Thursday, June 17, 2010
Misplaced Praise, Eighth in a Series of 562 (Updated)
Congratulations to the teachers and administration of Tiogue School in Coventry, Rhode Island, a “Blue Ribbon School of Excellence where Everybody is Somebody for Some Reason or Another!” The way you protected children from the very real dangers of little, tiny, plastic simulations of weapons glued to a hat was just marvelous. Your death-grip embrace of zero tolerance rules regarding weapons is an example to us all; someday we can all make ridiculous, well-intentioned decisions without having to overtax our brains with things like common sense and context.
Which is awesome. Life is easier when you don’t have to think too much.
Superintendent, you, sir, are an idiot. In no sane mind do little army men even marginally qualify as weapons or as dangers to your school students. The teacher who turned the child in deserves just as much criticism, but I find myself running out of polite, family-friendly words for the thoughts in my heads.
If they ever wondered why some folks have worried at handing over their children to the care and mercy of our public schools, well, this helps illustrate the point. Until school administrators can fully engage their own brains, how can we possibly expect them to successfully educate our children?
While the individual school’s rules might differ (I couldn’t find a copy online), the district lists as an example of their school rules a zero-tolerance for weapons rule (link opens a pdf in a new window):
From the same document, we get the district-wide rules on drugs and weapons:
Could the little army men glued to the hat really be used as a weapon in any more of a useful sense than, say, your typical spork could be used as a weapon? Unless the school has drastically different language (and language that would be even more utterly stupid if it is so broad as to include army men in the range of things that could be used as a weapon or even manage to be meaningful simulations of real weapons), then the teacher and administrators somehow judged that, yes, those toys were a real hazard to other children or to their learning environment. Which is, in the most polite term I can imagine, just silly.
Update: Check out Jen’s post. Complete with graphics.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Loving School Choice
I’m a big supporter of vouchers, but, absent that, I wonder if “school choicing” (hate that term) will be the new norm over time? It’s a big step in the right direction--that is, the best way to hold any institution accountable for its performance is to be able to withhold funding at the end-user level. If the school isn’t doing the job, then move the dollars (along with the student) to a school that will do the job.
That’s a big win for parents and students. If the schools took it in the right spirit, it could also be a big win for the best teachers, the best administrators, and the best ideas.
Anyway, here’s this (which also highlights a problem with income inequity with open school enrollment throughout a district--a problem that I think is overblown):
DPS is a big, diverse district with all sorts of institutional problems. It has been working hard for a number of years now, though, to address those problems and I like a lot of the changes that they’ve made.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Quick Thoughts While Pondering My Blog’s Future
One of the things that amazes me, living as I do with a teacher, is that parents hold their children to such incredibly low standards, work hard to undercut teachers’ authority in the classroom (and in the grade book), and make excuses for their lovely little angels. Then they wonder why those same children grow up only marginally skilled and completely unprepared for the difficulties of the real world.
I’m not in the habit of making excuses for the schools--from an overly insular culture afraid of outside influence and on to unions that protect teachers who are unfit for their positions, there’s a lot to be cranky about in public education--but I hear stories daily that have convinced me that the biggest stumbling block to many of these kids’ success happens to be their parents. I wonder who taught these parents that their kids should be protected from the deserved consequences of their decisions.
If anything, I continue to feel that the kids should be held to a higher standard than that imposed by the teachers in DG’s school--standards that many of the parents think impose undue burdens on their kids. Burdens like turning their homework in on time, doing their own work, and failing when they won’t even show a basic level of effort. Not competency, mind you, but effort.
Grow up, parents, you’re not doing your damned job.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Via the De-Blogger: Tales of Wizardry
I want to hope that there are better reasons that this for the (in a practical sense) dismissal of a substitute teacher in Tampa Bay.
In a day of mind-boggling stories--prison priests sexing up the inmates and Hillary promising to break up the evil oil cartels, for instance--this is far from the worst or most important story of the day, but I’d be hard-pressed to find another that stumped me quite so effectively.
Wizardry. And, apparently, someone was serious about that accusation over a simple magic (for the slower amongst us, it isn’t real magic) trick involving a toothpick. That isn’t the bad part, though, is it? I mean, some people think the Harry Potter books might shuffle their kids’ souls off right to hell.
What business does the school district have indulging that kind of idiocy, though?
I’m all for involved parents having a say in school curriculum. As with most things, though, there has to be a balance, and in this case the balance should be protecting the teacher.
The only potentially game saver here is this:
It has to be viewed, though, in light of the fact that the supervisor apparently took the “wizardry” charge seriously enough to mention it to the teacher. Whatever cause might exist to want this man out of a classroom, being an amateur Dumbledore shouldn’t really be in the mix.
Hat tip to Andy who recently decamped to less bloggy climes.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Denver Schools are Revolting. And I’m Not Talking About CSAP Scores.
A quiet revolution seems to be building in some Denver area schools--schools that want to be freed from the bureaucracy of the overblown administration and the dictates of the teachers’ union. And, best of all, they are doing it for the kids--only this time it isn’t a funny catch phrase used to point out the obvious manipulation of politics and events with teary-eyed tots in hopes of doing something like banning the bomb so that the children will never again be hugged with nuclear arms. Or something like that.
Anyway, this revolt started a few weeks back with another school that wanted to free itself from the bonds of the district in hopes of creating a better school where kids could excel. I’m not sure what I think of their plans--I’m haven’t seen a real road map, if you will, of what they are trying to do. I like, though, that they recognize that schools need to be able to deal with their neighborhoods, their kids, their parent, and their issues with more agility than a giant district can provide.
