About Me

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San Clemente, CA, United States

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tiger Woods

I don't think enough people have chimed in on the Tiger Woods saga. I'll go ahead and be the first.

This is without question the greatest thing to happen in America since we beat the Russions in hockey in the 1980 Olympics. "Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!"

This will finally make people realize that sports figures are not role models. They are gifted athletically and endure the same demons as you and I.

This will finally make people realize that family is more than just a word. The huge importance of having 2 parents in the home is statistically proven. Children who come from broken/divorced/remarried/step/half environments have one huge strike against them. Just ask Dr. Laura.

When people tell me about the failures of the educational system, I respond to them as follows. "The educational system isn't broken. Families are broken. The students that show up in my class ready and willing to learn are now attending Yale, Duke, UCLA, the United States Air Force Academy, and a host of other schools. Because their families valued education, it became an expectation, not a hope, to succeed at the highest level in school. They listened, learned, and tested into the best universities in America. When parents are part of the education of their child, children achieve at high levels. When students fail, it is always the parents fault. They should have been harder, firmer, more rigid. Schools aren't failing. Parents are failing.

Tiger Woods now represents everything wrong in America. He thought more of his "needs" than those of his family. Now the kids grow up believing that marriage is disposable. Well done Tiger.

I hate everyone.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Laker Fans

On Christmas Day, the Lakers lost at home to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The fans showed their true colors when near the end of the game they threw foam finger give-aways and water bottles onto the court. The fans apparently didn't like some of the officiating nor the play of their team.

You stay classy L.A.

This team has THE BEST RECORD IN THE NBA, and has WON 16 OF THEIR LAST 17!!!! But they lose on Christmas Day and the fans respond by booing, swearing, getting drunk, and throwing things. Wow.

Thank you so much for being great role models for the kids who attended the game.

Plus, I just don't get it. Are some people's lives SO empty that they invest SO much emotionally into a local sports team? I mean I like to quietly root for my alma mater (Go Cat's) but I just don't get the grown men in their NBA jerseys or their button down baseball game jerseys wide open to allow room for their stomachs. These people spend more than they can afford, at the cost of their families, on a spoiled bunch of thugs and ungrateful character free "athletes". I am swearing off professional sports. I will not attend and I will not watch on TV. America, what is wrong with you? While our Congress was bankrupting our country with an illconceived health care bill, you were watching men run and jump. What a bunch of immature morons. Grown men acting like idiots.


My heros are not athletes. Today I hate everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Union

I've never had much use for my union until lately. I've spent the better part of my career being frustrated that I had to pay dues and be part of a union who's political actions offend me. Why is my union telling people to vote no on Prop. 8 so that gays and lesbians can legally marry? Does this affect education? Why are my union dues being used in such a non educational way in a political campaign in which I stand firmly on the opposite side? This happens ALL the time and I am constantly kicking the dog about the political positions of my union leaders.

I resent that I am unable to negotiate my own salary. As a math teacher who has successfully taught at the highest high school level, (Ok, I never taught Calculus BC, but I've taught AB) I think I could do a pretty good job advocating for myself in salary negotiations. I resent that I make the same amount that lesser teachers make. I resent that excellence is not rewarded.

And lastly, I never thought I needed a union to "protect" me. I'm pretty good at what I do and I'm confident that my work speaks for itself. My principals have all been happy with my performance in the classroom and I never thought I needed tenure to help me keep a job. As a matter of fact, I've walked away from tenured positions 3 times.

But now I get it. I now work for a district governing board that would fire me tomorrow and replace me with a new teacher to save $30,000 a year. There is no question in my mind that they assume that "Teachers are teachers. How much difference can there be?"

Thank god for my union. My union won't allow them to fire me and replace me with a cheaper model. I now understand that unions aren't there to protect the bad teachers as often happens. The union is there to protect the best teachers.
We absolutely need to stop protecting bad teachers. Cut 'em loose. Makes the whole profession look bad when we keep lazy or crappy teachers in the classroom. But I sure am glad I'm with a union now.

