access to food or other necessities.

This is another sign that we as a nation need to start waking up. We need to stand up together and make our politicians, government organizations, the non-profits and others that feed off these disasters, truely accountable to US.

The American people have shown they want to help, have opened their homes, wallets, hearts and done so much. But I don't see our government getting things done as they should.

We need to question what is being done, where, how, who is responsible and what the deadlines are. What is that money being spent on and what is the justification?

I want to know........ don't you?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11 and Katrina: How do we recover?

This is a good question in relation to both the anniversary of 9/11 and Katrina.

Similarities exist between the two disasters. Once again we are seeing people on our own soil perish; a city steeped in history is in ruins; fellow citizens are possibly going to become ill because of the aftermath of Katrina; people are once again displaced - though on a much larger scale; the rate of unemployment will once again jump higher (much like our gas prices of late); most of us feel helpless because we can't just DO something to fix what happened. We also see that as a country the people are coming together again for a greater cause; those in the military and other service oriented jobs are again part of our daily viewing on TV and in papers; pictures of our flag flying above ruins before unimaginable are again seen; and the American public is once again asking 'How could this happen?' and insisting that answers be forthcoming from our government; one that many are not really ready to confront yet is that, again (at least partially) government dropped the ball. Argument over how this tragedy could have been better avoided is another similarity.

The most obvious difference is that 9/11 was an intentional attack upon our country whereas Hurricane Katrina was a natural disaster that the gulf area could not avoid no matter what any human did.

I know most of us are horrified at what people in the gulf area had to go through due to Katrina's damage and the levee breaks, but I fear that the effect will wear off faster this time.

After 9/11 we felt a fear that had not been a part of our existence since the end of the Cold War and honestly was quite unimaginable to those of us who weren't alive for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Reading about it in a History book just doesn't have the same affect as being alive, even if not there, when it happened. And with the advances in TV, Radio, the birth of the Internet, and cell phones - there was a major difference with 9/11 and now Katrina. That fear led this country into a several wars, or rather, one 'official' war and the beefing up of another 'action' (on terrorism in general). It led to new laws, reorganization of government agencies and (supposedly) more secure borders. It led to laws that allow the federal government to track your every online move among other invasions of your privacy. But we also saw a renewed sense of pride in our country, strength in our beliefs that we were the pioneers in Democracy and the flag-bearers of liberty and freedom for all. Our flag was flown with pride all over the country, military members were thanked for the job they do, people were coming together and helping those most in need and each other. No matter who we were, where we lived, our race, religion or other background we were ALL Americans and stood taller with that knowledge.

Unfortunately, even with a War, and our men and women going to foreign countries and coming back wounded or dead, the aftereffects of a nation united due to 9/11 has dwindled. Most of us who are Veterans (or families of same) or have family members serving, still fly our flag daily and if they are like I am, tear up at all the patriotic songs. But so many others seem to have forgotten why the terrorists attacked us. There are people in other countries, or even in our country itself, who see us - as a nation - as evil and not worthy of living. They think that removing us will remove all their obstacles. They are willing to die for their cause, and will take anyone else that is in their path down with them. This is a battle that is not over yet, even if we did take down Saddam. Others will replace him and as we see in the news, our men and women are still losing their lives in a country far from home, and will continue to do so I think, for years to come. We must continue to be vigilant of those who would give their lives to see our country brought to its knees.

This is something we need to keep in our minds at all times, though not in a way that is crippling to us. Personally I don't think I will ever be able to hear the phone ring and not feel a sense of anxiety when I lie down during the day again. On 9/11/01 I had been up all the night before with our youngest child who was just shy of 2 months old, so at 0730 had convinced our 3 yr old to snuggle up with me and take a nap. I was asleep when the calls started coming and the phone has never rung like that before or, so far, since. But I always have that sense that something has happened when it does ring like that! I am sure many have stories on how 9/11 has forever affected them, in big ways and the little ones like my sleep-phone-phobia now. But we must also live our lives to the fullest, for our own fulfillment and happiness as much as to be sure that the terrorists do not succeed.

Now we have a new national disaster on our hands. And the fact that this should never have occurred in the magnitude it did specifically because of all the governmental 'improvements' after 9/11 adds insult to injury. And to have it happen so close to the 4 year remembrance of that awful day is another affront on a nation already at war within itself.

So, how do we recover yet again? And how do we make sure that this time the lives lost were not lost in vain? Nothing makes the lives lost on 9/11 or because of Katrina acceptable, but how can we ensure that those lost to both of these national tragedies will have affected a change in this country that leads to it becoming stronger and better for all of us who are its citizens as well as being a fitting tribute to the lives we have lost?

I fear we are so busy helping other countries achieve their freedom and democracy, that our attention is not where it should be, here in America, finding ways to make OUR democracy work as it should, and gauranteeing that those of us who live here, no matter our socio-economic class, race, or religious beliefs is never again left without what we need to survive.

Unfortunately, I do not know the answers on how to accomplish this, not really. I have ideas and suggestions, but have my doubts that the people of this country can sustain the energy and will to make them happen. That is not to say that I think others are weak, I just know that individual lives intrude, families have needs and most of us live paycheck to paycheck with enormous debt. I would love (for once LOL) to be proven wrong about this.

I am also curious how many of you out there think like I do, and want to find ways to make our government work for the best of all our citizens.
Wondering in Boston...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

September 11th

This is a piece I wrote just prior to 9/11/02, I never gave it any more of a title then what it has here.

We have come so far,
Much further to go
From a day
That shook our souls

They attacked our hearts
Our finances
Our security
But not our will

We are one nation
But we bleed

We may cry
The tears still so close
We may yell
Our voices united

We will never fall
Nor crumble below
Their wishes and evil
Will be vanquished

I would give my life
Patriotic and true
For its all I have
For the red white and blue

No matter what they try
And how we may cry
They will never erase
Our country, its grace

They failed miserably
Because instead of bowing
We are now hunting
The end will come – not us, them.
copyright KKM 8/24/2002