Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What proposed bill AB-2756 Means for CA Homeschoolers

In a nutshell the proposed bill AB-2756 could result in every homeschooling family in the state of California could being visited on a yearly basis by their local fire chief who would in fact be required to do so.  The bill really has nothing to do with the authors' concerns for your fire safety, it was inspired by an awful incident of child abuse that occurred in Perris, CA (this was an awful read for me, I'm putting it here for informational purposes, but be warned.).  The Homeschool Association of California has written up their thoughts on the bill.  If you'd like to contact your assemblymember regarding the bill, you can find their contact information here.  If you'd like to contact the authors' of the proposed bill their contact information is listed below.


Medina, Jose

61DemocratContact Assembly Member Jose Medina

Capitol Office, Room 2141

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0061; (916) 319-2061

District Office

1223 University Avenue, Suite 230, Riverside, CA 92507; (951) 369-6644
137 N. Perris Blvd, Suite 15, Perris, CA 92570; (951) 369-6644 
Eggman, Susan Talamantes

13DemocratContact Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman

Capitol Office, Room 4117

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0013; (916) 319-2013

District Office

31 East Channel Street, Suite 306, Stockton, CA 95202; (209) 948-7479 
Gonzalez Fletcher, Lorena S.

80DemocratContact Assembly Member Lorena S. Gonzalez Fletcher

Capitol Office, Room 2114

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080; (916) 319-2080

District Office

1350 Front Street, Suite 6022, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 338-8090 
Rodriguez, Freddie

52DemocratContact Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez

Capitol Office, Room 2188

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0052; (916) 319-2052

District Office

13160 7th Street, Chino, CA 91710; (909) 902-9606 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

CA homeschooling rights grab

A new bill affecting homeschoolers in CA is headed though the legislature.  The bill which is of course, 'for our safety' would require local fire marshal's to inspect all schools with fewer than six students.  Translated, this means that the fire chief in each town will be required to inspect every home that files a homeschooling affidavit.  The affidavits are currently required by law in CA, so that means if the bill passes, each of us who are homeschooling legally can expect a visit from a fire marshal.

Some very good points are being made about this bill.  Among them are:

  • You're not required to file a homeschool affidavit until your children are compulsory schooling age.  What is it about turning six that places children at higher risk due to fires.  In other words, when three kids are under the age of six in a home, why do they not get the privilege of a fire safety inspection?
  • Apparently most fires happen in the evening, (you know when people are actually in their homes.)  Why are all the publicly schooled children being denied the extra warm/fuzzies of having a personal home fire inspection?
It is being said, and it very much seems to actually be the case to me that this is simply a bill targeted at homeschoolers.  If you'd like to not have to open your home for public inspections for fire safety, (and seriously, if that flies what will the next 'risk' we need to be protected from be?), then please write your assemblyman as well as the authors of the bill:

Medina, Jose

61DemocratContact Assembly Member Jose Medina

Capitol Office, Room 2141

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0061; (916) 319-2061

District Office

1223 University Avenue, Suite 230, Riverside, CA 92507; (951) 369-6644
137 N. Perris Blvd, Suite 15, Perris, CA 92570; (951) 369-6644 
Eggman, Susan Talamantes

13DemocratContact Assembly Member Susan Talamantes Eggman

Capitol Office, Room 4117

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0013; (916) 319-2013

District Office

31 East Channel Street, Suite 306, Stockton, CA 95202; (209) 948-7479 
Gonzalez Fletcher, Lorena S.

80DemocratContact Assembly Member Lorena S. Gonzalez Fletcher

Capitol Office, Room 2114

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0080; (916) 319-2080

District Office

1350 Front Street, Suite 6022, San Diego, CA 92101; (619) 338-8090 
Rodriguez, Freddie

52DemocratContact Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez

Capitol Office, Room 2188

P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0052; (916) 319-2052

District Office

13160 7th Street, Chino, CA 91710; (909) 902-9606 


Sunday, February 18, 2018

You Become What You Practice

A few days back, I wrote rather mournfully about an opportunity that three year-old No. 3 had lost because, well, she’s 3.  It seemed a bummer to me that 3 wasn’t allowed to continue what she’d done so well, (participating in a class involving a museum tour and a related project).

I was thinking about the entire issues as 3 being able to do things that her same-age peers couldn’t.  Mostly I’d been led to this thinking by the museum staff who were concerned that other kids 3’s age couldn’t function in the class.  (Plus it’s kinda fun to think that your kid is stellar.)

