Tag Archives: schools

When I’m 5

FREEDOM! FREEDOM NOW !

Indeed, we live in perilous times. The “government ” in many states and localities are trying to force our children to wear masks and do social distancing at schools! Or be vaccinated. Enforcing good and sane health policies on our tykes.

Who ever heard of schools forcing kids to be vaccinated. That is as unAmerican as slavery and 3rd rate sitcoms. But I digress. As usual.

On the other hand, many adult Americans are demanding freedom. Freedom to spew their virus entombed in saliva onto the rest of us. And, they demand the right of their children to spew their viral spittle on everyone else’s children.

Freedom isn’t free. It is paid for by the blood, sweat and intubation of America’s kids. Hey, somebody has to stand up, (or lie quietly gagging away their life), for FREEDOM.

Which reminds me of a little girl I knew many years ago.

It was our 4 year old neighbor. A little pixie who was , shall I say, actively active. Over active? Hyperactive? You get the point.

Her young parents were fervent fundamentalists who kept a tight grip on her at all times. Tried to, at least. Her natural enthusiasm for life was contained by structure and rules which she hated immensely. In her case, a short leash was the only way her parents knew to control her. Spare the rod.They did not.

She and I were discussing some important issues one day (her upcoming 5th birthday) when one of her parents called her home. She did not want to go and ignored the plea. A second call was more forceful so she knew she had no choice but to , at least for now, do what she was told.

She pouted. Folded her arms , and after sending a chilling glare in the direction of her progenitor, she looked at me and said: “When I am 5, NO ONE is going to tell ME what to do”.

Sad to say, when it comes to common sense, decency and public health, we have a very large population of 5 year olds now on display. The pouting, petulant purveyors of phony “freedom”. No one is going to tell them what to do.

A good time to be an intubator salesman.

1 Comment

Filed under healthcare, Politics, Society, United States

The Crisis: Opportunity or Heresy?

Every crisis is an opportunity.

The covid-19 pandemic has put US schools into a crisis.  I would suggest that this crisis gives us the opportunity to rethink how we deliver education. Most importantly, what we see as education.

Some questions we need to ask about our school system.

Do students need to attend school 5 days a week?

How do we evaluate whether or not a student is successful in reaching the required goals?

To what extent can we use distance learning?

What about sports and clubs? WHAT? Now you’ve gone too far.

I am now going to suggest the unsuggestable. Heresy. Beyond the pale. An idea on par with a justification for the Holocaust. The end of American civilization as we know it.

Sports and clubs in school. Exterminate them. Eliminate them. Toss them.

An admission. I have coached high school sports and advised clubs. I have coached softball, basketball and soccer at the high school level. I have advised the UN Club, a debating team, for over 20 years. I coached a high school championship chess team.

These kinds of activities have long been considered central to the “high school experience”. And I oppose them.

Why? Because in many schools the extracurricular interscholastic activities drain resources that would be better used for a more rigorous and inclusive educational experience for ALL students. Resources that could reduce class size and increase teacher salaries. Resources that should be used for education, capital “E”.

How do sports programs drain resources? Let me illustrate. In most schools there is a budget for extracurricular activities like sports. This usually includes coaches salaries and equipment. This money (provided, recall, by property taxes) is only a part of the costs of sports, however.

There are many costs for sports programs that are “hidden” in the school budgets. For example, the budget proposal for a school I taught at for over 25 years is linked below. There is a $59 million budget. Nowhere in the budget does it have sports program funding. Yet, the district offers 24 different sports teams. 24. (see links below). Now, I am not singling out this district . It is typical and I use it only to illustrate this point.

School sports costs are seldom broken down so the taxpayer can see what the actual costs are. For example. In the school I am referring to there are the following costs, not expressed as sports costs.

Athletic Director and office staff, devoted solely to school athletics. (Hidden in salaries budget?)

Coaching and in some cases assistant coaches salaries for 24 teams. (Hidden where?)

Pay for all umpires, referees timekeepers, scorekeepers at all home games. How many home games does each team play? (Hidden where?)

Transportation for all 24 teams for every away game. (Hidden in transportation budget?)

Training in CPR and concussion protocols for all coaches. (Hidden where?)

The care of the football field and stadium, the soccer fields, the baseball and softball fields, the track and field facilities, for all varsity and JV and modified programs. This includes cutting grass, lining fields, clean up, etc. (Hidden in Building and Grounds budget?).

Uniforms and equipment for all 24 teams.  (For example, the cost for just one football player is between $800-1200 per person. You can do the math). An aside: As a classroom teacher I was given less than $200 a year for all supplies for all my classes. Total.

