Tag Archives: NCLB

We Need a Better Transition Program

7 Nov
The way NCLB is currently structured and the way schools are really pushing and driving, now is the time to straighten out the transition-to-work emphasis, especially for those students who are older than 18.  I currently have 2 that should have/could have graduated at 18, but they are being served in the public school system in my classroom.  Is the focus on academics the best thing for them at this age?  Certainly not for my students or those with more moderate intellectual disabilities.  The unemployment rate for students with disabilities runs 80-90%, and this is because school systems are ill-equipped for this task.  Public high schools are being pushed and pressured to offered a curriculum that prepares all students for college.  The large vocational programs that were in place in the 1970’s and ’80’s are now long gone and are largely replaced by more academic space or by computer labs. 
So on top of the demands for offering the regular education curriculum for all of my students, I am also having to try to offer some sort of meaningful job/employment services and skills.  These skills are not aligned with the basic core academic standards that I am supposed to be using in order to teach.  The daily living skills are also not aligned to core standards.  And yet, when I submit lesson plans, they must include the state academic standards and must somehow align.  This is the basic problem that NCLB brings to the local school system.  We are not doing that good of a job in the core mission of academics and we are also tasked with teaching some sort of meaningful vocational skills. 
The problem is that the least restrictive environment for a 16 year-old is not the same as it is for a 20 year-old.  And yet, that is exactly how it works in our school system.  Regular students are either working or going to further their education while students with severe disabilities have no other choice but to remain in the same building, in the same classrooms with the same teachers until they age out at 21+ years of age.  Other students have moved on while those with severe disabilities are stuck.  And for all of my training and background I simply do not have the resources to offer everything to everyone all the time.  When NCLB first started impacting those of us who taught this population, there was a lot of talk about aligning our goals with the standards.  We were to just take what we were already doing and find some way to make it fit into the regular curriculum.  Some things work more natural than others.  For instance, speaking and communicating are part of almost every task we do and that easily aligns.  We can count things that approach an algebra standard.  However, when we get into the real meat and guts of a high school academic curriculum, very little fits into what a student with severe disabilities does in the real world and in real life.  Geometry, American literature, physical science and world cultures are not very relevant to them.  That doesn’t mean they can’t learn it or that we can not teach them.  But when a skill has to be taught 500-1500 times in order to be mastered, is that the best use of our time?  To be sure, teaching the core content takes alot of creativity and is sometimes even fun.  It does, in fact, reflect just what their peers are doing, only at a more basic level.
However, at the age of 18, that is no longer true.  Their peers or not still in high school.  They have moved on, and so it is that the students with severe disabilities should also move on.  The present academically focused atmosphere of NCLB arguably serves its purpose but there gets to be a point where is becomes an even more serious impediment and liability.  Students need to be preparing for work outside of school.  They need to get outside of the bell schedule, outside of class changes and out of their desks.  They need to be in a seperate place where the focus is solely on transitioning to work.  The regular high school is not trhe least restrictive environment for students who are 19-21+.  They need to be in a place better suited to train them towards goals that will better serve them outside of the constraints of NCLB.  A student could opt to continue to work towards the regular credentials, of course, but there should also be another option besides spending the entire 7-8 years after middle school in one building, in one room.  This simply turns high school SID/PID rooms into yet another version of institutionalization.  No other population of student gets handled and treated this way.
To that end, we do need to do a better job of including our students in the regular education setting, even if it is for a modified period of time.  At the present time, the opportunity for discimination is entirely too rampant.  I have voiced concern about mainstreaming and inclusion before.  But after waking up to some issues with being discriminated against, I realize that the only way to combat it is to always be around and in everyone’s face.  Plus, for my part, if they won’t let me get away from SID/PID than perhaps I can gain access to the regular education classroom by getting my students placed there.  Suddenly I become a more critical part of the landscape as teachers scramble trying to figure out what to do with these kids.
So two things need to happen: 1.) Make a final drive towards full inclusion 2.) Establish a place for those who graduate from high school to be served until they are aged out, where the emphasis is vocational skills rather than the core standards mandated by NCLB.
It’s really going to be up to parents to make demands toward this, though.  I’m speaking as both teacher and parent but know that as an employee of the school system my voice can more easily be squelched.  Plus this might not be something other parents want, so I’m curious about that.  Should we more fully include those with severe and profound disabilities? 
I will say to you parents that the regular school system is simply too poorly equipped to offer your student the vocational training that he/she really and truly needs.  The mission of the school system is to educate students according to the state curriculum standards.  That will always come first, and everything else is extra, regardless of what is put on the IEP.  We can write lovely goals and a lovely transition plan but that neither compels nor empowers us to carry out those plans.  The IEP is pretty much toothless in areas that do not align with NCLB.  If it does not address the state curriculum, I’m going to have a hard time carrying it out because the law clearly mandates what I’m required to do — teach to the standards.  And I do not have sufficient time to even do that very well.  So guess what happens to those goals, objectives and transition plans?  They are being sidelined.
Under IDEA, all students are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE)  However, NCLB has totally changed the definition of “appropriate.”  It is all about the state mandated curriculum and meeting standards of performance mandated by the federal government.  So you may want your child to learn some functional skills like tying his/her shoe, going to the bathroom, do some sorting, assembling or other vocational/life skill tasks.  However we at the school are under serious constraints of time and resources.  I’m going to do my best for the students that I have, and their parents but this is not the same business that it was when I started or even 2 years ago.  The shift has been focused and radical. 

