Friday, April 30, 2010

I just don't get it...

Full disclaimer here - political bantering and ranting coming your way.  If I offend, please refrain from flaming me, but I welcome intellectual discourse on this, and all, matters.

I just do not understand all the hub-ub regarding Arizona's new immigration law.  It is interesting to me that most of the fury seems to be coming from the political party to which I affiliate myself, but I simply cannot find good reason to get behind all the anger.

Perhaps I am missing something.  Perhaps there really IS some horrible, evil, Nazi-zionist-neo-maxim-zoom-dweebie language in there, but I sure as heck cannot find it. 

The legislation is, as I understand it, this: Cops who pull you over, or detain you in some fashion, are now allowed to ask for proof of citizenship.  Really?  Don't they basically do that already?

If I am driving, and I get stopped, what is the first thing I am going to be asked to do?  Show drivers license and proof of registration.  Is my driver's license NOT proof of citizenship? 

I understand people are all up in arms that it will become like Nazi Germany, and we will all be asked to show our papers to the Ghestapo, but I think the reaction is a bit too severe.  We already ARE asked to proove our identity all the time.  We are already under the daily assumption that we must have our driver's license or state issued ID for those who don't drive, on us at all times.  Seriously, would you leave the house without your wallet?  And what is nestled safely inside your wallet??  YOUR ID!!!

I guess part of the problem seems to stem that this power now goes to the police rather than ICE or border patrol or whatever.  People who already have a disdain for law enforcement seem to be the ones with the biggest issue with this.  My only problem is: who will pay for the training to be sure the police know what to be looking for?  I have no problem whatsoever with a police officer already in persuit of someone suspected of doing something illegal (because, HELLO... the police are already CHASING YOU!) asking to show proof of citizenship.  And if you are found to be here illegally, I also have no problem with someone deporting your sorry butt. 

I don't understand my fellow Democrats who cry CIVIL RIGHTS violations.  I'm sorry, but don't you need to be a CITIZEN in order to be afforded CIVIL rights?  And don't get me started on the while 'civil rights violations' in prisons, like not having 200 cable channels and wi-fi access for prisoners.  Again.. HELLO.. you BROKE THE LAW... you gave up your rights when you broke the laws of the land.  Am I the only one who remembers the saying "with freedom comes great responsibility"? 

Back to the immigration law... Personally, I know I am here legally.  I know that I have nothing to hide. 

Friday, April 16, 2010


I know I will get slashed or raked over the coals for my bashing of the 2nd Amendment here, but this is too insane NOT to get uptight about.

In a nearly unprecedented move, the Arizona Governor in her infinite wisdom, and our legislature, voted to drop the requirement for permits to carry a concealed weapon.

Yes, folks - you read that right.. no permit required.  "We don't need to stinkin' permits" here in Arizona to carry a deadly weapon.   We won't check to see if you are a convicted felon in another state.  Heck, we don't even care if you're a felon in THIS state.  Go ahead, pack heat.  You can hide it, too, and that's OK.

Arizona, today, became the third state in the Nation to allow this.  Wanna guess the other two?  Nope - not Texas... Alaska (OK, hello.. Sarah Palin.. need I say more?) and Vermont.  (Love my fellow New England state, so I can't bash them for their politics.  But, let's remember, Vermont is known for two things... the best damn Maple Syrup in the world, and the highest number of pacifists outside of Oregon.)

As if I needed another reason to hang my head in shame that I am raising my children here, this is it.  Yes, I believe in an American's right to own a gun.  I do not choose to do so.  I also would like the comfort of knowing that those who DO own guns have been trained in how to use them, are free and clear of any criminal record,  AND are free of any psychiatric problems which would make them a danger to society.  Hence.. the PERMIT.

The topping on this festering cake?  The rationale behind the change in the law? It's as if they believe, Well, most folks are already carrying weapons without a permit anyway.  Really? Governor Brewer, if everyone you know decided to jump off a bridge, would you follow too?  (please??)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Go read this guy...

He has said, perfectly, what I've been trying to say...  We're using the wrong camera.  All credit for this post goes to its author, Deven Black, a Sped teacher in New York.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is perception the same as reality?

I was talking to the dad of a student of mine today, and then subsequently listening to my FAVORITE podcasters, The Manic Mommies, and both were discussing ADD/ADHD. 

