PTA: Parent, Teacher, Asshole
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Sunday, December 04, 2011
The Sleep Test, aka Do Not GoogleSo, I had to go to the hospital for a sleep test. I figured, I am a champion sleeper, easy A. If napping was an Olympic sport, I'm on the Dream Team. But then they said they wanted to test for Sleep Apnea. I then got concerned. I didn't know what Sleep Apnea was, so how was I going to pass the test?
They said they would bring me in for the Sleep Study Saturday night,after 9:00. Ok, that's good. I was used to thee late night study groups in college, but maybe it's like riding a bicycle, so I signed up.
But it seems the Sleep Study was the Sleep Test. Is it a test or a study? You study for a test...I hadn't studied. Now how am I going to sleep to pass the test if I haven't studied...bummer.
So I did research today and apparently Sleep Apnea is when there is difficulty breathing during sleep. My wife says sometimes I will literally stop breathing in my sleep. Apparently this lack of breathing is a problem...especially for someone with heart disease. Who knew air was so important? So the nurse who took me to bed had a low, scratchy voice. Not a nice, sultry voice like Kathryn Hepburn.
It was hard to hear what all she said. But I did hear one thing clearly. She gave me some paperwork to fill out and told me, "when you're done with that, put on your sleep clothes, then open the door. I'll be watching from the video camera." ...Umm...Ok, so, she just told me to change my clothes and she'd be watching. I thought about giving her my rendition of cheesy 70s porno music, but I didn't know if there was a microphone for her to hear me, so it seemed to be a waste. And if you've never heard cheesy 70s porno music, DO NOT GOOGLE 70s porno music. If you do, I am not responsible for what happens. So I got ready and finished the paperwork and opened the door. Sure enough sh came in shortly thereafter and thanked me for the show. Then she said she needed to stick something down my pants. DO NOT GOOGLE sticking stuff down pants. I am not responsible for what you find. So she gave me some cords and I ran them down my pants. She put some monitors on my chest, four on my face, a strap across my chest and belly, then I don't know how many on my head. We went from porno to mad science...
And as she's sticking electrodes on my skull, I realize she didn't ask me if I needed to use the restroom, so when she said, "If you need to use the bathroom, just push the button," I realized that, like a toddler still learning how to use the restroom, I'd need to call for mommy to help. Like some weird ageplay scenario. If you do not know what ageplay is, DO NOT GOOGLE ageplay. I am not responsible for what you discover.
So I read some, as is my routine most nights, then decide to go to sleep, call for mommy to let m use the restroom and turn off the light, then I lay my electrode studded head on my pillows and tried to go to sleep. Tried... I spent several minutes wondering how they expect us to sleep like this with limited movement because we are attached to the wall by electrodes. Then I felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't sit up. I couldn't call out. I reached behind me and pushed the button to call the Mad Nurse Scientist to my aid. Or maybe another nurse was on duty and she would come in and say, "Are you having trouble sleeping, sir? Maybe I can help..." wearing this...
Hey, a guy can dream...
But no one came, and I started kicking my legs figuring nurse voyeur would come see what's going on. But no one came... Then I woke up...it was a dream...but not a very good one...because a very good one would have had a nurse in that costume. And no, not a sexy male nurse. DO NOT GOOGLE sexy male nurse costume. I am not responsible for what you find.
So back to sleep. Trying to sleep. Waking up again with a slight need to use the potty again, but nothing real pressing, except that all the straps and electrodes are annoying me. Plus my pinkie was falling asleep. Ain't that something? My pinkie needed electrodes because it was getting more sleep than I was. So one more minor annoyance I could ignore at home has to be dealt with. "Can I go potty, mommy?"
When she woke me up it was 5:00 AM. She had some more paper work asking me how many hours I slept, how many times I woke up, how rested I felt. I didn't know how long...there was no clock in the room and my phone and iPod were on the other side of the bed where I couldn't reach. And that weird dream where I was awake in my room trying to sleep then dreaming about trying to sleep, but I was dreaming, so I was asleep...that craziness made me uncertain about how many times I did wake up. And who the hell feels rested being woken up at 5:00 AM? So she disconnected me from the equipment and I rubbed my hands over my fave. A clump of whatever sticky stuff thy put on the electrodes came out in my hands. Then I ran my fingers through my hair...more clumps. I now felt like the star of a bukkake video. If you don't know what bukkake is, DO NOT GOOGLE bukkake. I am not responsible for what you find.
As an added piece of adventure, I had to stop at a gas station before coming home. While there two older drunk guys walked to the station and bought some forties...at approaching 5:30 in the morning.I had adventures in sleeping, they had adventures in not sleeping...wonder who had a better night?
And finally, DO NOT GOOGLE Friday by Rebecca Black. I am not responsible for what you see or hear.
Monday, July 04, 2011
Happy 4th of JulyAnd in honor of the 4th of July i present Sam the AMERICAN Eagle and the Muppets performings Stars and Stripes Forever
Saturday, July 02, 2011
News too Funny to be True
|Picture of a Weiner...|
and still safe for work
Chairman of the Politicians Union of Washington DC: "Candidate, do you engage in extramarital affairs?"
Political Candidate: "No, sir. I am faithful to my wife?"
Chairman of PUWD: "Will you be willing to have an extramarital affair when you come to the Big Show?"
Candidate: "Uh, no sir. I love my wife. We have two children, a boy and a girl. I wouldn't risk ruining my family."
Chairman of PUWD: "Hrmm. Are you secretly gay?"
Candidate: "No, sir."
Chairman of PUWD: "Do you and your wife engage in alternative sexual practices?"
Chairman of PUWD: "Like BDSM, performing together online, have an open marriage? Does your wife dominate you? Anything like that?"
Candidate: "Uh, no sir...?"
Chairman of PUWD: "Do you sexually abuse your children?"
Candidate: "Absolutely not. I'm insulted..."
Chairman of PUWD: "Do you sext or have online sex chat or webcam with women? Or men?"
Candidate: "No! Now, what's the meaning of these..."
Chairman of PUWD: "You at least download porn, right?"
Candidate: "No! Can we talk about my political credentials?"
Chairman of PUWD: "No need. We're done. Don't call us, we'll call you..."
So, yeah, politicians in sexual scandals, big deal, right? But this is too good...A representative, it has been learned, was engaging in sex chats online with women and sending lascivious photos of himself. Even still, maybe a little mild in regards to sexual scandals, right? But...but...the representative? One...*snicker*...his name...*chuckle*...his name is...*snort*...Anthony...*giggle*...Anthony...WEINER! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA....
There once was a man named Anthony Weiner
Who was going to be mayor, but he sent gifs of his weiner
Now his opponents say, "Neener neener neener"
Oh, it's just too good.
Here's an article about it...if you think I made it up. I mean, it is too good to be true...
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Teachers, Unions, and Accountability, Oh My!I always like seeing Leonard Pitts, Jr. face gracing the inside of my Sunday newspaper. It happens too infrequently. I enjoy reading his views when I agree with them. I enjoy reading his views when I disagree with them.
So I was happy to find Leonard hanging out in today's newspaper. I was further pleased to see that he was talking about education. Whether I was going to agree with him or not...as a teacher who loves his writing...I was psyched.
He was talking about how he feels principals should be able to fire bad teachers, but for them to be able to have that power, rules and laws about union involvement would have to change. A teacher emailed Leonard saying that without the Union's protection, she'd be at the mercy of a principal deciding randomly to fire her. Since Leonard was talking about firing teachers who don't...well...teach, it makes me wonder how competent this teacher is.
So, I agree with Leonard. It shouldn't be so difficult to get rid of bad teachers. But I also see the emailing teacher's point of view.
In my School District I've seen principals and department heads fired simply because of personality conflicts and educational theory differences. And while that is a person in our District Office abusing power, it's easy to imagine a principal doing similar firings to get rid of teachers the principal just doesn't like.
So, as in most things, there's got to be a middle ground. Because maybe the emailing teacher is a fabulous teacher who just doesn't get along with her boss. Her boss shouldn't be able to call her in and fire her to satisfy his whims.
