****This pregnancy is really getting in the way of my school board meeting participation. I mean I CAN'T DRINK RIGHT NOW.
So I'm watching the live feed because those chairs were going to see to it I never stood up straight again, and writing a blog... and it's really a ridiculous thing that I even have to write about.
The TOPIC: The inclusion of a nationally recognized and award-winning book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by author Sherman Alexie, into curriculum, as requested by the English Dept.
If you haven't heard the CVUSD school board president, Mike Dunn's opinion on a book he hasn't read in its entirety, he has made some pretty aggressive comments, describing the book as pornographic, stating that "forcing" "children" (high school students) to read this literature (approved by UACT), is "child abuse." Again, I must remind you that at this time, he hasn't been able to confirm actually having read the book, after having more than two months' time to do so.
Now, these assertions are wholly, wholly irresponsible and abhorrent. How dare our school board president accuse the dept. chairs and teachers —whom are experts in their subjects — and that form the curriculum committee, of child abuse. CHILD ABUSE.
I'm going to risk sounding like a broken record BUT, apparently it's needed:
YOUR RELIGIOUS OR PERSONAL "FAMILY VALUES" AGENDA DOESN'T GET TO DETERMINE WHAT LITERATURE IS INCORPORATED INTO OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL'S CURRICULUM.
I value your right as a parent to teach whatever your personal values are at home. I welcome your right to have the religion you have, or practice whatever set of ideals you feel important. I welcome you to practice those beliefs in a church, mosque, etc. of your choosing. However, these personal choices and personal religious choices don't have a place in influencing our public school education.
If you want a customized curriculum that caters to the idea of "innocence" you've developed for your children, you have every right to home school or choose a private school that caters to your religion. No, the public school system is not designed to act as your specific tool, to be altered to suit only your personal morals and beliefs, and those you teach to your children. That is not how public education works and it's preposterous to demand that public education be censored to fit a religious criteria.
Now, I did my due diligence. In order to understand what was so "controversial" about this book, I READ IT IN ITS ENTIRETY. Not only did I read it, I invited everyone who participates on my page to read along with me, and a lot of us participated in analysis of themes and conversation. I asked over and over and over again for those who found objection to share examples of how this book was pornographic, abusive, or inappropriate for high school children.
NOT ONE out of the 40 or so parents that participated felt this piece of literature lived up to Dunn's claims. I made sure to leave this topic open-ended throughout the book reading process and encouraged diverse viewpoints. I also reviewed countless study guides found online through school sites and shared how the themes would be discussed and handled.
And then, I took a few excerpts of reaction to the book and sent it to the entire board so they could also read that feedback.
So, I did my homework on the book.
DID YOU, MR. DUNN?
In regards to the areas of "worry" expressed: language, explicit sex, bullying, violence, etc.... I found these topics no more represented in this literature than in MANY of the current books already in place in the school curriculum. Some titles come to mind: "Romeo and Juliet," "The Lord of the Flies," "Hunger Games," "Catcher in the Rye," to name a few. A FEW.
Are we cool with these books because the author is white? YES OF COURSE WE ARE.
Should it surprise you that a group showed up tonight that identifies themselves as "Unified Conejo" represented by, from what I could visibly deduce as at least 90% white men, to decry this literature? They're worried about family values you see, and that what they teach at home, won't be mirrored in the classroom, and so, they demand this book not be included.
Y'all. Have you not been paying attention to what has been happening not only in our hometown but in our country? Last week a video went viral, that captured high school students in our district, singing and chanting racist speech and insinuating that all black people need to die.
This past weekend, a young woman was murdered by a white, domestic terrorist who ran her over with a car at a white supremacist rally while she was peacefully marching for equality. It's sweet if you think "all minorities are valued," but you've clearly been turning a blind eye to the fuckery that is happening all around, and next to you.
Diverse curriculum is invaluable. It should be quite apparent, especially now, more than ever, that we need to do right by the students in our district. We owe it to them, we have a RESPONSIBILITY to them, to expose them to guided conversation on challenging topics and themes that will help broaden their knowledge base and enhance their education.
It is not the board's job to vote to suit the religious right who backs them in campaigns. That is not what it means to be a board member in our district. I realize that Dunn has a re-election coming up in 2018, and wants to satisfy his conservative base, but IT'S UNACCEPTABLE to prevent students in the district from the opportunity to be exposed to diverse literature in order to pad their upcoming campaign runs.
