Thursday, February 25, 2010
"The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer."
The question now is does this change anything about what I said in the previous piece? My answer is no. Yes, there is another piece to all of this but the measures taken are inappropriately extreme to say the least. What happened to the concept of negotiation? What happened to thoughtful analysis to solve a problem? No evidence here of any of that.
2) By now everyone has heard about the Sea World trainer who was killed by a 30 year old Orca, aka killer whale. Recall the woman who was viciously mauled by her friend's pet chimp. Recall some of the countless stories of people mauled or killed by big cats or bears while working with them. Recall the recent story about the circus elephant who 'went nuts' and killed its trainer. Hello out there! What is it you're not getting about the concept of wild animals? At any given time every single one of them has the capacity to do harm to you. They're wild-remember? When you choose to get into a pool, ring, cage, whatever with a wild animal, the burden of risk is on you-not the animal.
3) Conservative pundits are gasping and sputtering about the 'shallow' efforts of the Obama administration to engage Republican leadership in the health care reform discussion. Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. Doesn't it seem that way to you, Mr. President? Let's face it. It doesn't matter what Obama does. There are those who simply will not be a part of any solutions put forth. The hell of it is they're doing a great deal of harm to the country they claim to love. Hypocritical gasbags-all of them!
Thus endth my rant this fine, rainy day.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
In the first instance, the entire faculty was fired due to the poor performance of students on standardized tests. In the case of the referenced blog post, the author, somewhat jokingly, refers to her salary being tied to test scores. Maybe after she reads about that RI school system, she'll see that there's no humor in the situation. This is in my view a very alarming event. It raises a number of questions regarding public education. But first, let's be clear about a couple of things. First, every single student who chooses to attend a public school deserves the best quality education available. Second, every single student, along with his/her parents, have the responsibility of being partners in this adventure. This means they will give it their 100% best shot. Without these two situations in place, student success will be elusive-at best.
So now the questions:
Why was the entire faculty fired? Were they ALL incompetent? How did the powers-that-be make that determination? What measures did they use besides one test?
Did the Board of Education take into account other variables in a student's life besides the quality of their instruction? I remember, back in the day, when a principal stated-in writing (and I still have that very evaluation)-that he was giving me a larger then usual number of 'difficult' students because I was supposedly 'good' with them. Invariably those 'difficult' students did poorly on tests. Would it have been fair for me to have been fired?
Is that all schools are about? Test scores? Should educators be focusing on other things?
The implications of all of this are extremely important. I believe strongly that poor teachers should be made better-or dismissed. But there is no question that there are millions of outstanding teachers out there knocking themselves out every single day trying to deliver quality education only to be told time and again by their students that they didn't do their homework or they weren't at school because they didn't have time, or they were on vacation, or they had other things to do, or they just plain didn't feel like it! Where's the shared responsibility? Where are the other partners in this exercise we call education? I'm retired now so I don't have a direct stake in this issue but my grand children are headed into the fray and I have friends in the thick of it, so I'm still interested. Where's it all headed? Finally, on a related note, President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, applauded the firing of the teachers. Great! Now what?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Here it is. What people my age have been waiting for. Olympic events we can actually do! Good luck and may you all win but remember, even if you don’t win a medal, you’re a grandparent so you’re automatically winners to your grandchildren.
Athlete will be required to lavish all manner of goodies, i.e. snacks, late nights, behaviors not otherwise accepted, on grandchild. The most blatant wins the gold.
Best Boo Boo Fixer
Athlete will perform basic first aid on a variety of real or imagined ailments ranging from bumps and bruises to full blown projectile vomiting with good humor and bringing about an instant cure. Neither puke, blood, diarrhea nor snot will detract the athlete from his/her appointed task.
Athlete will subject him/her self to a variety of physical tasks such as allowing grand child to jump on his/her stomach from back of couch, endlessly pushing child on swing, allowing child to ride him/her horse style, etc.
Athlete will perform a number of utterly ridiculous tasks such as jumping around like an ape, laughing funny, making faces, etc. The grandparent who makes his/her grandchild laugh so hard they wet themselves wins the gold.
The athlete will be required to assume a number of different roles with a variety of identities. For example a grand father might be required to act the part of a 3 year old child named Keila and almost instantly have to change into a naughty school boy of undetermined age named Aiden.
Best Story Reader
The athlete will read the same story at least 100 times without a single variation. The person who can do this with the same level of interest each time wins the gold.
Best Game Player
The athlete will be required to play a number of games, never once following the actual rules except those imposed by the child. The child will always win. This task could also be used for the ‘Spoiling Event’.
Best Boogie-Man Chaser
The athlete who comes up with the most imaginative means of convincing without a doubt that there is no boogie man in the closet wins the gold.
Best Good Sport
The athlete will allow him/her self to be humiliated or play a role that is of the utmost embarrassment, i.e. if it’s a grandfather, he will allow the child to dress him up as a girl, put lipstick, hair curlers, eye makeup, mascara, etc. on him.
