Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And now, payback.

Oh, they were so very, very mad, but they will never make that mistake again, I'm sure of it.  I scored a "highly effective" on my first teacher evaluation.  After being the target for so long for ignoring the B.S. and actually teaching, this new evaluation tool (thanks Cuomo) was their opportunity to circumvent due process, invalidate tenure, and fast track my termination, but they couldn't do it.  When the administration was forced to actually quantify my contributions to the district, the math just didn't add up...or rather it did add up, and they were forced to give me the impossible score of highly effective.  A large percentage of my students passed the state exams, many with mastery in spite of the twisted state scoring grid.  Did I gloat?  Do you think I am really that naive?  No...I know what's coming.  I have to admit, though, I allowed myself at least one hour to enjoy it.  As the school year looms, there's no doubt I'll pay the price, and so will my students...I just saw my schedule.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Good day.  I'm back.  No Child Left Behind has become Race to the Top.  New teacher evaluations based on test scores are now the norm, and a massive layer of teacher paperwork pervades the school day.  Students have double the amount of standardized tests written by failed teachers who work for flacid bureaucrats, and all of this in the year the Mayans predicted would be the end of the world.  Yeah, I know that's bullshit, about the Mayans, but it is what the media likes to report, so as far as anyone watching TV is concerned, it is the truth.  Wisconsin...well, there's no point in talking about that...but the rot is spreading, and our students are dumber for it.  Cuomo has his sites on 2016, and he won't need the Unions to back him up. He has richer friends and a "moderate" reputation.  He has hydrofracking and gay marriage.  So, here we are at the end times.  Our only hope is to hang tough and stay blue: 2014 is just around the corner...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No bashing in September...

"Take our kids back, please! We're tired of paying for a daycare that charges per child, per week 100 times what it costs to send our kids to public school! We did not realize that if we paid teachers the same wage we paid untrained, teenaged babysitters, that teachers with 100 students per day per child would receive ten dollars an hour per student: 6 x 10 x 100 x 180...wait a minute...that can't be right... If only we had been more attentive in our public school's math class!"

Yeah, we hear that a lot this time of year. It's okay. We forgive you, and we'll take your kids for a couple pennies per hour for the next ten months, and we'll even apply knowledge from our advanced graduate degrees to teach them something. Forgive us if we have to use those pennies to pay off student loans and support our own families, but don't worry, you're not paying for all of that; my second job helps supplement the income, as does my summer job. Hope you had a nice summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Annual Teacher Bashing Article published!

The New York Post published its end-of-the-school year teacher bashing article today! Every year, as a two-month period of unpaid unemployment looms for thousands of educators, this bastion of objective reporting publishes an inflammatory article about teachers, unions, or both. This year, it's about New York City's infamous "rubber rooms" where a teacher who annoys an administrator can be sent for years to await arbitration for some made-up infraction. They are not allowed to work, but they must attend the "reassignment center" until their "case" is resolved. The article explains that it is the union's fault for making it difficult to fire tenured teachers.
It's actually easy to fire a tenured teacher if there is an actual case, but if there is no case, they cannot fire the teacher, so the administrator tries instead to coerce the teacher into quitting by sending the teacher to the rubber room. It's a double victory for the administration. 1) The unions look bad for requiring due process, so the administration clogs up the process with bogus cases, and 2) the administration is free to bully and eliminate an educator who asks too many questions.
Did you ever wonder why it is difficult to recruit educators in New York City?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And the battle rages on...

