A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Add this to the list of things that bureaucrats don't understand about teachers' lives.

So here's a situation.

A parent requested a conference with a teacher I know during conference time. This parent began yelling and gesticulating wildly during the conference, until the teacher asked the parent to leave. By the way, the teacher in question is so calm, he's practically a reincarnation of the Buddha. Parent stormed off and went to an administrator and made a bunch of wild claims about the teacher and then stormed out of the administrator's office.

So far, not all that unusual, right?

Here's where it gets interesting: the parent's kid approached the teacher a few days later, accused him of threatening the mother, and then threatened to attack the teacher. This was done IN FRONT OF WITNESSES.

Wow. Makes Race to the Top seem kind of insignificant and out-of-touch, doesn't it?

The assumption that students are all here to learn, that students are all cooperative, sane, and non-violent, is just not a part of the reality of teaching in a public school. That goes for parents, too.

And it's certainly true that the majority of students and parents do not behave this way. But this kind of family is becoming ever more common. There have been more assaults or threatened assaults on teachers of my acquaintance this year that any year that I can remember since I started teaching school back in the 1980s.

Now, luckily, the student has been suspended from school for the maximum allowed time, which is good, since it is known that the family has guns in the house. It is good to know that the administrators took this seriously.

So maybe Arne Duncan has some advice about this situation from his vast well of educational experience? If so, I'd like to hear it.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Open thread: the late great assignment

Query submitted for your approval: Do you accept late work from students? If so, how much, how often, and at what consequence?

What is your district policy on this?

Inquiring minds want to know....

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Selling ad space in the classroom

Does this cross a line?
Last month, New Jersey became the first state in the northeast to allow districts to display advertisements on their school buses, noting that districts could earn up to $1,000 per bus by selling ads, The Star-Ledger reported. Other states like Ohio, Utah and Washington had also considered a similar move.

Two years ago, Idaho high school teacher Jeb Harrison started selling ad space on his tests and handouts -- by striking a deal with a local pizza shop.

Florida's Orange County Public Schools have adopted an advertising program that allows marketing in areas including online, on lunch menus, play sponsorships and a parking garage billboard. In about 18 months, the district had made about $270,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

While these districts have implemented programs, others are still venturing into the field. Late last month, North Carolina's Guilford County schools discussed at its school board meeting proposals to permit marketing, ranging from ads inside schools to selling naming rights for school stadiums and buildings, WGHP-TV reported.

And there's more to read at the link.

What bothers me is that school district residents who refuse tax increases seem to want something for nothing. They may think that they may never have to support their schools again if schools can just sell ads. On the other hand, I wonder about how much my students really pay attention to ads every where else in their lives they encounter them. I have gotten pretty good at not noticing ads online just because they are so ubiquitous. I guess this also touches upon my earlier rant about PTA/PTO fundraisers.

Have schools ever really been ad-free zones, at least in the last twenty years? Shouldn't they be?

A while back, one of the neighboring school districts cut back on transportation for after school activities. Perhaps, during the last weeks they ran the service, they could have painted along the sides of each bus, "This bus's cancellation provided by the taxpayers of District X." But I guess that would be too bitter, even if true.

What do you think? Are ads in the classroom a harmless way to raise funding?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unrestrained greed sows class warfare and unrest

So Representative Ryan is criticizing those who are protesting the excesses of Wall Street?

Not nearly as surprising as Sarah Palin criticizing "crony capitalism." In the words of Inigo Montoya in one of my favorite movies of all time, "I dunna think that word means what you THINK it means."

But back to the criticism of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Rep. Ryan stated in the link above, "We shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in Washington either through spending or the tax code."

Amazing. What does he think happens under the unrestrained, excessive business atmosphere of which he is such a fervent acolyte? With no regulation, with government geared to protect the wealthy against the needs of the many, with democracy subverted in the name of wealthy oligarchs who graciously invest in campaign coffers as a easy means to secure their privilege at the expense of the wellbeing of the great mass of citizenry, Rep. Ryan, you policies promote nothing BUT class warfare. When you decry the protesters as "pitting American against American," well, that what your vision of capitalism is, after all.

In unrestrained capitalism, there must always be winners and losers. When are politicians are enlisted in promoting the good of the wealthy rather than the good of the country, there will be millions of "losers" in the name of protecting the handful of "winners."

You keep talking about "job creation," yet under the policies of you and your ilk we have seen job LOSS even with the financially irresponsible promotion of insanely low tax rates which were supposed to produce job growth. You cannot reasonably make a case that all the corporate welfare you and your cronies have promoted has "promoted the general welfare."

Apparently, it's completely acceptable for corporations, who may be persons but are in no way CITIZENS, to exercise free speech, but completely unpatriotic and dangerous for CITIZENS, who are not corporations, to do likewise in the dusty corners of your mind, Representative Ryan.

Interesting. And Orwellian.


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