Sunday, January 28, 2018

OK Legislature Has Filed New Bills

Ok, boys and girls. I've spend nearly a week searching the OK Legislative website for new education bills. I feel like I went down Alice's rabbit hole...My shoulders (and other body parts) are tired. My eyes hurt. I'm sure I've missed something important.

I DID NOT read any of the bills...I scanned some to try to understand, but I know I missed things, and I hope you, Constant Reader, will correct, add, me out.

DISCLAIMER: My organization into negative and positive is my own. Please feel free to question or disagree. And, as always, I expect you to do your own reading and researching.

Here are the education bills I'll be watching.

House –

163 Education-related bills
96 Shell bills with titles, but no language yet
Funding, reform, retirement, clarification of codes, charters, LNH scholarships, salary,OHLAP

Negative bills to watch:
                3689 – Off the Top Revenues Act 2018 – Calvey (shell)
                3586 – Higher Ed. Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act – McCall (shell)
                3543 – Prohibiting school to start until after 1st Mon in Sept -- Caldwell
                3539 – Removes minimum salary schedule – Caldwell
                3486 – Allows placement agencies to refuse placement on faith issues – Jordan
                3311 – Requires Ss to take US Citizenship test to graduate – Baker
                3291 – District Supts can’t earn more than OSDE Superintendent – Eans
                2725 – Higher Ed. Prohibits co-ed dorms -- Russ
                2723 – Barriers to teachers’ organizations representation -- Russ
                2612 – Prohibits OSDE from creating unfunded mandates – Tadlock

Non-education bills of concern
                2680 – Bathroom Guideline Act (shell) – Strohm
                2623 – Legislative approval of immunization list – West, K
                2624 – Immunization and Parental Rights Act --Strohm
                2684 – Prohibiting infant immunization without consent -- Strohm
                2685 -- Vaccination Informed Consent – Strohm

Hopeful bills to watch
                2571 – Charters not sponsored by OSDE after local board rejected – Casey
                2572 – RSA Modifies assessment levels for promotion, retention (Unsat) – Casey
2732 – Private schools taking vouchers must file Sped report – Rosecrants
2733 – Restores NBCT stipends – Rosecrants
3130 – Prohibits OSDE sponsoring charters after local board rejected – Murdock
3446 – Charters OSDE cannot override local board denial – Gann

Non-education bill that could be positive
               2927-- Medicaid Reform Act – Nichols (shell)

Personal favorite:
                3149 – House of Rep Sexual Harassment Training – Dunnington

Senate –

88 Education Bills
No shells that I can find
2-year colleges, virtual school regulations, private vocational schools, OHLAP, consolidation

Negative bills to watch
                887 – Schools can use ad valorem funds for teacher salaries – Brecheen
                1055 – Adds two US History exams to graduate – Bergstrom
                1115 – Fines schools for exceeding class size – Sharp
                1159 – Certain licenses to carry firearms on school property – Scott
    1223 – OK Privacy Accommodation Bathroom – Brecheen

Non-education bills of concern
                957 – Guns in churches “expectation of safety” – Bergstrom
                1215 – 2nd Amendment Preservation Act -- Dahm
                                10thAmendment Center
                1250 – Freedom of Conscience – Brecheen
                                Family Policy Alliance
                1345 – Oklahoma State Terrorist Registry Act – Brecheen

Bills I need more information about
                958 – Students can participate in certain extracurricular activities – Rader
                1056 – Removes tax-sheltered annuities – Pugh
                1190 – RSA criteria, terms – Stanislawski
                1197 – Modifies state performance levels – Stanislawski (OSDE ask?)
                1200 – Higher Education Freedom of Speech – Stanislawski

