Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Infinity...and Beyond!

I would totally see this movie.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Education Fun from the Indianapolis Star

Another great article with supportive comments on education in the Indianapolis Star. I love my job! Here are some of the highlights from the comments section with my commentary following. I don't have a large platform, but at least I have one from which to pontificate:

"Tell me why class sizes can't be increased. We should start by quadrupling the size of history, geography, and English literature classes. Not only would that save money, it would make them more "college prep"."

Because studies link class size with student performance. College students are assumed to be well-motivated already.

“What the 'educators' really meant by what they said- ‘If you force us to make more cuts, we (the Educators) will hurt the kids’.I think their threat is serious, and disgusting.”

No, what they meant was that when you cut payroll and jobs, class sizes go up. It's really not that complicated, but if the malicious teacher conspiracy theory works for you, go for it. Why is "educators" in quotes, anyway? Are you quoting from somewhere?

"We set up a system such that 'educators' are created by sending them to school to learn the process of teaching (we're still banning people from teaching who focus on the subject matter)."

No one has banned anyone from teaching anymore than I've been banned from practicing medicine. There is a necessary component of education courses that goes with practicing the profession. This comment will also come in handy further down.*

"Spoken like a true union socialist! Like out of the Saul Alinsky playbook.....spread fear to the populus! ALL OF US MUST MAKE REDUCTIONS IN SPENDING FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO THE PUBLIC CORRUPTOCRATS!!!!! They have liked hgh on the hog from the public trough! They can make the cuts but would rather scare the parents. This is evil! These union thugs want to keep their golden egg and not reveal all of the excessess in the budget like the travel to vacation conferences (what a joke)."

Yes, because we teachers are all about the travel to education conferences. In 23 years of teaching I've been to one. It was in Indianapolis and I had to provide my own transportation without reimbursement. They're onto us. Bwahahahahaha!

"(Governor Mitch) Daniels went to North Central High School in Indianapolis which is a public school. He knows the quality of education found in many of our public schools."

Governor Daniels graduated from high school in 1967. Things have changed a little bit since then.

"Everybody wants to nip here, and tuck there, but nobody is talking about the ultimate, and only real workable solution to a failed public school model. Like the politicians in Indianapolis and DC, THEY ALL GOTTA GO! Parents are responsible for the education of their children, always have been, always will be. But the EDUCATION-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (EIC) has co-opted that parental responsibility over the past one hundred years, one small step at a time, so that it's now the mantra of the EIC "Only WE, the professional educators, possess the knowledge and skills necessary to educate children. Parents are incompetent buffoons who do not deserve this "highest" of callings." Besides hi-jacking parental authority, they (EIC) have also hi-jacked the curricula at all levels. Our kids have become goons to the progressive ideas of the past 100 years. Got a kid in school? Organize with other parents at your school and sue the corporation for funding to be paid directly to you."

Time to change the tin foil in which your head is wrapped.

"Make parents more responsible for their children by making them drive their children to school in the morning and picking them up when school is over. Just think if IPS got rid of the busing how much money would be saved. No more need for bus drivers, pensions and benefits; and no need to purchase buses, insurance, fuel charges, maintenance, parking lot facilities, and other sundry expenses with owning and operating the current system. How do the private school kids get to school? They do not have buses!"

They generally have two parents at home, one of which can drive them to school.

"There were 36 in my 6th grade class, and the teacher was 75 and wore a leg brace because of a childhood bout with polio. Somehow she managed to keep up with us, and we even learned, because there was nobody standing around telling us we couldn't possibly.Typical Ed Professional move here, hold the knife to the kids' throats till they get what they want."

And I walked to school in the snow, uphill... both ways!

"Just one real quick way for the State to raise MILLIONS of dollars each month is to outlaw the Teachers Union and take the money they are stelaing and put it ot good use. It's that simple!"

Um, I give my money freely to the teachers' union. They provide me with liability insurance in case I get sued for breaking up a fight. I think that's a pretty good use.

