Friday, August 10, 2018

Conspicuous Technology Consumption

I've taught for over 20 years and I think I've nailed down how school districts make money. You will notice several prominent urban districts are once again pleading and demanding money even though they seem to regularly pass bond issues and get more money for facilities that have little to do with learning. I know it's not getting in teachers' pockets.

Several of my peers with similar credentials and years are barely midrange on our districts salary levels although most of us are retiring within months. How does that work out? It is because the district uses a skewed method of comparing teaching fields to "real world" compensation. By that reasoning anyone in humanities is paid less than anyone in the desirable STEM subjects. That may sound favorable, but I'm not really sure even those teachers are being as highly compensated as the usual folks: coaches, administrators and the mid level bureaucrats that school boards deem "necessary" for the districts to achieve accolades.

So where is the money coming from and where does it go? It's no secret that Technology is one of the buzzword topics politicians find so attractive. They like Technology because it's something they can quantify in number and dollars for votes. So politicians sign off on billions of dollars in programs and hardward intended for nebulous STEM programs. Here's where the fun part comes in. Administrators will often be sought by producers of hardware and programs so that those providers can become preferred vendors. Now I'd like to believe no money changes hands, but seriously do you believe that?

Listen to this timeline:
2007-When I first began working my district we had PC's. When I tried to write a grant for Apples I was told by our school and district IT departments that they would not support any maintenance.
2009-A new superintendent takes a job and almost immediately he moves to have EVERY STUDENT from K-12 issues an Apple IPad-that's issuing 50K+ IPads plus every teacher was issued a Power Macbook and IPad. So we had to shift all our programs to a new paradigm. What was ironic is while we made this costly move, when we had problems with our browsers (although we had Apple products we were using Google Apps so we had to use Chrome) we were told to download free virus scans. Suddenly we saw staffing for IT being cut in half. Hmmm
So we dithered about for seven years-kids gradually stopped paying the meagre $35 insurance fee because they could do as much on their phones plus many of the devices ended up broken or hacked thanks to the downloads of movies, games and such which were played during class all the time.
2016-We're using Apple devices, Chrome browsers, Google apps and Microsoft Office. This situation with multiple platforms would continue until.....

.....2018...we were issues new Apple Airs-good thing since my down button had stopped working and my e and r keys had become unidentifiable. The Air's didn't work like the Power Mac's and the procedure to save 19 years of documents, presentations and lesson plans didn't fully work for anyone. So most of us are starting nearly from scratch to rebuild some very complex programs. But that's not all-not content to gift us with a new learning curve for devices, our Fearless Technology Leaders also decided we need to learn an entirely new method of presenting classes with their work. So now we have to learn Canvas from scratch. It is bulky and not at all intuitive. I have nine shells-some for multiple classes and multiple shells for others. There is no easy fix to align them meaning that rather than uploading material once, I will have to do it NINE TIMES. This is not efficient and there was no reason for it since most of us had finally settled into Google Classroom last year.

In this story is the answer to how districts make money so they can pay ridiculously high salaries to star players-coaches, administrators, band directors. They get grants from politicians for the sake of votes, then the administrators cozy up to potential vendors to get sweetheart deals and possibly kickbacks and to perpetuate the "need" for new software, the leads of Technology ALWAYS advocate for changing the software, because that means someone will have to install, introduce, teach and remediate for those programs UNTIL THE NEXT ONE COMES ALONG. So all that money for "Education" never gets to classrooms or Teachers. Instead it creates a new ruling class of highly paid administrators who can retire early on lucrative buy outs while the rest of us are lucky if we see $2000 a month after we retire. Read it through, look at your district--you know I'm right.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Butterflies and Moths

When I was young I used to classify the bubbles of anxiety as either butterflies or moths. Butterflies came before something exciting, such as Christmas or a birthday. Moths were caused by concern or fears. Right now I am not sure if I am harboring butterflies or moths or perhaps a mix of both.

I had major surgery earlier this summer. My recovery was supposed to take eight weeks, but my school year officially starts August 6th with a week of In-Service. I talked my doctor back to seven weeks and will return August 13th, giving me two prep days before students arrive. Any teacher knows prep time is precious.

But even though I have prepared and am continuing to populate the Yet Another New Platform for my classes, I am very uneasy. I can't sleep. I found myself in tears the other day. This is not excitement, it is fear. I'm not a fearful person normally, but honestly the increasing hostility of students and some peers is created a pit in my stomach that can't be explained away by surgery.

To be fair, even as a small fry, I was always nervous in anticipation of school. But now, as a teacher, knowing how our administration likes to change things on a whim for what largely seems the sake of change, I'm concerned that they will take this year to work me to death. Also, in full disclosure, I am tired-very tired. Teacher is not a job for low energy or the timid-and right now I feel like the poster child for both.

