Sharknado 2: A Review by H

sharknado2headernewLast night me and my mom watched Sharknado 2: The Second One, and we were really impressed with it.

I loved the beginning how it was a take off of the 6o’s Twilight Zone, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, and how there were sharks on the wing on the plane.

That was just hilarious!

I think the opening of the film with the plane for a second looked like a flying shark. I also think this scene would make a cool theme park ride or a simulator game.

That was the best opening ever, and I think I saw Robbie Rist in the opening credits… but my mom and I think we shouldn’t spoil the Where’s Waldo search for everyone else if it is him!

The effects improved as well. The sharks looked a lot more like sharks – like realistic – almost…

I like how Fin was wearing a shark tooth around his neck and how he used a broadsword to chop sharks in half.

And OMG – the CHAINSAW! It was a masterpiece. That chainsaw was brutally stupendous in size. I also noticed the chainsaw didn’t get bloody at all, which my mom and I thought was hilarious.

And just the idea of having Fin lifting that thing with one arm was mind-boggling.

And Finn’s wife, April, went all “Evil Dead” on her arm – but not with a chainsaw – but a circular saw, which was very unexpected and awesome.

Some of my favourite lines were:

“If anyone is gonna play me in the movie – it’s gonna be me.” (Fin)

“I hate the subway” (Fin –  which was like “I hate the 405″ in the first movie)

“I know you’re upset” (the cop after the harsh plane landing)

“This is a twister with teeth… Enough said” (News announcer – “enough said’ was the slogan in the first movie)

I like how Sharknado 2 takes after awesome bad 80s B films like Chopping Mall, with good bad acting.

Sometimes sequels are horrible, like Gremlins 2, and Troll 2, and sometimes the second film, like Teminator 2, is better than the first one. I think Sharknado 2: The Second One was well made and is just as good as the first film.

I send a lot of credit to Anthony Ferrante and The Asylum, and I give it another 4/5 disembodied shark heads on my shark head rating scale.

Decapitated shark head rating scale

People who like movies like Chopping Mall or Return of the Living Dead or the first Sharknado… this is for you! Here is a link to the trailer for Sharknado 2.

*Please Note: H and I feel it is important to share that H authored the words of this review and it was scribed for him by me.  There are many people who find that writing is an opportunity for expression, and conversely some people, like H, who at times find it a barrier. It is helpful if we understand that one experience is not preferable to the other, but rather focus on effectively matching supports and accommodations for individuals with a variety of strengths and experiences. This is honouring diversity ♥

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Autism, Autistic, B films, Humour, New York, Sharknado | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sharknado in the Mailbox! Dear Anthony

Sharktooth.jpgDear Anthony C. Ferrante and The Asylum,

I got your package and your letter in the mail today. I opened it with a shark’s tooth because it is the only way. I was expecting just Sharknado posters but I found all of these other awesome things that you sent me. I felt just so happy that you’d send such cool Sharknado memorabilia. All this time I didn’t know there were cups and mugs and Sharknado collectibles and now I am just shocked. It is unbelievable. I love them.

Thank you for the blueray DVD. I will be having the posters framed for my wall. I noticed the little hats you drew on the sharks and that made me laugh in a good way. I just loved it.

The Sharknado machine is so cool. It just blew my mind. I thought it was a blender at first, but when I pulled it out, it had these cute little sharks. I will have my very own little sharknado. I will have a lot of fun with this.Sharknado1.jpg

I can’t wait to show my friend Gord at his card shop. I am going to package everything back into the box so I can show him, except I will wear the t-shirt.

I love Sharknado! I am looking forward to the sequel.

I really appreciate all the amazing things you and The Asylum sent me.

Thank you so much,

H

PS.
My mom and I have been watching Z Nation, which I noticed is also made by The Asylum, and I thought is was awesome and really funny that they had a Zombienado.

_______________________________________________________

A little background for the reader:
Last summer, H and I went to see Sharknado and H was thrilled by this film. The following day he created his own severed leg prop and did some digital magic to fly a few sharks into the photo (I need to get him to teach me how to do that), and you can read about it and see H’s awesome prop here.

