Tag Archives: teaching

The Unbearable Lightness of Knowing

1 Mar

Isn’t it ironic that for the past two decades, the trend in local, state and federal education policies has been to require more and more standardized tests as a way to establish common benchmarks of achievement and to hold public schools accountable for their student’s progress, while at the same time our nation’s politicians have become more and more ill informed and moronic when it comes to matters of common sense and common knowledge?

All of this testing ad nauseam to try and create a more informed and well educated populace and yet we now have a veritable gaggle of political leaders and representatives…Congressmen and state officials… who quite literally don’t know their asses from their elbows.

In Idaho a lawmaker thinks that if a woman swallows a pill it might end up in her vagina!

In Nevada an Assemblywoman believes that cancer is a fungus that can be flushed away with salt water and baking soda and wants to change federal law so this procedure can finally be made available to Americans!

There was a former Congressman who believes in “legitimate rape” and a woman’s natural ability to stop pregnancy while being “legitimately raped”!

How about the US Representative from Illinois who said that reducing our nation’s carbon dioxide output would be a bad thing because it would take plant food from the air!

We have Governors and Senators who believe that vaccinations may not be such a good thing when it comes to the future of the public’s health and well being!

Or there was the Texas Representative who thinks that wind is God’s way of balancing heat and that wind farms would only serve to “use up” all of that wind and make the Earth hotter!

Or our current Speaker of the House, who said that carbon dioxide can’t be a bad thing because every time we exhale we make more, just like cows do!

Or a Vice Presidential candidate who came very close to being elected, who proudly asserted that she could see Russia from her house in Alaska!

Or the Senate committee member who wanted to know what all the fuss was about the polar ice cap melting, because when the ice in his glass of water melts it never overflows!

And no longer can basic scientific principles that were taught in the public schools when I was a youngster 50 years ago be taken for granted in today’s hallowed halls of government. They must now be open for debate with these morons mentioned above and other political mental midgets, as though their resurgent medieval beliefs that were once and for all, finally and forever discredited as superstitions, myths and old wives’ tales, are now possible legitimate alternatives to actual learning!

So why bother testing America’s public school students on everything when we don’t test America’s leaders on anything? The only qualifications for public office in this country are citizenship and age!

Idiocy, ignorance and inanity disqualify no one from holding public office! They won’t even get you removed from public office. Try threatening to shut down your place of business every few months while accomplishing absolutely nothing in between and see how long you stay employed…but in our government that is absolutely no problem.

Why study and pass tests in school when all you have to do after graduation is suck up to one of our corporate overlords, take their money and promise to do their bidding? You can be as foolish, inept and irresponsible as you please!

So children of America: stop studying and stop taking those ridiculous tests! Rather you should emulate your country’s esteemed leaders and take a bribe from whoever is offering one then go shoot hoops or cheer-lead…

for knowledge no longer seems to represent power in America…All knowledge seems to represent today is an alternative way of thinking.

If we are not going to hold our politicians and potential leaders up to higher standards, and if they also believe that as American leaders and role models they need not exude intelligence, nor radiate knowledge about that which they have been elected to oversee in front of an electorate, before whom they are constantly expected to speak, then why should they be allowed to demand higher standards of our children?

Just When You Thought We Couldn’t Get Any Dumber…or…Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

21 Nov

In just one year, the percentage of Americans who don’t believe in climate change has actually gone up 7%! Now almost 1 in 4 Americans thinks that climate change is just a big hoax… even though over 97% of all scientists who have written about global warming and its causes agree that its human caused.  And The other 3% don’t deny it, they simply haven’t stated their position as to its cause one way or the other.

So 23% of Americans (laymen) still don’t believe in climate change despite what facts and statements scientists (the experts) show and tell them… But if you’ve ever been a teacher you know that this is nothing new and why testing is a big waste of time. If all of these scientists, who completely agree on the facts, were teachers in today’s public schools, they would be facing pay cuts and possible unemployment because their students (in this case 23% of the public) just don’t listen to them and/or believe in what they have to say…no matter how hard they try…and as a result wouldn’t be able to pass a test on the facts…leaving a passing rate of 77% …or in public school terminology…total failure!

