Friday, March 31, 2006

Clean up the old blog roll

Out with the old and in with the new.

Out:
What up, Mz.Smlph?: Apparently she irritated some colleagues and had to go off the air. She mentioned that she would be back in a short time, but that time hasn't materialized. Her realistic and witty commentary will be sorely missed.

Middle School Mayhem: Hasn't updated since February. Buh, bye!

In:
But Wait, There's More...: Leesepea is a pretty decent replacement for Mz. Smlph. She seems to be in the "real world" when it comes to teaching, but she's so damn happy about it. Smart, clever, and interesting, I'm glad to have Leesepea on the roll.

MyMoneyBlog: It isn't often that I recommend a site that I've only recently started to read. However, MyMoneyBlog can do some wonderful things in terms of saving money. Jonathan Ping is a 30 year old man who is attempting to become wealthy by saving money. Along the way, he wants to help you by blogging about it. Oddly enough, about 6 weeks after I started reading his site, Jonathan was featured in Business Week. So far I've changed credit cards to better transfer rates, and started a Sharebuilder Stock program where Costco members can get anywhere from $65-$85 in free cash after their one time investment (only $4 trade fee!).

That's it for now. My Bloglines list is 69 long, all good reads. However, the ones that I have listed I pay much more attention to, not just skim over for interesting stories. Give'em a look.

Protest? What about? Part II


This time it was organized by the students at the high school. This time, the reason given for the protest was to hurt the school in the pocketbook to get their point across. This time, they managed to alienate the people that were actually sympathetic to their cause. This time, they looked like nationalistic idiots.

I found out Wednesday morning that a group of Mexican students were planning to start a protest at Morning Break and march downtown to protest the recent immigration problems. When I asked a variety of students about why they were protesting. I got a variety of answers, none of which showed knowledge of the actual problem. Instead the comments ranged from "Bush is a racist" to "Whites don't like Mexicans" to "It was our land first anyway". This is not to say that I didn't try and explain the whole problem behind HR 4437, and the fact that it wasn't about the pass Congress because the President didn't support it. Facts be damned, these people were going to protest because they wanted to, period. A number of students also commented that the government would get the point better if students left school by making the school lose ADA funding from absent students. No matter how I explained to them that they were hurting more Mexicans by doing that, they refused to listen. Then I showed some of them headlines from Drudge last weekend, and then I showed them the new headlines. Last weekend, the headlines screamed about the immigration protests and the power of the common Latino. Now the headlines are full of stories about students cutting class, Mexicans exhorting nationalism, and racial tension. Nope, didn't even phase them. In the end, they walked away, draped in Mexican flags and colors with cars full of Mexicans, flying the flag of Mexico.

The school was fairly powerless for the most part. Seriously, what are you going to do about it? The campus supervisors lined up at the front of the school and handed out leaflets that stated, "Any student that leaves campus unexcused, without parent permission, will get a cut." That deterred no one. In fact, many Mexican parents simply signed off on the absence, another example of the grateful masses doing harm to the system.

The protest marched downtown, marched to the local Wal-Mart to express their disdain of "The Low Price Leader" mistreating illegals, and then did a couple of speeches about Caesar Chavez at the town plaza.

What was accomplished?

Well, those people that sympathized with the protesters at the beginning of the week weren't only angry, they were downright furious at how the protesters decided to make this an issue about Mexico, and not immigration. Out of the hundreds of protestors, almost no American flags were present, with a plethora of Mexican flags waving all over the cloudy sky. One thing was very apparent to many of the people, liberal and conservative, around Ukiah and at Ukiah High School. This march was less about immigration and more about Mexican nationalism.

What we are witnessing is exactly why I don't like the idea of multi-cultural based education. By not demanding a guest culture conform to the dominant culture of the nation, we have set ourselves up for what is upon us. The guest culture (namely the Mexican immigrants) is protesting that the host country is wrong in demanding that they adjust to our social order, our laws, and our political system. Because we have been so accommodating to this culture, for social and economic reasons, they now feel attacked when reality has finally caught up with the realization that, surprise, they are not in Mexico any more, and the United States has to protect its own interests, not the interests of a Third World Nation. It has definitely been beneficial to have migrant labor in the United States in terms of lowering price pressures (although I'll disagree that it was 'necessary'). But now the problems of an open border that is allowing an importation of poverty and risking national security can't be ignored.

