Sunday, September 29, 2013

Home Schooling: Should You Do It And Why?

Home schooling has been a controversial and even touchy topic for years on end.  Many factors in 2013 have caused parents to teach their kids at home. These range from bullying to more personal attention to better test results.

Now it's hard to argue against the raw data of home schooled students versus private and public school students. They typically perform five times better than their mainstreamed counterparts.  These are the types of kids that score high on the SATs and win the National Spelling Bees.

However, everyone is not meant for home schooling. It all depends on the individual needs and abilities of the student. Some thrive in this environment, and others suffer from it. Even the students that excel tend to lack in social skills and can develop introverted, even erratic behaviors.

Two of my cousins have home schooled their children. One just mainstreamed her son after years of home school and he's adjusting well. He has already been socialized, being heavily involved in church and Boy Scout activities. The other child just became home schooled after being in public school his entire school career. This cousin has found problems that the public schools overlooked.  He struggles with certain basic school skills that should have been mastered years ago but were never addressed. Talk about a child being left behind.

There are many problems with education already.  One is in standarized testing. Everyone doesn't test well on them, yet they're still a benchmark and a vehicle for schools to receive extra funding. Consequently, many schools teach to these tests, rather than making sure their students actually learn fundamentals and skills.

I'm not degrading all teachers and parents by any means. I know plenty of really good parents, teachers, and those that are both. They must work together, however, to ensure the student is receiving the best education. 

A balance is definitely in order.  I believe a student, given the ability, should begin their school career mainstreamed with other students in a classroom. Later on, if it is determined that home school is the best alternative, then that is what should happen.  Either way, the child should develop strong social skills through organizations, youth sports, volunteer work and the like.  There is life after high school which may include higher education, the military, and eventually the workplace. You can become someone who works from home. However, you still need to know how to properly socialize and talk with others. Social media and texting have already robbed our youth from interpersonal interaction. Not many people talk primarily on the phone or visit others anymore. We cannot allow any school system to do this also.

True education includes learning proper academic, study, and social skills, as well as discipline and a good work ethic. These are universal tools that one cannot and should not be about.

So if home schooling your child is the best, then that's great. Just ensure that your child still receives the proper well rounded education that everyone deserves.

Betrayal: The Evil Cousin Of Loyalty

Many may remember my loyalty piece that has been twice published. I strive to say true to my loyal values, despite being betrayed so much throughout my life.

Betrayal is indeed the evil cousin of loyalty. People that will turn on you in a second, including those you least expect and love the most.

Heartbreak is all a part of life. One thing is when you live long enough, you experience both. You not only have your heart crushed romantically, but by someone you care a lot about. It could be family, friend, or your own parent or child.  They went against their word and basically made you feel unwanted and unworthy. 

Family will sting you the deepest. You don't automatically expect that someone you share a bloodline with would do you dirty. I'm blessed that most of my family aren't like this.  However, we have all been disappointed by relatives to say the least.

Friends will come and go. I've had many good ones for over 10 years, a few for 20, and a rare select few for 30. I have had to distance myself from those that acted more like foes than friends. I'm forgiving and will not hold grudges. Like family, you must often keep them at a distance. 

When discerning betrayal of any kind, you have to make sure your standards are up to par. Remember to consider yourself like a corporation or team. If someone isn't doing their part on a team or a company, they are no longer necessary.  That includes simple stuff as answering a phone call or a text, or showing up for an appointment you have set up. Being there is often just enough. 

There are only so many times one can betray you before you have had enough.  You just have to realize what you're willing to tolerate and from whom.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