My closest friends have retired. They left early and there are few teachers that seem to relate to the concerns I have. I'm at the point that even most of the administrators are younger and it doesn't help that the AP in charge of my department seems especially manipulated by younger teachers. I am hoping to retire this year-I hope this year doesn't do me in.

Monday, May 21, 2018

And Again....this time Santa Fe, TX.

I look at these shootings and shake my head. 
I look at my students and I shake my head.
Situations which used to be resolved with shouting or a fistfight are now resolved with online bullying and deadly violence.

What happened?

First, as of 2011, more than half of teens had cell phones. Parents bought them in fear, ignoring the side issues of clandestine friends and activities. For some reason parents thought that in an active shooter situation, a cell phone would keep their children magically safe. Is that magical thinking or what? Cell phones are now drifting down to elementary levels, opening up an entire world where not only can they call for help, but predators can find them without their parents knowing. Want proof? Read:
Student abducted from high school

What is horrendous about this story is that the girl's family had moved her to a new school because she was going to testify against a sexual predator who had victimized her while she babysat his children. She had her information on her phone including her internet access. The predator pretended to be a cute guy at her new school who wanted to meet her for a cup of coffee after school. She didn't tell her parents because kids often hide such things from parents. She waited until the crowds thinned after school and got into the car that drove up without looking. It was the predator who raped and killed her. Her parents had no idea she was meeting anyone because teenager use their phones as walls to prevent parents from seeing their real lives.

These stories go on with bullying and suicides, drug deals and sordid parties. One kid had an affair with a teacher and although there was plenty of evidence, he was a high ranking athlete and the parents didn't want his phone history used for fear it would reveal drugs use that would eliminate those hefty athletic scholarships. Had he not been stupid and posted his entire text messages on social media where his girlfriend found it and printed it off, sending a copy to the principal, nobody would have been the wiser. He hid it all on a phone.

I find kids secretly trying to charge phones in my classroom all the time. When one student had hers stolen, the parents tried to blame the teacher-me. After that a couple of times I found phones and upon trying to find out who they belonged to, saw a desktop image that included provocative and borderline salacious photos of one of my students. At that point we have to include the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to assure them these images, which are now in a database in Washington DC, are not of a kidnapped and exploited child. Images like that from dumb little girls are bought and sold on the Internet daily. Their parents probably bought them phones to keep them safe. I guess they never read about Pandora. So now I don't even look, I just turn in the phone and leave someone higher up the food chain to make those calls. 

My seven year old grandson knows how to get to the internet and access game sites that he should not be using. If a child that young can get that far away, then what are older kids doing? We already know that texting has eroded the ability to hold conversations- which may be why people spend far too much time yelling at each other on Twitter. We know that too many kids think that "getting famous on YouTube" is a viable career path. And many of them are willing to do literally anything to become famous or infamous. This is a very dangerous path when a kid can buy the supplies and find the instructions for making a bomb courtesy of Reddit or any anarchist site. And if you don't think Antifa is part of that "freedom", think again because I hear their platitudes expressed almost hourly.

So what is my point? My point is we are bombarding young brains with a Wild West of technology without having properly prepared them for its use. As a result they are open to all kind of abuse. If some dirty old man pretending to be a teenaged boy can convince a 15 year old to send him nude photos, is it really that outrageous to think that a shy teen immersed in violent games, movies and imagery could be desensitized enough of other people's humanity to blur the lines between violent games and violent reality? I'm not making excuses, but we are seeing an escalation and now it's not about just guns because this kid studied Columbine's methodology and tried to build effective IED's. You don't buy those at Cabela's. 

This is the endgame of a mantra of "don't judge." We're supposed to not have absolutes and to blindly accept ever aberration regardless of how menacing or strange. 
Why did nobody ask why this kid was wearing a treanch coat in Texas spring heat? 
Why did nobody ask why Cruz had the police at his house 30+ times?
Why do we still not know the content of the minutes of the Newtown shooter's last ARD?
Why is the Vegas case being buried?
Why did the Aurora shooter's parents move three states away and why did college officials suggest rather than mandate therapy?
It goes on and on and on and the bottom line is that political correctness, those gut instinct that tell us to duck when a missile is coming, have been eliminated from our kids. Instead they cling to cell phones like pontoons ignoring that their very lack of attention may be giving these attackers a chance to act. 