Then, it occurred to me.  What if all kids could do this?  What if we just don’t expect it of them as a society, and so, of course, they don’t.  3 was pretty much raised in the museum of which I speak, (and in a whole host of other locations).  She learned how to walk there.  Most Saturdays she could be found—at first in the wrap strapped to me and later on foot—following along with the museum tour and project class before it became age limited.  She got to do this for two blissful years before the rules changed.  Parents, and teachers alike remark on 3 following along with the tour, doing what all the other kids aged six and up do.  But, really, what else would she do?  She’s experienced this class throughout her life.  She knows how it works.  She enjoys it.  What else would she do?

Maybe that’s the key, and maybe that’s what we’re really losing by programs being age limited.  Maybe 3 isn’t particularly gifted, (even though I of course like to think she is), maybe every single kid that went to this class at the same age would have had the same experience.  Isn’t it more rational to make that assumption?

What about kids that just don’t want to be there though?  Won’t they disrupt the class?  There were days 3 didn’t want to be there when she was younger.  We simply left the class early, went downstairs, got a beer (for me) and an apple juice (for her) and had a delightful time.  Before that, there were times she was hungry.  Mom-person and 3 wandered to a quiet corner of the museum with a bench.  These were not insurmountable issues.

What are we losing as a society and as families by not making the assumption that of course our kids can?  I’m going to try to sell 3’s attendance to the museum again, because otherwise, as I mentioned before, I have to find a new opportunity for 3 to partake in.  Why?  Because if you don’t use a skill, you lose it.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

What If?

I might have mentioned before, (or I might not), that the kids and I, especially when they were very young, shared a rather incredibly tight biofeedback loop.  I found that when I became upset, even just internally, (assuming to myself that my emotions were smugly, if not stoically hidden), within seconds, whichever kids was the youngest would also be upset.  The whole thing was a bit of a bummer with respect to generally wanting the kids not to be upset, but also edifying in that we were so connected, and finally it was a very mindful sort of way to live in that I was offered constant reminders to calm myself the heck down.

As the years have progressed, the kids and I have lost some of the animal immediacy of our bond.  When one of us is upset, the other doesn't instantly fall to pieces anymore, but we do still feel each others general tone.  Now, instead of calling it biofeedback, I find myself calling it jangliness, and I can feel it in the kids every bit as much as they can sense it in me.  Sometimes, when I'm feeling more mindful, or when the stakes are higher, (like when we're on a crowded sidewalk), I'll mention the feeling to the gang.  I'll ask them to slow down and focus; to pay attention to where everyone else is around them before something happens.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes, they say 'OK!' just before they bounce into some innocent passer-by, completely confirming my original hunch.

It's this sense of jangliness that brings me to my point.  Lately I've felt it coming from No. 2, the local five year old, while we've just been hanging out at the house.  I can tell, I know, that within five minutes, he'll be in trouble.  So far, what I've done is to ask him to perhaps play something different, or play somewhere else, or to try to calm down.  It's mostly been to no avail; within a few minutes, he or one his sibs are howling in disappointment, or outraged hurt.

But, what if?  What if instead of asking 2 to take it easy I interjected myself in a constructive way instead?  What if I asked 2 what he was up to, and could I play?  What if I asked him to help me with what I was doing?  What if I asked him if he'd like to go for a walk, or what he wanted for dinner?  What if I used my foreknowledge to forestall the future?  I'll give it a try, and let you know!

Are you prescient about your gang?  What do you do with this future-sight?


Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Bailed My Dad out of Jail!

“I had to bail my dad out of jail!” This is how, then 3 year-old No. 1 had, (with great glee), started every conversation with visiting friends and relatives for the last several weeks. And so, seeing no reason to deviate from a winner, these were 1’s first words to my aunt after we’d settled in for lunch at our favorite Mexican food place.

“Ummm, what?” said my aunt as she put down her margarita, grinned a little bit, and turned her focus to me.

Fortunately, it was a short story, hillarious, but short. My partner and I had been on our way to pick up 1 and then one-year old No. 2 from daycare. I crept up to the stop sign at the edge of our neighborhood, looked both ways, and kept on creeping. The flashing lights that appeared in my rear-view mirror immediately indicated I hadn’t looked quite well enough.

