Stuff Going On: New Bank Cards Issued, Station News, etc.

Dear Readers,

We have a few great things to cover, so here goes:

I just got a new bank card in the mail, so I successfully destroyed my old card. Yay. I don’t want fraud committed against me, so I cut a thing in the card with scissors and then tore it apart from there.

The next thing I want you all to know, I am going to post an artist interview and cool stuff on Facebook exclusively due to use of names, this way only friends can see that information.

Third, have you ever wanted to send cute animated mogies? Well, now you can with the updated Skype for Windows and Macintosh. Skype now supports talking mogie files and you must update your Skypes. And speaking of Skype, I got a weird email from them explaining that “WE’re sorry. But sorry isn’t enough, so we’re giving you a wek’s worth of free minutes. ..” duh duh duh duh duh. Whatever, Skype is fine for now, I just don’t use it to call mobile phones or land lines in England or Canada … yet. James, a good friend of mine from Ashby, should probably be the first one on my list of people to call, but seriously, I do not know.

School Reform Does Not Work, It Only Makes It Worse

Dear Readers,

How many of us are parents? How many of us are students? Now, of you parents, how many have student children in a modern public school between the years of 2010 and the present?

Okay, of you who answered yes to the question above, how many of your children’s schools are charters, corporate style reformed schools (not the obvious places where the bad boys go)?

If yes to that question, how do you feel about school reform? Do you like the idea behind charters? Do you actually Think teachers are the problem? How many of you want better teachers? And besides that, how many of you feel that your children’s learning is the children’s fault or the child has some form of ADHD or learning disability?

Education writers John Owens and Diane Ravitch have written extensively about the actual problems with school reform. Two posts ago, I covered Ravitch’s latest book available for download on Bard, Reign of Error, and it did not exactly cover that blind and special needs children were being thrown around like rag dolls, not allowed to attend the elitist education system that is public schooling as I never knew it.

Now, I am about to cover what I am literally seeing as schools gone wrong. Call it pessimism, but schools have gone down the tubes. The children in the schools are supposed to be learning and not crunching numbers for tyrants such as Bill Gates, managers who push the teachers out. Yeah, really.

Here’s a great look at education in the last two years: John Owens’ book Confessions of a Bad Teacher. I don’t think Owens would or was being or whatever it is to say about bad teachers. Owens saw the real problems in the schools, and he talks about them candidly in this book.

Dated 2013, this book should strike a chord in some minor keys. But never to worry, a lot of the kids’ names and identifying information have been changed. As is the legal thing to do, teacher authors are building composite sketches of kids they know.

There is one small problem that Owens forgot to mention: most teachers sometimes forget to mention if not all the time that special education includes blindness, deafness, physical inability to walk, sit or stand in places. Owens has forgotten the 90% of blind students who cannot read, at all, given the unqualified TVI in almost every case stating, “We have synthesized speech, computers and such.” Yes, we do, but what is literacy?

Allow me to define literacy. It is the ability to spell words correctly, read and comprehend words, phrases, and sentences in a story, and compose one’s own prose as I am doing now. I am literate thanks in part to a college educated teacher of the visually impaired, who has since fallen off the sphere due to misunderstanding my relationship with a boyfriend, something she will probably never get. We kept in touch, for sure, but she really needed a bit of a shake up because she accused me of “chasing” my boyfriend, when indeed we mutually agreed upon the relationship. But that is neither here nor there. Literacy was a huge gift and I was lucky enough back in the 1990s to receive such a gift, but in the New Millennium, blind children are struggling more and more and more because of the inability of principals and superintendents to hire qualified teachers, teachers who can also teach a blind person. They must, in some way, have an experience equivalent to being able to teach a blind person. I would like to pick on someone for this job, a cane teacher who taught in Brevard County schools for years and years, putting up with me being a side chore among things. Theresa, one of the best big sisters I’ve come to understand, is like a Jack of All Trades. She knows firsthand having had blind siblings grow up and succeed in life, whether by marrying and having kids or doing something with their lives. Her three blind siblings being married and happy are a sure sign that the parents in the picture are truly the model parents we need to show teachers and students alike.

Theresa’s two older brothers, actually I think they’re a bit all over the place, are blind and one is older and the other a bit younger. She has one partially or whatever blind sister, married and with children and a husband to this day. The sister performs various things independently, taking her kids to various extras such as swimming and music classes. She owes this to literacy, skills, and good mentors and teachers. same with the other two men in Theresa’s family. Theresa herself is qualified to teach because she went to the state’s on paper best college of vision studies, Florida State University. She qualifies because said college taught the basics, but there is something completely wrong with teachers who do not qualify being hired as TVI’s. I’m sorry, but there is a prerequisite to teaching blind students. We do not want to be taught to crunch bubble sheets either.

