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San Clemente, CA, United States

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Everything Else

There is a good chance that the state of California will soon be announcing mid-year cuts to education. My district will be carved to the tune of about $19 million dollars. The blogs and editorials I read all assume the district will cut days from the year to recover the money in the resulting teacher salary cut.

It may come the that. But I'd suggest that the very last thing we do is cut the school year. We are charged with teaching children. With our last nickel we must teach children.

When the bells ring on a school campus, and children are in their seats learning new material, no one else in the district matters other than the classroom teacher. Most everyone else has to go.
If there are 4 custodians, we go to one. For every 10 office workers, we go to one. Close the library. Go to a skeleton crew.

At the district level. everyone goes. All available monies must go to the classroom. If we cannot afford to pay the light bill, I will take my students into the stands of the football field and teach them exponential decay formulas and how to determine the half life of an isotope. If we can't afford lunch personel, I'll stay after school and make 1000 PB & J's. WITH OUR LAST NICKEL we must stay open and educate kids. We have one job and it isn't to answer phones at the district office. It isn't to schedule meetings for new teachers. It isn't to implement new second language programs. Our one job is to stay open. With our last nicke we must keep the doors open.

Then, if we are still at a shortfall, then ask the teachers to work for free. Cut my pay by the week you would have cut school. I'll take the hit and I'll stay and teach. Many of my colleagues may not. I respect that. But I'll stay and I won't be alone. Most of the teachers will stay.

Cancel the buses and the games and send home the lawyers. With our last nickel, we have teachers in classrooms because at the end of the day, no one else matters.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fight the Power

I'm thinking of calling for a revolution. I'm getting close.

The conservative bumper sticker I saw said it all; The less they do, the more they get.

I now live in a country that pays its citizens to take care of their parents when they get old. For thousands of years children have looked after their parents without being paid. Now, we have a full blown governmental program with an unholy amount of fraud that gives out my tax dollars to the fat lady who sits at home watching Oprah with her perfectly fine mother.

I now live in a country that provides citizens of other countries a cheaper college education than it provides the citizens of the U.S.A. In Texas for sure and probably in many states, illegal immigrants have been granted in-state tuition rates to the state schools. That means that over a 4 year period, an illegal imigrant will pay roughly $100,000 for his education while a kid from South Dakota or Oregon or New York or Arizona or anywhere other than Texas, will pay about $400,000.

I now live in a country that blames teachers for the actions of the children in the community instead of blaming the demise of the American family. Dad is raising another family somewhere and the step dad is powerless because mom is a woman who cares more if her kid likes her than if her kid is well behaved, respectful, honorable and with good character. Nah, she'll just lie for her kid. Lets blame the teachers because the little brat won't try in class.

I now live in a country that continues to provide "aid" to foreign countries by handing checks to their "governments" and hoping some food gets to the starving. This list of countries we are funneling money to angers me. Then, when those bastards bad mouth us?. Grrr

I'm thinking of starting my revolution.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mixed Emotions

I get it. There are no jobs out there so we should extend unemployment benefits.

I have a problem with it. In a nutshell, by extending benefits, people have just a little bit less incentive to go out and work. With no money, many of the unemployed would be out there pounding the payment and knocking on every door until something happened. Now, not so much. We have already extended their benefits to 99 weeks. 99 WEEKS. That's just under 2 years. 2 years of getting paid without working. My President wants to extend it even more and I fear that fewer good men will go get jobs. They mustn't be allowed to wait until something comes up in their field in their community. I just read about North Dakota. It has the most natural gas and oil resources in North America. They are drilling like crazy, hiring everyone, and paying $120,000 a year. Why are not more men flooding into the state? If money were allowed to run out, men would be forced to relocate. That's the way it should be. Do whatever you must do to take care of your family.

On a another note,

I played a round of golf with a guy who is getting disability checks from the government. Said he had a bad back. Sure looked ok to me. A friend of a friend is getting disability checks because she has depression. $1400 a month because she gets sad a lot. I get sad a lot. Do I get a check? I watched an episode of The People's Court, (I have a thing for the judge) and listened as she was stunned that a plaintiff was receiving a disability check because when he went off to college, he got anxiety.

