Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 11/3/2010

Footprints in the Sand by Rachel Fuselier.
***A homeschool photography assignment that my daughter completed.***

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adventures in Homeschooling: Accountability

Every other night, I look over and grade my children’s homework.  It is required that for every mistake made, the concept must be retaught and the problem resolved.  We discuss areas of weaknesses as well as strengths.  This method allows my children to be accountable for their own work. 
The first time I graded my son’s math work, he missed quite a few problems.  He did not show any of his work, so I could not see what was going on in the “black box”.  I explained to him that he needed to redo the problems, but we needed to see where the problem occurred in the solving process.  He slumped in his chair and protested, “But my teacher never made me redo the problems before.”
I told him that he was accountable for his work and he needed to accept responsibility for his learning.  Rather than looking at the mistake as a failure, to view it as an opportunity to grow.  He refused to do this and continued to recount how his teachers never did this to him.  We went back and forth.  Our argument spanned his educational career back to the first grade! I reminded him that whenever I saw his graded papers, he needed to fix the mistakes.  It was the principal of understanding and mastering the material. 
None of this came to my surprise because I was not new to the public school system.  When I was a teacher, I always gave my students the opportunity to redo their work.  Many balked because throughout their schooling, not many teachers made them accountable for their work.  Accountability is a buzzword that is transparent in the public school systems.  Many schools “say” that they are accountable, but many don’t “show” the actual proof. 
Due to the severe deficiency in my son’s accountability practices, I explained to him that he needed to own his work.  Mediocrity is not going to be enough for the career choice he has chosen for himself.  I also explained to him that he is no longer in the public school system, but he is homeschooled.
Still he went on, “I don’t understand.  I made straight A’s without having to correct my work.”
I laughed on the inside because it reminded me of the teachers’ lounge for the past ten years.  I overheard many teachers talk about how it was easier to give the student a passing grade rather than cause a scene.  Since I got tired of hearing such stories and confessions, I stopped visiting the lounge.  And the times I did have to go there, the confessions were still the same. 
A few minutes later, he realized that he could not “just get by” as he had done in the past.  He realized he was in a different arena and needed to change his thinking. 
Since that conversation, he takes greater pride in doing his work by showing how he arrived at the answer. His study habits have changed  because he no longer glances over the material to complete the problems.  Instead, he tries to master and apply the material to his own life.   In addition, he has applied taking accountability in other areas in his life – not that he needed to, but because he is truly an awesome child.    
It is my hope that more teachers highly stress the importance of accountability rather than trying to rush through the curriculum and teach to the state mandated exams.  When one is accountable in one area, then it spreads to other areas. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let's improve maternity leave in the United States.

I am shouting out to all mothers who are unsatisfied with the current maternity leave laws in the United States.

When I applied for an academic sabbatical from my teaching job, I had every intention of returning to my position.  I loved and still love teaching with every ounce of my being.  However, due to the birth of my child, I decided to continue breastfeeding and did not want to send my baby to daycare. 


I struggled for 4 years to finally have him in my arms and I made the conscious decision not to return to work.

It feels as if I am being persecuted for my decision.  The school board informed me that I must pay back the money they gave me during my sabbatical.  This total comes to $13,000.  I know that I signed a contract stating that I would uphold my end of the deal.  The district granted my sabbatical and I would return the following school year.  No problem. 

No one prepared me for the emotions of finally holding my baby in my arms after four long years of trying.  I can't even begin to descibe the feelings that surged through me when I nursed him.  As the beginning of the school year crept closer, I wrestled with the thought of leaving him.  In my mind, babies are supposed to be with their mothers.  As a biologist, I cannot defend the notion of abandoning a small child that does not have a voice.  Nowhere in nature does an animal mother pump her milk, allow another animal to bottle feed her child, and be away from her child for over 30 hours a week. (If you know of a mammal that does this, please let me know.) It just did not bode well with me. 

I called the school board and told them I wanted to resign.  They said I couldn't resign because I had obligations fo fulfill.  I told them about the Family and Medical Leave Act and how I wanted to excercise my rights to use this.  I was told that I could not do that. I explained that I would be glad to return to work after a year of nursing my son.  After all, I am his food source.  I KNOW the man stuffs his face on a regular basis because I've walked into his office with a half-eaten sandwich on his desk.  So, it's okay for HIM to eat on demand, but I am not allowed to provide the best nourishment - warm breastmilk (directly from my breasts) for my child. 

I did some digging around and still haven't come up with any answers as to whether my civil rights have been violated or not.  If you know, please help me with this.  I need links, etc.

The school board said they would be in touch with me in regards to the next course of action taken.  A few weeks later, I received a letter stating that I must do one of the following:

1. Get 2 doctor's notes stating that I'm too messed up to work (my interpretation).
2. Pay back the money they paid me.

A deal is a deal.  I know that.  I am a person who lives on pinky-swears and fulfills my end of the deal. I could go and get a doctor's note stating that I'm nursing full time, which renders me incapable of returning to work.  But, then this conveys that breastfeeding is somehow an incapacitating behavior.  HOW?  I could not do that because breastfeeding is nourishing a child. As for simply returning the money, I had every intent of going back to work -- a year after nursing baby T.  Surely, a deal could be worked out.  We are all adults here.

No dice.

However, after much research it appears that some information has been withheld.  This is what I unearthed:


The return to service provision, as stated in Conditions of Sabbatical, Item C above, may be waived by the Board, after careful review and recommendation of the Superintendent, in any of the following instances:

A.        Any person whose spouse is transferred out of the parish (job requirement not  anticipated before leave) during the time the teacher is on leave or within one (1) year immediately following the termination of such leave (certification must be provided by spouse’s employer).

B.        Any person who receives a position to the State Department of Education, to another public school system within the State of Louisiana, or to a state-operated educational agency.  In such instances, the person granted sabbatical leave, upon the expiration of leave, shall be permitted to retain that portion of compensation paid by the state while he/she was on leave.  However, such person shall be required to reimburse the Board any compensation paid by the Board while on leave.

C.        Incapacitating illness, as certified by two (2) physicians.

D.        Such a waiver will be granted only when the circumstances which prevent the return of the employee to the system immediately following the leave were not anticipated by the employee at the time the leave was taken, and were beyond the control of the employee to prevent.

E.        Whenever, in the Board’s opinion, such a waiver would be in the best interest of the School District.
I know that I fall somewhere in regards to letter D.  I am currently in the process of writing a letter to the superintendent to see what can be done.

To boot, our school does not have a lactation or 'pumping room'.  Each classroom is equipped with security cameras.  The only option is to pump in the bathroom.  Gross.

I ask all mothers to write to their legislatures, state representatives, school board officials, governors, mayors, presidents, or anyone that will listen.  There is power in numbers and lets do our best to change these archaic perceptions towards breastfeeding. 

Let's see how the United States compares with other countries in regards to maternity leave.  Click chart for more details.  

I also asked if I could bring my child to work with me.  I can nurse and teach at the same time.  They said NO.  I did research on this area as well.  I appears that the Parenting in the Workplace Institute has identified over a hundred workplaces that allow mothers to bring their babies to work.  This idea is not new and should be considered. 

There are currently hundreds of mothers who are in teh same situation as myself, or are going to be in a similiar situation.  Nevertheless, our voices needed to be heard and our children come first.  We can be excellent workers and if employers realize that if a mother is able to provide nourisment and care for her hcild, then the productivity at work  wil not be compromised, why not aextend the maternity leave or work out a workable solution that will benefit both parties.

Until then, be part of the movement to improve maternity leave in the United States.  Heck, it doesn't have to be limited to the United States.  This movement can include other countries as well.  Let's show the world that mothers can unite anywhere.

I want to hear your stories.  Let me know what you're doing to change the current maternity leave laws or bringing your baby to work laws.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fight for the right to economic equality!

***Disclaimer: I do not believe the government should pay for mothers to breastfeed or for parent to stay home with their children.  The intent of this post is to fight for tax breaks for all citizens.  It is my understanding that tax breaks come from the people, not the government.***

Ever since I had to choose between taking care of Baby T and offering him the necessary nourishment through breastfeeding, I have been on a mission to fight for this right for all mothers. Babies need to nurse for at least a year to get the full benefits. In addition, babies need their mothers touch in order for their brains to develop correctly. Every mother should have the right to make the choice of staying home with her child if she chooses to do so. If you want to fight for economic equality for all families who opt to stay home to breastfeed, homeschool, or any other reasons whether they are personal or not, please send a letter to your congressperson.

Not sure who your representative is, click here. Not sure who your U.S. Senator is, click here. If you need to check who your Governor is, click here.

Because I was forced to decide and leave a ten year career of teaching, I am making it my personal mission to get as many rights for others that were/are in the same situation as me.

Here is a letter I wrote to Governor Bobby Jindal. Please note that I borrowed some parts from for the first half and added an original component for breastfeeding mothers:

Subject: Unfair Federal Tax Policy/Unfair Practices Towards Mothers

Dear Governor Jindal,

Would you propose legislation to end decades of economic discrimination against Traditional Families?

The following two tax policies unfairly subsidize families that use institutionalized child care vs. those that don't:

     • The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) from 1956 favors families using daycare up to a total of $2,100 per year for two or more children.*

     • The Dependent Care Assistance Plan (DCAP) from 1981 favors families using day care by allowing them to use Flexible Savings Accounts to shield up to $5,000 per year from taxes.*

Especially in light of all the negative consequences of daycare, tax policies should not create incentives that favor paid child care over parental care of children.

In addition, would you propose legislation to enhance the Federal Family and Medical Act passed by President Obama in 2009?

The current policy states that Sections 6381 through 6387 of title 5, United States Code, as added by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 (FMLA) (Public Law 103-3, February 5, 1993), provides covered Federal employees with entitlement to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following purposes:

     • the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter;

     • the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;

     • the care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or

     • serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions.

However, many single or married parents cannot afford the 12 weeks without pay. Instead, the current policy needs to be amended from 12 weeks to 1-3 years. Rather than no pay, the creation of a plan that allows a parent who needs to breastfeed their children to do so without penalty is needed. Such action should come in the form of the tax breaks as stated earlier in the letter, and changing the 12 week unpaid leave to a 1 to 3 year reward program.


Jasmine Fuselier, PhD

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Staying home without penalty!

Recently I was faced with the decision to return to work full time after having Baby T. If I did not, then I took a huge pay cut. If I did, then I had to place my three-month-old son in a daycare. The choice was a no-brainer – I was going to take a huge pay cut.


During the process of resigning, I realized that there are mothers/fathers out there that do not have a choice. They are forced to take their child to a horrible daycare center for nine to twelve hour days. I know because when I was a single mom for a while, I had no choice but to send my kids to a daycare for eight hours a day. The horror stories made me take my mom up on her offer to take care of the kiddos. I thought the kids would get socialization skills, but instead they learned how to survive against the daycare workers. Granted anyone can act happy when the parents come around, an occurrence that happens many times in the public schools as well, but that is for another blog post. There was no way I could put a small baby that had no voice in the arms of a person that I could not trust.

When I had to make a decision to stay home or return to work, my teenagers begged me not to leave Baby T. They also pleaded for me to stay home because they missed me. This got me thinking that if my children are so against daycares and me returning to work, what about other people’s children? I have heard the following laments from parents who want to stay home:

     1. I would love to stay home with my children because I know it is best, but someone needs to bring home the money to pay the bills.

     2. It is hard to pump my milk (for breastfeeding mothers) at work and I really want to hold my baby in my arms.

     3. It feels so unnatural to drop my child off at daycare because children need their parent(s).

I have also heard complaints from my students over the years (before I resigned):

     1. My parents work late. When I get home, they don’t have time for me.

     2. My mom/dad works the night shift, so I’m coming home and she’s going to work.

     3. It gets lonely coming home to an empty house.

     4. If only my parents knew what I did after school before they came home from work.

For those who disagree with the quality of daycares or leaving your children home alone for long periods of time, please visit: Also, familiarize yourself with the brain studies in regards to children who attend daycare for more than 30 hours a week. This also applies to children who have parental depravation. However, it is not my desire to get into debates as to whether daycares or parental absences are horrible for children and detrimental to their health.

My mission is:

1. To help end the economic discrimination against traditional families because this will alleviate some of the financial burden placed upon parents who choose to stay home and raise their children. In addition, it will allow mothers who choose to breastfeed their child to do so without having to deal with the burden of pumping at work. Also, breastfeeding strengthens the bond between the mother and the child.

2. To help create a program that allows a parent to stay home with their children without penalty from their job. Granted, President Obama passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (2009) in which a parent has up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave time. UNPAID leave time? Who can afford that? Perhaps a program that allows a parent to stay home with their child for a year or two without penalty.

In order to make this possible for EVERY parent, I need your help. I want to help fight for the parents rights to stay at home with their children and raise them. Unless, having a stranger raise your child(ren) is what works for you – to each their own. If not, please contact your congressperson and let them know that you want better rights for parents who choose to stay home and raise their children.

As of now, the letter that includes all the important information can be found on the website. For a sample letter, please click here. Please help the hundreds of parents who long to be with their children, but cannot because they have no choice. Let’s unite and be the voice – one voice – that says “Parents need to stop being forced to make a decision of whether to stay at home with their children or go to work”.

