Friday, December 17, 2010

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart

Musician and artist Don Van Vliet (left), who performed a complex brand of experimental rock under the name Captain Beefheart, died Friday. He was 69.

The Michael Werner Gallery in New York confirmed Van Vliet's death in California due to complications stemming from multiple sclerosis. The gallery exhibits his paintings.

Friday, December 10, 2010


For those practitioners of the world’s second-oldest profession, teaching, who assume that knuckle-dragging Neanderthal wingnuts are the only ones consumed by the desired to destroy public education, think again. While listening to ‘progressive’ KPFA (Berkeley) on the way home Tuesday, I heard a discussion about the mess the Oakland schools are in, partly as a result of the most recent attempts at school ‘reform’ in that city.

One of the young contributors to the discourse, a high school student, made the unsubstantiated claim that, “There are a lot of bad teachers out there!” The show’s host dutifully parroted this remark. Really? There are that many bad teachers out there? Exactly how many bad teachers would a lot be? So I thought and thought, and I came to the sad realization that, my God, I am possibly one of those bad teachers too!

About 55% of the students in my four Foundations of Art classes are flunking. Some kids have accumulated less than 25% of the points possible! And they don’t care and they are rather proud of their dysfunction.


Many kids think a 24 oz. Monster energy drink and a bag of Cheetohs constitutes a perfectly proper breakfast.

Many kids are habitually tardy and miss valuable class time. When their parents are contacted, they blame it on the teacher or just don’t care.

A large percentage of the kids just don’t give a shit about their education. They don’t think they are going to need it. They are totally unmotivated. They will NEVER be motivated. They think that just ‘turning in the work’ is enough to garner them a decent score.

They can’t write a complete sentence to save their lives. They act indignant when they are required to use proper grammar and basic writing conventions in their written work.

They would rather ‘secretly’ send message on their phones than do work in class. Some even spend class time working on their face makeup!

Some are basically pigs and expect their mothers to clean up after themselves. Their mothers aren’t here.

One kid told me he doesn’t need a high school diploma or college degree because he is such a good basketball player, the NBA is going to sign him up right out of high school. He’s 5’ 7”!

They can’t understand why I expect them to keep their mouths shut while I’m trying to teach. They are rude little monsters and have never been taught how to be otherwise.

Many students drop out of school because of mindless, state-mandated canned curriculum, and senseless, standardized tests that measure absolutely nothing.

A student’s mind is not on her class work because her second child is at home sick, being watched by her loser, twenty-five-year-old boyfriend.

The Camp is populated with groups of 14-year-old girls sharing tales of teenage angst and spewing unbelievable profanity like an NBA point guard.

Many of our campers at Camp Nickleby head down to Mexico and add an additional two or three weeks onto their normal winter break of three weeks. When asked why, they reply, “Family is more important than education.” Some parents actually tell the camp they will be going to the motherland, then just stay home for a few extra weeks!

I am a teachers' union member.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This will probably be my last post. I'm closing down.

I turned in my resignation letter to Dr. Chee today. I just can't take it anymore. My last day will be next Wednesday.

It is all rather pointless, this thing called education. The raw materials we have to work with just get more inferior as the years go by. You always hope that eventually you'll hit the bottom in the well of stoopid, but nope, it always gets worse.

The kids we deal with are amazingly moronic, to the point of being painful. There is no hope for them, and yet, we are to make them 'career or college ready'! WTF? It ain't gonna happen.

I'm tired of the constant profanity spewing from the mouths of 14-year-old girls.

I'm tired of having to monitor teenage cleavage.

I'm tired of being expected to break up potential teenage breeding pairs hiding in the bushes.

I'm tired of the endless testing that doesn't measure anything valid.

I'm tired of the mindless 'professional development days' which don't have any value.

I'm tired of the lazy kids who constantly need to be 'motivated' to work.

I'm tired of these lazy kids expecting a decent grade just because "I turned in all of my work!"

I'm tired . . . . .

Not sure what I'm going to do yet. I have some money saved up. Might be enough to last a year or so. I'm hoping that sales position at PayLess Shoes comes through. At least I'll be doing something that I could be proud of, you know, making people happy with a new pair of shoes on their feet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It's always satsifying when the campers listen intently during a lecture or demonstraton, then take that knowledge learned and move it to a new, higher level. I just love project-based assessments, don't you?

Last Thursday, I showed the campers a video of the glass artist Dale Chilhuly. I explained how glass was made and the process of hand-blown glass. They seemed very interested. One child in particular.
Monday I discovered this little gem in a cardboard box, in the back of the room!
Our science teacher asked me today if I knew anything about some missing test tubes from her lab. I said I didn't know anything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Waiting for Schmuckman

Ding, ding, ding . . . we have a winner!

