SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Code Red!

Oh Numb Nuts what can I say? You are a source of infinite material. You make Principal Skinner look like Joe Clark. Your tenure as an assistant principal would make a great sitcom or better yet a Shakespearean tragedy. This should be no surprise. I think the last eight years of having W as president has shown that competency is not a requirement for a leadership position.

I get a call from Numb Nuts today that the 12:1:1 class I written about yesterday was out of control. "It's an emergency, get down here ASAP!", his shrill voice beckons me over the phone. I could picture in mind him hiding under a desk as a full blown revolt is taking place.

So I meander my way to the class and lo and behold the students are running wild. I realize why I was sent down. The teacher had to go on her prep. Hey, I don't begrudge her that. But Numb Nuts could have told me that instead of being shrill with me. But I wondered what he told the other teachers who were there as well. Because I wasn't the only one there.

The other teacher sent there for the "red alert" took several students to her office. I along with the para quickly restored order. Yes we had some problems. One student thought it would be fun to keep running out of the room. I solved this problem by using common sense. I parked myself in front of the door. No way this student was going to move me. He did get out once I admit because there was a flare up in the class that needed my attention.

Most times when a student runs out of a room they want attention. They want to see you chase them and then see how you will get them back to class. I am not going to run through the school unless there is a danger of the student running outside. Short of that, notify security, and just walk briskly. But that is easy. The hard part is to get the student back to the classroom. Each kid is different. Sometimes you have to talk to them, talk tough, walk with them, block their way, but never drag them through the hall. Never.

This is what Numb Nuts did today. The student who ran out of the classroom ran around the corner and basically ran into Numb Nuts numb nuts. Numb Nuts to the student by the hand and started walking with him when the student just flopped on the floor. Must have gotten that tactic out of some 1960's protest march. So what does Numb Nuts do? Starts dragging him down the hall. If memory serves this violates Chancellor's Regulation A-420. The student wasn't a danger to himself or others, he was just being a pain in the ass. There is not, as of yet, any regulation about pains in the asses.

All these students needed was to be redirected, and have someone take control of the situation. I do not blame the teacher at all! She is a new teacher thrown into a mess that IEP's were not adhered to and worse she still has not seen the IEP's! . She asked how she can properly teach these children without knowing anything about them. How can she know what strategies she can use in changing the students negative behavior.

This all falls on Numb Nuts. Like President Truman the buck stops with him in these matters. This is his grade, his responsibility. You can't shirk your responsibility off on others and then run away. And if things get out of hand, improvise, adapt, and overcome!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Federal Law Being Broken?

When I left the school building on Friday I had this on the tip of my mind thinking it would make a great post. But I forgot about it, what with my other posts and catching up on sleep and doing family stuff. But tonight during a mass family gathering while faking interest in some relative talking to me I remembered it.

There is a 12:1:1 class in my school. Now for the uninitiated this means that twelve students in a class with one teacher and one para. But suddenly after someone went into the vault to look at the students IEP's it was noticed that there should be more than one para in the class. The teacher should have brought this up several weeks ago. Oh yeah, she couldn't. You know why? Yep, that is right. She and other teachers in the school have no access to IEP's of the students in their respective classes. Last I checked these IEP's are federally mandated and there is no wriggle room for interpretation of what an IEP mandates. Unless that is you pressure The Dudes mother to sign something.

Short week this week. Only three days of material for me. Oh well, I will make do.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

Remember the olden days of the DOE? Well, not the DOE, the BOE, pre-2003. Come around children and listen to a story about the days when things were not quite right, and things were not quite wrong. All depends on how you look at issues. Like is the glass half empty or half full.

There used to be thirty two districts, and thirty two school boards in the City of New York. In a sense there still is. Yes there were lots of problems. School boards traveling to Hawaii on special educational junkets, principal jobs gotten for $10,000 in small bills inside a small envelope, rampant cronyism, lack of accountability. Hey these were problems. I admit it, and a band aid wasn't the salve to heal the problem.

So along comes Il Duce Bloomy. He knows how to resolve the problem. Mayoral control. OK, why not. So he convinces Albany to give him all the power to control the schools. He goes out looking for a Mini-Me and find Joel "The Animal" Klein. Mini Me wishes to streamline the DOE, get rid of waste, etc... OK still going along. What does Mini Me do? He breaks up the system into ten regions by combining districts. Each region now has about 100-120 schools. Makes sense. Lets take a district with 20-30 schools and make it bigger. But then he makes the regions smaller by having schools in a "network" with an Local Instructional Superintendent. But this LIS is then another layer of bureaucratic feces. And this LIS needs to be paid as well as he staff. Figure about ten LIS to a region times ten. I will let you the reader do the math.

