Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Peeps Chronicles

Peeps Rainbow Pops are NOT allergy-friendly
(Perhaps they're packaged on the same floor as the Peeps Bunnies.)

Easter Bunny's Gone Bye-Bye

A couple weeks ago Junior cornered me at CVS as we examined the Peeps Marshmallow display that contained one of the few allergen-free Easter candies that he can enjoy, again. He asked me as we compared the ingredients on the packaging if I was the Easter Bunny. He'll be eleven this year. I guess it was time.

We Have Food Allergies

It was during this same visit to CVS that he proved himself an adept label reader. So while I'm sad that my baby isn't a baby, anymore, I feel a sense of relief that he's now able to make educated decisions and avoid packaged foods that might contain dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, fish and/or shellfish.

Note: Allergen Information on the Peeps Rainbow Pops states that they may contain
peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, soy, eggs, and coconut.

Peeps! We Can Enjoy Them, Again

For a while he'd enjoyed Peeps Marshmallows during the major holidays. That is until a couple of years ago an allergen-warning showed up on the packaging. We were disappointed because it was a candy that he was able to enjoy with his peers that didn't leave him feeling left out.

So imagine my surprise when he waved a box of Peeps Marshmallow Chicks in my face and said, "I can have these!" I was skeptical because the Peeps Bunnies I'd just scrutinized had the allergen information warning. But he was right; the Peeps Chicks did not. Thinking it was a packaging mistake, I told him that I didn't feel comfortable letting him have the Peeps Chicks. Being the practical kid that he is, he asked that I please call the Peeps people to verify.

Upon calling the Peeps 800 number, a pleasant customer service lady verified the information. She explained that the Peeps Chicks and Peeps Bunnies are manufactured on different lines on different floors and that in spite of their rigorous flushing of the equipment, that they are required to place the allergen information warning on the label, for which I'm thankful.

Really, it's little things such as these that make this Mama happy. We can enjoy our Peeps Chicks worry-free.

Happy Easter ... Peeps. :-)

Peeps Chicks Are Allergy-Friendly!

Peep Marshmallow Chicks are allergy-friendly

Peeps Bunnies Are NOT Allergy-Friendly!

Peeps Marshmallow Bunnies | Not allergy-friendly

Monday, March 25, 2013

1987 McKinney-Vento Act: Protecting the Educational Rights of Homeless Children

Over a million homeless children are in need of educational assistance in the United States.
The 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act provides that support.

Families with young children now account for 40% of the nation's homeless population and in the course of the year, more than 1.3 million children are homeless. 
(Source: National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty) 

During my school guidance practicum at the middle school this week, I learned about a federal law and educational resources available to homeless children. These services are provided by the The Office for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. The law is called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, and it was passed in 1987 to protect the educational rights of homeless children who who are not able to advocate for themselves.

McKinney-Vento makes provisions for each school district to have a  McKinney-Vento Liaison who helps locate homeless children and their families to provide them with educational support and referrals to local services and agencies.

One in every 45 children in the U.S. is homeless each year. 
(Source: America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness, National Center on Family Homelessness)

Homeless children lead unpredictable lives. For most, school provides them with the only sense of stability they know, and often the only two meals they'll see during the day. Everything -- their relationships, academics, behavior, physical and emotional health and safety are affected by the transient lives they lead. Think about it for a second. How could a homeless child concentrate enough to learn or be able to develop meaningful relationships if they're hungry and constantly on the move?

Over 40% of the children who are homeless are under the age of five. Ten percent of all children live in poverty.
(Source: National Center for Homeless Education) 

What causes homelessness for many of these children? Following are a few of the most common causes per the Office for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth:
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Deep poverty
  • Health problems
  • Domestic violence
  • Natural and other disasters
  • Abuse/neglect

During my research for this post, I found two great videos. This first one was put together by a group of students who interviewed several McKinney-Vento Liaisons. It's inspiring and illustrates how much these educators care about the children and families in their districts.

So what are homeless children's McKinney-Vento Rights?
  • To go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there.
  • To stay in their original or last school even if they move to another.
  • To get transportation to their original school.
  • To immediately enroll in a new school.
  • To automatically receive free breakfast and lunch at school.
  • To receive Title I services.
  • To receive all the educational and supplemental services that all other children are provided.