And let's talk about the issue of formalizing and enhancing an opt-out policy. Where do we draw the line? Something can be found offensive in every single book ever written. What will the district do, when this circus encourages droves of conservative parents to demand multiple opt-out options on curriculum? What then? How will the teachers satisfy these requests? How can we guarantee our students receive an enriched education, if we spend our time trying to appease only the religious right? How can our teachers even handle that amount of work?
A student speaker today said it best: it is not the board's job to protect students' innocence, it is their job to educate the students.
JUST IN: THE BOOK IS APPROVED, DESPITE DUNN'S VOTE AGAINST THE BOOK. There is still concern on Mr. Andersen's part regarding opt-out policy and discussion, but he is hopeful a discussion will be had moving forward.
It's been a while since we've chatted. Years, even. You were my maid of honor. You were the first person I texted when I learned I was pregnant. You were there for the birth of AB, the first public tantrum (AB's, not mine), and my first outing post baby. You held my baby shower for me, planned down to every last detail. You called me every day to catch up. Our friendship spawned over more than 15 years. It wasn't always smooth, but you grew into someone I considered family, even if we had a lot of different views. And boy, we sure did, and I imagine still do, don't we?
I'm at jury duty today! For those who don't know, I love jury duty! I haven't received a notice in years to show up for my civic duty and when I got that summons in the mail it was legit like the winning Willy Wonka ticket. My office thought I was crazy and apologized when they saw me holding my golden ticket.
A quiet room where I can read or write, without interruption unless I'm called upon? Long breaks and lunches? People watching? COUNT ME IN.
And of course, I find law so fascinating and, if my employer paid for me to attend jury duty, I'd happily hope to get on a trial and do my due diligence (I'd hope the same if I ever found myself on the unlucky side of the law, I do believe). However, I found out they don't cover my pay to be here... so HOPEFULLY I don't get picked to serve on a jury and not have any income coming in. But alas, we wait to find out my fate. The first group has been called up, and I remain.
Today's jury room... well guys, it's not the A team, if I'm being honest. Today was the first day they were trying out their new computer-automated check-in system. If you brought your jury duty notice with you, you needed to stand in line to the left, and simply scan your notice and enter "yes" that you were here. This was obstacle number one, and if our room's competence level is at all indicated by following those two steps, we're FUCKED.
Next up was the world's longest orientation speech. Now, don't get me wrong, the honorable judge did his best to incorporate humor while running through the 20+ minute spiel about the importance of being here. I appreciated it. But it was starting to feel like I back staring at the wall during a catholic mass, eyes glazed over, wondering when it would all end. It's not like there's going to be arm-waving singing at the end of this.
The judge got to the part where he asked everyone who had been on a jury to raise their hands.
A few folks did. So he asked, "How many have been on more than one?" Hands remained in the air. "More than three?" A few hands remained in the air. "Wow, more than three?" These hands still remained in the air so he called on these people. "How many for you sir?' Sir: "Three." Judge: "Great! Anyone with more than three?" *calls on another gent* Gent: "Three as well."
PEOPLE PUT DOWN YOUR HANDS, FFS.
Judge: "Anyone with more than three?" He finally calls on a guy that says: "FIVE." We think we have a winner. "Anyone with more than five times on a jury? Yes, you in the back (to a lady still raising her hand). Lady: "Well, I'm 65." LONG PAUSE. We all wait in suspense. "I've been on four juries." Judge: "So... no one with more than five."
We all move on, me questioning everyone's fate should these people be called upon to serve on their trial.
At jury duty, you can instantly spot who has never been here before. They're all sitting in the front two rows, super attentive, with no books or computers... probably expecting that we're all going to be involved in some Law & Order shit. They're also the ones that parked in lot "G" and lot "G" is the only lot with a parking limit. I feel like offering them an encouraging nod.
Next up, we're informed that we are wanted! Our jury duty gal is up at the podium, and says, "If I call your name, please, please, please speak up verbally and say that you're here and acknowledge that you've heard me and that I've called you. I can't hear head nods." Everyone gives a chuckle.
She starts calling names: NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING. Each person called quietly gives a little hand wave.
HAVE WE LISTENED TO NOTHING?
Honestly, I want to send a pigeon to the lawyers urging them to settle in the best interest of their clients.
There's a girl here with purple and pink hair (coined the "unicorn" style) and I'm sad that the Unicorn Moms have taken away my joy in these colors and anything unicorn-related. Fortunately there's no one here making the Unicorn symbol at me, so it might be a safe space.
