Survey Says: No Fricken Way!

Interesting story. Someone that works at my town asked me to come in and speak with them about my feelings in regards to the direction the town is going.

LOL

I’m not wealthy so I can’t contribute to anyone’s campaign finances and I don’t own land that the town wants. There’s no reason they’d want to speak to me other than to tell me to shut up. I apparently make people stop and think about the crap that’s going on in town.

So dear, survey says: NO FRICKEN WAY! All the warning bells are going off and red flags are flying on this one. I’m so not interested in being bullied by a politician. Thanks, but no thanks! Seriously, why are politicians so damn dirty?

Probably because they can get away with it.

Before you vote this spring or next fall, I encourage you to RESEARCH your candidate. Go on Facebook, it’s amazing what kind of crap you’ll find once you start scratching the surface. One thing’s for sure, with the amount of money it takes to run for office, there’s no wonder there’s so much corruption. The best, most honest and hardest working people usually lack the funds to make a change. The piss-poor options are the ones with the signs and the rallies offering voters the moon in exchange for another term.

You reap what you sew and that my friends is why the American political system, even in small-town America is so rotten.

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Market Basket Fail

If you live in eastern MA, NH or southern Maine, you’ve probably at least heard of Market Basket. If you’re outside of that area, Market Basket is a grocery store. They have a reputation for having the cheapest prices, though their costs are steadily increasing and you can often score better sales at other stores. Still though, I go there for my “normal” items like pasta and canned goods that are still cheaper there.

This morning I ran in for dishwasher detergent and toilet paper. I had my 3 year old with me and I wasn’t paying attention at checkout. I left the store and realized the toilet paper had rang in wrong. It was marked $9.99 on the shelf and it rang in at $13.49. I went to customer service to get the price fixed and got some serious attitude from the little girl at the desk.

Heaven forbid I interrupt your very sorry attempt at flirting with the boy you were working with.

She eventually called someone in the store and asked them to check the price. The guy working in that department said there was no sale sign. I could see the part of the store where the toilet paper was from where I was standing. The person “checking the price” removed the large orange sale sign when he was confirming the price and took it with him. Toilet paper was not advertised in last week or this week’s flyer, so I don’t know if it was a sign that was left up from the previous week or if the wrong item had been advertised on the sign.

It’s things like that that make me not want to shop at Market Basket anymore. You have to really watch the prices at checkout, otherwise you’re going to pay more. I would not have bought the toilet paper for $13.49. I’m tempted to bring it back and return it… not because it’s a horrible price, but because of the experience I had with the store.

Have you ever stopped shopping somewhere because of bad customer service?

Opting-Out of School Fundraisers

In my town they charge a fee to ride the school bus. It’s $200 per kid UNLESS you are K-6 and live more than 2 miles from the school, but that’s only because the state says they have to bus those kids for free. If you live 2 miles or less or are in grades 7 through 12, you’re paying.

In my town there are basically 2 groups of people: those that think the bus fee is A-OK (they probably live more than 2 miles from the school and have young kids) and those that think it’s not. Basically, the people that ride for free (they think it’s fine) and the people that have to pay (we’re not such fans). There are situations where one person pays for the bus and their next door neighbor does not. The better neighborhoods are outside of the 2 mile mark, so kids from more affluent families are not paying to ride. It’s strange.

So, those of us that have to pay are starting to talk. The schools rely on fundraisers. I usually spend $300-$500/year on fundraisers. Other families spend more if they can get grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. to buy. Guess what? I’m not doing it next year. And neither are a lot of the other pay-to-ride families. Instead, I’m putting the money towards the bus fee.

My household budget only goes so far. If you want to make me pay for the school bus, I’m going to have to make cuts in other areas. I’m choosing to make those cuts in my fundraiser budget. Congratulations – you’ll get your bus fee, but that’s it.

Does your school district charge a fee to ride the bus? Have you spent less on fundraisers or stopped participating in them all together to pay the fee?

Drop School Bus Fees and Improve Academic Success?

I live in a town with a struggling school system. The administrators focus on test scores and ways to improve scores all day long and have had little success over the past few years. At the same time, the school committee has been looking for ways to cut costs. One way was by eliminating the free school bus system and instituting a pay-to-ride system instead. State law demands that kids in K-6 that live farther than 2 miles from the school are provided with transportation, but what about the kids that don’t live more than 2 miles from the school? Well, their parents have to pay.