Recently the planets kind of aligned and I had the opportunity to connect with Robbie Rist (who plays the school bus driver in the first film – and also voices Michelangelo in The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movie). I thought H was going to flip right out of his socks – he was so excited!

Anyway, Robbie Rist saw the post from last year and shared it with Anthony Ferrante, the Director of Sharknado and Sharknaro 2: The Second One. And well… it kind of just unfolded that Mr. Ferrante was moved by H’s enthusiasm and he very kindly offered to send H two signed Sharknado posters. As you can see from H’s letter – there was much more that arrived than that.

Here are a few more photos that tell the tale:

Sharknado3.jpgSharknado6.jpgsharknado4.jpgsharknado5.jpgSharknado2.jpgThank you to Anthony Ferrante and The Asylum, and to Robbie Rist and Ryan Budds, who also acted in the first Sharknado for reaching out with such kindness and generosity.

This young man was over the moon…

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Anthony B. Ferrante, Autism, B films, Horror B films, making movies, New York, Sharknado, The Asylum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chalk it up to Activism! #BoycottAutismSpeaks

Iamnotapuzzle.jpgSo, some people may wonder why I do this activism stuff with my son… and some might even think that it would be better to shield him from what Autism Speaks says about Autistic people.

If I thought for a moment that it was just Autism Speaks that conveyed the negative messages about what it means to be Autistic or the family member of an Autistic person, I might be inclined to entertain that. I might be tempted to consider, for just a moment, that my son might be better off if I gave no attention to Autism Speaks and instead steered him carefully away to avoid the damage.

The thing is, however, that the reach of Autism Speaks, and organizations like them (for instance Down Under’s equivalent, ‘Autism Awareness Australia) have had an impact well beyond the edges of their supporters and their supporters’ friends. The sad reality is that I am raising my son in a society that too frequently views disability through the lens of tragedy, burden, and hardship, and too often frames his way of processing and interacting with the world as something that is beyond acceptance until it is cured, fixed (‘fixed‘ meaning that he can appear to emulate those who are non Autistic) or otherwise eradicated.

These stigmatizing attitudes about disability that are steeped in the language of pathology and cost and deficit are pervasive and we, as a society, have become so accustomed to this stance that many of us cannot even see how problematic it is. The prevalence of stigma is so vast and dominates the discourse to such a degree that it may not even be seen, or questioned.

Sadly… we may be so used to it that we do not notice it until we see its impact on ourselves or the people we love.

Part of raising this young man to be a healthy Autistic adult is giving him the tools and the perspectives to understand about his civil and human rights. I want him to know he can rail against stigma, and I hope that I am modelling that we can work from within communities of support to change things for the better by speaking out and taking action.

You see – this is a kid who has grown up in the era of Autism Speaks. It breaks my heart to say so, but Autism Speaks is the most recognized (albeit – wrongly so) organization to spread [mis]information about Autism.

My son, along with other Autistic people, is excluded by this giant machine of a corporation.

But what he has not been excluded from is the stigma spread by Autism Speaks. He has been surrounded by it since 2005… which is by far the majority of his life.

And the really, really sad thing is… that I know my son already has internalized the negative and stigmatizing ableist messages, language and attitudes that seem to be everywhere. It is insidious and I know this has affected him.

So there is work to be done… and I am hoping – no, counting on it – that this is enough to mitigate hate.

Sometimes it is complex and involves networking with others to counter Autism Speaks and show that there are alternatives.

Sometimes it involves signal boosting the voices of Autistic people, because theirs are the voices we should be listening to – first and foremost.

Sometimes it is carefully choosing my words when my son asks a question – or perhaps monitoring my responses so that I am fully supporting him as our relationship changes.

Sometimes it is understanding that fully supporting him means stepping back and getting out of the way.

And sometimes it is as simple as drawing images with chalk alongside H in our driveway, because this is something that sends a message as well…

 Notatragedy.jpg______________________________________________________________

30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

©Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)   

This post is part of the T-21 Down Wit Dat Blog Hop: Click here to enter your link and view the other participants.