So the reasonable middle ground is that the principal, the teacher, and a union representative sit down and discuss the principal's concerns. The teacher is given a reasonable amount of time to improve on the areas of concern. The teacher would be given support in making these changes. Being teamed with a teacher who is an expert in that area. Resources to implement these changes. Etcetera. If, in that period of time, the teacher does not make improvements...then boot the teacher out the door. If the teacher makes improvements, then backslides into the bad teacher practices, then, yes, kick the teacher to the curb.
This past year at ARSE (Alternate Reality School of Excellence, remember?) the high school English teacher was apparently getting her teaching ideas from that best selling teacher's manual, Worst Practices. She wasn't in danger of getting fired, but our principal was saying that if she doesn't take the steps that she and the head of the English Department were asking her to make, she would be moved to middle school and I'd be moved to high school. She didn't change, but decided to retire at the end of the school year, but she was given time and support to make changes which she just chose not to do. Other than the possibility of being fired, that's how it should be.
But then, I have to wonder about the unions Leonard writes about. I've seen plenty of teachers get booted with little effect from our unions. Based on the protection I've seen, I'm sticking with not joining a union because I have seen no benefit other than more money taken from the paycheck.
Wait...that's not a benefit...nevermind...
Here's Leonard Pitts. Jr,'s article: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/31/1755488/teacher-unions-fighting-accountability.html
Monday, July 19, 2010
A Day at the MatineeSo, for my birthday, my wife and I went to the movies. It was actually a bit of a combination birthday/Christmas celebration because I was given gift cards for certain theaters which will remain unspecified until the theater chains decide to pay for the endorsement....waiting....there's still time....
Ok, your loss...
Anyway, this was a significant event for me and my wife. See, we haven't walked into a movie theater in 8 years. For 8 years, all our movie watching has been rentals on the TV, which became a very nice wide-screen TV a couple of years ago.
And for the most part, we haven't missed the experience. I mean, prices are out of control, and that includes the refreshments. With the purchase of a large drink, you get free refills. Well, woop-de-fucking-doo. Has anyone drunk one of those and wanted more beverage? It's hard to finish, much less slosh your way back for more. And then it's a bladder endurance test, because you don't want to miss any movie just to see your same ol' urinary equipment doing its job...again.
Then, there's the crowd. People talking, using cell phones, and commentaries like they think they're a part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast. SHUT UP! You know why going to a movie is a great date when you're a teen? You go to supper, eat and talk, then go to the film and sit for 2 hoours in silence. Then afterwards you have something else to talk about...the movie...
Or you miss the entire movie because you're lucky enough to have a date who is training for the US Olympic Tonsil Hockey Team.
The great thing about watching movies at home is that if we want to comment on something which happened, we can pause it and not miss anything. Or play tonsil hockey without missing the movie...but you get the point.
So if I'm in the theater and Chuck Schmuck is back there chatering away, I can't pause the movie...so SHUT YOUR HOLE!
But, things have gotten weird in the theater.
There are as many commercials as there are movie trailers. WTF?! Commercials, like in my day were only available on the television set, now giant in their obnoxiousness. Why is there an advert for Coke at a theater which only sells...Coke...? Hello?
And this renewed fascination with 3D. WHY THE HELL? Last 3D film I saw in the theater? Jaws III in 3D. That's 1983 ladies and gentlemen. It's been 27 years and someone in Hollywood decided to dust those moth balls off and give it another shot. Do you know what Jaws III taught me?
1) 3D effects don't help when the plot's crap.
2) When shooting a 3D film, directors seem more concerned about angling shots and putting things into shots to insure things coming out at the audience. "Why's he have a pitchfork in the middle of a city?" "Duh, cause it's going to poke out at the audience..."
3) 3D movies look like crap on a 2D television.
But despite my distaste for 3D movies, Hollywood insists on making them. There were like 3 previews of movies in 3D...Ugh!
I watched the My Bloody Valentine remake on my telly, so no, it hasn't gotten better.
It was cool going to the movies again with my beloved. But it's not something I want to return to doing on a regular basis. I thought that was how Hollywood felt about 3D...but here we go again...
Friday, June 25, 2010
New Holiday ProposalThe existence of Fathers' Day amuses me. It's not that I have anything against Fathers' Day, or Mother's Day, or Earth Day, but these holidays amuse me. I mean, the people celebrated in Fathers' and Mother's Day are celebrated simply because of the relationship they have with certain other people and there's an assumed positiveness in this relationship. The founding of Fathers' Day is even based on a glittering generality.
Sonora Smart Dodd wanted a holiday like Mother's Day because her mother died giving birth to a sixth child and her father raised the children on his own since then. She wanted to honor her father:
Sonora Smart Dodd: Chairmen of the Holiday Committee, I move to start a holiday which honors William Smart.
Holiday Committee Chair 1: Who is this...William Smart?
SSD: He's my father, Chairman. We could call it Smart Day...
HCC 2: Hrmm, a day to honor...fathers? Interesting...
SSD: Or Smart's Day, with an apostrophe, because we wouldn't want people thinking we were honoring only smart people...that wouldn't be very many...
HCC 3: By Jove, I'm a father! Let's do it!
SSD: Maybe William Smart's Day...
HCC 1: Yes, all fathers are wonderful. I, too, am a father, and the father is the king if the castle. It's a crime that mothers have their Mother's Day while fathers have been left to languish...
SSD: Wait, what?
HCC 1: ...in fact, without fathers, there would be no mothers to honor. All in favor of Fathers' Day?
SSD: Wait, no...
Holiday Committee minus one member: HERE!
HCC 1: Smythe, what's the hold up with your "HERE"?
Smythe: Just, well, where's the apostrophe?
HCC 1: Good Grief! After the "s"...mumblemumbledamnapostrophes
Smythe: But it's before the "s" in Mother's Day.
HCC 1: That's because they honor mothers individually, while we, we will honor the institute of fatherness, all of fatherhood.
Which, of course, is nothing like what really happened, although Sonora Smart Dodd really did start Fathers' Day and the apostrophe did start off after the "s".
Now we have Father's Day, the shift of the apostrophe denoting a more personal, individualized celebration.
But still, based on the relationship between one person and another.
So I thought we could start another holiday to honor, well, me...Youngest Sibling Day. It could be held every year on February 28. February, the youngest of the months, being the smallest, and you know February has a hell of a time at family reunions.
February: Come on guys, leave me alone. Enough with the noogies.
July: Haha, oh Feb...people don't even say your name right..."Feb-u-ary"...Haha, and you just take it. There's a fucking "r" in there. Stand up for yourself.
And the 28th because while 28th is usually the last day of the month, just as the youngest sibs of the world know, one day you may turn around and you're no longer the last...
Oh, and why's Earth Day amusing? It was founded by Gaylord Nelson....GAYLORD! Now that's comedy...
Monday, June 21, 2010
Happy (Belated) Fathers' DayHappy (Belated) Fathers' Day to all of the fathers out there. Well, ok, maybe not all of the fathers. To all fathers who are present, and don't beat their children or wives (or other forms of physical abuse), or emotionally abuse them, and don't waste the family money on beer in favor of, you know, food....Maybe we should rename it You're-Not-a-Shitheel-Father Day.
After all, the same conditions can apply to mothers on Mothers' Day. There aren't that many holidays where it becomes that individually subjective. If you believe in Jesus, you celebrate Christmas. Hell, you don't even have to believe in Capital J to celebrate, but the post about changing Christmas to Commercialmas for a more honest and all inclusive holiday is out of season right now.
On Arbor Day we don't say, "Here's to all the trees, except those fuckers who fell on my powerlines and made me miss the last period of the NBA Championship game."
On Labor Day we don't say, "Here's to all them laborers, except the ones who called in sick when it was just a hangover."
And on Veteran's Day we don't say, "Here's to all the Veteran soliders, except those from Abu Ghraib."
And I don't think we should.
Speaking of maintaining focus, on a side note, I'm proud to say that my Father's Day was spent sleeping on the couch in my underwear with a beer in hand, the natural state of fathers everywhere. Vive la Fathair...! (French, naturally, for Live Father!)
I had meant to share my ideas for a new holiday, but my brain had other things on its mind, so I'll return tomorrow for to tell about my completely new holiday inspired by Fathers' Day.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Jane...Get Me Off of This Crazy Thing!!!As the 2009-2010 school years trudles through the first nine weeks, the drama starts. It's not as big as dramas in the past, but enough to put me in an odd situation about which I am uncomfortable. It involves The High School ELA Teacher.
Seems The Principal has been talking with The Head of the ELA Department about The High School ELA Teacher. It's not a mystery that high school students at ARSE (the Alternate Reality School of Excellence) have hated English for several years now. The Principal has decided it's time to see what the problem is...especially after she got called into the Senior class last year to regain order. Now, even at ARSE, with our generally behaviorally challenged student body, the senior class is the one about which you have to worry the least. The end of school is in sight, so they know to just keep their heads down and slug their way through the required work. But apparently last year, the end being nigh wasn't enough for them to keep from revolting.
So I, Mr. Asshole, somewhere along the line, got named the ELA Department Chair for ARSE. It's an odd situation to be in because the Department Chair imparts info from the Head to the teaching masses. At ARSE, there's me and there's the High School Teacher. For many years, we fell under the blanket of the local mainstream high school and middle school chairs. Also awkward, other than no other department chair has teachers "under" him (or her) who is at a different grade level. I mean, middle school chairs deal with middle school teachers, etcetera. But I'm the chair "over" one high school teacher. Need more awkwardness? She's been teaching 30+ years and I've been teaching 9. When she got hired at ARSE, I had been there about 8 months before her. I find it hard for a middle school teacher with less than 10 years under his belt to confer with a high school teacher with more than 30.
But apparently she hasn't changed in 30 years and since I've worked "with" her longer than ELA Head has, since she started just 2 years ago, I'm called in to consult. And since The Principal is a science girl, I'm called in to consult her. Since I'm the Department Chair, they have every right to call me in.
Because things came to head as interims came nigh. It came to The Principal's attention that all but one senior was failing senior English. So I was called in to help assess the assignments given to the senior class. I boiled down to finding out how much communication there was about the writing assignments, that very few standards were being hit, and there was no variety. A lot of time was spent on one text with several just standard papers.
So I was asked what I was advise the teacher in question to do. Read the standards. Some of the papers could have hit more standards by adding to the focus. Try some texts other than the classics: Something more contemporary. Hold class differently with Book Circles or something, but said she would need support. Don't just tell her to use Book Circles (or whatever) and leave. Say that they would meet again in a period of time to discuss what worked, what didn't, and how to improve it.
All the while I unashamedly ducked and covered. I've done my job by conferring with my bosses about the situation, but I'd rather not be seen as a part of this "conspiracy" if I can avoid it. It will turn very cold when it's learned I've been a part of the meetings about how to get her to change her ways. But I do have an interest because I've been told that if she doesn't change, then we switch positions and I teach high school and she teaches middle school. She probably won't, opting for retirement or a new school before teaching middle school, but I'd rather not risk it.
So this weekend I'm looking for alternative books for seniors to read. So I turn to you...do you have any recommendations for books to get high school seniors to read? My only requirement, as per the ELA Head, is "...get them to read."
Friday, August 07, 2009
Auspicous Beginning...I mean, Asspicious...The school year pretty much started for me yesterday. I had a meeting/training session to go to because I am one of the ARSE's Cohort Facilitators.
ARSE n. - Acronym for the Alternate Reality School of Excellence, a school for the behaviorally challenged...but the district has to put those bad teachers somewhere.
COHORT FACILITATOR n. - a person who facilitates cohorsion in a cohort group.
COHORT GROUP n. - 1. a group of educators who are forced to get together to research the answer to an "agreed upon" question and implement the results to improve student learning. There are four strands of groups focusing on Literacy Across the Curriculum, Curriculum Planning, Student Engagement, and Data Driven Decision Making. 2. just another meeting.
Now, I know what this session is going to be...a waste of time. I did the training last year, my first year as cohort facilitator, but they are paying me to be there, so fine. And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they changed something and it costs less to pay us for the meeting than it would to put post-it-notes on our boxes.
Well, right from the start, I find out I'm right.
Kathy Kohort: "You new facilitators will learn what your responsibilities are, and for you returning facilitators it will be a refresher and you can share your experiences with the noobs."
Mr. Asshole: "Did you say boobs?"
Kathy Kohort: "No, I said restraining order..."
Anyway, fine...free cokes, some candy...I can survive...
Well, being right is a fleeting experience...Quickly the meeting turned from a "Here's What You Will Be Doing" session into a Gripe-Bitch-Moan-Complain Session.
Mr. Gripe: "I'd like my group to put forth more initiative, but I'm having to do everything myself."
Mr. Bitch: "My name is an oxymoron...and speaking of morons, why do we have a strand on making data driven decisions. Shouldn't the department of education do all that data stuff?"
Mrs. Moan: "I'm not nearly as sexy as my name sounds, and I'm real loud, which means I'm right! And I know you Kathy Kohort, so I get to ruin your whole training session by being a bitch, no offense Mr. Bitch."
Mr. Bitch: "None taken. And why do we have to learn how to drive? Shouldn't the state just drive us around? They made the traffic laws to begin with."
Mrs. Moan: "Hey, I haven't ruined my buddy Kathy's day yet, shut up! Anyway, shouldn't the cohort groups be homogenous based on subject? My group last year had math and social studies and science and, eww, English teachers. Should we really be integrating?"
Mr. Complain: "Yeah, because what works in an, eww, English class won't work in a math class..."
Mrs. Moan: "HEY! I'm loud, I don't need your help!"
1 1/2 hours in we took a break and we weren't a quarter done with the agenda...
Poor Kathy Kohort zipped through the rest of the stuff to let us get out on time, actually early, but I suspect she really just wanted a drink. Now, I had retorts for all of these...people...and poor Kathy Kohort was clearly getting sucker punched into the ropes and couldn't keep her hands on the ball (mixed metaphors are the BEST!), but I know from experience that Working at ARSE means working in, well, an alternate reality where the rules of physics are greatly altered. What happens in ARSE stays in ARSE, because it won't work anywhere else. Also, I didn't want Mrs. Moan to have another reason to keep talking.
Mr. Gripe, you're problem is you aren't being an effective facilitator. We were told we are not the leaders, we faciliate discussion, help things run smoothly and keep rolling. That's it. You are clearly acting like a leader.
Mr. Bitch, do you want the state department to tell you what to do in your classroom based on their interpretation of data about students they've never met? I like being able to decide what's best for MY students and sometimes we need to better learn how to interpret the data and react to it.
Mrs. Moan and Mrs. Complain, whether you have a degree in education or you went through one of those state run programs to move from some other job to a teaching job, when you were being told how to teach you spent a lot of time in classes with people in every discipline. If your focus question is broad enough, then everyone will get something.
AND WHY ARE ANY OF YOU RETURNING AS COHORT FACILITATORS IF YOU HATE IT THIS MUCH!!!!! One actually said, "This is my third year. I'm a glutton for punishment." Yeah, I hate spinich so I make sure I've got some at every meal...
At the end she had us split into two groups to read some articles and do an activity unless you had some comments about the cohort structure so she could take them to the Powers That Be. Gripe, Bitch, and Moan did not go up...the few who went up were predominantly the ones that chimed in a "yeah, I agree" kind of thing.
I don't understand. I'm not a big cohort fan, but you make the best with what you can. You voice your concerns to the Powers That Be, not the poor girl charged with training us, and then do the best that you can. There will be several cohort groups which will be a complete waste of time because of bad leadership...or should I say...facilitatorship.
Can I call it facili-tit-orship for fun?
Kathy Kohort: "...Restraining...Order..."
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Cat Fight!Countdown: 5 Full Days, 3 Half...
Today two girls got into a cat fight at the end of 2nd period.
Cat 1: Don't tough my stuff.
Cat 2: *Bends down and touches Cat 1's shoe with the tip of her finger*
Cat 1: *Grabs Cat 1's hair*
Cat 2: Slaps Cat 1
Cat 1: Slaps Cat 2
Mr. Asshole: *Steps between the two cats* "Cat 1, go to the office!"