But the big things now are in centralized locations further away from the people they serve. If you are a parent who lives on 125th St and Lexington Ave you know must travel all the way downtown to 28th St to get help. Makes sense so far? Oh I am sure it does in some warped way. Oh yeah before I forget there is still a figurehead Superintendent in each district along with some kind of weakened Jedi Council and each school now has a paid parent's advocate. Does anyone see the saving of money so far? Or at least the multiple layers added on?

Each region has it's own personnel office, support, etc... I guess that is where the saving came from. Too many duplicated jobs throughout the districts. Hey I am down with that. I can dig it. But now instead of serving a small amount of schools these people are over extended and serve many schools. Highly illogical.

So what happens two years ago? Everything is broken up again! No we have schools that belong to nobody because they are empowered. The LIS doesn't work for the DOE, but works for and serves at the pleasure of the principals in the network. Not only do you have the principals drunk with power, but the people who are supposed to be watching them, keeping an eye on them are paid by the principals themselves. Are these LIS' loyalty to principals or the students? The fox is watching the hen house.

Now there are LSO's, DSO, Essos I can't keep track. But what I can keep track of is how the system is getting further away from serving the needs of the students and the families in the community. There were strong support staffs in the DO's and they were there to assist the schools with professional development at the drop of a hat. If a parent had an issue that parent knew exactly where to go and whom to see. Where is the after school PD that you used to see. It is gone. Where are the staff developers who lectured at conferences and were experts in their fields. Now their are "coaches" who are training teachers after five years of teaching themselves. Coaches? I was expecting Don Zimmer when I heard this.

How is this better way better? Who does it serve? I think it serves the consultants we keep on hearing about at Tweed. A lot of "keep busy" work for them and the cronies that hire them.

All we have now is the captain of the Titanic rearranging the deck chairs while the ship be sinking.

It Is Happening

I hate to paraphrase FDR, but I shall anyway. Here goes: "Yesterday, Sept 26, 2008 - a date which will live in infamy - my school was suddenly and deliberately taken over by the students." Yes folks you are reading correctly, it has hit the fan.

The students know that there are absolutely zero consequences to fighting, disrespecting a teacher, throwing chairs, leaving the classroom. Its like the French Revolution which I have been reading about this past week. No one wants to take responsibility for what his going on except a few select few and for those it is being met by resistance at every step. Instead of correcting the behavior, the problem is passed along to someone else to deal with. And it is a person who should not deal with it or someone who is incapable of dealing with it. Louis XIV had ample opportunity not to have the Reign of Terror ignite. There is ample opportunity as well at my school to prevent it.

Why are we told, "the students should not have to feel fear of getting in trouble" if they misbehave? Will this totally fuck up their lives? Children want discipline, they want limits. Now I am not advocating every student should be getting in trouble for misdeeds, but there are ways to cajole students, to co-opt them to your way of thinking. Unfortunately the higher ups, and I need to replace one AP I had previously discussed because now this AP sees the lunacy happening but Numb Nuts is still a problem, wish to hide their heads in the sand and hope the problems will go away. Where is does the "Children First" philosophy fit in? Don't the students who are there to learn and who behave have a right to an education without fear of disruption??? Does it take a serious injury for someone to see the light?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mrs AK

I remember a math lesson from third grade in which we learned that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Any other type of line between those two points, chaos will ensue. As a nine year old I was not only able to comprehend this but also to put it into practice at that early age. Unfortunately not so with Mrs AK. In fact I am thinking that she is in the wrong line of work. She should be a tour guide, but I don't think she would be able to cut it. She doesn't have any spunk.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post Mrs AK takes her students on an extended tour of the school, along with several intermediary stops walking back from lunch. Her class is several floors directly above the cafeteria and down the corridor approximately fifty feet. Now to the untrained eye that seems to be the most logical way to go. But logic goes out the door with Mrs AK. I have a funny feeling she is not a Vulcan.

How you may ask does she bring her students back to the classroom. Mrs AK takes the students down the corridor and several floors underneath to the furthest side of the school, up the furthest staircase from her classroom, and then basically retraces her steps in the opposite direction to her classroom. Oh! One more thing. She has the students stop approximately every twenty feet or so. See what I mean. This burns time off the clock and offers the students less instruction time. But that is not the only reason this can cause problems.