A Few NICE Words About NCLB

13 Oct

I have been bashing No Child Left Behind pretty much nonstop for the last 3 years.  Most educators hate it with a flamey white hot passion.  NCLB has done some very bad things for education, teaching and students.  I will return to my regularly scheduled  NCLB bashing right after this little break.

So what are some good things that have happened since the passage of NCLB?  Let me list them….


Okay!  Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to drop a comment in the box!



Okay, seriously, there are a couple of things that I would consider improvements under NCLB.

First, because of the new emphasis on a standards-based curriculum, schools seem a bit more streamlined in their mission and focus.  By that, I mean in the past schools seemed a bit lost in their mission and seemed focused on mitigating various social ills and inequalities.  The mission was so diffused that they couldn’t do anything right.  Schools are still expected to accomplish more things, but now that emphasis is codified within state standards.  This does have some very real consequences within special education, especially the goals and objectives, but that is an entirely different post.

Another benefit that I am going to have to allow is the fact that many students within “the golden band” have benefitted.  That is, those students who were just below the line in proficiency.    In fact, we have seen some students who were further behind catch up faster than expected within this year’s 9th grade class.  Every 9th grader with a mild disability is in a regular class, and most of those classes are co-taught.  This is good for the co-teaching even though co-teaching is an expensive proposition.  This is the one big area where funding could do a lot of good. 

Within my own class, this focus on academics has pretty much taken me off the hook for a lot of the stuff we used to have to do.  Technically, as a teacher, this is a positive thing.  As a parent, this would not be a very good thing.  However, remember the focus is on the state standards.  We can not justify spending time and money on things that are not focused on the standards.  Communication has become a more critical area and as we try to get our students to respond and adaptive technology has been stressed more.  Schools could use more monetary help in this area, too.  Specific grants towards adaptive technology research as well as developing more open source solutions would benefit schools and parents who are all under budget restrictions.  But in the meantime, toileting, feeding and social skills are fading from the table because they are not standards-based.  The school’s mission is to deliver the state-mandated curriculum, and since NCLB trumps IDEA, that is where teachers are going to be spending most of their time.

I have had to develop my sense of humor, and in that respect NCLB has enriched me.  I sit with my little groups studying American literature, algebra, geometry and all manner of social studies and science.   The few brave teachers who darken my door walk in, look and then shake their heads in amazement before walking out.  I am taking thousands of photos of us doing this stuff, and it is pretty crazy.  I manage to bring things down to their level but am thinking about simply abandoning all the prerequisites and just get pictures of them doing some calculus, Latin and AP economics along with some physics.  Why not? 

I’ve had to stretch my concept of “teaching” and “learning” in order to make the curriculum fit with my kids.  Again, a wry sense of humor does not hurt, because if you take any of this too seriously, it will depress you beyond words.  My creativity has been tested and over time I think I’m getting more clever about how to work the system and have some fun with it at the same time. 

As you can see, many of the “good” things are rather mixed and half of them are as personal benefits that may or may not have anything to do with student achievement.  “Student achievement” is more than simply one test score, and I’ve been challenged this year with finding creative ways to measure and track it unlike the federal government who has no interest in creativity.


Gov. Sarah Palin

3 Oct

Okay, I suppose its about time I weigh in on the big election race, since that is one of the biggest stories around the nation and around the world.  I am sure there is considerable buzz and excitement within the disability/special education community concerning Sarah Palin’s candidacy for Vice President.  One of the very first things she noted in her acceptance speech was that she will be an advocate for families of children with special needs.  And this is a very positive thing in her favor, indeed.

But I want to talk for a few seconds about how the candidates have been handling education issues, in general.  That is to say, they have absolutely NOT been handling it at all.  Obama was the first to bring it up at the tail end of his debate with John McCain last Tuesday, and basically it was about funding NCLB.  The primary position of his party has been one of saying that the main problem of NCLB is funding.  I certainly do agree that this business of passing unfunded mandates is an extremely nasty habit in Washington, and education is the most frequent recipient of this shabby treatment.  In fact, if you fail to pony up and comply, they’ll take away what little funding you already get from the feds.  Neither party has everseriously considered fully funding IDEA, and this is something that has been on the books for 35 years.  Why would NCLB get any better treatment?  However, the problems with NCLB go much deeper than just money.  It lacks fundamental fairness and undermines IDEA by forcing a one-size-fits-all approach to education.  It buttresses a factory-style education system developed to produce factory workers.  What is the future of factory workers in America in the 21st century? 

Anyway, neither presidential candidate has bothered much with education as an issue.  Edin08 has been a dismal failure as far as raising awareness of education issues in this campaign.  An opportunity to  lay out new ground and “build a bridge to the future” has been squandered.  If you’re concerned about education, you’re going to have to hold your nose in this election.  I will say for my part, the senate election is actually a bigger one for me, because I’m going to see to it that Saxby Chambliss will not be voting to reauthorize NCLB.

So back to Ms. Palin…

When I first heard about John McCain’s pick for VP, I was as shocked as everyone else.  I figured Romney or even Huckabee would be more natural choices.  Who was this woman?  so like everyone else, I went and searched for whatever I could find out about her.  The fact that her youngest son had Down syndrome was one of the earliest bits of interesting information to come out about her.  Not long after that, there was all the stuff about the state trooper scandal, her oldest daughter’s pregnancy and all that. 

I watched her announcement speech and she seemed pretty…well awfully pretty!  She also seemed very confident and well-poised.  As a former Huckabeesupporter, I was actually happy with the choice on a lot of levels.  Her speech at the convention was truly electrifying in a lot of ways.  But after that speech, a couple of things bothered me.  First off, John McCain was with her every single time she was out on the campaign trail.  It was like he was some sort of guardian angel for her or something.  She never did or said anything without him being right there, and I saw that as him having to hold her hand.  It was just an embarrassing display of paternalism or condescension or maybe even sexism.  Heck if I know.  I actually suspected that while she might be cute and poised, she might also be kind of dumb, like many other beauty pageant contestants.  The stereotype is there for a reason.  Heaven knows, I would rather look at her than Joe Biden the next 4 years, but not if she’s going to be incompetent. 

The interviews she had with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson were partially journalistic hack jobs.  Bush Doctrine?  I’m not sure I even agree with how that is being pinned on GW.  And it is perfectly reasonable that intelligent people can say that it is possible for the earth to cool and warm regardless of what people do i.e global warming.  The passport question was dumb at the outset.  While the questions about foreign policy were sort of on target, no questions like that were everasked by the media about Obama’s experienced.  And then when Palin couldn’t give exact answers on McCain’s record of asking for more regulations, Couric just kept dogging her on it over and over. 