Hopeful Bills to watch
                879 – Charters—OSDE cannot sponsor school if local board rejects -- Sharp
                936 – Teacher pay – credit for Peace Corps, overseas teaching – Bice
                980 – Criteria for teacher licenses with levels of expertise – Griffin
                985 – Studying virtual charters’ graduation rates – Sharp
                1104 – Meal Application – protects kids with debt in cafeteria – Griffin
                1387 – One-time stipend for retirees – Pederson
                1408 – Restores NBCT stipends – Dossett
                1409 – School counselors must document direct services to students – Dossett
                1413 – Organizes classes, tests…encourages ‘complete works in ELA, requires US Govt – Dossett
                1436 – Virtual Charters – removes certain appeals

Oklahoma Watch has a good list of bills to watch also. If you're not already subscribing to their emails, you should be!!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My Top Ten Books...and Ten More

Recently I asked my friends on FaceBook to share their favorite read from 2017 – together we created a wonderful list. Judging by the number of the books I haven’t read, it’s obvious I already have a great reading list ready for 2018.

I participate in Goodreads reading challenge, and had set a goal of 150 books for 2017. The first year I retired, I was surprised and disappointed by the fact I actually read LESS in retirement than I did when I was able to teach Reading for Pleasure and read with my students. 150 seemed like a goal I could reach. I did, just barely…finishing the year with 158 books.
My 2017 books by 'shelf' 

I listen to books as I walk, and as I drive back and forth to the Capitol and my new teaching gig in Stillwater (1-1/2 hours one way), so I continue to read with my ears and my eyes.

Each year I struggle with my Top Ten…because I have trouble with following directions, even my own self-imposed directions: choose your top ten reads. And because I view my books like I do my own children and my students…they’re all my favorites.

I have compromised with myself this year by having a Top Ten, a second Five, and a third Five. Yes. That’s 20 books. In my Top Ten.

Top Ten, in alphabetical order:

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – you’ll see her again. Yes, I knew nothing about this until the publicity about the television miniseries. Told mostly in Grace’s voice, this is Atwood’s take on the  lengthy imprisonment of a young woman who may or may not have committed a double murder. The narrative’s theme is quilts and piecing them together…and Atwood has Grace piece her story together, one patch at a time, until we see the whole. But what is it we really see?

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. What if you were literally a crime? Noah was. His mother was Black and his father was White. And he was a crime. He had to be hidden if the authorities came. When he was with his mother, people assumed she was his nanny. This is the background of the clever host of The Daily Show. His mother, in an attempt to protect her son, taught him the lasting value of words and language as weapons.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Alexander Rostov, the epitome of cultured elegance was put under house arrest as a young man, and told if he ever left the hotel he lived in, he would be shot dead on the spot by the ruling Bolshevicks…and he didn’t step foot out of the hotel for nearly half his life…living, dining, visiting with friends…all done in the luxury hotel that was his prison. I listened to this one, and was a bit intimidated by its length. But I fell in love with Rostov and followed him through every corner of his home. This is a study in making the best of terrible situations.

Handmaid’s Tale also by Margaret Atwood. This was a reread—another book I listened to, only because Claire Danes was narrating. After the election of 2016, I felt the need to revisit Offred, to compare this world with the one we were entering. How did Atwood so closely predict so many wrong turns in our world? This continues to be a horrifying cautionary tale.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give: THUG. This is the story of another code-switching young person…living in two worlds, and not safe in either. Starr witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of a police officer who loses control of a bad situation. She tries to navigate between her father’s deep gang involved life and the walls of her exclusive private school…attempting to keep herself safe.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. I’ve lived in Oklahoma since 1979, and had never heard of the Osage Reign of Terror until I read this book. The truth of what some Whites were willing to do, to acquire wealth that they had not earned curdled my stomach at times. I was horrified by the truths Grann pursued, and the truth of the cover-ups of these crimes. All for oil. After reading this book, I also read Linda Hogan’s Mean Spirit, a novel (see below); The Deaths of Sybil Bolton, by Dennis McAuliffe, a strange combination of  memoir and nonfiction narrative; and Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham, a YAL contemporary/historical fiction. I spent the summer living and reliving this shameful story of greed and murder.

