Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Tired of this......

I wish this was hypothetical.

I have a senior student, we'll call him Bill.
Bill is in an advanced studio class, which should be a signal he like art and has done some of the previous classes successfully. Bill stopped working in the middle of the first semester. He didn't do half of the projects and didn't turn in the digital portfolio, which is the semester exam. This semester I emailed parents, counselors and principals that the student was over-engaged with his phone and wasn't working in class. My previous interaction with parents and administrators led to nothing but more aggression, so I decided to shape the class where the student could work as he chose, as long as he turned in work. I gave three weeks worth of project and allowed students to work in any order they chose as long as a project was turned in every week.

He turned in nothing, but spent plenty of time on his phone. When I asked what preparation work he had done, he replied he was working at home. The end of the semester is here and he has produced nothing and has one of the lowest scores I've ever given. I don't know what more a teacher can do than give students assignments and expect them to turn in work. I try to design engaging pieces. We did covers for CD's and poster sized printouts. And yet somehow in spite of that I fear the blame will fall on me.

Just last week the mandate went out for all students to upload work to their portfolios (not the art one-the one they are supposed to keep as "a district of innovation." And when said students hadn't uploaded work, it was blamed on teachers. I presented information three times. Yet it appears that students are to bear no burden for their work or their responsibilities.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Once again, I face the task of dismantling Christmas. I admit to being sentimental. I have the nativity set I bought piece by piece from Avon when my kids were small. I set it out each year, surrounded with angels in its own little environment. I have the crafty glitter-laden ornaments my children made, the marbled ones my daughter and I made more recently and a collection of ornaments dating back from our first Christmas as a married couple (we found a tree on Christmas Eve, thrown out by a nearby office and an old string of lights which ended up burning the carpet of our apartment) We didn't have a star that first year, so I illustrated one. It still tops our tree. There's ornaments for the times our children were baseball players, dancers, musicians. And in taking down these memories from our tree, I wonder who will collect them when I am gone.

Each of these pieces were a part of our family. Yet my children don't seem interested in pursuing the idea of children. I know they would be great parents. My son and his wife are wonderful people. My daughter and her husband are great with kids. But it doesn't seem as if they are even considering becoming parents. Perhaps it has to do with their economic struggles. All these thirty somethings work hard at jobs that offer little real security or long term promise. Although they've paid off student loans and bought houses, they all seem more interested in acquiring things than being parents. Perhaps it is selfish of me, but I feel that becoming a parent has been the making of my youngest son. I truly don't think you can look beyond yourself until someone else depends on you for everything. But my grandson lives with his mom and step-father. Any memories we would leave him probably wouldn't be especially valued by him because his mother wasn't involved.

I look at the shiny balls and smiling angels and wonder if they will end up as just a lot sold as antique in some shop. Or worse, I fear that my memories and theirs will simply end up in a landfill, forgotten. I don't want to be the stereotypical Mom who asks when I'm going to have grandkids but golly, I see families with far less having kids out the door. I want someone to carry on. I want someone to remember us. I want a baby to love and spoil unconditionally.

In our nation, the birthrate is dropping. I think too many of the next generation have decided it's not worth the time and bother to become parents. That's sad because that kind of love simply doesn't exist outside of becoming a parent. Maybe things will change. Right now, I'm pretty sad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What Should Be Celebrated?

I understand celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, graduations and retirements.
I understand celebrating holidays of all kinds-religious and not.
I understand celebrating days honoring people like George Washington, Martin Luther King and other heroes.

But I do not understand why my school is literally celebrating autism.
In the same way some in the deaf culture appear to want to isolate themselves based on their disability, it appears that some people on the spectrum (or more realistically, their parents) want to make autism appear not just to be normal, but to be desirable. Hence, my school now has banners "Celebrating Autism."

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Even in my school we've started various weeks of celebration for African Americans, Hispanics, not Asian yet although they outnumber Hispanics in my school, LGBT and a variety of other special snowflake holidays that not only seem to "celebrate" but to promote diversity at all costs. Indeed, I'm seeing more divisions than I did before. But these circumstances are not the same as a disability that can often rob a person of the ability to function.

So what next? Will we be "Celebrating Spina Bifida?" What about "Celebrating Cerebral Palsy"-how come Autism gets this kind of fake boost when it is something that we should want to counter with proper education and training instead of treating it like a party trick when a kid melts down in class?

This appears to be more of the same nonsense that wants us to pare down expectations for everyone in order to accommodate the few

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Free Speech: The Sword Cuts Both Ways

So this morning I read this.