Posted in ableism, acceptance, Activist, Autism, autism stigma, Autistic, Boycott Autism Speaks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Talking with crows: A Sensory Break

Since H was very young I have made a bit of a habit of handing him my camera on long drives, or when he needs a break or is feeling overwhelmed… or when he points out something of interest.

This is also a really lovely way for H to handle crowds or noise – as it gives him some control, something to focus upon, and creates a little space between him and his environment with the camera as a kind of shield, or a mask, or a safe way to narrow his wide view of the world and focus in on something exquisite.

Yesterday at the ASAN Protest of Autism Speaks, H called me over to a little treed area and pointed out a crow that had caught his interest.

He was watching closely, entranced, noting and sharing how it made this clickitying noise…

I handed him my camera…

I love the way H can capture things: details and angles that I might not consider.
I love the glimpse into the way he sees things.
I love looking at the photos together later. It is like opening a gift!

H and I both agreed that these beautiful photos deserved a post of their own… so we are gifting them to you as well! ♥

"Talking with Crows"  by H: Photo 1 of 8

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 1 of 8

Talkingwithcrows3.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 2 of 8

Talkingwithcrows4.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 3 of 8

Talkingwithcrows5.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 4 of 8

Talkingwithcrows6.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 5 of 8

Talkingwithcrows7.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 6 of 8

Talkingwithcrows8.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 7 of 8

talkingwithcrows1.jpg

“Talking with Crows” by H: Photo 8 of 8


_________________________________________________________
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in ASAN, Autism, Autistic, Communicate, perspective of others, Space and Pace, support | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

ASAN Vancouver: Protesting Autism Speaks #boycottAutismSpeaks

ASProtest1.jpg

ASAN Vancouver: Protesting Autism Speaks Walk. H is holding a sign that reads “Autistic Rights are Human Rights #lovenotfear”

Last week H and I made our way into the big city to attend an ASAN meeting with the newly founded ASAN Vancouver Chapter. (ASAN = Autistic Self Advocacy Network)

H was pretty quiet during the meeting, and was creating things on his iPad, but he was definitely listening.

He was at the table… and my intent is to support him in gaining a sense of community and a way to be involved in activism and disabilities rights should he so choose.

I cannot say if he will wish to continue with this as he transitions to adulthood – though he is my son and has a heart for social justice – so I suspect he might.

The point is though – that I see it as my role and responsibility to support him in connecting to other Autistic people as well as people within broader disabilities communities. I want him to know that his voice matters – that he has a place at the table – and he can sit – or not – but the possibility will be there for him.

His activism right now is about empowerment and pride – and supporting him in this is a way of mitigating the negative stigma of organizations such as Autism Speaks.

So… today we once again headed into the big city, this time to participate in ASAN Vancouver’s protest of the Autism Speaks Walk.

On the drive in we discussed many things, as is always the case on our drives. Today, among other things, we talked of stigma, and eugenics, and how sad it is for families to hear the message that their Autistic child is a tragedy… and be sucked into believing it…

H gets this stuff… and I can tell you that I feel pride in his indignance!
And he is proud to be playing a role in combating the negative messages!

So the protest was small, but it was almost entirely well received. Our rough estimate was that there were about 50 conversations today that were game changers, and an enormous amount of ASAN and #BoycottAutismSpeaks flyers were shared with people as well.

ASProtest2.jpg

Sarah, H, and Amethyst at the ASAN Vancouver A$ Protest.

H said: “If they knew what Autism Speaks is doing – they wouldn’t be walking – but protesting with us!”

I concur!

And maybe as a result of today’s efforts, some of those walkers will be along side us next year…

Because this is how change happens… and H and I agree that today was made of win!!

H, wearing his #BoycottAutismSpeaks shirt, is standing in front of an old building. He is looking at the Margaret Mead quote that has been painted on the side. Text reads: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

H, wearing his #BoycottAutismSpeaks shirt, is standing in front of an old building. He is looking at the Margaret Mead quote that has been painted on the side. Text reads: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in ableism, acceptance, Activist, Advocacy, advocate, ASAN, Autism, autism stigma, Autistic, Boycott Autism Speaks, Margaret Mead, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Voting “yes” – because I trust you… #bced

Yup… Voting ‘yes’ and that vote is not saying that I think this is a good deal… because it is not…

But it is better than I think we would get if we were legislated back… and I trust, respect and appreciate the work of our BCTF Negotiation Team.

