The Five Laughs of Teachers

The types of the teacher’s laugh are five.
They reveal themselves as the weekdays arrive.

The laughing of teachers on Monday’s maniacal,
Beginning as soon as they come through the door.
To some, it may sound like a howl demoniacal,
Specially to those living close to the floor.
But the cause of this laugh is quite prosodiacal —
It’s just that it’s Monday. That and nothingmore.

On Tuesdays, the tee-hee of teachers is tawdry
And schlocky and shoddy and shabby and loud.
(I’m sure that my old English teacher, Miss Audrey,
Would not, of my alliteration, be proud.)
Yet one may excuse those, with laughter like bawdry,
Who vainly, yet boldly, refuse to be bowed.

The laugh of a teacher by Wednesday’s a twitter,
Though not of the type that you favorite or share;
But rather the kind of some sad-sounding critter,
Like a bird, perhaps, which cannot take to the air.
Or a small, rusty hinge, or an old-time transmitter
Whose battery’s leaking, whose wires are bare.

By Thursday, the laughter of teachers is soundless:
A deep meditation; a lesson of Zen.
The echoing cavern within is so boundless
The laughter returns there again and again.
And those who seem emptied by forces profoundless
Are refilled by it beyond others’ ken.

On Friday — ah, Friday! — and Thank God It’s Friday!
The laughter of teachers returns with a twist.
It’s both an untied and a fit-to-be-tied day
Species of laughter which seems to insist
That through a black eye comes the light of blue-sky day
And THAT is a lesson too good to be missed.

The types of the teacher’s laugh are five.
They reveal themselves as the weekdays arrive.

Follow the Anti-Tenure Money

Let’s grow this next tree from the roots, up.

The Democracy Alliance, of which Randi Weingarten is a current member, was established with money from George Soros.

George Soros also used his wallet to help establish the Center for American Progress (CAP), an organization created by the Democrat National Committee to provide candidate support while side-stepping the McCain/Feingold Act.

After serving as Clinton White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta was hand-picked by Soros to head CAP. CAP influence as a research and information dissemination resource for the DNC has grown to the point that it is often referred to in Washington, D.C. circles today as the “Second White House.” Although no longer heading CAP, Podesta is currently a consulting senior White House Advisor, serving as Special Presidential Counsel and investigating the NSA privacy issues scandal.

Another former member of the Obama White House is Robert Gibbs, who served as spokesperson and chief strategist for the campaigns before becoming Press Secretary. On leaving that position, Gibbs founded The Incite Agency, a corporate and political communications strategy company, along with another Obama campaign strategist, Ben LaBolt. The agency brags from its website: “We defended and protected the Obama Brand” and “We built…a national movement.”

One of the most recent clients of The Incite Agency is The Partnership for Educational Justice, founded by Campbell Brown.

Campell Brown’s litigation against New York State teacher tenure is being handled pro-bono by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, among whose lawyers include, now or in the past, Robert Bork, Ken Starr, and John Bolton. However, in 2008 the firm was a Top 20 Donor to the Obama campaign, and it’s PAC gave 97% of its donations to Democrats.

This should make speculation about Brown’s funding sources a bit more interesting.

The Myopia at the Core of Crisis

PP-me

“My name used to be Me. But now, it’s You.”

Recently, I was reminded of those words when I was privileged to read some correspondence between a state legislator and a school district superintendent on the topic of the crisis of inequities in the proposed state education budget.

“Light reading?” you may ask. Sadly, no. Just more heavy evidence of the broken state of human interaction. Most of it is everyday stuff, coming into the station and passing quickly by, affecting a few on the platform with its wind. But at other times, as in this case, the wind is fanned by hubris grown through position. Many, too many, risk being blown away by its force, and most of them are children.

Please read the two letters in the pdf file below. Names, places, and details have not been expunged.

Bonacic-Eastwood (Correspondence used with permission.)

I have read with great interest numerous news articles over the past week, as well as your budget presentation on March 20th, detailing your objections to the Senate Budget Resolution in relation to education funding.

You are obviously engaged in partisan politics with regard to your inflammatory and misleading attacks on the Senate Budget Resolution, including your statement that “the Senate’s going to take care of New York City, but they’re not going to take care of your kids.” I would like to remind you that the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) cut, which you allude to in your budget presentation, was created in 2010 when Governor Paterson and the New York City Democrats were in control of all branches of New York State Government.

