A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, January 31, 2008

In honor of my Dad

My dad liked music. His favorites were Jim Reeves, Willie Nelson, Anne Murray, Allison Krauss, Hank Williams, and Chet Atkins. He also liked Roy Clark. Because of my Dad, I play guitar. I had a really bad guitar, and my Dad mae me a deal when I was eleven: If I learned ALL of Willie Neslon's Red Headed Stranger album, he'd buy me a new guitar. So I did. And the lyrics to those songs still lie in my head in huge chunks.

"Don't fight him, don't spite him, just wait till tomorrow, and maybe he'll ride on again...."

Two years ago he left us. In his memory, here's one of his favorite songs, and the second to last one he wanted me to sing to him.

The Old Chisholm Trail

Come along, boys, and listen to my tale
Tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

On a ten-dollar horse and a forty dollar saddle
I'm a going to punch in Texas cattle
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

I'm up in the morning before daylight
Before I sleep the moon shines bright
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay.

Oh, it's bacon and beans most every day
We'll soon be eating this prairie hay
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

With my seat in the saddle and my hand on the horn
I'm the best cowpuncher that ever was born
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

No chaps, no slicker, and it's pourin' down rain
I swear I'll never night herd again
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

A stray in the herd and the boss said, 'Kill it'
So I shot it in the rump with the handle of a skillet
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

I went to the boss to draw my roll
And he had me figured out, nine dollars in the hole
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

Me and my boss we had a little spat
So I hit him in the face with my ten gallon hat
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

I'm going to sell my horse, going to sell my saddle
'Cause I'm tired of punching these Longhorn cattle
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay

With my knees in the saddle and seat in the sky
I'll quit punchin' cows in the sweet by and by
Come a ti yi yippy, come a tee yi yay, ti yi yippy yi yay.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WHY does this little creep get to own a gun?

Guess who THIS is?

A federal jury convicted a 23-year-old man on an obscure weapons charge Tuesday, apparently unaware that 10 years ago he and another boy killed four classmates and a teacher in a schoolyard ambush.

Mitchell Johnson faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in the next 45 days on a count of possessing a firearm while being a drug user.

Johnson was arrested on New Year's Day 2007 after police stopped his van and said they found a bag of marijuana in his pocket and a 9 mm pistol and a 20-gauge shotgun in two bags. Police said they stopped the van after getting an anonymous tip about drugs in the vehicle.

In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and 11-year-old schoolmate Andrew Golden opened fire as students and teachers left Jonesboro Westside Middle School after Golden pulled the fire alarm. The boys killed English teacher Shannon Wright and four students ages 11 and 12. They wounded 10 other people.

Government lawyers did not bring up Johnson's violent past. The only clue during the two-day trial came during jury selection, when potential panelists were asked whether Johnson's name sounded familiar.

Mitch Wright, the widower of the teacher killed March 25, 1998, watched Tuesday's court session along with his son Zane, who was 2 at the time of the shootings. The boy "wanted to see what this person looked like," Wright said during a break in the trial.

State courts sent Johnson and Golden to a juvenile prison until their 18th birthdays. Federal prosecutors then got them locked up until they turned 21.

Johnson left prison with an "adjudicated" record — meaning he could own firearms.

Read the whole thing.

One of the first posts on this blog was over the release of this little shit from prison here at this post. At the time, his mother claimed he was sorry, wanted to become a minister, and would be leaving Arkansas to go to college.


What the HELL were they thinking giving him a record that allows him to own guns?!?

Well, by all means, let's give him another chance at killing someone with a gun. Let's forget that he and his friend killed five people and wounded ten others. Let's forget that he left a two year old without a mother, and four other sets of parents with a gaping wound in their hearts.

****UPDATE! And he's been arrested yetagain.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

How do I get off this ride?

Let me be blunt with you, oh internets: for some reason, I have provoked churlishness from a colleague, Redneck Mother.