In my state, that charge ranges from about $100 per student to over $500 per student depending on where you live. The idea is to reduce the cost for the district to get the kids to and from school. If you can’t (or simply don’t want to) pay, you’re responsible for bringing your kids to and from school. Seems easy enough, 2 miles isn’t THAT far to walk, right?

Wrong. You see, I live in Massachusetts, where in the winter the daytime highs are often below freezing. We have days where you cannot go outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frost bite. Walking your 6-year old and their younger sibling 2 miles to school can’t really happen on those days, so if you didn’t pony up the money for the school bus and your car is broken down, your child is missing school. Meanwhile, the kid 1/2 a mile down the road is riding for free to school on the warm school bus, even though his family is better-off financially than yours. His mother never has to worry about how she’s going to get her child to school or how she’s going to pay for his bus ride. Makes perfect sense, right?

In many parts of Eastern Mass, the towns were not designed for the type of industry they now house. There are tractor trailers on back roads, narrow streets, a lack of sidewalks and other hazards. On top of that, the size of the tractor trailers have increased. In the winter, snow is a hinderance to walking with or without a sidewalk. Because schools are strapped for cash, many that have these pay-to-ride policies are not employing crossing guards.

Between the traffic, the lack of sidewalks and the lack of crossing guards, walking isn’t an option for a lot of the kids in the pay-zone. Add in a couple younger siblings and you’ve really got a problem.

Kids in these pay-to-ride towns are missing school because they can’t ride the school bus. Kindergarteners are missing school because of where their families live. Still think it’s not a big deal? A study titled, “Linking Getting to School with Going to School,” found that providing a bus increasing school attendance by 20 percent for kindergarteners. Kindergarten attendance has been linked to academic performance later in life and in turn, lifetime earning potential. Kids that are in the pay-zone are being disadvantaged for the rest of their lives if their parents can’t afford the sometimes outrageous school bus fees that their neighbors down the road don’t have to pay. The selective tax is a burden not only on parents, but on the kids as well.

I’m calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to put our kids first and to keep our state number 1 in the nation for education. Our youngest, most vulnerable population deserves the opportunity to go to school, regardless of where they live. Schools need to provide equal transportation opportunity to all students, not just those living more than 2 miles from the school.

I was told by one lawmaker that this wasn’t possible because of budget cuts due to MassHealth eating up half of the state budget. There simply wasn’t enough money to provide the towns with money for busing. Our Democratic state lawmakers just voted themselves large raises — I think they can find some money in the budget for school buses for our kids.

Looks Like We’re Staying Put

Our house hunt has officially come to an end. Due to a series of bad financial decisions on my husband’s part, we can no longer qualify for the size of mortgage we would need to buy a decent home in this part of New England. Our house hunt is officially over.

I’m crushed. We really need more space. The kids are getting bigger and sharing a room isn’t ideal for them. I need a bigger office.

I need to find some creative ways to get more out of the space we have. I need to de-clutter. I need to make our tiny house work for our family. My husband is also a hoarder. Leave a comment if you know of any storage/organization systems that don’t require a large investment up front for components. I think working on getting rid of STUFF by at least 25% will help us the most.

Public School Gender Bias in Mathematics?

About a week ago, my daughter came home with a permission slip to get help in math after school. It’s not that she’s incapable, she’s just too slow with her (written) math facts. They’re required to do 20 subtraction problems in under 2 minutes.

I reluctantly gave permission — I hate labeling her as incapable. I hate that the teacher puts the burden of teaching everything, not just math, onto the parents. I hate all of it. She’s in first grade and has about an hour of homework each night. The teacher swears it’s 20 minutes. It’s not.

Anyway, I went to the school to pick her up after her math group was over and I immediately noticed that ALL of the students getting help with math were girls. All of them. And they were all from the same kindergarten class (there are 4 classes in the school).

Coincidence? I don’t think so. An early gender bias would account for female students from that particular kindergarten class struggling in first grade. All of the parents at pickup said the same thing — the kids know WHAT they’re doing, they are just slow at it. They all seem to lack confidence. Why? Gender bias could be the reason. If a teacher inadvertently gives students the impression that they’re less good at a subject because of their gender, they will lack the confidence they need to do 20 subtraction problems in under 2 minutes.

It’s disgusting. Almost as bad as the “there’s something wrong with every student” mentality that my daughter’s first grade teacher has.