I have taught in schools when there are “budget crunches”. Which is just about every school every year. I have watched schools drop social studies, math, science and English teaching positions to “save money.” I have seen a district drop programs for gifted and talented students. I have seen yearly teacher contract battles over health care costs. But in all these districts and all these “crunched budgets” I have never, NEVER, seen a district drop a varsity sports program. Cut teaching? Yes. Cut sports? Never.

This current school crisis is an opportunity. Do we really need to spend resources on interscholastic sports programs? Do we need to take the time and expense for these programs? A district could run a very good intramural sports program for a fraction of the cost. In a time when we need to prioritize should we be prioritizing athletics over basic or innovative educational programs?

But. But. But. Kids love sports. And so do parents, a few of whom live vicariously through the imaginary exploits of their progeny. I love sports. But I don’t think taxpayers should be funding them. There are other options.

As in many things, we should look to Europe. European schools do not have sports teams. Some places, like Germany, do have a few schools specifically devoted to athletics, but those are exceptions. In Europe athletics are privately funded by clubs. Professional soccer teams have their own youth academies, paid for by the teams, not the tax payers.

So, let us use this crisis to rethink how we spend very limited school resources. It is not a matter of ending sports for kids, but rather a rethinking of who should pay for those sports and how they should be organized. Should tax dollars for education continue to be funneled to sports programs ? I think not.

Heresy!

(See the eftours link for an interesting look at European schools and how they are organized.)

Focus On: The European high school experience

https://www.genevacsd.org/Page/2419

https://www.genevacsd.org/domain/41

2 Comments

Filed under Budget, Education, Politics, Society, Sports, Taxes, United States

Everybody Run, Teacher’s Got a Gun

We live in the age of iodiotic ideas followed by even more idiotic ideas. Most of the “solutions” to problems seem to be designed to create even more problems. And they do. Inevitable.

The latest idiotic idea is that we should start arming teachers in our schools. The NRA supports this idea, of course. As the primary gun manufacturing lobby this will mean more sales. More sales means more dollars to legal gun runners. More dollars to legal gun runners means more dollars in the NRA account. So, the idiotic idea at least has an upside for someone.

As I taught school for 33 years I wondered how I would do if I were armed. Nothing big. Just a small sidearm. A six-shooter. At my hip. Ready to go. Bang. Bang. You’re dead.

It would have proven a useful tool in my arsenal of teaching tricks, to be sure. Before I go on you might consider this. A number of studies have placed teaching as the third or fourth most stressful job in industrialized societies. Third or fourth. Behind soldiers. Cops. EMTS/medical folks. Lots of stress. And not so good on the wages for all those professions. So, even more stress.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/be_your_best/page/top-10-stressful-jobs-america-14355387

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/teaching-among-top-three-most-stressed-occupations

Back to my gun.

I can think of some situations in my long career where a gun may have been useful. And remember the old saying: Don’t point a loaded gun at anyone unless you intend to use it. Use it I would.

There was the 7th grader I will call “Billy Bob”. Billy Bob never did his homework. He almost always sauntered into class late. He shot spitballs on a regular basis. Never passed a test or quiz. Sometimes spit on the floor. He was sent to the office so often he earned frequent flyer miles. And he had a smart mouth. “You’re not my father, you can’t make me do nuthin”.  Wonder what I would have done with a loaded gun?

Then there was Akili . The 18 year old in 9th grade. Came to class once in awhile. Never had a book. Never had a pen or pencil. Never would answer a question. I asked the administration what to do with this kid. Why was he even in school? The answer? He had a “right” to an education and it was my job to teach him. Also, he is selling drugs but we can never catch him. So, once in awhile Akili would show up and take up space. Sit and smirk. Eventually Akili disappeared. Word has it he was “offed” by a rival in the drug business. Still, I wonder? If I had a gun would I have beaten his rival to the punch?

Then there is the monthly faculty meeting. Wherein a person who taught for 3 years and then decided he wanted to make real money but had no skills went on to get an “administrative degree”. This degree allowed such a person to be hired as a principal or vice principal of a school. And to supervise people who actually knew something about educating kids.

Now, this person would hold a faculty meeting. Usually the meeting was designed to inform teachers that they were responsible fo passing all the students. Especially those that did no work. I had one administrator tell me I should never give a grade lower than a 60 on any assignment, even if the student did not turn it in. Not hand it in. Give him an automatic 60. Really. That was his policy. Which I ignored, of course.