I have endeavored to ignore his incessant gender stereotyping (and besides, I guess this stereotype is correct-- he and his pals think baked beans are a fun thing to give someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and think it's funny not to warn someone that their zipper is is as open as the mouth of a dead bass during a presentation to the school board, but I am not one of them.) I try not to get defensive or annoyed, but really, friends, here's the deal, expressed just so I don't explode:

RM gets paranoid when other people ask anyone but him for assistance. He excludes department members that he doesn't like from curriculum writing workshops. He refers to any and all spine-possessing women as "feminazis," and "dykes," which is oh-so-original if it wasn't a) wrong and b) insulting and c) pitiable. Another favorite term is "faggot." He teaches by the dictum, "If it bleeds, it leads:" if it's a not a battle or a massacre or an act of aggression, it doesn't interest him.

His sense of humor laughs at the pain or misfortune of others, and is openly homophobic when it's not focused on boogers, flatulence, incontinence, impotence, physical deformities, and calling people words that are also used to describe female anatomical parts in the most insulting way possible. He picks on people, and when they take offense, claims he's "kidding," which fools no one.

I am living with this, but I am not liking it; but now that I have written this, I can move on. Thanks.

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Movie Madness Monday 100: I Miss My Dad edition

We bring you one of the best movies about the complex misunderstanding that is unfortunately usually the basis of the relationship between father and child. But at the bottom of it all, there is love.

In honor of my Dad, who actually liked this movie, I bring you Movie Madness Monday, Century Edition. Please put your quote in the comments section without naming the movie.

"No, thank you-- fish make love in it."

"Small world, Dr. Jones."
"Too small for two of us."
"This is the second time I've had to reclaim my property from you."
"That belongs in a museum."
"So do you."

"I didn't know you could fly a plane!"
"Fly, yes. Land, no."

"It's disgraceful! You're old enough to be her-- her grandfather!"
"Well, I'm as human as the next man."
"Dad, I WAS the next man!"
"Oh... ships that pass in the night."

"Please, what does it always mean, this... this "Junior"?
"That's his name. Henry Jones... Junior!"

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From the "I am NOT Making This Up" Department...

We've had several visitors at our school over the past few weeks while colleges have been on break between semesters. I was standing on the sidelines at an athletic event after school one day, cheering on the team, when suddenly a young man stepped up next to me. Then he hugged me and said he wanted to thank me.

He looked vaguely familiar, but it took me a few seconds to recognize the face. It was young Barbarino, who had been one of my students in one of my honors classes the first year I was at the high school after leaving the middle school. I had also had him as a student at the middle school. Neither of these experiences had been particularly pleasant, as he had been a young man more prone to complaints than getting his work done.

From the second he set foot in my class, it was a contest of wills. He wasn't going to do the reading. He wasn't going to do the essays-- or at least, he wasn't going to do them except on the back of a cocktail napkin, written in ketchup. He complained that I didn't explain everything in the book so that he wouldn't have to read it, since reading was a waste of his time. He made weird noises. He wanted to put his head down all the time. He maintained a 57% average all the way through the semester, and then finally scraped enough together that he got a 60 percent -- a D minus. And yet, he wouldn't transfer to another class, either. For some reason, he didn't want to be rescued, but he didn't want to pull his own weight, either.

I got some insight into his problem when his mom came up for conferences. All she talked about was his older sister, who was pre-med and had gotten straight As and been drum major while volunteering at an adult day-care center, and on and on. During the entire conference, I repeatedly tried to redirect the subject back on to her son, but to no avail. So what he wanted was to act up and get my attention, since he was a ghost to his mother. She threw up her hands at trying to get him in line, and basically let me know that school problems were the problem of the school.

But now, here he was, taller, bearded-- and um, thanking me? He told me he was in graduate school now, and he appreciated me never letting him get away with avoiding his work. He laughed uproariously at the memory of me hoisting a desk over my head in the crowded classroom to put him out in the hallway when he came to the class unprepared, which happened more than once. He thanked me for making him come to my class after school to teach him how to write historical essays. He apologized for being "such an unbearable little shit." I assured him he wasn't unbearable-- and we laughed again. He said he wanted to prove to me that he had finally grown up and was no longer a "screw-up." He said what I was trying to teach him had sunk in-- just three years later than I would have liked. He left me with a pat on the back and asked if he could come see me the next time he was on break.

I said, "Gladly."

It was an amazing experience.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 99: Freedom and Justice edition

I welcome you to a special edition of Movie Madness Monday. This week we revere one of the few American saints who have ever lived, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., whose passion for soul force and the effects that can be wrought by love of everyone, even one's enemies, are certainly lessons that I pray will resonate more loudly now than ever before. Amen.

This week, I would like for my readers to put their favorite quote by the Rev. Dr. King in the comments section, and this week, I will then post them back onto the main page. If you do not have a favorite quote, or all of the ones you know have already been posted, I encourage you to read some of the works of Dr. King, and find some new favorites.

So here's this week's Movie Madness Monday. Put your quotes in the comment section, please.

From Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

From Strength to Love, 1963: "The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."

From his Nobel Prize Address, 1964, and so applicable today: "Every man lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. So much of modern life can be summarized in that arresting dictum of the poet Thoreau: 'Improved means to an unimproved end.' This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual 'lag' must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the "without" of man's nature subjugates the "within", dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

"This problem of spiritual and moral lag, which constitutes modern man's chief dilemma, expresses itself in three larger problems which grow out of man's ethical infantilism. Each of these problems, while appearing to be separate and isolated, is inextricably bound to the other. I refer to racial injustice, poverty, and war."

From the "Letter from the Birmingham Jail": "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their 'thus saith the Lord' far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

From a press statement in Selma, 1965: "I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.

"How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

"How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow.

"How long? Not long. Because the arm of the moral universe is lonk but it bends toward justice.

"How long? Not long, because mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on.

"He has sounded forth the trumpets that shall never call retreat. He is lifting up the hearts of men before His judgment seat. Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him. Be jubilant, my feet. Our God is marching on!"

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Send your love to California Teacher Guy

California Teacher Guy's father passed away last Tuesday. Please stop by his blog and drop him a note of condolence.

California Teacher Guy is a person of refinement and sensitivity who is also a wonderfully moral and upright man. Pray for him and his family at this time of sorrow and turmoil.

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Eduwonkette goes all carnival-ly

Head on over and check it out, especially since it seems that she is giving you all the only chance at an awards show you're going to get while the writers' strike is still going strong. This one is much more painless than a real one.


God! I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

As the smoke clears from the battlefield, and the helicopter blades churn the air overhead I just have one thing to say:

Dear Parent:

I am concerned about your son, too. But thirteen emails, plus a letter to the principal, plus three requests relayed through the counselor, plus four requests from the caseworker asking for feedback in 9 days is a bit much. I and the other teachers have responded to each one of these as quickly as we can.

I have observed and counseled and worked one-on-one with your son. But you need to understand that I am not supposed to be checking my email during instructional time. Instructional time means time I spend actively instructing students. That would mean your child-- plus one hundred and two other young people who are just as beloved by their parents and who deserve just as much of my attention. I am sorry the counselor was sick and did not respond to your emails immediately, but she... was... sick. Nearly hospitalized even, not that that is really anyone's business.

Meanwhile, you haven't spoken directly to your son. Please back away from the computer, and try this, after taking a deep breath. We all want what is best for him.

Ms. Cornelius


Monday, January 14, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 98: metal bikini edition

Thinking of leadership made me think of this movie for this week's M Cubed. So put your quotes in the comments section without outing the movie!

I really liked how they used the monster from Little Shop of Horrors to save money in this film. Clever! I also like how the lead singer for the Moody Blues played General Nadine. It's good to see old pop stars not fade away.

Aw, I'm just kidding. But let's see if those clues helped.

"I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur."
"There's nothing to see. I used to live here, you know."
"You're going to die here, you know. Convenient."

"How we doin'?"
"Same as usual."
"Oh, that bad, huh?"