Can you imagine witnessing this dialog as a spoken conversation? Notice how quickly the legislator becomes aggressive, making an unsubstantiated accusation of “partisan politics,” just a single sentence before utilizing partisan politics in his own defense to the very end of the letter. The list of what “I” and “we” have accomplished is, for those who have not seen it, the very list the cited March 20th budget presentation noted as insufficient or suspect. The tone of the letter makes me wonder if the legislator’s promise that “I am sending a copy of this letter to all Superintendents in our region” is influenced by his inability to send a copy to the Superintendent’s mother.

Further, while attacking the Senate Budget Resolution, you make no reference to the Senate’s proposal for $145 million in flexible Pre·K funding, which is earmarked for districts outside of New York City, as opposed to Governor Cuomo’s proposal for $100 million in Pre-K funding for the entire state, including New York City.

At any rate, the response of the Superintendent, being the one actually in contact with the child-victims of the proposed budget, begins by schooling the legislator about the limits of the accomplishments he had proudly listed, comparing them to the better efforts of others. He then reminds the legislator of the particular needs of his own district, an urban one whose votes usually go to the party opposing that of the legislator, which is probably the thorn in this political paw.

The Senate budget resolution added $217 million in school aid, while the Assembly added $378 million. Clearly the additional $161 million in the Assembly resolution is of significant benefit to our schools. While the Senate favored GEA restoration and the Assembly emphasized foundation aid, greater school aid is the bottom line. I wish to remind you that last year GEA restoration was substantially manipulated as there were 11 different formulas used to restore GEA. The end result is that the Assembly budget resolution was inadequate and the Senate budget resolution was even more inadequate.

Your budget bill included a tax credit that would primarily benefit private and charter schools in the amounts of $150 million this year and $675 million over the next three years. This is all money that could and should have gone to public school aid.

I would also like to remind you of some real facts:

  • New York State has one of the worst records on equity of education funds in the country.
  • Five school districts (10%) of the most underfunded school districts in New York State reside in your voting district.
  • The Middletown City School District will get less or just ab9ut the same State aid for general education as we did in 2010, even though we have had an increase of almost 500 more students since 2010.
  • As was described to you during our recent visit, the Middletown School District actually has a per pupil expenditure that is LESS than the State average, as well as the average for districts similar in size and demographics.

So, on paper we have an unbalanced sort of street fight. On one side, an educated man who is an educator. On the other, a political man who is a politician, a word worth looking up.

If representation means standing in for others, and doing anything for others implies service, how can so many representatives in government seem to exist to serve themselves, if not only, then at least first? That’s a question we would do well to ask more often.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s not stop until we can say, in any crisis, in whatever we do for a living, in however we live our lives, “My name used to be Me. But now, it’s You.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Such confusion!

Confused baby

Such confusion!

If I’m not a person of color, am I a colorless person?
If my ancestors spoke Latin, am I a Latin American?
If I don’t blend in with this screen, am I white?
If I don’t blend in with these words, am I black?
If I’m not gay, am I unhappy?
If I’m tolerant, am I for others’ choices?
If I’m not liberal, am I reluctant with others’ liberty?
If I’m not conservative, am I generous with others’ liberty?
If I’m not moderate, am I open to anything?
If I’m not a celebrity, am I unknown?
If I’m not from the Caucasus, am I a non-Caucasian?
If I’m not a minority, am I the same as everyone else?
If I’m not loaded, am I unloaded?
If I’m not rolling in it, am I unrolling in it?
If I’m not famous, am I infamous?

Language can cause such confusion, especially when it comes to stupid distinctions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

On High Stakes Testing: don’t worry about your job. Worry about your kids.

guerilla test taker

I have a few thoughts on the state tests and their impact on me as a teacher. Let me warn you, despite my education, training, and certification, my teaching is primarily informed by my role as a father. This means that I don’t view teaching as a career but as a vocation. It also means that, in my relationship with my students, I come last.

In my 21 years adding to the fantasy and never-completed guide, “Creative Insubordination for Teachers,” most of the “advice” is meant to be amusing. This section, sorry to say, is meant to be dead serious.

When it comes to my family, I am the one responsible for their safety and comfort. Not the school, not the district, not the police, military, or the state and federal government. I appreciate that they are there, but I don’t depend on them. I am the one responsible and I will never relinquish that responsibility. I am the father.

When it comes to testing, don’t worry about your job. Worry about your kids.