Here’s the prob: Braille is absolutely essential to literacy and a good social life, a great quality of life being not reserved for the Elitist sighted individuals who make up so much of our world.

What Owens did not write, I will include yet again in this post, but I will in this particular post write a qualification list, a sample job announcement for a TVI in a particular district.

Let’s suppose the TVI job went like this:

Teacher of the Visually Impaired needed for istrict P, must be dedicated to teaching Braille and other skills. Teacher must be dual certified, qualified to teach students who are blind and have various disabilities.

  1. This teacher prospect must have a college degree in vision studies or disability related studies.
  2. The teacher must be able to bust myths about blindness in his/her work.
  3. He/she must be a good advocate for his/her students. Starting pay is …

TVI pay is so bad in places, but the qualifications above may sound ideal. However, they should be absolutely encouraged or required because blind kids are supposed to learn on the same level as sighted kids. While sighted kids learn print, blind kids must if anything learn Braille, period. Why are they not?

Common excuses like I said might include the prevalence of screen reading softwares, audible things and synthetic record/playback speech and devices. No, I’m sorry, but synthetic speech does not replace Braille. Are we getting any dumber?

Braille was invented by Louis Braille, aged 12 at the time, in a French school for blind children. Braille’s father was a harness maker, a guy who was in what the French would call the bourgeoise or middle class. He was good at his job, and was especially a good problem solver. Mr. Simon Braille invented ways for his son to maneuver about the farm and he created harnesses for everybody’s horses in the town of Coupvray, France. It was a good job, but there was only one problem. Simon’s son, Louis, got into one of his awls, one of the cutting tools used to carve the harness leather. He somehow got that thing in his eye and went blind somehow later. However, Louis never stopped wanting to learn, and he struggled with ways to do it in the ways that were appropriate. Valentin Hauy had demonstrated that blind people could learn, but that was a mere kid toy compared to what young Master Braille had in store for the rest of blind history.

Braille invented the six dot system that I would use on a daily basis given my BrailleNote is flat at this time of writing, but when I get it charged, guess what? Yeah, you guessed it, I will read and read and read. Braille enables me and thousands of other blind people in this country to say words out loud written on paper. In the BrailleNote’s case, digital paper. Haha, it seems that people have forgotten what it feels like to read.

Now, Louis Braille invented this system but he does not realize and will never realize that he invented a monster. Yeah, he invented ways for blind people to understand their stuff. Even in ancient times, the blind bard, Homer, could not have imagined being able to finally understand what he/she was writing. Let’s just say that with Braille, I could read anything. Braille itself was first invented for the French language, but Braille himself invented a way to write W so that English and languages using that letter could be codified in Braille. Louis’s alphabet dots really have made a huge difference in the way I understand my world, and I owe it to the French. No jokes about French military defeats. No more jokes about French versus Freedom Fries. What on earth! Now, I’m gonna plop some more info in your little toolkits.

What these education writers must now cover is an obvious literacy crisis among blind people. I was lucky enough to have read Little Women in Braille. How many of you have ever even touched Ms. Alcott’s novel? I’m sorry, but Luisa Mae Alcott wrote this book for prosperous generations to enjoy, and all authors write books for that reason.

Braille invented books and reading for Blind children and adults, but why are the blind children being left behind? I’m sorry, but such things as school expulsions based on blindness are becoming more and more obvious as private school reform becomes what we know today. Anyhow, I have church things to do, so will write further next time.

First Show Premier Success, Now Hit Me Up On Cord!

We have great news to share, news to give you all of what you want. First, Friday Night Royal Flush has officially made a debut on DJ Mac Radio, and the new show is amazing!

We will be playing a mix of everything clean, but I’m thinking one week we have to do songs about being thankful. Another week we must do songs about other stuff. Dude, I’m totally staying up late. But before I hit the sack, let me tell you all that I have Cord! It’s an app by the Cord Project, and it’s amazing. I’m invited to a few hashtagged channels, including KJSC Radio channel, most of the show channels, all created by my friend Lori, which rocks.

I’d like to let you all know that if you want to announce the weirdest stuff on Cord, that’s fine.

Now, better to hit the haysack, that is mandatory. Tomorrow, we have a big country hoedown throwdown to do, yes, that’s right, with my bf and me and a guy we call Twelve Gage. He’s crazy, but then again, we’re all a little bit weird sometimes. I better get away from my blog and put some top secret info on the new fan page for my show:

Sorry, but the Denver Delights show is less than it was, in fact, it is no longer in existence. I do apologize but I had to say for once, out with the old and in with the new. It could be the Late Night Flake with Beth and Blake, but then again, that sounds a bit too corny. The Royal Flush is about real music, not poker. … I’m blushing and tired. Good night owl.

