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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

National Punctuation Day!

Now we need to invent National Spelling Day....

In honor of this day, a small poem I found:

The period is a busy man.
A small round traffic cop.
He blocks the helter-skelter words
And brings them to a stop.

The question mark's a tiny girl,
She's small but very wise;
She asks too many questions
For a person of her size.

Of all the punctuation folk,
I like the comma best.
For when I'm getting out of breath
He lets me take a rest.

Quotation marks are curious.
When friendly talk begins
You'll always find these little marks
Are busy listening in.

The exclamation mark's an elf,
Who is easily excited.
When children laugh or cry or scream
It's then he's most delighted.

Whenever you come to the end of a thought,
You sign it off with a polka dot.

Beatrice Schenkde Regniers


Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm your teacher, not your friend, but this law is still pointless.

As you may have heard, Missouri passed a law known as the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, a few weeks ago making it illegal for teachers to have contact with their students via social networking sites. This law immediately faced challenges about its lack of common sense as well as its constitutionality, so much so that a right-leaning teacher group in Missouri (the MSTA) won the race to challenge it in court.

Little more than two weeks after its UNANIMOUS passage in the Missouri legislature (the Missouri legislature being basically as much an embarrassment as most state legislatures are), the law's implementation was stayed by court order.

So, on Friday, September 15, the law was revised by the Missouri Senate, although it has not been passed by the House nor signed by the governor, so the lawsuit continues.

Here's the question: would this law have prevented some horrible people from using their positions of trust and authority as teachers from contact their students for illicit purposes?


I am adamant about NOT friending my students on Facebook until they are out of college, which in my book means they have to be 24 years old. Then, and only then, if they really want to read about Ms. Cornelius' battles with the neighbors' Satanic dogs or my weird snippets of 70s rock songs, then be my guest. They must really have liked me to want to connect after all those years. Hopefully, also, by then, I will not be treated to pictures of their inebriated selves at some fraternity kegger showing off their new nipple ring, which would be deeply traumatic for me (and one would also think for them, but, y'know, c'est la vie).

I also do not give out my phone number, nor do I have a Twitter account, nor do I stay in my room alone with a student without the door open and at least fifteen feet between us.

BUT, disgusting creeps will be disgusting creeps, no matter what. This law would could easily have been read to make my classroom blog illegal, since it was not created under the aegis of our school district's creaky, misbegotten, twitchy, unreliable technology department, of whom I have previously written. If someone in state government REALLY wants to make a difference on this issue, how about making it illegal for districts to cut deals with miscreants who have crossed the line-- for instance, in exchange for a resignation, the district writes a neutral recommendation, merely pawning off creeps onto the next unsuspecting school district faster than you can say "pedophile." At the very least.

But this law? Unconstitutional as written, and also unproductive.

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Friday, September 02, 2011

That'll be two boxes of kleenex, please.

The Big Giant Head, the name I assign to whoever it is who sets our department budget, has spread the word that we have fifty bucks apiece to spend on school supplies for the year. We can only spend it on materials ordered through This Special Catalogue.

This Special Catalogue has prices about 150-200% the prices at Office Max.

Who is getting the kickbacks in this situation? That's what I want to know. We are not allow to turn in receipts from an outside store for the school supplies we purchase-- much more cheaply-- ourselves.

Oh, and back when I worked in my first teaching job in a school formerly staffed by nuns, some thirty years ago, guess how much I was allowed to spend on school supplies?

Yep. Fifty bucks.

But those bucks went further, back then. After all, they were in doubloons, because paper money had not been invented yet.

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