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college, graduation, education, national hispanic fund, coca cola, family, latinos

This is part of a sponsored campaign with DiMe Media and Coca-Cola however, all opinions expressed about the importance of education are my own.

Since I was a tiny little girl of an immigrant father, I was taught that education was going to be my vehicle to success in life. My dad worked in a factory, my parents had six children and my mom stayed home to raise us, we were financially poor but rich in family and love. That’s what I grew up wanting only without so much of the financial struggle. They wanted better for us.

My parents are both very smart but only had a high school education. My dad came from a farming family and my mom came from blue-collar workers in the south. They did the best they could with the cards they were dealt. They were hard workers (still are) and did everything they could to provide their six children with all the necessities but there were not a lot of luxury left over. At the end of every day, my parents were exhausted. They wanted better for us.

I learned, as an adult, that when we were small, my parents felt a lot of frustration and disappointment in not being able to provide us with more opportunities. It didn’t matter to us, not really. We had food in our bellies, a roof over our heads and parents who loved us the best they could. We never had to worry about people using us for the things we had and our parents never had to worry about us taking our belongings for granted, we had to develop strong personalities and learned early on to appreciate everything that we had. I think it played a big part in the worth ethic we have now as adults. They wanted better for us.

My parents wanted us to have everything we wanted in life. They wanted us to work smarter not harder and they wanted us to spend more time enjoying life not just working and living paycheck to paycheck. It was imperative that each of us got a good education only they had no means and no idea of how to pay for it. They wanted better for us.

college, graduation, education, national hispanic fund, coca cola, family, latinos

They taught me from the age of reasoning that education was the great equalizer and no matter if I was a woman, a Latina or from a blue-collar family who lived in the ghetto, I could still grow up to be a doctor, a lawyer or anything else I wanted to be. The only limitation to my success was my own ability to work for it. They wanted better for us.

I knew that if I worked really hard and got the grades, I had the chance to go to school anywhere I wanted to and that meant the chance to be anything I wanted to be. That was a very powerful lesson that they taught me about life in general and it has stuck with me. If I close my eyes, I can still here my mom telling me, “ Where there is a will, there is always a way.” I believed her, even if she didn’t believe it for herself. It is probably the most important lesson they ever taught me. Its what made me the woman I am today.

I knew that an education could help me change my situation. Just because I was born poor or whatever didn’t mean that I had to spend my whole life in that same situation. Just because my parents only had high school educations didn’t mean that’s all I could have. Just because my parents had to make the best of what life gave them, I didn’t have to accept that. They wanted better for us just like all parents do.

I figured out on my own how to go to college. I worked hard for the grades and got accepted to all the schools that I applied to but I still didn’t have the money. I figured out how to apply for financial aid with the help of some of my friends and eventually, I applied for scholarships but I had waited so long that I’d missed most of the deadlines. I didn’t know any better and neither did my parents. They wanted better for us.

Eventually, I settled on a reputable state school because the ivy league schools that I got accepted to didn’t offer enough scholarship funds to cover the tuition and my parents couldn’t afford to even fly me home on holidays. I felt jilted. I had worked my tail off to get accepted to these prestigious schools and then I had no way to pay for it. I compromised my dreams because of money but I made the best of the opportunities that were available to me. I was the first person on either side of my family to ever go to college. I even went on to graduate school. Still, I want better for my children and that’s why I’m preparing now for my girl’s K8 education, which is available via Monte Cassino School.

Coca-Cola’s #ForTheDream program empowers Hispanic families to prepare, plan and pay for their teen’s college education, and inspires Hispanic students to pursue their higher education dreams and become future leaders.

This will prevent parents and students alike from not being caught off guard when the time comes for college. No child should ever have to sacrifice her education goals because of money, especially not when she’s done the work to earn it.

Although college enrollment has increased tremendously during the past two decades, the Latino population lags behind other groups when it comes degrees earned. This might be fueled by financial pressure for some students to support their families before graduation. As part of its commitment to the Hispanic community, Coca-Cola HSF #ForTheDream National Scholarship Program aims to empower Hispanic families to put their teens in the fast track to higher education.

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Coca-Cola understands the importance Hispanic families place on education, and wants to help them prepare, plan and pay for college, while aiding their Latino students achieve higher education. Coca-Cola is coming together again with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to help Hispanic families achieve their college dreams and aspirations, as part of the #ForTheDream National Scholarship Program. Coca-Cola is donating $150,000 to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to be awarded in college scholarships to qualifying students. Applications are being accepted from January 1 until March 30, 2016. Resources available to help complete it are on the For The Dream microsite.