Having said all that, Palin’s repertoire of answers have been narrow, at best.  She talks about energy, she talks about giving power back to the people, she talks about being a hockey mom.  She talks about being a maverick and she talks about reforming Washington.  Those are her talking points.  In light of that, her mention of education in the debate was a breath of fresh air from the usual agenda and script.  She did bring up some hostility toward NCLB, which you’ll notice Biden simply said was underfunded.  I give Palin high marks for not calling it “George Bush’s No child Left Behind.”  She’s the only one on the ticket of either party who didn’t vote for it.  That alone gets some support from me.  But at the same time, she was too vague about what she might do and Trig isn’t old enough yet for her to know much about how IDEA has been gutted and disemboweled by NCLB.  I thought she held her own in the debate okay, but I would really like to see her more on her own before the election.  Sure she might be an advocate for the special needs community, but she’s not going to be much of an advocate if she’s seen as being dumb and incompetent.  She really hasn’t proven much to me and I’m not sure if she’s proven enough to get my vote.  I’ve swung to third party candidates more than once before in order to escape having to make such a stinky choice. 

If Obama could make a spirited effort to address education beyond just spending more money, he could still get my vote.  But I think it was the federalization of our schools that has gotten us in this mess in the first place.  Obama is not going to lessen federal involvement and regulation because he has consistently chosen MORE regulation and federal management.

I think I’m going to hear someone say something about bank regulation and the need for more and how our current financial crisis was caused by the lack of oversight.  Let’s nip that right now.  There was actually TOO MUCH oversight in the form of of the Community Reinvestment Act, that actually rewarded banks for making these bad loans.  Mainly, it was more regulation and interference by Washington that caused this crisis in the first place.  Regulation by the feds in order to combat one form of abuse resulted in an abuse of a far more serious nature. 


The GAA Begins: Tips and Tricks

16 Sep

We just had our training for GAA as the window for collecting data opened on Sept. 4th.  There are not a lot of changes from last year which could be good or bad depending on how you see it.  Short of it going away altogether, they might as well keep it the same.


I figured I might blog my GAA experiences this year and share what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.  It might help a few teachers who are just now experiencing it for the first time plus just give a forum for spleen venting if you need it.


I’m fortunate in only having one 11th grader this year, so it looks like a comparatively light load.  However, the student I’m doing GAA with has the most profound cognitive disabilities I’ve ever had to try to assess.


So job #1 is looking at the student and assess what they can do.  I actually started this process as soon as he wheeled into my room as a freshman.  The earlier you can start, the better off you’ll be.  And if you comprehend nothing else I write, comprehend this: you can not start this task early enough.  In fact, if you have not started collecting data as you read this, you are behind already.  In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say that no matter where you are in the process when you read this; if you’re not done you’re probably behind!  I say this because every year I have seen teachers scramble to meet the deadlines set up by their local administrators.  And those scramblers are stressed and making mistakes that they have to keep correcting which puts them even further behind.


Something to keep in mind is this: there are many ways a Georgia Alternate Assessment can “fail.”  None of those ways to fail have anything whatsoever to do with student achievement.  This is the only assessment I’ve ever seen where actual student achievement counts as nil in a final failure.  It is all about the teacher who is completing the work.  The student is really an accessory and a prop in this assessment.  When you shift the focus off of actual student performance and on to your ability to deliver a finished and complete portfolio then the task is clearer and it might help lessen some of the frustration.  I know this is not the party line or the bill of goods being peddled by Washington or Atlanta.  However I’m concerned about reality and the reality is that NCLB has been twisted beyond all recognition when dealing with kids with severe disabilities.  The law never took our students into account when it was written.


Back to the job at hand. 


Once you know how the student is going to respond, you have an array of choices as far how the student will respond to the tasks. 