It's been a while since I've had a chance to blog, but the original complaint still stands. In fact, reporting in general has gotten worse over the past two years. Let's take the problem of North Korea, nukes, and nuclear proliferation...wait, forget about that...take the cat that survived a 26 story plunge from a building in New York City: wasn't that amazing? Almost as amazing as Mike Tyson's wedding two weeks after the death of his daughter. Incredible! The nerve of a has-been boxer for not mourning properly!
Wait just a minute. Why am I thinking about Tyson and resilient cats? Why am I not thinking about North Korea, global warming, a dying ocean? I mean, aren't they important issues? Wait, hold on, something just came in on the TV...Holy moly! Adam from American Idol is gay? But, man, he's got talent. I wonder what his "coming out" will do to his career.
Okay, now what was I saying? Something about cats, right? I guess they do always land on their feet.
I hope the same is true for us.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Parents, kids, and time

Not too long ago, ABC's 20/20 ran a feature by John Stossel that, among editorial remarks such as "American kids are stupid," compared American schools to foreign schools. Stossel claimed that American students perform worse on international tests the longer they stay in school. American fourth graders perform the same or better than most international students on basic math, science, and reading tests, but somewhere between fourth and twelfth grade, American scores drop drastically. Stossel concludes that it's because American schools, as he eloquently puts it, "are bad."
I have an alternate theory:
I was picking up my son from the after-school program a couple of days before his kindergarten graduation, and I witnessed a pretty sad scene. A little boy was crying in the arms of the head teacher because his parents could not attend the moving up day celebration. In the meantime, my son ran across the classroom to greet me, and the other little boy cried just a little harder, most likely from envy. It turns out this boy is often the last to be picked up because both of his parents work late. Most of the time, their work schedules allow one to be home in the evening fairly early, but on occasion, their shifts overlap leaving the little boy in the school's care for 12 hours.
I can remember how my son reacted a year ago when I picked up a night job. I worked three nights a week as a researcher for a phone company. I did it to pay for a second masters degree in communication, but it took its toll on my relationship with my son. I had twenty minutes twice a week to play. That's all. This went on for six months. During that time, even though my wife was there to play games in the evening and read to him at night, he was angrier, got in trouble more at daycare, and cried occasionally to his teachers just as the little boy did in the after-school program. As soon as I graduated with the second masters, I quit the job. Money was tight, but I didn't care. My son needed me to be there, and within weeks, his behavior issues, anger, and sadness disappeared. He was back to his happy self because I was back to being a parent.
People are quick to blame schools for the deficiencies American students show when compared to foreign students. While any given school can always use improvement, I think the root of the problem is the amount of time American parents spend at their jobs, away from their children, compared to foreign parents. According to "Porch magazine" , Americans exceed "Japan by 137 hours a year and Germany by 260 hours" in the amount of time spent working, and spend "40% less time with their children than they did in the 1960's." Do you think this may account for some of the problems American schools are faced with today?
I had to make some tough decisions to spend more time with my son, but after seeing my son's classmate who spends much of his life wishing he were with his parents, I know I've made the right choice. Maybe American parents should think less about blaming others for their children's social, emotional, behavioral, and academic difficulties and think more about how much their work schedules are contributing to the problem.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Naked Economist? Naked of logic

This blog was originally a reaction to my local media's coverage of local schools, but I just can't help commenting on the Naked Economist's nonsensical rant about the United States Post Office. He even gets in a dig about public education with a question that is nothing more than a presupposition and a false analogy with a question mark tacked on. Here is the comment I left at the bottom of Charles Wheelan's "Naked Economist" blog:

Sure, let's get mad at the postal service and their "inefficiency" at delivering for very little money anything, anywhere, and correctly 99.9% of the time. Your evidence is pathetically anecdotal and seeped in hyperbole, no doubt. Let's NOT get angry at the inefficiency of PRIVATE corporate American companies who pay their CEO's billions while delivering substandard products and outsourcing their labor to China because paying a living wage to an American would cut into their 400 million dollar severance package when they get fired for incompetence. Let's not get angry at PRIVATE big oil for record billion dollar profits and record high prices at the pumps. Let's not get angry at the inefficient use by PRIVATE companies of scarce resources. How many patents of extremely efficient, alternative energy products have been bought and shelved by PRIVATE fossil fuel companies? You're right. Let's get mad at YOUR mailman because you say so, and scrap the best deal Americans have ever had. Imagine what FedEX or UPS would charge for the same services if the USPS was not their competition. Price fixing and gouging would abound. Inefficiency would reign and CEOs would profit at the expense of the many. THAT'S what privatizing is really about.