Cat 2 also was sent to the office after Cat 1 was well established up there. Both Cats suspended until finals.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Stay on TargetWith Memorial Day coming to a close, the numbers keep running through my head. Yeah, of course the millions of soldiers from the US of A's past and present who put their lives on the line for this country...naturally.
But there's a small number running through my head screaming like a hyperactive 6 year old jacked up on icecream and cake and sweet, sugary soda. That number? 9!
That number represents the number of days for how long I must keep my sanity. 9 days until, as Alice Cooper shrieks so elegantly, "School's out for summer!"
But I can break that number down into something even more pleasant...6 full days, 3 half days...
But that still seems like a long time where my sanity is concerned. In the past few days we've had reports of fights and smoking at the bus stop, where parents are instructed to wait with their children until they are picked up by the bus. I have to wonder why we have the rule if, when things go wrong at the bus stop, like fights and smoking, nothing is done about the lack of parental supervision. We've found a bag of weed. I've been accused of slamming a door into a student which, luckily, was disproved by video evidence that the student was not behind the door as she claimed to be.
I'm hanging on by a sheer, gossamyr thread...and that thread is 9 days...or 6 full and 3 half...6 full 3 half days to "Stay on target," as Porkins said in Star Wars Episode IV...before being blown into oblivion...
Monday, April 06, 2009
B.C.: Punctuation Fail!April 6, 2009...the comic page of your newspaper...the strip? B.C. The crime? Punctuation Negligence.
The joke was funny, yes...but where are the quotation marks in that first panel?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Big TeacherToday I watched Saturday Detention. Now, normally, it's a combination of middle and high school students. This morning, however, it was just middle school students, so it was like an extra school day...ugh.
How are middle school students awake that early in the morning? The beginning of the morning is supposed to be easy because they're half asleep, but not this time. Loud and talking. The point of Saturday Dentention starting at 8:00 in the morning is to make everyone mad. Parents mad, students...no one wants to get up that early on a Saturday. That's the point of a Saturday. One day when you have no reason to stop sleeping. But no, happy and loud...
They begin talking about a fight at the bus stop. I get names of those involved, location, police involvement. Then the following exchange:
Student 1: "Mr. Asshole, here's what happened."
Student 2: "Don't tell him! He'll tell Mrs. Pricipal!"
Mr. Asshole's Inner Monologue: "Too late, bright boy. You've just flashed your lights at me after I've already been pulled over by the cop. Warning - Epic Fail!"
I am constantly amazed how my students talk as if I'm not listening or won't report the antics about which I hear. I am ever vigilant. I am ever listening. And your secrets will not remain secret once I learn them. I am...teacher...
Thursday, March 19, 2009
My Morning EncounterThis morning I went out to crank the car so that it would warm up before the kids and I headed off, and both going to the car and coming back to the house, I got slowed down by a ho demanding my attention. Scandalous.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Sue-per ManIf an American scientist found out that the Earth was going to explode and no one believed him and he was able to build a rocket to send his newborn son to a distant, inhabited planet while being educated about the American way of life, let's say the planet Boron, and in the strange rays of Boron's sun, that boy had super powers, he would become known as Sue-per Man and his greatest power would be his Litigation Vision.
Face it...we can't do ANYTHING without fearing someone's going to call a lawyer. Especially in the education field. Sometimes it seems like I hear "I'm gonna sue" every day at school.
A student said he was going to sue the principal because he brought an MP3 player to school, which is expressly forbidden and she took it and held on to it for the day. At the end of the school day, he retrieved it, took it home with him and after a minimum of two hours, the amount of time he says the bus ride takes and the reason he had the player to begin with, turned it on and found out it wasn't working properly. 2 hours minimum when anything could have happened that he might innocently not know would damage the player, but his first thought is not, "Man, I shouldn't have brought that to school," but "I'm going to sue."
Another student is put up for expulsion. His mother says she's contacting the NAACP and the Rainbow Coalition because we teachers and the principal are racist and she wants to sue. Let's just say she got a happy resolution and he, the child, didn't learn anything about controlling his behavior.
This tirade was spurred by George Will who discusses other Litigation Lunacies around the nation.
and this twigi bit of legal drama. No Take Backs
And "Weird Al" Yankovic sang about it here...
If you don't click the links and watch the video, then you wasted my time putting them there...so I'll sue ya!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Internet Inter-Nots!You know, we all have our bad days. We all have those days when the students just drive us up the wall, the parents seem to be the biggest batch of idiots ever, coworkers seem utterly incompetant, and the people in charge at the district office seem to know less about education than a rock knows about swimming. Every teacher has that kind of day from time to time and every human has an analogous type of day. It happens.
And yet...there are appropriate ways to express these feelings...and inappropriate ways.
Appropriate: Talking with intimate friends/family to get frustrations off your chest in a private conversation not using specific names.
Inappropriate: Over a drink at a restaurant using first and last names where any local could overhear and know about whom you are speaking.
Appropriate (admittedly questionably so): Anonymously blogging frustrations without use of real names, locales, etcetera.
Inappropriate: Posting on FaceBook your hatred and contempt where it is easily determined who you are, who your students are, and what school you teach at, and including photos of yourself partying like a college student at a Greek Mardi Gras kegger.
I'm looking at you, Charlotte teachers, who felt it ok to say "I hate my students" online. Well, really, ever, when you get right down to it.
Here's an article: NC teachers disciplined for Facebook posts
Here's a news report:
If you hate somebody or something, you can't be expected to try your hardest for that person or thing and you can't be expected to be impartial about that person or thing.
Now I don't know these people, and I can't guarantee that the teacher who said, "I hate my students," didn't have the worst day ever and was just venting. But after saying something like that, "I hate my students," and you don't mean it, you quickly amend your statement. You explain that you don't really. You're just frustrated. It seems like they're doing this or that out of spite and it's hard to not take it personally, but you know they are children...even high school seniors are still just children...and it's not personal, so you don't hate them. I can only assume that teacher who said, "I hate my students," did not quickly amend the statement.
The teacher who talked about her "ghetto" school...no justification.
The partying? Well, what you do one your own time is up to you. What you put out there where your students can find it and the parents of your students...That's not up to you. I used to smoke. I stopped largely because I had to stand in class and tell my students that they should not smoke. I couldn't do it. So I quit. What you do validates the act for your students. If they can find out about it, you risk teaching your students more with that picture on the internet than all the lesson plans you prepare for the year. The most important thing students can learn from a teacher is not grammar and mathematics and history. It's how to be a respectable human. A good person who doesn't have a lot of book learning is still a good person. An asshole who knows a lot is still an asshole. Take it from one. Now ask yourself...With whom would you rather be trapped on a desert island?
So the question becomes why would you, someone helping mold the future, but such negativeness out on the internet?
Recently some poor kid committed suicide on webcam. He announced it on a board. People watched as he downed pills and went to sleep. They encouraged him. (Some did try and talk him out of it.) Why did this kid publicly kill himself? Partly, probably, because he wanted someone to give him a reason not to do it. But according to some "experts", and I don't know they are experts of or who they are, thus the quotations, but in today's internet age, the subconscious belief is that it's not worth doing or saying if everyone can't see it on the internet.
Is that what the internet has given us? The ability to lead egocentric lives within the privacy of our own homes? To brag how we partied and complain about our lives and share our deepest pain and desperation?
I'm not casting stones because my glass blogs and websites and CafePress shops would shatter into a million pieces. But maybe the anonymity so easily gained on the internet is allowing brazeness to flourish in our private lives. Maybe we're forgetting...it's not all about us...
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Transcript of a Parent Phone CallRing Ring
Mrs. Studentsmama: Hello?
Mr. Asshole: Hi, could I speak with Mrs. Studentsmama?
Mrs. S: This is she.
Mr. A: This is Mr. Asshole at ARSE, the Alternate Reality School of Excellence. How are you today ma'am?
Mrs. S: I'm fine.