So do we need better trained scientists? Higher science standards? Free market Charter science academies? More rigor in our de ri·gueur?… In order to get more people to learn and accept the truth? Research (the polls) have shown that if you’re one of the 23% who does not believe in global warming then you’re not very likely to change your mind no matter what evidence you are confronted with, or how many times you are polled…It still gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer and that’s about all of the science and data on climate change you need to know.

Hey teachers! Does this ring any bells?

A 2012 poll from the Pew Research Center found that even though 97% of all scientists agree that humans are causing the spike in global warming, less than half of all Americans thought scientists agreed so completely. And why do So many Americans think that the scientists are still split about what’s causing all of this warming?

Well, The media has assisted in this public misconception, because most of their climate stories are always “balanced” with a “skeptic” perspective making those few scientists who might be in disagreement seem like half! So by trying to balance their stories by showing both sides of the debate (even though there is really only one side and no debate at all) the media has actually created a completely unbalanced perception of reality. As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what’s causing global warming.

So why can’t people learn? Duh…it’s the television! That damn stupid TV!

But then again, any teacher (let alone scientist) could have told you that!

Moral of the story? Take a day when you can and just Call in sick and go to the beach, cause this old world is still gonna blow a gasket…whether you or those other 23% believe in the facts or not…(which of course you won’t)

And that’s the fact Jack!

Happiness IS a warm gun

21 Oct

Well, the gun advocates were right! If you allow people to have more guns and more freedom to use them in public places, the world will become a safer place.

Case in point: Prominent feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian, was planning on appearing at a speaking engagement at Utah State University last Wednesday to discuss the portrayal of women in video games, but the University received an anonymous Email that threatened “The deadliest school shooting in American History” if her appearance and speech were not canceled.

The Email even went on to describe the nature of the attack and stated:

“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center. I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.”

Ms. Sarkeesian however had decided to go ahead with her presentation because she always receives similar threats whenever she plans a speaking engagement… that is until she was informed by Utah University’s campus security that Utah’s concealed carry laws meant it would be possible for guns to be present at the University’s speaking event.

Utah has an Open Carry law and permits the concealed carry of loaded weapons with a permit and in Utah a person may carry firearms into banks, bars, public universities, and state parks… and with a permit, a person may also carry those weapons into public schools…but Utah does not require concealed carry permit holders to notify police officers of their permit or possession of firearms…even when stopped by police officers.

So how would anyone know if there were a person or persons in the audience with concealed weapons who might be potential mass murders as opposed to law abiding avengers in waiting? In light of that simple dilemma, Ms. Sarkeesian decided not to try and find out and so she canceled her speaking engagement and everyone stayed home…where they were safe and at least knew who had the guns.

Sounds like a perfect solution wouldn’t you say?

What’s In a Name?

9 Sep

The High School in which I was a teacher for 31 years always offered a course in the study of The Holocaust. The town in which the high school was located had a long and rich history that included many Jewish residents and visitors and so this particular course touched upon a subject that was both near and dear to the hearts of those who lived and worked and taught within the town.

But of course the importance of teaching such a course was to instruct all of the students and residents of the town that such a horrible atrocity could never be forgotten and that this monstrous injustice could occur somewhere else and at some other time to any group of people and anywhere within our world where people did not remain vigilant or were willing to forget or disbelieve that humans could ever treat other humans with such cold cruelty.

And of course the corner stone of the course, if you will, was always the phrase: “Never forget”. We must never forget what happened in the Germany of WWII lest an atrocity of similar horror happen again.

And so over the years the course was taught, and as fate would have it, over the years our classes, students and public school community gradually changed complexion until one day I was listening in when a young African American student, looking a bit bored with the lecture, raised his hand and said, “Who cares about this. What about slavery?” as many of the other students of color began to mutter their agreement.

And I will never forget what the teacher’s response was…and this is going to sound like I’m making it up although I swear to you, on my honor, that I am not…

The teacher’s response was: “Son, that was a long time ago. You’re going to have to forget about that and move on with your life or you’ll end up going nowhere.”

And that is why The Washington Redskins need to change their name! And Daniel Snyder, the Washington team’s owner, should know better…especially than to say to USA Today and the world…”We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Because Never is a word you use…when you forget.

