Saturday, April 29, 2017

Evil Rhetoric

Have you ever considered removing rhetorical tricks from your political opinions? There are many things that don’t sound so good anymore. If we are going to divide the rhetoric into “left” and “right,” the “right” has far more damaging rhetoric, but that doesn’t mean that the “left” is guiltless.  Consider the following.

Many nationalistic slogans are popular among the right wing. “America first” is among them. This slogan only sounds good if there is no thought involved. Asking a few questions will change the color of “America first.” Who is second, third, or fourth? Do we even care? Why should America be put first before any other nation? How will this affect the other nations of the world? Does “America” include those who immigrated here? How should we deal with other nations if we consider ourselves above them?

This motto discards the needs of all other cultures and nations. It is overtly xenophobic. Foreign policy cannot be shaped around this motto. If a foreign diplomat hears this slogan uttered by a leader in the US, they will deal with us as a condescending or nationalist state, and if “America first” is our slogan, they are correct to do so. However, as previously stated; the left is not guiltless.

The left wing, after decades of seeing US politics drift steadily to the right, has begun to assert itself. This has caused a resurgence of interest in campaigning for civil rights, environmental protection, free and fair elections, as well as many other issues. However, this reawakening has had a dark side, particularly in civil rights.  The damaging version of this is inherent in one single word: “mansplaining.”

“Mansplaining” is a reaction to bossy men who are often over-opinionated. It is based in fact. I know many men who fit this description. However, in this ideological stance, sexism and racism have not been erased. Sexism and racism have remained intact, but been pointed in a different direction. If someone is male or white, they can do no right. If they agree that they are inherently wrong because of their race and gender, they still will not be praised in any way, but they will be berated. There is no defense.

There is no opposing “womansplaining” to accompany this slur. There are many women who share this trait, but they are never targeted or belittled by this irrational left-wing perspective. Moreover, a man’s expertise is outright irrelevant. If the conversation is astrophysics, and a man is the only astrophysicist in the conversation, it makes no difference, he is still targeted. I do not have the time to address the related “safe space” culture that has become pervasive on college campuses, but I will say that it is a form of left-wing authoritarianism which crushes both conversation and decent.

“Personal responsibility” is possibly the most ghoulish phrase in modern rhetoric. I will apply it to economics: when translated into economic terms, this means “if you do not have money, you should die.”

The most obvious place that this may be applied in economics is the preposterous state of US healthcare. The idea that healthcare must remain privatized because some people would willingly choose to remain uninsured is clearly ridiculous, but this view becomes even more heinous when “personal responsibility” is applied.

“Personal responsibility” blames the victim who dies because he or she could not afford insurance. The whole idea that the deceased party somehow opted out of treatment is so outlandish that it can’t even be considered. So now, the misanthropic right suggests that the deceased was just irresponsible and could have fixed the problem at any time. It doesn’t matter if the damaged party had to choose between food or insurance, the victim somehow dug his or her own grave and will not be forgiven for it. This results in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year. It justifies negligent homicide by the US government and multinational corporations.

Still staying within the economic realm, “personal responsibility” continues to be atrocious. If a person or that person’s children starve to death, it was their fault for not “applying themselves” (whatever that means). If someone loses their home, it is their fault for not making more money. Apparently, people choose to die from exposure. Applying it to the realm of geopolitics, if a person is murdered by a dictator, it is their fault for not moving. It does not matter if that person is forced to cross a desert and refused asylum by other countries (like the US). Applying it to criminal behavior, the violation and murder of a young woman will be blamed for wearing too short a skirt and drinking in a bar, as well as not being an expert in fitness and hand-to-hand combat. The justification for suffering and death continues to be morbid and absurd.
Essentially, “personal responsibility” is used to make excuses for a preventable heap of corpses and human misery. It is thoroughly disgusting. When a politician (which is arguably the most irresponsible 21st century profession) starts speaking about “personal responsibility,” they should immediately pay a political price.

Sometime, listen to politicians and pundits speak (regardless of whether they are on the left or on the right) and subtract the coded rhetoric. You may discover that they are saying something morbid and shocking.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Transferring licenses in PA

I am a teacher from New Mexico. My wife received employment in PA and we decided to relocate. So far, we love Pittsburgh and we are happy to be residents here. The schools are wonderful, the city is interesting, the nature is beautiful, and the prices are reasonable. Most every aspect of Pittsburgh is wonderful, save one: the process that it takes to transfer my teaching license.