What Every Education Writer Forgets

While your kids are lucky enough to be in a school with great teachers, good literature and scientific study, and a good price tag, there are many children who not only have to deal with the plights of poor family structure, but some more have disabilities. What a lot of education writers won’t tell you, but that is true, is that blind children, children with other disabilities, poor kids, abused ones, etc are forgotten or left behind. There is hope in Diana Ravitch’s book Reign of Error. She criticizes schools, but something in this book jumped out at me as I read it. Ms. Ravitch says that the real critics of public education are the ones who wish that schools were racially and ability segregated.

Let’s follow two people in two different time periods: one is an older man who is a Caucasian born in 1950. Let’s call him Don.

Next, we’ll talk about Darius, a black and physically handicapped child in the early Millennium with poor family structure.

The reason I am using the names is so that I can draw a composite sketch of each generation and time.

First, let’s look at Don. Don started school in the Boom years, about 1955. He is in a rural Southern community and his classmates were all Caucasians, sometimes rich Asian children. In the ’50s and Boom years, Don’s classmates went through accountability much like Ravitch’s suggested ways: diagnostics and talk to parents. Don’s mother and father were deeply involved in his education in the mid-twentieth century. Don was exposed to math, science, space studies, etc. He read and reread literature in school that strengthened his brainpower. By high school, Don’s classmates encouraged him to go to football practice, and so Don, the six-feet five-inch tall dark hair white boy became a quarterback on his school’s team. The school had him literally stretched thin with football practice, math homework, and biology and physics assignments.

Don’s class of 1968 was mostly a white selection, and in this time, Don’s grades were high and pretty. HE scored high on the military tests and was drafted to a good position in Vietnam. He fought a war, but then returned home to a job, a sweetheart, and a house of his own. All of this and he was still educated enough and as a veteran of a foreign war, he got the care he needed or deserved. Now, let’s take a look at Darius.

When Darius was born, he was refused by his mother and rejected by his inadequately equipped father. Both parents chose to put him in social services’ care. AS a multiracial boy, a young lad of both white and African descent, it was obvious that Darius looked “funny” to some foster families. He was in one bad foster home after another, and it didn’t help that he was born in 2001. You would think that would make things better, but he was born in a huge hospital to a teenage white woman barely a sophomore in high school, a product of abusive parenting who ran away with a black high school graduate, and both were ill equipped to deal with a baby. The girl drank some, did some drugs, and did not take adequate care of herself while pregnant. Darius was born a crack addict, so the nurses and doctors cajoled the parents to letting him go, which the father bailed out on anyhow and the mother could not handle it and was incoherent.

When Darius was four years old, his classmates being white or Asian would make fun of the shunt in his head, he having developed some fluid issues in the brain. HE is wheelchair bound and partially deaf, also having had some low muscular tone. While four years old, he can barely speak without the Ebonics in his tones, his dialect almost illegible and unintelligible for a boy in school. While in class, kids would bully him and make fun of him.

The bullying continued for some years, and then he was uprooted to a foster home, where his wheelchair was accommodated and he was loved, yet the education he received was poor and below par.

While Darius struggled with learning difficulties as a result, somehow, of his mother’s drug addiction and failure to get adequate care, teachers would abandon him and “track” him into an inferior position in his school. Darius was placed in a below standards special education class where no long sentences were ever written, no big words ever spelt. Darius was often taunted about his speech impediments, his persistent use of Ebonics or slang in class, and was at one point denied education because of his wheelchair and speech issues. Finally, the state took charge, moving him to a wealthy and caring adoptive family, a mixed family that had many ways of getting through to the fifteen year old boy.

With the love and care of his adoptive parents, Darius has a long way to go in order to graduate. The poverty of his parents, coupled with the addiction and lack of prenatal care, might have made it impossible for him to obtain special education with a good purpose. With the new adoptive family, Darius now knows that he can succeed, is now homeschooled, and is working toward graduation.

What do these composite sketches tell us about public education today?

Well, for one, Darius’s story might have gotten a billion times worse in Don’s timeline. Put Don in the early 2000s, and you will see no change. People are criticized rightly because they are afraid of difference, and Ravitch says that public education needs to serve all of us in a better way.

Let’s change our composite slightly, and I’ll give you a drawing in words of a young girl who goes to a school totally Ravitch-ized, using all the methods in her book.

