pandora

A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

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The Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Are In

Filed in Delaware by on September 3, 2015 1 Comment
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Are In

I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ll start here:

Only half of Delaware students are proficient in English and fewer than four in 10 are proficient in math, according to results of the state’s tough new standardized test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. (link takes you to the results)

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It’s no secret I’m not a fan of standardized tests, mainly because I think we’re using them incorrectly.  We focus on handing out gold stars to schools who pass and slap “failing” labels on schools that don’t. But… maybe this is changing?

“There will certainly be an increase in regards to how the state allocates resources–and that’s really part of the value here–let’s understand which districts and which schools have the greatest struggles, and let’s make sure that we, as a state, are able to allocate resources to those students who need it most.”

Hey, that sounds like equitable funding. Could it be? I’m skeptical tho, since I lived through the Priority School fiasco. “Allocate resources” is usually followed with the threat of charter conversion, privatization and closure. We’ll see. That said, if these tests were actually used to help struggling schools (instead of punishing them) I’d change my tune.

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The Nest Is Empty And, Boy, Does It Feel Strange

Filed in Delaware by on August 24, 2015 23 Comments
The Nest Is Empty And, Boy, Does It Feel Strange

I haven’t been blogging a lot because this spring and summer have been crazy. My youngest graduated high school, had her wisdom teeth removed, and attended orientation at the university she finally decided on. My oldest knocked off a summer course at UD (He’s starting his senior year of Mech Engineering and decided to take a required gen-ed Philosophy course over the summer mainly because he knew he wouldn’t give it the attention it needed given his course load this year. Sounded like a good philosophy to me!) Add to that all the shopping for my daughter’s dorm, ordering textbooks, finalizing class schedules, endless list making, packing up two kids, scheduling doctor’s appointments before both of them left the state, and fitting in a lot of family time and you’ll see why my blogging lagged.

I still read DL every day!

But this weekend everything came to a screeching halt. They left. In the blink of an eye I went from having a million things to do and a house full of people (and chaos!) to… silence. That freaked me out.

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Why Does The Republican Establishment Expect Trump To Apologize To Megyn Kelly?

Filed in National by on August 10, 2015 12 Comments
Why Does The Republican Establishment Expect Trump To Apologize To Megyn Kelly?

I’ve come to accept that the Republican establishments only chance of getting rid of Donald Trump is to get him to self implode – since not one of these professed leaders will ever take him on. The best they can do is lob a few personal attacks at him, tsk tsk his tone, and (dare I say it?) point out how un-PC he is. What they don’t do is call out his policy or the substance of his comments.

When Trump made his remarks about Mexican immigrants and the GOP feigned outrage he said, “The crime is raging and it’s violent. And if you talk about it, it’s racist.” Ooh, that line is straight out of the Republican playbook. In GOPland, being called a racist is a gazillion times worse than being a racist.

When Trump said, “He’s (John McCain) not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” the Republican establishment thought, “Ah ha! Now we’ve got him!” What they ignored was the fact that Republicans are quite comfortable in not supporting all the troops. Swiftboating and booing a gay serviceman is a-okay with them.

Which brings us to Trump’s remarks about Megyn Kelly.

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Join Us On Our LiveBlog

Filed in National by on August 6, 2015 6 Comments

We’ll be liveblogging tonight’s debate. Click on the LiveBlog link at the top of the DL page. Leave the admin password blank. Hit submit. Everyone have their popcorn ready?

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Where Are The Smarter Balanced Test Results?

Filed in Delaware by on August 3, 2015 6 Comments
Where Are The Smarter Balanced Test Results?

According to Kavips (posted on August 1st):

It has been 7 days now that the Delaware Department has sat on the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Day one was the release by other states of their preliminary data alerting all that the state now had the results…

One must ask why in the “most open and transparent administration in Delaware’s history” (Markell’s state of the state claim) we are still waiting for the preliminary data to be released.

Do we really have the results? The test was given last spring (March and April) so you’d think for a test to have educational impact the results would be available quickly.

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Can You Chip In To Help Planned Parenthood?

Filed in National by on July 31, 2015 14 Comments
Can You Chip In To Help Planned Parenthood?

Never mind that this probably won’t pass… yet. The writing is on the wall, and it doesn’t have a single thing to do with abortion (Hello, Hyde Amendment). But given the rampant ignorance and stupidity within the Republican Party we really need to send a message.