Also at the faculty meeting the room full of teachers will be told they must attend “teacher workshops”. Now, a teacher workshop is a place where teachers with 20 years experience sit in student desks and listen to a 23 year old who has never been in a classroom explain how to do the job better. How to inspire every student. How to write individual lesson plans . All 150 of them. Every day. Imagine a room full of armed teachers, after correcting 150 essays, most of which were downloaded from the internet, being told how to do their jobs. Locked and loaded. Yes, give me a gun. Please. Let’s get his meeting started.

Of course there is the dreaded  hall duty. Stop a youngster in the hall who seems to be wandering around aimlessly. Might be lost. Might be looking to bust open a locker. Who knows. So, I ask him very politely: Do you have a hall pass? Where do you belong?

He answers: “Who do you think you are? None of your business. Nobody tells me what to do. Cram it asshole”

Yes, give me a loaded gun.

Now, don’t get me wrong. These are isolated cases and I could give you plenty more. They only happen once in awhile. I might be having a great day and then…bam…some kid destroys it. And, like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, ” I’m a very gentle man…

even tempered and good-natured,
whom you never hear complain,
who has the milk of human kindness
by the quart in every vein.
A patient man am I, down to my fingertips,
the sort who never could, ever would,
let an insulting remark escape his lips
Just a very gentle man.”

http://www.metrolyrics.com/im-an-ordinary-man-lyrics-my-fair-lady.html

But some of my colleagues? Nope. They have neither my unending patient nor ability to digest bullshit, from all quarters, above and below.  Arming any of them would put all of us at risk. Every day.

An idiotic idea. Arming teachers. I can see it now. Take Mrs. Nicklebumpkins 9th grade Algebra class. She just can’t take it anymore. And we all understand why.

Shots ring out. Students running down the hall from her class, screaming in terror…

“Everybody run, teacher’s got a gun”

1 Comment

Filed under crime, Education, gun control, logic, NRA, Politics, Society, Terror, violence

American Schools Part 2: The Great Privatization Scheme

$650,000,000.  Each year. That is what the US spends on public education. A big pile of pennies. A massive gold egg.

As  certain elements of our political system continue to degrade teaching and public education they are keeping one eye firmly focused on this treasure trove of tax dollars. Your dollars. My dollars. Dollars that are going to educate the next generation of citizens.

On one hand they attack teachers and unions and emphasize testing rather than learning. On the other hand they can’t keep their eyes off that big mountain of gold. Ripe for plucking. Privatization.

If you don’t keep the figure of $650,000,000 in mind you will  not get it. Just as the private prison industry has been taking over the housing of criminals, we see a movement in politics to turn over education, and tax dollars, to private companies. What Mitt Romney would call a “transfer of wealth”.

Now, you might think that is a good thing. Public schools can do better. Add to that the ingrained myth that private industry is somehow more efficient that public institutions. And there is no doubt plenty of waste , corruption and failure in some public schools.  So, it may be tempting to turn over the education of kids from highly trained professionals  to for profit companies.

Except it doesn’t work. Well, it depends. If your goal is to simply shift wealth from regulated, licensed, dedicated institutions to unregulated ,  short-term profit scam artists  it does work. If your goal is to  improve schools,  it doesn’t. Of course, the same politicians who are constantly trying to degrade public education, de-fund it and de-unionize  it are the ones who want to turn it over to the private entities. Starve the schools then complain about them.

I took my car to my “government-regulated” mechanic last week and told him to rebuild the engine using only a screwdriver. He said couldn’t do it.  He said he needed better tools to do the job correctly. I told him he was a failure. So, I need to get a new mechanic. I found a guy who said he could do it. He is a “privatized” mechanic. He doesn’t need to follow any stupid government regulations. And he is cheap. Left my car with him last week. I am sure it will be fine. Can’t wait to get it back.

Not a single long-term study has shown any significant increase in student performance in these privately run “schools”. A good example is the Wisconsin “Rocketship” fiasco.  Cut teaching staff. Put kids in front of computers. Emphasize only test scores. And even then test scores did not improve. But “Rocketship”profits did…from $ 2 million to $16 million. Without results. (http://truth-out.org/news/item/23319-scathing-report-finds-rocketship-school-privatization-hurt-poor-kids)

$650,000,000. Each year. Every year. Waiting to be transferred from the taxpayer to the private companies. Like pirates scanning the horizon searching for the Spanish treasure fleet.  The Jolly Roger of the privateers is being raised all over America. And the bullion is your tax dollars.

It’s coming. Every time you hear a politician degrade teaching and schools on one hand you can be sure he is taking something else from the privatization movement with the other hand.

The formula is here: Underfund education. Blame the teachers. Turn it over to privateers.

$650,000,000 each year is too hard to resist.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Politics, Society