John Harmer, Tea Party Darling for California’s 11th Congressional District in the upcoming election, doesn’t just want to ‘reform’ public education; he wants to do away with it entirely! He wants to return education to "the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood." You know, when kids had to write on planks of wood with charcoal? Neat!

In 2000, Harmer published a lengthy op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle titled, "Abolish the Public Schools." In that piece, Harmer argues that "government should exit the business of running and funding schools." He contends that would allow for "quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity" and notes that he's simply pushing for a return to "the way things worked. In Harmer’s mind, this is how it was, back in the day:

Literacy levels among all classes, at least outside the South, matched or exceeded those prevailing now, and . . . public discourse and even tabloid content was pitched at what today would be considered a college-level audience. Schooling then was typically funded by parents or other family members responsible for the student, who paid modest tuition. If they couldn't afford it, trade guilds, benevolent associations, fraternal organizations, churches and charities helped. In this quintessentially American approach, free people acting in a free market found a variety of ways to pay for a variety of schools serving a variety of students, all without central command or control.

Wow! I really hope this lunatic wins!

And I just love the family. Right out of central casting, no?


For the past two days, I have left signs, asking our crack custodial staff to give me a supply of paper towels, so the little campers can dry their hands after washing. No paper towels on day one. No paper towels on day two. Day three, I was notified that apparently I have gone through my yearly allotment of paper towels. I had no idea there was a limit although the little campers, being somewhat inconsiderate little jerks, do go through quite a few towels during the day. Even demonstrating that one can efficiently dry one's hands with two, perhaps three towels max. However, it is more fun for them to grab a handful of towels, half of which will fall to the floor, relatively unused.

Discovering this conundrum, I suggested that they bring towels from home, or dry their hands on each other's clothing. The boys seemed to like this solution, but the girls? Mmmmmm, not so much. It is my understanding that charter schools have an unlimited supply of paper towels. That's why they are better.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hitler learns about Rich Iott's SS photos -- original


While driving to Camp this morning, I made a quick dash into the Wal-Mart (spawn of Satan) in Hog Lick Corners to pick up some supplies for the class room. Seems our purchase order has been ‘lost’ somewhere in Dr. Chee’s office.

After filling up my little blue basket with No. 2 pencils (which the idiots will chew down to stubs in a matter of minutes), erasers (which they don’t know how to use) and some pencil sharpeners (which they will destroy before the day is through) I went to the check out. An older villager lady was working at the register. She asked me what all of my purchases were for. I told her I was a public school teacher at Camp Nickleby. She asked if I liked my work and a said, “No, I hate it!” She then asked, as if reading off of cue cards supplied by Arne Duncan, “It’s because of those teachers’ unions, isn’t it? The school can’t get rid of all of those BAD TEACHERS because of tenure!”

I was going to ask her, “How many bad teachers do you think are actually in our schools?” But I figured, why bother? She’s probably Waiting for Superman too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I went in to Camp today, on a SUNDAY, on my BIRTHDAY, on my ON TIME, to grade some work and get the room ready for the new week. Yes, a unionized, librul, quasi-socialist, evil public school teacher working OFF THE CLOCK! In the words of John Lennon, 'IMAGINE'.

Much to my surprise, I came upon this little gem. Seems REALLY SMART CHILD #1 couldn't get the glue out of the bottle Friday while working on his or her project because REALLY SMART CHILD #2 failed to clear the cap on the glue bottle before putting it back in the cabinet. REALLY SMART CHILD #1 really, really needed some glue so . . . he or she did what every thinking REALLY SMART CHILD would do, cut open the bottle of glue with an Xacto knife, thus making the bottle useless! THANK YOU, REALLY SMART CHILD.

60 on 10-10-10!

Not sure how this happened, by awoke this morning to find that I’ve been on this planet for sixty years now! Ouch.

I’m now at that point in my life where I have both an orthopedic surgeon and a urologist on my speed dial.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE
9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980
HE was always my favorite Beatle!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Well, last Friday proved to be an interesting day at Camp Nickleby. My sixth period class, you know, my favorite, came apart again. This time, it was because there was a rumor going around that two of the Idiot Children were going to do battle in class. A group of about six Idiots Girls could smell the blood in the water and were unable to come into the classroom, choosing instead to run up and down the corridor, waiting with anticipation for the exciting event.

Idiot Boy #1 and Idiot Boy #2 became engaged in a pissing contest on Thursday. Anybody's guess as to what it was about. I received a call from one of our counselors warning me that something might happen. The plan was, Idiot Girl #1 was going to try to get me out of the classroom, under false pretenses. When I was out of the room, the Idiot Boys were going to clobber each other.

