Monthly Archives: October 2013

No, you can’t pet her

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Ginger the dog

Two years ago, I got a dog.  Her name is Ginger.  That’s her to the left, laying down at the dog park after we ran around for 20 minutes.  She’s a pretty good dog.  She sleeps on the floor next to my bed.  She lays on her blankets in the living room while I’m watching T.V.  She lays on her blanket in the office while I’m playing on the computer.  She jumps up and down when I come home.  And, generally, she does dog-like things.

She also has a problem with people running up to her.  She doesn’t bite.  She doesn’t even really growl, but she does cower a little bit and her hackles will raise.  She was probably abused at some point in her early life.  She’s not a huge fan of new people to the point where she cowered and whined at a friend of mine whom she’s only seen maybe once or twice.

Most afternoons, Ginger and I go for a walk around my neighborhood.  During our walks, I usually wear headphones so that I can listen to one of the many podcasts that I enjoy.  I usually walk at a brisk pace (exercise for both me and the pup), my head watching my feet, watching my dog, and watching where we are going.  In general, I ignore people.

Recently (for the past few nights anyway) other families have been out enjoying the lovely “fall” air.  And kids have run up to my dog, begging to pet her.  At least, I think that’s why they are doing.  As previously stated, I have headphones in.

Yesterday, two teens asked something, to which I didn’t respond (headphones).  When I didn’t react, they proceeded to reach out and try to pat Ginger on the head.  Ginger, of course, cowered.  At which point, I had to take my headphones out and tell them that, no, they can’t pet my dog.

Similar thing happened tonight.  I saw a family in front of me, walking toward us with their dog.  So I crossed the street.  Let me repeat that – I purposefully crossed the street.  Away from the approaching family.  So, of course, the dad rides his bike over and shouts at me as I’m walking away with my headphones in.  When I don’t respond, the two girls run in front of me, effectively blocking my path.

What’s my point?  I understand I own a cute dog.  She looks fluffy and friendly and, honestly, she probably won’t mind being pet by a little kid.  But I’m walking at a brisk pace, I have headphones in, and I didn’t respond to your questions.  Maybe you should tell your kids to continue your walk in peace and not run up to an unknown dog and stick your hand in her face.

Am I wrong in this?  Should I stop my stroll to let every kid pat Ginger on the head?  Should I interrupt my podcast enjoyment by removing my head phones to first listen to their request and then deny them?  Or am I completely in my right to just ignore them and continue on my walk without stopping?


Panic

I’ve never really been prone to panic attacks.  I’ve heard other people describe them, I’ve seen their effects, but rarely have I experienced them.  That is until a few years ago.

See, I got hit by a drunk driver, which broke my wrist.  I had to have emergency wrist surgery, where the doctors screwed a plate into the carpal bones as well as reset the ulna and radius.  I woke up in extreme pain, blinding white pain.  I have yet to experience anything else as painful in my adult life.

Since that day, I’ve had a few panic attacks.  They usually, but not always, take place in a car (which is understandable) and thankfully I haven’t had one while I was driving (probably due to a control issue).

Panic attacks are awful.  They start in my chest.  I can feel my heart rate speed up.  Then come the jitters, as if I’ve had too much caffeine that day.  My entire body is alight, waiting for some signal to untangle.  It’s like being in fight or flight mode for several minutes, somethings hours, but never receiving that final cue as to which route you should take.

The worst part is the accompanying insomnia.  Because every nerve seems to be standing at attention, waiting for that final sign, it’s almost impossible to sleep.  Laying down violates the whole flight or fight process.  Laying down and relaxing is right out.

So I get a few restless hours of sleep then go back to trying to calm my restless body.  Tea helps, deep breathes, walking the dog.  And life continues.


Vote Yes for Education

Arizona is weird when it comes to education and education funding.  There is a very complicated formula that is used to determine how much money each school receives and if you would like more information about that, go here.  The bottom line is that schools in Arizona are under funded and we need your help.  You should vote for education funding.  And here’s why:

As of 2011, Arizona spent $7,666/student, which is about $180 less than they spent in 2010 and about $8000 less than states like New York, Washington D.C. and $5000 less than states like Alaska and New Jersey.  Arizona is actually only above Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho in spending per student.[1]

Arizona, however, has plenty of students in school and plenty of schools that need to be funded.  As of 2012, 21% of AZ’s population was under the age of 18 [2] and there were 627 public high schools in need of funding [2].  We had a 97% of the population attend school and over 91,000 students graduate last year [2].  Despite that, Arizona is 48th in state spending on education [2]

As a result of low funding, schools in Arizona are forced to go to the people to ask for money.  One way schools can do this is with an override. “Arizona allows for school districts to override their budgets by five percent for each fiscal year within the budgeted expenditures of a special program.” [3]  These overrides allow districts to increase their budgets, which in turn allows schools to keep programs, teachers, and reading and math initiatives.  Which is kind of a big deal.  The elementary school district in Buckeye is looking to drop 45 teachers if their override doesn’t pass.  Which means bigger class sizes.  It’s a strange thing, because the NEA reports that there are 18 students enrolled per teacher in Arizona [2], but I don’t know a single teacher who has a class size less than 35.  Well, I know 1, but she teaches at an alternative school for students who can’t make it in a public high school for whatever reason.  For a district to lose 45 teachers means class sizes are larger than 35.  Have any of you ever tried to teach 35 elementary aged students?  Try keeping 35 10 year olds under control for 8 hours.  Not that easy.

The second way schools can ask for money is through a bond.”Under Arizona law, a school district which has a petition with signatures from fifteen percent of the school district’s voters who voted in the last election can call for a referendum to approve a bond issue” [3].  These can be used to build new buildings, build new schools, improve standing structures, and give students new materials.  In my own high school district, we are looking to build two buildings per campus to help with student overflow.  We’re also adding a new high school to our district because of the growing student population in the area. Lastly, we want to give students technology.  I’m in a rural school and not all of my students have access to computers and the internet at home.  Giving each student a tablet will help them access more resources.

Here’s my point: Arizona government doesn’t seem to care all that much about schools.  So schools have to beg their communities for money.  If you live in Arizona, and your district (or districts) are asking for an override or a bond it’s because they really need it.  They are not given enough money to properly restore their buildings, to properly pay their teachers (teachers in AZ only make on ave $48,000 a year (which ranks us 31st in the nation and puts teachers at 88% of the national average salary) [2], and to have enough teachers per student in the classroom.  I have 30 students in my smallest class and I have one of the smaller classes on campus.  Most of my colleagues have 40+ students in each class.

The bottom line is please vote yes for education on November 5th.  We’re asking because we need it.  And we’re hoping on everyone’s support.  Because better schools mean better communities, better young adults entering the work force, and better futures for our students.

[1] http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html

[2] http://www.nea.org/assets/img/content/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates-2013_(2).pdf

[3] http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/School_bond_and_tax_elections_in_Arizona


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