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What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

July 18, 2017
What is the Blue Whale Challenge

What is the Blue Whale Challenge? If you’re a parent of a young child, tween or teen you’re going to need to learn about this chilling online game that has been causing young people to commit suicide. 

The Blue Whale Challenge is an internet game with 50 tasks assigned to those who want to play, the final task is that the player commit suicide. Each task leading up to the final task is a means of manipulating, controlling and eventually goading the player to commit suicide. Tasks include variations of self harm, sleep deprivation, risk taking, and watching hours and hours of horror movies – each getting progressively worse until a susceptible child can be enticed to commit suicide.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge?

The Blue Whale Challenge was created by a 21 year old Russian named Philipp Budeikin who says the reason he created the game is to cleanse society. Philipp Budeikin has been arrested and has plead guilty to inciting at least 16 girls to commit suicide. 

There are reports of children all around the world who have attempted or committed suicide after playing this game. In the US two suicides have been attributed to this ‘game’.

Ultimately this is a game of peer pressure. For kids who want to fit in, they may be more likely to play this sort of game. Talk to your kids about peer pressure, about these online games and about suicide.

It can be difficult for kids to go against the crowd and refuse to play, even when they know they shouldn’t. Help your kids to stand up for themselves and teach them how to say no to peer pressure. 

I can’t imagine the pressure today’s kids are under to participate in these horrendous games. And I can’t imagine the sick fuck who came up with a game like this, but I have talked to my kids about it. It’s opened a dialog about these very difficult topics and for that I am thankful. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one because of these sorts of online games. 

Here are some resources about the game and how you can help your children avoid playing it:

How to Talk to your Kids about Suicide

Blue Whale Suicide Game on CNN

Blue Whale Challenge Tasks

The Cyber 7 Tips for Online Safety

Help Kids Resist Peer Pressure

Helping Kids Handle Peer Pressure

 

Advice Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Kids Minnesota Nice Pets Things I Really Like Writing

Compliment Freely

April 25, 2017
compliment freely

Do you compliment freely? Which do you do more often – compliment or criticize? The consensus seems to be that we are in a hand basket on our way to hell. It doesn’t matter where you look, people jump on each other for saying or doing anything, even with the best of intentions. 

Here are just a few recent examples of companies and people that were taken to task for doing or saying the wrong thing:

  • Shea Moisture – For including white women in their latest ad campaign.
  • Pepsi – For suggesting that Kendall Jenner and Pepsi can end racism, among other issues.
  • Anything Sean Spicer says.
  • Everything President Trump says or does including breathing.

I’m not passing judgment on any of these examples or their respective backlash, but I do think we’d all do ourselves a huge favor if instead of jumping on the outrage bandwagon, we used our energy to compliment rather than criticize.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

My grandmother always said – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. She didn’t always follow her own advice, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Have you ever received a compliment from a stranger and it seemed to instantly change your mood for the better? Not only does a compliment instantly make the receiver happy, but it also greatly boosts that person’s confidence.

Imagine a child trying to learn how to play a piece on the piano and a member of the family yells at them to stop making that racket. Will the child look forward to piano practice or will they dread it and eventually give up? 

Learning anything new is difficult, in fact to master something it is suggested it takes at least 10k hours. That’s a lot of sucking at something until you “get” it.

And in those 10k hours of sucking at something, there’s an abundance of people willing to tell you how much you suck.

We Become what we Believe

When I was around 18 years old I picked up my brother from the University of Minnesota. It was late in the afternoon and I had my parents new beagle puppy in the car with me. I think I had taken the puppy to get shots. I only remember the puppy being in the car because it was then that we discovered he had motion sickness. Anyway, I rarely drove with my brother. If we were going somewhere together he was going to drive. However, it was late in the afternoon, the campus was busy and I didn’t want to park so pretty much I agreed to arrive at a specific place at a specific time and he jumped in the car while it was basically still moving. There wasn’t time to switch drivers.

