110. A PRE-ELECTION PRIMER, HOW CONGRESSWOMAN RENEE WOULD DO IT! & RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. XI

Hello Dear Readers: As the leaves turn to red and oranges hues and the weather FINALLY turns to a brisk Fall -We at TWP know whats next. Halloween! And with that comes costumes with the tradition of trick or treating. Jenny’s Tommy and my (Renee’s) Tyler have already chosen their outfits. Another tradition I started this year was a Fall river cruise on the Tennessee River. It was beautiful -The mountains and gorges- And I recommend everyone go on one of those afternoon trips. Even Tyler, who gets cranky and bored sometimes, enjoyed it. Funny thing though -I think a tour group from a retirement community made up all the passengers except my family. Some of these folks were old enough to be my grandparents! HA HA. Well, everyone had a great time although for some of the passengers, the highpoint was lunch and the bingo game in the last hour of the trip.

A PRE-ELECTION PRIMER

Dear Readers: We at TWP  have never posted ANYTHING political before. The reason is that this blog’s message is apolitical. Why? Because we respect the intelligence of the readers of teacherswhopaddle. Besides, the four of us do not agree 100% of the time on a lot of issues. So, if you are looking for political endorsements or a slant towards either Republican or Democrat -Look somewhere else. Believe me, there are enough political websites out there to satisfy any politico.

Rather than endorsements or political spin, we decided to give the otherwise disinterested voter some of our tips for analyzing the various candidates from school board member up to U.S. Senator.

Who NOT to vote for

“Major League” Mud-Slinger: This type has to be absolutely the WORST! Folks, I get really tired of clicking the mute button on the t.v. remote (When I can pry it from the hands of John, that is!). Hey, what is with those clowns anyway? They REALLY think I am going to vote for them because of a “hit piece” political ad that tells me about their opponent’s divorce, bankruptcy, or college prank?

Message: If you want MY vote, tell me why I should vote for YOU! I have no interest WHATSOEVER in hearing about the personal history of the other candidate.

Santa Claus: Nothing against St. Nick but the idea that a political candidate is going to “buy” my vote by promising me “something” and then sticking the “tab” on my Tyler and future grandkids -I find very offensive. The U.S. DOES have needs but like 300+ million U.S. citizens, our government should live within its means. A “credit card” economic policy doesn’t work in the REAL world for Real people -Bills DO have to be paid! So why should the U.S. become a permanent debtor nation because of unrealistic election year promises?

Message: I stopped believing in Santa Claus at about 6 or 7 . And I have ALWAYS been skeptical of politicians, especially around election time.

Motherhood-Applepie-Baseball: This is a “positive” type candidate who panders to people. I DO like candidates who are positive and upbeat but this type has NO message. He/she is FOR what everyone likes but in the U.S.A., the only place where we elect cheerleaders is in middle/high school. As an adult, the candidate I support needs to do better than a Rah Rah speech.

Message: I’ve been out of high school for 13 + years -I expect more from an adult whom I may vote for to set budget, tax and other priorities which will affect me and my family.

Who I will consider

Community Leader: Not to be confused with “Community Activist” (Who could be anyone from anywhere), this type is a WELL-KNOWN and establish citizen of a community or even state. No surprises -You know what you are getting in this candidate. One other distinction: This candidate has DEEP roots in the locale and understands what people are looking for.

Message: If I am familiar with a candidate -He is that much ahead to start with. If you just moved into my community last year, establish yourself in civic-involvement BEFORE running for elected office.  “Carpetbaggers” are not too popular where I am from.

Tell-It-Like-It-Is: The opposite of the Motherhood-Applepie-Baseball and Santa Claus types, this rare type of politician has my respect. Why? Because, as an adult, I appreciate being told the truth and despise hearing pie-in-the-sky fantasies. I may not always agree with specifics but telling me the WHOLE truth will get my vote over “canned rhetoric” every time.

Message: For all you politicians out there -Just tell the voters the truth! Most Americans do not care which party gets the credit or blame -They care about their country first and foremost. And a warning to those who “play” partisan games: Voters are getting tired of it and will soon be handing out “pink-slips” for those who forget who works for who!

Pretty general stuff,huh? Maybe. But I sincerely believe that if everyone took into consideration the points above, the U.S. might actually get its house in order. After all, from what I hear, working for the Chinese is no day in the park!

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. XI

Major Boo Boo

I have been asked if I had ever made a Major Boo Boo in my college years as a sister of Alpha, a 100+ year old sorority chapter. By that, I reckon that would be within the chapter as opposed to my skirmish with a Beta girl over rough play in a sorority flag football game. Well, there was one boo boo during my sophomore (2nd) year which could have had a worse outcome than it did.

And it WAS my fault for being a total air-head -My brain was AWOL that afternoon.

First, a little background. As I mentioned on a previous post, I was a fast-rising new sister right after my initiation in early 1998. So fast, I was the youngest sister to take the position of Pledge Trainer in years when Susan, my sorority big sister, was elected to be Pledge Master -A higher ranking officer who oversees the Pledge Educator and Pledge Trainer. I was happy as a lark that Spring semester when I was chosen to be a Pledge Trainer under Susan -We were a pair and worked so well together.

