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 Tammy's trailor 
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As we watched the video in class the other night and watched how Tammy's one son seemed embarrassed by his house and really seemed to want to do better in life, then in contrast his younger brother that could have cared less about cleaning up the surroundings and just wanted to be a couch potato...I couldn't help relate that whole scenerio to Becky's comment about her husband. How he evolved from a bad situation and he "wanted" to do better. Isn't life about CHOICES in some respect. You can choose to be clean or dirty, you can choose to work or be a couch potato, or you can choose to talk trash vs carry on a decent conversation. Sometimes I think we get caught up in pity and don't see the reality and the choices that some people, or that we, make. Simple choices that can create a complex difference and make a huge impact on one's life.

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Amy Scronce


Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:05 pm
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When it comes to children, I'm not sure that I whole heartedly agree with this statement. Children knowwhat they see. Children can't always find clean clothes for themselves, gather school supplies, or speak up for themselves. Many are in a sense, doomed to failure because of the cycle of failure in their family (i.e. framework of poverty) Every year they find themselves further and further behind. The boy in the video was an exception to this rule when it comes to attitude, but realistically, we don't know whether or not attitude was enough to actually get him out of this cycle. He was also fortunate to have a mother who "taught" the value of work and perserverance through her daily 10 1/2 mile walk one way to a minimum wage job. This, again is rare...but has it paid off?

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Rosanna Whisnant


Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:35 pm
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Your write is is about choices, but I do have to say that for some children, they must be taught that they have a choice. Whether it is that art class that they take from you or that day that I told them how proud I was they turned in their math assignment? We never know how we, as educators and leaders within our schools, affect a child. I am in a place in my life in which I am constantly asking myself questions about my attitude, my indifference, my prejudices, or my decision making.

Yes, we all have to make a choice whether our childhoods were like Tammy and or sons or whether they were like some of the richer folks. But, doesn't all boil down to at least one person in our lives who steered us in the "right" direction? By right I mean in the direction of our futures.

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Alisa Ferguson
MSA, ASU, summer 2007


Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:01 pm
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Students prefer choices and work well with choices. They need hope too and to see that there is more to live than what they see. Go see "Freedom Writers."


Sat Jan 20, 2007 8:39 pm
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I think the whole problem with Tammy and her children is that their choices have become limited. One of the drawbacks of having so little is that you also have little choice but continue with the hope that things will get better.

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"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." M. Twain


Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:28 pm
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I was wondering if Tammy felt like she could go back to school? I wonder what kind of school it would be that would open their doors to her and her family? I wonder if there's a school for families--a community school of sorts.


Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:16 am
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Many students have never been given the chance to choose, so they have no basis for making good choices. When they are small, someone chooses what they wear, eat, and believe. When they get older, if the parent doesn't let them make choices, how can they develop a skill for making good ones? They learn, as one of you said, from whichever person or group is influencing them at the moment. The pressure and desire to be accepted by a group motivates them to choose what the group wants, not what is in their best interest. The older brother is truly not the norm. How will he ever escape? He doesn't have any of the magic elements-looks, wealth, extreme genius, athletic ability, high social status.

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Jackie Shaw


Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:23 pm
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Jackie,
What if embedded tests could be the unit tests appraising what has been learned in a unit along the way? That might help. This might compromise the confidentiality of the test items.


Sun Jan 21, 2007 3:32 pm
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I do agree with you Alisa, that there does usually need to be at least one person to steer you into making the right choices, or to even let you know there are choices. In this case of Tammy's son, obviously he does realize that there are people out there living at least a little better life than him simply because he has the "embarrassment" of where he lives. All I am saying is that when you reach a certain age, whatever that magic number is, for some it's younger, for some it's old or older... but I think you have to have the "drive" in yourself to want to make better choices. And John, I do agree with you too, I think Tammy's family at this point has become limited in their choices.

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Amy Scronce


Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:35 pm
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Is it too idealistic to believe that anyone can return to school? I have a friend, Robert, who hauls furniture to Idiana to TX. He loads couches and LazyBoys on his back everyday. He's been hospitalized and told to quit that job. He took the MDs advice for about one yar and now he's back at it. He doesn't have his high school diploma and is so slow to return to school. All I can figure is that he doesn't feel like he can affford the time or the money.

When I think of the "flattening of America" where much of our low end jobs are being out-sourced to other countries, I become alarmed for our blue collar workers who don't re-train into new fields.


Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:40 pm
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Kathryn, I don't think it is too idealistic, but that may not be an option when all the money you earn only pays for the necessities. Think about Tammy in this situation. She works in fast food. That already causes a problem because we all know that those jobs pay nothing. She would have to find a source to pay for school. Suppose she finds that source. Then transportation becomes a problem. Remember her car? It needed tires which she did not have the money to pay for. She would need to find money to pay for those. It looked like that car had been sitting there quite a while. Its inspection has probably expired. In North Carolina that's another 30 dollars. Suppose she finds that. Then there's car insurance. She has to find money for that. She does. When she gets to school that first day, she finds out that she must buy a parking permit to park her car. She scratches up the sixty dollars for that. She parks her car and goes to her class where she finds out that her books are going to cost 300 dollars. She scratches than up too. Now I know I am sounding ridiculous. We all know that all of this can't possibly be pulled out of the salary of someone who works at Burger King. Usually, the Tammy's of this world give up. They keep hitting these "brick walls" and they quit. Remember the kid in the video? He had a lot of dreams. The sad fact is he will probably never realize any of them. He will probably end up like his mother, living in rundown trailer in the middle of a cornfield. The only hope he had is if someone reaches out to help him achieve his dream.

