Monday, December 14, 2015


It's one a.m.
I am scheduled to return to work after my surgery tomorrow.
I'm also supposed to be observed sometime this week.
So why am I awake?
Because when I lie down I begin coughing. This is a biproduct of my surgery wherein my entire endocrine system is now trying to reboot and consequently acting out in unacceptable ways. Such as:
I will be dead tired for period tomorrow.
I will also be uber hyper for a period.
I will crave food and simultaneously reject all food offered.
I will burst out in emotional responses-I have to really watch that one.

But right now my concern is sleep-how to get it, and when I will get some.
I have tried the following:
Cough medicine
Saline spray
Hot Tea
Any of a number of other remedies BUT NOTHING WORKS.
How long can a person live without decent sleep? It seems I read somewhere that it eventually would cause hallucinations and psychosis.
Well that's something to look forward to.

Right now my ankles and feet are swollen.
My throat is slightly sore-moreso when I cough.
There's an annoying constant tickle...ugh

At least there's no more pressure in my ears and what I thought were my tonsils swelling was evidently the "nodule" which is really just a nice name for tumor. In looking at it (yes they send you a photo now just like the mechanics) I can see where it looks like she took out some lymph nodes and it appears the growth went up my trachea and into parts of what should have been my salivary glands and tonsils. It's very roomy in there now. I would post a photo but I'm afraid Google would freak out at the graphic nature and end up banning me for life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Argue With Your Doctor

I had surgery yesterday. I've been arguing with doctors for years over my metabolism. They have attributed it to everything from laziness to menopause. I finally found an endocrinologist that actually looked at my thyroid and discovered that basically I don't have one anymore. Instead I had a huge toxic thyroid tumor that was capable of mimicking normal thyroid function while doing nothing.

This was supposed to be a slam dunk in and out. It wasn't. Once the doctor got in, she discovered a connection to a mass next to my aorta(!!!) the size of an apple. She said she didn't understand why it hadn't been detected and that it should have been removed five or more years ago. I have had a variety of doctors-men, women, American trained, foreign trained and the one trait they seem to share is a general disdain for the opinions of the patient. They like to focus on the computer script and do not listen to the concerns offered. In my case I have a very very strong history of thyroid disease with my mother, grandmother, daughter, son and brother all on medication. Heck, even my dog is on it. But in looking at the photos of the tumor (the doctor said the lab would probably faint when they saw it it's that large....) this has been ongoing forever.

So my message is to argue with your doctor even if they don't like it. Right now my throat feels empty. It's possible that a number of issues I've been dealing with from sleep apnea to allergies have been have been the result of this really nasty growth.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

San Bernadino

Nobody wants anyone to be hurt. 
But this was not your typical "lone wolf" shooting in spite of how Hillary and Obama want to frame it. This was a soft target. It's in a state where few have concealed carry licenses. It's also a state where the majority of people are hesitant to point out anyone who stands out as not belonging because of the imposition of PC attitudes on top of gut instincts. It was a hired hall with a group celebrating holidays and the achievements of some of their members. The president's comments are absolutely off base. The shooters hit a soft target with virtually no security in face. This has nothing to do with gun laws. I doubt someone planning such an attack worries very much about the lawfulness of their weapons. 

What should be alarming is that it took San Bernardino Schools over 90 minutes to call for a lockdown. That is way too much time. This comes from the liberal mentality of "don't judge" and the idea that some mantle of protection hovers over the families who vote largely Democrat. I shudder to think what could have happened had they reached a school. And what of the shopping malls? At least they evacuated, finally. But who's to say the shooters didn't shed their Kevlar and vanish into the crowd-a crowd that is unwilling to recognize a person who might stand out because they do not belong.

The gunmen were masked and armed. Some news agencies tried to say they were white. That's now been refuted. A person of interest is a worker at the facility named Farooq Syeed. Call me suspicious but that's probably not an Irish Catholic guy. I have to wonder given the media's willingness to push the White House agenda if they will admit it if the shooters turn out to be from the Middle East. After being so willing to push the #BLM agenda while ignoring situations like the Bunny Friend Playground shooting of 17 in New Orleans by a black male, I'm not so sure the media is our best source for information.

Also, and I hope to God this isn't true, this almost sounds like a practice run for something larger. I know if I was a parent of a child in San Bernardino Schools I would be burning up the lines to chew out whoever it was that didn't think those children's safety was worth upsetting the gods of political correctness to call a lockdown. That superintendent should be fired.

And finally, it sickens me how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could not wait to spin this to a gun rights issues without even knowing a single fact. This is from the same sources that called Ft. Hood "workplace violence" and Benghazi "a failed mission". I'd loved to say more, but I don't want to talk to officials. I just wish both of them would shut the hell up.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Thyroid

I come from a family with a history of thyroid disease. My mother has been on meds since she was 18. My daughter has been on meds since she was 20. My brother nearly ended up in a psych ward because men are not routinely tested for thyroid function. As it turns out his behavior for ten years including profound depression, job losses and more, were the result of a non-functioning thyroid. My 25 year old son is on medication for thyroid disease. Even my dog is on medication for thyroid disease. I have had symptoms of thyroid disease for twenty years. But every time my GP tested me, it came back normal. I have had dry skin, high cholesterol (something I never had earlier), thinning hair, weight gain in spite of diets, exercise, starving.

That changed last week. After years of talking and begging and arguing with doctors, finally my doctor realized I had a nodule on my neck. He sent me for an ultrasound and lo and behold, I have two massive nodules on my thyroid. Further analysis would show that I have hardly any actual thyroid tissue having had it replaced with toxic nodules. Toxic thyroid nodules not only replace healthy tissue, they can produce hormones which will read as a normal thyroid screen on tests. What is more, depending on your age and sex, thyroid disease is often misdiagnosed as many of the following conditions:
-Adolescent angst
-Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

She said it's one of the most underdiagnosed and easily repaired conditions. Furthermore it makes me wonder how much of my son's ADHD as a child was really thyroid issues manifesting as he reached adolescence. This whole situation has been a revelation. I didn't understand why I couldn't swallow, why I always felt like I had a frog in my throat. It turns out my thyroid nodules are starting to choke me off. Kind of scary, but it makes me hopeful because now I can schedule surgery and finally get this situation in control. I've missed out on so much over the years because of the fatigue. 

Monday, November 16, 2015


I've never been to Paris, France. I have been to Paris, Texas. I'm pretty sure it's not the same.I hate to say "I told you so" but when you don't respect the borders of your own nation, when you don't defend it by vetting those coming in, when you don't list expectations that include assimilation into your culture and acquisition of your language, you end up developing a parallel culture. Quite often such cultures end  up poverty stricken because they are poorly equipped to participate. Too often they come with expectations of being given free stuff for little or no work. People get tired of being taxed at higher rates for people who do not want to assimilate. Paris has entire neighborhoods where police do not go. We already have enough problems here. Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, New Orleans could all make more headway in improving everyone's lives. France accepted refugees and for their kindness was attacked from within. Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden or Italy could be next. I just don't want MY COUNTRY to be on the list.Prayers for the victims of this heinous act.Prayers that somehow, some way, the world will be rid of these human locusts.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Loss of Control

While life on the outside has definitely lost it's edges, life on the inside has as well.
I have what is termed "nodules" on my thyroid. Now they could be benign-not with my luck-but they could be. They could also be what's been screwing up my metabolism for the last fifteen years. Either way I have to have a biopsy and it doesn't sound pleasant. It is possible that I will then either down a radioactive iodine shot to destroy said damaged organ or have day surgery to remove it.