Whether it is ignorance, comfort, or naivete, I don't think many of the immigrants realize how good they actually have it compared to the conditions in Mexico. Think I'm being insensitive? The simple act of fleeing a country by the millions explains a lot. Mexico has plenty of land (oil, area), plenty of labor (population), and plenty of capital (foreign investment potential), but an enormously corrupt government that has the balls to say anything about the U.S. border policy. Of course he wants the border open, he's exporting poverty to the United States!

80% of legal American citizens actually support HR 4437. 80%! My recommendation is that those same protestors might want to wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes, and start calling themselves Americans.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Education Carnival

The Education Carnival is on the road today at Right Wing Nation. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I guess this means that all jokes about Dick and his hunting trip, Rumfelds mishandling of the War in Iraq, and the fact that Bush is Helen Thomas' bitch, are out of the question.
Oh well, enjoy the Midway anyway!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Protest? What about?



When you teach Government, you tell students that they have certain rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution. One of those would be to peaceably assemble to address your grievances to the government. Well, a few of my students took that literally yesterday. Yes, that's a picture of a protest walking through downtown Ukiah, and yes, some of them happen to be my students. What exactly does a Government teacher tell his students when they use the right afforded to them by the Constitution?

Well, first I make sure that they understand what they are protesting about. This protest was less about the recent bill passed by the House of Representatives (HR 4437), and more about the protests in Los Angeles. Apparently, a text message went around the school stating a walk-out was taking place. From there, about 30 students took to the streets, allegedly to support the protesters that were skipping school in Los Angeles. 30 protesters left the school, out of over 500 total Mexican/Hispanic students. Not everyone was ready to walk. And if I had asked the protesters about HR 4437, most would not have a clue what it was actually about.

Second, I make sure that students understand that although protesting is a right, it is not a right that doesn't contain consequences. Students that leave class will receive cuts, because they belong in class. The issue of protesting during school is foolish, and actually leads to less credibility to the actual issue. I told students that the protest should begin right after school and make its way down the main road that leads out of the school. You would get everyone's attention, you would not be breaking the law, and you would have a more positive image in the media.

Finally, I remind students that I have no opinion (except that I think that they should remain in class) and that in the end, they have to deal with their decisions.

Another walk-out, bigger this time, is scheduled for Thursday mid-day. We shall see.

Thanks to the Ukiah Daily Journal for the photo.

Shasta students using their heads

Joanne Jacobs highlighted an issue regarding the Soda Ban at public schools, which is required by July 2007. Apparently a group of students at Shasta High School in Redding, California are irritated that they are being treated like social guinea pigs in a politically correct obesity experiment. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the story in which the President of the Student Union stated that it would be better if the students were encouraged to choose wisely in regards to their health habits, not eliminate choices that might, or might not, seriously contribute to obesity.

It's nice to see that students are attacking this politically correct idiocy, which is lead by State Senator Martha Escutia, who stated that the schools "should not be in the business of selling junk food." Oh really? I guess that means that all the chips on the shelves (which are filled with trans-fat) should be gone, along with the nacho cheese sauce that is probably toxic, and the cookies and ice cream that are available in the frozen display cases, and finally the orange, fruit, and sport style juices that are slammed with sugar. Come on. Are you seriously going to tell me that food now is worse than school food that was available 10, 15, 20 years ago? Of course not, and we were not a generation that was known for being fat.

Let's face it, the problem with today's children and obesity is the fact that kids don't go out and "play" any more. Computers, Internet, and video games now command a child's attention, while street football, hiking around in the woods, riding bikes, or simply playing almost any sport, have become secondary issues. Schools should be putting more emphasis on physical education, not eliminating food choices to satisfy lazy parents. Here are a couple of realistic ideas:

1. Eliminate summer school P.E. classes. Here in Ukiah, they are pretty much a joke, and most of the students are outside more in the summertime anyway!