So what can be done?
First. kids under the age of 15 don't need full internet access on their phones or at home, Period.
Second, we need to spend at least one tenth of what we don on athletics on making schools safer.
Third, students don't get to duck out and say they don't want to cooperate with security measures. I have to fight every day just to get kids to wear a photo ID. Whether it is clear backpacks, limited parking, no off school lunch, wearing uniforms or whatever-it should be stressed that this is for security and that those who won't cooperate will be removed.
Fourth, out high schools are too big in the name of competitive sports, performing arts and such. It's time for schools to be small enough that counselors, teachers and administrators know them.
Fifth, we need to start recognizing that not all kids are academic. We need to offer them a way out-whether it's dual credit or vocational programs they enjoy. We need to make schools be a place for kids from all kinds of backgrounds.
And finally, we have to go back against the ADA and stop allowing seriously mentally ill kids to be mainstreamed into classes where they disrupt and victimize at will. In most cases, not this one but most, the increasing delusions of the seriously psychotic occur as they reach the end of adolescence. I've had kids like this-kids who have histories of violence, who have spent time in mental health wards, who are on thorazine and it's ridiculous that they are in regular schools under the guise of being fair.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

America, We Have a Problem

Perhaps it is because I teach high school that I am somewhat more aware of the secret social mores of teens. Every generation of teens has had it's own preferences, rituals and rites. Many of these were hidden from parents and the very forbidden nature of such activities made them all the more attractive. In earlier generations it was things like smoking, drinking, sex (always sex) and as time wore on drugs because a cult of secrecy for some teens. Earlier generations chose to be oblivious. There would be references to boys "sowing wild oats" or to "boys being boys" the assumption being that girls were the gentler sex and would act as governors on male behavior.

Then the world changed. Suddenly it was easy for young women to BE easy with impunity. Other than the social stigma of community or culture, young women could avoid pregnancy in spite of multiple partners. Women could choose to marry, or not. And that was fine as far as it went. There was still a thin fiber of limitations-things that we hoped our young people would avoid or at least delay. Of course the AIDS epidemic put a damper on the more hedonistic behavior, but there was still this idea that they could have it all and what is more, that they deserved it all. "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it people like me," was their mantra This generation, the teens of the 80's, the kids whose self-esteem matter more than their final product are now the parents of teens and twenty somethings. They have been led to believe that simply by trying to be good parents that they are successful  It is not going well.

As teens, the kids of the 80's grads used first pagers and then cell phones to give their parents the illusion of supervision without actually acquiescing to supervision. These kids would avoid their parents and knew how to get away with partying to the point that they had special ring tones and friends who would vouch for their presence at vetted houses rather than let parents know where they really were and what they were really doing. What is more, parents GAVE these kids these devices under the wrongheaded idea that by doing so they were "parenting." What they were really doing is giving teens the tools to set up entire networks of underground social media and the associated behaviors of that kind of network. The upside of this is a sort of Ferris Beuller fantasy, but the reality is that too many kids began to isolate themselves from reality. Suddenly their social network of countless friends became more necessary that their real family or even their real friends.

The truth is that if you have a teen right now in your home, and that teen has a cell phone, there's a real likelihood that they sleep with their cell phones. Delaying gratification or even refusing to talk or text someone is viewed as a social faux pas. Teens who use their cell phones to text are 42% more likely to sleep with their phones than teens who own phones but don’t text. Try taking a cell phone away from the average teen is akin to torture. I don't exaggerate when I saw I have had far more threats of violence flung at me for the simple act of taking up a cell phone in class than any other action. Cell phones in class have become a disruptive invasion of privacy. Student film teachers and others surreptitiously to post on social media without consent and often along with disparaging comments. The bullying capabilities are exponential as a child can be bullied at school, at work, at home and even on their phones. It is a situation that can appear inescapable for teens who often have not developed real world social insulation. It can lead down some serious and dangerous paths.

That teens have a secret social network should be no secret, but the intensity of that network and the demands that alpha teens place on their lower status peers can force less sophisticated teens into social situations beyond their control. Far too often it's not if they will engage in sex or drugs or drinking it is when. The kids who party know which parents will turn a blind eye. The kids who party are not necessarily the stereotypical druggies-they are just as often student council members, cheerleaders or band members. The days when you could spot the bad kids by what they wear are gone. Instead you need to look at what they post.

Here are a series of social media posts from teens:
RT @fukunurhoexxx: #youthetype of b*tch that give up your p*ssy for free and think its cool #p*ssyaintfree #fb
RT @TheSoleManSB: We in need of some trees … Wea tha weed man
RT @MisunderstoodC_: Get high to balance out the lows
RT @___xMaxDee: I got game for you young hoes, don’t grow to be a dumm hoe
RT @Bombshelll_: “@La_VidaBella: I’ll beat the pu**sy up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up up”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

What Have I Been Saying?

