Sunday, November 26, 2006


I have always been a somewhat nervous person. I tend to dwell on details and rework them in my head. It's probably what makes me a good teacher and a borderline neurotic. One of the biggest hurdles I have to deal with is returning to the classroom after time off. It's not that I can't teach, or that I feel inadequate, it's simply that after time to decompress from the rushing and paperwork and stress of daily classroom life, I find myself seriously wondering if I want to return. What would happen if I didn't? Would it be the end of the world? I guess I am especially nervous because the day before Thanksgiving break, I was out of class at a teachers' convention. So I have this dread of returning to a classroom in shreds or to a class report that the sub didn't do what I wrote in the lesson plan and I will have to deal with this tidal wave aftermath of whining kids and angry parents. You see, there's this project due. We worked on it in class from the first day of the term. Students recieved a list of requirements and have been allotted time in class to work. But, as so often happens, they procrastinate, they argue, they goof around and do anything but work. The project is due on Wednesday. I have babysat them through the writing and the production of the piece, but HONESTLY, I weep for their incompetence when I see seniors in high school that don't know how to cite a resource or that can't format a page to specifications. It's like pulling teeth to get them to work. And since my class doesn't count toward the GPA, they only need the credit, they give me schlock and expect to pass. Then there are the parents who like to argue over every grade their kiddo doesn't ace. I have a kid who is making an A, but who gave me a half-baked assignment for which I gave him a generous 80. His dad calls me up with a rambling, rumbling monologue of "Why didn't he make an A? He always makes an A. He's playing international soccer. He's on a special accellerrated plan....blahblahblah"...and so on. I have 25-30% of my classes FAILING. I don't have time to argue over a 96 vs. a 97 average. Maybe that's why I dread returning. Yet I need this job. Next year I will have THREE kids in college. And as a nonethnically diverse, middle class, two parent family, the powers that be who give out scholarships and grants think we merit exactly NOTHING. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. I wish I could just pluck out this fear and push it under the bed where it belongs. I wonder how many other teachers go through the same thing the night before classes begin. Or am I the only one?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Change for the sake of Change

What we just witnessed in Tuesday's election was a perfect example of change for the sake of change. It's a phenomenon frequently seen in high schools before and after social events. New, straight ticket voters let the top of the ballot dictate their votes down the line. And some good people on the local level were voted out of office and replaced by people not qualified to hold the job. In one case a county court clerk couldn't read the accounting documents. Fun times in Dallas next time around! On one hand, there' s no question that some things needed to be changed. There were quasi-Republicans riding in on conservative coattails and doing a large amount of damage in the form of reckless spending and porkbarrel politics. That is not to say Democrats were blameless. There are countless taxes that will be reinstated should the Pelosi's Party have their way. And like it or not, we do have the highest homeownership, the lowest unemployment and the highest revenue in circulation in quite a while. So what happens now? The Dems have cried foul at every turn without offering any concrete idea as to how they would change the landscape. Many of them voted to go to Afghanistan and Iraq. You cannot simply wave your hands and remove the US military tomorrow and not expect the vacuum of power to lead to a bloodbath. And that is what was on the books for a plan from the Republicans. Are the Dems so lacking in support for our troops that they would rather pull out precipitously and leave them as targets rather than do things in a safe and measured manner? In short, the Dems have offered nothing but promises and rhetoric. That's all well and good during a campiagn, but now that they have power, their voters are going to expect things to change. I don't know that it will be that easy. In salesmanship you underpromise and overdeliver. When your pizza is promised in 45 minutes, but gets there in 25, you are happy. But if it's promised in 30 minutes and takes an hour, you are one very ticked off consumer. And that is the mood that the Democrats are going to have to deal with. And let's face it, these are folks who will turn on their own kind. Witness the way Lieberman was treated. People he had worked with and supported for nearly two decades betrayed him and spoke against him. The litmus tests are going to come fast and furious:abortion, stemcell research, gay marriage and so on. In the end all that will survive this beating will be the most raving loony liberals on the ticket. And I truly don't think most people will vote for them. Two years down the road, the Democrats will either have delivered their shiny new economy, health care, no war and so on, or they will have to answer to the straight ticket voters who thought that magic existed and that Nancy Pelosi could change the world with just one smile.