School Uniforms: The Pros and the Cons

The school year continues to pass as the Fall season is in full swing. Last month, many parents were in a hustle and bustle to buy their children school clothes. While some parents struggled and bought what they could, other parents turned it into a competition: buying the hottest clothes and name brands. The newest Air Jordan sneakers, Polo, Ed Hardy, and other hot and expensive brands. Facebook and Instagram turned into a two week fashion show for the school children.
This can often showcase the haves and have-nots, and also those who spend above their means just so their kids can keep up with the latest styles.
Now what if every school required uniforms? You would definitely cut down on shopping and other factors.
This topic drew lots of discussion and feedback on Facebook. It also prompted me to sharpen my research, as is often the case when I write. 
Here are some pros and cons to uniforms in school based on my findings:
1. It will level the playing field for the have-nots, and not make them feel out of place for not wearing the latest brand or style.
2. Promotes unity and teamwork, as indicated through research and studies. Both genders could wear the same generic colors or styles, and learning would be placed back at the forefront. 
3. Bullying would lower in this area. Children have been persecuted for years because they didn't have nice clothes and shoes for school. Also, the ones that do are also targets. Jealous, mean children like to criticize and even try to steal clothing from more affluent children.
4. It is good preparation for the workplace. Many jobs not only enforce a dress code, they require some sort of uniform clothing.  Think about the corporations that only allow blue and black suits and pantsuits. Isn't that similar to uniforms?
1. School uniforms can be pricy, often more than regular clothes.  You especially run into this problem with schools that have shirts with their logo and crest embroidered.  Possible isolation could still occur.
2. You could always have students that may not be able to afford a week's worth of uniform clothes, and still get bullied. And even if they could afford them, what if their clothes, or themselves were smelly? Also, even in schools that require simply generic white T-shirts and khakis, there's potential for problems. One kid could feel out of place if their khakis are old, faded, or aren't a top-notch brand.
3. School is an awesome vehicle for students to express themselves via fashion. Although they could still do so on the weekends and after school, they see most of their peers during school hours.
4. Everyone is not going to like the uniforms, parents and children alike. Schools run the risk of losing good, prominent students.
Overall, I believe uniforms could do more good than harm. The numbers are out there. Discipline and learning needs to go up, and bullying needs to decrease. Ensuring your school isn't a fashion show can be a great step forward. It can be as good as you can make it.
Every student should be given the equal opportunity to learn without distraction.  Those that care more about their attire than an education can quickly be identified.
Therefore, think twice and evaluate both sides before you think uniforms are best for your child, student and school. However, it can be worth a test drive or a trial run. Sometimes every experiment doesn't turn out bad, and change can be good and beneficial.

Seven Effective Fundraising Tips For Your Group Or Cause

School has been in session for weeks now. Even if you don't have any children in school, you have seen the various fundraisers. Candy bars, doughnuts, etc. Many are competing for prizes and vacations in school.  Unfortunately, these fundraisers don't always pay huge dividends in adult arenas. At some point, adults have to understand that selling candy isn't going to send your child to New York or Washington, DC. 
Being experienced in fundraisers as treasurer of many organizations, here are some more effective ways to raise the green.
1. Working pro and college sporting events
These events take more legwork, but offer more of a payday. Contact your local pro and college teams near you, they are often helpful and could use the help. 
2. Theme parks
Carowinds and other parks such as Six Flags and Busch Gardens offers similar deals. You could work in the park for a day and receive a free ticket and money towards your organization. 
3. Dinners/fish frys
Having these events all day long in a remote indoor location can be profitable. Promote effectively in the weeks leading up to the event and the public will come. You can't wait to the last minute and you must be efficient.  Have side sales, such as desserts and consignments.  I've seen the local high school bands and fire departments do this and they always make money. 
4. Small formal party/dance
People get to dress up, dance, and have fun, and you can make money from admission, food, beverages, and photos.
5. Pageants
I saw this idea in the 90s and thought it was brilliant.  Getting advertisers and sponsors is key here. Participants can be those who are actually using the money, and it can be child friendly. Even the men get involved in either all male or woman less pageants.
6. Small carnival/festival
These are a staple in the South, big and small. You could do a Fall Festival, Christmas, or even Spring. Have games, food, and prizes. Again lots of legwork but greater profits. 
7. Race (bike, road race, derby).
People will definitely come out to see and participate in these.  Now setting courses, getting sponsors, and even contacting organizations such as Strictly Running can be a challenge. However, it can be well worth the effort.  I've seen it firsthand.
Other methods: gift baskets/bags for holidays, birthdays,  and yard sales.
Basically, to execute any successful fundraiser that doesn't involve just direct sales, you need a good crew, organization of your monies spent and made (assets and liabilities in accounting terms) and the willingness to work. So think outside of the box and start raising some real cash for your cause.  The money that jingles is nice, but we all love more of the kind that folds. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A League Of Their Own: The Growing Number Of Ladies Playing Fantasy Football

The NFL is in full swing, as is fantasy football. Approximately 33 million people play the fantasy game since it became popular with the Internet nearly two decades ago.

