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I Love Strong Women (re-published)

9:37 am in Culture by dakine01

In honor of International Women’s Day I am re-publishing a diary I wrote May 7, 2010.

I always have loved Strong Women. Growing up, they were all around me, so it was the normal way of life. There was my mother, who returned to college when I was seven to complete her degree and become an English teacher. She continued on and received her librarian certifications. She died 23 years ago this past Wednesday and I still miss her.

A couple of years after Mom had returned to school, her sister also returned to college to finish her degree and became a first grade teacher as she raised her son and two daughters after a divorce.

Cissy Taylor, Blanton Collier Osborne, Rita D. Taylor circa 1974

It goes back to my grandmother who was the most gracious woman I’ve ever known. She was divorced when my Mom was two and Aunt Pat was new born and raised her daughters as a single mother. She was helped by her older sister who got a job and helped support the family through the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. Edie was often not the easiest person to know but we all knew her strength.

As gracious as my grandmother was, she was also my most fierce defender. When some of her friends complained about my growing a mustache when I was 17, they soon learned that she was not their ally. (I’m named for her father and we do look somewhat alike although his mustache was a Walrus rather than a Handlebar.

There’s my beautiful sister, Cissy, who realized very early that she wanted to be a reporter and writer and has been able to make this her career. She has been the one who does the camping and canoeing and the outdoor life while being quite capable when she has to play Martha Stewart. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and was facing chemo, she threw a party so her friends could give her caps and scarves since she knew she was going to lose her hair. She was facing what life brought her and refusing to give up.

There’s my lovely sister-in-law, Rita, who has had the strength to put up with my brother all these years, which is a feat in itself (he’s more stubborn than I am and that says a lot.) It’s probably not enough for sainthood but the Karmic positive is huge!

My cousin Mary, Aunt Pat’s oldest daughter, is a Navy veteran who met her future husband when they served together. After they married, she brought him back to our hometown where she raised two beautiful daughters of her own, both of whom are now mothers with daughters as well. Anna, Mary’s oldest daughter is – surprise! a teacher. And there’s Mary’s younger sister Jane who has the strength of innocence to guide us all.

From my Dad’s side of the family, I was too young to really know my Grandmother Taylor but I know she was a strong woman. She helped my grandfather run his farm and they ran a roadside restaurant together while raising seven children, five sons and two daughters. And as a further indicator, I have the knowledge of Dad’s oldest sister who ran the farm while her husband was the local county clerk. Dad’s other sister, my Aunt Sara, received a mathematics degree in 1929 and taught for years while raising five daughters, all of them Strong Women.

The trigger for me to write this diary was a picture one of my cousins posted to her Facebook account that was taken just last Saturday of my first cousin Peggy, Aunt Sara’s second daughter, and her seven granddaughters. Peggy has two daughters and a son and is a retired teacher. I really wish I had a copy of that picture for you to see these seven young women and “The Matriarch.” There’s Whitney, a PhD in Industrial Engineering sitting there as well as Katie, a Master’s candidate in Architecture (already LEED certified. Megan is a second year pharmacy student, and Katelyn is a Family Services major. I’m not positive but I think Lindsey is a nurse (like her mother). I don’t know what Lauren and Jessica are majoring in but I know they are a couple of good hunters and Jessica is a champion cutting horse rider.

Strong Women all.

Now I’ve mentioned roughly a third of my female cousins here and mean no disrespect to the ones I’ve not mentioned. Peggy’s sisters have another four daughters plus granddaughters. My father’s older brothers managed to not have any daughters but still married Strong Women and at least my oldest first cousin had four daughters to go with three sons. I look at the generations of women from the Taylor/Vanderen and Osborne families and see the strength of the Mothers and Grandmothers reflected and carried on for the future.

All of them Strong Women.

Teachers, nurses, journalists, administrators and management, executives, housewives, mothers, geeks and nerds, sorority women, athletes, bodybuilders, and legal assistants. These are just some of the careers and interests of the Strong Women in my family.

I’m sure it was the examples of all the Strong Women in my family that brought me to Firedoglake in the first place where the writing of Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, and Marcy Wheeler told me I’d found some more Strong Women to admire and love. The many other writers and commenters just helped make the place feel like home.

Strong Women all.

You want to know what I think makes a Strong Woman? They are women who refuse to be limited and force the rest of us to accept them in their humanity. They refuse to be limited by stereotypes and they lift us all with their strength.

As you look around on Sunday and toast your mother, have a second toast for all the Strong Woman that you know.

They really are all around us.

Ain’t it grand?

And because I can:

Santorum steps in it

6:09 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.

As you may know, I read a lot of news articles. While I don’t often write about the participants in the GOP Clown Car, when I saw this article at the LA Times this afternoon, I was moved to respond:

In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House.… Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.” 

“Yes, the government can help,” he continued, “but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic.”

He said it is an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, “when people came off the farms where they did homeschool or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories … called public schools.”

Let me state for the record that my mother was an English teacher and a librarian. She taught in both public and private schools. Her sister was an elementary school teacher. My father’s sister taught math at the local high school in my hometown. I have numerous cousins on both sides of my family who were and are teachers. All of this is irrelevant to Little Ricky’s Revisionist history.