It causes problem because the students have more time on their hands while walking back to the class in which problems will and can occur, and that is what happened today. It was all preventable!!! Two boys got into a fight today because of her laziness. It was nothing more than verbal and pushing but it did not have to happen. The conflict continued once the students were in the classroom and time was taken away from the students who wanted to learn. One student had to be removed from the class which took educational time away from him as well. This never had to happen. But why did it happen? It happened because she had gotten soft from all those years of kissing ass and knew that she was not accountable to anyone but herself.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Thursday Night Rant

On September 10th I had mentioned an AP that I know of in a different school that is your usual useless AP. (click here, third paragraph down) I just heard from a colleague of mine that works with him that the grave he has been digging for himself has gotten deeper.

Apparently Dionysus called a teacher a demeaning slur and there is corroborating evidence. This doesn't surprise me. His temper tantrums are famous thought the Bronx. His arguments with his principal, not in private, but in public are legendary. In fact he has had a problem with every female supervisor he has had. Can someone say misogynistic? Last year he called in sick the Tuesday and Wednesday of the week supervisors report in. Guess where he was? Doing his favorite thing. Don't have proof, but his favorite thing was happening at the same time.

So what are his duties as an AP in his school? No one knows. Basically it is to give friends F Status positions, or to come in and do PD, check the stock and real estate markets (I am sure he let one go in his pants the last week), and to berate the principal. Oh, she regrets hiring him. But she is scared of him. Or leave early. Or hide all day.

Just thinking out loud here. How is this allowed to happen? Is this the type of administrator that Jack Welch had in mind? Is this a Children First situation? Who is his patrón?

Now on to my school. Major issues. Screw the contract which is being completely violated, but the students know now there are no repercussions to be had for any and all misbehavior. Not even October and there is chaos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Numb Nuts

It is amazing watching Numb Nuts in action. For those of you that are first time readers to the blog Numb Nuts is my pet name for our incompetent beyond belief assistant principal. Saw him doing lunch duty today. Absolutely zero control in there. Not one student takes him seriously at lunch duty and not one student older than 1st grade take him seriously in the school.

"'Splain Lucy." "Ok Ricky."

First he is too easily excitable. He screams all the time. I don't mean talking loud which you tend to need to do during lunch. I mean vein popping screaming all the time. Everything no matter how minor or major has the same decibel level from him. You think the kids take him seriously? No. Do they have respect for him? No! How could they if everything turns him into a shrill nut job?

A few years ago he decided to entice the student's behavior at lunch with positive reinforcement by promising an ice cream party to the classes that behaved the best. Points were to be given and recorded on a poster board for all to see. Sounds good right? Wrong! There was no consistency in the awarding of points. The poster board turned out to be construction paper with a grid made with a Sharpie. When ice cream was finally awarded kids who were not picked complained and whined and whatnot and Numb Nuts folded like a cheap suit and everyone had ice cream.

Second he talks to all students like they are four years old. Hey talk to a four year old that way fine. Talk that way to anyone over seven, well guess what those students think. I mean it is amazing to watch him converse with The Dude. The Dude and his sister are the adults at home and how does Numb Nuts talk to him? Like freakin' Mr Rogers!

Does he not realize where he is, how this students are so adept at picking out a phony. Several years ago there were students hanging out at the Pathmark on 207th St panhandling. Just an aside, the administration knew about this and did nothing. Let's get back on track. These students not only respect and want consistency and discipline, but they can spot a phony a mile away. Numb Nuts is so out of place. He needs to be in Forest Hills, or Riverdale in a school that is just K-1. He has no street cred!

Thirdly the reason this is still going on, the incompetency of Numb Nuts, is that he thinks he knows it all. That he is "BIG MAN AP" and is done evolving as an educator. He is treats every situation the same. Like out of the AP handbook. But you got to think like a Marine. Adapt, improvise and overcome.

Which brings me to my final thought. Again, what qualifies him to be an AP other than that he went to AP school, wrote a check. and had five years in the system? He brings nothing to the table!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Acronym Teachers

What a cool sounding acronym. ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve). It just oozes coolness like some old rock band. In fact that is that some of these teachers should do, form a rock band and call themselves ATR. They will be up there in the pantheon of acronyms with CSN, ELO, ELP, GTR. I mean they certainly do have the time to rehearse and tour.

In the old days there was the seniority transfer. Basically a list came out in the spring of anticipated openings that were not filled by appointed or tenured teachers and presto, you could just take the job away from that teacher. The contract of 2005 I believe eliminated that and gave us the Open Market Transfer. OK fair enough. I could see the principals point of view on this. You do not want someone you don't know or want in your school.