Whether or not the deal is a go (and I hope it is) there remains some troubling deficits in the values of this government. These have resulted in giant corresponding gaps in the health, education, and social services support systems in our province, because the corporate model does not support the kind of society that cares for ALL of its citizens.

I have no doubt that it is the massive networking of groups, like BC Voters Supporting Public Education on Facebook, that are playing an important role in informing people of the issues and building understanding. When I talk to my neighbour, a man at the grocery store, the woman who cuts my son’s hair, or someone on the street, I am impressed with their knowledge of the issues and the level of their support. They are listening and they see things differently now. The issues are finally being talked about, largely because of social media, in a way that allows people to see through this liberal government’s spin and lies…

I am endlessly grateful for that… and I hope this continues to grow… in fact – I am counting on it!

A ‘yes’ vote doesn’t mean capitulation.

We held the line and we took this hill!

This is not a surrender!

Rather, it is an acknowledgment that this is the best teachers can do right now, but we still have work to do to support and fight for a fair and equitable public education, and our children’s rights to access this.

And teachers need your help!

There are actions that can be undertaken by parents, and community members, and School Boards who are willing to advocate along side teachers. Here are just a few of the possibilities that community members are already discussing and taking action upon…

• Elect School Board Trustees who care and are willing to speak up and advocate for public education (as is their mandate)
• Work to shift/end intervenor status of BC Coalition of Businesses in October’s B.C. Court of Appeal review.
• Work on Recall Process for BC Liberal MLAs who are not effectively representing, listening, or even talking to the citizens in their constituencies
• keep sharing info about Class Size and Composition (CS+C) and build informed networks of support to fight for social justice (issues in education intersect with many things – disability/poverty/etc)
• Support parents in grassroots actions such as possibly boycotting of FSA tests

I LOVE this last idea, put forth by a parent who suggested that families refuse to have their children participate in the FSA testing,  the one that is used by the Fraser Institute to rank schools.

Parents have that right to opt out… but many do not know this…

Imagine the time gained for students and actual teaching if enough families said NO to this particular standardized test: it would add at least a week to the instructional time in our schools.

Wouldn’t it be a powerful push back against this government’s corporate/political goals for BCED…

And then consider the potential chain reaction…

Maybe the Fraser Institute would be unable to RANK schools based on these shoddy standardized tests (with their questionable and statistically unreliable results) because nobody came to their elitist party!!

Now that is SOCIAL JUSTICE and collective responsibility in action!!

And as a part of our collective action we need to make sure we don’t turn off the heat on Social Media. We have growing networks of people who understand the issues and want to support and protect public education.

We must keep holding the BC Liberals accountable – feet to the fire (so to speak)… and we must not let them rest for a moment, with their false claims that they have calmed the seas and made things better for kids.

That hasn’t happened yet… but collectively, as citizens of BC, I think we can do this…

So I am voting ‘yes’… because, even though I don’t think the offer by the government gives us what we hoped,  I don’t think teachers are alone in this battle anymore…

And I trust the citizens of BC to have my back and to be there for the future of public education and the children of British Columbia!

Chalkessay1.jpg

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Autism, BC Teachers Federation, BCTF, Christy Clark, Collective Responsibility, family, Parent, Public Education, social justice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ken Bramble: Connecting the Dots in #bced

Some may wonder why a blog that is generally about Autism would be so closely focused on matters of public education of late, but the reality is that these matters are connected, and there is an unquestionable intersectionality between social justice issues. Prejudice based on gender or sexuality, race, religion, disability, class, or the struggle for worker’s rights, or disabilities activism, or railing against racism, sexism, ableism, poverty… these all intersect when we talk about human rights.

The struggle for social justice is inherently entwined in fighting for public education, the rights of our students, and the worker’s rights of our teachers. When a system is chronically underfunded, those with the least privilege are the most vulnerable. However – there are some deeper trends and patterns here that are insidious, and disturbing, and need to be discussed.