When my students are with me is our classroom, they are more than my students. They are my children. Their dads are not with them. Their moms are at home or work. All they have is me. So I will do all I can to stand in for their parents, as poorly a job as I may do, until they are once again safely reunited. I know that some will disagree with this “philosophy.” I have tried to disagree with it myself. But I always come back to the same question: When I’m at work and my child is at school, and a crisis occurs, do I want my child to be treated as a client, or as a son?

Schools are in a crisis. We are in a lockout against common sense. We are locked down by ignorance, intransigence, and political expedience. This is not a drill.

So, as I watch my students at work, and see them as my children, and as they look back at me as their teacher and a father, here’s my advice, take it or leave it:

  1. If we know that both test prep and test taking are causing many of the children inordinate and damaging anxiety, why do we let it happen? Stop it.
    1. Don’t take it so seriously yourself. Do what you are told and that’s it. Don’t worry about your job. Worry about your kids.
    2. Make the state tests a silly thing. That’s really what they are. They’re so ridiculous they mean nothing. Laugh at the test with your students.
    3. Tell stories about the Albany goblins that create the tests. Laugh some more about their silly motives and strategies.
    4. Encourage your students to see the tests as a puzzle or game in which people who hate n-graders set up traps to catch you and throw pizza parties when you fall into them. Focus on “trap-avoiding strategies.”
    5. Whenever there is any announcement about the test, laugh out loud.
    6. Be creatively insubordinate and do the occasional fun thing (otherwise known as “Anything Other Than Common Core”). Impromptu talks about anything they want which devolve into Big Bang-like Q&As are great. Kids love it. Oh, and draw them into the sneakiness of it all.
    7. Be on their side in every way.
  2. Nothing, especially dumb tests, can have power over you unless you allow it.
  3. Once again, don’t worry about your job. Worry about your kids.

Of course, we need to worry about our jobs, since losing them can threaten our own families. But I really don’t believe it will ever come to that. If we stand up for their children, their parents will stand up for us.

Therefore, in summation, let us respond together:

High Stakes Testing?

ROFLMAO! And I’m dead serious.

 

(The gallery image used for this entry is my own modification on a chilling photo by Nick Sterns which itself is a take on an amazing Bansky piece. You can find both at http://www.warchild.org.uk/news/iconic-banksy-images-recreated-arms-treaty.)
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sen. Schumer declares government should destroy detractors

Testa-di-Schumer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk about living in the Twilight Zone! Where does Schumer get this stuff? And even if it was true, is this how a sitting senator of the United States supposed to speak?

What Chucky Cheesy Schumer said:

One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created this ill-advised decision. Obviously, the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.

This is not the place for a broad discussion of this issue, and it is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies – we must redouble those efforts immediately.

Tea Party members realize importance of this issue. In the recent budget negotiations House Republicans nearly blew up the entire agreement because we would not put in the bill a provision that would prevent the IRS from moving forward and administratively closing some of the Citizens United loopholes.

Really? Really?

Where is the news media on this? Where is this on the news media? Better yet, why aren’t there handcuffs on this traitor?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Coming Clean 2014 #1: The Ice-Bound Global Warming Mission

if-you-tell-the-truthThe Russian ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, stuck in ice in the Antarctic was not on a tourist cruise. It was on a Global Warming research mission to show how the ice has been disappearing. Those of its crew listed as “tourists” and “passengers” were actually climate-change researchers and research volunteers. There was so much confidence in their mission, that the ship chosen for the mission is not even an ice-breaker. Even a “super ice-breaker” could not penetrate the 13+ feet of ice to reach the research ship and the researchers had to be airlifted to safety.

Why is it that more than 95% of the major news outlets have failed to point out the purpose of this cruise to no way?

For documentation, see:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Atheistmas Tree – Inspired by the Words of Benedict XVI

As I was reading Benedict’s response to atheist Piergiorgio Odifreddi, I was struck by these words:

“I would like especially to note that in your religion of mathematics three fundamental themes of human existence are not considered: freedom, love and evil. I am surprised that with a nod you set aside freedom which has been and still remains a fundamental value of the modern age. Love does not appear in your book, nor does the question of evil. Whatever neurobiology says or does not say about freedom, in the real drama of our history it is present as a crucial reality and it must be taken into account. However, your mathematical religion knows of no answer to the question of freedom, it ignores love and it does not give us any information on evil. A religion that neglects these fundamental questions is empty.”

Then, I was inspired to create an image that would express this thought.

Atheistmas TreeThe Atheistmas Tree.

What do you think?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta