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Friday, October 30, 2009

Absolutely Flipping Brilliant

Today, a 55 degree afternoon (it's relevant trust me), I went to pick up my son from school. I was stopped by the teacher.

She said, " I just wanted to let you know that on days when it is cold if Evan doesn't have a coat I won't be able to let him go outside. He (my son) says that on some days you are just walking from the car." (This is a blatant lie since we walk to school.)

"Oh I'm sorry. I usually let him decide," I replied.

"But you're the parent," she stabbed.

At this point I had to suppress the gamma radiation that was boiling in my blood. I try to reserve that stuff for lifting cars off of people and pounding through walls of burning buildings.

She continued, "With the flu we are trying to keep the children healthy."

"Okay, I'll put it in his backpack," I said ending the conversation.

I knew that I was dealing with someone who most likely believed in witchcraft and easily confused co-occurrence with causation. I'm sure she has already blamed the neighbor lady for the death of her goats and the fact that her DVR didn't record last weeks episode of House. I mean she did give her the stink-eye last week.

Keeping my son inside would actually increase his likelihood of contract a viral infection. Flu season begins in the fall because we all are inside more often and in contact with infected individuals. Outdoors is the least likely place to get sick. That is not entirely true. A clean room at the CDC may be safer. So would a bubble suit like the one John Travolta wore.

Can I go outside now?

I also take exception to the "you're the parent" comment. Apparently as the parent I should impose some sort of draconian coat wearing regime. It gets worse. She went on to say, "I can't let him out if I wouldn't let my own children go out."

You may spot the logical fallacy. First she states that I am the parent and then supersedes the authority that she gave me. Apparently she is the parent.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Donors Choose Beggars Lose

Whenever I hear someone suggest that I, or any teacher, try using this is the image that jumps into my mind. Why is donorschoose perfectly acceptable and standing on a street corner with a piece of cardboard proclaiming, "District Out of Money. Will Beg For Paper," would be considered shameful. It is demeaning and ridiculous.

But, since it appears to be necessary lets come up with a few tips that will make it more successful, some creative signage so to say.
1. Mention as many times as possible that your students want to succeed.
"Please help my girls succeed "
"they need to be successful in higher-level math courses"
"we are getting more excited about receiving contributions so that our students have the necessary tools for success"
"Your help will help our students "unlock" their potential to succeed in middle school."

Why do these quotes work? Because as is intuitively obvious to any one that has ever seen a teacher at work, we do not care about student success. Therefore it is imperative to emphasize that you are different from the majority of teachers that have decided to dedicate their lives to student failure.

As you may have guessed, American "free" education is actually a plot of the Illuminati meant to keep the masses ignorant at best.

2. Make sure to mention that your students are minorities. (Include a picture if possible)

Nothing makes moderately successful white people feel better than to help a minority. You get more money if you manage to perpetuate stereotypes. At the beginning of each paragraph you should remind potential donors that your students face drugs, gangs, hunger, gangs, drugs, abusive parents, gangs, and drugs. The next couple of sentence that appear in successive paragraphs manage to mention success and fulfill the white guilt quota.

"Students face gangs, drugs, hunger and many other issues on a daily basis. However, they choose to succeed."

"Urban students face many challenges: gangs, drug abuse, violence, poverty. Yet my athletes continue to succeed."
This way if you don't have permission to use photos of the students you have successfully create one in the mind of the donor.

Baby needs a new Glock!
3. Check you self respect at the door.
Seriously, find your self-respect, wherever you keep it, and just leave it like a pair of musty sneakers by the door of the Kick-Me-In-The-Nads Dojo.
It's not bad enough that those that can do and those that can't, teach. It's not bad enough that each night on the news we hear that the primary problem with American schools is the teacher. It's not bad enough that Michelle Rhee wants to fire every teacher in the nation's capital. It's not bad enough.
Put the teachers on the street with a bucket, and if they are lucky, and orange reflective vest and have them beg for school supplies. We could even have the students make our signs.
"A Pencil For My Thoughts"
"Paper, paper everywhere, but not a drop of ink"
"It was the best of time, nah who am I kidding?"
"Why Can't Johnny Read? He doesn't have any books."
With ample doses of pathos, guilt, and humiliation our nation's public schools will once again be competitive. I still feel like I am taking a goat away from an African village.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fear over Free

I just read a sentence in the prologue of Free The Future Of A Radical Price by Chris Anderson that made me angry. Of course I'm not angry about things that are free. Hell this blog is free. I am angry about the same thing that always gets my dander up. (My dander has been down lately.) Education.

The sentence in question describes the web as "the greatest accumulation of human knowledge, experience, and expression the world has ever seen." I agree it is. And the wonderful thing about it is that so much of it is free. So riddle me this. Why would cash starved schools decide that they should not take full advantage of its wonders.

Answer, schools are afraid. Fear trumps free every time. Even in districts that are relatively lax in their internet policing fear of social networking, fear of predators, fear of cyberbullies, and a dash of ignorance leads to some of the most useful tools of the web being blocked from student access.

Sites such as Blogger, YouTube, Goodreads, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and about anything else that might lead to productivity have a various times been blocked in my district. For the most part we will let students access knowledge, unless of course it is a video, or happens to be on a Facebook page, or is a tweet, or a game.

That is the good news. The bad news is that they can not "experience" or "express" much. We are much to worried about getting sued and not about teaching.