I am an avid theater goer. My daughter is a frequent performer, choreographer and this spring, director, on the Dallas area stage. I understand her peers and performers are often a diverse and liberal lot, but I still accept them. When we have social events at her home, we celebrate a type of armed truce-they don't act out in outrageous fashion and I don't express views they would find upsetting. It's called manners-something sorely lacking in our society today.

Vice-President Elect Pence AND HIS WIFE attended "Hamilton", the recent Broadway smash hit. I'm sure he was interested, as many are, in the content and whether the play itself addresses the issues that produced our nation. But during and after the show, one of the actors felt it necessary to behave in a strident and truly disrespectful manner toward Mr. Pence. This is New York, part of the same city that produced such incorrect polling to assume the deeply flawed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. So for the Times to chortle about this sort of public verbal flogging may play well in bastions of liberalism, but it does not do the theater or the musical well.

Consider this, supporters of the actor in question: Where else in the world would he get the kind of treatment needed to remain alive and HIV positive? Where else would he get social and medical support for his condition? Where else would he be even permitted to publicly claim his status as both gay and HIV+ in places outside the EU? So by that, this nation's Constitution has served him well, because he has free speech and access to those mechanisms necessary to survive.

But there is also this-you cannot just accept part of the Constitution. With great rights come great responsibilities and among those is the freedom to DISAGREE. While the actor from "Hamilton" was certainly free to express his opinions-did he take a poll to assure that they reflected every other player, union worker and member of the audience? Or did he instead use his position to play the bully and take what should be a positive social event and turn it into yet another boring liberal political moment?

Beyond the liberal coasts, this doesn't necessarily play well. I teach Art History and one thing we noted as a class is that art can only be produced in those societies functioning well enough to afford their members to do things beyond the production of goods for survival. Right now, as reflected in the recent election, many many more Americans feel this nation is headed down the wrong path. Americans by and large do not trust the media outlets, who have used their position to bully in a similar fashion and it is hurting them. Newspapers are struggling. And you would think that artists, being more creative and observant, would learn from their mistakes.

While "Hamilton" will be a huge hit in large and liberal cities, the power of a play or musical is it's "legs" or it's ability to endure. If Americans decide that "Hamilton" is too high minded or too offensive or too dismissive of mainstream American views, they will not buy tickets when it comes to their town. This means in addition that regional and local theater groups will not pay to perform it and the musical will wither and die on the vine, a forgotten relic of a contentious age-as have so many others. Either these "artists" in their self-serving rage have forgotten "The Play's the Thing" or they do not care if it dies.

Free speech works both ways. Sauce for the goose, baby, sauce for the gander.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Color Me Surprised

I voted for Trump.
I did it after much self-loathing because a vote for Hillary Clinton would have been so much worse.
Imagine my surprise that he won. I honestly didn't think he would win. My husband and I avoided all news outlets until 10:30 Tuesday night. We were in shock. I needed to go to bed, but I couldn't. I poured through RealClearPolitics state by state and county by county voting trends. I called Pennsylvania long, long before the networks. Florida hung at 99% for five hours. It was as if the MSM was loathe to admit Trump had won.

The next morning, three conservative teachers gathered in an out of the way classroom not to celebrate but to express utter relief that we would not be faced with a bitter and burdensome continuation of liberal goals.

Reading about the Clinton campaign's plans for her celebration (complete with confetti that would look like broken glass to represent the glass ceiling)I have to think she is and was totally out of touch with mainstream America and that was her undoing. You cannot go collecting demographic groups like stamps in an album and think the mail service will stop delivering the mail.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I Can't Do This Anymore

When I became a teacher, I went into the job hoping to help students learn. I envisioned a class where I would share ideas, where I would help students build their skills and develop their own dreams. I was young. I was naive, but inside any good teacher is that kernel of altruism that resonates in ways I can't explain.

I can't do this anymore. For every student I have who really wants to learn, ten others (and their parents) are using intimidation and bogus special needs demands to game the system. I'm not talking about students who legitimately need assistance-that a whole different ball game. I'm talking about parents who make claims in order to get their kid more time on tests, more help on work, fewer questions, less homework. It would be one thing if they were in regular classes, but now we are encountering them in AP courses.

