The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region
Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Of school test scores, our city and Nova Scotia

"I Am A Butterfly"

It does not yet appear what I shall be, so please don't judge when you look at me, for I shall be changed in a twinkling of an eye from an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Slowly and steadily eating my way from tree to tree, "Boy I better watch out for that killer bee." Trying to hold on because I'm slipping and sliding from the heavy rain drops, keep me from gliding into that spiders' deadly web lock. Now heat and light beaming upon my back, let me hurry and get back to my sack. A coat of silk to cover and to wrap keeps me safe from being a rats' snack and all other attacks, protects me from the harsh storms of reality, you better watch out before I crawl up your knees because in times past you paid me no mind but in a few I'll look just fine, I'll break free from my cocoon with a beautiful shiny coat of rainbow colors brighter than the moon, ready to explore this opened up world, flapping my wings until you see me no more.
-- Adina Johnson

"From your first day at school you are cut off from life to make theories."
-- Taiso Deshimaru

Yes, it is already that time of year -- the time that I drive to Canada to my special place, the other place that holds my heart "Nova Scotia."

Now let's sit together and talk about education. Test scores -- which I really am not fond of testing but these scores in Schenectady were so frightening that we really have to address them. Some 5.7% of our children passed Math, 10.8% of our children passed Literacy. That is simply not acceptable. I read an excellent article in the "Buisness Review" that quoted Larry Spring -- Superintendant of Schenectady Schools and I quote him here, "You cannot compare our kids with the kids in Niskayuna; our kids live mainly in one parent households, are cared for by the state, (WIC, healthcare, foodstamps, section 8 etc.) live in families where education is not a priority, and move on the average of 3 times a year."

He then went on to say, "We can not make excuses for ourselves; we must be better in every way, there is no room in our education system to make even one mistake."

He is taking the situation squarely on his own shoulders and making no excuses. Our city must follow his example and face facts, as a school system we are failing miserably.What road to life are these children going to have if they are so far behind their neighboring communities? The trend in housing right now is not to flee the city for the suburbs, but flee the suburbs for the city. This fact comes from the National Realtors Association. Surprised? So was I. Yet many of our politicians and city workers are leaving our city to move to Niskayuna because of the school system. I will tell no tales, you folks can do your own digging.

And yes I do believe firmly in this next statement but....

"Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree it will live it's whole life believing it is stupid."
-- Albert Einstein

And believe me he knew of what he spoke, being called a dummy all his young life. But he did graduate from High School, and he was a proficient reader and mathematician. He thought differently than most people, and frankly most people never were able to understand his theories and solutions so they labeled him dumb and worse still-stupid.

But all our children still need to be able to read and write and use and understand bank transactions these are the barest bones of life and are very important. Look again at those figures I wrote down in this blog, digest them and don't simply dismiss them. Every child deserves a place at the table and a shot at a decent life. If they are essentially illiterate where will they go and how will they live, if we don't support them now while they are young than we will be supporting them and their future children forever. From a simply financial situation, the choice is obvious.

Let me give you another number to make you uncomfortable. "FACT -- the Center for Disease Control ranked the United States 29th in the world for infant mortatilty for 2004. The United States fell from 12 in 1960 to the 23rd in 1990 and is currently tied with Poland and Slovakia for infant mortality."
-- The Nation's Health-American Public Health Association, Feb.2009

Doesn't that make you just the least bit ashamed and uncomfortable? If it doesn't, I am wondering about our own grasps on reality. I say again the children of this earth are our future, not the dollars in our pocket.Yes, we all need to make a living wage but beyond that?

"100+ people and their Companies Control The World. Global corporate control has a distinct bow tie shape with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out... Each own interlocking stakes of one another and together 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 people control 80% of it all, this is the first map of the structure of a global corporate control."
-- Bruce Upbin, Forbes, 10/22/2011

So what do you call that? Democracy? Socialism? I think not. I call it dominance and it is down right scary. Back to our own small city. It is important for everyone, to speak out and make sure our financial structure is fair and well balanced. We must never put all our money in one area alone. The trickle down theory has been disproved for years now. It does not WORK! Leaving all the money and power in a few places and in the hands of a few people is called Monopoly. I am sure you have all played the same the person with the most money and property wins. That old bugaboo downtown keeps raising its head, what has it done for the rest of the city? Taxes are up, crime and violence is a creeping menace, the school system is failing and social services simply can not keep up with the pace.