I would like to hear more about their plans--why they think they can do better, what the changes would mean functionally, and how it will work in relation to things like budget and support issues--but I like the trend. Moving away from bureaucracy might well mean more efficiency and smarter choices for the schools and their students.
Hooray for Denver’s revolting schools!
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Gordon Robert Moore Gets a Failing Grade
Not much could compel public school teachers to take up arms en masse, but this story from the Denver Post just might have the necessary ingredients.
Burn, bastard, burn.
While I’m not the most sympathetic to the “teachers are underpaid” story that is taken with nothing resembling critical thought from otherwise intelligent people (a fact that causes crankiness in darling girl when I’m stupid enough to bring it up), this con man was stealing from those teachers’ futures. He deserves a very long sentence and to have his name remembered by Google forever. It should make for some interesting questions when he gets around to job interviews in the future.
I’m personally hoping that he has a hard time rising above the “would you like fries with that?” level of employment after his stint in jail is complete.
Monday, June 04, 2007
No Problem w/ Cultural Education
I’m a little surprised by the uproar that a little cultural education brings.
I’ve quoted the same section of the article that one of the detractors, Kim Priestap from Wizbang, quoted just to make sure we’re working from the same context. Here’s what she had to say:
Actually, I wouldn’t mind at all if my seventh grader was given an opportunity to participate in this kind of a school activity. In fact, I would embrace the opportunity that it gave me to talk to my kid about Islam and the Middle East. I would enjoy that they were being introduced to new ideas and experiences, even though those ideas and experiences were probably watered down versions of the reality.
We might be involved in a war with radical Islamists, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the beauty of Arab culture. Nor is it a bad thing to learn about another person’s culture and traditions--and I sure as hell don’t see how the school doing this translates into a recruitment drive for al Quaeda or Islam. That strikes me as bordering on the paranoid (and no few steps from xenophobia).
Quick story time: the g-phrase, as many know, is a school teacher. Some time ago, some of the teachers at her school were teaching the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. The parents were given an opportunity to have their kids opt out, but at least one parent wouldn’t let it go at that: he called the school, he ranted, he raved, and he angrily said that the exercise--part of a larger unit teaching about hispanic culture--shouldn’t even be taught in the school.
While we could argue the merits of teaching kids to say the Pledge in Spanish, what bugged me most was that this man was saying that his belief that it was wrong should trump all the teachers and parents who believed that it was, at worst, a harmless teaching exercise. It wasn’t enough that he could excuse his kid; he wanted to limit the opportunities of everyone else’s children.
My hunch--and it’s a very strong hunch--is that the parents of the children doing the Bedouin tent community night were aware of (and had given permission for their kids to participate in) the school activity. I would be shocked if the parents hadn’t had the opportunity to keep their kids out of the assignment.
So, what’s the problem?
Don’t completely misunderstand: as I said, I would take the opportunity to talk to my son or daughter about Islam and Arab cultures. I would explain why I felt that, ordinarily, the wearing of the hidjab is a greater sign of how women are treated in most Islamic communities, about how homosexuality and apostasy are punished, and why our culture and political systems are clashing with some of the more radical and strict adherents of Islam. Talk about an opportunity to teach your kids.
Not only would it be a chance to explain my view of the Middle East (both the good and the bad), but it would be an opportunity to talk about what I think is great and what is flawed about America. I live for this shit.
I understand that a parent wouldn’t want their child to participate. So speak against it, keep your kids out of it, and then take a moment to respect the fact that some of us hold a very different view and it isn’t because we want to capitulate to the demands of the terrorists. For some of us, it is an opportunity to open up a much larger conversation.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
An Undeserved Suspension
Does it make sense that a man who teaches geography might use flags displayed in a classroom as a way to aid and supplement his lessons? Sure does. Does it make sense that that man should then be suspended for refusing to remove the flags because they might violate state law against displaying foreign flags in public buildings? Sure doesn’t. Yet, a teacher, Eric Hamlin, was suspended here in Colorado just for that reason after his principal, convinced that the display violated Colorado law, ordered the flags to be removed.
Firstly, the principal that ordered the removal of the flags was wrong: Colorado state law allows temporary displays of foreign flags for educational purposes. Secondly, kids should be introduced to the flags of the world and the symbolism that informs their designs.
Hamlin was actually suspended for insubordination--for refusing a reasonable request from a superior. It is debatable whether this was a reasonable request, but there is little question in my mind that Hamlin didn’t earn a suspension (and potential firing) for using foreign flags as teaching aids. There may be other problems with the content of Hamlin’s classes and previous disciplinary issues that influenced the principal’s decisions. The details in the Rocky, though, don’t appear to support the suspension.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
On the Need for a National Identity
I offer this without much in the way of commentary except to note two things:
These things said, the writer of this piece in the Telegraph understands the need for a level of national pride and admiration in the citizens of the West. And a persuasive bit of writing it is.
Update: Kindly linked by Iowa Voice.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Funniest Story of the Week
The funniest story that I read this week--in that, “okay, so it’s not really funny, but it sure makes me laugh” kind of way--was the story of the California State Assembly taking on overly lengthy textbooks.
Way to help instill a healthy respect for learning and reading.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Timing Is Everything
Page 1 of 1 pages
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
Powered by ExpressionEngine