I teach an AP course. It is not easy because the test itself is one of the most difficult non-math tests AP offers. As such I have to teach 25,000 of art, teach students how to categorize and define artworks in terms of other artworks. We delve into every culture from Assyria to modern Africa and beyond. I spend around two hours a night making presentations. I post these presentations online for students to review. I spent three solid weeks eliminating unnecessary reading in the very intimidating AP Art History text. I spend evenings and weekends grading or writing assessments. I try to throw in things that are fun like Kahoot reviews and activities that can help students to internalize their learning.

But what do you do when a student lets a parent schedule appointments during a part of the exam and then refuses to show up during Block the next day to make it up? I waited all during lunch. I waited after school on the half day which is the end of the semester. The student didn't show up. The student tried to show up while I was conducting portfolio reviews with my studio class. I told the student to return after school was out but never showed up. What is galling is that another student-who is texting buddies with this one-is now claiming I didn't give additional time although he turned in his work well before the end of class and was given a chance the next day to do a different prompt-but left after ten minutes. I knew I should never look at my emails on the weekend.

I am so sick of this and what is more I HAVE NO OPTIONS. Thanks to the dreadful Obama induced economy and the additional burden of a husband who despite countless resumes and interviews cannot find a job I am really at the end of my rope. I hate this election. I hate this economy. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I'm working myself to death and then get snippy emails from young AP's who seem to do nothing to help teachers and always take the students and parents side. I can't do this anymore.

I just can't.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Toxic Election

Here's an email I sent to a local talk radio station. While the host is conservative, he's troubled by the same things that trouble me. How have we gotten to this position with two of the most despicable candidates imaginable? I believe the media set us up. At any rate, this is my email to him. I believe it resonates with what many middle class Americans are feeling.

PS. I predict one of the lowest voter turnouts ever. People are just simply disgusted.

"What you're talking about tonight is a topic my husband and I have discussed for over a year. It's truly ironic that Trump finds himself on the other side of a smear campaign after how he shoved Ted Cruz out of the race by using the friendship with National Inquirer's owner to allege a series of deliberate lies. It comes out as Trump being able to dish it out, but not take it. To be fair, my guy was always Ted Cruz due to his brilliance on policy. Also, my husband is a true gentleman who has protected women from predators at his former job and who despises men that act like cads. That the media tries to make all conservatives into Neanderthals is despicable. My husband supports Trump because the media has given us no options. I have opposed Trump and he's not making my husband's attempt to change my mind any easier.

Please don't get me wrong. I believe Hillary Clinton is a horrible person. She is a traitor, she is a thief, she is a liar and she will take this nation down the path to destruction. Any of the other 17 candidates could have taken her down handily because frankly the people in this nation see the damage done by unchecked far left policies. So ask yourself, how come Trump won? He won because the MEDIA lapped up and promoted him as the next new thing. They glossed over his history-which was tarnished long before he entered the race-and indeed attacked anyone who opposed him. What was the lead story in every newscast during the primary season? It was always Trump and his word was golden. So when he claimed that Ted Cruz set up other candidates, Trump's much louder voice drowned out the voices of reason. As a result the best conservative running was not just forced to step down for the safety of his family, but was reviled by the same party leadership that now are shunning Trump. What gives?

Here's how I see it. Trump was never going to win. He's big buddies with the Clintons and indeed has far more in common policy wise with them and their money man George Soros than average Americans. I believe the Clintons knew Hillary was in political trouble. They knew that without a cover story to hide behind, the Wikileaks stories would haunt her. The Clintons have always believed "it's her turn" and seem clueless on the fact that at 70, Hillary Clinton is not in any shape for the rigors of the position. So who will be calling the shots? I believe it's a consortium of those who have given the Clintons millions over the years. They will make decisions that benefit the Buffets (ex. the use of railway over pipeline for oil tar sands transport) and Gates and Soros' of the world at the expense of the rest of us. Her leak on desiring completely open borders should be a signal that this woman has no intent in helping American workers who are already at one of the lowest participation rates in 100 years. So they set up Trump to run against her knowing that he would behave in outrageous fashion to make Clinton appear a valid choice.

The truth is neither are valid choices. Both are toxic. Clinton has undisclosed medical issues and Trump is a walking ad for a stroke. No matter who wins I doubt either of them survive the four years. So we have to look to the VP candidates. Kaine is a wash. Nobody knows him outside the east coast that the few that do don't like him. He has a reputation of being a "difficult" person. Pence on the other hand has a reputation as a builder. He is someone I can support. So when I vote, as an American, as a woman, I will vote for the Republican ticket-but only because I believe ultimately Pence will be in charge.

Just my thoughts,
Please don't use my whole name as I'm a teacher and frankly I'm not too sure what kind of havoc my opinions would produce"