So how does this Open Market Transfer work? Between April and the beginning of August you go online to the DOE website and find openings that are anticipated in the entire city. You can look by district, school, borough, specialty, license area, etc... Once you find the schools you are interested in there is a form in which to send by email your resume and a cover letter and then you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more.

But only if you have many years in the system. I don't know what the cut off point is in years in which you won't even be acknowledged by the recipient principal. Two years ago a colleague of mine applied to about eight schools through the OMT. What he teaches very few in the city could teach well, he has a Masters in this field, and came with many recommendations. Guess how many responses he got? If you say more than zero you are wrong. He got nothing, nada, zippo. But not just because he makes too much money.

Oops, added CCR to the list above!

The problem is, and this is for most teachers who are ATR's, is that these teachers think to independently. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, "hold your head above the crowd, they going to bring you down." You really think a principal wants to deal with someone who is confident in themselves? NO WAY! They want someone young, someone they can mold, someone they can manipulate, someone they can instill fear in.

Where are these types of teachers found? Through Teach for America and the Teaching Fellows. Hey don't get me wrong, a lot of these teachers are excellent. But I see a lot from East Nowheresville, USA and all they want to do is come and live in Manhattan with 4 roommates, and leave after their three years. Gosh, the NYC schools are like the Kansas City Royals. We develop them and they leave to the Yankees (suburbs).

Or you get someone like I encountered several years ago who looked like Dudley Moore, left banking and was placed in a middle school. By the middle of October he was in the corner sucking his thumb and rocking back and forth. Oh but he was a Fellow, he must be good. You know, if memory serves, the students were doing a Native American war dance around him as well. I don't think there was a fire ring though. But don't quote me on this.

Just as aside. My second year teaching we had a teacher who had a Harvard undergrad degree and went to Bank Street College. My principal was so enamored with her pedigree she wanted us to learn from her. She couldn't handle the students, she was gone after Veteran's Day. The teacher, not the principal.

There has to be some middle ground. The contract clearly spells out what must be done with excessed teachers. But change has to come from Tweed. Tweed has to stop teaching the principals on how to skirt rules and regulations.

Hey thought of a great name for a rock band for the people at Tweed. In the spirit of great acronym names I give you FUBAR.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Examples of Children First

A student that I will refer to as The Dude, who was held over in Kindergarten, held over in 2nd grade is in special ed now gets mainstreamed because he is misbehaving and having personality conflicts with other students in his class? The mother is railroaded into signing her approval for this move. A mother with no skills at all. A household where the 14 year old sister of this boy is the parent? Sorry there is no punch line, unfortunately it is true. The Dude is a good kid, and is a bright kid, but the higher ups have failed him. 

What else is true that for some reason teachers who have students with IEP's do not have their IEP's. Why is this? Is it some kind of state secret? Or is the IEP teacher just incompetent? Is this against federal law? Will the Federales be coming to the school?

Numb Nuts has no idea how to properly discipline a child, nor handle a child. Saw him a few days ago dragging a 5 year old by the arms (arms above the child) to his office. Mind you the five year old was pitching a tantrum but how come when I have dealt wit this young man, and though it is difficult, he is able to respond to me? I mean it is really not that difficult. Just takes some brainpower.

Children First! YAY!!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Idiot AP!!!!

As previously mentioned safety is being compromised in my school. Chancellor's regulations, the holiest of holies, and New York State education law are being violated. I blame the AP's in my school, especially one who is so clueless, so inept, so in over his head for this blatant violation. In fact I can't even think of a pet name for this numb nut so I am open to suggestions. Wait I got it. He will be known as Numb Nuts from know on. I remember last year during the two day circle jerk Numb Nuts was giving PD on Assertive Discipline. I almost peed in my pants I was laughing so hard. In fact the last time I had laughed that heard was during the wrestling scene in Borat. The thought of Numb Nuts explaining how to assertively discipline students was a complete joke and waste of time. This coming from a man who who could not, and still can't control little itty bitty children in a lunch room. My sarcasm almost overcame me in wanting to ask him a question I knew he would get tongue tied over. He wants to be Batman, but he doesn't even have the skills to be Alfred The Butler! He needs to realize that if you wait until there is a fire you are screwed. That the problems need to be taken care of when they are smoldering.

Why is incompetency rewarded?????

Numb Nuts is a product of checkbook Administration Licenses!

Seperated at Birth?

Joel Klein and Kukla of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame. Both are puppets with their controllers hand up their butts!


Joel Klein

and Ted Buckland lawyer from Scrubs . Both cowardly lawyers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The First Grade Teacher

I need to start t his posting with an explanation of some teaching bashing I have done in this blog. First, I am one hundred percent behind my union. But I am also one hundred percent for the students who are affected by incompetent, slip through the cracks, unsafe to be near in a classroom teacher. Mrs Ass Kisser is not a safety concern, but a phony. I will acknowledge that she does know the curriculum, but she is lazy, and whitewashes what is to be seen. As long as that bulletin board looks pretty that is all that matters.

Which brings me to Mr First Grade. Oh I just love coming up with these pet names. But I can’t take credit for this pet name. Credit is due a colleague of mine who dubbed him “the world’s oldest first grader.” For the purposes of this blog Mr First Grade will henceforth be known as Mr FG.

Watching Mr FG teach today reminded me of when I was little and me and my friends played teacher. I mean he would have fit right in with how we played except that we spoke better English. His English is a cross between the Frito Bandito, Don Corleone, and my Grandma Celia with her Polish accent. Is it any wonder the kids have never learned thing one in the years he has been my school?

His suits are never tailored as if he was an eight year old wearing daddy’s clothes to work. He has no classroom management, if left alone in a room of six year olds they are soon running amok. When paired with another teacher he never does the teaching and lets the other teacher do all the work, which I guess is good thing if you think about it. He has already been removed from one school and dumped with us. How does he do it? He must be extorting someone.

And the thing is he doesn’t see it at all. He thinks he is Charlie Moore! He makes Mrs Krabappel look like teacher of the year!

It has been proven that any student he has had is at least a year behind students from other classes in the same grade. How does this happen? Why does it happen? In fact rumor has it that he has been terminated from another big city school district for incompetence. There has to be some truth to that. I think there is a lot of truth to that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Frank Again

Oh Frank burns yet another teacher! Funny, eh? Oh sorry pardon the pun I just could not resist, and I do not mean burns as in some inferno, but yet again Frank didn't like what he had, and Frank got what he wanted.

Frank has been removed from Mrs AK's class and hos now with Mrs God's class. Mrs God has the voice of God and you know for sure that you will be smite down if you cross her. Hey she is fantastic teacher. She is organized, efficient, creative, and not only expects the most out of her students, genuinely cares for her students betterment.

Frank should have been in her class from the get go. But there was no foresight to this switch. Actually there was, but burying your head in the sand is such a much easier why to deal with issues when they have been festering for 3 years. But as I have stated earlier Mrs AK thought that she had it clear and free because she was able to suckle at the sphincter of the higher ups. Look what it got her. Watching her and her class coming back from lunch today was great. It is like driving from the Yankees Stadium to Bronx Courthouse by way of Fairbanks, Alaska. She knows how to milk it.

The students in Mrs AK's class were overcome with joy that Frank is no longer with them. They shared this with me personally, seeking me out with smiles on their faces, joy in their eyes, and the knowledge they will be able to learn knowing the class tormentor has been vanquished to a netherworld, only to be seen once a day.

But this problem would never have manifested if what needed to be done was done.

Stay tuned.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Extended Day

Extended Day for Mrs AK consists of lazily bringing the students who are staying back to her classroom with the requisite “long bathroom break” that she so selflessly does for the students. Once inside the classroom the students do their homework. That is if they are not helping Mrs AK clean the class. Students start getting ready, or packing up approximately 10 minutes before they are to start walking to the exit doors and in fact this walk has been timed longer than the Bataan Death March. So the students in her charge are probably effectively using about 10 percent of the allotted time of Extended Day to actually do anything education related.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The 'Burbs

You never know whom you are going to run into when you watch a football game. Except me, I knew whom I was running into, a bunch of other teachers. The DOE employs one of the teachers, the one hosting the football party; a suburban district employs the other teacher. Since we were watching the Jets-Dolphins and I couldn’t care who won or lost, all I head left was the Blue Moon beer and talking shop with the suburban teacher. Oh no! Did I just mention I drink beer? Teachers are perfect, we don’t drink beer, nor do we have any other vices.

So this teacher from the suburbs is a fifth grade teacher. I asked him how his class did on the state wide ELA test last year. He told me two students failed the test. “Two students received ones?” I inquired. No he told me, “Two students received twos.” Apparently in his district two is considered failing, whilst in NYC two is passing. I guess they have higher standards and expectations in the ‘burbs.