Twenty-six-year-old Aisha is an immigrant woman from Somalia. She is pregnant with Nadifo, a young girl’s dream. Aisha married a great guy, and how she wants to educate little Nadifo, it’s not clear.

Nadifo was born with the best care in mind: her mother had studied to be a midwife in Somalia, but moved to America as a refugee in the Civil War. Her daughter, born a citizen, was still teeming with the features of a black girl that could easily be the object of both fear and dear. While Nadifo was in utero, her mother used Medicaid services in her city to get the proper prenatal care her little baby-to-be needed. Nadifo was born as a blind girl, however, and yet her mother, stripped of cultural honor, lost her husband, her home, and the possibility of a good life for herself and Nadifo.

Nadifo’s father divorced Aisha a year after realizing he could not handle a blind woman or girl in his household, as some families in poorer or immigrant cultures do not have the knowledge to know that blind children must be taught Braille, all of the visual statistics out. Nadifo was born totally blind and had some gifts that were seen as forbidden by Islamic laws: she could sing and recite poetry. Aisha’s ex husband left because even his wife shared the gift of singing and dancing, which the man preferred that Nadifo not have.

However, while at twelve years old, she was enrolled in a public school with excellent educational standards for all kids. A one on one teacher of the visually impaired was hired to better Nadifo’s potential, and she rose to the top of her class in 2014. She graduated high school that December, having learned Braille, and even without the support of her mom and absent dad, she was given great mentors and role models, was encouraged to read and spell words in English from the first day of school, and was also encouraged to incorporate American culture into her daily life. Eventually, Aisha felt she had no choice but to let Nadifo go to college and study to be an artist and or a fashion designer. AS a blind person, Nadifo chose a career in fashion design, sewing clothing with a twist. She was although discouraged from a lot of things by her mom, she was still wanting and desirous to learn and grow as a person.

I drew a composite sketch of Nadifo and Aisha to prove a point. First, Aisha had to receive what prenatal services were available in her poverty stricken immigrant community. When a surprise disability arose in the child, Aisha was made to react as any parent would, but with the added immigrant superstitions or cultural nonacceptance of the specific family or tribe, Nadifo could’ve failed. But with Ravitch’s recommendation of singling out in a good way the students with disabilities, immigrants, and females or at risk youth, Nadifo can succeed. She can learn Braille, a miracle by far for blind kids today given the ignorance of most unqualified persons who do not know the Code.

Nadifa’s language at first could have been purely her African dialect. In a school I envision for kids like her, no child is allowed to bully or taunt her by calling her names that befit in the student’s mind Nadifa’s race or culture. The girl’s friends are not all a culture cocoon of Muslims, Blacks, or both blacks and Muslims as would be the case if Aisha chose to follow the corporate reform trash talk and send the daughter to the Islamic school down the road.

Nadifo had special gifts of playing different musical instruments, and she had access to many free after school programs and great study sessions with a teacher to improve her use of a flute, reed pipes, etc. She studied ethnomusicology in an AP class at the high school thanks in part to the electronic availability of her books and module materials.

Ravitch has completely forgotten that we in liberal cities like Denver have the third highest Somali immigrant diaspora, a good portion being female. Has Ravitch traveled to the schools for the blind in different states?

Yes, here’s a composite of a girl in a school for the blind. Also, this is a composite of a school for the blind.

Kelsea went to a school for the blind in her community which was hours away from the public school. Kelsea was not allowed to do Braille instruction and was not given a cane until she turned eleven. AS a student in said school for the blind, Kelsea was not allowed to leave for home during the five days. Republican City schools, where Kelsea’s district is located, mandated her school to teach bogus classes such as “child care” or “marriage education.”

While Kelsea was learning very little about sex and her body image was failing, she was raped by a strange man while doing independent routes with her cane. Then, she was kicked out of school, and yet with no place to go, Kelsea decided not to continue her education. Republican School for the Blind had a dismal curriculum, including nothing but abstinence only until marriage education, do not ever fall in love or marry a sighted person kind of education, and the kind of education that says volumes about where disabled kids fall in the sphere of things.

Here’s another sketch: Kelly goes to Democratic State School for the Blind. She learned independence from an early age, despite having to use a cane and Braille. She also was a bit slow to catch on at math, but this school’s curriculum was amazingly awesome. This school taught real child development, using actual robotic babies that Kelly will one day use. She will learn that sex is for everybody, that abstinence and purity before marriage should never be an issue, and through self education, she learns that purity before God is more important than purity before the government or Man. Kelly was not raped, and as a result of five years of self defence classes, Kelly can detect rapists. Rape aggression defense came to Democratic School for the Blind’s meeting hall and began teaching the pubescent young ladies and older women how to defend themselves.