I know of a woman who'se welfare check gets substantially bigger for every child she has. In know a guy that gets paid by the government to take care of his 70 year old mother who has to drive him around because of his DWI.

If my humble opinion, we are ruining people. Our hearts are in the right place but man are we damaging people.

We have to love tougher.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And it begins again

Tomorrow I begin my 20th year as a high school teacher. I remember the day I decided that teaching would be a cool job for a couple of years until I could figure out what to do next. That was 22 years ago.

I had to go back to college to get my teaching credential first. I was a 28 year old guy and I was working full time in construction. I liked what I did, but it gets a bit warm outside in Tucson in the summer. I couldn't afford to quit and go back to school, so I found a nights and weekend program with the University of Phoenix. For a year and a half I went to classes at night and tried to stash cash like a madman. I knew I had to serve a semester as a student teacher, and I'd have to quit my job.

I nearly went broke. By the end of my student teaching, I bet I was down to about $500. Luckily, I scored a job at the best high school in Tucson just after my student teaching ended, and I signed a contract for $18,500. Working construction I had made $30,000 the year before, so I just laughed at myself when I realized what I had done.

Best decision I ever made. I love what I do. I love standing and delivering and I love watching kids "get it". And, I don't throw the word love around. Today, just getting ready, energized me.

I'm so sorry kids, but I'm ready to go. OHHHHH YEAHHHHHH

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Nanny State

We had a little rain over the weekend. North Carolina evacuated the state.

Not news to anyone with a pulse, America is becoming a country of sissies. Men are acting, talking, dressing and behaving like women and women are unitied in their hatred of all things male.

Kids don't walk out of their homes without helmets, kneepad, elbow guards and wrist supports. Mother's pull their children off of Little League teams because the coach barked, "Come on!"

The government has now decided that McDonald's can't put toys in their "HappyMeals" because it makes them ask their mom for a hamburger.

They call the generation of the 40's and 50's the greatest generation. HorseShit. They raised a bunch of sissies.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


First of all, I hate that there is a law telling me that I can't drive and take a phone call from my mom by picking up my phone. I know I could get a hands free device, but I make it a practice to NOT talk on the phone while driving anyway. But, if I were on a road trip and my mom called, I'd like to take the call without paying a fine.

I understand that some (most) of you knuckleheads out there are on your phone from the minute you wake up to the minute your head hits the pillow. Because of that, because you other cheeseballs are on the phone all the time, I have to endure a law that I don't deserve.

And, I honor the law. I don't talk on the phone while driving. Ever. So it really angers me when I see others on there phone while racing past me. I know I shouldn't concern myself with others, but it really pisses me off.

All that said, why is it that I can't take a call, but the teenage girl next to me can tilt her mirror to her face, put on makeup while holding a latte as she steers with her knee. Oh yeah, she's also playing with the radio while she's engaged in a loud, and animated conversation with the other 4 teens in the car. ARRGGGG

Monday, July 11, 2011

World Cup

Dear Soccer Players and Fans,
If you want to be accepted by mainstream sports fans, you might want to think about not throwing yourself to the ground and writhing around for 6 minutes after a defender even breathes in your direction.
You might consider not allowing yourself to be loaded onto a stretcher only to unbuckle yourself and SPRINT back into the action.
You might want to play the game with integrity instead of deceipt.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Teen Mom

If anyone cares to know why I am mortified to see how this generation of kids progresses, watch an episode of Teen Mom. If this is a microcosm of young society, woe are we.

Of course it isn't. Of course this is just a handful of young people who seem to make bad decision after bad decision. Of course the producers of the show don't show the whole story, just the parts that will shock the American TV audience.

But one thing that is universal about this generation is that they are the most ME ME ME people I've ever met. I have never seen more young people that truly believe the world owes them something.