2. Require P.E. for all four years of high school. We have a massive amount of Seniors who are done with school by 10:30, and then go home and do nothing. Keep the older kids around longer. Make exceptions for students that participate in a school sport, since those are AP Physical Education courses anyway.

3. Make P.E. classes different. Have a standard P.E. class for freshmen and sophomores, then diversify at the upperclassmen levels. Weight training should be a must for any successful athletic program. Other ideas could include Net Games, Ball Sports, Aerobics, circuit Training, and that's only a little taste of the possibilities.

Once again, focus on the problem, not the politically correct solution that satisfies the whiny parents.

Technology.......not always the best option

Note taking in my class is more of an experience than a lecture. I do a lot of sprinting around the classroom, a lot of "So Rachel owns a company that makes automatic cow milkers.....", and a lot of discussion that has to do with the lecture notes. I used to present the notes on an overhead projector with typed transparencies. The format was very basic:
I.
A.
1.
a.
-

What was the reaction? Well, reaction to most notes is not real good because most students do well by actually practicing the theory. The nice thing was that the test came from the notes (duh. I don't know why teachers get tricky with notes), and the ideas were placed in a logical formation.
At the end of last year, I found out that I was receiving an LCD projector in my classroom. For those that don't know, these projectors plug into the computer and allow the screen to show clearly on a screen at the front of the classroom. I was starting to consider changing all my notes into Power Point presentations. Why? More diversification (graphics, effects) can usually draw more attention to the notes, and also draw in those "lower than par" students that don't do well with simple written notes. After the Economics Conference in San Francisco, I decided that I would adjust a quarters worth of Economics notes into Power Points (with some help of the California Council of Economic Education)to see if the technology would give me a hand.
Did it work?
Not really. Simply put, the structure of the notes was not nearly as effective as simply creating a numbered system on the overhead. Students had a tougher time being able to decipher the necessary information form the flash and imagery. The effects also made the presentation go faster, and not allow some of the slower note takers catch up, or ask necessary questions. This left the slower students frustrated, the upper end students irritated that the information wasn't clear, and many of the middle-of-the-road students not really caring about the presentation at all.
Well, starting next week I go back to the overheads to finish the semester. I think I'm going to trim down the Power Points and try to take the note taking portion of the presentations away, leaving an entity that will try and reinforce the notes, not replace them.
If you have good Power Point ideas, or good "note giving" ideas, let me know.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Entertainment, not education purposes.

So I ran into a student teacher's blog that happened to review this blog for a class she was taking. Her final opinion, nice for entertainment, but serves little educational purpose. Her justification was my Playboy article that described how my Seniors often pushed the edge of the envelope regarding what stocks they could and could not purchase.

First, yes, this blog is a lot about blowing off steam. Yes, it has been more so lately with all the crap going on.

However, if you think the Playboy issue isn't something that is experienced in the classroom, you would be wrong. I was once a student teacher that looked at all the educational professor's advice and all the different theories of classroom management. When it comes down to it, 75% of everything I learned in a credential classroom is fairly useless.

So sit back and enjoy. You might learned something.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Car trouble

The car issue is more complicated than you can imagine. I can't get very far into it because there is an investigation. Here's what I can tell you:

-It was an accident and we found the person that did it.
-It was a student, who I don't know, who was too young to have a license.
-The student was in the car with their significant other.....who is 10 years older.

I'll let you figure out where it gets complicated.

Carnival of Eduation

Education Wonks has the Midway up and running at the Education Carnival!

Monday, March 20, 2006

As if it was needed

A vice-principal came into my classroom at the beginning of 5th period.
"Someone hit your car."
Now, I'm hoping to God that someone simply got egg crazy on my ride, but that was not to be. Walking out to my car, I found a police officer and a group of campus aides in front my automobile. The front, driver side of the car had been drilled by some idiot who manufactured the perfect hit-and-run. Front fender is toast, along with the entire bumper, grill, and nearly everything behind it. Simply put, I was not a happy camper.

After a short investigation, the police officer seemed to think that the chances of finding the red, probably truck, that nailed me was very slim. Thankfully, I have insurance. But after the flood, an extra $500 is not what I'm looking to shell out right now.