A quick check of der Google for “literacy rates in the US over time” brought these results with the very first item being a “National Assessment of Adult Literacy” report from the National Center for Education Statistics. This link goes to a section on Illiteracy from 1870 to 1979 including a table broken out at least partially by race.

The data in this table for the years 1870 to 1930 come from direct questions from the decennial censuses of 1870 to 1930, and are therefore self-reported results. The data for 1947, 1952, 1959, 1969, and 1979 were obtained from sample surveys; they exclude the Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. The statistics for the census years 1940 and 1950 were derived by estimating procedures. 

According to that table, in 1870, 20 percent of the overall population was illiterate (11.5 per cent of Whites and 79.9 percent of Blacks and other races). In 1952 (the year I was born) the figures were 2.5 percent overall with 1.8 percent of Whites and 10.2 percent of Blacks and other races. In 1979, those figures were .6 percent of the total population with .4 percent of Whites and 1.6 percent of Blacks and other races. It is directly because of public school education that those figures improved so dramatically over the years.

About a year ago, I wrote a post titled Teachers Are Not the Enemy. In reality, neither are public schools. But public schools are being used as scapegoats for the failings of politicians who refuse to raise taxes for any reasons and who try to force teachers to become miracle workers.

Oh and Ricky? If you dislike public education so very much, you might want to refund the school fees you scammed out of the public school district in Pennsylvania while you were “homeschooling” your children in Virginia.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Unions, Public Or Private, Are Not The Problem

11:42 am in Economy, Government, Jobs by dakine01

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen an unprecedented attack on public sector unions across the nation. According to this article from the LA Times via the Sacramento Bee, nearly half of the states are in varying stages of attacking public and private sector unions.

Nearly half of the states are considering legislation to limit public employees’ collective bargaining rights. In New Hampshire, the House last week approved a measure that one union leader assailed as “Wisconsin on steroids.”

But it’s not just budgetary concerns driving Republican officeholders to take on unions, traditionally a strong Democratic ally.

In Maine, the newly elected Republican governor ordered the removal of a mural depicting the state’s labor history from a state building because, his spokeswoman said, it portrayed a one-sided message supporting organized labor.

A number of states are considering bills that would limit unions’ ability to collect dues from public employees. The Florida House approved a bill to ban dues deductions from government paychecks and require unions to obtain members’ permission before using dues for political activity. Similar legislation is under consideration in Kansas. Other bills would eliminate a requirement that workers covered by union contracts pay union dues or fees.

There is some push back going on as well, including the law suit in Wisconsin to block implementation of the anti union law there and in Ohio, opponents of Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 are collecting signatures for a ballot referendum to repeal the law there. Yesterday (Monday, April 4), there were rallies all across the country in support of Unions and worker rights.

Today, MSNBC had a couple of articles on public sector workers. The first is on workers in general:

They take away your trash. They protect your homes, your property and your families. They put out your fires and they educate your children. And somehow, in the past year or so, the uniforms many of them wear have grown a bull’s-eye on the back. Or at least that’s how they feel.
Read the rest of this entry →

Let’s Play With Some Numbers Once Again (Teachers style)

11:33 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government by dakine01

And then try to add in the cost of diapers, formula, baby food...(photo: phrenologist via Flickr)

Back in December, I wrote a post “Let’s Play With Some Numbers” based upon a mythical minimum wage worker and what that means in the line of taxes versus expenses. Today, I’d like to offer a similar “what if” based on teacher salaries.

Why you may ask?

Well, mainly because of some of the “ZOMG! Teachers get paid! And they receive benefits” gibberish I’ve seen the last few days concerning the “budget busting unions” and the “highly compensated teachers” of Wisconsin. As a side note, why are the anti-teachers people so adamant on tearing down the teachers and other public sector workers and their benefits? Shouldn’t we be trying to raise things up so that folks in the private sector are once again getting reasonable pay and benefits rather than tearing people down to a lower level? Whatever happened to the desire to see folks from all walks celebrated for their work and paid a living wage?

My reference data is from this state-by-state starting salary for teachers, average, and 10 year percentage increase (looks to be from 2008). This site offers median salaries for various grade levels of teachers but I offer it only for further discussion and will use mainly the first link.

My mythical teacher is going to be a graduate of Wisconsin Stevens Point. This person will be a Wisconsin resident so will receive instate tuition. We’ll pretend that our mythical teacher lived in a dorm for all four years (though I’d guess most juniors and seniors manage to find off campus housing with all of its attendant costs) and used the meal card. So our mythical student has costs of $6,304 per semester (rounding down), $12,608 a year and a minimum four year cost of $50,432. I’ll pretend this student worked and got some help from Mom and Dad and maybe a small scholarship or two but still needed loans for say $30K. I’m sure there are students who financed the whole amount as well as students who had full parental support to students who managed full time jobs as well as full time student loads.