I blame the parents. (if you know me, this is no surprise) This is the generation whose parents never said no to them. When the kid was 6, he or she was drinking a Starbucks Frappachino because Mom didn't have the heart to say no. When the kid was 11 he or she got her third iphone. The kid can't read well because Mom and Dad bought them every video game they ever wanted and never wanted to get the kid mad at them by insisting they do some reading. At 16, the kid gets a car. Not a fixer upper or one they had to work to pay for. Nope, a car as nice as any in the family.

These kids rightfully think they get everything they want. Their parents will die poor. Poor because as the kid goes deeper and deeper in life without working hard at a job, Mom and Dad will continue to throw good money after spoiled kids.

Watch any episode of reality tv. Watch how this generation of kids act. Watch the level of entitlement.


This morning, the feds released a number of pieces of employment data. The news is scary, depressing and sobering.

Unemployment ROSE to 9.2% nationwide. Experts are saying this number is low. They believe the real number of unemployed is closer to 12 to 14 % and if you include under-employed people, the number jumps to about 16%. Holy smokes.

I want to do something, but of course, there isn't anything I can do other than be grateful that I have a job.

I am so grateful to have a job. Thank you Capistrano Unified School District for paying me to teach. Thank you Dana Hills High School for letting me come in everyday and educate America. While I may not always demonstrate it with my actions, I'm grateful everyday that I have an employer that believes in me and lets me spin my magic.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


My district has just filled two openings for High School Principal and we are currently looking to fill a third. I know a couple of the guys that applied and I've just finished reading about the two guys that ultimately got the jobs. All four of these guys could just about share resumes.

They all are in their mid to late 30's and have been in education for between 12 and17 years. They spent about half that time (6ish years) in the classroom and the rest of their time as assistant principals.


This ain't your father's high school.

Back in the day, principalships were filled by teachers who had spent 30 years in the classroom. It was almost as if the position was given as a reward for a career well done. After that, we went through the former football coach era. It seemed for about a decade, schools were run by the guy who used to wear the whistle.

Times, and the job bave changed. Where we used to hire (or at least that was what they claimed) educational leaders, we now hire politicians. Don't get me wrong. All four of the guys I referenced above are quality guys and will do fine jobs. But these men are all politicians, not educators.

These guys didn't spend 30 years in the classroom. They haven't been around long enough to have seen all the "flavor of the month" educational theories, practices and policies. After I had been teaching for 6 years, I thought I was great. Now, looking back on those days, I laugh at how much I didn't know and how much better I am today.

Principals now don't wander the hallways and interact with kids as much. They don't pop in to classrooms and interact or evaluate teachers as much. To the best of my knowledge, the daily grind of the high school principal includes taking calls from upset parents, dealing with disgruntled teachers, dealing with maintenance issues, spending time in IEP's, dealing with discipline issues and doing mountains of paperwork from our district office, the state, and NCLB.

The four men I referenced above know how to talk to people. They know how to organize. They know how to prioritize and they know when to listen and when to talk. These are good quality men who are good fits as principals. But they are not educators.

They are managers. The job has changed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The Los Angeles Unified School District governing board just decided that they know more than teachers when it comes to educating kids. . Most of these governing board members aren't college graduates but that sure hasn't stopped them from acting like experts. Most of them haven't been in a classroom in 20 years. Still, the LAUSD governing board has decided to replace tried and trued teacher practices with a flavor-of-the-month policy of their own.

They decided to put a limit on how much weight homework can have on a students grade. The LAUSD governing board decided that homework can not be worth more than 10% of a students grade.

First, to the students and parents who complained about homework and got this decision passed. YOU IDIOTS!!!!! Do you really want your grade to be based solely on tests and quizzes? Homework is a GIFT. It provides an opportunity to get points while experiencing the practice needed to be successful on tests. Do you really think teachers assign and grade homework just to be vindictive? We assign and grade homework so that students can better understand the material by having them look at it a second time. It teaches students how to access information and to begin to learn how to learn on their own.

By capping the homework percent, students will be less motivated to do homework, do less homework, and be less educated.