In Massachusetts they also have:
  • The right to immediate enrollment.
  • The right to choose what school to attend.
  • The right to transportation.
  • The right to participate in the same programs and activities as other students.

This next video was produced by the Anoka-Hennepin school district discusses McKinney-Vento and how students are identified.

The video outlines the warning signs that educators should look for that might suggest a student is homeless:
  • Erratic behavior and attendance
  • Tardiness
  • Numerous absences
  • Lack of personal records needed to enroll
  • Inability to contact parents
  • Lack of participation in school activities and field trips
  • Unmet medical and dental needs
  • Lack of immunization or medical records
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Chronic Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Disengagement in class
  • Isolation from former friends
  • Mood swings
  • Abrupt changes in behavior
(Source: Anoka-Hennepin McKinney-Vento Homeless Grant Video)

School guidance counselors and all other educators, from the school bus driver to the cafeteria worker, who come in contact with children at school, are charged with helping to identify these children. I encourage you to find out who the McKinney-Vento Liaison is in your district and ask them if there are any school supplies, book bags or other items you might be able to donate.

Please visit the following sites to learn more about McKinney-Vento and homeless children and youth:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MIERCOLES MUDO: La Tortuga y La Rana

Kermit the Frog Meets Gamera

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

Watch Banned in Arizona on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

United States Circuit Judge Wallace Tashima recently upheld portions of HB 2281, an Arizona state law that prohibits Mexican-American Studies (MAS) from being taught in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). This is the same law that allowed school officials to remove books, such as Sandra Cisneros' THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET and Sherman Alexie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS from being used in classrooms (See Librotraficante for an essay and complete list of books by Elaine Romero).

Every time I've asked myself how the government and our courts could specifically prohibit the teaching of Mexican-American Studies (MAS) I've been reminded that fear stemming from ignorance, intolerance itself, and book burning are older than the bubonic plague. Anybody remember the great Library of Alexandria (A.D. 391), where mountains of knowledge were destroyed in religious fervor? There, original manuscripts of literature and history were lost forever. Luckily, HB 2281 has accomplished the opposite.

Banning books and killing ethnic studies is only going to further flame suspicions that those in positions of authority in Arizona seek to disempower minorities for political gain. Rather than be so afraid of our country's history that erasing it is the only plausible solution, why not accept it with all its blemishes, discuss it honestly and openly, and learn from it? It's revisionist history that engenders anger and resentment. 

Here are my responses to what Arizona believes it's outlawing:

I need to see tangible evidence of this. If discussing historical events makes certain people uncomfortable, then so be it. What's important is that students be allowed to talk about how we can avert making the same kinds of mistakes in the future, and MOVE ON.

Courses such as the Mexican-American Studies (MAS) program and others like it are needed to fill in gaping holes in a curriculum that is not culturally relevant to the majority of the students in many of these Tucson classrooms, particularly when these same classes have been shown to narrow the achievement gap for Latino students. And, please, let's not promote the reading of only one kind of literature. Our students should be reading literature as diverse as our country's/world's population. 

Tucson Unified School District (TUCSD) officials say they want a curriculum that treats students as individuals and that does not "promote ethnic solidarity." Great, let's see a proposal for a revised curriculum that is factual and inclusive. I'd like to see a curriculum that shows through examples that we can be individuals and still be part of a whole -- our country's history of immigration.


Two final thoughts:

1) Scholars should be the ones writing our students' curriculum, not politicians.
2) Moving forward, I'd like to hear civil dialogue and see respectful behavior.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Love Affair

© 2013 Ezzy G. Languzzi

Love Affair

What kind of love is it you offer
when you flee from me
after just a few days?


Stay, so I can love you.
I fear that I'll forget
the way you made me feel


Won't you linger for a while?
Hold my hand on this journey,
save me from disappointment,
shallow words
a mere flicker, here and there


"I must prepare you for the next."


What is it I seek?


Mercurial love that melds you,
to my starving hands
silky pages
seductive story
I love you

Please stay stay with me,
a little while.