Day surgery is a liberal construct where they make you starve all night, wake up early and then wait for hours until the doctor gets around to your procedure. Then you get to go home to quake and vomit from the aftermath of general anesthesia at your leisure. What going to be interesting to see is how my principal responds. See he's pronounced that no more teachers can have a planned absence on any of November's Fridays due to the numerous band and athletic activities requiring coaches and directors to miss school. So what happens when my doctor says this Friday, come hell or high water, I have to be there. Given the way things have gone lately, I am willing to bet the conversation starts with "Welllll.....Mrs. .....couldn't you schedule that for over the Thanksgiving break? "

First of all, having had to deal with my son's ankle break over a New Years holiday, I know doctors often opt to take their own families out of town. Imagine that. Doctors like time off too. This means that while we're having turkey at home (and saving up money for procedures) they will be at Purgatory or Keystone shusshing the slopes. I don't blame them. I would want time off too. And I would rather take time off to RECOVER during Thanksgiving break than to have the surgery, feel miserable and miss seeing my own kids.

Nobody really knows about this. My own kids don't know and my husband doesn't know the odds. I don't think he wants to know. I'm trying to keep this light because honest to God since 2008 we've been hit by so many things that one more might just upset everything. But I am scared. And I am praying. The wheels have come off, the center will not hold seems to be the story of my life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

About Teaching

A friend sent me this story:
Teaching Is Like an Abusive Relationship

I read it.
Then I read it again
It's not from an American source, it's from the UK. And teachers there are seeing the same behavior or worse than we are experiencing here. Just this week the head of Special Ed at my school, who runs the BIC or behavior intervention room for seriously mentally ill students (she has three at the most at any one time) publicly complained about having to teach my subject, high school art, in her contained setting. "It's hard." She said. "I don't know how to handle things," she whined. She ignores that quite often she orders seriously disabled and quite disruptive students into our classes of 30 or more. Furthermore she wants to bring her class down to one of my teachers and drop them off for art ignoring that this teacher already has a full class of 30 students many of whom come to her with paperwork. But because she has the ear of the administration and a doctorate in Special Education, I'm sure they will listen to her first and ask us later. I keep telling my husband I can't do this anymore. We're going to be heading for a new schedule next year. Instead of 90 students a semester I will see 180. That means twice as many students will paperwork. Inclusion is not working and although it makes the parents feel good, it causes a great deal of resentment by the other students who often wait a couple of years to get in a class and then have it constantly disrupted by special needs students who have no ability or interest in the class.

This is why our education system is failing. When we place the needs of a small group who will never work outside a sheltered environment over those of the kids we will depend on to keep this nation on its feet, we are investing in a losing cause.

God help us.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Can't Do This Anymore

As I sit here I wonder what in the hell has happened. It used to be you stayed out of trouble, paid your bills, did your job and things were fine. Now known felons are celebrities, paying your bills is for dopes and doing your job doesn't get you merit based increases, but plays favorites based on a slate of attributes that have nothing to do with job performance. I have worked since I was 16. Even those years when I was a stay at home Mom, I worked. Anyone who doesn't think caring for three kids largely on your own while your spouse travels is kidding themselves. I worked part time when we needed it and even moved to full time in jobs where I was far too often overworked and underappreciated.

This last week has been a doozy. I joined a local choir as just a means to relieve some stress. As it turns out what was a modest initial outlay has become a multi-level marketing type of demands for more and more. I'm the only one working at my house. I don't see bills or taxes getting any lower. My husband has given up seeking work-and frankly having watched him send out resumes and go through interviews on the phone I can't blame him. In our group of friends-all about 50 to 65 years old, many of them are either unemployed (often without compensation since they were sales reps) or working at part time jobs for subsistence salaries. Because of that I keep working.

Our property taxes have risen 15%. Our house is falling apart. We have an entire bathroom with a leak in the wall that we cannot afford to fix. We have ceilings falling and holes in the wall. And we can't fix them. We don't have the personal skills or money to make that happen. Groceries have gone up from $85 a week to $125. Even my blood pressure meds have tripled in price even though they are on the insurance formulary. People wonder why there's so much hostility it is because those of us who have worked so hard are simply tired and yet the increasing demands of the next generations place us in the situation of always having to be the provider for any of a slew of liberal schemes.

We are not spendthrifts. I drive a 17 year old car. I can't afford the cost of a new car payment and yet I can't afford the payments on a used car. It seems at every turn there's a roadblock. I didn't feel this way even ten years ago. But frankly the personification of every bad thing that has happened to me and my family has come down to this president and this administration. They will not be content until they have left us with nothing.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fourteen Years Is Evidently Too Long To Remember

The reason we have forgotten 9/11 is that someone decided it was too painful to remember. So children were not exposed to the stories and images. While their zealous teachers and professors have made sure they were shown every conspiracy and controversy laced version of 9/11, the images shot by French videographers who just happened to be a Ground Zero as the towers were hit and fell and hell started breaking loose, were banned from TV after just one showing. Someone decided we weren't strong enough. So now I teach high school seniors who have never seen the footage. They talk bravely of progressive issues and archly judge earlier administrations, clueless of what we as a nation went thought and heedless of why the actions taken after 9/11 were taken. They talk distastefully of war, ignoring that for a long time after 9/11, we were waiting for the next attack. That it has not happened on the scale of 9/11 is more in the nature of a happy accident than of real security. We have a current administration that is actively ignoring what happened 14 years ago. They label obvious acts of terrorism as "workplace violence" and roundly criticize anyone who echoes the fears we felt 14 years ago when we say we want to know who is in this country and we do not want people coming here from known terror sponsoring states. While those of us who remember still stay vigilant, too many others ignore the peril. And so it will happen again. I don't know where, I don't know when, and I pray it is not as bad as it could be, because with the allowances this administration has made for rogue nations in the Middle East, I fear it could be very bad indeed.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I can't do this anymore.
I didn't get into teaching for fame or fortune.
I didn't even get in there to be Teacher of the Year. I always considered those types far more interested in their own welfare than the welfare of those they teach. As hokey as it sounds, I got into teaching because I like kids. And I teach art because in a world that is so often ugly and unfair and art isn't like that. You don't have to be rich to be creative. You don't have to be popular to be good. And I guess I had hoped at some point that teaching art would make the world a little bit better place. I hoped that kids would learn to appreciate what they have and seek to make better those things that are broken.

Yes, I was an optimist.

After today, I simply don't know anymore. I've endured the countless cases of the most disabled kids being parachuted into my most advanced classes and although I've complained, I've survived. I have kids with criminal histories, deviant behavior and even a kid so violent he had to be walked to and from class because he was so delusional that he would believe the very walls were attacking him. But today was the last straw.

I've worked very hard to build an AP program that was both flexible and rigorous. I gave the students projects in much the same way a client hires a graphic designer. They are free to do what they want. The projects are designed to build up their portfolio Breadth. I'm not clueless-many of these project have gotten my students into schools like School of Visual Arts, Kansas City Art Institute, Ringling and Rhode Island School of Design. Yet today an AP student-one who bailed on AP portfolio and our state competition last year, leaving the department stuck paying the fees, accused me of having a class that was holding her back. It seems she wants some sort of "open portfolio" class where all they do is whatever work they feel like doing. My experience with that is you get two kinds of artwork: Utter crap and Nothing. This one page rant went on and one.

My take, after discussing this with other department teachers, the girl's counselor and her AP is to let her go into another class, which is fine by me. In a way I think this may be calling her bluff. She expects me to back down and let her do whatever she wants. Instead I'm essentially of the mind not to kick her out, but to let her go. I understand the only class open that period is Personal PE. I hope she enjoys that.