As we were crossing the bridge another car swerved over, obviously I was in his blind spot, and would have hit us if I hadn’t reacted quickly and swerved out of his way. 

I executed the move flawlessly. I know this because my brother actually said I did some great driving. 

He was impressed.

It was luck. Thankfully, there was just enough room on the other side of me to swerve – there was no one in the other lane. 

I don’t mean to minimize my skills behind the wheel, but I had several accidents under my belt. It was luck combined with keeping a cool head – something I was not known for.

Because my brother, about the only person in my life who I looked up to, said I was a good driver, I believed it. In fact, since that time I have only been in two other accidents. Neither of which were my fault. 

I am confident when I drive and consider myself a very good driver. Of course, I’ve probably done 10k hours worth of driving since that moment on the bridge with the sick puppy in the back seat.  Make no mistake, there is no doubt in my mind that being told by someone I thought highly of that I was a good driver helped to make me a good driver. 

We Believe what we Become

On the other hand, my brother used to call me “Post Toasties”. To this day I don’t know why he nick named me after a breakfast cereal. I only know it wasn’t a good nick name. It was not a term of endearment. I know this because he and his friends all laughed whenever he called me “Post Toasties”. They may have been laughing because that’s what big brothers and their friends do when teasing little sisters. However, I was a child and didn’t understand that sometimes kids do things without thinking too much about why they are doing them.

In my mind it was simply another way for him to call me “fat”, without my parents finding out. I jumped to that conclusion all by myself. It fit perfectly with what I had been told my grandmother, children at school and was seeing in the teen magazines I was devouring along with the Twinkies and PopTarts. I take full responsibility for the eating disorder I cultivated during those years, and I doubt a compliment would have been enough to prevent it from taking root, but it might have given me pause if someone had given me one.

Compliment Freely

Words we choose carry so much power. We can either uplift or we can tear down. Lately it seems, all we do is tear each other down.

Instead of criticizing try to compliment. If that isn’t possible – and let’s face it, it isn’t always possible – just remember you don’t have to say anything. 

Compliment freely. You could be the difference between someone’s success or failure. A few small words can make all the difference in the world. So choose them wisely. 

Kids Reviews

EZ Stax Review

March 2, 2017
EZ Stax Review

A few weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook for EZ Stax. Immediately used my clout as a blogger to get a sample so I could write this EZ Stax Review. EZ Stax are a set of thin plastic interlocking dividers that work perfectly for clothing, papers, basically anything that is reasonably flat and relatively thin. You could use them for crafting if you do a lot of scrap booking. Do people still do scrap booking? 

Anyway, I got them so I could organize my daughter’s dresser. Watch the video below to see how easy they are to use.

They are easy to use. They are also made out of recycled plastics, which is nice.

They are lightweight, easy to use and sadly, too big for any of the dressers in my home. At least to put in the right way. I had to put them in sideways, which wasted a lot of space in the drawer. This is not the fault of EZ Stax, I just happen to have all antique furniture from the turn of the century, the 1800s not the 1900s. I’m sure if I had something from Ikea it would fit beautifully. 

EZ Stax Review

Still, I was able to organize my daughter’s drawer full of t-shirts. She can remove a t-shirt from the middle of the stack and not disrupt the rest of the t-shirts. Theoretically, she could put one back in the middle of the stack, that just hasn’t happened yet.

Look, two weeks later, the drawer still looks great!

I highly recommend EZ Stax, just measure before you purchase to make sure they’ll fit in your dresser. 

Blogging Books Dumb Shit I Do Events Food Kids Minnesota Minnesota Nice People Pets politics Recipes Reviews Things I Really Like Things that piss me off Writing

Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

December 31, 2016
Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup

For your reading pleasure I’ve put together my sometimes annual Redhead Ranting 2016 Roundup. Every other media outlet does a roundup so I thought, what the heck, I’ll do one too!

I’m actually surprised I wrote enough this year for a roundup. In fact, I actually wrote and published 60 posts this year, which is my third time high since I started blogging in 2007. It’s twice as much as I wrote last year.