How are you preparing for your child’s education?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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report card, grades, education, parenting

Do you worry about your child’s grades? Last week we attended annual Parent/Teacher conferences for our girls. They are always fairly uneventful. We go, the teachers tell us how good our girls are doing and we all go home and pat ourselves on the back. There are never any surprises.

We usually have a report card for the first quarter in hand before we ever meet with the teachers. It’s hard to argue with high honors. Mind you, we don’t necessarily want constant approval. In fact, I think parent/teacher conferences should be like managerial review meetings. Tell me 3 great things about child and then give her 2 goals of improvement to work towards. I want my child to feel challenged, not complacent because I know complacency and boredom is a recipe for trouble and failure in the long run.

This year my daughter’s 5th grade teacher threw us a curveball. She had our girl assess herself. Not surprising, my daughter marked herself “average” on all accounts. Average because we have expectations for her education that are based on more than just grades. Our expectations include love of learning, understanding concepts and being challenged. Grades are just a superficial quantification of learning. We know this.

I was raised to always strive for my best. I competed with myself. I still do because my toughest competition is myself and I want to be motivated by myself not out of envy or jealousy of someone else, it’s not healthy. This is what I have instilled in my girls. This is what my parents instilled in me.

Do grades really quantify an education?

When I was a child, I remember bringing home straight A’s and my dad asking why they were not all A+s. I remember feeling deflated. This turned me into a perfectionist and left me feeling unsatisfied in a lot of ways because I always felt like I let myself down and worse like I had let my parents down. I never wanted my girls to feel that way.

I never ask why a grade is not better. I am always proud of them and I ask them why they think a grade is what it is but mostly I just keep my eye on it and make sure that I put a little extra time in reviewing homework so I can find out and gently help them gain confidence and mastery in whatever the deficit or concept that is lacking is in. This has worked pretty well for us. I know that there is more that I can do but, for now, this is how the Big Guy and I address grades.

Imagine my surprise at the parent/teacher conference when the aforementioned 5th grade teacher, chuckled at my daughter when she answered “average” and then corrected her by saying, “if the other students listened/paid attention even 1/3 as much as you do you do, I would be happy. You, my dear, are most certainly “Above average!” My daughter looked confused, as was I.

I know, you are thinking, just shut up and be happy but what you don’t realize are few things 1) I was getting my masters in early education when I had my first child 2) I worked in education for 10 years 3) that teacher just completely undermined the expectations we had set for our daughter 4) in an instant, the teacher has lowered my daughter’s expectations for herself by making her effort seem overdone.

I’ve never liked rating/grading scales in education because really, what do they measure? It’s a moving scale. This is why we put in place expectations of our children, other than grades themselves. I want my children to feel proud and accomplished for thinking, for learning for craving more knowledge. It’s not just about a grade. I don’t want my children to be afraid to feel challenged. I want them to be exhilarated by it.

And before you start thinking I’m one of those mom’s who thinks their children are “gifted”, I don’t. I do think they are smart and capable of more than the expectations the school is setting for them. Of course the school is only responsible for passing grades, it’s my job as their mother to advocate for them and teach them to expect more from themselves than just “average”.

My daughter said, “average” because she knows that the effort that she is giving is not her best. Granted maybe a well-behaved child, who listens, pays attention and engages 97% of the time is better than the average student for that teacher, but it is not better than my daughter’s average and my daughter knows that.

I found myself to be completely annoyed by this teacher. I think she could have told my daughter that she thinks she is doing great without going so far as to say, “compared to the other students” because I’ve not taught my daughters to give a flip about what others are doing. I don’t teach my daughters to gauge their success by someone else’s failures only by their own feeling of satisfaction.

As a mom, I believe my number one purpose is to love my daughters but it is also my responsibility to encourage them to go after their dreams, honor their commitments and think for themselves. I’m doing my best but it’s hard because parenting is not an exact science.

What do you think? Do our expectations for our children distort their expectations of themselves? Is it better to encourage our children to strive for their own personal best?

How important do you think grades are to your child’s education?


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public school, private school, bad parent, good parent, education

Hi, my name is Debi and I am a product of public school. Before you get your panties in a wad about the title, this is in response to a post on Slate called, If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.