This is a timed test. The grandparent who wakes up the fastest when the child does just about anything wins gold.
Monday, February 15, 2010
"Look, it's time you crawled back in your hole and stayed there. You of all people have one hell of a nerve criticizing Obama's administration. You, Junior and Karl Rove presided over the most destructive, damaging administration in the history of this country. I can't begin to list all the ways you hurt this country. It's too long. Suffice it to say we're going to be a long time setting things right so go back to Wyoming or where ever the hell it is you're from, crawl into a prairie dog hole and disappear. Let the rest of us get on with the work at hand."
I would have added one more thing: "Message to the media (with of course the exception of Faux News)-Stop giving this guy a forum for his crap. We're sick of it. There are other things going on!"
I don't see why Joe Biden didn't say all this in so many words. What's the problem? Lord knows he's capable of saying pretty much anything.
Thus endth my rant for the day!
Friday, February 12, 2010
No matter. I am absolutely convinced that science will eventually prevail over ignorance. In my lifetime? Doubtfully! Happy birthday, men.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
It looks as though this tea party thing is beginning to take on a life of its own. At first, I thought it was just a bunch of Republicans still pissed off because Obama won but with the recent Tea Party Convention people are actually getting organized (a situation yet to be accomplished by the democrats). But there’s a problem-a very ugly problem. Note the words of the kick off speaker, Former Rep. Tom Tancredo attempting to explain Obama’s election: "We do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.” Hmmmm….how should one interpret that? What does he mean by ‘people’? I think we all know. This is indeed a nasty little aspect of the tea party movement that we can do without and I hope that’s not their agenda. Gas bag Sarah Palin has been a strong supporter of the movement and is in fact going to be a keynote speaker (Saturday night). Palin has appeared at several tea parties (it’s interesting to note she neglects to point out she’s being paid handsomely for being there but, hey, she’s a good republican after all so what do you expect? We’re talking about money here, folks. It’s a no-brainer.) I’m interested in knowing if she’s going to follow up on Tancredo’s remarks. I hope she doesn’t. There’s enough acrimony and hostility in American politics & culture now. The last thing this country needs are jerks like Tancredo muddying up the waters. It will be interesting to watch this group to see where it goes and what direction it takes. Are they going to form their own party? Are they going to force the republican party to take on an even more conservative platform? If so, that will be their undoing. The fact is that while the majority of the American people are very unhappy now, they are solidly middle-of-the-road. Most people don’t like extremes. What many politicians-democrat and republican-don’t get is that it’s ALL of Washington that’s the problem. Not just a particular party or person. This is very much a work in progress.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
At the Middle School (Grades 7 & 8):
Interact Club (I don't know what it means either)
Pinata Club (I'm not kidding!)
Intermediate Level (Grades 5 & 6):
Knitting Club (honest)
"B" Cool Club
The costs involved in all of these is the stipend that goes to the faculty adviser, the cost of keeping the school open & the cost of after-school transportation (yes, for some of these a bus is provided to get kids home).
The reason why I'm pointing this out is because we have two diametrically opposed forces at work in this town. Force number one: taxes must NOT go up. Force number two: Do not under any circumstances cancel my child's program. Cut classroom teachers, eliminate a math or science program, fire an assistant principal, anything, but keep your hands off my child's program. His/her self esteem is at stake and that simply won't do.
So there you have it. It's kind of like the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) mentality. Yes, we need that cell tower-but not here. Guaranteed as budget deliberations heat up and the Board of Education edges closer and closer to making the logical and best decisions, the special interest groups will start crawling out of the woodwork, screaming their brains out. It's still early but it will happen. And does it sound familiar? (hint: State of CT and halls of Congress). More on this later as developments unfold.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
I spend the afternoon with Brooke, age 6. We spend pretty much the whole time playing make-believe games. For example, one of the games is when she pretends she's a literacy teacher helping kids who 'don't learn very fast' (her words). She was teaching me (Keila) and her two other students, Adrianna and Adam, reading skills. This went on for a while with her actually reading stories to us from one of her books. Clearly, she isn't like us! The other game we played involved problem solving. She was a person who helped kids resolve conflict situations. She was either the principal or a guidance counselor. I'm not sure but the scenario was that I was a student who was having a problem on the bus with a little boy named Adam. It seems Adam wanted to be my friend but when I said no, he hit me. Her advice was to talk to Adam and 'be patient' with him. Furthermore, I should say I would be his friend but I shouldn't do anything that I knew to be wrong. She then went on to talk to Adam about his behavior. Six years old. When I was six, I was playing cowboys and Indians. But then I wasn't the brightest bulb in the closet if you know what I mean. We ended the day together with a word game. Mondays are great days. But so are Tuesdays and Thursdays because that's when I get to see their cousins!