Let’s talk about standards for a minute.  My kids all function at a level measured in months and they are expected to meet standards designed for students functioning at a 16-17 year-old level.  As teachers, we have latitude as far as specific standards and strands to pick from and we are allowed to address prerequisite skills.  This process of selecting standards and strands is one that should be pretty common nowadays as far as daily/weekly lesson plans anyway.  We are being held increasingly accountable for those standards as SID teachers and that means planning and teaching to the standards.


These are steps that should have been done already at the beginning of school.  I’ve had to totally retool my program from daily living skills and community-based instruction to being standards-based instruction.  Relevancy does not really count anymore.  If you can make it relevant than you are doing well, but that is not the focus as much as addressing regular education standards with age-appropriate materials.  We are, in essence, teaching to the test here.  When I make up my lesson plans, they are all aligned to standards found in the GAA blueprint.  Given the fact that my students learn much slower than average and they need hundreds and maybe thousands of trials to show improvement or mastery, a handful of standards go a long way.


The next step is to develop your strategy for completing the portfolio.  You need to pick the standards, the tasks, the methods of documentation and opportunities to show generalization.  The better you plan the smoother the process.  When I made my plan for the semester last year, the units of study were aligned with my GAA topics, with the possibility of several units and standards so I wasn’t tied to just one possible topic or task.  This year, those units are being further aligned with specific standards and tasks in the GAA blueprint. 


Helping things along in the planning is a GAA planning sheet that should be done for each student.  I’ll see if I can put one up with this post.  Having that sheet entirely completed will go along way in getting the portfolio complete.  It was while working on mine that I came up with a formula for picking out my GAA tasks for the collection periods that is pretty universal for me.


Collection period #1, Task #1: In collection period one, one task for any given standard involves listening, reading, watching and observing.  Student participation is minimal at this point because mastery and proficiency are going to be demonstrated in collection period #2.  We’re just starting out, so the student may respond to the instruction, but the response is minimal.  They may be reading a book, watching a movie, or perhaps interacting with an adaptation of a text or story.


Collection period #1, Task #2 does involve a bit more involvement and deals with the vocabulary of the topic/subject.  For this task, the student will match, identify and or speak and interact with the new words of whatever the topic is. The student can use an AAC device for this task in order to use the new words.


Collection period #2 Task #1: Now the student needs to show more mastery and sophistication with the subject matter in order to show improvement.  For many students with severe disabilities this is no small thing.  My approach has been to go at this simultaneously from two different angles.  One is to bring generalization into it and having the student perform the task in a less restrictive setting outside of the special education setting.  It could be the cafeteria, another regular ed. Classroom, the administrative office or the community. I get custodians, lunchroom personnel, coaches and administrative assistants involved.  The goal is to expand the educational universe beyond the special education classroom.  The second approach is to ramp up my technology.  While I may use some technology in the first collection period, I keep it as unsophisticated as possible.  In collection period #2, the student will interact a lot more with the material.  In science, we’ll actually do some sort of experiment that applies what was read/discussed/talked about in collection period #1. 


In task #2 I allow the student to demonstrate some sort of mastery by doing a test, quiz or some other generalization exercise concerning the vocabulary we had in collection #1.  Again, I’ll pull out extra technology in order to get the student engaged with the material with less prompting and less help. 


The data collection generally matches the task.  Captioned photos are the easiest to handle for me, as my students do not produce much in the way of products.  Observation forms and interview forms are also good for the secondary tasks.  Audio and video would be natural options for many of these tasks, however the state wants a detailed written script to go along with the audio or video in case the audio or video media does not work.  In other words, audio and video involve at least twice as much work and we’re generally discouraged from using it.


So that is the GAA so far.  I’ll be keeping you updated as we go along. 

Here is the attached gaa-planning-sheet

Still Depressed; A casualty of NCLB

22 Aug

The list just seems to keep growing, doesn’t it?

I have talked about NCLB and its effects upon the severe population ever since the it forced everyone to align with it through the use of the alternate assessments.  While I have always had individual lesson plans attached to data sheets, I’m now required to turn a set in every week that includes standards, standard numbers and eventually I will have to follow some sort of centralized mandated format.  The all-wise powers higher up the chain are busy deciding what format we all have to follow.  Heaven forbid that we actually have anyone be an individual or deviate from enforced conformity!  Novelty, creativity and originality are frowned upon in this new paradigm of education.