Let me start by saying (or admitting, as Slate would have you believe it’s a crime) that I send my children to private school. GASP! I don’t really believe you are a bad person for sending your kid to public school. I believe that as parents we all do the best we can for our kids. If trying our best makes us terrible then we’re all the worst kind of parents.

I didn’t go to private school and neither did my husband. We grew up blue collar. I am one of six kids who had a stay-at-home mom and a father who worked as a forklift driver in a factory. We survived on one blue-collar salary, Tang, public school and all the gluten. We survived. We overcame but I’m not sure any of us thrived in that situation.

Let me put this in further perspective, I was a gifted child in all honors classes and still I was not challenged. I was bored and by the time I was in high school, I was so unchallenged that I hated going to school because it felt like a waste of my time.

I wasn’t thriving because even the best at my public school wasn’t good enough.

When I had children, I knew that if I could afford it, I wanted to send them to private school. More specifically, I wanted to send them to Catholic school because I liked the idea of more challenging academics with constant spiritual nurturing incorporated into their daily routine. Yes, you can do that at home on your own but I like the idea of spirituality and faith being present daily and, perhaps more importantly, how it molds them and the children they spend their days with.

We are not independently wealthy. We are middle class parents who have made the decision that we want to give our children the best opportunity to grow and learn at a young age. In making this decision, we have accepted the fact that we may have to sacrifice other things. Things like extravagant vacations and a larger house. Don’t feel sorry for us, we still travel a couple times a year, our home is in a wonderful neighborhood in the suburbs and there is always plenty to eat. We made the decision to invest in their future but it’s not compromising our present in any way that is too much for us to bear.

The author of the article said that parents who put their children in private school are bad parents because we are doing a disservice to the other children of the world because after all, doesn’t every child deserve a great education? Yes, they do but it is not my place to save the world. It is my responsibility to do for my children. The only way the author’s scenario works is if you take private schools out of the equation entirely. Then, and only then, will all focus shift to bettering the public schools which I wholeheartedly agree needs to be done.

Those who follow her idea of putting our children into public schools with subpar curriculums now to make education better unintentionally make our children martyrs to the cause. I’m not willing to sacrifice my children’s education in hopes that I might be able to make the world a more level playing ground for future generations of hypothetical children. Meanwhile, failing the two I gave birth to. It is not my right to sacrifice their future. It is my duty to protect it.

By this author’s logic, I can argue that if you have the means and you don’t put your child in private school, then you don’t love your child at all. If I am a monster for caring for my children and doing my best to give them every opportunity to excel in this world then so be it because at the end of the day, my only responsibility is to my children.

Raising good humans who are functional, contributing and caring members of society is literally the most important thing a parent will ever do with their life. This is done by being present, be involved and giving them the guidance to achieve their hopes and dreams and that all starts with a good education. The system is failing the public schools, not me.

Are we bad people because we didn’t send our children to public school?

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school uniforms, little girls, body image, private school, self-esteem,

Okay, at the risk of sounding like a complete asshole, I want to discuss Education Vouchers. Our state has recently put into place a program that provides education vouchers for many children in the state to give them the financial ability to attend a private school of their choosing. Sounds awesome. Finally, children who were not wealthy could still have access to a private education.

I grew up poor but was always at the top of my class. I worked my ass off because my parents stressed the value of a good education. It was important to our family.Had the voucher program been in place when I was a kid, I could have gone to private school and received a more challenging education than what my public school education could provide.

My girls attend a private co educational school because we place value and importance on education. We are by no means wealthy but we made the choice to prioritize our girl’s educations over other things.We made the decision to sacrifice in other areas. We go without some things so the girls can get the best education we can provide for them. Unfortunately, even though we are not wealthy we also don’t qualify for the education voucher but I was still 100% in favor of education vouchers because if it could help one kid who needed it to get to an education they deserved, it was perfect.

Here is the problem, the education voucher was a great idea in theory prompted by people with seemingly good intentions but in fact, it is failing miserably, in my own personal experience. You see when you attend private school, there are usually a battery of entrance requirements; interviews, stipulations, testing. Parental involvement is a must and if it’s parochial, so is involvement in the church. At out school, the staff know al the parents because we volunteer on a regular basis. We see each other several times a week and we are in many ways, a family. But when you attend private school on an education voucher none of that applies. None of it. None.Of.IT!! I don’t think that is fair at all but that’s not here or there because fair is a luxury life doesn’t usually afford us. This is not me being an elitist snob this is me stating facts.