Via WSJ:

The Senate will vote as early as Monday on a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, a largely symbolic vote causing pain for centrists in both parties and drawing fire from conservatives who say it won’t satisfy their quest to put the organization out of business.

The bill isn’t expected to garner the 60 votes needed to advance, as nearly all Democrats object to it. Its defeat, however, won’t end the effort to cut off federal money for Planned Parenthood.

When you consider the Hyde Amendment, you need to ask yourself, what is the real agenda of the GOP? The correct answer is that The War on Women continues. This is really about contraception… and women who have the ability to have an enjoy sex (a mythical creature in GOP land, among GOP men and women – which is really sad.) without the fear of pregnancy.

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Al Mascitti, Bill Cosby And Me

Filed in National by on July 20, 2015 15 Comments
Al Mascitti, Bill Cosby And Me

I have avoided this topic, mainly because it seems so obvious. Bill Cosby drugged women in order to sexually assault them. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it. Via NYT: While Mr. Cosby insisted the only drug he had given Ms. Constand was Benadryl, he was open about his access in the 1970s to […]

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All Things Being Equal, John Still Gets The Advantage Over Jennifer

Filed in National by on July 13, 2015 4 Comments
All Things Being Equal, John Still Gets The Advantage Over Jennifer

This morning I dropped my daughter off for her university orientation. She’s attending school in Philadelphia – she’s a declared Mechanical Engineering major on scholarship. We are very proud of her accomplishments. So… when a study like this comes out it worries me.

For the study, researchers from Yale University asked more than 100 science faculty members at academic institutions across the country to evaluate one of two student résumés. The résumés were identical except for one small part: The candidate’s name was either John or Jennifer. Despite both candidates having the exact same qualifications and experience, science faculty members were more likely to perceive John as competent and select him for a hypothetical lab manager position.

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Michigan Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca Needs To Be Fired

Filed in National by on July 10, 2015 21 Comments
Michigan Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca Needs To Be Fired

There are some stories that you just can’t get out of your head. This is one of them. Here’s the brief synopsis:

Three Oakland County children who refused to go to lunch with their father, as part of a bitter divorce and custody battle between their parents, are spending their summer in the county’s juvenile detention center, according to court records.

“We’ll review it when school starts, and you may be going to school there,” Oakland County Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca told the children during a June 24 hearing, referring to the center in Waterford Township called Children’s Village, where authorities house as many as 200 juvenile offenders.

Gorcyca, who blamed their mother for poisoning the children’s attitude toward their father, ordered the children be sent to the center for defying her orders — while in court — that they go to lunch with their father.

The children — ranging in age from 9 to 15 — were deemed in contempt of court last month by Gorcyca for disobeying her orders to “have a healthy relationship with your father.”

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BREAKING: Gay Marriage Is Legal!

Filed in National by on June 26, 2015 26 Comments
BREAKING: Gay Marriage Is Legal!

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court’s ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

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My Thoughts On Beau Biden… And What Really Matters

Filed in Delaware by on June 1, 2015 28 Comments
My Thoughts On Beau Biden… And What Really Matters

I wasn’t going to write about this, but, today, Al Mascitti made me cry. He was so choked up as he spoke about Beau and his family. So many memories came flooding back. Painful memories, but memories I wouldn’t give up for the world. I’m also publishing this today due to the comments on the other thread. We’ve obviously “gone there” so let me add my insight.

It’s no secret I was in the “medical privacy” camp, but I sorta stayed out of those debates because I could (sorta) see the other side. It was a different conversation because, imo, it removed the humanity of the obvious situation, and while I didn’t understand that side (and I’m not really here to debate that, altho that will probably happen given the comments on the “memorial” thread) my lack of understanding probably had a lot to do with how many times I’ve been up close and personal to this type of situation.

Dying trumps everything. There are no politics, no career moves, no family squabbles, no test scores – These. Things. Do. Not. Matter. At all. If they matter to you, then that is your luxury.

Here’s the truth: There are no rules, no shoulds, no have tos, in regards to a terminal illness. Just like there are no rules to grief. Death is a solitary experience. No one can tell you how to handle this. There isn’t a “correct” way of doing this. The dying person gets to set the rules.