There were basically 4 categories this year, the election, my mother, recipes, and Prince, and an outlier about Dini the cat. It’s a long post, and most didn’t bother to read it, but it’s one that harkens back to my early days of blogging, when I just told a story and enjoyed the journey.

No One Ever Said There Would Be This Much Cat Vomit

Blog Posts about the Election

I really didn’t think he’d win, and I might watch too much Walking Dead.

How to Survive the Trumpacolypse

How to Prepare for the Post Election Apocalypse

OMG Stop Unfriending Each Other!

Blog Posts about my Relationship with My Mother

My relationship with my mother is difficult at best, but it isn’t unique. I also posted a story from my book, Minnesota Nice. 

Life Isn’t Fair

I Made my Mother Cry… Again

Do You Know your ACE Score?

Recipes

I cook a lot this year, mostly because I got an Instant Pot – the most awesome thing ever!

Shrimp Alfredo in 7 Minutes

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Hot Dish Instant Pot Recipe

Authentic Minnesota Tater Tot Hot Dish Recipe – Seriously, if you try a new dish in 2017, make it the MN Tater Tot Hotdish, you won’t be sorry. 

Best and Worst in Books and Movies and Blogs

I saw and reviewed several movies this year, they aren’t worth sharing here except for one exceptionally horrible movie I really hoped would be awesome. It wasn’t.

Independence Day Resurgence Review

Life Changing Books

Bloggers who Blog

Prince and Jacob

2016 was a year of loss, but these two are still difficult for me to reckon with. 

Summer in Minnesota 2016: We Lost Prince and Found Jacob

On the Passing of Prince, from a Minnesotan

Events Kids Things I Really Like

Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this November

November 1, 2016
things to do in the Twin Cities this November

If you’re looking for family friendly things to do in the Twin Cities this November, then you’ve found the mother lode of stuff to do. The weather looks to remain warmer than usual so be sure to get out and enjoy all that this great town has to offer. From the Autumn Craft Festival in Shakopee to the a make your own bird feeder event in Maplewood, there’s something for everyone. Of course, you could always spend your free time raking the leaves.

Family Friendly Things to do in the Twin Cities this November

Build a Bird Feeder
When: November 5th, 2016
Where: 2659 7th Street E
Maplewood, MN

Build a birdfeeder with reclaimed cedar fencing and learn which Minnesota native winter birds will visit your feeder. Explore stations to learn about different beak types and more. Your backyard birdfeeder will be a joy to you and birds throughout the chilly season! Fee: Prepay $5/birdfeeder by Tuesday, November 1. To register, go to maplewoodnaturecenter.com and click on the Register Online Go button. Call 651-249-2170 if you need help registering.

Jitney at the Penumbra
When: Now through November 13th, 2016
Where: 270 N. Kent Street
St. Paul, MN

It is 1977, and in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, city officials threaten to level a makeshift taxi dispatch office where neighbors have gathered for years. At a time when safe and comfortable transit was not guaranteed for black customers, Becker’s car service provided mobility and a modicum of respect for the community. Now his building has been identified as prime real estate for redevelopment, and he might be forced out of business. Meanwhile, his estranged son has been released from prison and wants to come home. As pressure mounts, Becker is forced to reckon with powers beyond his control. Jitney is an “explosive” and “gripping” portrait of African American life from the pen of one of America’s greatest writers. Join us for a riveting production brought to you by the nationally-known and critically-acclaimed creative team at Penumbra Theatre.

Eagan’s Indoor Winter Market
When: November 5th and 19th, 2016
Where: Eagan Community Center
1501 Central Parkway
Eagan, MN

Stock up on market favorites for the Thanksgiving and holiday season. Thanksgiving recipes provided featuring local MN produce and products.