Most of the process can just be attributed to having high standards. I take no issue with this. I had to have my former principal sign a form that verifies that I have been a successful teacher for two years. No problem. I had to seek out obscure information about my professional career. I got this! FBI clearance? Well, I expected this cost. Background check? I’ve done it before, but I wish that I didn’t have to pay again. $260 application fee…whoa! The test to teach English is $150? That is a little steep isn’t it? The practice test is $20? Now you are just trying to squeeze blood from a stone. Wait…I also have to take a pedagogy test? Another $50? Hold on, I also have to take a general competency for English and social studies, and another one math and science, each at $50 a pop? That is outrageous! At least if I take them all at once, I can save $10. Oh for crying out loud! Those 3 more practice tests that I have to take! I have to flush another $60! I hope that the math test isn’t timed…crud! Of course it is timed. I hope that the math test isn’t last. Of course it is last. Oh no! I need to take the math test again? That is another $50! Have mercy! Please, have mercy!

My wife (half-jokingly, half-outraged) commented on the fact that transferring her medical license cost her $70, and it is costing me ten times that amount for a profession which is notorious for its low pay. As I discovered, I couldn’t even substitute teach in Pennsylvania without a teaching license, despite my previous years of experience teaching in a high-needs area. Over the past two months, my family was steadily drained every cent of our savings. I applied to substitute as a paraprofessional.
Why all of the fees? It does seem excessive, doesn’t it? The $260 fine was excessive, but I understand that the PDE does need to keep itself funded for purposes of oversight and providing services to the schools. The fees on my background are necessary for working with children. The endless fines for tests and practice tests, however, is inexcusable. Why would this happen? Also, it isn’t as if I don’t know my material. I have been a teacher in another state. I understand taking a test, but four of them (at great financial cost) is ridiculous, isn’t it? Well, the companies who provide these tests are Praxis and Pearson. This should bring everything into focus.

Praxis and Pearson are two companies who provide tests, resources, and testing materials. They once served as legitimate contractors in education. Now, in the age of high-stakes testing and “accountability,” they have morphed into parasites who grease the correct palms to make their products mandatory. I have seen an extreme case of this. Like I said, I was a teacher in New Mexico.
In New Mexico, there is a unique situation. After Pearson contributed to Governor Martinez’ campaign, New Mexico discarded the NMSBA (New Mexico Standards Based Assessment) and replaced it with the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers); a Pearson product. Governor Martinez also violated the state constitution to make Hannah Skandera Secretary of Education.

The state constitution mandates that a person must teach for a minimum of three years to assume the position. She had no teaching experience. After months of pressure and brow-beating from the Governor, the state legislature confirmed Skandera. Although she had no qualifications as an educator, she was on the PARCC board. Later, after she assumed the position as Secretary of Education, she began trying tie PARCC scores to teacher pay (they were already part of teacher evaluations), as well as high school graduation. She also became PARCC chair, displaying the most overt conflict of interest in education to date.

I am not suggesting that these private companies be removed, but they need their power decreased. They need to return to their original position of providing services for schools instead of finding ways to vampirically draining the money out of teachers, schools, and communities. Pennsylvania should be proud of its top-notch education, as well as the high standard of its teachers, but it does not need to allow this bad behavior by companies that should be serving education, instead of milking money out of it. The testing requirements for receiving and maintaining a teaching license in Pennsylvania must be reexamined.

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's been a while.....

 I guess I just haven't had much to say these past few months, but life has definitely been a whirlwind.  Papa R and I have finally purchased our first home together, so we have been busy getting that all put together.  And the process getting here was a  nightmare, but I'll spare y'all that.

We also decided we are getting on the Baby Numero 2 train.  Which is proving to be a bit more challenging this time around.  I have an appointment with my doctor in a few weeks to see if we can figure out what's up.  So that's been fun.

I do have so much I want to say.  I keep seeing things and saying "oooh, I should blog about that!" and then I never seem to have the energy to actually put it all down.  So I am making a promise that from now on, I will actually write what I say I am going to write about.  Unfortunately for you, it will most likely be about trying to conceive for the next little bit!  ;-)  I'm sure I'll throw in a few more things here and there for you though!

Until next time!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener....

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I wanted to be Donna Reed, or June Cleaver.  I would always have a home cooked meal, fresh baked goods, a tidy home and a kiss for my husband as he walked through the front door.  All while being impeccably groomed and smiling and singing all day long.