I’ve written about my experience with my best friend in 2011. Allow me to pull a passage from this post.

When a person faces a terminal illness their perspective changes.  Instead of focusing on being “cured” – which they accept isn’t an option – they focus on how much time they can buy.  As a 47 year old, divorced mother of two teenage boys my friend was obsessed with buying time.  I completely understood.

Time Mattered.

And yet, time was the one thing not discussed.  Not by her, or me, or her doctor.  It was the elephant in the room.  All of us knew time was running out.  None of us discussed it.  Sometimes saying things out loud makes them more real… too real?

Announcing you are dying is not a simple or easy thing to do – and you get to decide who you share it with and when. If you think it is easy then you have probably not experienced death up close – especially the death of a young person, with children. Saying this truth out loud is nearly impossible. It changes everything. It is admitting defeat. Every day is precious. Every day is a fight and a gift. Every day might be your last.

And telling your children, or having them have to face this reality through the constant chatter of talking heads (Joe Biden went to Delaware. Is he visiting his dying son?) or newspaper articles, is the hardest thing you will ever experience. Dying people don’t care about “your” or “their” concerns or issues – nor should they, because in the big scheme of things any concerns other than their children, spouse and family are things they have moved beyond. Your, our and their concerns are petty. Politics is a silly issue they have moved beyond. (and I love politics, but it goes out the window in this situation.)

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Murder, Manslaughter, and Assault charges Filed Against Officers In Baltimore

Filed in National by on May 1, 2015 13 Comments
Murder, Manslaughter, and Assault charges Filed Against Officers In Baltimore

This seems like a big deal. Via TPM:

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced on Friday that she had filed murder, manslaughter, and assault charges against city police officers following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

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Anti-Gay Supreme Court Argument Claims Marriage Is Only About Children

Filed in National by on April 29, 2015 4 Comments
Anti-Gay Supreme Court Argument Claims Marriage Is Only About Children

“The state doesn’t have an interest in love and emotion at all,” Mr. Bursch said. “It’s about binding children to their biological moms and dads.”

Several justices were intensely skeptical of that rationale, noting that many gay couples have children. These justices also seemed unpersuaded by Mr. Bursch’s contention that altering the definition of marriage would harm the institution.

This has to be the weakest argument they could choose. It’s so limiting. It also leads to this argument: If marriage is about “binding children to their biological moms and dads” then should people who do not want children, or cannot have children even be allowed to marry?  If this argument is accepted then wouldn’t that redefine marriage, far more than gay marriage?  It also merges quite nicely with the Republican’s forced birth-anti birth control platform.

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Petition To Allow Parents To Opt Out Of Testing

Filed in Delaware by on April 20, 2015 0 Comments
Petition To Allow Parents To Opt Out Of Testing

As usual, please sign. Here’s the petition’s wording.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the new state assessment based on the Common Core State Standards for Delaware.  Many states have adopted this assessment as part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, of which Delaware is a part.  This consortium was approved by Governor Markell without any legislative approval.

Many parents in Delaware, as well as across the country, believe the Smarter Balanced Assessment, as well as the PARCC test in other states, is not an effective standardized test.  Therefore, we are electing our Constitutional right to opt our children out of this assessment.  We believe it is a parental right to choose the best educational outcome for our children.  We also believe our children are not the property of the state.  Many of us have experienced, at a minimum, vast confusion in regards to the opt out time period, which began in earnest in February of 2015, from our Governor, our Delaware Department of Education, our schools, and several administrators from our schools.

This legislation would help codify what is already our right, and would prevent the opted out students from adversely affecting the schools in Delaware.  As well, this would also put all the school districts and charter schools in the state on the same level playing field based on a clear and distinct law.

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I’ll Just Drop This Here

Filed in National by on April 17, 2015 3 Comments

On Thursday, the House voted to repeal the estate tax which would… increase the deficit by $269 billion over a decade.  

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College Remedial Courses And The State Test

Filed in Delaware by on April 16, 2015 17 Comments
College Remedial Courses And The State Test

Even though I know there are unique and deserving circumstances, I can’t help but wonder how kids needing remedial courses are even accepted into college, especially University of Delaware which touts itself as highly selective. Okay, I don’t really wonder. Remedial courses are a cash cow for colleges so I understand why they offer them.  Having parents/students pay for non-credit courses makes achieving a degree take longer than four years which adds another semester, or two, in tuition and room and board fees… Cha-Ching!