I know we talk a lot about being short handed on the police side, but who ever mentions the stressed-out probation and juvenille justice system. C.P.S. is not even in a position to handle the cases it has let alone the new ones that crop up daily. Does anyone out there hear me? Are you paying any attention?

I would like to know what percentage of our city utilizes downtown on a regular basis. Who can afford the prices weekly? We talk about the cost for providing dormatories for homeless veterans, but do we talk about the cost to each and every one of us of providing palaces of pleasure on State State? Non- profit status means no taxes paid, and often city paid salaries. How many businesses downtown and how many pay taxes? Real numbers please.

Exactly how much has Schenectady County been helped by these corporations, and I don't mean how many people eat and play in downtown because most of the sites pay no taxes and are no earthly help to our seniors and our schools. Elmer Ave. school is going to be demolished it is in such bad shape, but Proctors is getting digital signs. $250 a week for youth arts programs, how many scholarships given out? This is shameful.

This is one community, it encompasses many different levels of wealthy and education and talent. it behooves all of us to share our time and our gifts to increase the whole city and its citizens. Otherwise we are not a civilized and caring people. All our religions speak to this, and those of us who have no special faith have still morals, and ethics and standards. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we joined forces to fix schools and jobs, and the needy, who need much, much more than a food pantry. There's a trickle down theory that is proven to work. Let's make it work and show others what we can do as a united front.

Now on to Canada. No blizzards this time -- of course it will be hurricane season and as we depend on a ferry (a 3 hour trip) we can still be left waiting at the shore. But I choose to be positive and say, yes not a cloud no worries in sight.

We will be taking Wilber, our dog - - Zoe and Ernie (our cats) will be staying with Beth- my daughter- and Zoe's weight is inching closer and closer to 7 lbs. She is going out for leash walks and is playing with toys. She carried a small ball upstairs to play last night and she chases her tail. This is a small miracle. And that's like that 60's song -- "Wild Things-You make my heart sing." And she does.

I count the hours till we get in that old (30 years old) V.W. camper and take off. Thursday Aug.15th- 7:30pm right after work. Drive all night - and catch the ferry on noon Friday. We will be in a different time zone and loose an hour- so that the twilights stretch on and on. I hope to read at least half the humongous pile of books I am bringing, and to try actual strolls on the mile long beach. I am beginning to think seriously of getting a bicycle or maybe even a tricycle!! Just to ride those back lanes and empty roads. The thing is I carry Schenectady with me everywhere I go. It comes with me, and is always my baggage. For good or bad it's always who I am. I was born here and the memories are popping up everyday.

I recently joined a Facebook page called, "My Schenectady Memories" and I cannot begin to tell you dear readers how much enjoyment I am getting from the reminiscences and stories and conversations that crop up daily on this site.

We never forget our childhoods, they stay- with us our whole life long- that's why our children- all our children need a childhood to remember. If each of you can provide one joyous memory to a child, how wonderful would that be?

As I try to fit in packing, my skinny little Zoey with the big pot belly is playing, really playing with her toys. When I came home last night she ran to the screen last night and actually stood on her hind legs and put her front paws up as high on the door as they would go, and meow furiously. As I walk around the kitchen my 2 rescue cats wind around my ankles, tripping me up and vying for food and affection, short chubby deformed Ernie and long lanky elegant Zoe- with the hairless neck and the big belly. Nevermind, the fur will continue growing in and the belly will redistribute. She is smoky gray and sits up like those statues of Egyptian cats with her tail wrapped around her front paws. Her change from day to day is riveting.

Wilber of course, is Wilber. Funny and endearing, and so eager to please he trips all over himself. Rescue animals, the best in this universe. I am so lucky -- so blessed.

I will be gone for 3 1/2 weeks, missing all I left behind but trying to let it fade, ever so slightly, so I can stop with these ridiculous panic attacks, and maybe get some sort of serenity. I don't know, hyper and busy seems to be my real name. Think of me sitting in my big old chair (taken from our cellar) in front of the siding glass door (put in by my husband) watching the day light fade and the stars come out, and the light houses turn on, maybe even the sound of the fog horn, and the cry of an owl. Wilber sitting on my feet and dinner in the crockpot smelling gorgeous.

As they say in the 50's music venue, "See You in September."
"Divinity lies all about us and culture is too hidebound to even suspect the fact."
-William James

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