And it's no longer a man's game.

Over 6 million women play as well. Some of these women have even started their own leagues, just for females. One such is based primarily in Charlotte, NC. It's called Vick In A Box, named after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

These are 10 very serious ladies. They know the sport and are very competitive. Andrea Harper started the league in 2011 as she had prior experience and wanted to play in an all-women's league. She thought it would be a great opportunity for them to learn more about the game through fun and friendly competition.   Of the 10 ladies in Vick In A Box, 8 live in Charlotte, one lives in Asheville, NC, and the other in Mumbai, India.

As is the case in many fantasy leagues, the Charlotte players hang out sometimes, and love to talk smack. They all have T-Shirts with their league name and a logo they collectively designed.  They have been seen tailgating at Carolina Panthers home games wearing their league shirts.

Tonja Turner and Chinette Stevenson have won the past two championships. However, Carolyn Benton has her sights set on the gold this year.

Carolyn, like most of the other ladies, is very competitive and began playing when Andrea started the league. She has a bronze trophy for 3rd place, but wants to be the next champion. 

She has had fun and learned very much about the sport of football.  Carolyn already knew the basics going in. Thanks to fantasy, she knows more about team defense, why certain teams run certain plays based on field position, can analyze weekly matchups well, and knows that many players and teams play better at home.

The sport and game have grown from women just drooling over the players or getting beers and wings for their boyfriends and husbands. Many women of different backgrounds and walks of life are playing and are doing well, even in leagues with male counterparts. 

It also seems the ladies of Vick In A Box are following the precedent Holly Robinson Peete set years ago when she became an avid fan because her husband, Rodney, was an NFL quarterback.  She showed women how to enjoy and understand the sport. Now women of many leagues such as Vick In A Box are showing other ladies that they also can be competitive and have fun like the guys.

Fantasy football will continue to grow and so will the number of all-female leagues. Expect to see more women curious about the buzz and want to compete also. It could get interesting in social, professional and even romantic circles. Nevertheless, it's always good natured competition. 

The 90s: What I Like About This Decade

This is one of my more fun posts. I'm taking time to honor a decade that always gives me fond memories: the 1990s.  This is when I was in my teen years and early 20s and became a legal adult.

I'm going to talk about cultural, historical, and personal things that affected me in the 90s.


This is when I got into sports heavily, mainly football, basketball and baseball. It was a good decade for the teams I rooted for. My Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series, the UNC Tarheels won the national championship in 1993 with help from Chris Webber's historic timeout, and the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997.

The NBA was extremely exciting as the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan dominated the decade. I'm a New York Knicks fans, and we were a very physical team back then, making it to three NBA Finals. No one was better probably ever than those Bulls of the 90s, especially the 1995-1996 team.

I also played high school football during this time. They were some of the best moments I've had and taught me a lot.


I was just getting into hip hop, and loved alternative and R&B. The radio was worth listening to then.  I would tape songs off of the radio, and even record entire CDs onto cassette.  Man the cassettes I had! I was just getting into CDs. I loved my dual cassette, CD player stereo. It lasted me the final half of the decade. The artists and groups that defined the decade for me includes Hootie and the Blowfish, Third Eye Blind, Live, 2Pac, Biggie, TLC, WU Tang Clan, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Boyz II Men and Jodeci. The music then was so soothing and real. No autotune and everyone was talented. 

Entertainment and technology:

Many people didn't have cell phones and the Internet was in its infant stages as well.  You actually had to use pay phones and read real newspapers in the 90s. Kids played more outside and didn't hang around on the laptop or phone. We did play video games though.  I loved my Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and N64. Zelda, Techmo Super Bowl, and Street Fighter 2 were some of the popular games to play. On TV, the only reality show was The Real World. I loved watching In Living Color, Martin, Boy Meets World, The Wonder Years, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The Simpsons were still popular also.  And two of my favorite movies, Friday and Forrest Gump, were released in the 90s. I still have both on VHS.


It was quite a groundbreaking decade for the media also. The news wasn't as watered down and political. Bill Clinton was President, and the economy was booming. He was caught cheating on his wife with a White House intern, and people still loved him. Of course you had the infamous OJ trial. People watched the trial and verdict nonstop.  Most my age remember where they were when the OJ verdict was read, or the tragic events at Columbine High took place. Racial relations, gangs and rioting skyrocketed also following the Rodney King beating. Anita Hill helped changed sexual harassment in the workplace. Things were so affordable back then. You could rent a video, get a pizza, and still have gas money all for $20.