"I getting a little tired of the "hurt kids" angle from the educators. And educator I know pays 7 bucks a month for COMPLETE health insurance. I understand they don't want to lose cash, but the hurting kids angle is getting a little old."

Wow. I pay $5,000 a year in premiums and my school system kicks in another $8,000 for a policy with a $4,000 deductible. I want that guy's health insurance!

"A 10% across the board cut in teacher and administrator salaries and benefits would easily take of the problem with no impact on students."

Well, except for the people you will drive out of the profession because it's no longer feasible for them to work for such a pittance. Good luck finding those highly qualified people to replace them.

"Unfortunately, some teachers will suffer by any budget cuts, but that blame lays squarely on the shoulders of the Friggin union."


"Wish I could make $50,000 a year with summers off, Christmas break, Spring break, Fall break and every holiday off..."

Me, too. After 23 years, I finally make $50,000 but I have to work summers to do it.

After that, it started getting political:

"If we cut more funding for these libs, they will,,,well maybe possibly have a real job like most of us. I say we cut another 25% from school budget and give it to small business to help create local Indiana jobs. How's that?"

Sounds perfect. Who's going to teach your kids?

"But then techers would have to work hard and teach because the money would not flow as freely for them to spend and waste. Schools and Obama have the same liberal/Progressive agends, 'make others pay for me'Any one refuting my feelings can just go pound sand."

Well, I can't argue with that logic, except for the part where I spend and waste money. As a teacher I have no control over what money is spent or wasted. I guess I need to go pound sand.

"My kids are grown up now, but I remember the ridiculous mindsets of most of the educators. The teachers somehow believed that all parents held jobs like theirs----you know, where you get off work well before 5p.m. and get three months of paid time to get refreshed over the summer months. I'm not sure teachers are in touch with the real world of work. I wish they'd just quit pretending to know what it's like to have professional work demands."

Yes, I get off work well before 5 p.m. I also get to work before you even wake up to go to your 9-to-5 job, you pompous idiot. Three months of paid time in the summer? In what universe do you live?

"Simple solution to education costs. Treat teachers like sales reps.Base pay $10,000 per year. Maximum bonus to $40,000 per year.To achieve bonus to get to $50,000 per year, teachers must graduate a certain number of students to the next grade level or from school at graduation.So many kids equals so much bonus etc etc The state ( only Republican/Conservatives in power) assigns monitors to judge testing of the kids to assure that they were given an education.If the teacher graduates 85% of kids, they get a small portion of the $40,000 bonus. The maximum bonus of $40,000 kicks in when 100% of kirs are graduated to the next level.I bet there would be a MASS EXODUS of teachers who are lazy and Liberal because they can't teach,(like it is now). Easy solution, budget cut is effective and Indiana saves money and property taxes go down. How's that?"

Well, as long as it's only us lazy liberals leaving, that's okay then.


Can't argue with that and wouldn't try to.

"All Children, no matter what their Religion should be taught the truth, the Bible, Sara Palin understands this and will be our next president. We need more Conservatives in the school system!"

I agree. There are too many of us liberals who think that poor people should have the same access to education as the wealthy.

"I think pro-creation by anyone Liberal should not be tolerated. They have mucked up our government, mucked up our schools and mucked up out Constitution. I declare open season HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA"

I feel safer already.

"So? Who cares WHAT fund it comes from?If you don't have to budget $50 million to build a football field that's $50 million you can allocate to a different fund, or $50 million YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEND IN THE 1ST PLACE.Saying it comes from a different fund is just an attempt to muddy the water."

No, the law says that the money in the general fund and the money in a capital projects fund cannot be mixed. *Sorry, that's just those unnecessary education courses I mentioned above kicking in.

This is just a sample of the backlash we educators are facing every time an article on education is published in the newspaper. Yikes.