The following is a guest post written by BC educator, Ken Bramble, B.Ed. M.A.  Ken is a N.Z. trained teacher with forty years of public school service. He came to Canada in 1966, and though he retired as an Elementary School Principal in 2001, he has remained a tireless political activist and a dedicated public education advocate. He is has graciously agreed to write this post to explain the trends and patterns he has observed, in order to connect the dots of the political/corporate agendas that have been influencing our system. Ken’s observations are of the school system in British Columbia, and is a supporter of equitable education for all B.C. students, but the implications of what he shares are frighteningly far-reaching and alarmingly applicable across a much wider global framework…

~

Connecting the Dots

By Ken Bramble

Change has always been an important part of public schooling. Changes initiated and implemented by professional educators have been the foundation for improving teaching and learning in education for as long as I have been involved.

This healthy, if sometimes painful reality, ensured my ongoing enthusiasm for the work I was doing with children. I participated in the development and provision of numerous initiatives over the years; without exception these were designed and intended to improve the service we provided to our clients, the children of B.C.

Without fanfare or ceremony, change in our school system has insidiously and quietly shifted from best practice to political interference. I have witnessed this shift as professional educators and their expertise have been systematically removed from positions of influence and leadership, to be replaced with political appointees.

It all started for me with the removal of school catchment boundaries over a decade ago. This insidious move was made in the name of “Choice.” whereby, parents would now have more choice in which school they wished for their children.

Hello Competition: Using a corporate model, the political belief was pushed that competition was good in that it brought out the best in everyone. In the production of widgets, yes… in the education of our children, no. Declining enrollment and empty classrooms prompted school administrators to attract students from outside their traditional catchment areas. When this happened, Competition then began to replace Cooperation.

Magnet Schools: In British Columbia, this shift from cooperation to competition was most effectively done with the creation of “Magnet Schools.” Offering something additional which was over and above the basic curriculum, was intended to ensure special status within the schools of choice model.

Parents began to shop for a school before buying a house.

Fine Arts, Hockey Academies and perhaps the most attractive of all, Traditional Schools were now on the à la carte menu.

Enter stage right: The Fraser Institute and FSA (Foundation Skills Assessment) province wide standardized testing to build and foster the stress of competition. Test results were published for all to see and schools for the very first time were being compared using numbers.

The concept of Magnet Schools expanded to include schools better rated by the Fraser Institute. Like all magnets these schools pulled students from schools in what were considered less desirable socio-economic areas. This was the beginning of a downhill slide in public education, where equity and universality had always been hallmarks of a healthy system. Rapidly, we witnessed the creation of ‘Have’ and ‘Have Not’ schools within the public system. In effect the result was a complex of ‘pseudo Private Schools’ within the public system. Chronic underfunding combined with this competition have subsequently placed huge amounts of pressure on our schools. Fund raising has become an essential service, further exacerbating the differences between schools.

Okay…  now let’s get to what is really going on and what is behind these changes?

We can only speculate of course and pull together the threads from various sources, but in my personal view our schools system is being subjected to a political agenda which is global in influence.

The Teachers’ Strike: Currently in British Columbia, our schools are closed pending a resolution of differences between our teachers and our government.

But… is this just a labour dispute?

I don’t think so.

Our BC Teachers are fighting for the survival of a public school system which is consistently rated in the world’s top ten. For what it’s worth, I have for your consideration a probable cause and I will lay out for you why, in my view, we are at a crucial tipping point.

After connecting the dots and undertaking considerable research I propose the following possible explanation of the actions and motivations of the government:

Get rid of the Teachers’ Union: Our current government wishes to remove any union involvement in schooling. In addition they want to privatize the system by applying an industrial model to its structure and performance. Strangling the system financially and creating chaos and confusion with this strike will provide them with the opportunity to step in and make sweeping legislative changes. They will claim that the system is broken and must be fixed. These changes will be politically motivated and based on a conservative agenda recently seen in the USA and other western countries.

Further Fragment the System: Fragmenting the system with tiers of service will come first. Private or Charter Schools will be touted as the choice for academic students with smaller classes and fewer if any special needs students. Parents will be issued vouchers (links below) to supplement the cost for their child’s education at this level.