Second, to the governing boards; "STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY CLASSROOM!!!" You caved to the vocal crying of a few parents and you missed the boat. Do you think teachers will be assigning less homework? Nope. Same amount. You have effectively lowered the grades of the students. I'll spell it out for you. Assume a unit or chapter test consists of a 100 point test and 10 points available in homework assigned during the unit. Two students make identical 79% on the test. One did all the homework making his total 89/110 or 81% for the class. One of the students doesn't do the homework for 79/110 or 72% for the class. By telling students homework is worth less, they will do less, and their grades will go down.

My dad once told me that the person who knows best how to do a job is the guy doing the job. People working daily at a particular task usually find the best way to do the job. I am tired of idiots outside the classroom thinking they know more than me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Burn Notice

During my most recent Burn Notice Marathon, two sentences from one of the episodes are roaming around in my head.

"More than anything, zealots crave an audience. Fanatics at their core believe they have something to teach the world."

Good or bad, those statements explain me pretty well. Mathematically, at my core I believe I have something to teach my students and therefore, I crave an audience. It isn't as if I lose sleep if I don't get to "stand and deliver", but I would rather teach a class of 40 than sit down with one kid. Why? More kids get to see the magic.

I think every teacher should have an ego. You need to believe in what you are teaching and you need to believe you can teach it better than anyone else around. Confidence in their teacher is important to students.

I'm pretty sure that makes me a fanatic and a zealot.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Enough already. At Dana Hills High School, we try to make our senior's last year a special one. We have gone way to far.

We have Senior Social, Senior Brunch, Senior Dessert, Senior Movie Night, Knotts Berry Farm, Senior Awards, Senior Ditch Day, Senior Send-Offs, Senior Last Will and Testaments, and yesterday, we had the first ever Senior Assembly. Phew. Thank goodness we added an event.

Are you kidding me? Enough of the nonsense.

Maybe 20 years ago graduating from high school was a big deal. Now? Now, saying you have your high school diploma is akin to saying you don't have a college degree. Graduating high school is nice. But we are making this into some grand level of success that few humans ever attain. Oh to taste from the cup that was held by a high school grad. Give me a break.

This generation scares me. It isn't their fault. It is their parents fault. This generation is the "play date" generation. From birth, they have been the center of the family. They grow up being chauffered to every event they want to be at, every practice for every bad soccer team they played for, and every friend's house for "play time". By being the center of the family, these kids believe they always get what they want. Parents are there to do things for them.

I am sick of hearing "My kids are my life." By paying them all the attention, children never have to strive to be great to be noticed. They don't have to do anything great to be called great. They never have to achieve something that screams to the world, "Look at me!!!" Nope. We tell them how wonderful they are every minute of every day. They grow up thinking the world is built for them.

The result? This generation isn't leaving home. They are staying at mommy's house into their 20's and 30's. This generation isn't holding down jobs. This generation isn't as qualified academically. This generation is waiting to be given something instead of going out there and taking it. This generation can't see that hard work pays off and you have to be better than the next guy. (This is the generation that played soccer without keeping score so no one would feel bad. This is the generation in which everyone gets a trophy. Everyone)

I believe in praise when it is deserved. Congratulations on graduating high school. Now go do something. As a society, we need to understand that false praise; praise that comes before excellence, ultimately hurts the kids.

Monday, June 6, 2011


After I got divorced in like 1990, I bounced around a bit. I taught for a year in Texas, a summer in San Diego, three years in Manhattan Beach and two years up in Northern California at Mountain View. Every time I moved, I moved less "stuff". I have slowly gotten rid of all my chachkies, clutter, knick-nack paddy whack stuff. While I assume most people accumulate "stuff" over their lives, it seems I'm moving in the other direction.

I love it. I love being a minimalist. I don't like a bunch of crap sitting on counters or desks or anywhere. Which brings me to my point. To all of my understandably adoring fans, students, parents, and just people who want to give me things, please don't, then do.