Yo, Mr. or Ms. Hit-and-Run. Karma will bite you in the ass.
Trust me.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Blame the kids?

Stephen over at Outside the Cave alerted me an article from the USA Today that talks about the problem in society and education is a child's work ethic. Patrick Welsh, a high school teacher in Alexandria, Virginia, states that a U.S. student does not show the same work ethic as minority students, and therefore education reform will never hold any true value until that changes.

As much as I might dispute some little parts of the article (a good teacher does make a difference, so does socio-economics), the gist of what Welsh is saying is very true in the United States. Yes, the current American student has a lower work ethic. Yes, the many of the parents expect a lowering of standards. Yes, kids and parents often find the path of least resistance. And finally, yes, schools are helping in the situation.

This is my fifth year of teaching, and this blog is about observations that I have seen in my four complete years in the field. I know, some parents will read this and say, "Well, that's not my kid." Ok, but this is the culture that is in our public schools. The teacher that I work with will often (as in, once/twice a week) comment that students now have this enormous sense of entitlement, as if the school owes them something. Then this idea ends up tangled in with parents, who believe that their child never lies and really, really works hard. Please. If I truly made this a college style class, only a third of my students might pass. The rest don't have school on the brain, and aren't really pushed do anything other than barely pass. Social issues have become the priority with students. So you ask, "Isn't that how it has always been?" It sure has, except that parents took charge and became parents. I see parents trying to be friends, parents that have no control, and parents that simply don't care. Every Friday, I ask my Intro students to do a quickwrite about what they are going to do during the weekend. Play video games and party are the two most common answers. When I call parents about grades, guess what they say that their child's punishment will be? Yep, "I'll ground them from Saturday nights and take the Play Station away." Think it really happens. Nope. Kids get nasty, parents cave in, and then it leaks into school. No matter what is said, kids are always allowed the final say in the transfer of a class. I can't worry about that. Hell, I'm of the opinion that I want the strong ones in my class to make them stronger. If the weak want to cut and run, who am I to stop them. The main problem I have is with students that are failing, and their parents come in to put them on Independent Study, and then they graduate. I mean, come on. The student fails for three straight quarters, can't tie their shoes on a good day, and actually finish all the work on their own time? Are you serious? Independent Study at our school, like any other, has its place. But our "place" has a huge waiting list of students who have figured out that Independent Study is like a home school diploma, except that their is no teacher. Every student that I have talked to in the IS program has clarified this.

Sounds like I'm being pessimistic about my job, but I still love it. Nothing is better than being a classroom teacher. The single biggest frustration is the fact that we are underpaid professionals that take grief for the shortcomings of bad parenting. If you were to ask me which I would rather want; an increase in pay, or total support from parents, I'd ask for the second one in a heartbeat.

Giving credit where credit is due

Usually I'm slamming the local newspaper, the Ukiah Daily Journal, for any number of terrible stories, most of which don't have a point or are simply wrong. The Op-Ed pieces are overseen by Editor-At-Large, K.C. Meadows, who is known around campus as a woman who simply hates the high school, since she spends many hours writing about the horrors of our institution.

Well, today the UDJ finally acknowledged something that teachers have been saying about teenage drinking...that the parents need to get more involved. Last week, the Journal did a half-hearted report about the yearly study conducted locally about the youngins hitting the bottle. In today's Op-Ed article, Miss Meadows admits that the town has a major problem and that parents need to step up. She quoted something from a meeting earlier in the year,

"Every hour spent watching a play rehearsal, or attending a soccer game is better than down the road spending an hour in a counseling office or a probation office. It's about being present for your children as often and as unobtrusively as possible."


Amen.

Nice to see the media on the right side of this on-going battle.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The MySpace Experiment Continues.....

I have received dozens of comments and questions regarding my old Myspace post. The responses have been everything from students who have questions about Internet privacy to irate students demanding that teachers "stay the hell away from a student's private life". From teachers that think that MySpace is the tool of the devil to teachers that have MySpace accounts and correspond with students using it. When it comes down to it, the MySpace revolution has gone nowhere, although there are signs of it calming down up yonder.