And then, I finally got what I always wanted.  I was able to stay at home with Baby R.  And let me tell you, 1950's TV lied to me!!  Don't get me wrong, I love being able to see Baby R grow and learn.  It's the rest of it that drives me crazy!

My house is rarely clean.  As I sit typing this, I have a sink full of dishes, crayons and other miscellaneous toys strewn about my living room floor, chair cushions on the floor of the front room (because where else should they go, says Baby R).  I haven't put makeup on all week, but I DID manage to cook some meals and bake some cookies.  How did these women do it??  How do the millions (?) of other stay at home moms do it?  It is a struggle day to day for me.  I've tried organizing myself.  I gave myself one room to concentrate on per day in the hopes that I would be able to keep them all up.  Problem is, those rooms don't stick to the schedule as to when they get messy!  (How rude!)  I've tried cleaning as I go, but then there is the 15 month-old tornado right behind me every step of the way.  (Oh, you wanted those to stay folded mom??  Silly woman!)  I'm pretty sure checklists won't help because I'll just forget to check them off.

Then there's the guilt.  For the majority of our relationship I was always the breadwinner.  I have now gone from being the breadwinner to contributing nothing financially to our household.  We are struggling financially and I feel immense guilt because I could be working, but I'm not.  I know that if I go back to work, we could be so much better off financially and we could give Baby R so much more.  I also feel like I am missing out socially by not working.  We live in a new place where I know very few people.  Most days the only people I see are Baby R and Papa R.  While I love them both very much, sometimes I just need a break!  And then there comes the guilt again of am I being selfish?  Should I put my child's care in the hands of strangers just because I need some "social time"?  Is it better to provide her with a financially stable life or one where I am her sole caregiver?

Would I be a better mommy to her if I did have more time to myself?  Sometimes I think I would, but then I think about all that I would miss out on if I were stuck behind a desk for 8+ hours a day.  Would she be better off in a daycare environment?  I struggle with this one the most.  I think that this is something she really needs to boost her social skills.  She does so great with other adults, but when she is around other kids her age, she doesn't really interact well.  I feel like putting her in a daycare environment would help her with that.

I guess there really is no right answer here.  Ultimately I need to do what is best for our family.  I just need to figure out what that is....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Raising a Politically Aware Child

With all the election buzz going around, I thought I would get in on the action too.  Now that I have a child I've realized that things I say and do will trickle down to her.

Now I was never one to follow politics.  When I was younger, I found them confusing.  My family never talked politics.  At least they never did in front of us.  I remember when I was in junior high, I think it was the election of Bush the 1st, I asked my mother who she had voted for in the election.  My mother turned to me and said "None of your damn business!"  I have always remembered that and to this day I am grateful that she did that.  The way my parent's raised me I was able to make up my own mind and not just blindly follow the party they did.  I still don't know what party either of my parent's belong to and honestly, I don't care.  My brothers and I each share our own views, some of them similar and some VERY different.  While I do align myself with one side, I do try to look at both (or all) candidates before making a choice.  9 times out of 10 I pick one side over the other.

My husband, on the other hand, is very politically minded.  He has such passion and he gets very heated when he sees what he perceives as injustice from the other side.  His parents are also very politically minded, so I know that he was raised in a different manner than I was.  I'm not saying this is bad, mind you, just different.

I would like to raise Baby R in a similar fashion as I was raised.  I don't want her to say "I'm this party because my mommy and daddy are".  I want her to be able to form her own opinions and if they are different from ours, then it is what it is.  Since Papa R IS so politically minded, I think this is going to be quite the challenge.

How do you handle politics in your family?  Do you openly discuss candidates?  Do you tell your children who you are voting for and why?  Do you "bash" the party you don't agree with?  I'd really love some feedback on this one.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


It has been a hard few months in the Ramberglar household.  We moved to Roswell, NM in June so that Papa Ramberglar could start working as a police officer.  We moved away from family and friends to start this new venture.  It was tough, but not unmanageable.  He was making enough money that I could stay at home and raise Baby Ramberglar.  Life was sweet, or so we thought.