"I love you."
"I know."

"Look, I WANT you to take her! I MEAN it!"

"Patience, my friend. In time, he will seek YOU out."

"I never knew I had it in me!"

"I do believe they think I am some kind of god."
"Well, why don't you use your divine influence and get us out of this?"
"I beg your pardon, but that just wouldn't be proper."
"It's against my programming to impersonate a deity."

****Weekend Update: You all need to go see


again. It was a satisfying if bittersweet end to the saga, even if they've gone back in and put in whiny Hayden Christensen into the scene where Luke sees all of his fallen Jedi protectors and predecessors. I guess we should be glad they didn't put Jake Lloyd in.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Principals' Life Lesson 23: Why new programs don't work

Listening to potential administrators lay out their plans to improve a school has made me feel compelled to offer some advice. The reason why I feel this compulsion is that, thus far, the people I have seen have about ten years less experience than I do in education and about 15 years' fewer experience as a teacher. Let's ignore the fact that you know I think that those two factors alone are a HORRIBLE idea, because we could go on all year long about that, and so we won't, since there is nothing I can do about this trend.

So here's the deal, from a wizened old veteran to all active and incipient administrators out there: The number one reason why new programs do not work in schools is due to bad professional development and training. We have talked about this before.

The number two reason is that there is not enough time, ownership, or energy allowed to teachers who are told to implement the new program.

It is this second reason that I would like to discuss. Administrators, think about what propelled you into administration (I will ignore those people who did it because they weren't good at teaching or who did it for the money-- and I wish I could ignore those people all the time, but I can't). Much of it was probably a feeling that you did not have enough time, autonomy and ownership of the conditions that shape the classroom experience. Remember that when you come up with four, five, six or even more new programs that you expect your teachers to implement.

If you are going to add a new task to your teachers' plates, then something else HAS GOT TO GO. There is only so much time and energy that a teacher can bring to the emotionally and physically demanding task of teaching. If you can't think of anything that can be taken away, then you really can't demand that another task be added. It's the brutal truth.

The bottom line for me as a teacher is making sure that the instruction opportunity that I provide is the very best that it can be. Paperwork to make administrators happy comes in a poor second in terms of time I will devote, because, ultimately, it is the experience that I help create for my students that is my primary job. Nothing drives me crazier than an administrator who suddenly wants me to give up a week of instructional time for some new plan that he went on a junket to someplace warm to learn. I plan weeks and months in advance. I balance this planning with trying to respond to individual students' needs. That has to come first. New programs are often met with open skepticism from their inception not because we are lazy but because we are already overburdened and short of time as it is (and if you think one of your teachers is lazy, by the way, deal with THAT person rather than placing restrictions and casting aspersions on all of us).

If administrators do not understand this, they will either get open rebellion and mockery from their staffs when they place yet one more demand upon us, or they will get half-hearted cooperation and ultimate failure for their programs. This also leads to the continual cascade of programs that fly through school as The Flavor of The Month, since "The last program didn't work." Consider please: was the last program actually given a chance to be implemented by truly giving your teachers the TIME they need to implement it?

Here's the point: administrators either respect their teachers and staff as professionals, or they don't. Professionals are given the tools they need to succeed by their management. Time, support and responsibility are three of the most important tools managers give to those they supervise. Administrators, you are managers for your teachers and staff. You would think I wouldn't have to say that, either, but I DO.

What we will discuss next week: administrators' attitudes for success.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A question arises from a discussion I had...

...and I wanted to ask you, dear readers:

How many of you have had experience with AVID? It sounds just like a program we used to do in middle school that involved religious use of planners, three ring binders, and double-column notes. It required about an hour a week to implement and oversee.

Info? Praise? Horror stories?

Let's dish. I shall post info from you if someone deigns to enlighten me.

***Update: With thanks for all of the wonderful responses thus far, here's what I've learned thus far:

Kari said: "HS AVID focuses heavily on study skills, reading and writing collaboration, and critical thinking. In a typical week in AVID, we have tutorials twice a week (this is how I got started with the program--ideally districts will be able to hire college student tutors), class instruction/practice/discussion with a variety of reading and writing topics, and one day a week of guest speakers, team-building, or some other activity.

