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Showing posts from 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!

I want to tell the story of taking kids to the Nutcracker but I am too tired tonight, so I'll do it soon. In the meantime, I have gotten several questions about why the name of the blog is "Being Light Skinded" and if I haven't misspelled "Skinned." You'll find the answer here.

More stories coming soon, I promise. I have some good ones!

Payment Received!

Yes, I finally got paid for subbing! And it was even on time for one of the time sheets I submitted. The other one, as we already know, was submitted months ago and had to be resubmitted.

Therefore, I have revised my estimation of L, this woman in the subbing department. She didn't completely fail to pay me. All she did was "lose" my mailed in timesheet after telling me that she didn't "like to get them mailed in." (coincidence?) Oh, and she refused to answer any of my emails or phone calls about the matter. And she called to yell at me when I canceled a job because I had a fever. But I did get one of my payments on time.

Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps she's not really really really really, REALLY unprofessional. Maybe she's only really, really really, really unprofessional.

Interesting Followup

I didn't get paid on payday (yesterday) but I did get in the mail today a direct deposit slip saying that I will get paid next week. Considering that next week the offices are closed, I'm not feeling too positive. Also, it would really help if ANYONE in the district answered my emails/calls about this. I did learn that I'm not alone. A few (at least) regular full-time teachers are not being paid either.

Think about the kind of dedication (some might say stupidity, but I prefer dedication) that it takes for a teacher to show up to work for four months without getting paid.

The Money That I'm Owed

The money that I am supposed to have earned from subbing (for which I've now submitted two timesheets) is supposed to be in my account tomorrow. Let's see if it is. Anyone want to make a little bet? I'd estimate that the odds are about 3 to 1 in favor of me not getting paid. Ridiculous, but true. Check back later for further report!

More School Closures

The district is ready to close more schools. the people in charge don't seem to know (or care?) that this is a cycle that doesn't end. They close the schools where students who have completely given up on the educational system say that they are finally paid attention to. Apparently the test scores are more important than making the kids feel wanted or encouraging them to attend school. A lot of the schools that the district closes have only been open for a few years.

One of these schools that is about to be closed is Sankofa Academy. Sankofa started in 2005. It is just beginning its third year. Does anyone here think that just over two years is enough time for a school to prove itself? A raise of hands, please, if you do. That's right, I didn't think so.

The principal at Sankofa has spent years trying to plan for the school's opening. Of course, the school wasn't perfect. It started with grades 1-3 and 6 and 7. This is obviously a very awkward group…

So Outta There!

Wow, this district is messed up. I tell you, I love these kids, and they need good teachers, and I felt called to this district when I came... and I don't think I can go any longer. They have successfully completely demoralized me.

The missing administrator - we're just going to leave him missing. I think it's been three months now, and the only thing ANYONE can get out of the district is that he's not coming back. That's all. And by the way, I emailed two local reporters who have previously covered events/problems at this school and they apparently had no interest. I guess administrators disappearing off the face of the earth doesn't matter when the kids in the school are poor. Because how well do you think that would go over in a middle/upper class school?

Speaking of how the poor kids are treated, apparently in October there was a break in a sewer line in a school not far from mine, causing raw sewage (yes, that's poop) to flow onto the playground. …

The Best Form of Birth Control

Here's an interesting article on population control. I'm not saying I totally agree with it, but I'm not saying I don't, either. It might be a good idea!

Of course, those of us who are teachers already know that the best form of birth control is, as they say, other people's children. I'm not just talking about emotionally disturbed children in the inner city, either!

At my church - which I love - there are a number of very active children. Sometimes they run around not looking where they're going and run right into me. This is kind of cute when they are two and three years old and not so cute when they are eight or ten years old. I have to stop myself from stopping them and saying something teacher-ish like, "You need to apologize if you run into someone," or "You wouldn't like it if I ran as fast as I could into you, would you?" The couple of times those things have accidentally come out of my mouth, their parents haven't s…

To Be Expected

I told another teacher how I haven't yet been paid for any of the subbing I've done (and wont' be doing any more of until I do get paid!) Her response:

I told someone about your dilemma - I'd like to say she was horrified, but the response was more a resigned rolling of the eyes. This district does nothing to make subs welcome, as we all know.It shouldn't be common enough that no one is surprised and yet...

Playing Businessman on BART

To continue the BART stories:

When we'd get on BART to go wherever we were going, the kids were actually usually on their best behavior. They would occasionally yell things like, "Let that lady sit down, she's old!" that you wish they wouldn't yell, but it really did show that they meant well.

One of their favorite games was to pick up discarded newspapers and pretend to read them. Sometimes they'd really read them, but usually they didn't want to put that much effort into it. If I asked them what they were doing, they'd let me know that they were playing businessman. To them, that's what businessmen (and no, it was never businesswomen) did. They read newspapers on BART. Once, one of them told me that she was looking for a new job for me, so that I could "have a better job."

We met some real businessmen on BART once, and it turned out that they were even BART businessmen. They were BART executives who rode BART periodically to see ho…

Tales from BART

Today, we're going to talk about BART - Bay Area Rapid [not really] Transit. I think BART is great; I just don't think the rapid part should be in there because it's a lie.

First, you must read this. I mean, you MUST. This describes the city I have worked in like nothing I've ever read before. Seriously. I just can't do it justice, so read it, please, and then come back.

Wow. I can only hope that if my students turn out to be thugs, that they turn out to be chivalrous thugs!

We often took BART on field trips. It was very convenient, because the school was not far from one of the stations. All right, it was about 3/4 of a mile, which was - for children completely unaccustomed to exercise - pretty far. And usually the chaperones were also unaccustomed to exercise. So the walk could actually get kind of long. Kids are funny: they whined and whined about their feet hurting, and the minute I said, "Run to the corner," they ran as fast as they could.

Bef…

Adventures in Subbing

I worked as a substitute last week at a middle school that had many of my previous students. It was a good day - not just because it was a minimum day and I didn't know it! The first class came in and started giving me looks and all sat down. The bell rang and I said, "Listen, I'm not a sub, I'm a teacher. I know what you're doing, so get back to your own seats." They all just stared at me. I told them I was going to count to five and they would be in their own seat. They stared at me until I got to three and then 75% of the class ran as fast as they could to their own seat. I didn't know enough of them to be sure that they had been trying to fool me, but I had a feeling... one of those teacher feelings that are always right.

Later I had to sacrifice one kid - he wouldn't do his work and was testing me to see if I'd really send him to the principal. The minute I did, all the other kids started working! As a treat, I let them see my blue h…

Seriously?

I can't believe I haven't included this in the blog before! This is one of my favorite stories about the district. I thought I had written it but I just searched the blog...

When I started in my district, the schools had just been converted from K-6 elementary schools and 7-8 junior high schools. The elementary schools were overcrowded, so they became K-5, and the junior high schools were changed to middle schools, 6th-8th grade.

A junior high school next to the school I worked at was one of these. Let's say it was called "Gecko" Junior High School. Well, this district, always willing and able to do a bad job of things, decided to save money and not replace all the metal letters. Instead, they made a sign that said "Middle School" and nailed it up over the "Junior High" portion of the sign. So, now you have a sign that is partly in old metal capital letters and partly in a newer wooden or something sign, reading:

GECKO Middle SchoolSCHOO…

No News and No Clothes

I've asked a couple of teachers at my old school about the missing administrator and there continues to be no news. One teacher hypothesizes that it is part of the conspiracy to privatize schooling. I think it's part of the conspiracy to keep poor black and Latino kids lacking in education.

No, I'm not kidding.

Anyway, in thinking about the lack of information in regards to the disappeared administrator, I was reminded of the story The Emperor's New Clothes. The district seems to like that approach - pretend nothing's wrong and it won't be! The clothes are lovely! What incredible tailors!

The Emperor's New Clothes is, incidentally, a part of the third grade reading curriculum. If you have read the story, you may agree with me that this was a silly choice for third grade. What is the outcome of the story? The emperor gets scammed because he wants to believe that he's special, and no one wants to be the voice of opposition, so he ends up walking nake…

Dreaming of Teaching

No, I wasn't dreaming that I wanted to be teaching again! I had a dream in which I was counting the days until summer vacation and then I woke up and started trying to count... thinking to myself that at least I got Christmas break soon... then I realized I wasn't teaching! It was a huge relief, even though I had to work sooner that way... nothing is as emotionally exhausting as teaching.

Oh, and my hair is bright blue now - I'm happy with this color and will post pictures soon.

Purple Hair

Oh yes, and I have purple hair right now. It's lovely what you can do when you are not teaching.

How Many Feet Do Chickens Have?

I substituted for a friend last week. It was a really good class and I enjoyed it, although there were definitely reminders about why I am done with this district. (For example, they don't seem to want to pay me for subbing, which is a problem!

The school is very similar to my old school. The kids are absolutely city kids. There was a word problem that asked if a farmer had five chickens, how many chicken feet were there? (It's second grade, so it's not too complex). The problem was not the addition but the chickens. No one seemed to know how many feet a chicken has! The overwhelming consensus was that a chicken has four feet. There were some odd pictures of four-footed chickens.

I was also reminded that kids bleed a lot. There was a bloody nose, teeth coming out, scabs coming off, scraped knees... all sorts of blood! And pee. There was an accident - a girl that just used the bathroom had an amazing amount of pee that ended up all over her chair and the floor. I…

Halloween

I'm a little late - I forgot to talk about Halloween.

I just have this to say. There are not words to express how relieved I was on Halloween. Why, you might ask? Because I did not have to endure children on sugar, children trying to surreptitiously put on their costumes, or children who have stayed up all night on Halloween, then come to school the next day simultaneously exhausted and totally wired on sugar.

Instead, I got to carve pumpkins myself!

For those who aren't aware, Halloween is one of the two most difficult days for an elementary school teacher, in my opinion. The other is Valentine's Day. Combine sugar, artificially created holidays and school parties and, wow...

I'm glad I'm working at home on the computer right now instead of teaching!

Literally Unbelievable

First, an intro from Lindsay:
Before I started teaching at B's school, I would listen to the stories that B told about her experiences there, and I would find that they put the listener into a very awkward situation.

She would tell these stories that were literally unbelievable. Rats running through classrooms? Kids peeing in sinks during lockdowns? Verbally abusive administrators? You can't believe that that's actually happening. Here. In this country, which we all had a much higher opinion of ten years ago, when this was happening. The stories were so unbelievable, in fact, that you sort of had to do a gut-check: Is B lying about this? Logic kicks in, and you realize, either B is lying or this stuff is true.Lindsay is not the only one who has mentioned that. I've had several friends say the same sort of thing, "You know, until I saw where you teach, I really thought you must have been exaggerating." "I wasn't sure you weren't lying.&quo…

Stephanie Update

Stephanie's dad called me yesterday to let me know that she got a 4.0 in her first trimester of 7th grade and to thank everyone who is helping her get to the leadership forum in Europe by donating... specific thanks to Doug, Lindsay, Chris, Lynn, Carrie & Jason, Laura, and Alex (and some others who wish to remain anonymous. You guys are awesome and every little bit helps! This is a girl who will NOT waste the experience - she's amazing. One person expressed concern that the organization does not set up an easy tax-deductible way to fundraise - I think, honestly, it's because most of the kids don't have to raise funds. I think the fast majority of them just have their parents write a $4500 check and they're off. Stephanie's dad is taking extra fights (professional boxer) and working tons of extra shifts to try to pay for this, which is why I'm trying to get people to help.

If you are someone who has always wanted to help public education and doesn&#…

No Wonder I'm Still Tired!

I've been really frustrated that I don't seem to be getting untired - I've been not teaching for 4 months and I think I should be back to "normal" by now, but I'm still exhausted!

Then this conversation with Warren helped me remember what the last few years have been like. We were talking about "Alex," an extremely disturbed child I had two years ago whose dad threatened to set him on fire once (it even shocked the woman working at Social Services when I called). Somehow, the conversation went to "Rick," a kid who flat-out refused to do anything - and when his parents came on a field trip, they were more trouble than he was. I said something along the lines of "Thank God I didn't have those kids the same year," and then I realized... I did! I not only had the two of them but I had 13 others - yes THIRTEEN OTHERS - who were behavior problems and probably should have been in a special day class/group home/intensive counselin…

They Can't Keep Employees? Really? What a Surprise!

I am so done with this district. Even just in subbing for them, they are still doing their best in guilt-tripping and devaluing me. The guilt-trips just don't work for me. Apparently the district personnel believes they will, though, or they would stop...

I agreed to sub for a former colleague today. No problem. I wanted to sub for her, was going to bring the gecko, of course, get to see my old students... then yesterday, I woke up and couldn't get out of bed. I had that slightly run over by a train feeling and couldn't stop being exhausted. I wasn't able to get out of bed until 3 pm, at which point I canceled my subbing job. I left a message with the person I was subbing for and canceled the job, figuring that if I couldn't get out of bed, I wasn't really able to safely supervise 2nd graders, and oh yeah, I had a FEVER. Not making this up.

So, feeling slightly guilty - because the field of education has sort of beat into me that I should feel guilty - I…

A Brief Political Note

I'm trying to keep this blog about school, and I will be writing about Halloween at school later on today. But once again, one of the presidential candidates has astounded me, and not in a good way.

Rudy Giuliani (and I really believe that if he had just let his NYC mayorship be his swan song, he would be remembered lovingly by America... now he's just starting to make himself look like a...well, a jackass, really) talked about torture. Oh, he's against torture, just like everyone is, but it's all in the semantics.

For example, he's not sure that waterboarding is torture. He says that just because the "liberal media" describes it as such, he isn't sure that they are accurate. Really? If it's not torture, why doesn't he volunteer to try it so he can tell us firsthand how not torturous it is. John McCain points out that Pol Pot used waterboarding during his genocide in Cambodia, and it was also used in the Spanish inquisition. He (McCain) …

Dropout Factories

I found this report about high school dropouts in California this morning. As upset as people in the article seem, I think their numbers are low. I mean, I think more kids are dropping out than they say. I did a search to see if it was just my area and found that, true to my suspicions, the way that California calculates dropout rates may be wrong. Specifically, "We see, in far too many cases, that students who drop out are not being counted as dropouts." Isn't that the same problem these kids have had their whole lives? They don't count.

Anyway, I looked up our district, and fewer than half of our kids entering 9th grade graduate. That sounds kind of depressing, but don't worry, it gets worse! No one likes to admit it because it would mean that a whole lot of people aren't doing their job (I believe it's not legal to drop out of school until you're 16 in this state). However, many many kids drop out in between middle school and high school. …

Book Clubs

One of the things that I do miss about teaching is the book clubs. Book clubs were something I started in probably my fourth year of teaching. And was one of my best ideas, ever.

I divided the kids up into groups more or less by reading ability and assigned each group a book (that I had to buy with my own money, of course). The advanced readers would get something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Twits (Roald Dahl is a great favorite with third grade boys who are reading above grade level). The lower readers would get something like the Horrible Harry series, because, although they are easier reading, they still have chapters, and that's a source of pride with third graders... chapter books.

One kid would be the facilitator for the day and they would go around and each read one page out loud. If none of the kids in the group knew a word, they could ask me. I took turns sitting in on the different groups. When they finished a chapter, the facilitator for the day …

Field Trip to the Zoo

In honor of my students from last year (who are going on a field trip today and invited me... sadly, I couldn't go), I thought I'd put up a piece of writing by one of the kids last year. This is "Our Field Trip to the Zoo." Watch out for dangerous chipmunks!

When we got to the zoo what I had did was since the zoo wasn't opening yet, we had went to the little park down by the zoo. Then when the zoo was opening we had went in. Then we had put our lunches on the bench. Then we played on the spider web. Then I had saw three crocodiles and two turtles. Then we had went and saw two tigers in their cave. Then we saw lot of giraffes and goats and a little bit of birds. We saw three elephants one was looking at us for kind of a long time. Then we saw some monkeys and some birds. Then we had saw the lion. Then we saw camouflaged big pigs. Then we saw this dangerous chipmunk. We had went to the petting zoo last but not least we had went back to the little park…

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Watch the video here. Then come back. Please.

I am starting to really like Dove. Sure, they're a company trying to make money off of beauty products just like all other companies that sell beauty products but they have a lot of good links for girls (fact or fiction body quiz, etc.) and they are making more of an effort to use models of varying sizes than any other company I have seen.

And that video really touches me. They are not exaggerating. I saw this every day when I was teaching. The little girls wanting to be sexy, wearing "curvy" jeans, sneaking makeup at recess, spending an entire day getting their hair done, and... worst of all, in my opinion, learning that their self-worth comes from male attention. Yes, they are learning that in elementary school now.

We've got to change this. Any ideas how?

A Story from "Lamar"

One day there were two frogs. Their names were Ben and Tom. When it got so hot, they played a game. The game was called leapfrog. Whoever got to the finish line and beat the time wins. So the game started and Ben had jumped over a log and Tom couldn't. So Ben had went back and helped Tom. And Tom ran off and stopped. And he didn't see Ben anywhere. So, he went back and he saw a fox getting Ben!

He hurried up to get Ben back into the race. When he saw the fox and Ben, he saw a huge house in front of him. And he saw Ben and the fox in the house. And he saw the fox going to cook and eat the frog.

When the fox got out of the house, Tom had snuck in there and got Ben out of the pot and went back to the race. So, they played again, and when they played again, this time the fox was chasing them. And when they got to the finish line, it was a tie. And the fox was still chasing them. When he ran, the fox ran into the pot and the two frogs ate the fox up.

The end.

Health Care

OK,I'll start by saying that I don't know much about this SCHIP bill that the president just vetoed. But I do know that I am tired of the Republicans and their stance on health care. They just don't seem to have any idea that there might be uninsured children out there. Maybe they're uninsured because of poor decisions of their parents, or because their parents are illegal immigrants. but they still have NO HEALTH CARE.

Most of my students had Medi-Cal but some had no insurance, either because they were not here legally, because they made barely too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough for their own insurance, because of custody changing, or because of falling through the cracks as they live in shelters and try to find enough money for food. I don't know exactly what the answer is, but I am tired of politicians spouting off about how it's better to have patients make decisions with their doctors instead of having socialized medicine. Hello? Those …

Thing Number 75 I Don't Miss About Teaching

The guilt.

It's astounding to me, actually, that we haven't progressed beyond using guilt as motivation in the field of education, but we haven't.

Besides using guilt whenever teachers take a sick day (because they're SICK), administrators often use guilt as a way to make teachers work longer hours. Now, let's make something very clear. Teachers work long hours. Teachers work VERY long hours. There's no one here who's trying to get out of working long hours.

But when (last year), teachers point out that the administration has us working over our contracted hours and are answered with "Aren't you doing this for the kids?" Well, there's just no answer for that. Besides a good kick in the pants, that is.

And now I hear (and oh, how I hope this rumor is wrong but I doubt that it is) that the principal from last year is using the payout for overage hours (each of us was paid $1000 for working 40 hours over - that is, 40 hours with kids over o…

A Few Thoughts on Subbing

I subbed for the class that has most of my students from last year. Goodness, I am glad to have a different job right now.

First of all, I would never sub for my school if I didn't know the kids. It would be a nightmare. Without a personal relationship, without trust that has been built up over time, it would be hell.

As it was, I I had to send the same kid out twice who I had to send out twice a day last year. (That was an awkward sentence, but you get the point). Another kid had a meltdown because I made the teams even during PE. Two little girls started crying hysterically because they thought another girl insulted them (they had misheard her).

It really is no wonder the district can't find subs. A few other observations:
Subs can't mail or fax in their time sheets. Nor can they fill out a time sheet online. They have to schlep themselves downtown (to a part of the city where there is NO PARKING) and turn in their timesheet in person, one one specific day. They ca…

The Education President

The Education President:

"Is our children learning?"

"Childrens do learn..."

Yes, the president really said that.

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."

Guest Blog by Tonya - the University Perspective on NCLB

Hi! I'm Tonya, B's roommate. If you've been reading B's blog regularly over the past year, you know her feelings about NCLB, or as I like to call it, All Children Left Behind. I'd like to take this opportunity to provide another perspective on the repercussions of NCLB, and B has kindly let me do a guest spot on her blog (since I don't have one of my own).

I've been teaching at a large, respected university for eight years, first as a graduate student and now as a member of the faculty. I am an alumna of this same university, having received my BA, MA, and PhD from the institution in question. Obviously, since it is my alma mater, I would like to say that it is the best university in the world (certain European publications would agree with that), but I have to say that over the past eight years I have seen a change in the abilities of the students who have come through my classes, and not for the better. In other words, since NCLB took effect, I have seen a…

Updates.

I have some updates on various fronts, so here you go:

The gecko is doing fine, but appears to be bored. Or maybe just not neurotic. I'm not sure.I'm going to visit my kids next Friday. With gecko in hand. They are all in the same class and that teacher told me that they are far ahead of the other class, especially in math. Yay!!You can still vote for my blog. You have to register with them and get one email message but they don't send you junk after that.
The administrator for the 4th & 5th grade school (did I mention that the school was divided into three schools?) is apparently really good and reasonable. Awesome. My evaluator from last year was supposed to have that school but I believe she left the district because she was (obviously) not happy.Stephanie has received $400 so far toward her trip, with another few people promising money for her. You can still help this wonderful girl go to the leadership conference in Europe. This experience will not be wast…

Back to Our Regular Scheduled NCLB Idiocy

This is just ridiculous.