UPDATE: Here's a new one this morning:

"increasing class size is what the teachers already did to damage the kids. we need to disban this evil teachers union and allow the thousands of great school teachers to get jobs who now can't. cut teaching pay to be market rates, which would be 50% of their current costs. subs today are paid 75 bucks a day and they are thrilled with it. union teachers doing the same days work get 400 a day in pay INCLUDING BENIFITS !! the benifit package for a union teacher, is more per day than the wage cost of a sub teacher !!!! this is a horriable waste of our kids resources. teachers have driven the cost up to 10,400 bucks for a 180 days of teaching. end the union and help the kids, our kids suffer because of these teachers."

Let's see, $75 x 180 = $13,500 per year with no health insurance. With health insurance and taxes withdrawn, I would make about -$2,500 per year. Bonus!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fly, Fatass, Fly!--Updated

Go, Kevin!

Kevin Smith is one of my favorite filmmakers, so I am clearly biased. If you haven't heard about his situation this weekend, he was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight because of his size. He claims that he fit between the armrests and was buckled in without a seat belt extender. Southwest claims that he has purchased two seats in the past, but on this standby flight, with only one seat available, he was a safety risk. He took the next flight and flew in one seat, even though he had purchased two.

I know how I think the situation probably worked, but I wasn't there. I can't honestly say that I know for certain who's right. But the comments section of every single website I have seen covering this story has innumerable comments insulting fat people, saying things like they all smell because they can't wipe themselves, they're rude and inconsiderate, and that they should just eat less and exercise.

Well, I'm here to tell you that's a load of nonsense. After I lost a lot of weight last year, I hit a dead end. In the past year, I have worked out hard at least 300 out of 365 days, and have been very careful about what I eat and haven't lost any weight since May. I simply don't have the time to do more than my 30-minute workout each day, because then it's followed by a15-minute cooldown and a five minute shower. After getting dressed again, the better part of an hour is gone. I simply don't have more time than an hour in a single weekday.

There are also people who have medical conditions that prevent them from losing weight. But it doesn't matter to some of these people making comments. We're all just fatties. One of the reasons I stopped watching "Real Time with Bill Maher" last year was because of his constant ranting about overweight people. He's a pot smoking womanizer, but that's apparently okay with him. The real offenders are people who are overweight. I'd like to meet him so I could challenge him to a 10-mile bike race. I guarantee I would literally beat him by a mile.

The simple fact of the matter is that some of us are going to be built like this no matter what we do. Being overweight, I seem to belong to the last class against whom it is acceptable to discriminate. It'll be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sera's First Snowman

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now THIS is an Education Blog!

Here is one of the cleverest ideas for an education blog I've ever seen. This teacher eats the school lunch every day for a year and writes about it. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Days

I officially hate snow days. I used to look forward to them when I was a kid, but that was back in the day when schools didn't have to make them up. We have to make up any days that we miss in our school system, but fortunately we have three days built into our calendar in the spring to use as makeup days. If we don't need to use them, we have those days off. Those are days off without pay, by the way. I'm not saying that to try to get sympathy where none is deserved, it's just that I always feel the need to correct public perception that teachers have all these days off and still get paid for them. The snow makeup days are typically Fridays and Mondays and this year, they are April 2, May 7, and May 17. They make for nice three-day weekends when the weather is warm, but I was really looking forward to having April 2 off so that we could extend our spring break by a day. I was thinking last year when I was lying on the beach in Gulf Shores how much I would have liked that extra day in the Alabama sun rather than having an unscheduled day off in the middle of a snowstorm.

This morning, school was called off, but not before Magi was already showered and dressed and I was in the bathroom getting ready to shower. It's always remarkable to me that the decision to close school is made so late. Were road conditions significantly better 30 minutes before it was called off?