A shot of Bill Parcells is shown on the screen. Charley the Tuna he is, or at least was called in his days with the Giants. Personally I think he is all about himself. So blocking out the image of Parcells I inquire what the fifth grade is doing in social studies. I find out that the beginning of the year the emphasis is on the American Revolution, and then evolves into American history and then Latin America. I explain to him what a buff I am of American History I am. He tells me that his schools take the fifth grade to Philadelphia for a day so they can SEE American history. Does that happen in NYC? Maybe it happens in Riverdale, Forest Hills, and a few select schools in districts 1 and 2, but never South Bronx kids. Maybe it is because of money concerns? I see enough three hundred dollar sneakers, enough satellite dishes, and know too many students with Wii, Playstation, and whatnot to know that is not the main reason. I know the PTA’s are great in raising money, and there are a lot of fat cat philanthropists attached to the DOE to help fund a trip. I guess they have higher standards and expectations in the ‘burbs.

“Surely you are still teaching the basics of how to decode words in fifth grade? Lots of visual clues all over the room, charts and such?” I give him a glare as Favre completes a pass. “”No, just really working on their comprehension at this stage,” he replies as Coach Mangini is shown on the tube. Foiled again! I guess they have higher standards and expectations in the ‘burbs.

Even at my child’s school this is the type of learning that is going on. It all seems inquiry based. No rote learning. No taking a test to practice taking a test time after time after time. There are no behavior charts in classes in my child’s school. Everything I see being done in his class, the same grade in the city is at least a grade behind. Are the city students dumber than suburban students? No. Do the students in the city have less advantages that a suburban student? Yes. And no.

The student from Upper Saddle River, or Roslyn, or Scarsdale has the same challenges, as does the inner city student, absentee parents, lax parenting, and no discipline. But it is the system in the ‘burbs in which challenges the students, teaches the students how to think, how to create, and how to use their higher order thinking skills. All we have become is covering our butts and teaching to the test.

I guess they do have higher standards and expectations in the ‘burbs.

An F Grows in Brooklyn

So for anyone who has missed it, PS 8 in Brooklyn Heights has received an F. This school, though it is a shining star with its parents failed the city’s standardized testing and now its principal should be removed according to Chancellor Klein’s edicts about failing schools. But what about the 50 or so other schools that has received an F? Have all those principals been removed? Wait a minute; there seem to be extenuating circumstances, especially at PS 8. Could it be that all standardized tests are subjective? Why does PS 8 get a break, but parents of students who get ones on city and state exams have to go through hoops to prove that the tests are wrong in their child’s case? As they esteemed Chris Baker once proclaimed “the only people that tests are an advantage for are the companies that produce them.”

Many years ago when I was a teacher in a testing grade a girl failed a city wide reading test. I was shocked. I sat many times with this girl listening to her read, kept running records on her and listened to her as she retold story after story, was able to predict and had excellent skills. What did this test prove? Nothing. Except that she was not a good test taker. I got anxious having to take my teaching exams, what do you think happens to 9, 10, 11, etc… year olds when they have to take an exam?

I speak from experience. I was never a good test taker. To sit there and read questions and answer them was not showing what I learned, it showed what I was able to memorize. Judge any child, or myself on the totality of our work. What we contribute to class, what we contribute to the bigger picture of our education. I took my PSAT in 10th grade and got an 800 total. I didn’t care. The whole test was illogical. The kid going to MIT was smarter than me? No. He studied better, he had better habits, but surely he was not smarter than me. Let’s see that kid in Getty Square late at night and see if he doesn’t pee on himself. Maybe he could fend off his tormentors with reciting the periodic table from rote.

Now let’s take our students in special education, the deep abyss where students don’t ever come out of, and where troublemakers, and rabble-rousers are sent. Special Ed is a roach motel for students. “Students check in, but they don’t check out.” These students who are behind are forced to take exams at the grade/age level there are at chronologically. Oh they have extra time, have the test read to them, can write in the booklet, but it doesn’t make any sense at all that a student who is behind has to take an exam that is for a student that is at the proper level. When will this insanity stop? Does it do anything to help a students self esteem? And the grading system is not helping. The difference between a one and a two in which two is considered passing (not in suburbs, more on that in another posting) could be so much as guessing one more answer correctly?

Hey now there are many schools that deserve to get an F. But the larger picture needs to be addressed and actually seen. The schools that fail are not because of the teachers. It is because of a “cover your ass” system. Let’s stay later and have the kids stay until 3 30 or whatever SBO time your school decides. Doesn’t matter that a 7 year old is tired as heck at the end of a long day. I always thought of myself as a facilitator, introduce and watch the students take the ball and do beautiful things with it, like a Gale Sayers. But now teachers are so frazzled and so scared about the wrath and the blame we have stopped being teachers but have become test givers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More About Frank

Remember "The Terminator"? I have been thinking about a line from that movie all day since seeing Frank in action today. There is a scene in which Reese, aptly played by Michael Biehn is explaining what is after Sarah Connor. "It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop," Reese tells Sarah as they are hiding from Arnold. That is how I feel about Frank most of the time. I don't know whether or not to wash my hands of him, or pity him and do everything I can to help.