Autumn Festival, An Arts and Crafts Affair
When: November 10th – 13th, 2016
Where: Canterbury Park
1100 Canterbury Road
Shakopee, MN

Hundreds of the nation’s finest artists and crafters display and sell their handcrafted works. Our Arts & Crafts tour of shows are consistently ranked in the Top 100 Shows in the Country by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Stage entertainment, hourly gift certificate winners, plenty of food & drink, lots of family fun, and free parking!

Cardboard Gallery
When: Now through January 1st, 2017
Where: Science Museum of Minnesota
120 Kellogg Blvd W.
St. Paul, MN

The Science Museum is devoting 3,500 square feet of space to cardboard-inspired ingenuity. We’ve provided hundreds of cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes and an assortment of tools and connectors, and visitors of all ages can turn their ideas into cardboard reality in a giant ongoing free build. Assemble forts, create creatures, design mazes, construct rocket ships—or build whatever you can imagine!

Hometown for the Holidays
When: November 18th – December 31st, 2016
Where: Historic Main Street in Stillwater, MN

Experience the holidays like you remember. Historic Main Street Stillwater is alive with Christmas decorations, lights, and traditional events for a month-long celebration from November to New Year’s Eve. Get in the old-fashioned holiday spirit! Downtown Stillwater’s independently owned unique boutiques and restaurants welcome you. Shop small and local throughout the season to support local businesses and Minnesota-made gifts. Find joy in shopping and dining during the holiday season with many free family friendly events in November and December.

Hip Hop Nutcracker
When: November 22nd and 23rd, 2016
Where: Ordway
345 Washington Street
St. Paul, MN

The Hip Hop Nutcracker is an evening-length production performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, DJ, and violinist.Through the spells cast by the mysterious Drosselmeyer, Maria-Clara and her Nutcracker prince travel back in time to the moment when her parents first meet in a nightclub. Digital scenery transforms E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of a palace of sugarplums into a romance set in 1980s Brooklyn. The dance work celebrates love, community, and the magic of New Year’s Eve.

Holidazzle
When: November 25th – December 22nd, 2016
Where: Loring Park
Minneapolis, MN

Holidazzle creates a community gathering place and holiday destination for people of all ages to come together and celebrate winter in Downtown Minneapolis. This year’s Holidazzle features stories highlighting local people, products and places that showcase the food scene, art district, park system, active lifestyle, local entertainers and community groups that make our city and our region unique and special.

Events Kids Minnesota Reviews Things I Really Like

Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

October 14, 2016
Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

It’s getting spooky out there at the MN State Fairgrounds! Pumpkin Night Twin Cities has taken over the fairgrounds and it’s pretty spooktacular!! Actually, it’s not that spooky, which makes it perfect for the little ones (and their parents) who want to get into the Halloween spirit.

Haven’t heard of Pumpkin Nights before? You’re probably not alone. This is the first year I’ve heard of them, so what is Pumpkin Nights?

Pumpkin Nights, pig carved out of a pumpkin

Pumpkin Nights Twin Cities

Pumpkin Nights is a half-mile long path of over 3000 carved gourds! They folks who put it together created 12 different and amazing worlds made out of carved pumpkin. From local sensations like the Vikings and Prince to an under-the-sea world, a south-of-the-border retreat and some ghostly ghouls, there’s bound to be many favorites.

As you walk the path of pumpkins you can rock out to some great tunes, too!

Stop and get a family portrait taken and don’t forget the Tater Tots, Karmel Korn and mini Corndogs!

The Festival is open today through October 31st, 2016!

Sundays to Thursdays: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 6:30pm – Midnight

Pumpkin Nights

Enter on Como, just off of Snelling Avenue. You can park (for free!) right across the street.

1719 Como Avenue, Falcon Heights, MN 55108

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Click here to buy your tickets online.

Get your costume ready! Carve yourself a pumpkin and bring it to the festival to be added to our Community Carving world. For every pumpkin you bring, they’ll donate $5 to Scares That Care.

Pumpkin Nights, Vikings logo carved into a pumpkin

This was a really fun outing for the kids. It’s dark, but it’s not scary. No one will jump out at you while you walk through the displays. The path is handicap accessible so wheelchairs and strollers will be just fine. Dogs are not allowed.

