Thursday, April 4, 2019

I got a random leader survey from GS USA so I told them what I thought

I got a random leader survey from GS USA.  They asked what I thought of my experience in Girl Scouts so I told them, they gave me a small box but I just kept typing.

I think that work needs to be done on fundraising.  Cookies are our thing but they can be better.  Councils bordering each other should be the same price because families sometimes cross the boarders and then question why ours are more expensive than theirs.  I also think that the rules for outside fundraising need to be loosened up.  Not all girls like selling cookies.  All troops don't sell thousands of cookies, especially as they get older and less girls in the troop.  But troops need money to survive. 

I am a proud Girl Scout Mother of 2 girls, an Ambassador working on her Gold Award and a Cadette working on her Silver award.  I am also a proud mother of an Eagle Scout.  I have supported both organizations for many years.  I think they both have given my children opportunities to do things that they might not have had otherwise.  I am also the proud Girl Scout Leader of 2 troops, for 12 + years of over 50 girls in total through the years.  Each troop is down to 3 girls now, but these 6 girls are committed and have been together since they were Daisies.  I have watched these girls grow from shy and silly children into confident and courageous young women.  Not only have the girls developed strong friendships, but the adults have too.  We have so many great memories together that I cherish.  At the end of every ceremony I always thank the parents for giving their daughters the gift of Girl Scouts.  Because I really believe that it is a gift to be part of this organization and watching their daughters grow has also been a gift.

The thing that saddens me is the relationship between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  I do not agree with the changes made to Boy Scouts over this past year and I feel it has devalued the organization and the rank of Eagle Scout.  I don't think that Robert Baden-Powell and Juliette Gordon Low would be very happy with the way things have been.  They were friends and that friendship is where our journey began.  In the beginning we celebrated Thinking Day because it was Robert Baden-Powell and his wife Olave Baden-Powells birthday, the founders of the Scouting Movement.  I think that some need to be reminded of that.

I also wish that the Girl Scout Gold Award got more recognition.  People including myself always say is equal Eagle Scout.  But in fact I have learned recently while my daughter is working on her project that the two are not equal.  Girl Scouts requires more hours, must be sustainable and gets less recognition.  Another difference is that Eagle Scout is considered a rank and Girl Scout Gold is an award earned.  I would love to see the statistics how how many girls earn Gold compared to Eagle.  In my daughters troop that was once 25 Brownies and now 3 Ambassadors only my daughter is going for Gold.  In my sons Cub Scout Pack that was once 21 went down to 3 for the last 4 years in Boy Scouts all 3 earned Eagle Scout.

I probably could have gone on more but like I said the box was small and I'm surprised it didn't stop me from writing what I did.  (I also posted this on my other blog, https://oneleadersguidetoscouting.blogspot.com/ )

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Opting Out Shouldn't Be An Option

Opting Out Shouldn't Be An Option

It's that time of year again, STATE TESTING for grades 3-8, in New York.  No one likes to take tests, especially long, 2-3 hour tests, but its part of life.    There are some parents who started a movement a few years ago to opt their children out of taking the state test.  It was a big thing around here.  However to opt your child out of the test you couldn't just keep them home that day, you needed to write an opt out letter and they still had to go to school.  Those students whose parent opted them out of the test still have to sit in a room quietly reading for 2-3 hours so as not to disturb the rest of the building students taking the test. The thing that kids don't understand is that they can't just opt out of tests for the rest of their lives.  Taking the state tests in grades 3-8 is practice for what is to come.  I don't think the test needs to be 2-3 hours long at that age.  I think they should start small and work up to a longer test.  New York State Regents exams are 2-3 hours long and high school students take them.  The SAT is 3 hours long, again for high school students.  I  think at elementary age an hour test would suffice.  Then at middle school a 2 hour test.  This would build their stamina and start preparing them for high school exams. 

