My Response to Barack Obama about Education

Today, I received a typical generic rallying type email, by which I was apparently supposed to be so moved with pride that I would participate in some sort of meaningless celebration that would… go down in history?

I couldn’t help replying, though I’m sure no one at info@barackobama.com will read or pass on.

I appreciate the time you took to thank me, Barack.  And congratulations to you on the successful implementation of your health care reform plan.

However, I am no longer able to stand by your side because of the devastating policies affecting public education that have arisen during your presidency and Arne Duncan’s time as Secretary of Education.

The legacy of Race to the Top will include a drastic increase of standardized tests imposed on our children, tests that are flawed products that line the pockets of large corporations like Pearson Education and that do not measure the true abilities of our children.  The one-size-fits-all concept behind the Common Core State Standards has driven a majority of our children to hate school and forced teacher morale to an all-time low.  Scripted curriculum in the form of modules have stripped away teacher autonomy and removed the joy of learning from our classrooms.  High-stakes testing used to unfairly judge our children, their teachers, and their schools has turned our beloved schools into nothing more than test prep factories where curriculum is narrowed and valuable programs like art, music, gym, and even recess are being cut or eliminated.

The work you did is how real, devastating change gets made, and sadly we will suffer from it for years to come.

Any activists who are part of this fight can tell you—our educational leaders aren’t listening to what students, parents, teachers, and tax-payers are saying.  We can also tell you that, although it is never easy, we will continue to fight back against these dangerous, corporate-driven reforms.  This fight will not be easy, but it will always be the right thing to do.  Diane Ravitch knows it.  Susan Ohanian knows it.  Carol Burris knows it.  And many other political leaders who have actually listened to their constituents know it.

No matter how hard it gets, we will not stop pushing back against these policies until they cease to exist, until the millions of American children receive the quality and enriching public education that they deserve, like their counterparts in private institutions.

What we will achieve when we defeat destructive educational policies, and how we will do it by exercising our rights as American citizens to organize and speak out and opt out, will be the real story that should be documented for future generations.  We will be proof that real, lasting change is possible when ordinary people come together and fight for what they believe in.  We will not stop fighting until the corporate takeover of our schools is defeated!

Take a moment to let that sink in.

When I elected you to office, I thought you could be a president I could thank for your commitment to our country and all of its citizens. But I was wrong.  I cannot thank you and I do not want my name along side yours.

Devoted mother and informed citizen,

Danielle Boudet

On Apr 24, 2014, at 12:27 PM, Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com> wrote:

I had to take a moment to say thank you.

Danielle, you made history.

A long line of organizers fought for nearly 100 years to make health care reform a reality, and now we’re seeing the results. Millions of Americans have health insurance today, thanks to reform — some for the first time in their lives.

The work you did is how real, lasting change gets made, and I hope it will be remembered for years to come.

Make sure you’re included in OFA’s permanent record of the people who made health care reform happen.

Anyone who was part of this decades-long fight will tell you it was never easy, but it was always the right thing to do. Teddy Roosevelt knew it. Harry Truman knew it. Teddy Kennedy sure knew it.

No matter how hard it got, the results we’re seeing today make it all worthwhile. Millions of Americans now have coverage, and even more have better health care, thanks to the work you did.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

It’s proof that when people come together and fight for what they believe in, real, lasting change is possible.

What you achieved — and how you did it — is something that should be documented for future generations. OFA will install a permanent record of people who fought for health care at its headquarters in Chicago.

Make sure your name is added, alongside mine:

http://my.barackobama.com/You-Made-History

I can’t thank you enough,

Barack Obama

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The ‘Piggy Bank’ Project

I began calling this the ‘Piggy Bank’ project, but now I prefer ‘Bling Bank’ as a more appropriate title for what we created!

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The reason behind this project was simple: My son and daughter revel in their vast accumulation of change: pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters; random coins, tokens, and small coin-like disks. These monetary items and those without value were squirreled away in various locations in our house, sometimes never to be found again. The normal ‘piggy’ banks were full, and a number of other vessels were being recruited for the storage of treasure.

I don’t know about your house, but my children have been given numerous child-themed ‘piggy’ banks over the years. We have a Noah’s Ark, even though we’re not religious. We have a cheaply made tin bank with the Dutch children’s characters Jip en Janneke painted on its surface. We have two banks in the shape of my husband’s company’s mascott logo–some of the latest additions to their gifts of household items, all endowed with the company’s branding, that they seem to think their employees want. And we have an actual Piggy bank, a God-awful representation of a vertical pink pig with large popping eyes. The functional problem with all of these kiddy banks is that they’re too small, a handful of change and they’re already half-full. But the biggest problem is that they’re butt ugly! (I know what you’re thinking… what makes your bling banks so different? And I answer with this cliche: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And with one of my father’s classics: Opinions are like assholes; Everybody’s got one. 

All joking aside, I tried to find a prefabricated ‘piggy’ bank that was of reasonable size and reasonable price…. and if it was beautiful, that would have been a huge bonus as well. The problem is, I found nothing that fit my criteria. Then the idea of the ‘Bling Bank’ came upon me.  It would be cheap.  It would be fun. It would be a hand’s on activity for my children. The vessels could be large. They could be personal expressions. And if years down the road, they lose their visual appeal, they could easily be repurposed and replaced.

 

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The banks are made of $4 two-quart glass cracker jars with thin metal screw on lids.  I bought an inexpensive set of sun catcher paint and a cheap package of adhesive acrylic jewels.  But the possibilities are endless and the project can be adapted to any age or any level of attention deficit.  My daughter is two and my son is six, so I kept it simple with only the two craft items.

Mara, age 2

Mara, age 2

Oscar, age 6

Oscar, age 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids began by painting the glass with the sun catcher paint. After letting the paint dry completely, the kids then decorated their painted vessels with the stick-on jewels (which is a big hit with younger kids!). To make the slits in the lids, I perforated the metal by pounding nails through in a line. With needle-nose pliers, I rolled the sharp edges underneath.  We then turned the lids upside down and pounded the folded-under metal edges flat. In this manner the metal edges also lost their sharpness.

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The proud creators!

 

My children had a lot of fun doing this project. We all think they’re beautiful, especially when placed in a sunny location. Most importantly, there exists a sense of ownership and pride in creating something one’s self. The ‘Bling Banks’ might seem gaudy to you and me, but they’re not ours to judge! To my children, they are perfect–the outcome of child-led decision making. I think it’s too easy sometimes to take over and help “perfect”, but when we do that we take so much away from our kids.