Four years of trying

When my husband and I received the news that we were pregnant with our third child, we were excited. It was his first and my third. We rushed to the printer to make a birth announcement and took our entire family to the casino. Everyone, which includes great-grandparents, grandparents, and kids were waiting in anticipation for the reason behind the celebratory dinner. Slowly, the announcement was revealed. The great grandparents and grandparent’s eyes lit up with sheer excitement. Squeals of delight reverberated across the table. People around us smiled and offered their congratulations.

Afterwards, my husband and I arranged to visit his family. They were going to be grandparents for the first time. On the trip to his parent’s house, I felt a gush. Fear took hold and I tried to shake off the dreaded “M” word. We had no idea what was going on and visited a hospital along the way.

The doctor did an emergency ultrasound and told us that there was a fifty-fifty percent chance of survival. This was a new scenario for me because I had never experienced this before. My two children came without any worries or concerns. In fact, the running joke in our house was “we’re so fertile that if someone sneezed on us, we’d get pregnant” (I know how pregnancy occurs, so please no comments on the correctness of this situation). The entire month was nothing but blood soaked reminders of what was happening. Each bathroom trip consisted of checking in the toilet to see if anything has passed. If nothing was there, relief swept over me.

One morning, 2.5-month-old munchkin passed and shock set in. My knees buckled in and I tried to scream, but only a tiny squeak came out. What in the world happened?

That was five years ago.

The same events unfolded the second time and sent my spirits further down into oblivion.

My husband and I gathered whatever strength we had left in us, and tried for a third time. The pregnancy test revealed a positive sign and we were elated. Two weeks later, the bleeding started again. However, this time was different. There was bleeding here and there, but no passing. It became difficult to walk, that when I got out of the car, my husband would have to get the rolling dolly and cart me into the house. The pain on the side was excruciating, but I thought it might have been growing pains. Alas, we decided to go to the doctor. The baby was growing in my tube and I needed to have surgery, which involved the removal of my right tube.

Without a chance to tell my family, my husband and I were ushered to get me prepped for emergency surgery. In seconds, my entire family showed up to offer their support. Once the details of who, what, when, where, why were discussed, my mom wanted me to go to a different hospital. She kept expressing that she had a bad vibe (you know the mother intuition that many of us do not listen to). I did not listen and opted to stay where I was.

Turned out the doctor punctured my colon and had to slice me open to repair his neglect. I woke up to a nightmare, but eventually recovered. During the course of my recovery, I learned that this doctor had a high incidence of this kind of sloppiness.

My husband and I took it as a sign that another child was not in the stars for us, so we stopped trying. Doubts entered my head and I thought, “Could I get pregnant again with just one functioning tube?” These questions fueled my desire to learn as much as I could about my situation. When I learned that women could get pregnant with both tubes removed, I started to see a small light at the end of the tunnel.

We decided not to try again and to chart my temperatures to get a clearer idea of what was going on with my body. It was a week into the charting process that I learned I was pregnant again. My temperatures remained high a few days after my expected date of ovulation. This time we did not want to get excited. Sure enough, two weeks later I started showing signs of an impending miscarriage. I did not get my hopes up because I needed to keep charting. I hoped that an endocrinologist could tell me what was going on and my temperature would tell the whole story.

Since I had an ectopic before, I needed to check to see that the sac was growing in the right spot. The ultrasound revealed that there were TWO egg sacs. One was shrinking and another was completely viable. I had mixed feelings – twins. One was going to live and another was going to die. Was I supposed to be happy and sad at the same time?

Anyways, we now have an awesome munchkin in addition to our older munchkins. Our entire family counts their blessings because we know how valuable life is. I still cry over the lost pregnancies, but I am glad my husband and I did not give up. (Please, this is not a pro-choice or a pro-life sentence, so please no comments.)

Since I had Baby T, I made the conscious decision to breastfeed him as I did my other two children. I do not agree with the toxic formula that the companies churn out to make a profit. Nor do I see the logic in placing Baby T in a daycare, when I had a long struggle to have him. It seemed idiotic. Why almost die and then turn around to give him to a complete stranger? Also, I don’t like the idea of pumping milk and putting it in a torture device called a bottle. This totally takes away the purpose of the mother/child bonding time. It is foreign to me, but each to their own.

Breastfeeding required me to stay home, which meant a HUGE financial hit. However, we live with a big family; everyone encouraged and assured me that they would all pitch in. It still felt weird, so I asked my employers if I could bring my child to work, but since I was a teacher – they said no. Every suggestion resulted in no pay or dumping Baby T off at a daycare, so I opted to stay home and turn in my resignation papers.

And for those trying to conceive, here is a HUGE sprinkle of BABY DUST!!!