 

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…We Hope

2 Apr

When you’re a teacher, the hardest day of the year is always the first day of school…but the second most difficult day of the year, as far as I was concerned, was always April Fools Day. That was always the day when your students seemed to feel that they would be immune from punishment for whatever ridiculous and silly prank they could think up, so you always had to be on the lookout for your April fools. Woe to the teacher who did not keep track of the day and date and know what day it was!

I would always check ahead on the calendar and hope that April first fell on a Saturday or Sunday or perhaps even Spring break…but of course there was always the “sick day” that hopefully one had available just in case your particular pool of students that year was more fool-ish than friendly…

So here’s to all of you teachers out there and hoping that your day today was a good one…and also fool free!

Charter Charlatans?

27 Mar

If you live in the NYC area then you know that newly elected mayor, Bill DiBlasio, is working to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools. The mayor said he wants to charge rent based on how much a school can afford to pay, and he also wants to slow or perhaps even stop the continued growth of the NYC charter school movement so that more focus can be brought back to the public schools. Naturally the charter schools are up in arms over this proposal because charter schools receive rent-free space in city buildings even though they are privately run.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, Money for charter schools increased from $32 million to $659 million and what was once a modest collection of 17 charter schools has now expanded to 159 charter schools within the city…and overall the NYC education budget has almost doubled to 25 billion dollars from the 13 billion dollars that was being spent when mayor Bloomberg took office.

But the city charter schools, along with receiving free rent from the city also raise quite a lot of money from the private sector including large donations from “philanthropists” like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, along with other prominent Wall Street tycoons, (You probably remember them from the great financial crash of 2008)… Anyway, That’s how Success Academy Charter Schools’ chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. can make nearly $500,000 a year to run only 22 “non-profit” schools.

That’s also how Mayor DiBlasio can be opposed by a “nonprofit” charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools. They have organized rallies in Albany, created an internet website and spent 3.6 million dollars on commercials that can be seen constantly throughout the day on television here in the tri-state area. Charter school political action committees have even donated more than 100 thousand dollars to NY Governor Cuomo and other NY state politicians.

So is it a surprise that The Governor says that he is now “Excited” about charter school growth and that Mayor Di Blasio is now beginning to step away from his hardline campaign stance against charter schools?

Isn’t it amazing what money can do? Teachers and educators have always known that money makes a difference when it comes to your child’s education. Can your public schools use its public money to advertise in favor of the public school budget? Do your public schools have 3.6 million dollars that they don’t need for educating your children, to use for creating commercials to “convince” local politicians and influence you to support their efforts in passing the public school budget, let alone raising the school budget?

Money matters! And one has to ask why billionaires are so interested in paying large sums of money in order to gain control of and advertise for the privatization of the public schools in our country… What’s in it for them? And most importantly, what do you think is really in it for you and your children? In the short term privatization always looks good, especially when there is a multimillion dollar ad campaign to help you to try and make up your mind.

But in the long run? Just ask yourself this: When have Wal-Mart, Wall Street tycoons and billionaires ever been interested in spending money on the poorer classes of this country…except when it leads to greater class exploitation and increased profits for themselves?

 

 

 

 

March —- !

1 Mar

Happy March!

Are Spring hopes… eternal? I sure hope so because here on the east coast of the United States it has been one very cold and snowy winter. I used to remember having these kinds of winters every winter when I was little, back in the early sixties. We used to skate on the pond in the back yard (well, not me, only those who could skate) and it was frozen all winter long. And we would take our sleds down the street to the golf course and sled down the big snow covered hills until it was dark outside. And whether it was frozen pond skating or golf course hill sledding it was always jam packed with kids!

There were kids outside…everywhere…and not a parent in sight! Back in those days parents never came out of their houses unless they were headed for the car or the lawn needed to be cut…at least that’s the way it seemed to us kids. They never took any interest in the kid’s world, unless of course we broke something…which inevitably we always did…but then we ran!

Anyway, Spring meant seeing the ground again and running around without our boots. What freedom after months of heavy feet and walking around like you were in a diver’s suit on the bottom of the ocean.

Ahhhhh Spring! I hope we have a real one this year (like we just had a real winter) and it doesn’t just shoot straight up to 100 degrees by next Wednesday! (which these days it seems is always possible)

As for the title of this blog. Riddle me this:

Which day of the year is the only day of the year that is also a command? (English teachers should get this one easy)

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