Tag Archives: politics

Backlash

9 Nov

Following the election, I had some mixed feelings.   I’ve made no secret of my conservative beliefs and background when it comes to politics.  But my brand of conservatism does not exactly match up with either that espoused by George Bush or John McCain.  I’m somewhat libertarian in much of my thinking which is far removed from Republican  policies for the past 8 years.  So I never felt like I had that much of a dog in the race.  I did vote but it was all about where I live: in a world of exceptionalities.  In the end, I knew Sarah Palin would be the most tireless advocate for children with disabilities ever.  I’ve witnessed the power of such a determined parent more than once first hand.  But when Obama won, I was not heart broken or crestfallen.   I actually felt like I had witnessed something historic and perhaps far reaching in a positive way.  I really hope he can unify the country.  His speech was first rate in rhetoric as he talked about bringing people together.  He really is a good orator and one couldn’t help but be hopeful.

However, many of Obama’s followers have built up over eight years of vindictiveness and resentment.  Some of those resentments go back decades or even centuries.  This was one thing I was totally unprepared for.  I was not prepared to have such an outpouring of hostility towards conservatives after the election, where the victors are not looking ahead towards rebuilding the country so much as settling some old scores.

In 1968, a teacher named Jane Elliott began an experiment/exercise in the community of Riceville, Iowa.  She took white 3rd grade children and taught them about discrimination using a technique that is not without controversy.  You can see it here.  It was the famous blue eye- brown eye lesson, where each group gets a taste of being either the oppressed minority or the oppressor for the day.  I actually grew up just an hour or so away from Riceville, and that section of the country was pretty racist back then and many remnants still remain to this day.  Discrimination happens everywhere in many forms, as I’ve learned in my life and again lately.  Within minutes, the kids fell into their respective role of either the dominant culture or the one being dominated.  And the next day when the roles were switched, some kids were anxious to settle some scores from the day before.

So now I feel like it’s my turn to wear the collar because a different group finds themselves in power.  I think we are going to have a lot on our plate, as a nation. Too much to worry about petty differences.  I’m willing to give the new guy a chance to prove he’s not a divider.  But now it comes to me that the last guy our country elected said exactly the  same thing.   Forgive me for being too skeptical to believe all the hype.

Frustrations

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.

The First Day of School

1 Aug

I’m often asked about why our district starts on a Friday instead of just waiting until Monday. The reason is, is that opening day glitches always occur and instead of having only a 16 hour turn-around time, we have more than 48 hours to work things out. And there are always things to work out. For instance I know that several bus drivers had not driven their routes before having to pick up children this morning. I know of at least one who got had no idea how to get to the child’s house before calling late last night to let them know the bus number and time of pick-up. Other issues include not enough books, not enough desks, issues with the cafeteria and basically all of the logistics.

As a teacher, the first day of school can be a very long and painful process, and we are very thankful to have a weekend the next day! No matter how much planning is done, it is never enough until the kids come. And there are usually surprises. In this case, my program was really surprised. At the end of last year, it looked like we were losing some kids as they were going to be attending their home schools. However one appealed and the other moved simply to remain in our school zone. In addition to the one new student I knew we were supposed to get (who didn’t show up) we got a new one who moved into our zone. So that zone next door had exactly one student show up, while we seemed swamped with 6! And there are more coming. I didn’t expect to feel this short this fast.

In other news, Georgia is once again observing a sales tax holiday this weekend. It started yesterday and is supposed to be for school clothes and supplies. And once again, teachers are getting a $100 gift card so that we can buy some needed supplies. I’m looking for some news on this, but apparently I’m going to be the one breaking it:

The Georgia Department of Education has received reports from teachers that some merchants are experiencing difficulties processing payments involving Teacher Gift Cards.

The Department has communicated these issues to Bank of America who has determined that there is an issue with the scan feature of the Teacher Gift Cards. Bank of America has assured the State that the problem will be corrected by tomorrow morning – Saturday August 2.

Bank of America recommends that if gift cards are used before tomorrow morning, merchants manually enter gift card information instead of using the scan feature.

The Georgia Department of Education regrets any inconvenience and greatly appreciates your patience as we work to resolve this issue as expediently as possible

Regards,

____________________________________
Scott D. Austensen, CFA
Deputy Superintendent, Finance & Bus. Opns.
Georgia Department of Education

So there you have it. Teachers have to wait until tomorrow to use their gift cards because Bank of America has screwed them up. Why not just give us all $100 in cash? No glitches to worry about there! The reason for the gift cards is so that teachers who often dig into their own pockets for items won’t have to dig as deep. It’s along the same lines as the federal $250 deductions that teachers can take for buying stuff for our classroom s. It’s kind of an effort by the governor and the state legislature to buy more votes. In this case, teacher votes.

This year, we’re going to end up buying more than usual because the orders for supplies that we filed last February have not even been sent. So I can either buy my own stuff or ask parents to supply it for me. I don’t ask too much as the parents of my students are not rich by any stretch. They have their own needs and expenses, and I have learned to deal with what we have, mostly. But I think we’re going to need more bean bags for positioning and I’ll need more media storage space to back up computer files. The one thing I need most, but can’t really buy, is more time. I’ll just have to do better with the time that I have!

See you next week!