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What I’m going to do with my Spring Break.

Sun4.JPG     1. Grade all of my ungraded papers, so I can go back to work all caught up.
2. Celebrate my wife's birthday next weekend.
3. Read two books, both of them short, but both real books: Democracy Matters by Cornel West, and An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy.
4. Read ahead for my night school class.
5. Rake out my front yard and fertilize it.
6. Go to a Phillies game.
7. Go see V for Vendetta with my wife and my younger son.
8. Blog.
9. Rest.   Rest.  Rest.


Spring Break started 90 minutes ago.

sun1.JPG    Yip-pee.  Finally. And it's a sunny 70 degrees outside.

Sometimes, they surprise you.

Spring Break starts the day after tomorrow.  It can't get here soon enough.  We're all getting to that sitting-in-the-faculty-lunch-room-grousing-all-the-time stage that tells us all we need a break, from the kids and maybe each other.  it's the time of year when you keep waiting for the roof to blow off, there's so much gas and static in the air.

And then something good happens to make your day.

I'm participating in my fifth MS Walk next month.  My younger sister has MS, and our family walks every year.  We usually raise a nice little chunk of change for our little team.  My colleagues at work – bless them all- are always VERY generous towards this cause.  I don't know how much I've raised so far this spring, but it's adding up.  I always take the little cardboard "donor sneakers" that the MS Society sends me and fill them out with donor's names as the donations come in, and then tack them up along the front of my classroom, kind of letting the kids know that, yes, there are big issues out there for them to get involved in.  I have a life outside of school, and this is one way they know that.

So far this year, I've received three unsolicited donations from my students.  This has not happened before.  I'm not supposed to ask kids or parents for money.  I don't.  I didn't ask this time, either.  The kids just wanted to chip in.  That has been very refreshing by itself.

Today, a girl who is not one of my students – she's in my homeroom, but not in any of my classes – brought in a check for me.  For $200.  She had gone home and told her mom about my Walk.  Mom went to work and got her company to cut me a check.  Just.  Like.  That.

Made my day.  Actually, it made my week.

“Survivor: Elementary Classroom.”

logo_s8_new.jpg   There's been a very long and interesting conversation over at Creek Running North to a posting by Chris Clarke about his wife, who teaches public school.  One of the many comments came from spyder, who shared this with us.  Hope spyder doesn't mind me sharing it with you (slightly edited New Jersey version):

"Have you heard about the next planned Survivor-type reality show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped into three elementary school classrooms for six weeks. Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her school district’s curriculum, and a class of 28 students.

Each class will have five learning-disabled children: three with A.D.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three will be labeled with severe behavior problems.

Each business person must complete lesson plans at least three days in advance with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance… write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards… document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences, for starters.

They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways. In addition, they will complete drills for fire, tornadoes, and mass shootings.

They must attend 100 hours of workshops, faculty meetings, union meetings, and curriculum development meetings.

They must also tutor those students who are behind and strive to get their two non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the state-mandated Terra-Nova tests.

If they are sick or having a bad day, they must not let it show. Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into their program. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times.

The business people will only have access to the golf course on the weekends, but on their new salary they will not be able to afford it anyway.

There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to 30 minutes.

On days when they do not have recess duty, the business people will be permitted to use the staff restroom as long as another survival candidate is supervising their class. Even then, they will have to "go" quickly.

They will be provided with two, 40-minute planning periods per week while their students are at activity classes. If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials at this time, provided they follow all legal guideline. 

The business people must continually advance their own education on their own time, and pay for this advanced training themselves. This can be accomplished by moonlighting at a second job or marrying someone with money.

The winner will be allowed to return to his or her former job."

Love it.  They wouldn't last one period.

There is power in a UNION.

Today was the day our "Association" voted to ratify (or not) our new three-year contract.  I am a building rep for my half of the school in which I teach.  I got to "run" the election there.  It's my first one in this role.  I am not happy about what I think the outcome will be, but being involved this deeply has really got my teacher enthusiasm going across the board, so that's a good thing. 

I'm feeling very Woody Guthrie-Joe Hill-Billy Bragg today.

There is Power In The Union 

There is power in a factory, power in the land 
Power in the hand of the worker 
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand 
There is power in a Union  

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers' blood 
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses way, sir 
The Union forever defending our rights                                                 
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands
There is power in a Union  

Now I long for the morning that they realise 
Brutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us
But who'll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send there lackeys out to cheat us? 

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a Union

The Union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands 
There is power in a Union.

Welcome to my new blog.


Here I will post discussion and commentary – and just some interesting news and stories – of interest to me, because I'm a public school teacher.  I'm interested in education policy, and really anything related to the topic.  I will NOT discuss my students, because what happens in my classroom stays in my classroom.  Unless it's really inspiring, which happens every once in a while. 

Stay tuned: it's going to take a while to get this going.