If you’re looking for some family friendly entertainment in St. Paul, come out to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for this once a year spooktacular pumpkin fun!

Kids Minnesota Things I Really Like Winter

Easy Winter Accessories Organization

October 11, 2016
Easy Winter Accessories Organization

I love this easy winter accessories organization hack! In Minnesota we’re never sure when winter will start or when it will end, but keeping all the hats, scarves, mittens and gloves out gets sloppy and takes up too much room by the back door. So I created this easy winter accessories organizer and put it where we keep all the boots and coats.

Prior to this household hack I simply used an old Trader Joe’s shopping bag to store all the winter gloves, hats and mittens in. The problem with using a bag was that you’d have to dig through it each time you wanted a pair to wear.

That usually meant, especially if you are a smallish child, dumping the contents out, rifling through it all and then leaving with mismatched mittens because there was no way to know if the mates were in the bag when you only had seconds before you missed the bus.

Easy Winter Accessories Organization

I used a standard over the door shoe organizer and filled it with hats, gloves, mittens, and scarves. Mostly hats because those don’t get lost as easily as gloves and mittens.

As you can see, there’s plenty of room in each compartment to fit two or three hats and several pairs of gloves and mittens. I even manages to fit the dog’s sweater in one of the compartments.

This way, you can see which mittens have mates and which hat goes with which scarf or pair of gloves.

As you can see, I have several compartments left over. I was thinking I could put wool socks in those as well as hand warmers and ear muffs if I can ever remember where I put those last spring.

By keeping the organizer with the boots and coats, the kids are encouraged to keep all their winter gear in one spot instead of creating a trail of clothing as they walk in the door. Less to clean up and less to lose.

 

Events Kids Things I Really Like

The Teal Pumpkin Project

October 10, 2016
The Teal Pumpkin Project

I’m so thrilled to learn about the Teal Pumpkin Project! About 5 years ago I learned my daughter had severe tree nut allergies. Overnight everything became a lot more difficult and the worry never ends. She carries both Benadryl and an Epi-Pen with her where ever she goes. She is also an ace at checking labels and asking if food has tree nuts in it or been prepared around equipment that has processed tree nuts.

We’ve been lucky, we’ve never had to use the Epi-Pen. For the most part, her tree nut allergies haven’t interfered in day to day life. I make a few adjustments when cooking and baking and that’s about it. We’re vigilant at festivals, fairs and other activities where food is prepared for us (and hyper vigilant  at some restaurants that don’t label ingredients as well as I would like), but otherwise the only time of year it really sucks for her is Halloween.

Thankfully there’s the Teal Pumpkin Project! Click here to learn more.

As a result, Halloween can be extra scary if your child has a food allergy. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) came up with the Teal Pumpkin Project to create a safer Halloween for kids who have food allergies. If you put a teal pumpkin at your door it means you’re giving away non food items to your trick or treaters.

The Teal Pumpkin Project

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project® is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids. Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

How to Take Part

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
  • Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate to passersby that you have non-food treats available
  • Display a free printable sign or premium poster from FARE to explain the meaning of your teal pumpkin

Support the Project

Do you want to help spread the Teal Pumpkin Project’s messages of a safer, happier Halloween for all? You can support FARE and the Teal Pumpkin Project in a variety of ways:

Spread the Word

Enter your teal pumpkin in our contest by using #tealpumpkincontest and tagging us @FoodAllergy on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

How Did We Survive? Kids WTF?

Clowns Banned from Halloween

October 6, 2016
clowns banned from Halloween

Let me get this straight, clowns banned from halloween because they creep people out too much?!?!?! Apparently out east clowns have been banned from Halloween because of all the recent creepy clown sightings this summer and fall. Mind you, no one has been hurt by these creepy clowns, but they freak people out enough that the powers that be in Connecticut have prohibited children from dressing up as clowns in all 48 New Haven schools.