Our school has managed to figure out how to use Officer Dave (the resident Internet filter) to completely disable access to MySpace, including the Google cache loophole. Think that solves the problem? Of course not. Although MySpace is gone, other copy sites are popping up all over the place, driving the librarian totally nuts, and turning our buildings lab into a place that is not conducive to doing school work. A couple of teachers have fake MySpace accounts created by bored students. Some are flattering, while others are the exact opposite.

I had a MySpace account for a few weeks at the beginning of the school year. I had a massive amount of hits and about 30 contacts, but I had to shut down the site after personal contacts started running into professional contacts, if you get my drift. That was not the best of all combinations. So after I shut down that site, I immediately set up a site that was strictly for people other than students. I have a nice group of contacts that include certain musicians that I like, old high school friends, people I hung out with in 9th grade, and old teammates. That site is hidden from the prying eyes of students, which isn't hard to do. Just don't put pertinent information in the system and you can be very well shaded. If there are teachers that want to add me as a contact, e-mail me and I'll give you the address.

Today, I opened up a MySpace account for students and ex-students only. I already have one contact from an ex-student. My hope is that I can put a positive spin on a craze that is actually pretty stable in the more informed sections of the world. I say that only because I still get messages from teachers whose principals think that teachers run MySpace and are responsible for all the posting of negative images.

21st Century people. Let's catch up!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A loss in the War on Terror

I really did admire Congressman Harold Ford Jr.
I thought he was a moderate, honest politician that seemed to work to benefit not only his Tennessee constituents, but also the nation as a whole. In fact, I was really hoping that he would have nailed the Minority Leader position over that screaming lunatic Nancy Pelosi. Then, on Imus in the Morning, I saw the commercial that put Ford at the Port of Baltimore, discussing how he was against the port deal because it was a threat against the security of the United States.

Wonderful. Another dishonest play, all in the name of political grandstanding.

The ignorance about the situation with the ports (such as the fact that it changes nothing about security) is beyond staggering. But the real tragedy is the image that we have now portrayed in the area of the Middle East that is actually making an attempt to accept the market economy. Yes, Dubai is still pulling in the oil money, but the money is making hospitals, universities and malls. And now we are telling the country that helps us the most (employs American workers, buys American steel, buys American planes, allows military vessels to port) is being told that they are not quite safe enough to play ships with the United States (they can play a lot of other games though, since they do own plenty in the U.S.). The image that this portrays to the Arab world could be the single biggest blow in the War on Terrorism. Regardless of how you feel about the president, he was correct in the State of the Union with his warning about protectionist policies.

Now the U.S. Congress has delivered Islamic fundamentalists exactly what they wanted, an image of a selfish, greedy, ignorant America.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Education Carnival

Visit the Midway at Education Wonks!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Can we really teach everyone?

Ms. Cornelius has posted one of the most heart wrenching parts of being a teacher, not being able to get a kid to "figure it out". Many of my Seniors have reached a point where they think they understand what the world is like and that they "know it all". This week I've had a least one student:

-snarl at me and tell me they don't care about anything in the class.
-shove an excused absence note in my face and brag that because they were 18, I couldn't do a damn thing about it
-promise to do XYZ, and never follow through

Now, understand that these events constitute only about 2% of all my students. But as we teachers learn, these groups of students can ruin your day very, very fast. However, my reaction to these students has become standard. As Seniors in high school, these students should have an understanding of what needs to be done to pass a course and eventually, graduate. Students that do the above, at the 12th grade level, at this time of year, are probably going down the road of hardship, regardless of if they graduate or not. So, I turn my focus to students that want the help, or at least understand that part of life is jumping through hoops. Thankfully, 98% of the students actually "get it", and that's what makes teaching worth while.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Police Officers and Teachers think drinking is a serious concern

Unfortunately, most of the rest of Ukiah doesn't.
Every year the police raise the issue of teen drinking, and explain about the seriousness of the problem and the problems that it leads to, etc, etc. Well, it is about that time again, and the Ukiah Daily Journal published the usual half-hearted effort to get the message out to teenagers. The message? That parents should do more to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol.
Wow, that's a revelation.
I know that I sound negative, but if parents took a few days to hear what I hear in my classroom, they would be very surprised to find that kids have no fear at all about going on weekend drinking binges. I would say that out of my classes of Seniors, at least 60% do serious drinking on the weekends. Why? According to them, it is simply the only way to have fun. And I'll say it again, they have no fear. Two years ago two kids died when they were drinking and driving. These were fairly popular kids. It didn't hardly phase these students.