But on a larger scale, this is a problem that is growing. I don't know if this is a problem with me, the kids , the school or all of the above. From the overweaning burden of testing to the sophomoric level of favoritism (by the faculty no less!) teaching just isn't much fun anymore. It's become a job where status is real, income is nebulous and based on how much you brown nose and the daily grind has become literal. I come to school each day with hope, only more often than not to see it dashed on the rocks. We live in an age when gratitude is a rare commodity. I'm not sitting here waiting with my hands out, but a thank you would be nice now and again.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Imagine this

As I predicted, our students came into school this year with a marked chip on their shoulders. I wish I had dared take photos of some of the things I've seen. Like the girl with leggings with the word "Dope" trailing down her leg. Sure, I know what it means in current slang, but had you seen her wearing it, you would have nodded and said "Yep." Then there's the overendowed African American girl wearing a shirt saying "Hands up, don't shoot" with the hands right over her boobs. Seriously.The last straw was a group of boys leaving trash in the hall. We had a horrid mouse problem last year and I don't want to deal with that again. When I asked the group who left the trash they named a kid and said he was in the bathroom, but his backpack and phone were there. So I took his phone and told them that I needed to talk to him and he would get his phone back after he cleaned up his mess. He banged on the class door and shouted "I want my phone. You can't take my phone" I replied "It was in plain sight on your backpack, you weren't around, it could have been anyone." He started fuming and said "I'm getting an AP." I said "Fine." Before the AP could say a word I explained AGAIN how I would return the kid's phone after he cleaned up his mess and that I took his phone because nobody was watching it and he needed to talk to me. No problem. I'm tired of kids behaving like we are servants. That attitude comes from parents.

Sunday, August 23, 2015


This makes sense. And if you don't understand then you've never had to try to speak over the texting, movie watching and instagramming of today's youths.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Year, New Cheerleaders, Same Old Songs

My second day of in-service leaves me tired, panicky and disillusioned. Once again we hear the praises sung of the same folks-largely folks who get a great deal of attention and support from all concerned. Once again we hear new mandates including programs that seem likely to make kids who aren't G/T or 504 or SpEd even more invisible than they are now. If you're a teacher you've probably seen this illustration of equality vs. equity.
Now in this scenario what is desired is for the participants to say that by taking the box from the tallest student and given a second box to the smallest one, it's providing "fairness for all." But as one of the faculty members pointed out, our data shows that we have almost equal numbers of G/T students and Special Needs students while 73% of our students aren't involved in any way at all with additional support or contact. Anyone who has had special education students parachuted into an already large class knows what happens next. The needs of the SpEd kid come first in every circumstance. Then ESL, 504 and G/T. Pity the average kid who isn't on the top or the bottom of anyone's list. If they get time at all it's usually for goofing off or acting up because that is just about the only way they get face time.

What advocates want us to say is that taking from the tallest ( or most gifted) kid is fair because then everyone is level. But in reality taking away advantages from the G/T kid actually is the same as taking away hearing aids from a hearing impaired student. Why should G/T kids get less in terms of funding, attention and time than Special Needs students who already get the lion's share of education budgets? I am shocked the parents of G/T kids aren't screaming. And they should be. This type of false parity not only limits the improvements of our best kids, but gives false appearance of achievement to the lowest achieving group.

In reality what happens is that in order to give the lowest group the appearance of "success" the supports and encouragement that could elevate the average and above average learners into bigger and better things are removed. In short, we are on a path to limit the best and brightest in order to appease the parents of those kids who will never work outside a shelter environment, indeed, if at all.
Idiocracy is real.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Killing Childhood

Below is my response to what I think is a very important organization. We have parents who are too involved in their kids lives in very unhealthy ways. The most obvious activity is sports, but other activities have their problems too such as when a girl not ready for pointe shoes due to her lack of ankle strength and muscle tone had her mother yell at my daughter who is degreed in dance and familiar with what a young dancer must do to prepare for the often challenging move to pointe shoes. It's just one example-I have many more.....

Here's the blog:
Changing the Game

Here's my response:
Whether it is dance, football or basketball parents have gotten way too involved in their children's lives and not in a good way. I've seen members of the PTA climbing the backstop at a LIttle League game screaming at the umpire. I've seen parent coaches claim that kids they knew were years older were younger for the sake of winning all the games. In one case, on my son's under 14 soccer team during a tournament, I watched as the father of the team's star player paced the field shouting commands often in direct conflict to the coach. The son, a truly skilled player, ran down the field heading for the goal and then his dad shouted. The kid stopped, glared at his dad and kicked the ball to a player on the opposing team. That kid never played soccer after that year. My own son, not a star, but a solid player, still plays as an adult and watches games whenever he can find them. Which player would you rather have on your college team?

And this is the problem. Parents are trying to game the system. They hold kids from Kindergarten in hopes they will be older, bigger and faster as a 19 year old on the football field. They sign kids up for multiple sports like the girl in my third period who had either select soccer or select volleyball practices or games every single day. It starts in grade school. Parents have 'activities' every day. There's no chance for playing with neighborhood friends without making an appointment. As a result, kids don't know how to create games on their own. It's a problem.

It is not that sports or dance or whatever your kid competes in is a bad thing, but in life it should not be the ONLY thing that defines your child. I think it is so sad when we have kids who are gifted artists or writers or performers who can't take those classes because their one focus is something else. Do we really want our kids to be so limited in life? One of the saddest cases was a beautiful girl who was an amazing artist and could have gotten a full ride at any of the elite design schools. She loved art. But Mom wanted her to play golf-a game she didn't like and wasn't very good at-because Mom read she could get a scholarship. This same Mom forced the girl to go to nursing school when the poor kid had no interest in the profession. Ten or so years down the road, this kid will burn out.

Kids need variety in life. This is the only childhood they will have. Parents need to stop living vicariously through their children. I hate the excuse "this is the child's choice' because children want to please their parents. Our children should not be held to the Victorian ideal of being tiny adults. As one of my athletes who was a competitive skater said "This is not my life, it is the life my parents want for me." She would be at the local rink from five to seven every morning and five to nine every night. We fought against child labor-but please tell me what the difference is with this kind of schedule?

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Race Industry

A commentary on a much lauded book of complaints by Tahnesi Coates.

Coates seems to be the epitome of the Liberal Victim, constantly seeking a single source to blame for his problems in life. There's not enough hot water-blame Whitey upstairs. There's no seats left for a Broadway show he wants to see-blame Whitey with money. There's black kids on the street vandalizing his car-blame Whitey. After awhile the habit becomes a litany and white people become the Judas goat for every thing he-the self appointed representative of Blacks Everywhere-has suffered in life. How he manages to blame being bullied and beaten by other black kids on white racism is about as logical as the use of N-word by rappers and wannabe thugs. Excuse me as a white woman for not caring anymore. While I will always seek to actively help individuals, I will risk the microaggression of not particularly caring about their ethnicity other than in an observational way. Also, I am personally tired to death of the assumption by black activists that there's some secret grant that all white folks get. I worked my way through school. Contrary to the John Hughes film imagery that seems to fuel Coates' ideas on how all white folks live, that is not reality. My dad worked until the day he died at age 75. Right now my husband has been unemployed for more than a year. My kids worked two or more jobs in college and are grossly underemployed considering their degrees. Yet somehow Coates, who I'm sure got a nice advance for his book of complaints and is compensated well enough to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, believes because not everyone in the world smiles at him daily, he can blame entire swaths of humanity for his problems. I'm suffering from Grievance Fatigue and frankly cannot take time to worry about whether the feelings of wealthy black men are hurt because the white grocery cashier-whose feet and back probably hurt from standing for hours on end-didn't give him a cheery high five with his purchase.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Chattanooga Shooting

What should be obvious from this act of terror is that this administration has learning absolutely nothing since the very similar event at Fort Hood. Unarmed military personnel on their own turf are essentially targets and this administration, along with the others before them that condoned this policy (renewed in 2011) of denying personnel of their sidearms while on base. This is a deeply flawed policy based more on the fears of anti-gun advocates than in reality. Evidently we have learned nothing from the reality of Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard shootings.