Mr. A: Good. Well, unfortunately, I'm calling about an incident today with Quincey. In another teacher's class, he was caught playing an MP3 player but refused to hand it over to the teacher. The SRO and the Principal were called in before the MP3 player was received. At the last block of the day, I get the Class 4 students to discuss why they're having trouble with the rules while the other students play in the gym. I told Quincey that he was in Class 4 and to come with me. He went over to the soda machine and got a Coke (Side Note: I'm not getting paid for that product placement...Coke, call me or it becomes Pepsi). Class 4 students aren't allowed sodas from the machine so I went over, told him he wasn't supposed to get a Coke, but since he just got put on Class 4 I'd be happy to give it back on his way to the bus. He threw a fit, began yelling, threw an innocent coke to the ground, and he got a discipline referral for disrespect. I don't think the principal has had a chance to deal with the referral yet.
Mrs. S: Well, I know the principal doesn't like Quincey. He's prejudiced against him. And that school's supposed to be helping these kids but it's not. They get out of line, they don't get any chances, they just get in trouble. You run it like it's a prison with uniforms. He's just going to keep getting in trouble because the principal doesn't like him. I'm going to the schoolboard to tell them that you're not doing your job to try and help these kids.
Mr. A: (In a perfect world Ma'am, the principal is prejudiced but not against your son. Against breaking the rules. Quincey wouldn't be in any trouble had he not brought the MP3 player which wasn't supposed to be at school to beging with...or had he given it to his first period teacher to hold until the end of the day...or not played it...or handed it to the teacher when he was discovered with it...At this point, he would have just lost the MP3 player until the end of the year...but then had he realized I was being nice offering to return the drink at the end of the day, but instead he decided to make a big, loud, disrespectful display. HE had plaenty of opportunities, chances, to do the right thing. But instead he apparently gets, from his mother, excuses, justification, and rationale for why he is not in the wrong, rather than a simple, sweet, "Quinc...why didn't you just give someone the MP3 player?" You are doing more harm to your son than any detention he might get from the principal.
Mr. A: (What he really said) Yes, ma'am. You have a nice weekend.
Oh, if only I could say what I want to say to parents...
Sunday, September 28, 2008
An Announcement from the Future Secretary of EducationMy fellow Americans...my fellow teachers, I am here to announce a radical shift in the nature of our educational system.
In years past, we have used grade levels as a measure of educational achievement with standardized tests used to assess our level of success in educating our youth. However, this system allowed for disproportionate educational achievement. Natural human bias and teaching styles have allowed some students to proceed through the grades without learning the standards which they were supposed to learn. Schools have started taking short cuts to make it appear as if more academic success is being met than is actually the case...schools that do not have "on-grade level" classes, but only advanced and honors classes. Students moving through the grades despite scoring regularly below grade level on standardized tests. How have we been able to justify teaching a student ninth grade material when the student failed to demonstrate mastery of 8th grade standards? Social advancement has been practiced nationwide to move students up who never passed a class but were becoming too old for the grade in which they stagnated. How can we justify giving diplomas to students who graduated simply due to our frustration with their unwillingness to take school work seriously?
Those days are over.
Starting with select pilot districts and spreading to every public school district in the nation, the grade level system will be abolished. Age will no longer be a driving force in student advancement.
Students will take a computerized standardized test. The nature of the test will be adaptive to the test taker. Age will not be factored into the scored response. You will be able to clearly see how much more a 15 year old knows than a 5 year old by looking at the scores. The test will largely be skill based. The score a student makes will show administrators where the student's skill level is and classes will be assigned based on that score. This will insure students will not be taught something of which they already have mastery.
There will still be elementary, middle, and high schools where students will be sent to based on age, but classes within the schools will range based on the needs of the students' abilities. Thus, in theory, the same skills, the same basic class, may be taught in both a high school and an elementary school.
Diplomas will have on them the skill levels in the four core courses that they achieved at graduation. Students will begin to be responsible for their education. The value of their diploma will be in their hands, their dedication.
No longer will an 18 year old be forced to leave school because of success. They will now have the option to remain in school until the age of 21 to reach a skill level they desire.
Personal responsibility for one's education, a diploma that actually means something, and a focus on skills rather than age will lead to an education system that works and a stronger society.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Big Badaboom in the CommunitySchool's underway and everything's running smoothly. This year we have a new system. The idea is that our students get in trouble and get sent to us because they don't know how to behave at school. That seems a strange concept, I know, because we're talking about middle school students, so my instinct is to ask, "How could they not learn how to behave at school in 6-8 years of going to school? It's not submarine warfare with precise calculations and in some respects shooting into the dark. It's thermo-nuclear warfare. All you have to do is get close!"
But if you look at their history, it seems apparent many just never learned, so we're teaching how to behave at school. We have an intake class where new students go into and they have to show a reasonable ability to follow classroom etiquette before they move on to a more academically driven class with more priveledges. In some cases it's working quite well. But there are some who just seem...stuck.
So now I'm stuck between feeling proud of my students that got it, have moved to the regular classes, and where there's a noticable change in attitude...and frustrated by those few students that just can't get their head in the game. But we're trying to show them that we're not just teaching proper school behavior...we're teaching proper life behavior. Because if you don't learn it, your life will be one struggle after another.
Like the local man...adult...who got called to a party by his son because there was some "trouble". The adult man shot and killed a teenage boy...a former student of mine in fact. That, really, should be enough tragedy for one story...but no. Friends of the teen pulled a drive-by at the guy's house...He shot back. They missed, he didn't...luckily no one got killed that time. Another gormer student of mine is now in jail for his part in that incident.
And yet it still gets worse...The adult is white...the teen was black...So then racial tension charged the area. The first two days of school, local schools were on alert status due to what was deemed reasonable information that retaliation was planned from friends of the killed teen. Nothing happened, though.
Then there were rumors of KKK rallies and neo-Nazis coming to town for a demonstration.
All because of one man who didn't know how to behave. A man of no worth has become the fulcrum to a disharmonious community.
Man...This was a downer...so I leave you with some cats.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Back to School Meme
Completed in Reference to (Self or Child): Self
1. Number of years teaching or your eldest child has been in school (k through college) ? I started as half-a-teacher in 1999 a couple of months after the year began, some depending on how you count it, 8-9 years. This is Delta-Boy's second school year.
2. Amount approximately spent on Back to School Items so far including clothes? Of my own movey for myself? Not much. I've order about $120.00 of stuff with my school account. The children? I dunno...ask mom!
3. Number of Days until school starts in your area (+ or - if it’s started)? -3 not counting the weekend.
4. Approximate distance school is from your house? 10 minutes away. If I drive on average 50 miles per hour and not counting time spent at stop signs and lights, how far am I from my workplace? Feel free to use scrap paper in figuring out your answer...
5. Amount of time it will take you or your child to get to school from your house by car or bus? It takes about 20 minutes to get Delta-Boy and Zebra-Girl to school. That's by car. No bus for us!
6. The actual or approximate number of students in the class you teach or your oldest child’s class? In the entire middle school program, right now, we have eight, plus a couple who haven't come in to do paperwork. By the end of the year, at least 12 in each class guaranteed, probably more. I don't know about the children's classes.
7. The number of classes in your grade or your oldest child’s grade level? Four core classes, plus PE and art...then two other classes for remediation, or fun, or whatever we teachers feel like doing as long as it's not just watching a movie or something wasteful.
8. The price to buy a full student lunch at school? $2.25 plus .50 for a milk.
9. Number of schools in your district? 12 Elementary, 4 middle, 3 high, and us...so...whew, I thought I was going to run out of fingers and toes, but twenty...so one per digit.
10. Early dismissal days already built into the calendar? 0. Though we have late start Wednesday so around 36 late starts.
11. Price paid for the most expensive back to school item so far? I spent the most on personalized pencils that say "Proud Student of Mr. Asshole"
12. Time school day ends? 3:30
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Random MemeI got this meme from Mrs. Chili at The Blue Door.
If you got trapped in an elevator with someone, who would you want it to be?
Naturally enough, my first choice is my wife. But I assume that we're thinking of famous people...So Queen Latifah or Janeane Garofalo. And Lewis Black cause I bet he'd make the time go by quickly. And my wife wouldn't think I made a pass at him.