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It’s Not About Gay Wedding Cakes. It’s About A National Religion

Filed in National by on April 14, 2015 31 Comments
It’s Not About Gay Wedding Cakes. It’s About A National Religion

Take a good long look at this story.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga.– Brittany Cartrett recently learned some bad news from her doctor about her pregnancy. She miscarried around five or six weeks along.

“So we made the decision to not do a D&C and to get a medicine. So he said I’m going to give you this medicine, you’ll take it, and it will help you to pass naturally so that you don’t have to go the more invasive route”, said Brittany Cartrett.

The doctor’s office called the Milledgeville Walmart to fill the prescription but they were told no and they were not given a reason.

“So we found another place to fill it but I still had to go up there to get another prescription so when I went up there she asked if I had any questions about this prescription I said no I don’t but I do have a question about the other one. And she looks at my name and she says oh, well…I couldn’t think of a valid reason why you would need this prescription“, Cartrett said.

The drug in question is Misoprostol, which can also used to induce abortions. [emphasis mine]

Everyone okay with a pharmacist overruling an actual doctor’s orders and diagnosis? Everyone okay with a pharmacist deciding, without examining you (not that they would even be capable of that) or knowing your medical condition, if you have a “valid reason” for the prescription decided upon by an actual doctor?

Republicans knew what they were doing making this about wedding cakes and photographers – they knew most people would shrug at cakes, flowers and wedding photos while missing the end game. These pharmacist “conscience clauses” are simply another way to achieve the same end. Religious Discrimination.

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What Am I Doing Today? Getting Ready For The Walking Dead Season Finale

Filed in Arts and Entertainment by on March 29, 2015 19 Comments
What Am I Doing Today? Getting Ready For The Walking Dead Season Finale

When The Walking Dead first aired I didn’t pay much attention. Hello? Zombies aren’t really my thing. I was a Game of Thrones addict. Loved Dexter. Orange Is The New Black is sooo good. Rome is still one of the best series I’ve seen. Everyone on House of Cards is scarier than TWD zombies. Sherlock is one of the most perfect, amazing, wonderful series EVER. (If you haven’t watched Sherlock I strongly suggest you do.)

I started watching The Walking Dead (TWD) with my son as a sorta mother-son bonding thing. He liked all things zombie and I’ll admit to rolling my eyes when he suggested we start the series on Netflix. Now, I can’t get enough. This series draws you in. So much so that I’m writing about tonight’s season finale.

If you’re not interested in TWD, I understand. But if you are, share your thoughts, hopes, dreams in the comments!

Note: I have not read the comics. Everything written below is just me guessing.

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Is It Time To Get Rid Of Fraternities?

Filed in National by on March 27, 2015 15 Comments

I will admit I have a strong bias against fraternities. During college I witnessed them in action, and what I see today is no different from what I saw then. I am not saying that all members are all awful, but the mob mentality surrounding them is disturbing.  I don’t see a strong sense of […]

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Redrawing School District Lines

Filed in Delaware by on March 24, 2015 12 Comments
Redrawing School District Lines

I have been on record saying that Delaware has too many school districts. 19 public/Vo-Tech school districts and 18 (and counting) charter districts. Each charter school is its own district. To me, that’s simply too much administrative overhead. Which brings us to the plan of reducing the number of districts in the city of Wilmington. Something I support, but know that the devil’s in the details.

When the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) submitted its report to the Governor, one of its suggestions was removing Christina and Colonial School Districts from the city and having the only two districts (Red Clay and Brandywine) serve the city.

As a city resident the idea of fewer school districts sounds wonderful. Having four districts fractured the city’s voice. It was hard to organize and advocate for city kids since school districts would only listen to people who lived in their district about concerns with their district. I do understand that, but it was extremely frustrating. Especially since 99% of our concerns applied to every district. But those district lines sent us off in four different directions, with less people, and were easily ignored. And, make no mistake, we were ignored. The districts’ go-to solution was always to form a committee to study the problem. Where all those committee reports ended up… I have no idea. And it was infuriating to keep bringing up the same concerns year after year only to have district administrators feign surprise and call for a new committee. So, most city residents would be happy with fewer school districts – if it’s handled correctly.