Please don't buy my the coffee mug because I drink coffee. It is really well thought out and I'm honored that you notice I drink coffee a bunch. But I have 14 brand new spillproof Starbucks Travel mugs taking up too much room in my cabinet. Please don't buy me the motivational rock or poster. "The same fire that melts butter, forges steel" Nice. But to my eye? Clutter. I've given them all away. No books. I have every title I want and 100 (literally) waiting to be read.

I know I sound ungrateful. I am not. I'm humbled when anyone gives me anything. I really am. Still, I can't handle the picture frames, wicker baskets, vases and pottery.

So, here is what would make me happy. Really happy.

For about $15 I like the Pentel Sharp Kerry Pencil. .5 or .7 lead. Probably have to find it online.

If you like me more than that, and who could blame you, for about $100 I think i would LOVE the Caran D'Ache Ecridor Pencil.

If I changed your child's life. If I saved the family from destitude and disgrace. If you feel the need to reward me further, don't. Spend you money on your family and friends. Chances are, if you liked me, I liked you. That's enough for me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I feel like I am walking through life with a big target painted on my back. Everything I hear or read bashes education and teachers. There must have been a memo or edict among radio broadcasters and newspaper “journalists” that instructed them to begin a campaign to paint teachers as overpaid, under-qualified, under-worked, lazy, greedy, union thugs “sucking at the teat of the public trough.” Over and over I hear I’m overpaid. Overpaid?

I’ve listened and read long enough. My response? Kiss my ass.

I started teaching 18 years ago in Tucson, Arizona and I was paid $19,500.00 a year. All of my friends were making more than I was and it wasn’t as though my friends had all come out of Harvard and Yale. My friends were drywall hangers, painters, waitresses and cooks. One of my friends was a part-time parts runner who made $20,000.00 a year. She worked 30 hours a week delivering auto parts from a warehouse to different garages and mechanics around town. I’m educating America and she’s making more money than me driving around in an air-conditioned truck listening to Elton John.

I now live and work in Orange County, CA, makes $76,000.00 a year, and I’m told I’m overpaid. I used to be almost patted on the head and told, “Aww, what a noble profession.” Now I hear how greedy and thuggish I am for being part of a union and trying to make as much money as the office secretary at the Department of Water and Power.

Am I not worth what she makes? Is the mathematics education of your children worth less than a woman who spends a good portion of her day inspecting her nails and saying “He’s not in right now, may I take a message?” Without the information I teach, bridges fail and buildings collapse. National defense, science, commerce, and every other aspect of society is benefited by a population literate in mathematics.

To say that I’m overpaid, implies that there are individuals out there who could, and would, do the job I’m doing for less money. Am I missing something? Are there a bunch of mathematicians sitting around looking for jobs that pay less than 80 grand? Are there a collection of individuals who derive all of the equations for parabolas, ellipses and hyperbolas and have no forum for sharing? Is the knowledge of logarithms so prevalent out there that you could just shake a tree and out will fall someone who can explain them? Is knowledge of high level mathematics, and the ability to show its applications so widely known that I’m easily replaced?

Nope. There isn’t anyone out there that can do what I do. There is a tremendous shortfall of math teachers and many schools have English and History majors trying to teach math. There are simply not enough individuals who can explain why when two chords intersect in a circle the angle formed is equal to one half the sum of the subtended arcs. Just once I’d like someone who says I’m overpaid to try to do what I do. Try to motivate 16 year olds to understand that pi is the number of times that the diameter of a circle will wrap around the circle. Try to explain in an understandable way why derivatives and integrals matter in finding acceleration and area. Try to develop hands on activities so that students can see how a force vector is the sum of its component parts. Hell, just come in and do the easy stuff. Teach the properties of exponents and how they are used in exponential growth and radioactive decay problems.

The people that know and can teach high level mathematics are building bombs at Hughes, designing planes at Boeing, evaluating flight paths at NASA and doing statistical analysis for Proctor and Gamble. They aren’t making $76,000.00 a year. They are making $276,000.00 a year. These are my students. These are the young men and women that I taught and inspired.

I make too much? Kiss my ass.