After last week's long and involved weekend reading post, I thought I'd go for something shorter and lighter this week. Instead, I've got a bunch of unrelated links that reach back to earlier posts.
First I want to clarify that I did not mean to imply that everyone should send their kids to public schools. I really do think that this is a choice each family has to make based on the unique circumstances they face. I do think, though, that we should all at least consider public education, and if we look at our local public schools and find them inadequate, we should think about what that means for our supposedly meritocratic society. If I look at my local public schools and think that they won't give my children an adequate education, I don't think I can pretend that everyone in our society has the same chance to succeed.
Anyway, if you are interested in education, Bad Mom, Good Mom has two more good posts on the subject this week, one with more thoughts on testing and one with more thoughts on the practice of redshirting. They are, as usual, well thought out and thought-provoking.
I've written before about my thoughts on sugar and HFCS, most recently in a weekend reading post on food. Marion Nestle had a post this week about shenanigans in sugar politics. Apparently, the sugar people are suing the corn people because the corn people are trying to get the FDA to allow them to rebrand HFCS as "corn sugar". Meanwhile, both of their products are at best empty calories. Dr. Nestle also tells the story of how the sugar folks once sued her. It is pretty funny reading.
Finally, I have some more links and thoughts about the many pressures on working parents. I used to read the Joel on Software blog fairly religiously- he has some excellent insights on software and start up culture. His blog has mostly gone dark these days, so I was surprised and pleased to see a new post in my reader. When I clicked through, it was a post about how important he thinks it is that the entire team eat lunch together every day. He argues that it makes a more humane workplace. I say maybe, maybe not. You see, most days I work through lunch, eating at my desk. It is one of the ways I try to squeeze a full work day in before I have to leave to go pick the girls up at day care. I don't have a lot of flexibility at the end of the day- if I'm not out the door of my office by about 4:50, I won't get dinner on the table on time, and our bath and bedtime routine will get messed up. For some families, that's no big deal. For our family, that often means a night of poor sleep. Happily, Petunia is outgrowing this stage, so soon this may not be such a big issue for me. However, it will still be true that if I leave at 4:30, my commute home will be roughly half as long as if I leave at 5:00 (20 minutes vs. 40 minutes).
At my previous company, this was no big deal. I scheduled a monthly lunch with my direct report (which, incidentally, we still do), and ate at my desk every other day. No one minded or thought that was odd. At my new company, I'm having to find a new equilibrium. My new group eats together most days. In fact, they go out to eat most days. I don't really want to spend my money that way or consume that many calories at lunch, but even if I did, my schedule just doesn't allow me to spend that much time eating lunch. My boss and colleagues understand the constraints I'm under, and no one tries to make me feel bad for not joining them everyday,but I also don't want to miss out on all of the team bonding. I'm working my way towards a routine where I join them at least once a week, but that hasn't settled into practice yet.
I also came across a post from The Happiest Mom about hiring help, particularly cleaners. The post itself was an interesting reminder that household help used to be more common than it is today. But what really got me thinking (ok, fuming) was the comments section. In particular, the comments from "MamaMeYeah" really illustrate the way that working moms can get sideswiped from the political left as well as the political right. In this case, it is on the issue of whether or not it is possible to hire household help with out being exploitative. I've also seen sideswipes on environmental issues (e.g., the use of disposable diapers- most working moms decide that they don't have the time to deal with cloth, or their day care providers won't accept cloth) and food system issues (e.g., we should all make our own baby food rather than by from the big, bad corporations). I continue to be surprised by the fact that these sideswipes surprise me. I know that many on the political right think that all mothers should stay home with their kids. I continually forget that many on the political left think the same thing, if for very different reasons.
Speaking of the help that makes my life as a working mother possible... I'll close with a link to Amy Poehler's Time 100 acceptance speech. If you haven't watched it yet, you should. It is funny, and spot on about how the achievements of working moms (and, I would argue, working dads) owe a debt to the people who have made it their life's work to care for children- and also to the grandmothers, aunts, and others who help fill in the gaps that inevitably arise. I'm sure that there are attacks on this speech from both the left and the right. But I've made it a point not to go look for them.