Being a Pledge Trainer can be exhausting with organizing and coordinating the 30+ pledges. But I caught on fast and every pledge but a few made it to initiation later that summer (And the few who quit did so because they left school.) I am proud to say that my own Fall pledge class and the Spring pledge class who became sisters EXCEEDED the number of sisters lost who graduated from school. In other words, Alpha’s numbers were UP -And I feel like I was a part of that success.

The older sisters thought so too because they promoted me to Pledge Educator for the Fall semester. This was just a small promotion but my Alpha sisters said “You earned it, Renee…Besides…You ARE an education major!” We all had a good laugh. But for me , that was an omen.

Being a Pledge Educator is a little like being a real teacher. The Alpha house did have a room set up with a blackboard and desks for the pledges to sit in and take notes in their pledge books. As the “Educator”, my task was to teach the general principles and history of Alpha sorority along with the basics of Roberts Rules of Order. With the latter, the class got to put into practice what we went over when the pledge class held its business meetings with its own officers presiding. During this time, I merely observed and advised as a parliamentarian. When the pledge class finished their meetings, I turned them over to the Pledge Trainer.

An important note: The “old traditional” symbols of pledgeship were still around. In the chapter room, where various trophies from the many competitions that Alpha had won over many years. There was also a number of pledge class paddles from years and generations past. A tradition that I would later do away with was the carrying of a Pledge Educator’s paddle which was actually used like a clipboard -To write notes on and as a “clipboard” for my Pledge Roster book. Never had any sister I knew ever had that paddle (or any other) used on themselves or on anyone else.

Why? Because, to do so would violate the sorority’s national rules, chapter bylaws AND rules of University of Georgia against hazing. Violate this prohibition and kiss your sorority chapter’s existence  bye bye !

Well, yours truly boo booed (or doo dooed) on this. My first paddle swat was as a minor officer of a well established sorority, not as a paid professional educator. In my defense, let me just say that it was light hearted and in jest. But my fellow sisters nearly gave me a lobotomy over it.

It was during a pledge class meeting which was starting to get heated over a point of contention. Sally, an opinionated type of girl who was prone to argue out of order at times, was raising her voice and talking over others in an exchange. Initially, I decided to let the girls sort it out. But Sally wouldn’t hush and kept speaking out of order. After being told to sit down several times by Julia, the class president, I stepped over to Sally to tug her back into her seat.

“No Renee…I’m not sitting down…Julia, I want to just say…” Sally griped.

My mind raced, “Who does this dame think she is?…I’ll bet other Pledge Educators didn’t put up with that kind of crap!”

Then I did what -looking back now- was the dumbest thing I ever did up to that point in college. I took that paddle-clipboard and just using my forearm, swung it -Connecting with the blue jean rear end of Sally with a pop.

“EEEK!…O.k., Renee…I’ll sit down!…Just don’t spank me!” Sally squealed as the entire pledge class rolled in laughter.

I patted Sally on the shoulder and whispered, “I didn’t hurt you, Sally -Did I?”

A blushing Sally shook her head as order resumed in the class meeting. A short while later, the pledges ended the meeting to start on house chores under the supervision of the Pledge Trainer. As Sally walked out the room, I put an arm around her and asked again if she was o.k. while a few of the other pledges giggled. Sally said she was fine and not to worry about it. As I turned the girls over to Teri, our Pledge Trainer, Teri looked at me with a puzzled expression. But I didn’t say anything about what happened (Teri was not present when The class had the meeting.).

I headed out to the university library to work on a term paper and did not return until dinnertime at 7:00 p.m. I had no clue of the storm that awaited me.

When I walked through the front door, I was hungry for dinner. But Teri intercepted me and said, “Marla (Chapter President) and Susan want to see you in the office…NOW!”

The “office” was just a very large converted walk-in closet but did function as a real office for Alpha sorority’s top echelon officers and the national consultant who visited us once a year. I knew something was up because Marla was not one who liked to “play office.” (She was a Bio-Chemistry major) I came into the “office” and saw Marla sitting stone-facedbehind the desk with Susan standing to her left -Arms crossed. Neither one was smiling.

Marla coldly asked, “Close the door, Renee!…We need to talk…”

I did as she asked and then started to ask, “Why…” but Marla shushed me.

Then Marla just glared for a moment (But it seemed longer) and then -EXPLODED!

I mean THERMONUCLEAR EXPLODED.

I had never seen the calm, almost placid, Marla -a future pharmacist- like that!

“What the HELL were you thinking this afternoon?…Having a really bad case of pms?…(Slamming the dark oak desk with her right palm)…Over 100 years of this chapter on the University of Georgia campus and YOU…May have BLOWN it!…By SWATTING one of our pledges with a paddle?” Marla screamed as Susan winced.

I pleaded like someone on the way to the gallows but Marla would have none of it and Susan, while trying to calm Marla down, was unsympathetic. I was told in no uncertain terms that what happens (Like what I did) inside the walls of Alpha would not stay there. In other words, someone would talk and the entire chapter’s existence was in jeopardy.

