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Showing posts from February, 2008

STAR Testing

An interesting article in the Tribune about standardized testing. And yes, parents can opt out of having their children take the tests, but strangely enough, the parents aren't usually informed of this and - in the case of many inner city schools - often are lied to and told that their children must take the tests.

No More Sanctions!

Now Schwarzenegger's proposing sanctions for failing schools. First of all, aren't sanctions things that we impose on say... dictators in Cuba? Not elementary schools?? Second of all, the minute that someone can satisfactorily explain to me how taking away field trips, teachers' aides, and shuffling around teachers from one "failed" school to another helps kids learn, I'll jump right on the sanctions bandwagon. Until then, I fail to see how our ridiculous system of testing and punishing is helping anybody. (If you're reading this on RSS and don't see the image, click through or look at ; it's good.)

Teacher Salaries

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do--baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time. That would be $16.50 a day (8:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25 min. off for lunch). Each parent should pay $16.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. NOW... How many do they teach in a class, 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $495.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! We're not going to pay them for any vacations. LET'S SEE....That' s $585 x 180= $89,100 per year. What about those special teachers and the one s with master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it down to $7.00 an hour. That would be $7 x 5 1/2 hours (remember, no planning

The Subbing Conspiracy

I think I know how our district is trying to get out of debt - by not paying the substitutes. Sure, they say they're going to pay them, but think about the process. First, the sub must carry the timesheet with them at all times. This is not uncommon, but I do think it's silly. Instead of submitting time online at each site or something easy like that, a sub may have up to 15 different schools to bring the time sheet to, leave it with a secretary who then tries to track down the principal and get the timesheet back to the sub at the end of the day. Ample opportunities for it to get lost, no? Next, the sub must return the timesheet to the district office in person on specific days of the month. They say you can mail it but that they don't recommend it - having had mine lost twice, I can see why they don't recommend it! I'm not sure why they get lost - seems fairly straightforward to have something addressed to Ms. X in Room X actually get to Ms. X in Room X bu

A Dubious Slogan

In a flyer for subbing in my district : "If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere!" Um, do you want to advertise that? "Our district is so awful that anything else will seem like a vacation in comparison!" Interesting marketing. I would advise anyone wishing to substitute in this district to run far away as fast as possible, and that makes me very sad because there are incredible kids to be taught.

From Mexico, Part 2

OK, it's been a little crazy. The electricity went out in the Internet closet (twice) and then when I was connected in DFW (great wireless connection), my gate got changed twice so I spent the whole layover running from Terminal C to Terminal D and back to Terminal C, and then to Terminal D again. Fun. To continue. Roberto ran away from the abusive uncle and ended up helping package drugs and selling pornography on the street . Somehow, Sara (the orphanage director) found out about this 10-year old kid and brought him back to the orphanage. He started first grade at age 10 and, although school has never been easy for him, worked as hard as he could and consistently got excellent grades. He made it through primary and secondary school, graduated from high school (the picture in the pink shirt) and is now attending a technical college. He wanted to work in addition to help pay his way (he's now 22), so got a job as a mechanic's assistant. Within three weeks, his work

From Mexico

I am in an Internet cafe (that´s what they call it, but there´s nothing at all resembling a cafe; it´s more like an Internet closet) in Reynosa, Mexico. Before you all get excited and jealous and picture me lying on the beach drinking margaritas, let me tell you that Reynosa, Mexico is a border town, just south of McAllen and Hidalgo, Texas. I looked it up in the Lonely Planet Mexico once and the only thing it had to say about this town of something like two million people was that it is ugly (think petrochemical refineries), and that there is nothing for tourists to do. It went on to mention that the only Americans who usually come to Reynosa are Texans looking for cheap prostitutes or prescription medication without a prescription. I am here to visit my Mexican family, who run an orphanage. We call it an orphanage in English, but that´s a misnomer - it´s more of a group home. The Spanish name is casa-hogar , which literally means "house-home," and there are 40 kids rangin