I pulled over in a large and rather empty strip mall parking lot. The officer and I went through the initial pleasantries. He returned to his car to run my license through the system. He returned rather quickly, and asked, “Are you aware that your license is suspended?”

“I”m aware my license ‘was’ suspended. I didn’t pay a ticket for an expired registration I got while moving out of the state six years ago. We found out, I paid the ticket and fines (all $2000 worth of them), and now everything’s good.”

“No, no it’s not. Sir, please wait here.”

Then the second police car arrived.

“Sir, are you aware I can arrest you for this offense?”

With admittedly ill-placed bravado and humor, I replied, “You should do whatever your heart tells you is right.” I guess I was the only one that thought that was funny under the circumstances.

“Sir, please step out of the car.”

Then things just got surreal. Yes, I was being arrested. Did I have anything in my pockets that might stick him the first officer wanted to know. “Nope,” I replied, and then his hands were in my pockets. Two seconds later, he pulled out the world’s smallest Swiss Army knife, you know, the one owned by 10 year olds throughout the country.

“This could have stuck me!” he said holding up the dainty little knife.

“Well not really, you see all the blades are in, so I think you’re OK.”

Then, things just got absurd. We heard the growl of a motorcycle engine. We both looked up to see a man in a Panzer helmet, (a sliver one no less; polished to a mirror-like sheen), circling us about 50 yards out on his chopper, the kind of bike that has the fork angled out at 45 degrees so the front wheel sticks way out. I’d never seen this guy, whom I suspected thought he was being a helpful fellow citizen, before in my life. The whole thing left me with a feeling of watching shark-week episodes while switching back and forth between “The Great Escape.” The officer’s reaction was obviously less fanciful than mine, his hands began to shake as he cuffed me.

Thankfully the rest of the arrest was uneventful. While booking, the officer didn’t believe my street address could really be 4321. I assured him it was, but we hadn’t built the best rapport thus far. He wrote down the information, shook his head, sighed, and walked off.

Left in the holding lobby with nothing else to do I immediately started to estimate how hard it would be to escape. Admittedly, I’m an amateur at these things, but my assessment was that it would be utterly impossible.

Consequently, I was delighted when a guard dressed in his finest short sleeved button-down light-blue prison shirt came around the corner looking completely stunned, and said, “That woman just handed me her baby! I asked her to fill out the forms, and she said ‘Here’, and I was holding her baby!”

I was saved! I only knew one person in the whole world who could elicit those reactions! The gang had bailed me out! I was, (relatively speaking), free!

So, that’s a cute story about a dad getting arrested, but that’s not the point. It turns out I”d fallen victim to what’s known as a regressive fee or fine. When I’d simply left the state six years earlier without paying my fine, a year later my license was suspended. In this state, which I never thought I was moving back to, once your license is suspended, for any reason, you have to pay a $2000 fine. Worst yet, and unbeknownst to me, you get thrown into a pool of offenders who are reviewed by a committee each year for three years to decide if you should pay an additional $1000 fine for that year.

But wait, it gets even worse! Your bill for another $1000 doesn’t arrive from that state’s government offices. No, it arrives in a white envelope with a return address in New Jersey. It looks, for all the world, like junk mail.

In any event, that’s how I found myself talking to the free legal services at my grad. school. In my defence for having not paid the first ticket, the advising lawyer asked, “Are you going to graduate soon by any chance?”

“Why are you suggesting I flee the state?” I asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t use that language, but yes if you just left, this wouldn’t be an issue anymore.”

“Sadly, I’m not.”

My advisor went on to explain that my three year window had been restarted since I missed the $1000 bill. Then he explained to me how one fixes these things. He had an associate who had just retired from the DA’s office. For a mere $3000 his associate would go to the courthouse, speak with the assistant DA who got my case, ask them to drop the charges, and then file paperwork to get me out of the committees fine pool forever. Thankfully, we had enough savings to make the whole thing go away, otherwise we might still be watching the mail with trepidation.

So, now we’ve got a cute story, and an example of regressive fines. The story, besides being intended to make you grin, was intended show that this is an issue that affects families, sadly, rather routinely. The SPUR Urban Center recently  hosted a lunchtime event in downtown San Francisco about how our city handles regressive fines and fees.  Unschooling author Ben Hewitt recently wrote about his experiences with similarly regressive fines and fees at VTDigger.