If it weren't for my union, districts would operate like a professional baseball team. In good financial times, they would seek out the best talent and pay them to teach in their schools. But in bad financial times, they would cut them all loose and bring up the minor leaguers to play.

I work for some pretty unpredictable people. Today I'm awfully glad not be trying to reason with them alone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Be the one

Yesterday at the beach I ran into a student who I had taught over 8 years ago.

I was teaching in Manhattan Beach and he was a cheesehead junior sleeping through my Geometry class. He was a nice enough kid and had always been respectful to me. We talked for a few minutes about what he's been doing and then went our separate ways.

On my drive home, I was struck by two thoughts. First, I haven't grown enough in the past 8 years. Not professionally anyway. I think in the next 8 years I want to become more involved. Maybe more prominent. I want to write something. Publish something. Be named to something. Maybe.

My second thought was that I remember kids. Not always their names. But I remember. Let this be an open letter to my students about how they will be remembered.

I'll remember your character first. Be the one who never cheats. Never copying homework and never looking around during tests. Be the one who has enough class to do what is right.

Be the one that takes your medcine when you goof. If you ditch, don't lie about it. If you didn't do your homework, eat the zero without crying about it.

Be the one I remember for your honesty. Be the one that never lies to me or your friends or your family.

Be the one that remembers that you aren't the only one in class. Be aware that others are concerned about their grade and need to hear what I'm saying. Make sure I remember you as being the kid that never disrupted the educational opportunity of others.

Be the one that is on time every day. Pencil poised and book open at the bell. Be the one that never has to have an excuse for being late.

Be the one that I remember for always putting forth a great effort. Be the kid that keeps trying and trying and trying and trying. Understand that failure is part of the process and confusion is not unusual.

Be the kid who is nice to me in the hallways.

Be the kid that I never see trashing the campus with litter or ugly language.

Be the kid that I remember as a leader. Be the one that does the right thing when it isn't popular. Be the one that I see as class act.

When I run into you in 8 years, you will remember me at the one that stood before you every day and put forth his best effort to teach you math. How will I remember you?.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer School

Here's a program that has got to be eliminated tomorrow.

The summer school program at my high school is a joke. My school is one of 6 high schools in the district, and every year, one of them hosts summer school for the entire district. My school's number came up this year and my classroom is being used to teach a class. I've had to swing by my room a couple of times so far this summer, and let me be the first to say, this program sucks.

The first problem with our program is that it is only offered to kids who failed the class during the school year. The kids that didn't show up, and when they did, they didn't try. Well, what about the kid who wants to get ahead in mathematics? What about the sophomore who wants to take Geometry so she can take Pre Calc as a junior? Where is our help for our most deserving and motivated students?

By limiting summer school to only the students who failed the class, you almost immediately doom the class to behavioral problems and an overall negative culture. Can there be a worse idea? Put all of the students who failed a class into a summer school class they don't want to be in? There is a direct correlation between classroom performance and classroom behavior. There is no educational benefit to having such a homogeneous group.

But my biggest problem with summer school is this. How can a kid learn 10 months of material in 3 weeks? He had 10 months to learn the stuff. Teachers provided lectures, notes, activities, tests, posters, homework etc. all to help students retain the knowledge. 10 months. Now, magically, the kid is going to learn the material in 3 weeks? C'mon. In math, that would be a chapter a day. A CHAPTER A DAY!!!!! There is no way you can teach a mathematics chapter, let alone some complicated section, AND HAVE ANY STUDENT RETENTION, in one day. And this to the clientele in the room? C'MON!!

And why is it that both times I have had to go to my room to get something out of my files, the teacher in my room is sitting at my desk and the kids are either talking, sleeping, eating, ipoding, texting, or throwing shit on my floors?