So here we have our mythical Wisconsin Stevens Point graduate starting a career as a teacher with $30K debt and a starting salary of $25,222. We’ll assume our new teacher is getting paid twice a month for nine months so will have a pre-tax bi-weekly income of $1,401 (payday on the 15th and the end of the month). Taxes and such will probably pull that down to roughly $1K take home so we’ll say $2K per month. We’ll put our new teacher in a one bedroom apartment at $400 per month plus utilities which will average another $400 (gas, electric, heat and air conditioning, phone, and cable). I don’t know what the loan periods are for student loans now so we’ll pretend the loan period for the $30K debt is ten years and with interest our mythical teacher will pay back $45K. This works out to be $375 per month for ten years. And yes, that’s for those months when our teacher is not working in the summer. At this point, our teacher has $1,175 of $2K per month for nine months committed without buying any food, clothing, car payments, insurance payments, school supplies or savings to cover the three months with no salary. . . . Read the rest of this entry →

I Love Strong Women

9:04 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

I always have loved Strong Women. Growing up, they were all around me, so it was the normal way of life. There was my mother, who returned to college when I was seven to complete her degree and become an English teacher. She continued on and received her librarian certifications. She died 23 years ago this past Wednesday and I still miss her.

A couple of years after Mom had returned to school, her sister also returned to college to finish her degree and became a first grade teacher as she raised her son and two daughters after a divorce.

It goes back to my grandmother who was the most gracious woman I’ve ever known. She was divorced when my Mom was two and Aunt Pat was new born and raised her daughters as a single mother. She was helped by her older sister who got a job and helped support the family through the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. Edie was often not the easiest person to know but we all knew her strength.

As gracious as my grandmother was, she was also my most fierce defender. When some of her friends complained about my growing a mustache when I was 17, they soon learned that she was not their ally. (I’m named for her father and we do look somewhat alike although his mustache was a Walrus rather than a Handlebar.

There’s my beautiful sister, Cissy, who realized very early that she wanted to be a reporter and writer and has been able to make this her career. She has been the one who does the camping and canoeing and the outdoor life while being quite capable when she has to play Martha Stewart. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and was facing chemo, she threw a party so her friends could give her caps and scarves since she knew she was going to lose her hair. She was facing what life brought her and refusing to give up.

There’s my lovely sister-in-law, Rita, who has had the strength to put up with my brother all these years, which is a feat in itself (he’s more stubborn than I am and that says a lot.) It’s probably not enough for sainthood but the Karmic positive is huge!

My cousin Mary, Aunt Pat’s oldest daughter, is a Navy veteran who met her future husband when they served together. After they married, she brought him back to our hometown where she raised two beautiful daughters of her own, both of whom are now mothers with daughters as well. Anna, Mary’s oldest daughter is – surprise! a teacher. And there’s Mary’s younger sister Jane who has the strength of innocence to guide us all.

From my Dad’s side of the family, I was too young to really know my Grandmother Taylor but I know she was a strong woman. She helped my grandfather run his farm and they ran a roadside restaurant together while raising seven children, five sons and two daughters. And as a further indicator, I have the knowledge of Dad’s oldest sister who ran the farm while her husband was the local county clerk. Dad’s other sister, my Aunt Sara, received a mathematics degree in 1929 and taught for years while raising five daughters, all of them Strong Women.

The trigger for me to write this diary was a picture one of my cousins posted to her Facebook account that was taken just last Saturday of my first cousin Peggy, Aunt Sara’s second daughter, and her seven granddaughters. Peggy has two daughters and a son and is a retired teacher. I really wish I had a copy of that picture for you to see these seven young women and “The Matriarch.” There’s Whitney, a PhD in Industrial Engineering sitting there as well as Katie, a Master’s candidate in Architecture (already LEED certified. Megan is a second year pharmacy student, and Katelyn is a Family Services major. I’m not positive but I think Lindsey is a nurse (like her mother). I don’t know what Lauren and Jessica are majoring in but I know they are a couple of good hunters and Jessica is a champion cutting horse rider.

Strong Women all.

Now I’ve mentioned roughly a third of my female cousins here and mean no disrespect to the ones I’ve not mentioned. Peggy’s sisters have another four daughters plus granddaughters. My father’s older brothers managed to not have any daughters but still married Strong Women and at least my oldest first cousin had four daughters to go with three sons. I look at the generations of women from the Taylor/Vanderen and Osborne families and see the strength of the Mothers and Grandmothers reflected and carried on for the future.

All of them Strong Women.

Teachers, nurses, journalists, administrators and management, executives, housewives, mothers, geeks and nerds, sorority women, athletes, bodybuilders, and legal assistants. These are just some of the careers and interests of the Strong Women in my family.

I’m sure it was the examples of all the Strong Women in my family that brought me to Firedoglake in the first place where the writing of Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, and Marcy Wheeler told me I’d found some more Strong Women to admire and love. The many other writers and commenters just helped make the place feel like home.

Strong Women all.

You want to know what I think makes a Strong Woman? They are women who refuse to be limited and force the rest of us to accept them in their humanity. They refuse to be limited by stereotypes and they lift us all with their strength.

As you look around on Sunday and toast your mother, have a second toast for all the Strong Woman that you know.

They really are all around us.

Ain’t it grand?

And because I can: