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Showing posts from August, 2007


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

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 ide

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 t

No Child Left Behind - Jim Lehrer's News Hour, Part I

If you still don't believe me that NCLB stinks , read this. The first part of this very interesting three-part series on NCLB talks about how schools (and districts and states) are trying to get around the law, by using track and field analogies . One interesting point is that schools have to raise the percentage of kids passing the tests each year. My school got to the point three years into NCLB where it was statistically impossible to meet the NCLB benchmarks the following years. You can see how this increased the "why bother?" mentality. Some schools and districts are setting the early benchmarks very low to get around this. There are other ways that districts are fudging the numbers . Some states are just setting the pass rates lower. Illinois lowered the score on an 8th grade math test and the pass rates rose from 54 to 78 percent. Mississippi has the highest passing rate for the fourth grade test in the country... on the state test. On the federal test,

The Worst Website

I was trying to find the phone number for payroll today to try and figure out what exactly I got paid for on July 10. You'd think on the district website , one would be able to find a phone directory for the different departments. Or an email directory. Possibly even both. No such luck. Nor did a search for "payroll" turn up anything useful. In addition, I couldn't find the information for the HR person assigned to me or the person in charge of subs. Grrr.... Right now, the school is splitting into three small schools - don't remember if I've mentioned that. Every classroom is getting a new teacher and new grade level, just about. This means that in each classroom, there is a teacher moving out, a teacher moving in, a set of grade level textbooks moving out, and a set moving in, probably none of which are the same. So there's four sets of people trying to deal with each room. Yuck. I don't like chaos.

A Learning Tool

It's a stuffed brain cell. Wouldn't that be a great thing to have in the classroom? There's a whole line of cells and germs and things here . I mostly just want the brain cell though, if anyone wants to get it for me. I am still subbing, after all!

The California Report, Murders, and Other Violence

This will be quick because I'm really tired but I couldn't leave this one alone. A black reporter and newspaper editor was shot and killed - assassinated, really - in downtown Oakland because he had written negative stories about Your Black Muslim Bakery, which is apparently not affiliated with the Nation of Islam, but whose leader has been in all sorts of scandalous new stories in the past few years including being accused of statutory rape. With multiple girls. Since then, there's been an outbreak of violence which may or may not be related, but lots of people are being killed in Oakland. At least city officials and police officers are finally realizing that there's a big problem in the community - especially around gang violence - with people who won't cooperate with police. The NPR California Report did a broadcast that you can listen to here that made me think about the same thing, because they talked about the Witness Protection Program, which doesn