My personal achievements

The 90s is where I came out of my shell and became a man. I graduated high school and experienced the real world.  I was on my own for the first time and enjoyed the freedom. I was developing more self confidence and swagger. I realized there was a bigger world outside my small town and I wanted to see it. Most of my family was still alive and I got to enjoy time with them. I hadn't yet experienced a lot of deaths so I was still in a state of innocence. I also started writing poetry and eventually did poetry slams. I felt more educated and cultured. 

I love the 1990s and I often relive many moments from those years. We all have special times in our lives and mine was this span of 10 years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rodney and Keia: An eight year journey of love

The institution or idea of marriage is not taken seriously anymore. The divorce rate is climbing daily, weddings are highlighted more than the marital union, and over 50 percent of black women never get married in their lifetime.

Now enter young black couple and soon to be newlyweds Rodney Davidson and Keia Dawkins. They have a wonderful and long love story worthy of talking about.

Rodney and Keia first were acquainted in 2005. Keia was working at Winn Dixie and Rodney happened to stop by her register one day. She initiated things, asking if he had a girlfriend and wanted his phone number.  Rodney played hard to get and a little cool at first, but they ended up exchanging numbers. Three months later, they were a steady couple.  Rodney started bringing Keia around his friends and family. This is always a sign that you're serious about someone, especially since they were only 18 at the time.

Four years later, in 2009, Rodney realized that Keia was the one for him and he eventually wanted to marry her. According to him, when you get that feeling, you simply know without a doubt. 

Their engagement was also nice as well. In October 2011, Rodney was at work on Keia's birthday. She was with friends and family celebrating at Broncos Mexican Restaurant.  Little did she know, Rodney had a special suprise for her: a proposal. He came by the restaurant on his break and popped the question. She of course said yes, and now it was time to plan their wedding and life together.

Rodney said one of the biggest challenges during the engagement was getting his credit score high enough so he could get a house for him and his new bride to be. He and Keia have always been hard workers, both often working two jobs to get what they need and want. They recently closed on their house, and their wedding is right around the corner.

Eight years is as long as many marriages last. These two have stuck it out through the temptations and tough times. Their love and trust prevailed throughout the years. Rodney advises anyone wanting to make a relationship last a long time to put God first, trust Him, and trust your significant other with all your heart.  There shouldn't be any doubts or secrets. It's common but golden advice that many people do not follow.

Now Rodney and Keia are nearly ready to simply enjoy being husband and wife, and live each following step as they have during the course of the relationship.

True, long lasting love is still possible, as proven by this story. It takes love, trust,and hard work.   You must be equally yoked, and be patient in the good and bad times.

I'm confident that when Rodney and Keia become one, their marriage will have a long shelf life. They are not taking this lightly and want to continue to love each other.  Life can be simpler when we're willing to listen to our instincts, follow our hearts and be trusting.  It's risky but can be very rewarding. 

Brunch: More prevelant and tasty

Breakfast is seemingly not only the most important meal of the day, it is often the most delicious and versatile. Therefore, many like to eat it at all hours of the day, not just morning. This thinking helped spawned brunch and fuel the popularity of brunch buffets.

Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, usually eaten around mid-day. It dates back to the mid 1800s in Europe. It took a few decades to pick up in the States. However, by the 1980s, brunch had become a worldwide delicacy.  Many restaurants such as Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Waffle House, IHOP and Dennys boomed in popularity as a result.

Present day, you have more and more weekend brunch buffets opening up.  These are mostly in larger cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago and New York. However, people in high numbers frequent them. It's also usually a diverse crowd. Once upon a time, it was mostly upper class and women having brunch. Now it's not common to see a working class, blue collar man enjoying brunch.

Personally, I think it's an awesome thing. Although after 1pm, it's technically lunch, the concept is still awesome and delicious.  There have been many successful combinations in food history. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Heck many items with peanut butter or cheese. But combining breakfast and lunch is sensible and genius.

So don't get defensive or even clown anyone for having brunch.  If you're having a ham omelette at 11:30am, technically that's brunch.

Let's just stop with the labels and debates and enjoy delicious meals. It is still a meal, regardless of the time