Do I have an answer? Well, teens will always experiment, so you will never get them to stop drinking. But is there any way to preach some sense of moderation? I don't really know what parents are saying to their kids, but it ain't working. Alcohol was never a really big issue in my house when I was young. On occasion, I drank a little with my family, but never anything huge. My father never said "Don't drink" when I went out, but he told me to call for a ride home at any time, and that I would be responsible for anything that would happen from the drinking. This usually meant anything illegal, anything social (fighting, friends), and making a mistake with a girl while boozed. I never got sloshed in high school, so I never had those problems. I just never understood the fascination.

Part of the problem is that this part of the world is rampant is accepted drug and alcohol behavior. School officials and cops often tell me that the problem will never be solved until we get a District Attorney that actually does some serious prosecution for these offenses. Hell, Norm Vroman (our current idiot DA) can't handle going after truancy kids and parents. Real effective job.

I'll continue to do what I've been doing. Maybe it's effective, maybe not.
1. First I tell the kids that I really do care about them and I don't want to see them make a mistake or get hurt.
2. Then I tell them on their way out to be safe and try to take life in moderation.

What else is there to do? Tell adults that they'll go to hell if they drink? Sure, real effective deterrent.

Any ideas?

Another week upcoming

I'm kinda getting ready to prepare for the Supply and Demand part of Economics, which can be considered some of the more boring parts of the entire subject. I've now worked almost my entire Economics notes onto Power Points, something that will really help in the boredom of notetaking. Still, one thing that people have yet to understand is that (teachers that is) note taking can be interesting and a little entertaining. I use students as examples, keep kids on their toes and try to find real world connections. Sure, you are always going to have the kids that nod off, but they will suffer for it when grade time comes. Sure enough, I have a couple of kids that are going to get absolutely slapped in the face when they realize that their report card has an "F" on it. I make it real clear, the notes are on the test, there is no attempt at fooling you. But some never figure it out.

Yep, this is the grind-it-out stretch that we have to deal with. In about 3 weeks, it will be clear sailing till the end!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Snow!!!!!

Currently, it is snowing in Ukiah!!! We are at 600 feet on the North Coast of California and we have serious snowflakes coming down!

YAY!


Update at 9:00 p.m.:
The snow lasted about 90 minutes, and at times the snowfall was very substantial. No sticking though. Going to be coolllllllllddddd tonight.

Update #2 at 8:55 a.m. on Friday, March 10: It is now snowing like crazy! Big flakes too, and they are sticking. My wife got the call from Willits earlier that told her to stay home since Willits called in a Snow Day. I'm on my prep, so I have no classes. But other teachers have let out students to frolic in the winter wonderland. Actually, I did too after the students all completed a test. Hell, this is another once-in-a-long-while kind of event.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Interesting day

-This was the latest I've ever been to work, with only 20 minutes to spare before my first class. My wife needed copies of All Quiet on the Western Front that I had bought for my old World History classes. Of course, she needed them at about 6:30 this morning. I hated getting to work that late and it threw me out of whack for much of Zero Period. I like the time to prepare and get into "Academic Mode". Plus, I didn't get to listen to Imus, dammit.


-Students are reading my blog. So are parents. Hopefully they both get these points out of this blog:
A: Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Teachers are no exception.
B: Reflection makes better teachers.
C: I Love Teaching.
D: I really care about kids.
E: The Dodgers and the Lakers are teams full of Satan's children!