Three months into the new job, there was no new job.  Papa Ramberglar had some trouble getting through the FTO process and wasn't able to correct the problems in time.  So we were 8 hours away from any family and things were looking pretty dire.  I started to look for work so I could help contribute to the finances again.  In doing my job search I came across several open teaching positions in a few of the schools here.  Well, isn't this perfect since Papa R is a licensed teacher!  So he got on the ball and applied.  He had 3 interviews lined up and was offered a position on the the same day he interviewed.  Great right??

Since his license is held in another state, he has to transfer it.  Since he is not licensed in the State of New Mexico he can only be hired on as a long term substitute teacher at HALF the pay he would make as a full time teacher.  The State tells us it could be at least 8 weeks to get this done.  Meanwhile I am freaking out because we don't have enough money to pay rent! (Or any other bills for that matter).  We've had to borrow from the in-laws so many times my brain just hurts thinking about it.  I am so grateful to them for their help.  We've also had to tuck our tails between our legs and ask for financial assistance from the government.  Hopefully we won't need it for long.

I am again looking for work.  While I love staying at home with Baby R, I miss the adult interaction.  Plus I feel like she needs to be in an environment where she is around other children.  She is great playing by herself, but she gets upset when she is around other kids.  I think the regular interaction would be good for her.  I'm hoping to get an interview in the next week or two for one of the jobs I applied for.  It would be perfect as it is for the school district and I would have summers off with Papa R. so we could take time and visit family instead of trying to cram it all into just two weeks of vacation time.

So that is what we have been dealing with on our end.  Really hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving On

When I first got pregnant I excitedly went onto the Internet to find a group of women who would be expecting around the same time I was.  I was looking to find camaraderie and hopefully make some lasting friendships with people who were experiencing the same as me.  A bunch of us branched out from the anonymous iVillage message boards and created a group on Facebook.

As the months progressed drama ensued (as it does with hormonally charged women)  Some people left other people were removed still some of us made an offshoot group so we could talk about more controversial topics that we didn't think the others would appreciate.

A few more months went by and drama once again erupted.  Part of it was due to my blog post about Agnosticism.  (I was personally attacked for what I believe, while not attacking anyone else for their beliefs)  Part of it was due to the fact that the rest of the group found out about the 2nd group and they were hurt by it, which I can understand.

So then after some time the original group became no more.  I heard they actually started another one, and most likely were able to bring back people who left the first few times.  Which is great.  I'm sad that any of the splits had to happen.  Most of us who had been in the 2nd group as well stuck by each other and formed  closer bonds.  It truly felt as though we had a sisterhood.

Well, the drama beast couldn't leave us alone and again we found ourselves split.  I am not proud to say that I was part of the origination of the drama, but it soon turned nasty.  I tried to stay neutral and not take any one side, but I guess I didn't do a very good job of it.

Several members of the group felt as though they could no longer be a part of the drama and decided to leave.  I can't blame them for that.  I stayed because I still needed that one place I could go and vent my frustrations that I couldn't post on Facebook for all the world to see.  I needed a place to go where people could tell me I was overreacting to something my child did or that maybe I should try something I never thought of.  I am a first time mom after all, I don't know what the Hell I'm doing!

Soon after the split I got an angry text message from one of the girls.  Apparently someone had told her I was talking about her behind her back (which I wasn't).  I was able to get that straightened out pretty quickly and hopefully we are still good.  I'm pretty sure we are :-).

Another girl, who I had helped support both emotionally and financially by contributing to her business, without a word deleted me as her friend.  I was baffled by this since she was the one who had started everything and I had actually agreed with her.  I sent her a message wondering why she deleted me, and wishing her the best in her life.  I let her know I was sad to be losing her as a friend.  She never responded.  I didn't think she would.  I was told that she just didn't want to have anyone who had anything to do with the group anymore, but that seems like a lie since I know she is still friends with people who did not leave.  But that is neither here nor there.

All of that to get to my point:  Over the past month, I have seen this girl interact with the people I am mutual friends with and it was just twisting the knife in deeper and deeper.  I was so hurt that she could just drop me as a friend just like that, without a word.  We never once said anything in disagreement to each other.  She had a major life event today and several people were wishing her well and praying for her.  I just found myself angry about it.  I couldn't find it in my heart to wish her well and that is just not like me.  I decided that I can't let these things get to me so much.  I needed to be able to talk to my friends without getting angry because she was too.  So I did something that I have never once done in the many years I have had Facebook.  I used the block feature.  And it felt good.

And now writing this all out, makes me feel even better.

So I say farewell to a friendship I thought I had, but I guess was never really there.