They keep flashing the internet wifi and let me tell you, it is the worst wifi EVER. I think they're teasing us just to add to the overall tone of misery in the dull, grey and beige room. They've announced our first 20 minute break and people got a little wild with excitement. Despite the multiple announcements that you don't have to sit in this room like a trapped monkey all day, a lot haven't caught the memo. I like my seat, so I'm staying put. I was like the ring leader this morning. We were all lined up to scan in, and I left the line and headed to the back of the room, found the table next to the window with the outlet, set up my shit, and walked on back to my spot in the line. People looked at me like I had started a movement and followed, in suit. They really should call me to jury duty more often. I think no one wanted to question a pregnant woman who looks like she's given up on life, but whatevs.
They need another jury! Our gal starts calling up names, announcing more than 10 times throughout the name calling (I counted) where the room is (what floor and what room number). Things are going smoothly, people are gathering there belongings and following the trickling line of jurors to the elevators. One gal walks on up to the podium, introduces herself by name, and says "You called my name??" (she's been sitting in the room the entire time, so we can't pretend she ran back from the cafeteria.) I hope there's reason she is excused from serving on a trial.
I've survived round 2.
It's 10:50 a.m. and the court cases have dropped from 42 to 29.
I think I'll go get a pastry.
Recently, someone messaged me and asked me why I no longer post about mom group posts. My posts had made them laugh, and while they appreciate some of my "political" posts and still follow my page, they miss the days of laughter over the most ridiculous mom group post of the day.
I mean, material was RIPE if we're being honest. From women bemoaning over being taken to brunch to posts waxing poetic about the latest fight or sex episode with their "DHs" (dear husbands), I didn't have to look far for entertainment. It filled my feed by the second.
So going back to the first time I started "blogging," which lasted all of nine and half seconds, I had a very similarly-styled blogged, which at the time, was named "Anything But Brunch." You've heard me talk about this before if you've read some of my previous blogs or posts. It stemmed from a sarcastic "note" I wrote on Facebook on my personal page, detailing my shock and awe over the things I was reading about in a mom group a friend had added me too. I guess I took it too seriously and not seriously enough if that makes any sense. Anyway, I wrote the little note on my Facebook page, it garnered some reaction, and voila, I created a makeshift blog on Tumblr.
Of course, it wasn't long before it got shared in said mom group, and the pitchforks came out. While I had been receiving likes and laughter from friends and family, wellllllll, I can't say the response was the same from the women of this group who felt betrayed. Their safe space had been invaded and I was public enemy number one. I mean, the fallout resulted in a new admin being brought in, members that were less than a year old to the group being kicked out, etc. It was a fiasco.
And at first I didn't care. I was all, "la, la, laaaaa, sorry not sorry!"
And then I was like: "OMG AB IS GOING TO HAVE NO FRIENDS. I'VE ALREADY RUINED HER WHOLE LIFE." I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I wrote apology messages and attempted to at least calm the shit storm I was responsible for creating.
And there was a part of me, a part which grew bigger, that felt genuinely bad at the thought of hurting these women's feelings for a laugh. Whereas, I aimed, and sometimes poorly, to poke fun at the content (so I convinced myself it was a victimless crime), there's still an originator of that content, and still someone on the other side of that post who will feel however they want to about a post of theirs being taken to town.
Of course, when shit hit the fan so swiftly and I was just a wee little lamb, I deleted that Tumblr blog without blinking and moved on with my life. It wasn't until a year later that my friend encouraged me to start up the blog again. It had been a while. My wounds and lessons of blogging past had faded... except the lesson that the blog should be anonymous so I didn't lose my head.
And it was a lot of fun. There were a lot of laughs to be had. And on the whole, a lot of people with the same sense of humor as myself found their way to my page and we had a jolly time. But, again, I naturally found myself over time having those same feelings of guilt. I love laughing as much as the next person, but it still didn't necessarily always feel great to do so at the expense of others, no matter what cautions I took to avoid that.
And so naturally, my page has shifted. We don't joke about mom groups much anymore. I mean, sometimes because sometimes you just receive a screenshot that can't be ignored, but on the whole... I've realized that if I want to preach women empowerment, perhaps instead of filling my time in mom groups that do the exact opposite of that, I should focus my time on those making a difference... and maybe even find some time to do that myself.
So, I feel ya. It was a good thing that had its time and place, but I couldn't live up to the expectations forever, nor the responsibility that came with punchline.
There's a lot of things people can be addicted to. Most commonly, you hear of food addictions, drug addictions, alcohol addictions, video games, gambling and so on.
I'm not addicted to what are considered "traditional" or obvious things to have an addiction to, which makes it harder to acknowledge or even admit the problem.