I was talking to the dad of a student because this student, who is usually doing his best Tigger impression all over the un-amused Rabbits of my classroom, and generally speaking, most calls to his family are about what rotten, bad thing Tigger did in school today.  Well, Tigger has been taking his meds for the last few days in prep for our Big State testing, and is a different child. He can sit quietly for more than 20 seconds.  He does not get involved with every conversation around him.  He has not pounced on anyone in 2 days.  He is focused.  He completes he work.  Did I mention he was quiet?

So I called Dad to tell him how great Tigger has been, and got about 25 minutes of discussion over the benefits and drawbacks of medicating a kid.  Totally get it.  Agree, we over medicate our population of young people.  But in my professional yet admitedly NOT medical opinion, kids like Tigger NEED meds. His behavior in class does impede his ability to access the general curriculum, because on a typical not-medicated day, this child is distracted by the sound of his own breathing. Which, unfortunately for him, he does often.  This is the kid who cannot finish a complete thought.  Clearly, a good candidate for meds.

Not that all kids are a good candidate for meds.  I look at my own son, Middle.  Middle's teachers, as early as Kindergarten, (Thank you, Mrs. Drill Sergeant) suggested without saying so (because we as teacher really cannot recommend a kid get tested.  We leave that to the admin) that we have Middle evaluated for ADD/ADHD and possibly medicated.

Now, I know my kid (same battle cry from ALL parents, right?) and while he IS, without a doubt, the absent minded professor, his behaviors are NOT causing an impairment in his academics.  He may be causing his teacher to go home and drink heavily, I get that, but it is NOT getting in the way of his learning.

And therein lies the difference.  As Dr. Rob said on the Manic Mommies podcast posted yesterday, the kicker for most doctors and psychologists, is they fail to adhere to the premise that this distractability needs to be causing an IMPAIRMENT for the child so significant as to limit his function, either socially or academically.

Tigger's social and academic life are impacted.  Kids can't stand to be around him because he is so impulsive you never know what he is going to do - yell, throw something, jump on them... and he can't even remember his own name half the time.

So, clearly, most of the issues are with the teachers, not with the students.  If the kid is still learning and progressing, why should we care of he needs to pace the room to do it?

Because class sizes have gotten much bigger over the last several years.  What used to be a room of 18 or 22 kids is not bursting at the seams with 35 kids.  We keep cutting budgets and cramming kids into classrooms, and while the kids are the same (overall), and the curriculum is the same (overall) and the teachers are the same (overall), the incidence of kids being referred for ADD/ADHD evaluations has skyrocketed.

And it is mostly boys being evaluated.

I think what has happened is this:  The over crowding of our classrooms has made what used to be 'typical boy' behavior now simply intolerable.  A teacher cannot keep order in the classroom with Tiggers, or even Middles, in their midst, so when all else fails, they recommend to the school psychologist that the student be evaluated.  And, unspoken goal here, MEDICATED.

For parents like me of kids like Middle, medication is out of the question.  As a parent of a child who is gifted, who is succeeding academically, I say if the teacher cannot handle him, that is her problem.  I will not shove needless medications into my kid to make her job easier.  However, I believe I would feel very differently if my child was NOT learning, was NOT progressing academically, did NOT have friends.  Whole different ball game, then.

For teachers like me with students like Tigger, I can totally understand why we push the medication route.  This is a different child this week.  I'd love him to stick around, both because I would end up with fewer grey hairs, but also because I think in the end, Tigger would be more successful academically.  I think he is missing out on a lot because he just cannot attend to the material.

But medicated or not, Tigger is a smart kid.  As he ages, matures, develops, his ability to control his behavior will, God willing, improve.  He will be a successful man, of that I have little doubt.  And whether or not his behavior drives me insane when he is not on his meds, that's as much MY issue as it is his. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Night...

My mom and I understand each other, as do my two best friends.  This is essential because the strange wad of goo that is my brain tends to jump from topic to topic without warning (No, not me.. not ADD at all... no!!)  Often, if prompted, I can give the linear trajectory of my thoughts to show the person I am with that I am not completely INSANE, but am, in fact, somewhat grounded in reality, and if you just give me a minute you, too, will see how it all relates.  Maybe.  Perhaps it's just the ADD after all.. who the hell knows....  Here's what is rolling around in my head tonight...