Every morning at drop off, I see kids whose parents took the voucher and forced their kids to attend private school. Some want to be there but others don’t. I don’t begrudge a parent for wanting better for their child but if you are going to go in, go all in and be involved with their kids education more than just dropping them off at school. They are not required to be involved in school activities like the parents of traditional students. At our school, traditionally it is required that the entire family be involved. There are requirements and expectations in place for both parents and students.

We oblige because we want the education for our children and we want to optimize the experience because we are invested ourselves, financially and personally. What bothers me is that the parents of the children attending on vouchers are not required to volunteer at the school or attend the church. Since the voucher went into effect, our school rating has fallen. I think it has a lot to do with uninvolved parents who are not invested in the program because they didn’t have to pay for it and in effect, children who take for granted what they’ve been given. It’s just not that important when you don’t have to earn it or pay for it.

I’m paying a lot of money in tuition for my kid to go to what is becoming a subpar school while these other parents send their child to the same school for free. We bust our ass to meet the stringent requirements as a family in order to attend the school. Meanwhile, the parents of the voucher students don’t have to do anything. My issue is not with the children, my issue is with the program. There needs to be equal admissions qualifications for all families, vouchers aside.There needs to be academic standards in place as criteria for admissions. Some sort of academic testing should be in place and there should be an interview process in which the parents are made aware of and held to the same standards as all the other parents and students.

I think financial need should be a qualification but there needs to be testing to make sure they deserve to be there; that they can keep up educationally and that they actually want to be there. If they don’t qualify then they shouldn’t get to attend the school; voucher or not. Why should the kids whose parents have worked their asses off to provide them with a great education and who have worked hard since kindergarten to be a part of the school, now have to accept the new lower standard in education excellence?

What do you think about kids being accepted into private schools simply because they qualify for free tuition through education vouchers?

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passing notes, bullying, teacher not paying attention, raising girls

I don’t usually complain about my kid’s school. In fact, I mostly love their school. If you have children in a parochial school you already know this but kids who attend parochial just seem to consider consequences of actions more than the average kid. Our children’s education is based on a foundation of charity, family and faith. Kindness, compassion and respect for others is reinforced in the classroom from the beginning. I’m thrilled to see the lessons we teach at home being reinforced at school. These are good kids. This is why I work to pay tuition. For us it is worth it. So you can imagine my shock and dismay when I hear of a child behaving in a way counterintuitive to everything they are taught. What’s worse is when the teacher ignores or misses it.

What’s not worth it is to expect all this and then realize that this year, you got the teacher who is not invested and never accessible unless you pop into the classroom and even then there is a very good chance then that you’ll be cutoff midsentence and asked to leave. True story. I am used to teachers who, if call or email about my child, respond. I am used to teachers who pay attention to what is going on in the classroom and handle it.

For the past 3 years, my oldest has been victim to some bullying and every year, I contacted the teacher and he or she handled it. We worked together and it all ended up fine without too much emotional scarring but it took all parties involved to be invested. This year, one of her previous bullies is in her class again. It’s a very uncomfortable situation.

Yesterday at pick up, my 8-year old got in the car and immediately started telling me about her day at school and then started crying telling me that her teacher thought she was bullying a little boy and she swears she didn’t do it. When she tried to explain, the teacher called her a bully. You see the same little mean girl who bullied her in 1st grade is in my daughter’s class again this year and this time she has a new victim, a little boy in the classroom who sits next to my daughter. The little girl wrote a note of insults about the boy and put 4 girl’s names next to them. Girls she also doesn’t like. Then she showed the little boy. Then she gave it to my daughter. My daughter knows that we have a zero bullying tolerance. She told the girl to erase her name and when the girl wouldn’t, my daughter went to the teacher, only to be shushed and told to sit down. A few minutes later the little girl threw the paper at my daughter and the teacher saw it mid-flight and assumed the girls were passing notes and when she saw what the note said she moved the girls apart and then told all five girls (the child who wrote all of it and the other 4 girls names who she had put on the sheet (as far as I am concerned victims too) that she will be bringing up the “bullying” incident at Friday’s parent teacher conferences.

