Tag Archives: Politics

Election Demographics

The data nerd in me is still alive. Raises some good questions about what the Republican Party needs to do to regain its footing and shows respect for both sides. Worth a look.


2012 election results demographic: In depth analysis of the demographics of the 2012 Presidential election by State including education, income, and religious views such as same sex marriage.

Update 6/3/2013

Interesting information released by the College Republican National Committee #CRNC today in a 95 page report. http://images.skem1.com/client_id_32089/Grand_Old_Party_for_a_Brand_New_Generation.pdf

Seems like they are starting to recognize the issues with mixing religion and politics. Not sure I like the idea of just spinning their message to hide the underlying problems.

Original Post 11/18/2012

Taking a short break from my normal topics of food and travel, I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the recent election and the polarization surrounding it. Maybe it has always been this way, but to me it seems like this past election was a particularly divided one. Even in my own little microcosm, I have been surprised at how passionate friends from opposing views have become. “Passionate” in italics because it…

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Social Media, Politics, and “Friends”

It’s that time of the election cycle. Our feeds are full of political opinions. A friend of mine posted an article about how easy it is to offend our virtual friends on Facebook. This made me reflect a bit on how we project ourselves to the virtual world. I personally don’t mind all the opinions, even if I often choose to stay on the sidelines, piping in with likes and comments instead of starting the discussions myself.

The way I look at it, if someone wants to unfriend me or stop following me for my beliefs, that’s fine. Makes me wonder why I’d want to be connected with someone that doesn’t respect me for my differences in the first place. Likewise, I have shed a few connections over the years for their consistently hateful ideas, which has only left me feeling lighter in knowing that those people don’t belong in any facet of my life.

Instead of seeing the barrage of opinions put out into the online universe as overkill or offensive, I see the Internet as a useful, natural filter for deciding who I really want to have in my online sphere. Sure there are plenty of relatives and coworkers and old friends and acquaintances I do not agree with, but as long as the dialogue is kept respectful, I like that there is a place in this world where they can express themselves openly and I can know them a little better.

This whole idea that we should not have hard conversations with the people in our lives gets under my skin. If we cannot have them in real life, as the article points out is often the case, then I am happy they can occur, even superficially, in the virtual sphere. The only way the world changes is if we start to listen to each other and understand our differing perspectives a little better.

I know it may seem like all the political noise does not really change anything, but I think it does, little by little. When I was in high school, gay kids were beat up, and no one publicly said anything to stop it. Now, all those same kids are grown-ups with Facebook accounts, and suddenly it is pretty mainstream to speak up for gay rights, (even if some of these adults are still on the other side of the fence). This shift in dialogue is just one example of how putting ideas out there can make other people feel safer in voicing their opinions too.

So, as your feeds fill up with ideas you may or may not agree with, I encourage you to be grateful a space exists where people actually speak their minds. Maybe eventually it will make people brave enough to start having important discussions in real life too. And, if nothing else, at least it shows us where the people in our lives stand, whether it be on the left or the right, or in a space of wanting to say nothing.

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Why doesn’t everyone have healthcare?

It started out innocently enough.

My students were gathered for morning meeting at the carpet, ready for the daily announcements. I pulled out a box and explained the school was fundraising Pennies for Patients. Now, to be fully transparent, I’m not even entirely sure the money raised for this drive goes to patients, its name just makes it sound that way. But, before I knew it, our conversation somehow turned into a Q&A on access to healthcare in our country.

“But, Mrs. M, I don’t get it. Why doesn’t everyone have access to medical treatment? That doesn’t seem fair.”

A lot of eager nodding. Many students gave hand signals showing a connection to not having access to medical care. One student, a tough boy with a big heart, told the class about an upcoming surgery he will undergo and how his family is saving money for that. Another student appeared in class the next day with a patch over her eye and insisted on sharing a story of how her doctor refused to treat her the night before because of a conflict between her public and private insurance policies. Emergency care was out of the question.

It’s hard to explain to children why not everyone has access to affordable healthcare. To them, it just does not seem fair. And, I have to say, listening to their stories, I have to agree. Plenty of people will say kids have easy access to medical coverage, but I can tell you it’s not always that simple. We live in a country with a pretty confusing healthcare system.

What I find most surprising, however, is how many people do not see healthcare as a basic human right. I’m sure some of you reading this right now disagree with me. Friends of ours have full-heartedly disagreed with me. It’s just challenging to look into the faces of 30 wonderful human beings and come up with a good reason why any of them should have trouble receiving prompt, affordable, quality healthcare.

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Dirty, Dirty Politics

One of my fifth graders is getting a life lesson early. This week is student council elections and her posters are being ripped in half in the hallway, sprayed with water, destroyed. To top it all off, she’s also being called nasty names. When I first discovered this, I wanted desperately to protect her. I wanted to make it stop, (and, I feel I have done everything in my power to do so).

Nonetheless, as I walked to my car this afternoon, it occurred to me that if nothing else, she is learning something about life that is all too true– politics are dirty, even at age 10.

Someone really wants to win. Still trying to figure out who our own Tracy Flick is…

Cue the scene where the posters are torn from the wall.

Perfect timing as our own, “adult” presidential election heats up. If only the grown-ups would lead by example.


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Is it a Teacher’s Freedom of Speech to Blog?

This morning, a concerned friend emailed me an article about a teacher in Philadelphia fired for the content on her blog.  While I appreciate his concern, I am not going to stop blogging about teaching.  He raises an interesting point, though.  Where does the line between freedom of speech and overstepping your work boundaries fall?

To me, it seems pretty obvious that you do not talk poorly about the administration at your school.  That would be about as smart as calling your boss an a-hole on the internet.  Likewise, I would never write about hating a student or their family, even though I might write vaguely about my frustrations as a teacher with said student or family.  For me, the trouble arises when you start to draw the line in the sand.  If one comment is not protected under free speech, then is the next teacher going to be fired for expressing frustration instead of hatred?

I think it is absolutely essential that I have the right to tactfully share the good and bad parts of my job.  Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, teachers get bashed in the news left and right for being lazy complainers, (what, we only work nine months out of the year, right?).  I consider it my little contribution to the teaching world to speak up and share what my job is actually like in hopes that maybe a couple people begin to see teaching differently.  After all, education will not change unless people know what it is like for teachers in American classrooms.

To be honest, I had no realistic vision of teaching until I started doing it, so I do not expect others to understand unless they listen to our experiences.  Not only do teachers work far more than their contractual obligation to be on campus from 7:30AM-3:30PM, but they also put up with a lot of pressure to successfully teach every kid.  Now, if you’re a teacher, I hope that is your goal, regardless of the pressure, but it still does not take away from the reality that there are factors outside of a teacher’s control that make this battle extremely difficult, even if the good teacher continues to fight it everyday.

I’m sure if you read my blog, you already pick up on those nuances of teaching, but that is one of the main reasons I risk catching flack; I want to give an honest insight into the realities of my profession.  However, that’s not the only reason I write about teaching.  My other, equally-important reason for speaking up is because it helps me survive an extremely stressful job.  By sharing, I make connections with other teachers that help me feel far less alone and inspire me to keep teaching, to push myself to be a better teacher, and to try new techniques to help my students.

Now, when it comes to the teacher fired in Philadelphia, do I think it is fair?  Maybe, I don’t know all of the details.  But, whether I agree with her choices or not, it does make me worry that her situation has opened the door for more teachers to get in trouble for their blogs.  Will it make me stop blogging?  Absolutely not.  Instead it leaves me fiercely committed to my first amendment right to share my experiences as a teacher.  Probably not what my friend was going for by sending me that email, but still grateful to him nonetheless.

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