What is your favourite cereal?
Todd up between Cap'n Crunch and Rice Krispies.
Do you own any cowboy boots?
No, you got some in a size 11?
What is something you would never do in public?
Um...never's a strong word. Belittle my wife and children, though I wouldn't do that in private either.
Have you ever had really strange dreams?
Often...frequently involving school or my college days.
Name a friend or loved on who has passed away?
What’s your earliest memory?
Eh, I'm not real good with memories. Getting doughnuts with my dad on the way to preschool.
Have you ever broken a bone before, and if so, how?
Have you ever stepped in dog poo?
Oh, yeah. It's one of my skill sets.
Ever bitten your toenails?
No, but if you offer the right price, I'll put on a toenail chewing show for you.
Who is your all time hero?
I think Grover Cleveland. I am fascinated by the people who become president (even the ones I don't like), and I find Cleveland to be one of the most moral presidents we've ever had.
What colors do you think mix well?
purple and black
What did you eat recently?
salisbury steak, niblet corn, and mashed potatoes with cheese mixed in. Banquet frozen meal.
What was your favorite cartoon movie as a child?
What’s your favorite movie now?
Halloween, the greatest slasher flick. I mean the original. I plan on seeing Rob Zombie's remake...I just haven't yet.
Do you paint your toenails?
Is your computer a fast and awesome computer?
What do you do, or want to do for a living?
I teach middle school language arts at an alternative school, and I have no plan on quitting, but I'd also love to run a comic book shop.
If one of your long lost exes called you and asked for you back, would you take them back?
Nope. I think my wife would take exception to that.
Have you ever been a Heartbreaker?
Yeah. As a junior and senior in high school I had climbed from social reject to a sought after commodity, and I took advantage of it. Eventually I grew out of it.
What’s your favorite instrument?
Banjo...I'm going to teach myself how to play...in theory.
What is a country you want to visit badly before you die?
Nepal. I love the mountains and Nepal has the best.
Have you made a bucket list?
What things in history amuse you the most?
Claims that someone knows for a fact what the founding fathers intended with this or that. And anecdotes about government leaders. Especially presidents, but including foreign leaders.
Have you ever eaten lipstick?
Not that I know of, but give me a cheese sauce with it and we'll talk.
What are 3 accessories you have to be equipped with when you go out?
Pants...But if you don't consider that an accessory, then wallet, cell phone (ugh, I hate that), and pants.
Have you ever licked a window before?
Maybe...if it had cheese on it.
If someone dared you to run across a busy street for 1 thousand dollars, would you?
Depends on the rules. If I can choose when, sure.
Would you kill someone for 9 million dollars?
If the someone is trying to kill me or my family, yes...and for less.
Who is your worst enemy right now and why?
Time, or the lack there of...
Have you ever been in a physical fight with anyone before?
Nothing that got past pushing.
What brand of cell phone do you have and what service provider?
Verizon something or other.
Do you wear slippers or socks?
Socks...not slippers, though I would.
Do your feet stink?
That's another skill set.
Have you ever picked your butt in public?
Yeah, but just because no one I asked would do it for me.
What is the strangest pet you’ve ever owned?
Do you love life or hate it?
I love it, though it frustrates me to no end.
Who is the hottest person in the entire universe in your opinion?
I've got equal hottness on Queen Latifah, Janeane Garofalo, and Gina Torres,
What do you do every night before bed?
Take out the dogs.
Monday, August 25, 2008
What Do You Expect from a Monday Morning?When I got to Delta-Boy's and Zebra-Girl's elementary school this morning, a teacher opened Delta-Boy's door to let him out, I was asking Zebra-Girl if she had unstrapped and Delta-Boy was telling the teacher that his book bag was in the back. She, the teacher, slid open the side door and Zebra-Girl was crawling across the seat. The teacher was helping Delta-Boy with his book bag and asking about my lunch box, also in the back with the other bags, and then Zebra-Girl hauled her bag up and said, "And this is mine."
The teacher said, "She's not...is she coming too?"
No, I ask my daughter to unstrap every time we stop as a test, and the book bag is just to keep her from feeling jealous...
Sunday, August 24, 2008
School's Back! It's All Fun and Games Until...School started back. A week of getting ready and then students back this past Thursday.
First, we went on a retreat to a lake house from Thursday to Saturday where we did team building activities and talked about what was changed from last year. It was a lot of fun. It was a large house with two kitchens and we split into two teams and had a cook off. We played games, got to know the new people, it as fun all around.
I learned that one of my coworkers left early because we don't work on Saturday. And another coworker said that since legally we can't be asked to work on Saturday without compensation, a request for comp hours was going to be made.
Buzz kill...My compensation was the belief that we might work better as a team...Silly me.
Then at our "kick off" where all the employees gather and hear from the superintendent and sometimes a guest speaker, our guest speaker was great! Humor, lots of energy, good message. I thougt it was great!
One of my coworkers said, "If they asked everyone if we wanted a guest speaker or not, I'd bet they'd get a unanimous 'No'"
Buzz kill...I like the guest motivational speakers.
It's funny how some people just have a sour attitude. I would have liked more time in my room. I would have preferred to not leave my wife and children while I went away. But rather than focus on the negative, I look for the positive. I don't care if some people can't find the positive...but keep your negativity to yourself. You can bring down those of us who aren't jaded.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Pole Dancing...Political Dancing That Is...Every 4 years, I find my self tossed and batted back and forth, round and round, like a record player, right round round round. For a couple of reasons, really...
First, of course, for whom shall I vote? Which political enthusiast shall win my oh, so important ballot? It seems so easy for many. I, on the other hand, feel like I'm sitting in front of an essay question on a 7th grade science test for which I hadn't studied.
How does soil quality effect the characteristics of an ecosystem.?
I just don't know! I don't. I can say which way I'm leaning, but I can't say for certain. I never agree with a candidate so completely that he (or she) can guarantee that I'll vote for him (or her).
Well, sometimes I know I'm not voting for someone. Nothing would have gotten me to vote for Hillary. That's one of the reasons I included the parenthetical PC stuff in the paragraph above. Trust me, I have no problem voting for a woman. I have a problem voting for Hillary.
But even if Hillary was the Democratic candidate, I still couldn't say who was getting my vote. I can't look at these preidential elections as just Democrat vs. Republican. There are other candidates completely able to do the job.
Which is where I get frustrated...which is where the second aspect of an election year has me bouncing back and forth like a game of Pong. The slow version. Seeingly endless. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.
I get filled with bursting pride. We, the people, get to decide who is going to be our leader! When the Martians come and say, "Take us to your leader," we get to decide, now, who that leader will be!
And the President, our chosen leader, thinks, "You would ask why they want to see your leader, right?"
But then, since we hired the Prez, aren't we his collective boss? So then could we say, "You're looking at him (or her), Sngzzbordlak. The President? Shoot, we can fire him in a few years. He ain't the boss!"
And like a Pride of lions, I feel...um...that word that means you feel a reasonable or justifiable sense of your worth or importance...shoot...can't think of the word...but what you imagine when you seed a Pride of lions...
Let's move on, shall we?
Then, bonk, I get Ponged in the other direction...toward frustration.
Why do I only hear about McCain and Obama? What about Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, or Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party, Ted Weill of the Reform Party? There are plenty of third parties from which to choose. We barely hear anything about them.
I knew someone who said she didn't vote because the Republicans and the Democrats were basically the same beast...that frustrates me. Not because of her cynicism of the two big parties, but her cynicism that voting something other than Republican or Democrat is a waste of time.
Plenty of people have said that voting for a third party is throwing your vote away. "I'd vote Libertarian, but that would take a vote away from this guy that I'd rather win over the other guy." That frustrates me.
My father-in-law says that we should have an election system where we rank the candidates and when it's clear that one candidate won't win, your vote shifts to your second choice. So if you really wanted Cynthia McKinney to win, you put her first, but then if it's clear she's not going to win, your vote would shift to, say, Obama. He says that system is in place...somewhere. I was distracted at the time and didn't ask where so I could look into it. If you know of a place where that type of electoral system is used, please let me know.