"With freshman AVID, I focus primarily on organization, note-taking, and study skills. Sophomores build on that, and I add more writing and class discussions. Junior year is about all that plus SAT/ACT prep and writing their college essays (end of their junior year) and senior year is all of that (well, not much in the way of study skills by that point--they pretty much have it down) plus college apps, financial aid and scholarship apps, and preparing them to go off to college (my seniors read The Idiot's Guide to College Success and The Professor's Guide to Getting Good Grades in College.)

We also have a site team with teachers from different departments, and we meet to discuss how to support the program and its goals for all students, not just AVID students, as well as to discuss the needs of certain students."

Mrs Temple said: "I am on our HS site team and I agree the AVID Summer Institute is awesome. AVID is a program that targets the "students in the middle". The typical AVID student is a first-generation college student, B to C student in regular classes, with potential to do more, often-times, English is not their first language. The AVID program provides support for those students to tackle more challenging courses through tutorials, a "family-like" atmosphere, etc. AVID students are expected to learn study skills such as keeping a notebook, Cornell notes, etc. The AVID concept encourages the use of the WICR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, and Reading) strategies, which are really "Best Practices"."

Longtime pal Polski3 said: "Our school is being "AVIDized" in that we are being taught to incorporate "AVID techniques" into our teaching. We also have several regular AVID classes in which students are carefully nonimated and screened prior to enrollment.

"As for what I do in my classroom that is "AVID": begin to teach my students the Cornell Notetaking format....notebook paper with two columns one that is about two-thirds of the page for notes, definitions, pictures/illustrations/graphs, and other data and one column about one-third of the page, for questions, either teacher generated or study questions written by the student in which the answer is there in the other column in their data. It also includes summarizing and can include illustrating the data In part to demonstrate understanding/clarification of what they learned about the data).

"There are several "usable" things you can find on the AVID website; a couple of our teachers have been to the training and brought back AVID notebooks for such things as AVIDizing Social Studies (IIRC). One idea I am using from this is students taking a small bit of text ( such as a subsection of a history chapter), reading it, writing a question about it, summarizing it in one or two sentences then creating a simple illustration to "illustrate" it.

"I find some of my seventh graders easily get the "AVID" stuff; struggling ELL's have a harder time with it.

"I think it is a worthwhile program; IT is not the savior of US Education. IT has helped many, many "upper middle" kids do better academically and go on to later academic success. AVID is not for your GATE kids; AVID techniques such as successfully mastering the creation of and use of Cornell Notes is a study/academic skill beneficial to all students."

100Farmers said: "Good-targeting nontraditional college bound kids. More teachers involved with keeping track of students progress.

"Bad-too many core teachers teaching a class of Avid which makes core class sizes too large. Kinda defeats the purpose with kids getting lost in classroom now."

Thanks for the imput!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

When do you age out of high school?

Our school district has an alternative high school program, and recently added an alternative middle school program. I am not that familiar with the middle school program, but I know the gal who runs it, and if anyone can do it, she can. But I do know the high school program. Here's how it works: If one can't succeed in a traditional high school setting, one can apply for our alternative program, with shorter hours and adapted courseloads and no homework and tiny class sizes and the suspension of most rules mandated by the board of education. One can potentially earn two semesters of credit for each semester in our alternative program. Previously, freshmen were not allowed to enter our alternative program, but lately that requirement has been waived as well. At the end of this program, one receives a diploma from the main high school with no asterisks, no qualifiers, no differentiation whatsoever between a diploma earned here and a diploma earned in the much more rigorous high school setting.

It's kind of like Barry Bonds' homerun record: the numbers are there, but one wonders sometimes how legitimate the accomplishment is, and how deep the ignorance goes.