Frank first came to our school several years ago. From the get go he was a handful. Not only was he intimidating and bullying students in his class and grade but was attempting to do it with staff as well. I remember one instance in which he looked menacingly at a cluster teacher while pounding his fist into his hand.

The behavior in the classroom was no better. Not following directions, intimidating smaller students, not doing any classwork or homework. Anecdotes were written copiously and nothing was done except to change his class and meet several time with the mother whose favorite line was "I don't know what to do with him, " and just state blankly. I mean I know and I empathize that mom works all day and the dad is not home, but there has to be some parental responsibility taken. She gave the standard "I have a mental health appointment for Frank" line but it is now and as it was then it was an empty promise. Even when threatened to have ACS called on her.

Frank's behavior last year was 180 degrees better. Except with the clusters and at lunch. I think he ate by himself in the cafeteria and did not go outside for about 5 months if memory serves. But at least in his class Frank did what he was supposed to do. The reason for this is simple. He had a strong homeroom teacher that did not accept nor tolerate his anti social behavior. I guess you could say Frank heard the voice of God.

Now here we are nine days into the school year and the proverbial shit is about to hit the proverbial fan. Mrs AK can't control him. I find it ironic that she has him in her class. All that ass kissing for naught. I guess one reaps what they sow. It doesn't help that her room always looks like a tornado hit it, and she is so frazzled all the time it would make me go nuts. But fortunately for her Frank is about to be moved to another class. There is some shuffling going on in the grade and Mrs AK again escapes responsibility.

What makes it so sad is that Frank is super smart. And that also is the problem. He knows how to manipulate, how to push the right buttons. He is a schmoozer when he needs to be. But don't, especially if you are a student, ever get on his bad side. The thing is I discovered how to best settle him down. Oh yes I did share it with one of the assistant principals. But thus far nothing. No implementation, no purchasing of the material needed. All that is need is abut two dollars. But the school can't do it alone. Mom needs to get her act together and start becoming a partner in her child's education. She has never even come to back to school night.

Worst of all this is not fair to the other students in Frank's class or any of the kids who come into contact with him throughout the school day. These kids have a right to a full day of education and lose out when all the focus is on Frank. Worst of all, and I hope I am wrong but won't be surprised if it happens is that one day Frank will seriously injure a student.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Did Something Bad Today

I don't know who to turn to with this burden I have. A priest perhaps. But would he understand? I don't know my Hail Marys very well and not in the mood to do any pennence. I think that is how it is spelled. If I have to do some confessing I can be in the booth for hours and hours. Even days. But I guess I won't go to a priest.

Maybe the local barkeep would suffice. Bartenders are good people to talk to when you wish to unburden yourself. They sit there behind the bar with the apron up to their armpits and spit polish shot glasses while they listen. Sheldon Leonard was helpful to Jimmy Stewart. But I would have to keep buying drinks as I unburden myself and I don't think the local barkeep is into buybacks. Besides I see how Moe treats Barney and Homer.

I guess I should unburden myself in, in the nether reaches of cyber world. I hope whomever is reading this will not judge me to harshly. Please don't. It was just a mistake and I promise I will never ever do it again. I promise! Pinky swear too! You ready?

I put the students interests ahead of my own today. I know it was wrong. What is worse is that I had a conversation with an AP that the students were not being properly serviced, and it was not beneficial to the education process. I mentioned what was being done was in violation of state education law and the chancellor's regulations. The AP got mad at me. He huffed and he puffed and told me to mind my business and not to ever quote state education law and chancellor's regulations ever again.

I won't.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On Being an Assistant Principal

When I first started teaching the school's AP was a woman who had been in education her entire life. She was an expert in the field of education as were most every AP's I had come into contact with. Mrs F knew the curriculum like the back of her hand. When somebody needed a question answered about best practices in the classroom there was no better person than to mine her knowledge. She had a knack for handling the students and the staff and never once thought of herself. It was the school and the community that came first. Same with a very close family member of mine. This family member not only taught reading at local colleges, but lectured at conferences not only in the United States but abroad as well. They were leaders in their fields. Like a good sergeant these old school AP's knew how to lead. But what are the qualifications for being an AP now? Money and a piece of paper. That is it.

