Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sick

I hate being sick. I thought after breaking my nose in a fall last year and having subsequent rhinoplasty that my days of struggling through Fall wheezing and coughing were over. No such luck. I called in sick around five this morning, hoping that a substitute would pick up the job. I have a student teacher in tow, but she's green and frankly my classes can be challenging. If I could talk at all, I would have gone in. But, sparing you gory details, my vocal chords are immobile, my throat is sore and I have bouts of coughing that leave me literally aching. This is how my round with whooping cough began last year. I can't afford this.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

From the House of Are You Kidding Me, California?

The story
My reactions:
1. Americans with Disabilities Act is the driving coercive factor that allows parents of special needs students to play bullies. This is a ridiculous case and the parents and adminstrators are clueless.
2. ADA is leading districts to implement a type of mainstreaming that is not conducive to a better education. Oh sure, everyone can shake hands because special needs kids are in the regular ed classes, but it's the same type of thinking that led to busing on the belief that just sitting next to a white kid would insure the academic success of minority students. While kids of all groups who can learn in a class should be there, with special needs students there are many medical, psychological and emotional factors involved. Case in point, what do you do when as a five foot six female teacher, a non-communcative six foot four male with autistic spectrum disorder starts raging around the room? What is more, who is at fault if and when another student gets hurt? What are you supposed to do when an emotionally unstable student begins cutting themselves because you can't drop everything and sit by them the entire period? These are the types of issues our teachers and our children are facing. Does that sounds like an environment where all students are valued or just one where special students are valued?
3. The real world, the future we are preparing students for, does not bend to the needs of the individual no matter how much liberals try to make it so. There will always be those things one person cannot eat, the stairs someone cannot climb, the books someone cannot read. Do we eliminate all of those things from life simply because of a few? Furthermore, does it make sense to have a student who cannot read or write or speak simply sitting in a Home Ec class or a Theater class just to fulfill goals that have little to do with the real world? And while we are at it, what of the unrealistic expectations that some special ed departments apply to their students? I had one poor child who was convinced by her special ed teachers that she was going to enter the very competitive world of animation. They put this on her exit papers from school! The child could not write, could not read and could not draw. Is this not cruel? Or is this an acceptable level of misdirection as advocated by our current regime?
4. Teachers are starting to show strain. I'm not an advocate of unions although I belong to an association. But these types of actions that leave teachers legally and professionally exposed at every turn, including the fear of physical attack, gives rise to unions. I am sure some will castigate me as "mean" for having these views, but I've seen too many students turned away from programs viewed as dumping grounds for special needs students. And I have seen too many average kids fall through the cracks while teachers scurry to fulfill every whim of multipaged IEP's. Something has to change. And soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A List of Accomplishments: Compare and Contrast

A Tale of Two Presidents   
Mitt Romney: The Next President - As president of Bain Capital, invested billions in private equity in these companies:
Staples Office Supply
Burger King
Burlington Coat Factory
AMC Entertainment
Domino’s Pizza
Dunkin’ Donuts
Sports Authority
Toys “R” Us
Warner Music Group

All of the above are profitable businesses that have created hundreds of thousands of jobs.
President Barack Obama - As president of the United States, invested billions of your tax dollars in these companies:
Solyndra—Bankrupt
Ener 1—Bankrupt
Beacon Power—Bankrupt
Abound Solar—Bankrupt
Amonix Solar—Bankrupt
Spectra Watt—Bankrupt
Eastern Energy—Bankrupt
Ener Del—Bankrupt
Range Fuels—Bankrupt

All of the above were major contributors to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. 
Thanks to:
http://www.nbra.info

Monday, October 08, 2012

Why Teachers Quit.

My district, under some truly delusional actions by the state of Texas, has implemented a program known as total inclusion. No pull outs, no special classes, no content mastery or small group teaching for the kids who struggle to function. Instead general ed teachers are supposed to magically develop the skills to intuitively know how to address multiple IEP mandates for multiple children within a regular classroom setting. To some, this may sound like insanity, but to many this is the endgame for special education wherein teachers are simply observers and record keepers. The sad thing is, I'm a good teacher. I find kids who have talent and I get them to where they need to be. I write recommendation letter, I find college sponsors, I push them, I reward them-which last time I heard is what a teacher is supposed to do. But the New Regime, a rather aggressive and arrogant movement led by Special Ed teachers who see general ed teachers as The Enemy, seem intent on making our lives more complex than it should be.

First, there is the placement itself. A student with mild challenges can be easily incorporated into a regular class with support. That means that the general ed teacher is informed-FULLY-and that care is taken to place the student into a class where his or her numbers won't tip the apple cart. But what is happening is that because of scheduling special core classes for these groups, a full third of some classes hold severely disabled students in a regular classroom. That in itself creates a situation where the teacher must pay due to the special ed student first leaving the regular students to their own devices. Then you have 504's, BIP's and other special designations. We have to file no less than five and sometimes as many as nine pieces of paper every single week PER STUDENT, which with ten students results in 90 pieces of paper be handled. Today the head of Special Ed celebrated all the necessary data we are generating. What she ignores is that in order to do this, many teachers are dumbing down programs, ignoring advanced students and diluting rigor in programs.

Second, there is the issue of classroom management. I am one of those teachers who rarely if ever sends students to the principal. Generally speaking, special ed students aren't referred for behavioral problems. But when you have a situation where you have autistic spectrum kids who can be set off by too bright a light, or a word or an emotionally disturbed student who likes to openly rant over ways to attack people it makes it hard to encourage students to stay in an elective program. when they view it as a holding area for kids who cannot do anything else.I spent half an hour on Friday trying to convince an amazingly talented sophomore to stay in art after she was verbally assaulted by an emotionally disturbed student. My fear is that the talented students will leave and my classes truly will little more than a place to put every problem, every kid who fights, every kid with issues.

I have five years until I can retire. Five years. That's 900 days of teaching. What's sad is I am good at what I do. I had more kids get 5's on their AP portfolios that the rest of the district combined. I have more kids taking AP than any other school. I have more kids in elite art schools or in art programs in major universities than any other teacher in the district. That is what I have always thought I was supposed to do-make kids successful. And while I am good at finding those kids who never realized they had talent, the stark reality is that someone who can't move their arms, cannot read, cannot write, cannot talk, is probably not destined for anything beyond a very limited life. I want to make their lives pleasant, but not at the cost of everyone else. After today, I feel broken. I feel that all my work is simply not worth it. I believe that everything I have done to build up the program has been nothing more than a joke.

I wish I felt differently. I wish I could feel more hopeful. But this is what the feelgood policies of the current crop of educational elites and the politicians of the Left has done to the once noble idea of a free public education. I hope my children will be able to afford decent private schools for their kids. It's over.