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Lambs in the basement: a winter flashback

A hot cup of coffee.   Crispy, almost burnt toast.  An uncomfortable sense that I’m already behind in my day.  The only thing missing in this flashback to my childhood is the sound of bleating lambs coming from the basement, awaiting their breakfast.  I half expect my mother to turn the corner into the room, berating me for still lingering at the table instead of mixing up their vanilla-smelling milk concoction, made from powered Real Imitation Milk. Continue reading

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What makes a “good” school?

I have a friend whose daughter goes to a competitive middle school on the UWS.  Since her daughter and my son are in the same grade, we sometimes commiserate about our experiences with our children, school and homework.  Yesterday she came to me especially frustrated by her daughter, who has ADHD, and their homework situation.  She had no way of knowing what the homework was because her daughter doesn’t know, and my friend is not allowed to email the teachers to ask – in fact she doesn’t even have access to their email addresses. Continue reading


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Is That a Leader or a Follower?

Thinking back to my youth, I can definitively say that 7th grade was the worst ever.  I attended a small town “junior high school” that consisted of just 7th and 8th grade.  The main form of entertainment at recess for my group of friends was to stand in the far corner of a blacktop lot and smoke cigarettes.  I don’t ever remember a single teacher coming over to check on us or to break it up. In fact, the space where we stood was clearly visible from the school and anyone could easily see the billows of smoke rising above us.  I remember being much more concerned about how I was being accepted in social circles than I ever was about getting good grades, since that was, if not “uncool”, at least not cool. Continue reading


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School Lunch Trays Hamper Our Children’s Future

Growing up in a rural community, I attended a small elementary school, where the school lunch was 35 cents.  Every morning my sisters and I took our change to the office where the office assistant would tear off an orange ticket from a large roll and give it to us.  The trick was to keep track of the ticket until lunch time when the cafeteria lady would collect them.  From there we would pick up a cafeteria tray from the head of the line and make our way slowly down the counter while food was dished out onto real, ceramic plates.  We ate our lunches and then took the trays, dishes, and silverware back to the counter to put them into tubs set out for that purpose, splashing them into the slightly murky water. Continue reading