As to the shooter-there was one big clue. He was fired from his job for failing a drug test. Currently our administration has taken draconian measures to "decriminalize" drug use. Just this week the president went to El Reno facility in Oklahoma to register another statement that we should not judge those who indulge in what is criminal behavior such as drug use. Drug use while on the job is a huge issue. There have been videos of union workers at auto plants toking at lunch-a very dangerous stunt considering the machinery they are using. There have been cases of bus drivers and train engineers indulging to the detriment of all on board. Like it or not, drug use is a bad thing when combined with high skill programs. The shooter was fired and that is justified. What is also a problem is that nobody seems to want to ask the shooter's family why they didn't show concern for his seven month stint in Jordan. Most people would be troubled that their son was dropping out of a career and heading to a region that is dangerous. The shooter's father was investigated and perhaps terror networks found this too dangerous for them to use him as an asset in place. But an electrical engineer working at a nuclear power facility could be someone placed to do significant harm on a larger regional basis.

At this point, if the shooter was meant to do something at the nuclear facility, his dismissal ended that possibility. His desperation to prove his worthiness to be part of this terrorist network may have led to what was really a rather haphazard albeit effective plan of shooting up recruiting centers where due to publicity he would have known the personnel were unarmed. He probably didn't consider collateral damage.

Let's revisit the drug use issue. There's been a great deal of confusion over what would compel upper class, educated men and women from here and abroad to risk everything for the sake of a cause that seems little more than a death cult. Back when the Silk Road was a major East-West trade route, assassins would attack trade groups exacting horrendous mayhem in the process. The word "assassin" comes from the same rootword as "hashish"-the attackers of trade trains would get high so that their cruelty and carnage was masked in a haze of smoke. I wonder how many of these various terrorist attackers have been given high grade, uncut drugs with the goal being to enthrall them physically via addiction while at the same time creating the kind of psychological atmosphere where a normal kid raised in a western home would think it makes sense to kill people at random.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Getting Political: On Trump

I am very wary of Donald Trump. His history doesn't align with what he's saying now. Granted, anyone can have an epiphany and change their direction. It happened to St. Paul on the road to Tarsus. But I don't think that's what is happening here. As Obama consistently pushes the Democrat party to the Left, I think that Trump's goal is to push the Republican party to the right to the point where voting for them is untenable. Trust me, as a Texan I see first hand the collateral damage to the economy and individuals from unchecked ILLEGAL immigration. That the Republicans have not created a message that differentiates between legal and illegal immigration demonstrates how we have ceded the message to the media and the Left. 

Having said that, I am angry as anyone out there. The attacks on free speech, religion and security are personal affronts. I believe the White House, in particular Jarrett, have very skillfully selected cases that they believe can inflame national angst and push for action. Only in two cases has this not worked. In McKinney, where a large group of out of control teenagers invaded a private HOA pool, "someone" sent out of work protester Deray McKesson to stir things up. By and large it didn't work and the push back after finding out that the gathering was a recruiting tool to get underage women to dance for much older men at unsupervised gatherings rather cooled the heat. Likewise the absolute wisdom of people in South Carolina after the tragic shooting of nine people defused what I am sure the White House hoped would be more days of rioting and demands. 

So what do we need to talk about? All these actions hide a shell game of distracting voters from the real issues. What needs to happen is we need to talk money. We are running out of money and the president can't cut programs or tax more without alienating his base and impacting whoever gets the DNC nod. So they are seeking more REVENUE STREAMS. Trump probably recognizes this. This is why there's talk about taxing churches, taxing Ebay (go look at th most recent TOS there if you don't believe it) and taxing other previously "safe" income outlets. This needs to be what our candidate discusses, circumventing the firebombs from the left. While Trump may be saying what some want to hear, we need someone who can implement those actions. He's not the guy.

Monday, July 13, 2015


I just don't know how to make it through this anymore.
Our house is falling apart.
There's no money to fix it.
Because my husband can't find a job.
Because the economy sucks.
And it's me carrying the weight.
I am so tired
I am so tired
I am so very tired.
My heart hurts.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

McKinney Part 2

So for whatever reason the officer involved in the McKinney Melee has resigned. This is after decades of policing without a mark on his record. People seeing the short clip of a 30 minute incident are only seeing part of the story. If you aren't familiar with the area-Craig Ranch is an upscale suburb. Nobody living there is poor. Frankly in comparison, I'm poor. So this isn't an issue of disenfranchised minority children being abused-because these kids drive newer cars than I do. This is an issue of a safe neighborhood being used as a platform for some wannabe DJ and his friend. They set this up as a flyer party and evidently didn't bother to ask anyone if they had to file permits or reserve the space. It's akin to setting up shop in a vacant building without paying rent.

Now the accusations are flying. The "host"-a 19 year old who lives in Craig Ranch with her mother-is claiming a white woman started a fight. The irony is that the white woman in question actually has a man living in her house who is black. I think, having had to deal with increasingly bad attitudes with teens in the past six months, that the woman said the gathering wasn't authorized and the "host" started wailing on her. Yet in this incident, due to the imposition of politically correct modes-we cannot say it was a problem with BEHAVIOR, but the motion must be made that it was all racism.

If we assume it was racism, we have to accept the following:
1. That it's a good idea to have over 100 unsupervised teens from 13 to 20 in age at a location for a party.
2. That someone who lives in a community ruled by an HOA doesn't have to abide by those rules if they are a person of color.
3. That allowing young teens to go to a party where they don't know the hosts, they don't know the event (various teens said it was birthday-graduation-cookout) or the location is good parenting.
4. That the city of McKinney allows large gatherings in public places without a permit.
5. That it's a good idea to invite over 100 unknown kids to a pool meant for less than 50.
6. That playing loud music with offensive and profane lyrics is an acceptable way to treat your neighbors.
7. That you can beat up someone who is older and less fit if you are a minority and they are white.
8. That scaring young mothers with small children is beneficial to good feelings in the community.
9. That vandalism, threats and unsupervised teens indulging in bad behavior is an acceptable community standard.
10. That anyone with a phone camera can edit a video to make their case and the government of McKinney will believe them over their own employees.
11. That the city of McKinney would rather avoid bad publicity than enforce the law.
12. That in McKinney and other cities like it there will be one set of laws for one group and quite a different one for the rest of us.

I swear if I didn't know better I would think that the State of California and George Soros set this scenario up to try to dissuade Toyota from moving here.

I anticipate in the McKinney schools in the coming year, as the result of this incident, that a slate of bad and even criminal activities will be defended using racism as a defense. In the last six months I've witnessed an escalation of defiance and provocation. As for "asking them nicely" I have tried that only to have teens get in my face and in one case nearly take a swing at me (I asked him to stop grinding on his girlfriend in the hallway....) It is one thing to discipline an officer for being overzealous, but the professional protesters have shown up (yes, we say you Mr. McKesson) and I have to wonder seriously how unemployed people can afford to attend protests across the nation. I don't think this is a conspiracy, but I do think we are being played.

Sunday, June 07, 2015


You're going to see a great deal of edited film about a pool party in McKinney. The media (and probably the parents of the kids involved) are pushing this as an issue of race.

It's not.