The biggest casualty has been community-based instruction.  The high cost of diesel along with NCLB have successfully obliterated this last vestige of relevant instruction for students with severe disabilities.  Those with moderate intellectual disabilities are the biggest losers here.  When I began teaching, we had many moderate students in my program and we went to actual jobsites where the students did actual meaningful work.  Some of those students managed to get actual paying jobs right out of high school as a result of their successful experiences.  However, those days are gone.  NCLB, at least as our students have interpreted it, mandates teaching the core academic subjects on grade-level with grade-level materials.  There is no time for job training or community-based instruction (CBI).  When I started 8 years ago, we went out every single day.  Now, we have not gone anywhere yet, and school has been in session for 3 weeks.  There seems to be no real urgency to begin CBI for these students.  They will be required to learn literature, algebra, history, economics, biology, geometry and chemistry just like everyone else.  And when they leave this institution, they will be dumped back on to their parents or on to the street with no employable skills.

Those that I teach today are on the most severe end of the intellectually impaired spectrum and they have always been shunted off to the side and marginalized.  However I have felt an increasing marginalization myself, as the shift toward the standards and academics has taken over.  My students are not helping to increase test scores or increase the graduation rate.  So as a teacher, my role as a teacher has become increasingly isolated.  The self-contained setting has always been a somewhat desolate and lonely condition.  But I’m feeling it even moreso this year.  It just hit me all-of-the-sudden this week, as I was trying to get my “advanced” group to identify their own names and pictures of themselves that this academic crap is just a huge joke.  At first, I had mixed feelings about being irreplaceable.  “Hey!  I’m important!”  But that isn’t the case at all.  The reason why I can’t be replaced isn’t because of the stellar job that I’m doing.  It is because no one else wants it.  And that is singularly depressing enough.

I do feel the administration has been as supportive as they can be given the fact I only have 7 students while everyone else serves close to 100.  I don’t blame them for keeping me in place for another year even though I requested a move as it is a good strategy for the short-term.   They figured that it wouldn’t be too disastrous, as I’m likely to put student interests ahead of my own.  I would do the job and do my best, no matter what sort of students I’m serving. 

They all can learn, but not at the same pace, the same time or even the same content.  These kids with severe cognitive impairments; we need to look at reality and admit that they are not going to college.  We need to admit that there are plenty of very happy people who have never gone to college and quit trying to guilt parents, teachers and the students into conforming to a standard that fails them.   My kids will not be reading on the 12th grade level no matter how rich of a literacy program I expose them to.  No matter how highly qualified their teacher is, they are not going to solve for X.  But they might learn how to answer the question “What is your name?” or respond to “Do you want more?”

I feel fairly confident with what I do.  I pretty much know how to deal with most of these students even though I still get nauseous from all the noise.  A poopy diaper barely phases me anymore.  It is just a significant part of what I do and separates me from the folks who can’t hack it.  But I am ready for a little different life to choose me and since it won’t be at this school, I need to be looking at other schools.

Anyone else ever had to effect a transfer like this, where your present supervisor/employer is reluctant to let you go?



20 Aug

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I’m frustrated today.

I can find any number of reasons to be frustrated on a given day, but most of the time it just sort of passes and I move on in the space of a few minutes. However, today I’m just frustrated generally about the increasingly tight restrictions and procedures dealing with NCLB.

It has been awhile since I have vented my spleen on this particular legislation and the idiots who developed the law and the clowns who continue to push it as if it were the greatest thing in the world. I will never vote for any politician who supports NCLB. Period. And for the record that includes every senator running for president. I’ll sling the crap on GW Bush for assembling the unholy coalition that allowed this travesty to be inflicted upon this country’s youth. And what it does to kids with severe disabilities….there is no spot in Hell vile enough, hot enough or painful enough for those perverted sadists who would inflict even greater discrimination, humiliation and degradation upon these kids.