It's also amusing to watch the game unfold on the bottom of the screen on the morning news. Little schools in the area close all the time but the Big Three, as we call them, check to see who will blink first. Elkhart, Penn, and South Bend are the major school systems in the television viewing area, with thousands and thousands of students each. And each morning following a snowstorm, we watch to see who's going to call it off. This morning, Elkhart went first. After we went back to bed, we watched for a while, and our local school system (Penn) called off at 6:45. I did not envy those poor teachers. We would have already been dropping Sera off at daycare by that time!

So, I guess we'll make the best of it. Magi and Sera are going to bake a King Cake today to celebrate Mardi Gras. I'll shovel the driveway (again) and maybe do some drawing. I haven't had the chance to do that in a while!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

We Have a Winner!

La Porte's Michael Beach gets it. Most of the commenters at the bottom of the section clearly do not:

"U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Indiana Superintendent of Public
Instruction Tony Bennett's visionary plans for improvement and accountability in
education have far-reaching possibilities for effecting positive change in other

Although the education of our children is of utmost importance,
what could be a greater priority than our own health? It's a life and death
issue. I propose a Race to the Top for health care.

National standards already exist for individuals' weight, blood sugar,
cholesterol and blood pressure.

Physicians would be evaluated every year, with
more than half their annual review based on how well their patients met their
health goals. Physicians would be sorted into four categories, from highly
efficient to inefficient, with bonuses for the best performers.

Physicians in the lowest categories could be targeted for dismissal. New
physicians who are still rated inefficient after six years would lose their
medical licenses. The plan would allow Indiana to take over the lowest
performing physician groups, give them to a private management company and
eventually offer them the chance to return to their original medical groups or
become a charter group.

Under the plan, medical schools could risk
losing their accreditation if their graduates don't perform well.

The same process of measured performance and accountability through consequences could be applied to other vital areas as well, such as social services."

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Attention, Joss Whedon!

I have someone who would like to audtion for the Dr. Horrible sequel:

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I know, I know. I'm going on and on about this. But wow, from things I'm seeing around the state, it needs to be said.

Recently, Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White decided to start school on the Monday following the Super Bowl on a two-hour delay schedule. Why, you ask? Because in 2007 when the Colts were last in the Super Bowl, so many bus drivers called in sick the following day, classes had to be canceled. Kids couldn't get to school. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett thought that it was a bad idea to use the two-hour delay in such a manner, so he instructed Dr. White not to do it. The compromise reached was to begin school one hour later, followed by a dismissal half an hour later than usual.

I thought that Dr. White's idea had merit. 75% of the bus drivers for Indianapolis are employed by a contractor. It's not like he can fire them directly if they don't show up for work. But the backlash in the Indianapolis Star's comments section made my jaw drop:

"I am not sure I would want my kids being taught and opinionated by educators that cannot get out of bed and get to work after a football game. Simple, fire them and get teachers that have their priorities where they should be. This is not brain surgery. The right thing is for the kids to be in excuses."

"It's time to get rid of the UNIONS-they are the ones destroying the educational process."

Wait. What? The whole situation is created by bus drivers not reporting to work, and it's the teachers and our union at fault? Wow. We have more power than I thought. I find it interesting, too, that the Indianapolis Catholic schools just gave their kids the whole day off. No mention there in the comments section about that.

In an article from yesterday's local newspaper, it was reported that the governor is okay with pushing the start of school into September, no earlier than the day after Labor Day.

Um, okay. Why? To preserve summer vacation for families and to reduce cooling costs. Okay, I've taught in mid-June and I've taught in mid-August, and I have to say, there's no significant temperature difference that is going to save any appreciable amount of money. And as far as preserving summer vacation, are two weeks in August more desirable than two weeks in June? I would think if there really was that much of a temperature difference as they claim, they'd want to take vacation in early June rather than late August. But that's just me, thinking again. Oh, yes, and then there was the backlash against teachers in the comments section:

"Personally, I think they should add a week or two to the school year to give the kids more time to master skills or at least make the school day longer. If there is a budget issue to cover the longer school year or hours than maybe the schools should cut costs like they do in private industry--cut the educators' health benefits--make them pay higher premiums, higher copays and less benefits."