What seems to have happened is that a neighborhood pool-paid for with HOA dues-became the site for an unscheduled pool party. While the media began labeling it as a graduation party, most of the kids in the video appear to be under 16. There have been allegations that one young lady was taking money as admission to the pool. Most of the kids didn't live in the neighborhood and in fact despite suggestions that one girl invited these kids, there's no indication that she invited 250 kids to takeover a small neighborhood pool.

If the girl taking the money was a resident, her parents could have reserved the pool.
That evidently didn't happen. Instead a mob of 250 teenagers came to a neighborhood where they did not live, jumped fences, had fights and intimidated everyone who was at the pool or their homes. Here's the initial fight that led to more fights in the crowd.

Someone called the police. Two cars arrived and they tried to disperse the crowd. The crowd did not comply by and large. Eventually nine units were called in. When one cop was surrounded by a group of kids he pulled his gun. Now all the liberals are up in arms because he did this. They ignore that kids this age can and do have weapons at times and that kids this age can and do stab and kill people. While the cop may have overreacted, I think he was honestly trying to get their attention, but there were probably better ways to do this.

This is going to be framed as yet another racial issue. What it is instead is another in a long series of mobs of teens, unsupervised, behaving badly and then seeking excuses when they get caught. I've been dealing with this type of attitude for the last couple of weeks at our school. It seems that even asking some students to refrain from using the N-word or the F-word is viewed as racist. I am tired of it.

Any parent will tell you that an unsupervised party of 250 kids is going to end badly. With no reservation for the pool, no lifeguards, no security personnel, it's a recipe for someone to get hurt. In short, it's dangerous and whoever invited all these kids is responsible for what happened. I know of a family who was forced to move after their home was raided by a gang of kids in a similar type of mob. And by similar, I mean unsupervised teenagers. Anyone trying to make this into a racial issue is ignoring what a dangerous situation this could have become. And by the way, homeowners in the area do have the right to ask their yards not be vandalized, their children not be yelled at and their pool they paid for with HOA dues stay private.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Where This is Headed

Recently, the First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a graduation rant to the graduates of Tuskeegee Institute. Where she could have lauded them for their accomplishments and encouraged them to reach for a future better than today, she instead chose to lament her status as the unpaid captive of the gilded cage of the White House. While there are those who dismiss this as meaningless, I believe it reveals the mindset of the Obama White House at large. Despite winning elections that would require not just black votes, but votes from every other demographic of our nation, the Obama White House persists in believing they are under some sort of siege because of their race.

This attitude has been suggested for years. When a Cambridge celebrity professor tried to bully his way with a Cambridge police officer in spite of not having any identification when a break in was alleged at his house, Obama immediately saw race first and said the cop "acted stupidly". Obama ignored that in any sort of breaking and entering situation, police must operate as if the unsub is inside until proven otherwise. The black professor pulling the "Don't You Know Who I Am Card" didn't help the situation. In spite of a laughable Rose Garden Beer Summit, the evidence was there that Obama always views issues through the lens of race first.

Let's consider how this has managed to endanger police and civilians. While black males make up a minority of the population at large, they are far more represented in legal actions with police. Yet, statistics also show that police are far less likely to shoot at a black suspect than a white one for fear of the type of retaliation at large supported by the DOJ and White House in places like Ferguson and Baltimore. Eric Holder-gone but not lamented- far too often went the route of seeking out cased to create a public furor designed to stampede people into a particular mindset. That kind of action blew up on him with Fast and Furious-a program which has still not been fully investigated for criminal intent. Yet it seemed to me when Obama's numbers were lagging in the polls another of these inflammatory cases would erupt. Why are we concerned about thugs (and yes, thugs can be any color despite attempts to coopt the word) getting shot during a crime and not concerned about gangbangers killing each other in Chicago and Philly and LA? Why is this president, who seems enamored with numbers, not concerned that more cops have been shot this year than in prior years?

What does this mean for society at large? What I am seeing in my very diverse middle class school is an attitude of defiance, especially from young black males. Case one-hall duty-a table of black students start throwing trash in front of our very sweet Hispanic head custodian then shouting "Me no habla" at her. I went over and asked them to stop, where one young male immediately started yelling "It wasn't me". I told him I wasn't writing him up, I was just asking him to stop. Then he comes over to me and keeps going at the debate. I'm outnumbered-not an administrator in sight. How am I supposed to counter nine kids at a table?  Case two-just this week-two young couples (both couples were black but that doesn't matter because I would have done this with ANY couple) were sitting on the floor eating lunch (there are tables...) and then they were lying all over each other with one young man grinding against his girlfriend. I asked them to stop and again, one young man (it may be the same one) gets in my face defying me to do anything. Again-I'm outnumbered-no administrator, no other teachers.

Across the board the talk of the teachers workroom is the escalation of defiance, rudeness, lack of respect for teachers and for each other. And I'm sorry, but I'm seeing far more of this with black students than any other category. I don't go out of my way to single out individuals or groups. But when one group is repeatedly acting out and disrupting classes it appears that someone has told them it's okay. So are their role models-the president, his wife, celebrities, rappers-basically giving these kids the opinion that they can do anything and get away with it? It appears so to me. I wonder if other teachers across the nation are seeing similar issues.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A New Concern

I've been told it's provocative to call anything a rant. As a result I will couch this collection of thoughts in the form of loose prose or free verse. But really.....

I teach. I am the daughter of a teacher and the mother of a teacher. I know my stuff. One of my earliest memories is setting up my stuffed toys in front of my blackboard in my room and teach them letters and numbers. I taught my kids in the ways normal parents do-through a combination of structure, repetition, extortion, threats and love. My kids grew up to be very good kids. I am proud of all of them. I think my husband and I did things right by them. There were soccer teams and ballet recitals, band concerts and plays. We supported them, we watched them, we participated. I am nearly 60 and I am deeply worried about today's youth.

I have taught for quite awhile. I have had other jobs as well. I've been in sales. I've been a graphic designer. I even stayed home and did the volunteer thing for a few years. It isn't working that is causing parents to become meaningless entities to their children-it is the isolation of social media. Fifteen years ago, when I returned to the classroom, cell phones were rarely owned by students. Some of the older kids from wealthier families provided them for kids, but for the most part it was rare. Today kids from the age of nine have phones. And the phones they possess have all the internet access of my first PC. These kids have secret lives, habits, friends and activities that their parents do not know about. Sadly, in many cases it appear that the ego of the parents doesn't allow them to believe their children could ever EVER do anything wrong. I beg to differ.

We have students who are in serious, precarious positions and as teachers we can do little about it. This goes beyond drinking and drugs into some seriously dark areas of our culture. I have to wonder what a kid is thinking when they intentionally don the persona of alternative lifestyles for the purpose of popularity. Don't be fooled by the goofy face of anime and events like A-con-there are some very dark and dangerous places on that road. Too many parents mistake animation for childish. Ask any Japanese businessman if the comics he reads on the train ride home are fit for his five year old to enjoy.

More than this is the benign neglect of parents. Too many of the current generation of 30 somethings are so busy navel gazing they ignore their children until something happens then they attack at will. This is doubly so with special needs students. We have parents who bully ridiculous IEP's from schools under the threat of lawsuits. I've seen everything from allowing a student who was bipolar with Down's Syndrome jump up and down in a general ed classroom of 34 to release tension to allowing an emotionally disturbed six foot four male to threaten to kill a teacher every single day of a term until he was removed for threatening a school board member's daughter. While ADA was meant to provide an adequate education to students with challenges who were capable of on level work, it is now being used to force districts to provide what amounts to free daycare and medical hospice facilities in the schools for special needs students who are living in attendance zones. What is more, while teachers and counselors can currently disagree with outrageous demands made by parents in ARD's and renegotiate the agreement, starting in September anything a parents wants they can get. Anything. It's a blank check.