So, anyway, I was walking the hallway the other day when I rounded the corner, and almost ran smack dab into a former student of mine, whom I shall call Moon Pie*. I'd had Moon Pie after he had been kicked out of our alternative high school program. That's right. You can fail to do well in high school, and if you fail to do well in the alternative program, you get put back into the traditional program that you've already not done well in. Life is full of irony.

But I digress. I started thinking about how long ago I had had Moon Pie. I teach juniors, and that was four and a half years ago. There is no way he is less than twenty years old. Twenty! When I was twenty, I was finishing my junior year of college. I had just begun dating the fella who is now my husband. Seriously, Moon Pie has now officially become the Phil Niekro of our high school, except that Phil Niekro was successful.

Moon Pie's time in that class five years ago, known forever in memory as "The Island of Misfit Toys," was NOT academically triumphant. He did learn not to sleep through class, and he thought the Great Depression was really unfair. He was in class with the Slasher, of whom I have written previously also here.

But he has been on the verge of graduation for three years now. Last year he swore to me he was going to graduate. He wanted to be the first person in his large family to graduate. His younger brother beat him to it. But three of his brothers are in the alternative program with him to keep him company each day.

He is not stupid. He is so lazy that if breathing wasn't involuntary he would have suffocated long ago. He smokes too much, drinks too much, tokes too much, and has raised himself. He turns 21 in 9 weeks. So far he is not a father, as far as I know, and he would have told me about that, even knowing that I would disapprove.

There is only one explanation for his continued presence.

He obviously does not want to be on the outside.

We have become a cocoon for him where he can get two squares and some companionship each day, all without too much being demanded of him.

*- A Moon Pie is a snack of "Southren" origin consisting of two round graham crackers with about two inches of marshmallow filling; this sandwich is then dipped in chocolate. This kid, while probably crackers, nonetheless has a soft marshmallow center that is definitely not kosher. Sweet, but of no nutritional value whatsoever.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Life by the numbers...

Today's tally?

Classes taught: Five.
Really good class discussions: Five.
Conversations with APs: Four.
Faculty meetings: One.
Cellphones confiscated in class: Two.
Referrals for insubordination during hall duty: Two.
Number of students who see me in the hallway and start patting their chests to make sure their IDs are on: Six.
Number of students told to pull up their pants: Four.
Hoodies confiscated because both I and an AP told a kid to take his hood off his head: One.
Novel excuse for intransigence on taking hoodie off head: (Tie, and from the same kid) "But I'm a freshman...." and claiming not to know who his AP is or where his office is even though he's been there on several referrals.
Number of kids that I suspect are on something: Two.
Number of kids who SHOULD be on medication but are not: Four.
Dumbass comments made to me by Redneck Mother, my department chair: Two.
Number of sick kids who inflicted their germs on us and came to school anyway: Nine.
Number of students giving me props in the hallway: Eleven, and gratefully received.
Laughs: Seven.
Naps in the evening: One.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 97: Asterisk edition

Welcome to another Movie Madness Monday, trying to see if I stump you less this week. But I beg you: please use asterisks for the bad bits on this one.

You know how to do this: put your quote from the same movie in the comments section!

"Has the whole world gone crazy???? Am I the only one here who gives a shit about the rules?????? Mark it ZERO!"

"Her life is in your hands."
"Oh man, don't say that."

"Now this here story I'm about to unfold took place in the early '90s - just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the I-raqis. I only mention it because sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause, what's a hero? Sometimes, there's a man. And I'm talkin' about the Dude here - the Dude from Los Angeles. Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude. The Dude, from Los Angeles. And even if he's a lazy man - and the Dude was most certainly that. Quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the runnin' for laziest worldwide. Sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough."

"You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. I'll get you a toe by this afternoon--with nail polish."

"Ulli doesn't care about anything. He's a Nihilist."
"Ah. Must be exhausting."

"Darkness warshed over the Dude - darker'n a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom."

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cell phone follies redux: How to get out of finals?

So maybe this cell phone thing is a bigger problem than any of us realized. From the backwoods of Arkansas::
AUGUSTA, AR — Police arrived at Augusta High School just as the rumors of violence after a student’s suicide became shrill, leading parents to rush the campus to take their children home.