I was crushed. I dropped to my knees sobbing and laid my head in my arms on the desk, my hands covering my face.

I would have left school entirely had Marla asked me but she did have a heart. I would have accepted ANY penalty but Marla calmly announced that my sanction would be 6 month’s probation and forfeiture of my title as Pledge Educator. I could still live in the house and attend all meeting but could not vote on ANY matter whatsoever -Including pledges and initiations. I was still shell shocked and lost all appetite for dinner that night as I got up weakly.

Marla and Susan both hugged me and said they had no ill-will towards me but were disappointed in my lack of judgement.  I did have to serve the penalty starting that night. I understood why but could not bring myself to the dinner table. Instead, I just slipped up to my room and had a good crying spell -Not because of the probation but rather the feeling of my having let my sisters down. Later on, Susan brought some dinner up to me and insisted I eat something. Sally also came up and told me she was sorry about the trouble she caused me. I told her that I was the one at fault and for her to be the best pledge she could be because I wanted her to be my sorority sister! We hugged and she said, “I’ll try my best!”

Sally did “make it” and was initiated early the following year. While not allowed to vote for her -I did get to play a role in her initiation.

To this day, Sally and I do not know who ratted on me but Sally was madder about that than me.

I think she would have “decked” whomever that was.

HOW CONGRESSWOMAN RENEE WOULD DO IT

Dear Readers: We in the U.S. are in what some refer to as the “Silly Season” aka Midterm Elections. I do have a problem with the latter because REAL midterm exams by Real college students seem to be taken more seriously than the professional politicians (Read that “clowns”) who soak the airwaves with their stupid commercials.

Well, after much thought…

I decided to…

tell you, TWP’s loyal readers,…

What I would do IF I  were elected as a U.S. Congresswoman!

(Fooled y’all, didn’t I? Giggle Giggle Giggle)

No, I am NOT planning a career change but this segment will tell you what I would do if I were a U.S. Congresswoman. I had fun writing this but it is not in jest -I mean what I say below. IMHO, the U.S. would be in a lot better shape if our real politicians followed some of these ideas.

Entitlements: This is a touchy issue but I think the answer is clear. There are some folks getting various entitlements who just do not need it. Social Security, Healthcare, Welfare…All have one common problem: We do NOT have the $$$ to do what we are currently doing. “Means Test” everything -If you have outside income, that should be counted against your “entitlement”. In other words, those who can get by w/o entitlements should NOT expect any.

Education: This is my “pet issue” as an educator. First thing, I’d ask is “What exactly DOES the U.S. Department of Education do as to the educational achievement of all U.S. students?” If there is NO corelation between the department’s budget and student education outcomes, I would call for the closure or great downsizing of this bloated bureaucracy. Hey, I may be a teacher but the purpose of schools is to EDUCATE, not to serve as a “jobs program”. (Folks, I’ll never say that at an education association (teacher union) meeting!)

General Budget: Simple. If you don’t have the $$$, you can’t buy it. Kinda like millions of families are doing right now. Prioritize. Spend $$$ only on what you have to have until economy turns around. (John and Tyler both would have liked a backyard swimming pool last summer but $$$ was too tight for that this year.)

Taxes: Nobody likes taxes but the U.S. is in a MULTI-TRILLION $$$ hole right now and the problem is not going away. Just keep ALL taxes at current rates and hope the economy picks up.

Stimulus: I KNOW a lot of the stimulus $$$ saved teacher jobs in states with screwed up budgets. But this is one-time money. Some of those states have overspent for YEARS and now want to be bailed out? That is like getting laid off and then living off your credit cards like nothing ever happened. Those BILLS will still have to be paid.

Environment: We have only one planet home: Earth. So we ALL have to stop screwing it up with fossil fuels. We can’t change overnight but we have to start. Try everything: Nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar and whatever else we Americans can think up. Lets get started!

And what everyone really wants to know:

School Corporal Punishment: IMHO, with the Federal budget deficit, the stagnant economy, terrorism at home and abroad -The U.S. government has it’s hands full with more pressing priorities. Issues concerning classroom management are best left to local elected school boards. If pressed, I will propose this: Make it a Federal felony to knowingly file false charges against any educator for the purpose of legal intimidation or financial gain. There are those “monster” parents who would abuse their own kids for an anti c.p. cause or $$$. A law like this would make them think twice because all an accused educator would need to do is call a 800 number hotline if they suspected a bogus “charge”. Remember: the Feds have a very good batting average when doing their own investigations.

Ahhh…So tempting but I would probably step on too many toes as a Congresswoman. Hey, considering the reactions this blog generates AND my daytime assistant principal job -I’m tied up!

Editor’s Note: By the time most readers see this on Saturday, John and I will be in Jacksonville, Florida for the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” as my beloved Georgia Bulldogs take on the Florida Gators. Go Dawgs!

COMING NEXT: A WAY FORWARD,

RENEE CHRONICLES: THE COLLEGE YEARS pt. XII

&

TBD

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