Clowns Banned from Halloween

“Unfortunately, clown-themed posturing has been a growing trend throughout the country, particularly on social media,” said the New Haven school district, which enrolls 21,500 students, in a statement on Tuesday.

Clowns are scary, therefore we can’t dress up as clowns for Halloween.

Ummm….

Isn’t that the point of Halloween? To dress up as something scary?

Again, with all of the recent creepy clown sightings in the last few months, all have been hoaxes.

Why the hell is everyone freaking out? People in my generation have been terrified of clowns since the stories of John Wayne Gacy were whispered at every campfire and slumber party. Clowns are creepy as fuck, and that’s why they’re so fun to dress as for Halloween.

Even Stephen King said people are overreacting. Stephen King, the author who gave us Pennywise, the creepy clown from his novel IT.

“Hey, guys, time to cool the clown hysteria,” King tweeted on Monday, “most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh.”

Having clowns banned from Halloween is like banning candy from Halloween or banning the movie Elf pretty much any time of the year because it is always on somewhere.

What good will banning clowns from Halloween do anyway? If perverts really are dressing up as clowns in order to entice kids to come with them (clearly they never got the memo that clowns are creepy and most kids would run from them anyway) what’s to stop them from dressing up as Darth Vadar, Captain America, a Transformer or even Elsa from Frozen?

I think the people out east have underestimated perverts.

Apparently clown masks sales are up 300% since last year. So even though clowns have been banned from Halloween, at least out east, expect to see them all over the place on Halloween night. You may even see a couple of them through November 8th.

Events Kids

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE Bird Island Experience at Mall of America

March 24, 2016
Angry Birds at Mall of America

Where: Mall of America Rotunda

When: Saturday, April 2, 11am–5pm

The Angry Birds Movie will take over the Rotunda at Mall of America® for the Bird Island Experience, featuring a Digital Arcade, Nest and Relaxation Lounge, power bungee jump, face painting, photo booth, crafts and more!

Test your Angry Birds digital gaming skills at the Digital Gaming Arcade!

Relax and manage your stress with massages, relaxation tips and Zen tea samplings from Teavanna in our Nest and Relaxation Lounge.

Take midafternoon snack break at the Hanger Management Stand with sweet treats from Doc Popcorn, Nestle Tollhouse and Peeps.

Participate in The Angry Birds Movie Egg Hunt and locate the Red Bird Ticket for your chance to win a trip to The Angry Birds Movie Premiere in Los Angeles!

https://www.mallofamerica.com/events/view/1436

Don’t miss this once in lifetime EGGSperience!

#AngryBirdsMovie

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE: IN THEATERS MAY 20

Kids Minnesota Things that piss me off WTF?

Failure of Saint Paul Public Schools, Solutions Not Suspensions and Teachers Strike

December 9, 2015
Saint Paul Central High School building at night

Last week a teacher at St. Paul Central High School was brutally beaten when he tried to help to break up a fight between two students arguing about football. The teacher was slammed into a concrete wall, then the student picked the teacher up by his neck in a strangulation hold before slamming him onto a cafeteria chair and table. The student then got on top of the teacher and started choking him, according to the charges.. The teacher suffered a traumatic brain injury and concussion.

http://www.kare11.com/story/news/crime/2015/12/08/student-charged-after-teacher-choked-principal-assaulted/76994022/

Since the incident, teachers in the SPPS district are threatening to strike and are asking for Valeria Silva to step down.

The reason teachers are demanding the resignation of Silva and threatening to strike is because their hands have been tied with regard to discipline for a couple of years now. Instead of suspending or expelling students for bad behavior they are now given a time out.

From Minnpost

At the same time, discipline policies were substantially changed. School suspensions were replaced by five-minute “timeouts” for those acting up in classrooms. The disciplinary changes came out of meetings with an organization called Pacific Education Group, a San Francisco-based operation that has been consulting with the district dating back to 2010.