But police and school officials say the text-message-fueled panic over others committing suicide and weapons at the small town’s high school turned out to be only a way for students to avoid taking semester-ending exams.

“Somebody took advantage of a tragedy that happened in Augusta, a tragedy of a young man taking his life,” Superintendent Richard Blevins said. “Somebody exploited that and I guess that made me madder than anything else. Somebody was so insensitive to use that for their own gain.”

Bomb threats and disruptions have happened before at the 200-student high school in Augusta, a city in northeastern Arkansas on the banks of the White River. But police say the proliferation of cell phones among students allowed some to take advantage of the 16-year-old student’s death through small-town gossip in the electronic age.

“There’s rumor mills in this town like you just cannot believe, because everyone knows everybody. Ninety percent of people is kinfolks with somebody else,” Augusta police Capt. Jim Moore said. “You get a ripple that spreads like a wave.”

Moore retired as police chief in Augusta in 1996 after 20 years patrolling its two square miles, returning only after the current chief got called up to serve in Iraq. He remembered some threats in the past, and how the phone company once tracked down a boy calling in a bomb threat so quickly that responding officers still found him with the receiver in his hand.

Crime is slow in Augusta, though, as the department on average responds to one reportable call a day.

Then on Dec. 17, officers responding to a call found a 16-year-old student dead after he had hanged himself. Moore said counselors came down to talk to students at the high school — and that’s when the rumors started.

“They just said there was going to be a shoot ’em up,” Moore said. “They was supposed to have been a pact and all this kind of stuff — that there were going to be eight or 10 hang themselves over the holidays.”

The next day, the Woodruff County sheriff’s office got a call saying students were talking about bringing guns to school. Parents called the school district worried about the supposed plot.

Augusta police and a sheriff’s deputy were at the school Dec. 18 as students entered. Blevins said school district officials used a handheld metal detector to scan everyone entering the building and looked through bags for weapons as well.

“The only thing we found were cell phones,” Blevins said, an item banned at the school, but grudgingly accepted by teachers and staffers. But after the wand searches, the superintendent said students began text messaging each other, spreading the rumor to family members.

By 10 a.m., only 25 students remained at the 335-pupil elementary school after panicked parents descended on the campus. The Searcy Police Department called, asking if police at Augusta needed help after a report of a shooting at the school reached the larger town nearby. Ambulances were even diverted to the area.

Blevins said the school probably lost two days from the panic, initially spread by students who said they got threatening text messages.

“Of course, this never happened. It’s just more damn rumors,” Moore said. “Every kid down there has a cell phone and they just jibber-jabber, jibber-jabber.”

Augusta High School is now closed for winter break, the only noise coming from whistles and pounding of basketball practices. But on Jan. 7, the school’s first day of the new year, Blevins said staff will institute a zero-tolerance policy on cellular phones. He also plans a full investigation into who caused the panic, promising to push for expulsions.

“It’s like hollering fire in a crowded theater,” Blevins said. “We can’t have people doing that.”

But Moore believes there likely won’t be any criminal charges filled in the case.

“It’s all just a rumor,” he said.

I've seen cell phones used to attract masses of students to trouble. I've seen kids spend 300 bucks on a cell phone who tell me they can't afford to buy school supplies. It's amazing what some people will do without to be in on the latest fashion-- and technology is definitely a fashion accessory first besides being a tool. I've also been fighting the battle against the cell phone with PTD, since I believe she has no need for one and I'm pretty sure she would tempted to text-message her friends at school. My suspicion is she wants one to show off and to waste hundreds of minutes yacking instead of pursuing more worthy activities. No matter what, it would be a distraction.

So, sure, I'm just an old fossil who has turned off her text-messaging feature, but is there any way to find the originator of the text messages in the story? Think of the panic that was created by this insensitive behavior. Who was the kid who thought: "Hey, someone's kid just killed himself. How can I turn this to my advantage?"


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