The AP's I have come across lately, not only in my school, but others lack any knowledge of curriculum, are not experts in their fields, and have no idea how to lead staff or students. I mean gee, the way it is done now all it takes is signing up for classes for your admin license, writing a check, getting a favorable principal where you can do your internship, and presto! You are now an AP. Oops forgot one more qualification. And it is a biggie A minimum five years in the system. WHOA!

An AP I know quite well, in a school other than mine, can't for the life of him write or speak English ( and no, his first language is not Spanish), is an alcoholic, and spends his days on his computer checking out stock tips, soccer scores, and God knows what else. One rumor I heard and though I can't prove it, but it is pretty credible is that someone other than him did his course work for him at Fordham. Oh just an aside here to my loyal followers. I only speak in fact. Everything I report is true. That is except the names have been changed. Oh and one more thing. If I report a rumor, something that I am unable to verify chances are there is some truth to it. My sources are always very credible, and besides I will always qualify it as rumor. However I have digressed.

The AP's in my school, I do not know what to say. One AP has never succeeded in any position in the school previously. The other well, how do I say this. The other AP is just clueless. No knowledge of the curriculum, no knowledge in discipline, no knowledge in leadership, no knowledge period. In fact this basically describes both of them. They both do not want to get their hands dirty, they both want to pawn of responsibility they should have on others, and both have no self respect. In fact the teachers do not take them seriously at all as educators. One of the AP's could not run something as simple as a third grade lunch duty. I mean how difficult can that be? One has to wonder if this AP is being effective when the 3rd grade boys are saying that the AP is too soft and too nice, and that nothing he says they take seriously. There is a serious problem there if this is what 9 year olds perceive!!!

Where are the standards? What are the standards? Why aren't there standards. Too many Tom Harry and DICKS are getting to be AP.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More of Frank

So Frank is back to his old self. I give it a week, maybe two before he explodes. He is already intimidating students in his class, and now school aides. He knows nothing will be done, wither at home nor at school. Friday a school aide asked him not to focus on what the teacher was doing and instead of piping down, told the school aide that if she talked to him like that one more time he would tell the principal that she told him to "shut up". Smart kid. He knows the game at the age of 10. But soon the administration will let him have the run of the school as they have the last two years. Why upset him and damage his "learning experience"? Don't the other students in his class have a right of freedom to learn, a right of freedom from fear, a right of freedom of security, a right of freedom of knowledge? As FDR had the "Four Freedoms" aren't students in Franks class allowed this? The mother will be called in eventually and she will sit there and say she does not know what to do with him. Guess what mom? No matter how you slice it you are negligent! I see a billboard everyday coming into work, "Neglect is abuse". Maybe it is time to call ACS on her. When a child is seriously injured by Frank, then and only then will the proper measures be taken.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Bad! Been Busy!

So now that it is Saturday how has the first week of school gone? Well as the old saying goes, the more things change the more it stays the same. Or as I like to say, just more of the same bullshit!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What can go wrong on the first day of school? Not much. Everyone is on their best behavior. Teachers even put on a smile when the see the sociopathic students. In fact we have one at our school which I will tell about later, but even he was a little angel today.

Tuesday, September 3, 2008

Now the proverbial fecal matter is being lined up to throw into the fan. The sociopath who I shall henceforth refer to is "Frank". Frank is psychotic. His mother is useless, the father is God knows where, and the older brother who he worships is in all probability a gang banger. This is Frank's third year in the school, and the first two have been very eventful. Now I won't go into details for fear of giving away Frank's true identity, but let's just say that in every student you can find something good. Frank there is nothing good at all. For some reason ACS has never been called. Frank bullies, hits, and threatens not only children smaller than him, threatens teachers, but generally does not care about anything. And the thing is the boy is bright as hell, but he knows how to manipulate. This boy should be put in a SEIS 7 setting in which there is a small roster and a larger amount of staff.

Now last year he behaved in his homeroom. Know why? He was scared shitless of his teacher. Still was a psycho to the clusters, but his sphincter was tight in the homeroom. Now this year irony of ironies he is not with the same teacher, but in a class with one of the laziest, under qualified, no class room management teachers ever. I shall call her Mrs Ass Kisser, or Mrs AK for short. Mrs AK has no self respect at all. She will fawn all over her principal and do whatever his necessary for herself. She acts as if she actually cares about the students, but she does not. She will not go the extra yard for Administrators unless something is in it for her. Other teachers know not to speak about anything confidentially to or in front of her because she will run like a child to the principal. And now she is stuck with Frank. She is in for a very long year, and she has no support for anyone to help her with Frank. She will never ask for help because by doing so it will show the level of her incompetence. She is doomed and so unfortunately is the rest of her students to Frank's sociopathy.