Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
It would be impossible for someone to write this stuff and have anybody believe it. Truth is stranger than fiction. Ol’ Johnny Seven Houses picks Sarah Palin for his veep. And within nine nanoseconds of his announcement, the blogs were abuzzin’. God bless the Tubes of the Internets for all of those Cheetoh-munching folks with computers who have way too much time on their hands. This website has already popped up!
One wonders what thought processes went on within the McCain camp on this one. I feel completely comfortable with the fact that a creationist who wants to drown polar bears and punch more holes in the earth for three months’ worth of crude oil might be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
And the Big O didn’t sound exactly friendly to the teaching profession in his speech the other night. More accountability and more testing and more senseless political crap to struggle through. Don’t expect any real change concerning NCLB. It ain’t gonna happened until the crap finally hits than fan.
I think I might go with Nader this time around. What the hell.
To paraphrase Bette Davis, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride!"
Thursday, August 28, 2008
What's all this I keep hearing about a cheese mint gap? Seems to me you'd want a gap between cheese and mint. They just don't go together, no matter what type of recipe you use them in. The tastes of each are just too different. They're just not compatible. I'm all in favor of continuing the gap between cheese and mint, as God intended because . . . what? Oh really? Never mind! *
One of the favorite buzzword phrases used by the accountably-in-education clowns is The Achievement Gap. Holding a prominent place within the NCLB insanity, this is yet another hurdle teachers and schools are expected to clear. Teachers are expected to work miracles. We are expected to somehow nullify negative forces outside of the school environment which affect student performance and make things nice! Looks so nice on paper or in a speech.
Two weeks ago, before classes started for the new school year and the campers were back at Camp Nick, I got on my vintage Italian road bike and took a spin down the mountain and around the surrounding area. I took a right turn up an old, abandoned logging road. I was shocked by what I saw. Hidden in the mountains, among the pines and firs, I witnessed a community that surely missed out on the American dream. Most of the 'homes' people were living in (if you could call it living) would not be suitable for a dog. I witnessed soul-grinding poverty at its worst. Apparently, many of our students come from this environment. And I thought to myself, how in the hell are we expected to close a gap, when the playing field is marked with large boulders that must be rolled out of the way first? What is glaringly missing from all of the nonsensical hype spewed concerning NCLB is any mention that a student's home life 'might' figure mightily into their school performance.
But I accept the challenge. I have a plan. I figure if I'm going to close the 'gap', I need to give my students the same opportunities that more affluent students are given. First off will be help with homework. When my teaching day ends, I plan to visit each student's cabin in the evening and help them with their homework. Taking into account I have more than 150 students on my roster, I probably won't be able to spend much time with each student. I figure each kid will get two minutes of my time. Hey, better than nothing. Let's see, 150 kids times 2 means I should make it back home to my cabin around 1:00 a.m. Utilizing my Dianetics training from the 70s, I'll get about three hours of sleep, then back up at 4:00 a.m. to start my breakfast run. Armed with my portable, propane-fired, non-stick griddle, I will be able to supply each camper with a protein-rich and balanced breakfast, so they will be ready for the day of learning awaiting them. I'm also willing to take time to post bail for students' parents, if the need arises, and help parents get to work, if they indeed do have a job, when their car won't start or if it was stolen in the night.
I know this will work. Our motivational speaker told us we had to go that extra measure if we wanted to be 'good' teachers. Hell, if Santa can hit the entire world in one night, I think I can hit a handful of mountain cabins! Piece of cake!
*with heartfelt apologies to the most wonderful Gilda Radner
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Well, it’s day two of a new school year at Camp Nickleby, and chaos has already reared its ugly head. Too many campers and not enough space to house them. Predictably, my classes are bursting at the seams, and not enough chairs for the youngins to sit on! We’re off to a good start! Our enrollment is up this year, apparently because many parents are opting to send their kids here instead of a regular public school. They think that, because we’re a charter school, their kiddies will get a better education. What idiots! We’re only in it for the money!
The week before camp started, the faculty was subjected to several days of mindless meetings, going over the plan for the year, and discussing ways to keep the NCLB federales off of our backs for another year. We were also forced to sit through the obligatory, yearly staff rah-rah session, headed by yet another down-on-his-luck motivational speaker. Geez, where do they find these people? This year’s speaker spent most of his hour-long diatribe proclaiming that teachers just don’t do enough for the kids and that if they were really serious about teaching, they would start work ½ hour earlier in the morning and leave ½ later in the afternoon. Say what? I don’t know, but I think I give 110% already, thank you very much!
On our return, we learned that the Camp’s Board of Trustees, including the newly-elected Mr. Young-Smith, hired a new superintendent! Her name is Kimberly (Kim) Chee. She comes to us via Washington, D.C., where she was the CEO of a right-wing educational think tank called Blame the Teachers First. Methinks we are in for some rough times. Kim Chee has suggested that the Board change our teaching contract so that they can pay us minimum wage! In addition to this, she has made it clear that we should all be fluent in a foreign language. Unfortunately, the language she is proposing in Swedish! And to heap injury upon injury, she has suggested that we start wearing our underwear on the outside of our clothing! This is gonna get ugly!
What are we gonna do with these mother@$%&in’ snakes?
The Board is reconsidering renting out the camp in the future. This past summer’s experiment renting to Pastor John’s organization didn’t go too well. The renters left the camp a complete mess. There were empty shell casings everywhere, not to mention fish entrails clogging up the sinks! And for some inexplicable reason, they left behind three cages of live, poisonous snakes! What were they doing with snakes??? The cages were marked ‘religious supplies’.
On the plus side, the Board did decide at their last meeting that they will allow camp counselors to wear a concealed weapon! Apparently it was thought that this would motivate the young children to come to class on time, do their homework every night, and do well on the standardized tests. This is going to be totally AWESOME and is much cheaper than paying the kids for better test scores. Public education in America just keeps getting better and better!