Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My nephew, the grass eater

Yeah, it's in his genes.

Note to self: Always check for your keys BEFORE you leave the house...

With the doors locked.

While I don't do it often, I engage in what David Letterman refers to as a "stupid human trick." No, I am not talking about plugging my nose and blowing my eyeballs out of their sockets. Nor am I talking about the middle of the night fall-bounce while running with the dogs tied to my waist. No, this was a repeat performance.

Yes, I locked myself out of the house, only I didn't know it until much, much later.

It started out as a very quiet, morning. The dogs and I rolled out of bed (actually it was more like Kehli sticking her huge nose in my ear to wake me up, while Siddha and Marley had my arms pinned to my sides, but details shmeetails), went downstairs, made the coffee, and sat down to the morning ritual of email and news. A couple hours later, after editing a colleague's piece, I took a shower and headed to campus for fun and meetings.

Because I can be so absent-minded, I more or less have a "leaving the house" ritual. It involves checking that the dogs have food and water and been outside, making sure I have all the books and work-related stuff, and most importantly, I checked to make sure I knew where my keys were. Saw the keys to the house. Check. Grabbed the jacket, the helmet, the gloves, and the keys to the bike, said goodbye to the beasties, and walked out the door.

Four hours later, after several meetings, I went to my office to get a few things and do a "switch out," that is, drop off the stuff I finished with yesterday and this morning, and pick up what I needed for tonight and tomorrow morning. Only, I didn't have my keys. Crap. So, I went to my final meeting, called Mr. Eduabbler, only to find out that he wouldn't be home until after 7PM.

I was stuck.

I had to break into the house.

The first time I did this, I got stuck in the window because it was a small window over the counter in the back of the kitchen. I actually thought I was going to have to call 911 to get me unstuck, only I had left my cell phone in my bag, which was on the ground. I also had the thought that some neighbor would see me trying to break into the back of MY house and call the cops. What a trip that would be. I unstuck myself, and got into the house.

I swore that I would hide a spare key.

The second time I got locked out, I borrowed a neighbor's ladder and climbed into the front porch of the house. That was a lot less stressful in terms of the getting stuck part, but this time I had to then break into the inner door or, figure out how to open one of the windows. Lucky for me, the window to the living room was open.

I went out and had spare keys made and bought one of those hide-a-key things.

This time I borrowed a different neighbor's ladders, sliced the screen on the bathroom window, smashed my hand taking the window apart, and got in the house. I am now sitting on the couch with the dogs sleeping next to me. I am wrapped in a blanket and glad to be home.

This time I will actually put out the damn key and hide-a-key thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

When students are punished for the incompetence of adults

While engaging in my usual internet procrastination this afternoon (actually, I was searching for some updated info on how the latest economic debacle with affect public education), I ran across a sad story. 375 teachers were fired in Dallas on Friday.

On the one hand, it comes as no surprise to me that public schools are starting to suffer under the economic pinch. In fact, the story itself, is part of a much, much larger story. For one thing, what the city of Dallas is suffering from is what many large cities also suffer: underprepared, and sometimes less that honest leadership. Let me be clear here. I am not saying that all city school district leaders (and I am talking upper-level management specifically here) are unprepared and dishonest. However, Dallas schools suffered from the type of leadership that is seen as the stereotypical norm.

What is truly sad about this is that teachers were the ones who really suffered, as did students. Well, especially the students. And, students will be victimized again when there are no full-time teachers hired to take the place of those who were let go. In fact, students will be subjected to a revolving-door of substitutes. When it comes time for testing, students will not make the growth expected, and teachers and students will be blamed (as usual). Only, in this case, the blame is off its mark. You can say substitutes are under-prepared, even unqualified to teach a subject area. But, they do not choose where they are placed; nor did they choose to fire 375 teachers (to make up for a gap in the budget grown under another leader's rule). But they will be blamed regardless.

The winner in all of this? Those who want to strip the public schools of even more money, those who want to privatize, and those who hate the public schools. The losers? Why, the students, as usual.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too much on my mind

At 4AM this morning when the sky started to lighten, I was more than a little upset with myself. I just couldn't sleep. Honestly, I tried. But I think I just had too much on my mind. If I'd been smart I would have gotten my butt out of bed and gone downstairs to write. Instead I watched some stupid show about cakes. Not the best use of my time.

Here's the short list that's been flowing around...

After paying the mortgage, insurance, utilities, car payment, etc., I have about $400 a month left. That's before food and fun. This time last year I had close to $1000. I am not a big spender. It's kind of scary.

Hmmm.... I am introducing the students today to No Child Left Behind. Do I want to do the historical piece, or just jump into the last 10 years?

Oh, yeah, I can't forget the difference between compulsory and compensatory education.

Should I use the NCLB video?

I really need to find my copy of the Bruner text.

Crap I haven't read the student essays.

Two weeks left for the deadline for the Citizenship piece.

The MWPSA conference call was extended to Friday. Should I send in a piece? Will MSU fund the travel if I get accepted?

I need to get the fall planting done.

Crap, I'm running out of socks. Time to do laundry.

Is public education a right or a privilege? What are the implications for learning depending on your answer?

I wonder if I use the springform pan, Will the chocolate cake turn out better?

Giants game on Sunday. It better not rain. I do not like football enough to go sit in the rain for 3 hours.

I need to write that forward for the book.

It's a relief that Teacher Ed Admissions are done. I couldn't handle another week of that.

Yeah, what goes on in my head is not a pretty thing. And that's just what I remember from last night.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

For those of you who think racism is a thing of the past...

Watch this. And this. And no, this is not some old guy who is expressing his own sad and sick point of view. There are many others around him who are laughing and encouraging him.

I'd like to say that I am shocked, but sad to say, I'm not.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The DOW is below 9000 and I am really scared

Let's admit it, the dramatic side of me is one prone to hyperbolic statements. But, I think it's safe to say that I am not alone given the recent turn of events in the US market. I've found it fascinating that the talking heads have been on television saying things like, "Now is not the time to assign blame" and the like regarding the fact that we are now facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But when the Dow Jones closed at 8579, I thought I was going to be sick (remember when it hit 14,000?). So much for the 850 billion bailout (or rescue, depending on the speaker).

When I think about what this means for public education, I shudder (OK, I am trembling at many things right now, but I have to stop panicking about paying my bills). Budgets are going to be stripped even more than they already have. The feds are going to cut education spending, even though they will most likely NOT lessen the NCLB stranglehold. Things are going to get a lot worse.

But it's not just about education spending, folks. Families have been struggling for a while, and it is getting much, much worse. Too many families are losing their home to foreclosure. And it's not just people who own their homes. Families who rent are also being slapped with evictions because their landlords have been foreclosed upon as well. I am not sympathizing with the property owners here. People who are renting are paying like good tenants. And they are getting screwed.

People being evicted means more kids homeless. And this is not just an urban phenomenon. It's happening everywhere, and it's going to make learning more difficult than usual. But even for families who are staying in their homes, life is going to stay pretty tough. Parents are going to make hard choices between food, utilities, insurance, etc. It's a scary thought.

For those who believe children are oblivious to this, trust me, they aren't. Many of them pick up on parental stress, and it makes them incredible anxious as well. And it's hard to be a kid who is stressed about things that are hard to understand.