Focus on Jobs Training: Second, schools focused on job training. These schools will follow a recently published Blueprint for Re Engineering Our School System (link below) to create jobs for the BC Resource Industry.

Instruction would be provided by three levels of instructor: 1) Teachers, with the option of leaving their union 2) Educators, with minimal training, to do job training and essential math, reading and writing and 3) Support Staff to work with our students requiring special education services. This third group would include Resource Teachers, Counselors, Specialists and EAs (Educational Assistants and Para-professionals).

Charter Schools would be managed and governed by a School Council and a Management Team contracting our clerical, custodial and maintenance services to the lowest bidders. School Boards would become redundant, replaced through the further amalgamation of our current school districts. These new Super Districts would have a Board of Directors and a CEO. Their role would be to distribute limited funding and centralize services while seeking and implementing cost saving measures.

Now let me emphasize that this scenario is speculation on my part: evidence may be hard to find but I believe that there is enough empirical evidence (links below) to support that this is the intended direction of the current government. I feel dishearteningly confident that we should anticipate significant changes in the near future which will have a dramatic and detrimental impact on the school system as we know it. These changes will all be politically motivated and have little to do with improving teaching and learning: in fact the reverse will prove to be true…

Sources, Footnotes, and Additional Information:

~~~~

Thank you, Ken,  for connecting the dots and for sharing your thoughts, research and readings, and also your all too frightening predictions. Clearly, this is a call for collective responsibility, and along with other concerned citizens of BC, we must continue to take action to ensure the survival of our public schools…

                        …before it’s too late!

KenBrambleFBQuestions.jpg

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Activist, Advocacy, advocate, Autism, BC Teachers Federation, BCTF, Educator, Public Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

MLA… MIA – What’s the Diff?!? #bced

The [neo]Liberal elected representatives of our Provincial Government are refusing to meet with constituents to discuss the current crisis in education in British Columbia.

Photo of sign in from of Liberal MLA's Constituency OfficeOne MLA posted this outside his office.

To be fair… he did so after children wielding… um… CHALK… wrote on the parking lot in front of his constituency office.

These same children played hopscotch and tic-tac-toe during the #MLAPlaydate.

So… ya..

It was pretty bad…

 

Here are a few more photos from that same #MLAplaydate…

MykiddeservesCSC

You can probably understand why an adjacent business (Re/Max Realty) called the RCMP… No. Really!

HoptoItMLAPLAYdate

MLAMIA.jpg

It is time for the government to drop E80 and either negotiate a fair deal or agree to binding arbitration.

Please sign and share this petition:
Solve the present crisis in #BCED and let our schools open by agreeing to arbitration. http://www.change.org/p/premier-christy-clark-and-government-of-british-columbia-we-the-people-of-british-columbia-urge-and-expect-that-you-solve-the-present-crisis-and-let-our-schools-open-by-agreeing-to-arbitration?recruiter=5114145&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

Also, there is a rally in support of public education and arbitration this coming Sunday at the Vancouver Art Gallery. You can find more info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/901258163235834/

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Christy Clark, Collective Responsibility, Educator, Parent, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. Fassbender: Class Size, Composition, and Shame…

Dear Mr. Fassbender,

Yesterday I was invited to speak at a rally outside of your MLA office. I was quite excited to have to opportunity to speak with you, the Minister of Education, in person and thought long and hard about what I was to say.  However, I understand that you were not present in your office, which is sad really, because there were certainly many of your constituents that seemed eager to have your attention and your ear.  In hopes that you might be able to catch up, I am writing to you here as well. I apologize that it is lengthy but the complexities involved make a witty and pithy post less than adequate. Here is the gist of what I said:

On Tuesday I was supposed to begin my 28th year of teaching.

I am a special education teacher and I hold a Master’s degree in education.

I am also a writer, speaker, poet, doodler, singer, social justice activist, and probably most important… a mother.

And it is from a mother’s perspective that I want to take a closer look at class size and composition.

It seems these words are being spoken with increased frequency and are at the centre of many discussions regarding the labour dispute between BC teachers and the government, but I am not convinced that the importance of class size and composition are fully understood.

Screen shot 2014-09-04 at 9.32.30 PM

Screenshot of “Fun Fact of the day” by BC Teacher, Alison Evans ♥