Education for blind men was essential, so another social worker who was male taught the boys respect and dignity through skits and described scenarios.

Through Ravitch’s recommendations, and yes, if she would please not forget that disability schools are part of our nation, Kelly can soar where Kelsea’s educational standards can drastically improve, and without rape or aggressive advances from either public regular school boys or disability based school boys. Neither student should have to live in a dorm at the tender age of six, but with multiple disabilities, that is the case sometimes.

Phew! My hand is numb, and God forbid I might get Carpal Tunnel if I can’t stop typing! Oh help me!

Follow Up to Halloween Costumes Post

Hi, readers. I just want to make one thing clear: since I’m riled up about the subject of depicting mentally ill people in caricatures and costumes, I’m sorry, but I think I want to go a step further: let’s also ban other costumes depicting blind people as drunken monsters or malcontents who don’t like this world. Let’s also not sell costumes depicting criminals or real life villains in a sympathetic light such as Jason from the Friday the 13th series. Unless you want to know the truth behind the horror character.

I was floored by a recent report about a robbery in which the burglars were dressed in Scream costume masks. Should we put a disclaimer on such things? I guess so.

What if someone wanted to dress as Lady Liberty? Why not! That’s patriotic and appropriate, which makes me happy. I would this year dress as Lady Justice, the symbol being a blind woman handing out a flame or something. Has anyone seen the statues that symbolize justice? The theme of my costumage would be that “Justice is blind.” That way, I could accessorize with my white cane. Then, I’d hold a fake candle, and boom! There’s a costume. I want a white robe for this one, maybe a white tunic and a pair of black pants. Now there’s a really appropriate costume for Halloween, or rather, the Harvest. IF we should celebrate Halloween, we must do so in a manner that does not stigmatize or hurt others. This means that any ensemble promoting stereotypes or dangerous myths about disability or mental health issues should be banned. It’s not the politically correct thing, it’s the morally correct thing to do by not dressing up as Eileen Wuornos and depicting yourself in a caricature of a serial killer. Such costumage makes badly troubled and sometimes slightly damaged souls look like jokes, which to me is personal. I have some other more positive ideas for costumes:

Try dressing up as a favorite food, movie character, book villain or main character, and yes, depict the positive aspects of Katniss Everdeen, not the weird and messed up aspects of her such as her in a hospital gown.

You could appropriately try ghouls, witches, goblins, ghosts. I would be so so about demons and devils. Spirits are funny, but Halloween costumes should never cross the line into offensive and maladaptive territory.

Here are some examples of positively messaged and worded costumes:

Many women dress as Disney characters. I have done Bell, Jasmine, and others. The possiblities are endless now with Mulan, Elsa from Frozen, her twin sister Ana, the sky’s the limit with Princess Anyone costumes.

You can dress up like a Roman soldier, or a Roman Senator if you’re politicaly inclined. All you need is a white toga or dreslike stola if you want to be a Roman Queen, then put pants and black panty hose underneath to preserve body parts. Then, yes, the crown for a Queen.

Science fiction characters are a treasure trove of costume ideas. I did Princess Leia a few times, but I personally wish I had been either Asoca Tano, maybe Padme Amidala. One of those two would work. Plus Padme was a Queen at fourteen, and she was really gorgeous in her gown. Leia was, as we find in Revenge of the Sith, the Queen’s blood daughter. Turns out so Luke is the son of the same woman, and both fathered by Darth Vader. I wouldn’t be so bad about Darth Vader, but we must be a bit careful about actual weaponry used for all Jedi or Sith ensembles.

If you’re in a fandom such as Potterheads, LOTR fans, etc., all characters in said book and movie phenomenons are appropriate. Just be wary of dressing as Voldemort if you’re into Harry Potter, but yeah, grab your Potter Puppet Pals and start chanting “Snape, Snape, Severus Snape” while walking down the street. Just a thought, especially if your desired look is indeed Snape.

Some parties are about a particular fandom such as bookworms, Potterheads, etc. Don’t forget to choose an appropriate costume for Halloween, and for those who aren’t into scary or weird, you could try serious. But yeah, the sky’s the limit, but there has to be some tact and real thought given to what you’re saying with a costume.

IF, for instance, I dress like Hermione Granger from HP, I’m saying, “Yeah, I’m a Potterhead/Harry fan, and I love Hermione.” If I were to try Galadriel from LOTR, it would be so like the personality I am often, a Queen. Yeah, and one more thing: be careful of other more subtle messages. But remember, the number one rule this fall is have fun and be merry.