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Do Men Really Trust And Believe Women?

Filed in National by on March 23, 2015 34 Comments
Do Men Really Trust And Believe Women?

Add this article, Men Just Don’t Trust Women – And It’s A Huge Problem, to another thing I find fascinating. The author admits that he basically doesn’t trust and believe things said by his wife. He downgrades the emotional importance she attaches to a problem. He states: “Generally speaking, we (men) do not believe things when they’re told to us by women.”

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While More Men Are Wanting Babies/More Women Are Considering The Child-Free Option

Filed in National by on March 20, 2015 7 Comments
While More Men Are Wanting Babies/More Women Are Considering The Child-Free Option

I find stuff like this fascinating.

In a nationally representative survey of single, childless people in 2011, more men than women said they wanted kids. (On the other hand, more women reported seeking independence in their relationships, personal space, interests, and hobbies.) A different poll from 2013 echoed those findings, with more than 80 percent of men saying they’d always wanted to be a father or at least thought they would be someday. Just 70 percent of women felt the same.

It really hasn’t been that long since women actually had control in having children. My grandparents had a lot of children. Without effective birth control (along with societal and religious expectations) people of that generation had a lot of kids. The Pill came onto the scene in my mother’s generation – and there was much rejoicing! – however, the idea that people get married and have kids was still the only plan on the table.

And while I’ll admit the “get married and have kids” plan still strongly exists (ask any couple who’s decided not to have kids how often they’re asked when they’ll have kids, or told they’ll eventually change their minds if you don’t believe me.) this survey shows an interesting trend. And the reasons women cite for not wanting children (seeking independence in their relationships, personal space, interests, and hobbies) seem to really come down to this…..

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Forced Birth Improves The Economy? Armed “young, hot little girls on campus” Will Stop Rape?

Filed in National by on March 18, 2015 15 Comments
Forced Birth Improves The Economy? Armed “young, hot little girls on campus” Will Stop Rape?

There’s just so much of this nonsense. As a woman, who’s also raising a teen daughter, it’s overwhelming and frightening. It’s also disheartening when issues that directly impact over 50% of the country are dismissed as single-issue votes. Women do not view abortion or contraception as a “pet” issue. These issues directly affect our economy. Having a child is one of the biggest economic decisions for both men and women. If only we treated these issues with the same freak out we display when it came to a gas tax and tax cuts – and, make no mistake, abortion and contraception are a way bigger deal than things like the gas tax and tax cuts. Mainly because cutting/raising taxes won’t make a damn bit of difference to a woman’s (who’s forced to give birth) economy.

And yeah, I’m going to keep writing about women’s issues, mainly because it’s really all the GOP talks about. They link controlling women to every flippin’ bill they pen. It’s almost impossible to discuss anything the GOP puts forth without discussing women – and religion and gay people. All Republican roads lead to controlling sex.

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Warning: “Choreplay” Isn’t A Cute Phrase, So Don’t Use It. Really, Just Don’t

Filed in National by on March 12, 2015 26 Comments
Warning: “Choreplay” Isn’t A Cute Phrase, So Don’t Use It. Really, Just Don’t

Even as a stay-at-home mom who handles almost all the household work, the term “choreplay” irritates me. Haven’t heard it yet? Well, here’s what it means: Men can get more sex if they do chores around the house.

This NYT article makes a lot of good points, including the part about fathers and women’s voices in business. (Note to beer and car manufacturers: I’m the one who buys most of the beer in our household. I don’t drink beer, but I buy it for my husband since I’m the one who runs most of the errands. I’m also part of the car buying decision. So if your ad is sexist and I don’t like it, I won’t buy your product. Perhaps, you should cater to me, too. I swear, when I watch some of these commercials I know there aren’t women, in positions of power, making decisions, because half this nonsense would never be aired if there were.)

But here’s where the NYT’s article goes off the rails…..

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The New York Daily News Calls McConnell, Cotton, Cruz and Paul Traitors

Filed in National by on March 10, 2015 42 Comments
The New York Daily News Calls McConnell, Cotton, Cruz and Paul Traitors

Sounds about right. As the Daily News reported, the four lawmakers were among 47 Senate Republicans who argued in an open letter to Iranian leaders that any agreement they may strike would not last beyond President Barack Obama’s administration. “We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress […]

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