1) Our taxes are finished. Federal taxes are FILED, and I will file the State ones later this week.  YAAHOOO.. nothing like waiting till the 11th hour for this one!  We actually owe money to the Great State of Arizona this year *(sorry, you can't hear the sarcasm dripping from my finger tips as I type that).   They need the money, not necessarily more than I do, but if the rumors become fact, many folks will get IOUs rather than refunds anyway. 

2) A weekend spent in pursuit of baseball is a weekend well spent, when it is not 108* outside.  The weather was lovely this weekend, and that made it so nice to be at the park, saying hello to friends, and watching Oldest have a wonderful time. I even got a bit of a tan.  Dont' tell my dermatologist; I'm sure she'll never be able to figure it out on her own!

3) I love my Mac.  Really, truly.. I love it.  I'm a Mac addict.  I was part of the cult starting in college, and it was not until the PC came out with mountains more software than  I could get with my Mac that I made the switch.  Then, Mac came BACK - Yeah. baby!  I got my iMac almost 4 years ago... its a great machine, my boys have a MiniMac.  I.  Love.  Mac.  Except... dude - can you not get the platforms level?  Why can I play around MORE with my Blogger background on my School issued PC than my Mac?  Why are things like spell-check not available when I use my Mac? Why is there no affordable genealogy software available for the Mac?  Dude.. catch up, will ya?

4) Saturday cyclists need to have their own private planet.  I was driving to meet a friend for coffee yesterday morning.  It was a perfect morning, not too hot, not too cold.. and I agree, it would have been a great day to meet a bunch of my cronies for a nice long ride.  But dudes.. remember the rules of the road, will ya?  There is a bike lane.  Stay in it.  Do not think it is acceptable to ride two and three abreast in the bike lane, because you cannot fit, which means you spill out into the street, where you are going on average at least 15 miles per hour slower than I am.  And I am safely inside my moving cage of steel.  Neither I, nor any of my fellow car-driving cronies, every try to drive two or three abreast.  It's not what you do.  Its not a good idea...  Bumpers, dude.. I got 'em.  You don't.

5) I finished my book last night. The book I was reading, not the one I am writing, just for clarification.  It was fine; decent story.  Enjoyable enough. But as I read through, I wondered many MANY times, did this gal even have an editor?  If she did, what was the editor thinking?  Mrs. Archibald drove into our 11th grade heads just how truly self-depricating we can be if we say we 'feel badly', when what we mean is we 'feel bad' for whatever. Emotions take adjectives, not adverbs. Saying the soup tastes badly basically means the soup is ladling itself up and doing so badly.  The fact that this "New York Times Bestseller" was able to become one with so many errors in her final manuscript either gives me hope, or is a sad statement on Publishing today.  Do your research, man.. how hard is it to realize that it is not a Burmese mountain dog, but rather a Bernese Mountain Dog??

6) Our high-stakes testing, also known as AIMS (Or the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards), takes place this week.  On the eve of our annual test-fest, I picked up the latest issue of Time.  In this current issue, an economist from Harvard details the results of an experiment, or severaly, actually, to see if monitary compensation for completing specific requirements would be sufficient motivation for students to improve their grades, attendance, and test scores.  Basically, he paid them for grades.  Spoiler: For many, it worked.  Humph... things that make you go Hmmmm.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The perfection of a Saturday morning...

Ahhh... weekend bliss. 
I can almost hear the pressure cooker in my head sputtering with relief and release. 
I love Saturday morning, when Oldest's game is at noon, not at 8am. 
I love Saturday morning when I have plans to meet someone for a leisurely cup of coffee at a reasonable hour. 
I love when my little ones, Youngest, in particular, get to sleep as long as they need to and wake up happy and smiling. 
I love the time by myself on those mornings, when I can grab my book, and my coffee and just sit.  No where to be, no deadlines to meet.
Oh, there is tons to do today, but none of it can really begin until they are all up, so for now, I can enjoy just being... quiet... still.
I know it won't last long.  Oldest and Youngest are now up... the fun will soon begin.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My skirt experiment

At my last school, our administrator tried to enforce a 'dress code' for teachers.  It met with a universal THUD, but the arguments FOR asking the teachers to dress more professionally sounded legitimate. 

