Category Archives: Schools

An open letter to paleandpasty

(Dear readers: Please read this article, complete with comments, and then come back.  Okay, done?)

I’ve got some information for you, paleandpasty.  Take that fence picket out of your ass and have a seat.  I am so tired of people like you anonymously criticizing my city.  From your self-perceived superior, suburban vantage point, you make general statements about personal safety and outrageous property taxes in Albany.  Let me tell you a couple of things.

In the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Albany, I’ve been mildly physically threatened once.  Yes, once.  It was fairly recently and I related the details here.  While the situation was less than comfortable for me, the way I felt after that incident didn’t come close to approaching the degree of physical unease I experienced this week when I witnessed a brutal physical attack in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts on Delaware Avenue.  In Delmar.   At 3:15 in the afternoon.  Bad people and bad things happen to be in every community.  Stop trying to perpetuate the misimpression that Albany has the monopoly on such things.

As for taxes, I just wrote the check last week for my school taxes.  I paid 60% the price that a suburban friend paid.  Of course, their property and their school district are both valued higher than mine.  I understand that, but I certainly don’t believe that their cookie cutter ranch, which has less square feet and character than my home, or their mostly homogenous school system, which is more than a little white bread, is worth 40% more than what I paid.  My children have access to AP classes, courses through HVCC and opportunities to explore and experience community resources, too.  Those things are not suburban exclusives.

In closing, I’d like to add that my children are not being raised to believe it is okay to make anonymous statements criticizing the choices made by others.  I don’t know where you grew up or attended school, but that is a lesson you seemed to miss.  You are more than entitled to live where you want, but please stop trying to validate your choice by maligning mine.

Sincerely, Silvia Meder Lilly

 

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Education, Local, Observations, Rants, Schools

Censorship

image: anh-usa.org

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. The longer you live, the smaller the world becomes and the more likely it is that the individual spheres of one’s personal world will begin to overlap. Last night I helped train our new server at the Wine Bar. She is a former student. Sigh.

I obviously share a lot of my personal life and thoughts here, but it mostly feels anonymous. I don’t really know who reads this stuff and thus am often surprised when I meet someone in real life who knows about me or my adventures and antics. I do think, though, that I’ve done a decent job of keeping my day time school life separate from my night-time restaurant life. Until yesterday, that is.

I kind of pride myself about being ‘Me” wherever I am. That doesn’t mean, though, that I necessarily am comfortable being my blunt and sometimes bawdy self behind the bar with a young woman who used to attend the school where I teach. Must I now censor myself?

As I consider what I can  and can not say while in the presence of a former student, why don’t you take a moment to ponder the First Amendment and the right to free speech on a literary level?  Next weeks marks the  American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week.  While I figure out the best way to say what I want, you can maybe read a book by authors who have used their words to freely express themselves.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Lark Street, Local, Schools

Randoms…

  • Lincoln pick up trucks don’t make sense to me.
  • My 9 y/o son has underarm body order. I’m concerned.
  • I wish TU readers understood what a print journalist is – and is not. It’s not about popularity, it’s about writing.
  • Pulling through the front “driveway” at ASH on Whitehall to avoid the red light, is one of the most outrageous examples of douchebaggery that I have ever witnessed. A close second is cutting through to Whitehall from Mapleridge by driving around the barricade and over a lawn. Really.
  • Sometimes the school year feels long, but the last two weeks of the academic year are always the fastest.
  • I buy a lot of cereal in my house yet Cheerios and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes remain my favorites.
  • Even though I have been lucky enough to visit the Cape every summer for the last 16 years, I always get excited by the thought of being there. Beachcomber here we come!
  • Speaking of summer, as I receive my last real paycheck until September, I’ll say a prayer for no major emergencies in the next couple of months.  Feel free to join in.
  • Evening runs in June are bliss.  The lengthy twilight makes everything better.
  • I am tired of cooking the same rotation of meals for my children and wish they would eat more vegetables and grains instead of expecting meat at every evening meal.
  • There isn’t a single SPAC concert on my radar this summer.
  • It would be a better world if the ratio of positive to negative blog (and elsewhere) comments was more in the 5 to 1 range. I’m so tired of reading people’s anonymous complaints.

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Filed under Random, Schools, SPAC, Summer

Confession – I didn’t vote yesterday

I’m hoping that publicly admitting my failure to act as a responsible citizen will help me to exorcise the guilt I’ve been feeling since last night’s decision to not get in my car and drive to yet another new polling location.  You know I’m a big believer in exercising one’s civil rights, and I truly believe that those who don’t vote really shouldn’t feel entitled to offer an opinion on politics or education.  So – why didn’t I get myself to Hoffman Ave last night?  Well, I just didn’t feel like it.

I’m generally happy with the education my boys are getting in the Albany City School District.  My only minor complaint is a lack of communication from the attendance office at the high school.  I mean, my middle son has a crazy amount of tardies, yet I’ve never received notification about his inability to make it to class, particularly his first class of the day, on time.  Not a big deal in my situation, or should I say his, but potentially problematic for students who may be truly teetering between passing and failing.

I’m glad the budgets in both my community and the district where I am employed passed.  I know folks complain about taxes all the time, but I think my taxes are fair and I’ve never resented paying them.  After years of teachers being in the crosshairs when it comes to public vilification and perception, the focus has changed a bit recently.  It seems that school boards and administrators are now on the receiving end of the public’s wrath and dissatisfaction.  God forbid we should look both higher (state and federal policy makers) and lower (parents and caregivers) when we assign blame for standards not being met.

I’d say more, but, since I couldn’t spare the time to vote, I’ll spare you my opinion on the subject.

Did you vote?

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Filed under Albany, Local, Schools

Lorax night at ASH

DSC_0003Any idea what the items are in the picture above? Perhaps you’ve got a sweet tooth and recognize them as Twizzlers and Wonka nerds. I suppose you would be correct literally, but had you been at Lorax night at ASH, you’d identify them more literary as truffala tree stumps and seeds. And delicious, of course.  Those Wonka nerds are the bomb!

You know the story of the Lorax, Dr. Seuss’ primer on environmentalism, right? Although the book was published more than 40 years ago, it continues to resonate with kids and the message of “speaking for the trees” still, unfortunately, remains timely. Last week, Quinn and I attended a fun family event which used the Lorax as a springboard for an array of activities which were creative and surprisingly fun.

We began (and ultimately concluded) our evening in the gym with an awesome obstacle course. There were things to crawl under, through and over, as well as a mini trampoline and a couple of soft hurdles. You could almost see the satisfaction on the face of the parents as the kids repeatedly attempted the course, tiring themselves out and promising a quiet remainder of have evening. Good job, PE teacher!

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We next headed to the “planting station” in the lobby of the school. Long tables had been set up with rinsed and recycled milk cartons and there were a variety of vegetables seeds available for planting. We’re hoping to see our pea shoots any day.

By this point, we needed some sustenance. The cafeteria was our next stop and we put together a delightful mixed bag of treats, including the aforementioned truffala seeds and stumps. We also tossed in some goldfish and barbaloots (gummy bears) for good measure. Adequately fortified, we made for our final destination – the sculpture spot. Here, we found a pile of recycled items (small cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles, egg cartons) to spark our 3-D creativity. Quinn made the awesome rocket below.

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I wish I could say we attend all the events offered at my son’s school, but it just isn’t always possible. I am, however, so glad we made it to Lorax Night. A literary inspiration, some physical activity, environmental awareness, inspired recycled art and candy?  Yes, please.  It was terrific.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, DelSo, Events, family, Local, Schools

Joe (go to) College

image: envisioningtheamericandream.files.wordpress.com

Did you happen to see this article in the Times Union recently?  I’m sure lots of folks feel gratified by their decision to reside in one of the successful suburban districts which are considered to be the best in the region.  Me?  I’m left with more questions than answers by the conclusions drawn and I want more information.

  • How many of the students attending those schools immediately after graduating high school, complete their programs in either two or four years?
  • How many of the students attending 4 year schools graduate from that same institution in 4 years?
  • What is the median household income in each of those school districts?
  • How about the average educational attainment in those same households?

I may be in the minority here, but I’m not overly concerned with whether my children go to college immediately after high school. And I’m not talking about the trendy “gap” year either.  If higher education is the logical step on a path leading to a long-term career, what I’m curious to know is this: how many 18 year-olds truly know what they want to do professionally for the rest of their lives?

On a recent evening, the teenaged Lilly boys and I had an interesting conversation about college – getting in, being successful, and paying for it.  In my mind, college isn’t a prolonging of the carefree days of high school with the added benefit of being away from home and playing beer pong.  It’s a serious and expensive investment.  Why take that on when you’re 18 unless you are either

a. incredibly motivated or
b. able to take advantage of an opportunity to attend a school with a substantial scholarship?

My route to college, and ultimately a Master’s Degree, was not direct.  After leaving high school in my senior year, I worked full-time and supported myself. At the age of 21, I tentatively dipped my toes into higher education by taking a couple of night classes at the local high school in the village where I lived.  The following year, I moved to Albany and began studying full-time.

Do I regret not taking a more traditional path to college?  Not at all.  If I were to do it all over again, the only thing I would change would be to have taken even more time to have traveled.  I wish I had taken my hospitality skills on the road and spent some time waitressing in resort areas where I could have made bank while experiencing new sights.  For me, the important thing about having a college degree isn’t about when you start earning it, it’s more about when you finish it.  What do you think?

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Filed under Boys, Education, Schools

Happy trails

DSC_0009At one point Sunday afternoon, as Chrissy and I ran over snow and sand and through mud and ice, I had to laugh at how lucky it is that we both find the challenge of trail running to be fun.  Yes, fun.  It’s like being a kid again, running through the woods to either get somewhere, or maybe away from someone, not really knowing exactly where we’re going, but having the luxury of enough time to simply run.

On Saturday we did the Parker 5k, a seriously challenging lope through the woods which Chrissy blazed through.  We were down a lunar b*tch, unexpectedly, but we both rallied for respectable finishes on a morning which was far more benign than expected.  There was no rain and the mud provided an obstacle or added an element of excitement, all in the eye of the beholder.

Aren't they lively looking?

Aren’t they lively looking?

A couple of remarks I heard post-race were validating, the race was “humbling,” and the trail “grueling.”  No one was complaining. This event is pleasingly small with only about 100 finishers and everyone who participated appeared remarkably healthy and fit.  As Chrissy said, it felt much more like a friendly group run through the woods than a race.  Next year, hopefully we’ll be our usual running threesome. Missed you, Karen!

Sunday was a gorgeous day – the first day of the year for me to run wearing only a single layer and sleeveless, at that.  We met at the Pine Bush’s trailhead #7, where we consulted a posted map and quickly determined we had no idea how to read it properly.  It was mid afternoon and we had time and an app on our side so we headed in, bearing right at most forks in the trail as we sought a longish run.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the day was an ambiguous one, early spring which easily could have been mistaken for mid fall.

"Mudders"We skirted a deep ravine and ran on the narrowest of paths up steeper than expected hills.  There was mud, but no real standing water and we both were glad we had worn our mudders from the previous day again.  We encountered fewer than a handful of other intrepid fun seekers and I have a new desire to familiarize myself with this large nature area.  Saratoga State Park’s trails have nothing on this place in terms of challenge and beauty and I can’t wait to go back for another, even longer, loop.

We wrapped up our running adventures with a first of the season soak in Chrissy’s hot tub.  It was a good weekend.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Events, friends, Local, running, Schools, Spring, sunday, upstate New York