So while your kid sits in an overcrowded classroom with not enough computer access or enough books next year because your school can't afford those things, remember that the special needs kids down the hall may have teachers and aides on a one to one ratio and be provided with everything from special meals, facilities, equipment and transportation. While nobody wants to deprive any students who can learn, is this really the best use of our money to provide daycare for special needs students? Shouldn't we be more worried about those kids who are able to learn who are falling through the cracks? There used to be schools and training facilities to allow special needs children to learn to make the most of their lives. Those have been closed by the same parents who are bullying schools into compliance.

I look at my class of over 30 and I know at least five will be special needs or ELL. I know I will have to document everything they do every day. I know that at least one, and maybe two, should be in an AVLS or BIC room because their behavior and comprehension is way out of line. But ADA ties our hands, allowed regular classrooms to be disrupted by students who cannot handle the pressure of regular educational settings. The parents insist on this type of setting because they desperately want their kids to be normal. They want to pretend that by being in a general education classroom they are learning the same stuff. For awhile the students do try to be kind and tolerate the behavioral upsets. But by the end of the year, those same students resent that they have no time to have their questions or concerns addressed. They are tired of having their projects destroyed and being lashed out at by students who cannot control themselves. Whatever sympathy the parents that push ADA standards hoped to engender is lost when other students get stuck taking up the slack.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

I Love To Win

I don't win often because I tend to try to be a team player. So when my department was getting stonewalled on trying to buy art supplies at a significant discount by purchasing them over the summer, I do a little happy dance. We had been offered a chance to buy supplies at a 35% discount and would not be billed until the next school year. Yet, She Who Shall Not Be Named repeatedly told us no. No we couldn't do it because we would have to charge tax. No we couldn't do it because that wasn't the way we had always done it. Nevermind that the building principal thought it was a great way to manage around without having to dive into his rainy day fund. She Who Shall Not Be Named would not consider that other schools in my district are using this program. She wouldn't consider it even when the Shiningn  Example high schools were named. In one last attempt, a middle school teacher explained how she managed to work the program and which accounts to use. I sent it to her saying that I wish she would consider. Instead she demanded all my documentation and warned she was "taking it to the Finance Dept." Later that day I got a terse "come see me" email. Fearing the worst, I waiting until later in the day only to find that Finance thought it was a GREAT IDEA and wondered why OTHER SCHOOLS WEREN"T USING IT. I don't want the accolades, but honestly this has been a tough year and to get one win.....well that may just help me make it through the next seven weeks.

Onto AP testing.........

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Our Most Personal Memorial

Today is a day of sorrow. Twenty years ago today, a conspiracy using common elements such as fertilizer, gasoline and a truck led to untold grief and devastation. The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building occurred right up I35 from where I write this. Twenty years ago sounds like a lifetime, but it also seems like the blink of an eye. One hundred thirty six souls were given up to heaven that day, many of them children in a ground level daycare center. I can't fathom the type of selfish, deranged evil that perpetrates this kind of crime. We've seen worse since this date, but normal people no matter what their politics are all baffled by what drives someone into seeing humans as points on a scorecard.

That being said, the Oklahoma City Memorial in terms of its setting, its scope locally, nationally and historically, is probably one of the most well defined and poignant memorials in our nation. We have countless memorials that encompass large Neo-Classical structures that might speak in terms of history, but that do not touch us emotionally. Who doesn't understand the story of an empty chair? The 168 empty chairs are chairs left vacant at Thanksgiving dinners, weddings, graduations and all the other family celebrations that get little national acclaim but which resonate on a ground level with the majority of us.

As I understand it, every year the families return to leave flowers, photos and toys for fathers who will never come home from work, children who will never grow up, wives that will never hug their children again. While no such absence ever truly heals, the memorial has created a type of community where their memories transcend the limitations that seem to so divide us these days. Why is it that we can only pull together in a crisis? When I watch these now grown children lay wreaths for fathers who have gone away and babies that will always be young I hope they can find a way to change this toxicity in our society. I'm not sure what it will take, but for the moment watching these families share their moments provides a bittersweet backdrop to what we have become.

Oklahoma City 20 Years Later

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Inmates Run Asylum, Film at 11

I am not sure how things got this disjointed or why things got this disjointed or who is responsible. All I know is that Thursday morning I'm supposed to facilitate a meeting of all the art teachers in our high school cluster from K through high school. Because our former superintendent, Mr. All Apple All The Time, resigned/retired at midyear, suddenly all the "we will use all Apple products even if it breaks the bank" mantra has gone away. Now we're in a time warp (insert Rocky Horror imagery here)and going back to the LAST trend which was "Understanding By Design." This is what preceded the glorified, overpriced Venn diagrammography of the last trend before we began as a district to worship at the altar of Apple.

We have a coordinator whose authority covers Dance, Theater and Art. She claims to have knowledge of all of them, but in reality we only see her maybe twice a year for fleeting seconds of time as she dashes in our classrooms while classes are in session, throws some bauble at us and then scuttles a hasty retreat to the more friendly theater environs. I didn't start out disliking her. I was overjoyed to have someone to intercede for us, to champion our causes or at least to make us less invisible to the powers that be. I was naive.

This year has been what less elegant people would calls a cl*st*rf*ck. I don't use that kind of language, but it doesn't mean I'm not thinking it. From the earliest part of the year, every action demanded of us as a discipline was scheduled on days when we were doing semester exams or standardized testing. I realize the folks in administration don't have enough to do, but when I'm stuck proctoring exams for three days, asking me for an inventory of my equipment does not endear me to anyone. Even such a banal thing as our district art show collapsed under the weight of competing causes such as our State competition, Scholastic Arts and Writing Nationals, and all the hoopla that goes with sending in college admissions forms. It was too much in a short period. Plus it is ridiculous to have an annual district high school show in the middle of the year when half of ours students haven't even been in an art class yet.

It didn't have to be like this. We have means of communicating. But instead of directly telling us what's going on, the coordinator relied on a committee she formed. If it was a group of like minded folks, it would be a great thing, but we have a couple of long time teachers in wealthy, mostly white schools (one on national TV for showing racist signs at a basketball game) and they don't play nice. Because of our different demographics and wealth levels, we can't magically pull funding out of our hats. In a similar fashion, we can't demand students show up because most of their parents work weekends. Our kids work just as hard and deserve better. Heck, I have four kids heading to RISD, two to Parsons, one to Pratt, one to Memphis and one to Carnegie Mellon. Yet for all the praise these kids get, you would think they had learned to tie their shoes by themselves. But when the other schools win even slight honors, the world, and district, must stop and admire. It's not right. Due to this attitude, nobody tells anyone, anything until the last minute.

This leads me to cycle back to the first graph. On Friday, while I was grading finals, logging in grades, I get an email at 3:30 in the afternoon demanding to know what I was presenting at the In-Service. I had only gotten word an hour earlier that middle school teachers as well as teachers from the tech center would be coming. I didn't have time to banter and told her that I would figure it out over the weekend. She got upset, demanded a meeting, claimed I was disrespectful. Perhaps so. But I tend not to respect people who get paid more than I do, but DO NOT DO THEIR JOBS. What's even more laughable is that when I asked my Assistant Principal what WE were doing in the morning before the presentation, she said "I don't know. I don't think anybody knows. It's like administration suddenly realized they had an In-Service on the calendar and they didn't plan anything so they're shoving it on us and now we seem to be passing the buck to you guys." She really said that. I appreciate the honesty.