At my current school, I will say the teachers' attire leaves quite a bit to be desired.  Tank tops, flip flops, and sweat pants are seen daily, and not just on the students.  Most seem to dress as if it were the weekend, and with a very few exceptions, this seems to be the norm.  Does the quality of teaching see a negative effect because of how the teachers dress?  The teachers would say NO.

I realize that we are sort of lucky.  In what other profession, save for some engineering gigs where the preferred dress is shorts and flip-flops, can a professional get away with wearing jeans or sandals every day? I also realize that, if I am to change jobs or careers, I might have to learn how to dress like a grown up, again.  Painful, I know!

This week was my experiment.  I understand that it is way short of scientifically or statistically significant, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway and see what happens.  For an entire week, I wore a skirt to work.  This is HUGE for me.  Every day, I wore a nice, long, pretty skirt of one sort or another, a nice top, did my hair and tried my  best to look "professional". 

My expectations were low, but I was very curious: would student behavior change as a result of my wardrobe?  Would my students take me more seriously if I am dressed more professionally?  Would they seem more engaged in learning if I 'looked the part of a teacher'?

It was a short lived experiment, I get that.  One week, toward the end of the year is admitedly probably not the best time to see if I can change  student behavior, but given what I have been seeing lately in my classroom, I thought it couldn't hurt to try.

The next question would be, did it make me feel any more professional? Maybe.  A little.  Not much.

But I did come to realize something.  Wearing a skirt and a cute pair of patent-leather sandals is nearly as comfortable as track pants and sneakers. Nearly...

The result?  Nothing.  No change at all.  It makes me wonder, maybe if

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

So, what's a person to do?

I was very discouraged today by my students. I've lamented more than once in this forum that I find this year to be extremely frustrating, far more so than years past, and I am seriously considering what else I can to to earn a living.

I'm hopeful that 'published author' is in the not-too-distant-future.  Alas, I can't say that YET.

My day began thus: I was in my classroom, trying to get some paperwork done before the students arrived. My room was dark, the shades mostly drawn.  My door opens.  A head peeks in just enough to NOT be seen, but heard.  This student decided his greeting to me this morning would be to belch loudly and LONG... and then run away giggling, right in front of the break in my window.


I confronted him on his behavior.  His response was a cursory, and flippant "sorry, don't see what the big deal is."

I confronted his cohort when I saw Knucklehead #2 later in the day.  He appeared slightly more remiss, but not enough to actually convince me that he felt remorse at the act, but rather at being caught.

Fast forward to my last hour of the day.  Knucklehead #1 told me "Ms. Speech-teacher told me that I need to say I'm sorry for my actions and for my stupidity".  Yeah, thanks bud - heartfelt apology.  Later that same class period, I overheard him talking to the ONE girl in my classroom asking her if she "liked it when he {unsure of who HE is but the thought is frightening} creamed into her bellybutton."

If you are unsure of what that means, I am NOT going to explain it, but you can imagine my general disgust.  Again, the remorse was in getting caught, not for what he said. I truly believe Knucklehead #1 is not smart enough to KNOW what he said, but he knew enough to beg me to not call his mother and share with her what he said.

Not that I could call his mother.  She does not speak English. 

So, this is just one student of my 17.  One on one, all of them are pretty decent kids.  Get them all together, and they are ALL like this one from today. 

I ask.. what's a person to DO with this?  Ideas? 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The new CPS...

My colleague and I have created a new acronym, in a world in which acronyms are already mind-numbing in their number...

Crappy Parent Syndrome

Here are some clues that your student or child may suffer from CPS...

1) Their diet consists of sugar and fat and chewing gum, and they bring copious amounts of both to school, daily, and eat it all day long.
2) Your child, at 13, is a bigot, and harasses students of different religions/color/nationality on a regular basis and you don't seem to care.
3) Your child has never had a consequence and freaks beyond all reason at the concept.
4) You are unaware that your 14 year old student cannot read.  At all.  Not a lick... C.A.T. is hard for them.
5) Your child chooses to do nothing during the school day, at all, and yet gets computer time, football practice, and all other 'perks' at home.
6) Your child has absolutely no sense of pride in his/her self because you, parent, have made it clear that you could not give a damn about them.
7) Your student lacks any and all respect for adults.
8) Your student has yet to turn in one homework assignment from the start of the year until now.

This could, in one way or another, describe nearly all of my students, and my colleagues' students, this year.

Again, I ask.. how much does a Barista make?