Every one of my kids will get a regular education diploma, even though none of them can write or spell their names. Few of them can pick out a picture of themselves from an array of 3. Even fewer can pick out their written name from an array of three. We are working on identifying the numbers 1 and 2. We are working on counting to 2. They have absolutely no concept of what “2” is. And yet, I am expected to address high school math and literature standards. They will each have a portfolio of pictures sent showing evidence that they have accessed the standards. Then, they will get a regular education diploma after they put in 7-8 years in my program. That means they will get the same diploma as every other student who has actually passed the real graduation tests and did all the work. Which immediately begs the question: just what exactly does a diploma prove?

There will be many students who will not get a diploma, but none of them will have severe disabilities. They may have studied as hard as they could, but they could not pass the test. They may be very employable, but they will not get the diploma that my kids get. The state will say they did not earn it.

And then there’s case where my students get the exact same diploma as your sons and daughters who took advanced classes and got all A’s. It’s the same diploma…are the standards really the same? Just how much is a Georgia diploma worth? I’d say it isn’t worth squat when someone with at IQ of less than 20 can get one. I’d say that the fact that these kids are expected to do the same as those who have IQ’s of 120 is a gigantic farce! But NCLB says that anyone not getting a regular education diploma is considered a drop-out. This is what happens when the baboons in the legislature decide to stick everyone under the same (unfunded) rule. It makes everyone equally worthless!

The time that has not been spent trying to teach them their own names, faces and the numbers 1 and 2 and the shape of a circle has been spent cleaning up drool, snot, pee, blood and poop. Lots of poop today. Almost as much poop as is produced in the federal and state capitals on a daily basis. Too bad poop isn’t considered for the alternate assessment. Too bad poop isn’t one of the standards for graduation as much as it is for being a lawmaker or government bureaucrat.


28 Jul

Well, we are back!  And so am I.  It’s back to the same program and the same room.  If I want to do something else, I’m going to have to transfer to a different school because they are never going to replace me and there isn’t a lot of motivation for anyone to even look for a replacement as long as I’m around.  In many ways, it was stressful to think about transferring to a new position, but in other ways it was stressful thinking about NOT transferring!  My desire and commitment for change will be tested ultimately by my willingness to make it a more major move to another building with all new people and administrators and grade levels.

But in the meantime, I have students here who need me and I’m going to do my best to make it a banner year for them and for me.  I’m going to do everything possible to make it such an outstanding year that everyone else in the building will weep bitterly at my departure!  It’s about being proactive and making things happen and advancing.  That’s going to be the hardest thing, but it’s the most important thing.  I need to really reach and strain ahead.  I need condition myself into stretching.

That’s me, giving myself a pep talk!

Each year there are always changes.  This year, I get to meet the 4th principal I’ve had since starting at this school 9 years ago.  It seems like people come and go so quickly around here!  The new guy looks like he’s trying to tighten things up around here and he has a big job ahead of him.  Our school was among the 52% of Georgia high schools that failed to make AYP this past year.  We have to make it this year in order to keep off of the dreaded “Needs Improvement” list.  As a county district, we also failed for the first time ever, to make AYP.  And it’s going to be harder to do that in order to meet the federally funded mandate of 100% by 2014.  So we can expect every school in the country to be on the Needs Improvement list by 2016.  Students with disabilities continue to be the major subgroup that cause a school or district to fail.  It’s ridiculous to think that every single student is going to master rigorous curriculum standards at the same rate or with equal proficiency as everyone else.  No accommodation or modification is going to erase the reality that some students are not going to learn everything we teach them, even if they want to.  And politicians seem to ignore the reality that there is a small percentage that just doesn’t care that much about doing well in school at any given time. 

Preplanning involves lots of meetings and getting to know new teachers and staff.  It also involves training my own folks and setting the pace for the coming year.  We’ve gotten our room pretty much straightened out.  This isn’t a small task since they removed some teacher desks. And moved everything around when they redid our floor.   I’m going to do my best to have a good attitude this year and fend off the weariness that got to me last year.