It doesn't sound bad, but I'd wonder when it would be decided that your vote move on to the next choice. I do agree that it would help out the third parties because it would eliminate the fear that you're throwing away a vote, although that whole concept of a vote being thrown away because the candidate doesn't win is flawed. I mean, if I vote for the loser, I didn't throw my vote away. But...
So then I thought, take the rating system, but assign points. First choice gets 3 points, second choice gets 2, and third gets 1. You can choose only one candidate if you want, but he still only gets the 3 points. But I don't know that that would work either.
Then I thought of online quizzes. Which Superhero are you? and Which Civil War General are You? and such...You're asked your opinion on certain topics, and based on your answers, you find out you're General Stonewall, who could be either a Civil War general or a superhero...
So then on election day, you go through and answer questions about the issues. Your opinion on the issues tells you which candidate most matches your stance. Then, image is gone. The candidates would simply try and persuade us to their stance on the issues and the mudslinging wouldn't be necessary because, I'm not voting McCain, or Obama, or any person...I'm voting on the issues. Then possible political candidates who would do a great job, but can't get the nomination because, like Yang Peiyi who sang at the Olympics but wasn't seen, they just weren't cute enough.
But then, that wouldn't work. Someone would find out they voted for Bob Barr and they'd say, "But I didn't want to vote for him. I don't like him." Because, let's face it, it's become a popularity contest. And the mudslinging means more to us than the issues...And no, I'm not claiming to be exempt from that. I get caught up in it too.
So, let's just keep spinning around that pole...Because, I don't know for whom I'm voting. If you do know, I hope you know why. I hope I know why when the time comes, too.
If you are also frustrated that people seem uninterested in voting whether it be because of apathy or disillusionment, try and set them straight with this t-shirt inspired by the Buddha quote, "With our thoughts, we make the world."
This shirt reminds them that we are the ones who run the country, and encourages them to vote on November 4th. Available from Attack of the Radioactive Tees.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Farming is NOT for the Weak of HeartAn old, proud house stands lookout over a gravelly road it has watched for 140 Years. A tranquility surrounds the quaint house.
A dog barks intermitently in the distance at a random squirrel, or perhaps a fox scurrying by. Birds chirp happily, diving and looping playfully over your head. Surely a simple scene of serenity.
What happened? Find out on the Cool Shade Farm Blog
Friday, August 01, 2008
Do School Districts Foster Drama?I received an update on Guilderland from an Associate Asshole. (Don't worry, that's a term of respect 'round these here parts.)
Anyway, Guilderland High School principal Michael Paolino may be losing his job. Right now he's on administrative leave and still earning his big bucks. It seems Paolino is guilty of the same things that Ann-Marie McManus and Matt Nelligan are getting transferred to the middle school for doing: making racist and homophobic comments.
My Associate Asshole says she figures he'll just get transferred, which seems to be the Guilderland way. These accusations, assuming they are true, could explain how the history department got away with their "locker room mentality" of which they were accused. If the accusations are correct, and considering my source has previously told me, "he was the biggest sexist and would make comments about high school girls," I'm inclined to think it is, then he should be fired.
So it makes me wonder...Do school districts breed drama? Do adults working in school districts get infected with teenage immaturity?
I ask these questions because my own district is far from drama free. Not only did we have the High School principal announce his resignation for the end of this next school year over a gay-lesbian club in his school, another high school principal is under attack, this time from the public. He's being accused of putting portables near the main road to try and garner support for a bond referendum for money after last year's attempt failed. Meanwhile, today it was announced that our superintendent resigned. There is no official word on why, but there is one major rumor which seems to fit. I'm not going to share, because it would be improper to spread rumors, but let's just say it's high drama stuff.
Sometimes it makes sense...Mascoutah, Illinois had controversy this year over a middle school girl putting her arm around the shoulders of another student violating the district's "No Touchy Rule" (My term, not theirs), over the cheerleading team not being allowed to compete in the state cheerleading competition because it violated the "7th Day Rule" which said there could be no activities on Sunday, and finally for keeping schools open during a "debilitating winter storm" when every other district in the area shut down for safety reasons. I guess God didn't allow the weather to keep Jesus out of school...
Marysville, Washington may have a problem with its African-American superintendent.
And don't forget John Freshwater of Mount Vernon Middle School in Columbua, Ohio who refused to remove a Bible from his desk and branded crosses onto students skin.
Clark County in Nevada had a sex scandal possibly covered up where a hall monitor received a blow job from a senior who refused comment until threatened that if she didn't speak up, she wouldn't graduate. So she shared details, but when she didn't pass everything the principal changed the grades.
And in Texas did McKinney North High School principal give preferential treatment to 5 cheerleaders who had MySpace pictures showing them drinking, showing off panties, and playing with penis-shaped candles and condoms? The damning detail is that one of the "Fab Five" is the principal's daughter!
So what's with all the drama? Too many cooks in the kitchen. That's all I can figure. Well, too many cooks and politicians. Ok, here's how it goes. Students are answerable to teachers, teachers to principals, principals to district officers, district officers to the superintendent, the superintendent to the school board, the school board to the public. But then if the public doesn't like what is happening in the schools with their children, then that makes the students the key in an insane ouroborous. Students become a skeleton key to be manipulated. They know this. They complain to the right people and enough, then they can exert influence where normally they would be at the bottom of the totem pole. So, who's in charge? Which head is in charge of the many-headed Hydra? How does the Pushmi-pullyu know which way to go?
One of my principals had teachers running to the district office because they didn't like his decisions. He didn't do anything wrong. He just lost the popularity vote. Some teachers left our school this year and told a prospective new employee she shouldn't take the job because they didn't like the new principal either. They want to be in charge, the principal answerable to them, but some of what they wanted didn't mesh with what the district was asking of the principal. Too many (dick)heads in the kitchen...
And then politics which keep those with real power from making decisions for the good of the children and making decisions based on how the appearance looks. You must keep up appearances, after all.
But I wonder...do those who get involved in education tend to be trapped at the age they teach? Or do they revert to that maturity level? Is that why there are so many tantrums when we don't get our way? Why those who do wrong get a time out? Why so many seem to make stupic teen mistakes involving sex and bullying like so many teens?
Whatever the answer, this is not a condemnation of the public school system, because it happens in private schools as well. My former principal who got fired because of my coworkers didn't like his policies went on to a private school where it was discovered one of the teachers was supplying students with alcohol.
If you have some school drama you'd like to share, let me know. In the mean time, I'm going to buy some more chewing gum, because there's a coworker whose hair I want to spit it into, and put Icey-Hot in the PE teacher's jockstrap.
New Guilderland story
McKinney North High School
Monday, July 28, 2008
When Bad Grammar Happens to Bad PeopleYou know, there's nothing wrong with being a bad speller as long as you are aware of the problem and seek to improve it. I've known bad spellers who frequently ask how something is spelled or reference a dictionary to check spelling. These days most programs allowing you to type include a spell checker and you can even type into Google a word misspelled and it will ask if you meant the correct spelling making Google a decent spellchecker. (Hail Google!) And I've known many good spellers who do the same. Bad spelling does not make a bad person.
General misspelling of "opportunist". He should have been a lexiconical opportunist and used a dictionary.
"Brent ask's to"? What does that mean? Brent Ask is to many questions...what? To many question, Brent Ask is...an idiot? And who is Brent Ask? I thought we were talking about Brent Rinehart.
Apparently family values don't include correct spelling and grammar.
Here's the CNN interview where Rinehart states his disinterest in his bad spelling after it being pointed out that he spelled pedophile two different ways, neither one right.
Again, his intolerance is worse than his spelling and grammar, but Leonard Pitts, Jr. covered that topic better than I could.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Guilderland Grey-Zone: No Easy AnswersOk, here's the Guilderland mess.
Someone in the Guilderland High social studies department felt the environment was unwelcoming. Off-color jokes. Terms like "faggot" and "queer". But the teacher did not file a harassment complaint. So they hired someone to investigate. That "Culture Climate Survey" was an investigation. The person doing the inquiry warned that the way she was being asked to look into the claims was going to anger the teachers, and she was correct.