Now this all comes after a week of my trying to get in contact with the teacher via email about the Halloween party I’m organizing, with NO ANSWER to any of my emails. This also comes after she almost made my child wet her pants because she wouldn’t allow her to use the restroom (I have since told my child that if she needs to go..go and I will deal with the consequences rather than her piss her pants and deal with the ridicule). My daughter is 8, I think she knows if she really has to piss. So this teacher has been, in my opinion, half-assing a lot of things this year.

I have a couple problems with the whole “bullying” incident because 1) if the teacher would have taken a second to just listen to my daughter when she tried to give her the note in the first place and not shushed her maybe the little boy would never had gotten the chance to see it and she would have known who was doing what. 2) If she paid attention to my daughter in class at all, she would know that doing something like this is not in her nature especially since she has been bullied herself. 3) When I called her to discuss the incident (5 minutes after pick up) she was gone and never called me back this morning. I think if you are going to be throwing around the word “bullying” and label my child you should at least answer the phone message of a concerned parent who wants to know what’s going on because if my daughter is not the perpetrator she shouldn’t be labeled and punished and if she is then she should be punished by her father and I.

She swears she never said the things written on the note after a long and thorough discussion, I believe her. I still told her that she needs to apologize to the little boy; to which she said she already had when he first saw it. My husband has told her to show a little extra kindness to the child who was insulted because he’s probably feeling pretty down. I just want to get to the bottom of all of this so we can take the proper steps to stop this kind of shit from happening to our children. If I were that little boy’s mom, I’d be livid. Things like this can stick with you forever.

I need your advice. As a parent, what would you do?

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Twitter, preschoolers

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Twitter, preschoolers

She just realized that she Tweeted her Home address to a Pedophile

Twitter and the Preschooler~ The French have once again outdone us in the parenting realm. They are so progressive. Apparently, first they go all Bringing Up Bébé on our asses and try to prove that they can get results as good as that of the Tiger Mom Amy Chua without all the beatings and chaining to the piano.  Now, they’ve gone and started the bébé’s out in social media before they are even out of diapers. Bravo! Awesome that their kids can tweet “ Ma mère suce”(My Mom sucks) while simultaneously screaming from the toilet for you to come wipe their ass.

Bébes on Twitter

The French are so evolved and cosmopolitan, it’s no wonder all of their women are thin and perfect. They’ve got it all figured out. While we are here obsessing over our love-handles and trying to diet and get healthy, they just eat and smoke whatever they desire and still look amazing in their designer clothing they bought at the neighborhood trunk show. Us poor Americans with our très stupide purse parties and Tupperware, no wonder our kids throw tantrums and talk back. We can’t even get a handle on our socialization skills. Fucking Americans buying our clothes at Target and attachment parenting.

We have no control over our children. We are so busy helicoptering and loving our children that we just don’t know how to Ferberize and mind meld them at the necessary levels to be allowed to use them as accessories. Wait? Why did we have these kids again? Oh yeah, the tax write off of course.

Twitter for the under 5 set

Sorry, I’m off on a tangent. The point is this; there is a French preschool near Bordeaux, France where the 29 preschool students are posting daily tweets. They only post one tweet a day and it is a group project so that all the kids can help decide what to post. Then two of the children are selected to type the actual group composed tweet. It’s supposed to be an exercise in learning the alphabet. What happened? Is our antiquated alphabet flashcards not doing the trick anymore?

The tweets are fairly innocuous tweets like “We gathered snow to see how it turns into water.” Cute right?

I don’t think so. I live on Twitter and I LOVE twitter. I want to have Twitter’s babies but I’m also a saucy foul-mouthed hooligan. Letting preschoolers on Twitter is like dropping a 7 year old off in a bar and then being surprised when they are cursing, smell like smoke, drunk and screaming ” woohoo, that’s my jam!”

Why not wait until they are old enough to have the reasoning skills to handle Twitter. Can’t we just let our preschoolers be kids for a little while longer? What’s the rush?

Preschoolers can’t read or write. It’s sort of like knowing how to insert a tampon without actually having a vagina. Why?

The class Twitter account has 89 followers, most of them parents, the rest of them pedophiles ( probably). If the preschoolers insist on maintaining this account, at least read this post about how to responsibly use Twitter.

What do you think about preschoolers having a twitter account? Is this the natural progression of social media? Would you want your preschooler on Twitter? Would you allow it? Would you be comfortable with your 4 year old composing tweets and sharing thoughts on Twitter?

Twitter a Pedo’s Paradise


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