So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan. This book is Exhibit 1 to the truth of my being a nerdy English teacher. Maureen Corrigan has the pleasure of teaching The Great Gatsby every year to college students. Every year. That would be almost as good as all the years I got to teach To Kill a Mockingbird. I soaked up all her enthusiasms for Fitzgerald and Gatsby and wanted so much to return to the classroom. This was classic English teacher sharing her passion for a book.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. This was my ‘classic I should have read years ago’ summer read with my walking buddy. It nearly destroyed my reading challenge of 150 books – when I finished I allowed as how it should have counted for five books! I’m a character reader, and that is how I attacked this book…the characters. And Tolstoy did not disappoint me. I watched my characters grow, and lose, and love, and learn…The book at times bored me, but mostly, because I could hold onto Natasha and Pierre and Andrei, I powered through the boredom. I discovered the Broadway show, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and was amazing that anyone could take one tiny slice of this story and transform it.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I read books that have been nominated for our state’s children’s book award, the Sequoyah. This book is in the list this year. It’s a fantastic historical fiction about a young girl living in WWII London, who along with her brother, is sent to live in the English countryside. To keep them safe. But while they are ‘safe’ in Kent, they learn there’s no place safe from this war…I’m hoping young readers loved it as much as I did…I cared so much for Ada and her brother, and the people who tried to keep them safe.

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie. When pushed to name ONE book that is my favorite, this is it. Alexie’s courageous memoir about his volatile relationship with his mother broke my heart. Another book I listened to, hearing Alexie’s voice break in tears as I felt my own tears drop from my face, brought the book so close. This book is an act of supreme personal bravery…Alexie does not, as many memorists do, paint himself as more perfect than he is. He spares himself…and his mother nothing to tell the story of their love and their struggles. I am overwhelmed still by this one.

My Second Five, in alphabetical order:

Ananzi Boys by Neil Gaiman. You had me at ‘Neil Gaiman.’

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. I truly think I might read Karr if all she wrote were restaurant menus. Lucky for me she writes books.

Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan. A fictionalized version of the Osage Reign of Terror. Hogan took some fierce criticism by some Native academics for the license she took with the truth.

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier. Another re-read, with the added benefit of an online book club discussion that was inspiring and insightful.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Coczy. No, I’d never read this before (another ‘classic I should have…’), but I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful romp through the French Revolution…romp-revolution. Probably an unfortunate combination of words

My Third Five

Finnished Leadership by Pasi Sahlberg. I keep returning to Sahlberg like you keep returning to a barely-healed wound…just to make myself suffer again. What if the US had used its own research in re-forming our schools? What if we listened to these lessons of leadership?

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton. Another children’s book. Another historical fiction. But this time the date is 1969, and I was there. So many issues. A great book for girls who want MORE.

In the Best Interest of Students by Kelly Gallagher. Another re-read. Once an English teacher….

Successful Strategies for Pursuing National Board Certification by Bobbi Faulkner. (2 books. One for C 1 and 2; another for C3 and 4). I may have fan-girled when I found these two books. Faulkner has taken the new process and analyzed each Component for candidates and facilitators. Just what I needed.

Waltzing with the Ghost of Tom Joad by Robert Lee Maril. A study of poverty in Oklahoma…years after the Dust Bowl. Tom still haunts our state.

Are you on Goodreads? Are you my friend? Why not? Have you made YOUR 2018 Reading Challenge? Do you have a book to recommend? Let me know!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Resolve to Read!

I'm a shock there. But I have surrounded myself with friends who are also readers. When I taught, my goal was to contribute to expanding my students' reading life. An English teacher/Reading Specialist/School Librarian married to an Academic Librarian...our home is packed with books.

