Saturday, September 13, 2008

Left Behind (American Education-Not that Rapture Crap)

I was a teacher for several years. My late mother was a teacher, and because of her I grew up around them, and absorbed their complaints and concerns, but also their love of the job itself. For some of these women, and 95% of them were women, it was a calling, a vocation. But frankly, it's not a job I can do any more.

Teaching is no longer the profession it was when my mom began in 1959, or when I was in school in the 70's and 80's, or even when I first taught in the mid-nineties. So what, one might ask, happened? Well, there's so many factors, I'm not totally sure where to begin. And I'm certain I'll revisit this topic in the weeks to come.

Frustration with the system is a BIG reason for the decline of the education system. Good teachers leave because they aren't free to just teach. It was one of my reasons for quitting. Not to be arrogant, but I was a good teacher. Modern teaching has been tortured, castrated and is on its way to being drawn and quartered by No Child Left Behind. No one actually likes it. Its often referred to a No Child's Behind Left, or simply Left Behind. Any educator who tells you it is a good idea is lying. You know that word so rarely used by the mainstream media? Telling a deliberate falsehood is called a lie.

Testing schoolchildren is not a bad idea, nor is trying to pinpoint areas of deficiency, or failing schools. But NCLB is a Trojan Horse meant to destroy the Public School System of the United States and to push some students into charter and private schools, others in home schooling, leaving what they would consider the dregs at schools that were so useless, no learning would go on there at all.

Why do Conservatives hate America?

Check out these figures on teacher attrition from 1992

6.3.8 Among college graduates in 1992–93 who became public school teachers, 84 percent of those teachers who scored in the bottom quartile on their college entrance exams were still teaching five years later. In contrast, only 68 percent who scored in the top quartile on their college entrance exams were still teaching after five years (U.S. Department of Education, 2003b). The disproportionate departure of academically able teachers is salient because a consistent body of research shows that teachers’ verbal ability, a measure of teachers’ general academic ability, has more of an impact on student achievement than any other measurable teacher attribute (Whitehurst, 2002, citing Greenwald et al. 1996; Ferguson and Ladd, 1996; Kain and Singleton, 1996; Ehrenberg and Brewer, 1994).

So even back then, if you are smarter, you quickly get the hell out??

Starting in the mid-to-late 90's teachers who were...a bit deficient, were advised by their mentors to take the Principal's test. So after 2 years, (now it's 3 years when you get tenure in most states) failing teachers can take an exam and become an administrator, with in many districts, the power to hire, deny tenure, train and supervise teachers, and evaluate the staff of their school. Those evaluations follow a teacher, social worker, school psychologist, or aide, and become part of their permanent records with the board of education. If someone dislikes you, you may have to leave the school, or system. And if someone decides to save money by denying tenure, and not renewing contracts for the teachers up for tenure, and hiring cheap fresh out of school teachers, they can. In short, people with the least experience and little constraints on their behavior, now run the schools.

Say you can jump these hurdles, then comes No Child Left Behind. Let me make this clear-No one goes through all that schooling, and training, and aggravation involved with getting a teaching position in order to teach to the damned test. No one likes moving on to the next subject because of time limits, no matter if their students comprehend or not. If they fill in the correct bubble because they have memorized the answers-job done. This is not learning, nor is it proper teaching. Unfortunately, it is where we are now...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ebert Pans Palin

I don't always agree with his film reviews-and for God's Sake, the man actually wrote a Valley of the Dolls Sequel. WTF?? But he totally nails stupid Snow Bunny here.

Roger Ebert on Sarah Palin: The American Idol candidate
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September 11, 2008

BY ROGER EBERT Sun-Times Movie Critic
I think I might be able to explain some of Sarah Palin's appeal. She's the "American Idol" candidate. Consider. What defines an "American Idol" finalist? They're good-looking, work well on television, have a sunny personality, are fierce competitors, and so talented, why, they're darned near the real thing. There's a reason "American Idol" gets such high ratings. People identify with the contestants. They think, Hey, that could be me up there on that show!

My problem is, I don't want to be up there. I don't want a vice president who is darned near good enough. I want a vice president who is better, wiser, well-traveled, has met world leaders, who three months ago had an opinion on Iraq. Someone who doesn't repeat bald- faced lies about earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere. Someone who doesn't appoint Alaskan politicians to "study" global warming, because, hello! It has been studied. The returns are convincing enough that John McCain and Barack Obama are darned near in agreement.

I would also want someone who didn't make a teeny little sneer when referring to "people who go to the Ivy League." When I was a teen I dreamed of going to Harvard, but my dad, an electrician, told me, "Boy, we don't have the money. Thank your lucky stars you were born in Urbana and can go to the University of Illinois right here in town." So I did, very happily. Although Palin gets laughs when she mentions the "elite" Ivy League, she sure did attend the heck out of college.

Five different schools in six years. What was that about?

And how can a politician her age have never have gone to Europe? My dad had died, my mom was working as a book-keeper and I had a job at the local newspaper when, at 19, I scraped together $240 for a charter flight to Europe. I had Arthur Frommer's $5 a Day under my arm, started in London, even rented a Vespa and drove in the traffic of Rome. A few years later, I was able to send my mom, along with the $15 a Day book.

You don't need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad. You need curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the money) arrives at the age of 44 and has only been out of the country once, on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin's travel record is that of a provincial, not someone who is equipped to deal with global issues.

But some people like that. She's never traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or Down Under? That makes her like them. She didn't go to Harvard? Good for her! There a lot of hockey moms who haven't seen London, but most of them would probably love to, if they had the dough. And they'd be proud if one of their kids won a scholarship to Harvard.

I trust the American people will see through Palin, and save the Republic in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment.

Republicans Hijacked 9/11

I can't say it any better than Keith does here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Time To Stop Fuming Over the RNC, and Write About It

"I cried, I am livid, I did not need to be upset like this today. I cannot believe they showed that video to aid ANY political agenda. And to hear the clapping and happy crowd afterwards was enough to make me sick to my stomach. What the hell has happened to America???"

That was a quote from Independent Means on HuffPost regarding the 9/11 "Tribute" played at the Republican National Convention before McCain spoke.

And I thought allowing Rudy Giuliani was to speak was in poor taste. By now, we all know he parrots 9/11 like he has Tourette's. Keith Olbermann was incensed, and shocked, but I have to say after the pageant of ignorance, bigotry, self-righteousness, and selfishness displayed in the previous days...who can really be shocked that they chose to whip out the trump card of Chutzpah, and exploit Sept 11th for all its' worth.

I lived in Hoboken, NJ then. I had just moved from the suburbs of Essex County after my parents deaths, and had the typical suburban New Jerseyian's desire to be near New York City, coupled with the fear of actually living there. (Needless to say, I got over it.) I was exhausted, traumatized and needed a fresh start. I watched the towers fall from the tip of Hoboken, a park near the PATH train station standing in my pajamas, having chased my cat there. He smelled smoke, and thought he had to get to the water, perhaps he thought the entire town was on fire. He won't tell me. I walked back, clutching my struggling animal-who was now certain we were all going to die, in a daze, and did what I had done in times of extreme stress since I was a small child. I sat in my bedroom closet, and closed the door.

I didn't think the footage was as graphic as Olbermann, but I think I was as offended. Using an event as tragic and traumatic as this for political gain is beyond classless, beyond tasteless, beyond vulgar. And when the political party doing this is the party that was in power during the event...that's truly vile.