This article, written by a Millennial, says everything I've been saying for the last eight years.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ending Mass Shootings

So we have yet another one. A kid with a violent history goes unreported because of a misbegotten protocol designed by liberals to keep troubled kids out of the police radar. Thirty nine visits to one address is alot by anyone's standards and should have been a huge red flag that this kid was trouble.

But, this is not the first time. A few generations back people who were mentally ill, violent, predatory or in other ways a danger to society were either institutionalized, jailed or hanged. For the most part that established a code that most Americans sought to uphold for many decades. All that changed starting with the 1970's. During that time we were urged to judge people not by how they looked or acted, but by their humanity. Brick by brick those walls of self-preservation were systematically eliminated with mantras of "don't judge." So instead of avoiding the creepy looking guy, young kids would ignore him. Young women put in earplugs on jogging trails tuning out the predators along the way. Young men following the social examples of celebrities and pro-athletes indulged in risky, dangerous and criminal behavior. Part of this was excused by a generation of parents who were not just reluctant, but diametrically opposed to using any sort of authority to raise their kids. Instead parents worked hard and threw material goods at kids missing the point that devices cannot be role models and machines can't raise kids.

Is it any wonder that many kids have no respect for life? I have heard horrendous stories of kids abusing animals, smaller kids, seniors and each other. We have a case in DFW where varsity soccer players sodomized new members of the team. And this is a repeat of a situation a few years back where the same thing happened in another district with the golf team. A couple of generations back, such things were uncommon and definitely not part of the average teens bolus of knowledge. Thanks to the actions in the Oval Office of Bill Clinton, all that changed. Private activities were suddenly in prime time and parents were faced with the dilemma of explaining what Monica did to their school aged children or having some older kid do it. We're now in an era where everything is open game and that in turn leaves our children open to exploitation by those we trust to take care of them. When more than half of kids are born into single parent families, at some level kids have to wonder if their lives mean anything to anyone at all?

Then there's the virtue signallers. These are the folks who demand that ALL kids be educated. This is why many teachers have kids who are dangerous in their classrooms. I've had kids on thorazine-so potentially violent that he came with a keeper. I've had kids with ankle monitors. I've had one girl who I discovered had never been in a general ed classroom since she tried to kill her mom at the age of 11. ADA requires that we provide a free education to these kids as well as the general population-basically giving these kids a wider range of targets. This same group also pushed for deinstitutionalization-removing facilities from the map and leaving loving families to become the first victims at the hands of someone in the middle of a psychotic rage. Do you doubt this? The Newtown shooter, the Aurora shooter, the Tucson shooter were all known to be seriously mentally ill. But the laws now make it almost impossible for someone to be involuntarily committed until someone gets hurt.

Now we have media and political types circling like sharks. I do not appreciate entities like CNN trying to manipulate and orchestrate the situation. That a young man who risked his life and used his head to protect others was denied the right to speak freely by CNN because his views did not jibe with the narrative CNN is pushing is disgusting. I understand that many of the students involved are upset. I also know that many of these same kids are adhering to what they see is popular in social media because nobody wants to be left out. I've seen this phenomenon before. Once, my son had a friend who was killed in a car/train accident. He knew the girl had been bullied by a group of girls, but those same girls sobbed and got all the sympathy and attention even though they were her tormentors. My son, then 14, was so outraged that he started yelling at them.  In another case, my younger son had a friend who died in an accident at 17. Kids who didn't even know him took the day off to "go to his memorial." I'm sorry, but kids often make bad choices and the ranting and marches are bad decisions for a generation that was entertaining the idea of eating Tide pods two weeks ago.

If you want to really stop school shootings-here's how you do it:
1. Uniforms-you can see instantly who doesn't belong.
2. Armed resource officers willing to engage (obviously not the case in Parkland)
3. Unseal criminal records of minors.
4. Background check everyone-this is going to be problematic to liberals b/c they like to claim those here illegally can't get ID's.
5. Remove ADA mandates that require schools to provide education for students who a dangerous, criminal or mentally ill in ways that cannot be predicted or controlled.
6. Make high schools smaller-these giant high schools only serve to make winning sports teams-we have more at stake here.
7. Reestablish mental health hospitals for teens-right now finding a space is almost impossible.
8. Stop allowing social media in school-there is no valid educational reason to have a cell phone.
9. Reinstate vocational programs that will give ALL kids purpose.
10.Eliminate layers of bureaucracy and put more educators in the classroom so that they know the kids and the kids know them.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Meddling With Enrollment to Ensure Outcomes Doesn't Work

Over 1000 elite colleges now don't use SAT scores as part of the criteria for admission. This was ostensibly done to increase minority enrollment (I'm guessing illiterate enrollment mainly), but as with all things, there are unintended consequences.
Here's the story and research: Story Here