I asked my friends to share with my their favorite book from 2017 -- not the best book...their favorite. My friends came through! We had a lively conversation about books. Several of my former students visited and shared their favorites

A Pew survey from late 2016 shows a quarter of American adults did not read ONE BOOK in the previous year. As one who was raised by readers, who married a reader, who spent 40 years with students and books, that makes me sad.

So I resolve to read! I resolve to share books and to work to inspire others to read. Please join me!

What follows is two lists. One is the list of books my FB friends have identified as their favorite in 2017. I've asterick-ed the books I've read. And a double asterick means that book is on my top ten list for the year, too. You see I have a lot to work on.

The second list is the countdown list from my friend Amanda Kordeliski, School Media Specialist extraordinaire. She does a countdown of the top 25 Young Adult books she's read...and she's read a bunch!!

SO, check out these lists, read a couple, and let me know what you think!

13 Reasons Why*
13 Soldiers
A Dog’s Purpose
A Girl of the Limberlost
A Man Called Ove*
A Monster Calls*
Accidental Saints
Alice and the Zombie Queens
All the Light We Cannot See*
America’s Women
American Town
As Always, Julia
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Beautiful Miscellaneous
Behold the Dreamers
Being Mortal
Beneath the Scarlet Sky
Bite Me
Born a Crime**
Boys in the Boat
Britt-Marie Was Here*
Brothers Karamazov*
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
Creatures of a Day
Dark Lover
Does Santa Exist
Dreamland Burning*
East of Eden*
Einstein: His Life and Universe
From Sand and Ash
Full Cicada Moon*
Game of Thrones*
Girls and Dangerous Pie
Glass Houses
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Handle with Care*
Handmaid’s Tale**
Haunting the Deep
Hawthorn & Child
Hidden Figures*
Hissing Cousins
House of Spies*
In the Country We Love
Invisible Man*
Jude the Obscure*
Killers of the Flower Moon**
Kitchen Table Talk
Lies my Teacher Told Me*
Lilac Girls
Little Fires Everywhere
Magic Tree House
Make your Bed
Manhattan Beach
Mirror Mirror
Mitch Rapp
Most American
Mr. Mercedes
My Absolute Darling
My Family Divided
News of the World
Northern Borders
Not-quite States of America
Orbiting Jupiter
Origin of the Female
Patrick Moore on Mars
Post Graduate
Princess X
Purple Hibiscus
Real Thoughts for Real Teachers
Sing Unburied Sing
Small Great Things*
Snow Crash
Still Life with Tornado
Summers at Castle Auburn
Team of Rivals
Tell the Wolves I’m Home*
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian*
The Alice Network
The Bronze Horseman
The Circle
The Dry
The Expendables
The Gentleman from Moscow**
The Girl with Seven Names
The Glass Castle*
The Hate U Give**
The Husband’s Secret
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
The Leavers
The Long and Far Away
The Marriage Lie
The Mountain Between Us
The Name of the Wind
The Nazi Officer’s Wife
The Power
The Professor and the Madman*
The Shack
The Six of Crows
The Smell of Other People’s Houses
The Sympathizer
The Trial
The War that Saved my Live**
There But for The
Total Cat Mojo
Truly Madly Guilty
Turtles All the Way Down*
Undisputed Truth
We are Completely Beside Ourselves
We Need to Talk About Kevin*
We Were the Lucky Ones
Wheel of Time
Where the Night Falls
Words in Deep Blue
Wrinkle in Time*
Y is for Yesterday
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me**
Zookeeper’s Wife

Amanda's top 25 -- she has supplied authors. I was too lazy to do that with my list.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie
(2.5) A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
(3.5) Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham*
Bang by Barry Lyga
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson
Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Juan Pablo and the Butterflies by JJ Flowers
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas**
How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah*
North of Happy by Adi Alsaid
The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Devils Within by S.F. Henson
Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance*

Here in Oklahoma, it's really cold...time to curl up with a good book. 

Don't see YOUR favorite book of 2017? Add it in the comments!