Well, apparently the Idiot Boys decided to put their pugilistic plans on hold for the day. Unfortunately, they failed to notify Idiot Girl #1 that they were not going to clobber each other that day. She tried to get me out of the class room anyway, saying another student needed my help outside in the art patio. Idiot Girl #1 failed to realize that said student was still in the class room!

I just know these kids are going to end up in a future edition of THE DARWIN AWARDS!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Schools Matter: Rick Ayers on WfS at Democracy Now

Schools Matter: Rick Ayers on WfS at Democracy Now: "From Democracy Now: Waiting for Superman, a new documentary by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, has caused a stir in the education world for its..."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


We have managed to complete almost five weeks of the new school year. So far, none of the campers have been strangled by their teachers. Many have come close.

Because of budget constraints, Dr. Kim Chee decided to have the camp go to a seven-period day. Apparently, this was to save money. Or something. More periods and less teaching time in each period. Brilliant!

The little campers can’t handle it. I thought last year’s incoming class of freshmen were as dumb as a box of hammers, but this year’s class is about to break all records for stupidity, with a little extra on the side for just plain rudeness. Apparently, these children have been raised by a pack of wild wolves. My after-lunch classes resemble a cage full of chimpanzees! Their classroom behavior is off the chart! They are loud, foul-mouthed, unkempt, boorish, mean, slovenly, rude and totally unmanageable. And they are proud of it!

They are about two degrees away from throwing feces at each other! When I hear Barry and his winged-monkey Arne blaming all of the problems on teachers, I just have to scream! I can’t teach anymore. I no longer have the strength. About 85% of my time is taken up with classroom management, herding the little @#%&heads to the office. There was a time when I would try to turn around the little ‘project children.’ See if I could fix them. I just don’t give a damn anymore. They are broken and can’t be fixed. #$&* ‘em.

We are going to hell in a hand basket, and fast!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Five weeks into the new school year and I'm fried already! The children, the children! More about them later.

Packing the car up this morning and heading down the hill to the lovely little town of Sanger, California. Going to the Hobbs Grove Bluegrass Festival! Taking my mandolin, my geetar, and perhaps the Dobro. Hoping to jam with some folks and learn some new bluegrass licks.

Hope-to-hell I can recharge my batteries. Otherwise, I might as well just turn in my resignation letter Monday morning.


Had a great time! Favorite group, Snap Jackson, out of Stockton. A trio playing an eclectic mix of bluegrass, jazz and a pinch of alt. They even use a uke on some songs. You can never go wrong with an uke!

Camped next to a big RV. My neighbor was at her table, with what looked to be a 14" high stack of notebooks. I figured her out to be a school teacher. I was right. SHE WAS WORKING ON A SATURDAY, CORRECTING 7TH GRADER ESSAYS!!! OMG! ON HER OWN TIME, ON A SATURDAY. SHE TEACHES AT A PUBLIC SCHOOL. SHE IS A MEMBER OF A TEACHERS' UNION! CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT???

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Last week, the Camp Nickleby staff suffered through yet another mind-numbing exercise in futility, described as Professional Development. Dr. Kim Chee, armed with another of her professionally-produced (and outsourced) PowerPoint presentations, told us (read to us), once again, what lousy teachers we are and why we should all be fired, or at least lose our union affiliation! “You teachers are all so laaaaaazy. You are not good. Arne Duncan doesn’t like you either,” Dr. Chee screamed. Bless her heart.

The main focus of the meeting was to berate us for our abysmal test scores from last spring’s standardized tests. The scores just came out! We were told, once again, that we must raise our scores to acceptable federal levels, or we will be purchased by Bill Gates or Eli Broad, or one of the many other education ‘experts’ circling overhead and, having never taught before, know how it should be done. Bless them

The bright moment of the day came when one of our veteran teachers summed up the current incarnation of school ‘reform’ by stating, “I just teach until they take the tests in April. After April, I don’t care anymore. Nothing matters after the tests.” And that’s where education in the United States has landed, folks. Hope all of the villagers are happy. Blessings be upon us all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Schools Matter: Students of Nation Unite: Just Say "I Prefer Not T...

Schools Matter: Students of Nation Unite: Just Say "I Prefer Not T...

I think what I like best about this, besides the fact that it hits at the heart of all the testing bullshit kids have to go through, is the killer Stephen Hawking computer-generated voices!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Are ye ready to buckle some swashes? It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Unfortunately, TLAPD happens on a Sunday this year. Bummer. The campers won't be able to enjoy my lectures delivered in my best pirateeze.

To help some of you landlubbers enjoy the day, here are Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like A Pirate Day (From the official website. No really, there IS an official TLAPD website.)

10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …

1. Prepare to be boarded.