-The Intro kids were totally engaged in the Power Point Notes regarding other types of investing (other than stocks). Out of all three Intro classes, only about 15% actually had a savings account, and most of them stated that they put money away every month. 80% of that group is made up of girls. I'm not totally surprised since the overall academic level since I started teaching is higher with girls than with boys (Time and Newsweek have already addressed that).

-I have about a dozen babies in various classes now that someone decided to do this project with dolls that look, and act, like babies. They are this rather heavy doll that will giggle, make noises, and cry at various times during the day. When the baby cries, the student must insert a key in its back to make it stop. Then it can go again at any time. Plus, the baby has sensors in it that register how the baby is held, if the head is supported, and if it is held too firmly. This means that students have crying babies in their arms while I'm trying to run a class. Excuse me, let me restate. I have FOUR STUDENTS IN TWO SEPARATE CLASSES that have crying babies. Both 4th and 5th have four students that carry babies, a joy to listen to during discussions. This will last a little over a week. If the point is to make it realistic, then let's make it realistic. How about when a student comes into the class with a baby, I say this:
"I'm sorry, but this is a workplace, not a nursery. However, I can recommend some excellent day care providers for you. You must come to work without the child, or you can perform efficiently."
I know, I sound like a killjoy.
But to you want a baby going off in your classroom, every 5 minutes?

-Question that came up today:
"If drug sniffing dogs are on campus, should the dogs be allowed to sniff around the teacher's parking lot too?"


Can you believe that I heard some teachers say.....no?

Carnival is up!

New Education Carnival is up at Math and Text.

Read the Midway and tell him he did a hell of a job!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A wake up for those that think the world owes them something.

A few months ago I read an article in Newsweek about how parents are becoming very concerned that their children are not going to be guaranteed something that they pretty much had when they got out of college; a good job. Apparently, a college degree is no longer the only thing that employers look at when they hire a college graduate.

A moment of pause here.........I don't know about you, but my parents were always telling me that just a degree won't cut it.

Well, parents are starting to realize that their poor children might have to struggle and fight to make it in the world when they get out of college. More kids are living at home, more kids are going to J.C.'s, and more kids are leaving college with huge student loans.........and then going bankrupt because they can't pay them off. It must be a problem with the system, right? President's economic policy? The greedy corporate structure?

How about a spoiled brat child that makes stupid decisions!

Ahhhh, now that sounds a little more correct.

I found My Money Blog recently (thanks to Plugged In Teacher, check the blog roll) and have found it a quite interesting, not only from an economics stand point, but also a practical sociological stand point. But check out THIS post on college graduates and the sense of entitlement. So many kids leave high school and blow their college money on living too much of a good life too soon. Then they arrive in the real world and expect Mom and Dad to bail them out, you know, sort of like when they were in high school.

Make your choices, but don't complain to me about student loans and assume I don't have any only because my parents paid them all. You know how I paid off my student loans? I lived exactly as I did when I was a student until my loans were all paid off. That meant living with roommates in an apartment barely above code, splitting expenses, eating cheap food ($1 Chinese anyone?), going camping instead of taking cruises, not driving my used car much, and so forth. I figured if it was good enough for me for four years, it should be good enough for another four.


Hell, kids get out of high school and expect the world to give them help!!! I don't know how many times I warn my Seniors that the life begins when they graduate high school, and it can begin very rough if you aren't ready. I constantly try to instill the idea that those that waste the years (like I did, just after high school) end up giving a better opportunity to the other guy going for your job. But all we can do is warn, and often it falls on deaf ears. I have parents that will do anything so their kid can graduate, even if it means clearing the 50% of the time that the student wasn't there.

Yeah, that will really go by well in the workplace.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

One Year Ago

Today is my 1st anniversary as a blogger.

The first post was March 5, 2005.

Here's to many more!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I let my students buy Playboy!

Yea, got your attention now didn't I?

Of course, now I'll have some crazy parent that will read the title and insist that I'm Satan and I'm out to ruin the lives of their 18 year old son, who is probably doing things a hell of a lot worse than reading Playboy.

Anyhow, most of you know right now that I teach Government/Economics to Seniors in high school. This presents an interesting dilemma when it comes to subject matter and controversial, or possibly inappropriate, material. In government, we have to talk about plenty of controversial issue, whether it is abortion, homosexual marriage, drug policy, freedom of expression, right to privacy, etc...

