Further thoughts about the SBOE and Brown Bear

My mother and my father were illiterate immigrants from Russia. When I was a child they were constantly amazed that I could go to a building and take a book on any subject. They couldn’t believe this access to knowledge we have here in America. They couldn’t believe that it was free. —  Kirk DOUGLAS (1916- )

Since my post about the Texas  State Board of Education’s action on Bill Martin, Jr.’s picture book, a friend has reminded me that articles like the one I based my post on don’t always have all the facts.

She also pointed out that Board member Pat Hardy, who moved to remove the book from the third-grade curriculum, is an educator who has in the past strongly supported libraries. The Statesman.com article references Ms. Hardy’s statement that she wanted to pare the list and that didn’t mean to offend anyone.

I “know” what I read in the article. I regret it if  any of my satirical remarks were off-base because they were based on misinformation or insufficient information–especially since depending on insufficient information appears to be reason the Board’s action was newsworthy in the first place.

I also note something that went over my head when I first read the article–that Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a book appropriate for very young children. I’m not sure why it was being considered for the third grade. If I’d offered to read it to my third-graders, they’d have been insulted.

Something else I didn’t mention in the previous post, however, does concern me–and again I’m assuming my source is accurate: that a book is to be dismissed simply because it appears to contain ideas the authorities don’t approve of. Or that a book is to be dismissed because the author has written another book that appears to contain unpopular ideas.

Books should be judged on what’s inside them, not what we think is inside them or what we think about the author.

And even if those ideas are unpopular, is that justification for pulling the book?

Third-graders aren’t going to read Bill Martin, Jr.’s book about Marxism. It’s intended for college students.

But if a book under consideration for inclusion in the high school economics curriculum were critical of capitalism, should that book automatically be disqualified?

Education should seek to broaden minds. It should teach students of at all ages to think critically. If we’re afraid of acknowledging different points of view, or of examining the world from different perspectives, or of admitting faults, how do we advance?


In the defense of harmony

Yesterday I blessed my sink.

I soaked it, scrubbed it, flossed it, and shined it. I dried it with a towel.

Then I smiled.

The motivation for this unaccustomed activity came from my new mentor, FlyLady. FlyLady is a personal coach for the Sidetracked Home Executive (SHE) who suffers from Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome (CHAOS).

She’s the savior of those of us who are Overwhelmed and Simply Don’t Have a Clue.

FlyLady’s Eleven Commandments present a no-nonsense approach for blessing your house and gaining control over clutter. She advocates quieting negative voices, quelling the desire for perfection, and laughing a lot. She teaches how to set up routines. She advocates taking baby steps, working to music, spending only ten or fifteen minutes per task, doing one job at a time, not  allowing yourself to be sidetracked by the computer…


Last week she sent a message telling me to delete all the FlyMail I had stored in my inbox. How did she know?

Well, anyway, I’d never thought housecleaning could be fun, but with FlyLady there to cheer me on, sink shining was a blast. And she says I’ll never have to do it again: with daily maintenance, it’ll stay like this forever. All I have to do is to put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, wipe out the sink with a dish towel every time I leave the kitchen (no more water spots), and convince my husband to follow suit.

Now for two confessions: First, my sink wasn’t in terrible shape before the blessing; I’d never flossed the faucets, but I don’t let the dirty dishes stack up, nor have I ever found the Health Department battering down my door. Second, my husband is not the problem.

I’ll admit that the evening of the first day, when I watched him turn off the water and leave the kitchen without first drying the sink , I almost reminded him of the new rules.  But he’d just finished loading the dishwasher and cleaning off the counter. The timing didn’t seem right.

So after he left the room, I picked up a towel and righted the wrong. Later I did a little bedtime maintenance scrub.

After all, the shiny sink isn’t an end in itself. It’s the symbol that I have taken the first step toward turning CHAOS into harmony. It’s the harmony that’s important.

On the other hand, extremism in the defense of harmony is no vice.

Candidate for the Texas State Board of Education

Since posting about the confusion at the Texas State Board of Education between Bill Martin, Jr., author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and other books for children, and Bill Martin, Jr., university professor and author of a book about Marxism, I’ve learned that—

Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau is a candidate for the Texas State Board of Education, District 5.

Dr. Bell-Metereau is a long-time educator.

Here’s a link to her blog.

The Democratic Primary will be held on March 2.

Texas State Board of Education takes on Brown Bear, Red Scare

In case you missed it, the Texas State Board of Education has voted to remove the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from the curriculum standards for third grade because the author, Bill Martin, Jr., also wrote a book about Marxism.

Except that was a different Bill Martin, Jr.

According to Statesman.com, two Board members tell conflicting stories about how the little mix-up occurred, but Borders.com has been mentioned as the source of information about the two Mr. Martins.

I’m not making this up.

David suggests two possibilities: (1) The complete text of Brown Bear contains the lines, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see Karl Marx looking at me”; or (2) The Brown Bear is really a thinly veiled reference to the Russian bear. In either case, he says, the book is not appropriate for eight-year-olds.

It’s hard to argue with that.

Trapped between laughter and tears

The sound of a crash woke me from a sound sleep.

Sitting up, I cried out and scrambled toward the footboard.

I saw my husband lying on the floor.

What shall I do there isn’t a phone in the bedroom I can’t leave him to get to the phone the portable is downstairs what will I do without him…All that and more raced through my  mind between waking and reaching the foot of the mattress.

Then David sat up beside me and turned on the light.

For twenty years, I lived with the possibility of hearing that crash and finding my mother lying on the floor unconscious. I’d hear the thud and run. Since 911 service wasn’t available where we lived, I had memorized the phone numbers–cardiologist’s office, cardiologist’s home, EMS. After the first couple of incidents, I learned how to communicate efficiently with the voice at the other end of the wire.

The falls didn’t happen often–fewer than a dozen times all told–but without realizing, I lived on edge, my subconscious alert, listening for that sound. Hypervigilance wove itself into my nature.

Mother has been gone for seventeen years. Since then I’ve relaxed, stopped waiting and watching for disaster.

Or I thought I had. But when I heard this morning’s crash, I knew that when I looked over the curved railing, I would see David.

I saw instead that the kitty stair on the left side of the bed was tipped over on its side. The vertical blinds, to the right, were flapping. One of our year-old tomcats had obviously jumped onto the stair and given an overly emphatic push when launching himself onto the bed. The ensuing crash  scared him enough to send him off the other side and into the sliding glass door.

We acquired the stair when Chloe was fifteen and needed help getting onto the bed. The current resident felines don’t need it, but it’s become part of the decor. After this morning’s episode, that may change.

David righted the stair, climbed back in bed, turned off the light, and fell asleep.

I lay there in the dark, trapped between laughter and tears, trying to let go of the fear.

Disclaimer, referencing previous post

Let me be clear: I don’t want possession of the remote control, nor do I complain about those who possess it.

But I have noticed, in observing hundreds of domestic arrangements over the past three decades, that the remote normally falls under male supervision.

I’ve also observed that when the remote can’t be found, the female is often responsible for its disappearance. (She’s hidden it.)

The above is only semi-true in my household. When the remote disappears, I am responsible, but not deliberately. I simply tend to set it down in places where it can be easily obscured by collapsing towers of books and papers.

I don’t attempt to excuse myself. I should be more careful.

But I will note that, when our remote goes missing, both I and my spouse know where to look for it.

Rhetorical question


women have more brain cells per pound of body weight than men do,


the hemispheres of women’s brains have more connections than men’s do,


women can take in more information and assess it more quickly than men can,


how did men end up in possession of the remote control?