This is highlighted by the Ministry of Education’s implication or suggestion that class size and composition should somehow be considered a part of the teachers’ benefits package, which is absolutely ludicrous.

If the government is serious (and I suspect they are) their lack of understanding is truly horrifying.

However, the fact that they refuse to restore the class size and composition provisions that they illegally stripped from the teachers’ contract, is a disheartening indication that this is likely the case.

Either that… or they truly, TRULY do not care about students like my son, which I find even more disheartening.

As a society, we should be investing our resources in educating all of our kids and paying attention to class size and composition is a critical part of that.

Let me explain why – from a mother’s perspective.

My son, H, began Kindergarten in September 2004 and now, in 2014, he is ready to begin grade 10. He and his peers are a generation of students who have never had the benefit of class size and composition assurances, and I can tell you with certainty, that this has had a negative impact upon their education.

You see, I am a parent of a wonderful 15-year-old son who is Autistic and needs support and accommodations at school: he thinks differently and he learns differently. But though his school put forth their best effort to support him, by the time he was in the intermediate grades, my son was spending a considerable amount of time in the hallway, usually hiding behind his coat.

And let me be clear here, although I am a mother of a son whose needs were not met in the mainstream public education setting, I am not vilifying the school or the teachers or the excellent support staff that worked to support my child. The reality is that the school, as a system, lacked the capacity and resources to give my kid what he needed.

I do, however, blame the government for underfunding the system and for tearing up the contract that guaranteed smaller class sizes with a class composition that made it possible to effectively support a student like my son.

It seems grossly unfair to me that my child was in the hallway because, given the class size and needs of the rest of the students, this seemed to be the most practical way to cope with his learning differences.

He was anxious – so he was permitted a break. The difficulty with this response was that it did nothing to resolve the situation that caused his anxiety in the first place. He was anxious because the schedule for additional support frequently did not coincide with his needs.

I suppose it might be considered some kind of a behaviour problem that my son was so inconsiderate as to need support and accommodation when there was no one available to assist him.

Yes… I’ll admit this is sarcasm, but it holds truth at its core, because the reality is that students like my son, who are not being effectively supported, are too frequently seen as a behaviour problem.

Our children’s development is impeded when they cannot trust that the help they need will be there when they need it, and when their challenges are interpreted as misbehaviour the system is causing harm.

I want my child to be in a public school where there is the time and space and resources and capacity to meet him where he is, not where he is seen as someone who must be dealt with or handled or managed. That is not the language of education. That is not the language of relationship, nor is it the language of respect and acceptance.

Rather – it is the language of compliance: the language we might use when we are overtaxed and stressed, or when teaching a class is like trying to keep ants in a paper bag.

In my experience – an anxious child should be pulled in closer to the teacher and given  encouragement and support to successfully work through the situation. This builds the child’s confidence and gives the message, I believe in you.

Instead – my child was in the hallway – hiding under his coat.

Alone

You see, the experience of being Autistic affects my son… it affects him deeply. But more than this – my response to him affects him. The responses, attitudes, and judgments of other students affect him, as do the responses of teachers, relatives, family friends, neighbours, and the attitudes and judgments of strangers…

…and the responses of government!

I worry about the way that he was at times punished at school for his ‘lack of social understanding’ and was given the message (even if perhaps it was only implied in the reaction of others) that he was bad. I worry about the lingering effects of that message on his development of a sense of self and that he may feel that he lacks worth – or that he is not good enough. I worry about the shame my child might feel, and I find myself observing him closely to try to measure and determine the depth of its effect.

I  also worry about the messages of the media proclaiming that autism is a curse, a burden, an epidemic, or a tragedy – and that my child hears and processes messages like these. I have to work hard to undermine the effects of this and loosen shame’s hold. And sometimes I worry we do not have enough time – enough awareness – enough insight and understanding to mitigate the potential damage.

The thing is, however… the most IMPORTANT thing… is that I do not want him to feel shame! I do not want him to feel that he is less because he processes and responds to the world differently than non Autistic people.