PEG’s goal is to convene conversations about difficult issues surrounding race. It has collected more than $1 million for its work with the district, but Nathan points out that much of that work has only created more frustration in St. Paul. At one point, the organization set up meetings to discuss “white privilege” with teachers and parents. “OK, white privilege,” Nathan said. “Now that we’ve acknowledged there’s such a thing, what should we do about it? What’s the response? Help us here. But there was no response.”
In the wake of the dramatic changes in discipline and mainstreaming, Silva admitted that perhaps so much should not have been done so quickly. The admission, however, came long after large numbers of parents and teachers said that the changes had fundamentally changed the culture of St. Paul schools and, in many cases, made teaching and learning extremely difficult.

By that point, things had moved passed “messy.” Nowhere more so than at Ramsey Middle School, where the five-minute timeouts were not working in an environment of fighting, swearing and general disrespect. This past fall, nine teachers quit their jobs.

We live in Mac Groveland which means my daughter would have to go to Ramsey Junior High (Ramsey feeds into Central). Last spring I put my daughter on the waiting for Highland Jr High, not much better reputation than Ramsey but it wasn’t Ramsey – a school that was notorious bad behavior. I spent most of the summer checking with the school district to see if there had been any movement on the list. I had put all my eggs into the basket of Highland because my son graduated from the Highland High School. He was in the IB program and did very well for himself, I had the same hopes for my daughter.

It was not to be, there were too many children on the waiting list and she did not make the cut. When school started she began her very short career at Ramsey Jr High.

On the first day she was hit in the face with a pencil meant for someone else. She would be repeatedly kicked or shoved in the hallway. The aggression was not necessary aimed at her, it was just such a madhouse she was in the crossfire of students yelling, bickering, fighting, or all out attacking each other.

I picked her up early one afternoon to go to a doctor’s appointment and was harassed as I walked down the sidewalk by the playground. Words such as “fucking bitch” were used to address me to retrieve a ball that had been kicked over the 8 foot high fencing. I was so stunned by this behavior but even more so by the lack of reaction or retribution for the bad behavior by the teachers who were out monitoring (and within earshot) the playground activities.

When I signed my daughter out I mentioned the incident to the ladies in the office. One of them literally dragged me through the halls insisting that I report the behavior to the principal. As if I could make a change.

I talked with the principal who explained to me that as a white woman of privilege she was unable to speak to the cultural barriers in place (whatever the heck that means). I realized that she was more interested in making excuses than doing anything about the bad behavior and pulled my daughter out of the school the next day.

I understand now that the principal’s hands were tied due to Superintendent Silva’s belief in Solutions not Suspensions – a policy of sorts put in place to prevent children of color from being suspended or expelled disproportionately from their white counterparts. Basically we no longer suspend or expel children who behave badly, we give them a five minute time out.

The schools are madhouses. Children have no respect for authority, teachers or other students (and certainly not for themselves). When there are no consequences for bad behavior it is no wonder that teachers (and students) are getting hurt.

My daughter attended Ramsey for 12 days. I spent two and a half weeks finding another slightly less chaotic school for her to attends and that is not going well either. My daughter is terrified to go to school. I’m not expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s difficult to learn when you’re worried about getting beat up or killed because some child brought a weapon to school. Even though she only attend the school for 12 days she still managed to ace all of her classes except for gym!!!

There is so much wrong with the Saint Paul Public School district that I really hope the teachers union does strike. I will be picketing with them. I am also hopeful they can manage to remove Silva, someone who doesn’t seem to have any idea what it is like to raise a child.

Poverty doesn’t cause this sort of behavior in the schools, I would even posit that poor parenting isn’t the problem (though it is something that should be addressed). The problem is the kids know they won’t suffer any consequences for their bad behavior.  Untie the teacher’s hands, stop making excuses for bad behavior, punish it and reward good behavior and you’ll probably go a long way in solving this problem.

For me and my daughter, we’re getting out of the St Paul Public Schools, my daughter’s education is far to important to wait for the SPPS to get it together.