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:00 pm
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John, I think we're definately on the same page. For folks like Tammy, choices are not enough without intervention. The choices for her son could be better with a full scholarship or at least a job with someone who will believe in him enough to give him a chance. But even these things may not be enough. He still has to eat, pay for school materials, transportation, etc. The fact remains that money is a necessity in America today. Thirty dollars may seem like nothing for you and I, but for Tammy, it could be the difference between shoes for her children or food in their bellies.

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Rosanna Whisnant


Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:49 am
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These issues/stories are everywhere. I live in Lenoir and our area has been devastated with the overwhelming number of furniture factories closing. These families have nothing and are resorting to crime to provide for their needs. The local community college has created a program that is getting these laid off workers back into the educational arena by offering free (or little cost) classes and trainings and are trying to create a supply of workers for current openings.
As you may have heard, Google has invested in Lenoir and will be bringing many jobs. Though the jobs they will provide will require highly trained and technologically savvy employees, there will be an influx of citizens and we hope, of future businesses. In addition to Google, several industrial businesses will be here soon, but they are not able to create the number of positions as the factories.
These displaced workers are going to have to make a choice-come, be trained in a service related industry or keep looking for the types of jobs that are just not there.
Tammy's son at least seems to have a desire or a want to better himself...let's not count him out, yet. As Alisa said, it only takes one push sometimes.

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Leigh Anne Frye


Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:38 pm
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Some good points that I have taken from this thread:
1-Life is about choices, but children must be given an opportunity to choose
2-Without hope there is no dignity, one way or another we must provide hope
3-Generational poverty is nearly impossible to overcome without intervention and/or assistance

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Heath Belcher


Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:25 pm
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Amy,
I'm so glad you raised the point about the living conditions of Tammy and her family. It is hard for me to believe that anyone could really survive in this situation. I totally agree with you that we can make better choices. Sometimes making better decisions comes as a result of better education but not always. I know some pretty uneducated people who are living very successful and satisfactory lives. One example is my dad. I don't think he would mind me sharing this story because he knows that I am very proud of him and I am so lucky to be his daughter. His childhood was not easy. He had a very difficult time learning to read and to this day does not choose to sit and read for pleasure. His parents were not supporters of education. They did not believe that clean, decent clothes were a priority. He was humiliated on a daily basis at school for the way he dressed or because he couldn't read as well as the ohers. You get the picture. No, I don't think it was as extreme as Tammy's situation but similar in many ways. I don't know when it hit him that he wanted more, but it happened. He is one of the most hardworking people you will ever meet. He has that motivation from within. My dad just barely graduated from high school and never had the chance to go to college and probably did not want to because he never really developed a love for learning. He began working for UPS when I was born and worked many long hard days in the cold, rain, snow, and extreme heat to provide for our family. We always lived comfortably, not extravagantly. He always did encourage me, and still does each day, to get the highest education that I can achieve. There are ways out of this vicious cycle, but it is not easy for children who have to live in these circumstances. Children do not choose the families that they are born into and have very little control over many things that happen in their lives.

Another important choice is that of having children at the right time. As it appeared in the video, Tammy was not ready for those children. Birth control comes free at the health department. I feel that this should be an important part of our education today. If Tammy had taken the time to get herself together before bringing those three children into the world who knows what she could be doing.

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Amy Hord


Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:09 pm
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Amy,

Thank you for sharing that personal story. I also agree with you about those who have children when they are not emotional or finanically ready. It is hard to stop a cycle when the parents have shown the children that you can live with only a high school education. When I was pre student teaching, I had a student who goal was to drop out and fish at 16. When i asked him how he planned on making money, he said that he would collect welfare like his dad. Here was a child that watch his hero just fish and collect a welfare check and had no motivation to do any more with his life. How can we changed his attitude?

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Tim Hoffman


Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:22 pm
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Maybe our society has really lost the true meaning of success. Not that long ago in America and among the majority of our world's population, Tammy's living conditions would be a blessing. Not that I would want or chose these conditions for my family, but the reality is our standard of living is so high in this nation that we often fail to realize how fortunate we are. It is dangerous to measure an individual's success by what car sits in the driveway and how big the residence is. I would like to think that the human soul accounts for something...

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Heath Belcher


Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:53 pm
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The human soul does count. It counts in character traits, to steal or not to steal. You are right Heath, it is hard to determine a person's wealth. Your wealth may not be in the form of materialistic items, but of a loving family.

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Amy Scronce


Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:19 pm
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Come on Heath! I do not know of a time in history that Tammy's situation would have been a blessing. Yes, I agree that we do have very high expectations in this country and the gap between the haves and have nots keeps getting wider. Personally, I do not see anything wrong with having high expectations. And I don't mean as far as material things but expecting the best out of yourself. Was that Tammy's best? I see nothing wrong with a trailor but wouldn't it be nice for it to have a front door that closes and heat? Is that too much to ask?

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Amy Hord


Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:23 pm
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I am sure there are loving families who live in squalor, but the lack of a sustainable income makes it very difficult to provide that kind of atmosphere. Fast food restaurants do not pay a sustainable wage, especially a single parent sustainable wage. Tammy's condition is what poverty truly looks like. Poverty can make the American dream impossible. There are people who are shut out of the American dream because either they were born in situations that do not allow upward mobility or things have happened to them that have propelled them down to the bottom.

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Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:12 pm
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