So picture my kid – under his coat – in the hall – not near the teacher – and not in the class – and then imagine the thoughts of those passing by in the hall when they see him there… for the umpteenth time.

Imagine the judgment…

What I am saying is that in addition to supporting the development of students with strategies and resources to navigate their way, our goal must also be to adapt the environment to make it a better match, and remove potential barriers.

Sometimes this means changing our language, increasing response time, meeting sensory needs, supporting alternative forms of expression and communication, ensuring and protecting the space/pace/place to recharge, and a myriad of other things to honour the developmental strengths and stretches of our children.

We can know this in theory – we can give teachers all the training – we can understand the language and believe in the pedagogy – but without the resources and capacity in the school system – the assurances of the class size and composition – all the best practice ideas and the best intentions are simply not enough.

I would love for the Premier or the Minister of Education to explain to me why a child like mine is unable to get the services he needs to support him at his neighbourhood school, because I have to tell you – we certainly kept up our end of the deal!

Explain to me how a child with a disability that makes it challenging to navigate the social aspects of the playground is somehow expected to handle recess and lunch with an adult just watching him from afar at the same time as they are supervising two or three other children needing extra support?

Tell me why a child like mine who has language – but has processing challenges, and needs support with developing social communication, is unable to get speech and language support at his neighbourhood school?

Explain to all of us why some children have such limited support that they are only able to attend school for a couple of hours each day.

Explain why my child spent hour upon hour sitting in the hallway – unable to work at school as he was so stressed?

I’d love to hear your take on the reason why a happy, sweet, and delightful boy on the Autism spectrum wound up feeling so badly about himself that we had to enlist the help of a child play therapist, and finally enroll him in a public distributed learning program to rescue him.

The experiences of my son are representative of shortcomings that are systemic: our system is in poverty and schools are taxed with trying to service the intense and multiple needs of students with a myriad of challenges.

So… the government wants teachers to consider students??

Well… when teachers stand up for class size and composition that is exactly what they are doing!

They are considering my child, and other children with special education needs. They are considering every child who is enrolled in the public education system, and those who are working to support them in their schools!

Our students are the future of British Columbia! The saddest thing is… this is their present!!

Christy Clark says Children and families first!

I don’t believe her.

WaitingforMLA.jpg

Here is a link to video  from the rally – Thanks to Langely Teacher‘s Association:  http://bcteacherinfo.blogspot.ca/2014/09/blog-post.html?spref=tw

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in ableism, acceptance, Autism, autism stigma, BC Teachers Federation, BCTF, Behaviour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Appreciation on the First Day of School: #Iwillholdtheline

P1060434So the first day of school in BC this year – a time that is usually exciting and feels full of possibility – is little different from most…

Picketing is not the most promising start to the school year… but I am heartened by the support in our community and across the province.

Thank you to the parents who organized an #MLAplaydate at our Liberal MLA’s constituency office today. I was proud to join you with H and Craig this morning.

Thank you to the CUPE members who are with us in solidarity on the lines.

Thank you to the families of my students, past and current, who continue to be so encouraging and who demonstrate such faith and trust that teachers are advocating for their children.

Thank you to my colleagues for your commitment to the future of public education in our province.  I am proud to stand with you ♥

#Iwillholdtheline

MLAPLAYDATE.jpgAlso… ♥ please check this out: http://www.change.org/p/british-columbians-raise-the-higher-level-corporate-tax-by-1-to-fund-education?recruiter=8283114&utm_campaign=twitter_link&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

And this: https://www.change.org/p/peter-fassbender-end-this-strike-and-get-children-back-into-school?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false&share_id=XLBrkauAaH\

And this: https://www.change.org/p/bc-citizens-recall-premier-christy-clark?share_id=RpXHZyyAzF&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

_________________________________________________________ 30 Days of Autism is a project designed to promote social understanding and offer a glimpse into the perspectives of those whose lives are touched by Autism.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)

Posted in Advocacy, Autism, BC Teachers Federation, BCTF, Educator, Play, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment