Saturday, May 19, 2007

Summer is Nigh!

Whew...Four more school days until summer vacation! Kimberly and I have almost made it through what has to qualify as one of the craziest school years in memory.

Three days before my school year started my principal was "re-assigned" or fired basically...which you can imagine threw our campus into waves of uncertainty. By Christmas our district's superintendent retired out of disgust for petty school board power politics and a new principal wasn't hired until February.

Then Jackson made his wondrous arrival into our lives in January and changed everything wonderfully. Kim was off from Christmas to Spring Break. I was off for the first two weeks of the second semester. I missed more days this year than all the previous years of my teaching career combined. That of course raises the level of insanity when you return to the classroom.

We of course quickly, yet wearily, adjusted to four or five hours of sleep and something must have worked because for the first time in my teaching career 100% of my students passed the statewide TAKS test. Even 100% of my regular (I hate that description) students passed. Thirty-one of my thirty-nine A.P. students achieved commended scores. Maybe I should be absent from the classroom more often! I'm not quite sure I like the conclusions that can be drawn from that fact.

I started an AP European History class this year at KHS and it went very well. Having three preps (AP World History, Euro, and World History) really wasn't that bad. Kimberly had a fantastic second year as a school counselor. Jackson entered daycare in the same building Kimberly works and adjusted marvelously.

Still...we're exhausted and can't wait for this summer to start. Mine is basically here. I only have four half-days left and only six of my students are taking my final exam due to exemptions they received for passing TAKS. Only students currently failing my course have to take my I'm basically done.

It's been a crazy eighth and Kimberly's tenth! Crazy in some wondrous ways (Jackson's arrival) and tumultous ways (administration upheaval). I haven't even had much time to blog...maybe I can catch up during the lazy hazy days of summer vacation. What a great job teaching is!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jackson Update

The Jackson Update: Four Months on May 8th.

Jackson is surprising us in new ways every day. He now laughs out loud. He loves his baths and really loves to make big splashes with his feet. He is now grabbing anything that gets within reach. He's rolling over from his belly to his back...he's found that's the easiest way to get out of the dreaded tummy time. His head control is great. The last three nights in a row he has slept eight hours at a time...much to the relief of Mom and Dad.

The coolest thing however is that he now is kissing people on the cheek...not the usual baby slobbering mush...he is really puckering and kissing people on the cheek. He's only four months old and he's kissing people! He really likes the ladies...he flirts with the daycare women, the nurses at his doctor's office and the doctor herself. He is really doing great and we are loving him more and more each day.

We celebrated Kimberly's first Mother's Day today and Jackson is the greatest gift a mother could ask for (according to Kimberly).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ending poverty is a bad thing?!?

My policy on my blog is that I do not publish anonymous comments. I'm not asking for anything more than a first name and the city where you live. I want people to stand by their comments and not hide behind anonymity.

Anyway, I received a comment that really surprised me regarding my post about my microloan to a ceramics maker in Mexico. Among several ridiculous notions mentioned was that I should have loaned to someone in another country other than Mexico so my dollar "could go further." I guess we should base our charity on exchange rates now rather than on the human equations.

They also expressed a great concern that by empowering the lowest classes they would soon constitute a large lower middle class. They thought this would greatly upset the class system and create unknown chaos. They pointed out that the poverty rate around the world has remained stable at around 15% and that this was a good thing because it created a sense of stability.

I would post the actual comment but they hid their bizarre ideas behind the cloak of anonymity and I can actually see why. Why would anyone be in favor of people remaining in poverty? Not only is this notion callous, inhumane, immoral and classcist it is sheer evil. Poverty is an artificial creation. Bringing people out of poverty is not only humane but a moral peregotive we have as followers of Christ. To justify keeping people in poverty because of the unknown effects on the world economy if they were to improve their lot in life is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Microcredit Revolution

I first heard about microcredit when Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize this past year. I was captivated by his story and quickly read his book "Banker to the Poor." His concept to help alleviate world poverty is elegantly simple yet radically effective. Many suffering in poverty could work their way out of their horrible conditions with the help of a tiny loan...a loan that allows them to start a business or enhance an already existing business. The problem arises when they seek loans from their local third world bank or money lender which charge exhorbitant lending rates.

Microcredit allows an enterprising person to borrow a sum that is almost insignificant by first world standards with little or no percentage rates. They work with local NGO's to make sure worthy candidates are screened and enabled to pay the loan back in a timely manner. PBS and the New York Times a few months ago featured one of these microlending operations on Frontline: World. KIVA (meaning 'unity' in Swahili) allows people to loan as little as $25 to a recipient in a third world nation. Kiva also allows lenders to keep up with their loan recipient's progress. So far 100% of the loans have been repaid. recommends Kiva as one of the best microlenders to use.

I made my first loan today to a middle aged woman in Mexico who is trying to support her family through the sale of ceramics. You can check out her story at Even if I don't get my money back ($25) I'll just consider it a donation.

I went with someone in Mexico because people in Texas are always debating immigration. I believe in helping people where they are rather than just complaining about people moving here. If we can empower our neighbors they won't have to make the difficult decision to leave home in the first place. When she repays the loan...I'll reinvest in another loan. Besides, it's money I received for my birthday. This is a much more fulfilling way to spend my money. And it's not just a donation. Its money that's helping empower someone to help themselves lift themselves out of poverty and in turn make a positive difference in their community.

Check out They're safe and reputable and they're doing a wonderful thing. It doesn't take much to be an international micro-financier with great organizations like Kiva facilitating the process.