The investigation did seem to echo that with reports from other teachers who eat by themselves because they are uncomfortable with the others, and comments about breasts of speakers.
So assuming this is true, do you remove two random teachers? Does that solve the problem? The redacted report says many teachers were angry with the questions. One of the things I wanted to look into was how large the social studies department is. The redacted report is heavily edited, so it's unclear how many complained of the environment. Based on what appears to be separate individual complaints, I'm guessing 4 or 5 total. That leaves 15 teachers in collusion to tell sexual jokes and harass other teachers. Will moving 2 teachers have any effect? I know my numbers are speculation, but even if I'm off by 5 and it's an even split, moving 2 and leaving 8 would not have that big of an effect.
And it side steps the issue. Do a work-place harassment class, not just for the social studies department, but for the entire school. I would have recommended the "Culture Climate Survey" be done over the entire school, but seeing as how these weren't papers surveys but in person interviews, that seems unlikely. Then you take the teachers named aside and tell them to knock it off. Tell them that if they are making the workplace unbearable and they continue to do so, they will be dismissed, but then we're talking about some with tenure, which is bogus. No one should have that sort of guarantee. But fine, you say that you'll move them elsewhere. You give people a chance to correct themselves.
The person who held the "Culture Climate Interviews" didn't even include reassignment as a recommendation. So the school board and the superintendent came up with that solution on their own. The person who made the recommendations is author or editor of 27 college textbooks, and more than 140 scholarly articles and conference presentations on sexual harassment, psychology of women, gender and sexual harassment, and victimization. You would think that if she thought moving a couple of bad eggs would solve the problem, she would have included it in the report.
The solution to move 2 teachers to break up a "locker room" mentality and prevent sexual and prejudicial jokes just doesn't add up.
So I find myself returning to Nelligan's claim that he's being targeted because he is an outspoken critic of the district leadership and the teachers union.
A source closer to the events told me, "I did have the misfortune of working for the High School Principal when he was Ass. Principal at another school district and he was the biggest sexist and would make comments about high school girls!! When I called him on it - needless to say my part-time contract was not renewed. Both the Superintendent and the Principal have histories of not liking anyone questioning their authority."
That would explain why they aren't letting the public speak out. It's bad form. You let the people stand up and say what they want to say. Then go do whatever you want to do. You might even find some supporters in the bunch to back you up.
I still have questions. What do the 2 middle school teachers being moved up think? Does Nelligan have a history of having other teachers accuse him of being offensive? How is McManus involved?
People have commented in other places, like here, that the board has the authority to make the transfer, so Nelligan and McManus should just comply without complaint. But if you don't question the reason, then that power can be abused, which some suggest both superintendent and principal of Guilderland High are guilty of doing. It's not a matter of demotion or feeling that the middle school is a punishment. It's a matter of reason. Leaders should have to justify their decision and it doesn't seem that their decision makes sense. Swapping 2 teachers with 2 other teachers will not reconfigure a 20 person staff and allow for a fresh start. And worse still, and I will be happy to beat this drum every time, to not allow the public to voice their opinions is unconscionable.
More links -
FoxNews (new article)
Not Backing Down
Student Blog - Check out "Response to G’land Schools Redacted Reports" dated July 14
WGY - They linked to my blog! Though I am not actively trying to be anonymous, but whatever.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Guilderland UpdateThe school board met and said they would not overturn the superintendent's decision to switch the teachers.
I've read the redacted "survey" and am doing some investigation...my thoughts will come tomorrow.
Links to the PDF Redacted files are available here: http://www.guilderlandschools.org/
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Guilderland Grumble: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!In Guilderland, New York, a community is up in arms about the transfer of two social studies teachers from Guilderland High School to Farnsworth Middle School. I've done what research I can and find myself uncertain how to feel. There are many aspects of this issue to consider and many aspects that seemingly have not been revealed and will apparently be revealed tomorrow. Let's break this down...
The Act: Transferring teachers against their will. I believe most districts have the authority to transfer teachers as they see fit. It's a power that I think most districts use sparingly. After all, keeping teachers happy so that they are teaching at peak performance to improve test scores and such is one thing most districts try to keep in mind. From what I've read, it seems, though, that the superintendent has a history of moving teachers.
It's also a power that I have no problem with if it's to fulfill a critical need. But two middle school teachers are being moved to the high school. So now I have to wonder about the reason for the move. Because taking two teachers used to teaching high school courses, and two teachers used to teaching middle school and swapping them, at the surface, doesn't make much sense. It's almost like a reality tv program. Trading Blackboards.
The Reason: At the center of this seems to be a "Culture Climate Survey" where, from what I can figure, teachers were asked to fill out how they felt things were going in their departments, how everybody got along, etc. Let me pause for a moment and say that if you have to get teachers to fill out a survey to find out if everyone's getting along, there's a problem. But let's move on...
The only thing revealed about the survey is that it says, "members of the high school social studies department fostered a "locker room" atmosphere in which sexual jokes and derogatory comments about staff members were allowed. [Matt] Nelligan also was accused of deriding a gay staff member, but was exonerated."
I'd like to see this survey. I've taken surveys for my district and they are always, "Rate 1-5 how happy you are about XYZ." I have never been asked to take a professional survey where I could criticize departments or individuals. If the school board is concerned about the climate of the school, they might want to consider how allowing open criticism of coworkers affects the climate, but let's move on.
The superintendent has said that even though Nelligan was determined to be innocent doesn't mean he didn't do it. Well, that's true *cough*OJSimpson*cough*, but you can't treat him professionally on what you think he's guilty of doing. He was found innocent, you can't use that accusation as a reason to do something.
I also find it interesting that this "locker room" atmosphere is getting a woman who was pregnant at the time of the survey transferred with Nelligan. Nelligan says Ann-Marie McManus is caught up in it to make it seem like he's not being singled out. Sounds kind of paranoid and egocentric, but since I haven't heard any specific accusations about McManus, I have to concede that he may be right. I'm not sure, though, why the fact that McManus was out of maternity leave when the survey was given keeps getting mentioned.
Nelligan, of course, has his own theories. He says it's political. He and the social studies department at Guilderland High School are open critics of the district leadership and teachers union and this is a divide and conquer tactic. I have no evidence to the contrary because the school board and the superintendent have done little to explain what's going on and why, which gets us to the next topic...
The Handling: Secrecy seems to be the slogan here. Locked door executive sessions and such. Bad idea. I can't think of a reason that school boards should be allowed to sit away from public eyes to make decisions. But then they shouldn't have said they were moving anybody before they were willing to discuss the reasons. They should have said, "Here's what the survey told us. Here's what we plan to do about it." It's like a movie where you see the ending and the rest of the movie you see how they got there. Very exciting. Very mysterious. That's not how to run a school district.
But then, the teachers should have been spoken to privately before this happened. If they were causing problems, they should have been spoken too and told they need to stop the sexual jokes and criticism of staff. They should have had a chance to face the accusations and respond to them.
Last Monday, the 7th, the school board met privately and decided to take another week to determine if they have the authority to overturn the superintendent's decision. I agree with Nelligan that this is a delay tactic because you can't tell me they don't know if they can veto the superintendent. Now if they are taking that week to decide if they want to overturn it, that's fine. But tomorrow when they reveal what they are going to do and why, which they should have shared to begin with, the public will not be allowed to comment. Telling the people who voted you into office that they can't talk is...a bad idea.
Random Thoughts: I find it interesting that we haven't heard from other teachers. Other members of the social studies department. Maybe that's because Nelligan and McManus are problems. Or maybe they are unwilling to confront the school board and or union.
Part of July 14ths itenerary is sharing of the redacted survey results. Interesting thing about the word redact. It can mean just putting something in writing. But it can also mean adapting, editing, or obscuring. Based on the secretive school board, I wonder which is the correct meaning here.
Bottom line is that we have heard everything from one side and little from the other, so I can't say which side I agree with. I'm leaning toward Nelligan and McManus, but I might take that back tomorrow.
Here are links to the articles I used in my research. The first link is the YouTube video made by a Guilderland student that was emailed to me by an unknown person.