We have never let our children opt out of taking the state tests.  We tell them it's good practice and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  We took them when we were in elementary school, back in the ice age, ha ha.  But seriously, you can't opt out of test all your life.  If you want to drive a car you need to take a permit test and a drivers test. If you want to graduate from high school you need to take final exams.  If you want to go to college you need to take entrance exams.  If you want to graduate from college you need to take final exams.  If you want to be come a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, fire fighters, police officers, a construction worker, a plumber, an auto mechanic, a computer programmer, a secretary, even an athletic trainer you will need to take some type of test to become certified in that field.  You need to know how to read, write and do math.  In every day life you need to know those skills.  And I know some teacher family and friends are going to hate me for this but teachers too need to be tested and graded by their students test results.  In most jobs you take tests regularly to advance in your field and even to keep your job.  Teachers should not be an exception.

A few years ago I compared the "Opt Out Movement" to "breast feeding."  Some people got very offended by that statement.  All I was saying is that there are 2 sides to the both and each side thinks the other side is crazy and wrong.  The "Opt Out" parents and the "breast feeding" moms are very judgey of the people who have their kids take the test much like the moms who bottle feed.  When in fact it's your right to have your own opinion, just dont' shove it in my face. 

By writing this, I'm not trying to shove my opinion in any ones face, it's just that time of year again and it got me thinking again.  Especially because my youngest is in 7th grade now, and came home insisting that she was going to "Opt Out" of the state test.  I of course told her, "no, our family doesn't opt out," and continued to explain to her what I said above.  You can't opt out of life.

Parent for Student vs. Education Today

Parent for Student vs. Education Today

There is an amazing filmmaker, speaker, activist, his name is Prince EA. (Click here to see who Prince EA is.)  He speaks of truth, love, kindness and so much more. He is an inspiration.  The Oola Guys say, “you are designed by God for a purpose.“ (Click here to see what Oola is.) Prince AE and the Oola Guys are truly living their purpose.   My goal is to help my children find and live their purpose.

I was introduced to the work of Prince AE by my 17 year old daughter, Emily.  His messages are very strong and leave lasting impressions. My daughter struggles putting her thoughts into words, but when she does her thoughts are profound.  She has an amazing mind.  She has always been disregarded as shy and quiet. When in fact her mind is not shy and quiet, but it is hard for her to put her thoughts into words. She is a junior Amsterdam High School, in Amsterdam, NY.  She is working on her Girl Scout Gold Award Project.  Her project stemmed from a writing she did a year ago, it was about school one day when she was extremely frustrated. Teachers have always said “she’s just shy."  I always had a feeling that she had more of a struggle then just shyness. She gets excellent grades all year on classwork, homework and in school tests, but any standardized type test since 3rd grade she would fail. The breaking point for her and us as parents was last year during our nightly battle at the table doing homework.  Whenever she would say she didn't understand we would try to help her and then tell her to ask her teachers for help.  Well on that particular day when she in fact did ask for help from a teacher the response was, "I don't understand why you don't understand," at that point Emily shut down, deciding to never ask that teacher for help again.  After discussion about the frustration we decided to get an educational evaluation.  It turns out she has a processing delay and test anxiety. So in fact she does struggle to put her thoughts into words and the professionals agree.  As a result of having her tested she can now get extra time and a separate location when taking tests.  She has showed some improvement, but still not where she wants to be and now is realizing the bigger part to it, test anxiety.

When I watched Prince AE’s video last week, "Teacher vs. Student," I got a lump in my throat, it was very emotional for me to watch.  It was as if my daughter had told him her thoughts.  She is that student watching the clock in class, looking for inspiration and creative education. How and where do we as parents get started to make a change? I told my daughter it starts with one voice, and that voice can be hers. By sharing the video, finishing her Gold Project, getting teachers and administrators to think outside the box, outside the classroom hopefully we can make change.

Her project is an outdoor classroom and an adventure club at the high school.  (click here to see her the blog for her project, still in progress) The idea is to get teens outside, off their phones and experiencing the world around them.  Her writing is there that got it all started.