Okay, really? Did someone give me a "gold-plated Cadillac" health insurance plan when I wasn't looking? I am currently paying $5,000 per year in premiums with a $4,000 deductible for a family health insurance plan. That means I will pay $9,000 per year (nearly 20% of my gross salary) for my family's health care out of pocket before insurance covers a single penny. My insurance right now is only there to cover a catastrophic health crisis. Seriously, what the heck?

It's also interesting that when we had ISTEP+ in the fall, the calendar got pushed back, back, back into August to give students more time in class to prepare. Now that the test has been moved to the spring, do we really want to push the beginning of school forward so that students have fewer days of instruction before the high-stakes test? Why would the governor be interested in doing that? Shouldn't we try to actually control the variables that affect our students' test scores? You know, the ones that we can control?

Something smells here. Cut the education budget by $300 million when you have a $1 billion surplus. Try to pass legislation which would include a $49 million unfunded mandate to retain third graders who are not at reading level. Change the school calendars across the state unilaterally so that kids have two fewer weeks of instruction before the high-stakes test that determines whether public schools are passing or failing.

Are you still paranoid if they're really out to get you?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Someone's Never Shot a Bow

Yeah, the arrowhead should be on the other side of the bow, Hawkeye. The arrow will kind of fall to the ground if you hold it that way. I knew that archery class I took for a cheap credit in college would come in handy someday.

Make Mine Marvelaaaaugh!

Just like the Marvel Comics I grew up with:
From Siege #2, available at your favorite abattoir.

I once ran a roleplaying campaign that had this level of violence. It was a superhero-style campaign with adult themes. In the world that I created, there were no pre-existing superheroes. The meta-theme that I used for the heroes was that they wore the same costumes as comic book heroes so that the public would not be as frightened of them as they should be. After all, comic books were just for kids, right? The characters were mature, but very pragmatic in the treatment of their enemies. There was no superprison available to contain the extremely powerful criminals and some of them were quite horrible. Imagine a Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer, only with powers that make a straitjacket as effective as wearing tissue paper. In a setting such as that, it would be understandable to see someone in tights and a cape tearing someone in half.

In the Marvel Universe, it just seems incongruous to me to see someone clad in what is more or less a variation of Superman's costume, bathed in the blood of another humanoid being, while his victim's intestines literally spill out on-panel. At this point, let's abandon the costumes. They're not superheroes. There's no reason they should dress as superheroes. In a setting like this, there's certainly no purpose for them to wear the costumes. Masks to hide their identities would be appropriate, because I wouldn't want to show my face if I behaved that way.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The "LOST" Premiere is Finally Here!

Was it really that far back that I posted this? "Lost" gives me a reason to make it through the day!

It's Finally Here!

Monday, February 01, 2010


Taylor Swift, you don't even belong on the same stage with Stevie Nicks:

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Go Back into Education...

The Obama administration announced proposed changes to No Child Left Behind today. Gone would be the idiotic--sorry, "utopian"--idea that all children would be proficient in all subjects by 2014.

According to Bloomberg News, "The Obama administration wants to revamp the law to 'support dramatic improvements in the quality of assessments to measure complex skills and help teachers identify and respond to students’ strengths and needs.'

I would love to say that things are going to be better now, but I have exactly no confidence in that. Our state has cut the education budget by $300 million, and our school system now faces a shortfall of almost $4 million. Since 90% of our budget is payroll, guess what? Jobs are going to be lost, class sizes are going to skyrocket and the financial outcome looks bleak for the next few years. We're looking at renegotiating the labor agreement now, and that means pay cuts. We already took a hit this year, switching to a set of health insurance plans that feature a minimum $4,000 deductible for a family plan, but try explaining that to people who don't have jobs.

If you had ever considered education as a career, reconsider. It's not safe in these waters.

I guess things are tough all over.