So I will do this presentation along with our new hire (who is awesome) and we will discuss Understanding By Design and we will figure out goals for fifth grade art and high school art one and we will submit our ideas on implementing change. Not that anything will change. But at least they can't say I didn't do my job.

It just makes me kind of sick to think that even if I do an amazing job (and frankly my lesson plan on this sounds lightyears better than anything we've had the last five years!) I will only be perpetuating the job life of this really unfortunate leader.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What In the World Are They Thinking?

Two stories from our local news:
Teen Threatens to Blow Up Graduation
Middle Schooler Writes Graphic Story Describing How He would Attack and Kill Classmates

In the first story, a 17 year old Hispanic honor student is immediately, and I think correctly, arrested when three classmates came forward and told authorities of his threats on social media to plant IED's at the graduation ceremony. In this case, either because his family wasn't affluent, or because he wasn't a student who had special education dispensation, he was arrested. End of story.

The second story is more problematic. A middle school student posted online a graphic, detailed and specific ELEVEN CHAPTER story on how he would attack, kill and molest other students. He had been removed from the school in the Fall term for undisclosed reasons but re-enrolled in January. The story was discovered and the specific students were alerted, but the general population, including parents, didn't know of the situation until after Spring Break. 

Stop for a minute. How would you feel if your son or daughter was on this kid's "kill list?' I know that my kid wouldn't be attending school until the student in question was removed, but the authorities are saying it's a free speech issue.

Then come the other excuses:
He's been bullied because of a physical disability.
He's a special education student.
The tacit message is that because of ADA and the wealth of the parents, this kid can do just about anything he wants. This is a message saying that the needs of one student should outweigh the peace of mind of every other student and staff member. This is what ADA has wrought.

What was meant as a means of making sure that kids capable of learning with assistance to overcome physical disabilities has become a catchall bullyclub for providing outrageous and expensive education in the same public schools struggling to pass average kids in regular subjects. When I walk down the hall and see one teacher with one student all day I honestly wonder what is the purpose? When I witness special education students dropped into regular education classrooms without aides, without help and without consideration of the needs of the rest of the class I have to wonder at what point the parents of other kids say enough. I've witnessed how a lawyered up special ed student's parents can bully and cajole, and yes bribe, officials to do whatever they want in regards to their child's education whether it is appropriate or not. I've seen how a six foot four bipolar out of control can bully a teacher and peers. Is being a special education student an excuse?

I hear far too many people making excuses for outrageous and potentially dangerous behavior. Does anyone remember that they tried to justify both Columbine and Newtown on bullying? Isn't it possible that emotionally disturbed students may view anyone who doesn't suffer as they do as a bully-thereby justifying their own unchecked rage? 

Let's say that the school let's this kid fester in his self-created rage. Let's say he gets hold of instructions for an explosive or poison or brings a weapon? Would the school be willing to take the blame for failing to stop this student when they could? Would the parents? I'm sorry, I want all kids to feel safe and all kids to get the education they need. But what has happened in order to serve very few is hurting many students in many ways. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Article Confirms Everything I've Said About Education for the Last 5 Years.

Fortune Magazine published this story and it doesn't strike me as surprising. Over the last five years, since the imposition and increase of technology by our administration and by the country at large, I have seen a reduction in work ethic, retention, writing and reading abilities. We no longer teach cursive so there is no motor memory of writing. The assumption by the powers that be is there will always be a calculator or a computer accessible to do the mundane tasks of basic math or spelling. This erosion of basic skills is resonating through the workforce. Parents who pushed computers at early ages over reading kids bedtime stories are now faced with young adults who do not read for pleasure or enrichment and possibly cannot read on a literate level at all.

Yet what is the drumbeat we hear? TECHnology TECHnology many vocational programs were gutted to buy into the rarified coursework of Animation or Graphic Design? How many kids fully capable of hands on skills in a variety of trades such as electrical repair, plumbing, auto repair, cosmetology, cabinetry and more have found themselves instead in classes they do not need and do not want? The myth that every kid is going to college is a fallacy. Every kid doesn't belong in college. Many kids go to college only to fail and end up in dead end jobs with a large student loan in tow. This is no way to improve an economy.

I guarantee that in China or Japan or Korea or India or Russia they are not teaching their children to do math using computers. I promise you that these nations also celebrate their complex language structure by requiring students learn to write and communicate. These are skills that are vanishing from a large part of the population. Ironically we are removing the very exercises that would instill deeper retention. Cursive writing is used to help dyslexic students internalize the shapes of letters. Rote memorization of multiplication tables affects a different part of the brain than using a calculator and allows for deeper understanding of the PROCESS of multiplication.

As I have said before, technology is a good servant, but a bad master. Every sci fi movie alludes to this fear of technology actually countermanding the desires of humans. Perhaps we are on the threshold of that becoming reality. When you go to the doctor, the younger ones often spend more time looking at the computer than the patient. For that reason Johns Hopkins has medical students taking art history classes to teach them to OBSERVE THE PATIENT. How many medical mistakes have occurred because of the failure to note the reaction of the patient over the steps of protocol?
We have young mothers sitting at playgrounds enthralled with Angry Birds while their children are out of control. We have students watching movies during class. What is more the overlay of social media on a population that has not been taught basic social skills has led to most of the angst we've witnesses in society over the last few years. Can you name one incident-political, social, legal or economic-that wasn't in some way by social media?

It's time to stop this nonsense. I'm not saying to forbid media, but it's time to stop just giving in to trends. Frankly I think Apple and Google and Facebook and all the other manufacturers and websites share the blame for the sick dissolution of social discourse. And make no mistake, for all you liberals out there, none of these companies do it for any other reason beyond making a buck. So while hipsters walk around talking on IPhones about how high their student loans are and complaining about how they don't have any money, step back and think about all the things we have now that are branded and promoted and therefore deemed popular. Is Starbucks really better than a cup of coffee you make yourself? 

Such weakminded behavior leads to some of the mob/gang/group atrocities we've witnessed online. How are the SAE's any different than wilding mobs attacking innocent people at a midwestern fair? How desperate are these kids to find some magic pill that can insure their success the way Mommy and Daddy did when they were in public school? While both are vile and nasty and racist and violent, this doesn't spring full born from their own heads. Have you listened to the lyrics of popular music? I ban those songs in my classroom and yet I have had heated discussions with students who think the n-word is allowed simply because they themselves are black. I think bad, rude, insensitive language goes across the boards. You cannot permit some people to use the words with impunity and then get outraged when someone uses them. NOBODY SHOULD BE USING THESE WORDS. Stop trying to be hip and cool by joining into activities that are mean, dangerous and simply unnecessary. And the kids on the bus using the n-word in Oklahoma are every much as vile as the gangs who assault innocent people on the street for the sake of "fun." 

By the way, lest you think I am out of touch, much of this is fueled by things my own kids-ranging from 25 to 30-have told me about their peers. Every week it's a new complaint about coworkers that are hunted down by bill collectors or people who run up credit card bills at restaurants leaving friends to cover the bill. These dime a day millionaires have bought into the Oprahization of America believing that their mere existence qualifies them for the best of everything. Nobody deserves the best of everything, especially if they can't pay for it. 

Here's the column and link. Read it. Share it. This is important.

Millenial Fail

Surprised? So were the researchers who tested and compared workers in 23 countries.