A school that is "a California Distinguished School in recognition of its good scores, stellar performing arts programs, and success at helping needy kids" including one kid who was profiled who came from Mexico, not speaking English, ended up taking AP classes and keeping a 4.0, eventually getting into Brown... anyway this school - No Child Left Behind gives it an F.

They only achieved 21 of the 22 goals set. Hmmm.. shouldn't that be commended - 21 out of 22? and the last one missed by a very small margin?

Did I mention that our president couldn't pass some of these tests? I mean, seriously, the leader of the free world and he gets OPEC and APEC mixed up, along with Austria and Australia?

I am so over his folksy charm.

Girls Dressed as Women

Read this, then come back.

Disturbing, no? But anyone who's worked with kids lately shouldn't be surprised. I've seen little girls in halter tops, cropped shirts, low-rise jeans, "curvy" jeans, mini-skirts, platform sandals, high heels, makeup, hairstyles that took a full day to do, off the shoulder shirts... need I continue?

It disgusts me that clothing manufacturers make these styles. A six year old does not need curvy jeans. A six year old is not supposed to be curvy unless they still have the baby fat stomach. I don't want to see the kids' underwear because, while they are wearing low-rise jeans, apparently (thank God) they still wear normal underwear. It breaks my heart to see little girls at school who can't jump rope or run like they want to because they'll break their ankles in the ridiculous platform sandals they're wearing.

It also disgusts me that parents buy these clothes. I know it's getting hard to find clothes appropriat…

Stephanie

This is the lovely lady you'd be helping get to a leadership conference in Europe if you want to donate some money (any little bit helps). Yes, I have her dad's permission to put this picture up.

Stephanie's Mini-Autobiography

If you want to help her out - please make a check out to "People to People" and send it to me (email me or leave a comment and I'll send you my address). I'll get it to her. Tomorrow I'll put up her picture (with her dad's permission) and a copy of the letter that the leadership forum sent her so you can see that this is for real...

She really is wonderful if you want to do something good with some of your money.

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am in the 7th grade. I go to one of the new smaller schools in Oakland called Coliseum College Prep Academy and I'm a straight A student at the school because of the help off some of my previous teachers and my family. Some of my teachers that were helpful to me during this were Ms. Harris, my third grade teacher, Ms. Smith, my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Cofield and Ms. Knole my 6th grade teachers and my principal Mr. Townsend.

I have two brothers and one sister. My brothers are 18 and 6 and my sister is 4. My fami…

What's Wrong With Our Priorities?

So, I was looking online to see if there are other part-time jobs I can pick up, you know, to make a living (overrated). I found quite a bit in the "help at-risk/severely emotionally disturbed children" category.

Since I've already worked extensively with these children, I thought I'd check out some of the listings. There's a problem though.

The average pay seems to be around $13/hour.

I realize that $13/hour is more than minimum wage, and that these places - usually schools, non-profits, etc. don't have the funding to pay more. But I feel very strongly that this should disturb us all much more than it seems to.

There are two problems here, really. Well, many more than that, but two that jump out at me. First of all - and this is also true of teaching - how on earth does anyone expect intelligent, capable, personable, socially intelligent people to want to work for $13/hour??? That's $26,000 a year. Even teaching pays more than that, but the idea is th…

NCLB - the Jim Lehrer News Hour, Part III

Part III made me really sad because they had bits from an interview from a National Board Certified Teacher in Oakland 8 years ago and now. Big changes. And not good ones.

This is what the teacher said 8 years ago: "As a teacher, my first priority is my own 90-some students. But thinking broadly, I really try to work with other teachers across the district. And I can reach more students in that way, by supporting new teachers, trying to give them some fresh ideas to work with in the classroom."

This is what he says now: "I'm seeing a lot of desperation on the part of teachers, a lot of frustration. Out of the group of six teachers that I've worked with for a long time, only one is still in the classroom."

"No Child Left Behind has created unrealistic expectations and punished us for not meeting them."

The US Secretary of Education, naturally, has a different view. (at least she wasn't saying "you bet" every 3 seconds in this inte…