We hear about the superior tech savvy of people born after 1980 so often that we tend to assume it must be true. But is it?
Researchers at Princeton-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) expected it to be when they administered a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Sponsored by the OECD, the test was designed to measure the job skills of adults, aged 16 to 65, in 23 countries.
When the results were analyzed by age group and nationality, ETS got a shock. It turns out, says a newreport, that Millennials in the U.S. fall short when it comes to the skills employers want most: literacy (including the ability to follow simple instructions), practical math, and — hold on to your hat — a category called “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”
Not only do Gen Y Americans lag far behind their overseas peers by every measure, but they even score lower than other age groups of Americans.
Take literacy, for instance. American Millennials scored lower than their counterparts in every country that participated except Spain and Italy. (Japan is No. 1.) In numeracy, meaning the ability to apply basic math to everyday situations, Gen Yers in the U.S. ranked dead last.
Okay, but what about making smart use of technology, where Millennials are said to shine? Again, America scored at the bottom of the heap, in a four-way tie for last place with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.
Even the best-educated Millennials stateside couldn’t compete with their counterparts in Japan, Finland, South Korea, Belgium, Sweden, or elsewhere. With a master’s degree, for example, Americans scored higher in numeracy than peers in just three countries: Ireland, Poland, and Spain. Altogether, the top U.S. Gen Yers, in the 90thpercentile, “scored lower than their counterparts in 15 countries,” the report notes, “and only scored higher than their peers in Spain.”
“We really thought [U.S.] Millennials would do better than the general adult population, either compared to older coworkers in the U.S. or to the same age group in other countries,” says Madeline Goodman, an ETS researcher who worked on the study. “But they didn’t. In fact, their scores were abysmal.”
What does that mean for U.S. employers hiring people born since 1980? Goodman notes that hiring managers shouldn’t overestimate the practical value of a four-year degree. True, U.S. Millennials with college credentials did score higher on the PIAAC than Americans with only a high school diploma (albeit less well than college grads in most other countries).
“But a degree may not be enough,” Goodman says, to prove that someone is adept with basic English, can do what she calls “workaday math,” or has the ability to use technology in a job. Curious about how the PIAAC measures those skills, or how you’d score yourself? Check out a few sample math questions, or take the whole test.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Snow in March in Texas

I'm a Texas native.
I've grown up here and seen a wide range of weather from hurricanes to tornadoes to storms that would fry the normal person's hair.But one thing was always pretty consistent and that was the change of weather during the year. I don't remember one March day from my childhood where it snowed in Texas. I don't remember the kind of weather we have endured the last five years. What's interesting is that while the green types keep saying this is all evidence of Global Warming, our winters have been longer and colder in north Texas in the past five to ten years. Even when I was in high school back in the 70's winter centered from late December through mid-February. Now we're seeing the situation that is so confused that the bulbs I plant after the first frost have come up trying to bloom just in time to get frozen by one or two unprecedented winter storms.

My hypothesis is that the magnetic poles, which are not fixed, are shifting as they do from time to time. This in turn is resulting in altered weather patterns for the entire northern hemisphere. But, that being said, this is not the much ballyhooed Global Warming nor it is something we can control.

This year, in north Texas, we've had almost as much snow as we have ever had. My backyard featured seven inches of snow that fell last night, which was on top of nearly an inch of ice. I would say this isn't normal Texas weather for March, but for the last five years or so this type of weather has creeped into the Spring Break calendar. Tonight it will be 21 degrees here which might be normal for some Rust Belt states, but decidedly colder than history would have it for Dallas. Perhaps hell has truly frozen over. Given what's gone on lately, it wouldn't surprise me.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Tax Reality

My son broke his ankle last January. This was followed by a series of economic hurdles that included having to pay $5000 out of pocket just to get admitted to the hospital. After the surgery-two plates and sixteen screws-my son missed nearly two months of full time work. It was simply impossible for him to do his job as a high end bike sales rep. He couldn't drive. He couldn't stand up all day. But his company held his job and created opportunities for him to contribute. The end bill was around $45K for surgery and two and a half days of hospitalization.

This is where the trouble began. The nurses and doctors didn't wean him from the IV pain meds until he was being wheeled out the door. Because I teach school and had already missed several days to care for him, his older brother picked him up. My son suffered outrageous withdrawals, for which nobody seemed to have answers. He endured the agony for four days. Then we began getting bills. Although the hospital that the surgeon used had the brand name of a hospital on my son's insurance, because it was 51% owned by the doctors working there, we had to haggle to get the amount covered. We had no choice really. He broke the ankle on New Year's Day and the longer we waited, the worse the recovery would be. There were only two doctors from a list of 20 given by his insurance who could see him. Likewise, we had to either choose the facility offered or risk waiting two to three weeks. Now I ask you, does that sound like prudent and immediate care? But I digress.

Fast forward to this week. All my son's papers were in order (sounds menacing doesn't it) for filing taxes. He did get compensation from his company's accident insurance policy to cover his out of pocket expenses. He still ended up missing two months of work and had to make up for lost income. But when he went to file taxes, he was told that the compensation he used to pay off the hospital and doctor would be TAXED. So even though he ended up spending 12% of his annual gross income on medical bills, my son, who work retail, who has only recently made enough to afford to move out and live on his own, will owe money. When he told the person doing the taxes effectively that he would not be filing, she replied "but you make more than lots of people."

This is how conservatives are made.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Do My Job-Why Can't Other People Do Theirs?

A valid question.
I'm a high school teacher with all the job responsibility and paperwork that entails. I make lesson plans,  grade projects, call parents, go to meetings, make arrangements for competitions, collect permission slips, and on and on and on. I do this year in and year out.

We got a coordinator that we share with theater and dance.
She's handsomely paid.
For what I am not sure.
I call and she's never in her office. She allows her pet teacher to run meetings which means every event is designed to fit nicely with that teacher's schedule and not necessarily ours. This year, because this teacher wanted to win all the top places in our district show, they had the once a year, district, high school art show in late January. Never mind that we just got a new crop of classes and kids. Ignore that our regional show is coming up shorting. Forget that we have GRADES due-and all of that in the same week.

Fast forward to now. Teacher in question did win all top prizes-I'm not sure how when my kids got first in painting and first in drawing, but whatever. And Monday is Open House and Eighth Grade Roundup where we talk kids into taking art-and our "art coordinator" decided it would be a good thing for us to take down the show in the 90 minutes between school getting out and the event. We physically cannot do it. It takes 30 minutes just to drive over there and another hour or so to take down the art then 30 minutes to get back. That means no break from 7:30 am until 9:00 pm.

I already have high blood pressure. I simply cannot continue doing this kind of thrill kill schedule.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Here We Go Again

So once again radical Islamist decide that they are the arbiters of what free people can think, feel, write or draw. That this happened in France should be no surprise-they've been trying to remove all religion from their midst becoming a secular society by banning religious jewelry and only consolidated Islamists into a unified force. The moral of this story is appeasing bullies does no good.

This is not the first attack in Europe. A bus was targeted in London. A British soldier butchered by Islamist terrorists on the street. A bombing in Madrid. The thing that is different is that in every case the European response was to cower and allow sharia to grow. It is the same sick liberal mentality that refuses to see the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Ft. Hood shootings or the Navy Yard shootings for what they are-raw Islamic terror attacks.

It is deeply disturbing when I see Islam growing in suburban areas. While I would love to think these mosques are innocuous as the local Presbyterian church, I don't see the members of that synod throwing firebombs at shopping malls, Indeed, no other religion right now has exhibited such unbridled and unwarranted attacks as those who claim Muslim heritage. From Somalia to Indonesia random acts of violence on innocent people for the sole cause of not being Muslim make this appear to be the actions of some type of delusional madness.

Is that what Islam preaches? Violence? Hatred? Death?

And what is more, have the apologists in Europe-and here in the U.S-FINALLY gotten the message that the only way to end this is to seize control of these Muslim nations and take away their power? It's either that or somebody is going to end up flat and glassy and glowing.