In Economics, it becomes a little tougher to deal with what might be called "inappropriate", mainly because the kids realize that they are 18, and therefore think that society should start treating them as adults (regardless how they act). Kids openly talk about smokeless tobacco, 40's, Bacardi, and in this county, marijuana, without any fear of repercussion. Teachers do the best they can to keep the topic out of the classroom, but do you really kick an 18 year old student out for talking about getting drunk on the weekend? Don't blame the administration, because I'm the one who has the power to toss a student. But seriously, if I removed every student who mentioned those things, I would have about 6 kids left in my classroom, maybe!

This gets us to the Stock Market Simulation and Playboy. The students are given $10,000 to invest in the market. After going over all the numbers that I want them to research (PE, Debt, Revenue, etc) I let them go research. The first question that comes up is almost always, "Mr. Silva-Brown, can I invest in Playboy?" Then I get the same question for Trojan condoms, Budweiser, JD, and a myriad of other things that might make parents irritated. My answer is the same always; is it a company that issues stock? Then of course you can buy shares in Playboy.

Now bear with me in the reasoning. First off, we are trying to make these kids think like adults, right? I understand that the content of Playboy is not appropriate for the classroom, but we aren't dealing with the content. We are dealing with a public company that is actively trading stock on the NYSE. Therefore, I try and get the students to look at the company in terms of the profitability that could be made in the investment. So, when a student asked about investing in Playboy, I told him to pull up the Yahoo Finance page for Playboy and tell me about the factors involved in purchasing stock. Here they are:

PLA
Market Price- 13.80
No PE Ratio and no dividend
Very erratic price over the last 5 years
No stock splits since 1990
115 million debt (which isn't much)

Then we discuss what Playboy provides. Yes, it could be a little awkward, but once you get past it, the student starts looking at the business end of the company. So Playboy takes pictures of naked ladies. Ok, now what is the industry? Playboy is a magazine. Does Playboy have a lot of competition? Yes, there are plenty of other sources of pornography, plus the Internet and magazines like FHM and Stuff. Believe it or not, 9 times out of 10, the student is very serious when looking at the company. Also, 9 times out of 10, the student will not buy stock in Playboy because they see a bad investment. Of course, you will get the smart ass asking, "Can I do some in-depth research on their website?", but this is usually followed by the goofy smile of a student that knows he can't.

At the end of the stock market simulation, students do a presentation about the stocks they purchased. Even those that purchase controversial products do a good job in viewing the product in a corporate light. I've had a few small run-ins in the past with parents asking if I feel like I'm promoting those products. I tell them that I don't, I'm giving students the opportunity to become good investors in publicly held companies, not promoting the use of the product. I hope that all Economics teachers take this into account when dealing with people that are about to enter the real world.

The Week in Review

I've been grading papers almost the entire day and I'm now ready for a little relaxation. So, I'm here to read a couple of blogs, chug down my Fat Tire beer, and do a little writing.

-Two weeks ago the weather was 75 degrees and sunshine. This week, near freezing temperatures and snow on all the local mountain tops. Just for clarification, that doesn't happen much. My wife had to drive up Hwy. 101 to Willits carefull most of the week, and arrived Friday to 2 inches of snow on the ground. Not that lucky in Ukiah, where it just rained and was very cold.

-Ukiah's Varsity boys basketball team played in the first round of the Division 2 section play-offs and lost at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma. The simple fact that they got to the play-offs was excellent, the fact that the game was a thriller to the end made it all the more enjoyable. I didn't get along very well with some of the seniors on this team, but damn I'm proud of how mentally tough they became at the end of the season.

-My Intro kids are now doing Stock Market research in groups. I've ran into interesting problems with this group, mainly on what kind of companies might be unacceptable for them to buy stock from. I'll dedicate a full post to this later.

-We had a "State of the School" sort of presentation before the faculty council on Friday. Some issues as of late have been totally overblown by the local newspaper and some of the teachers felt like they were being left in the dark about what was happening in the school. I came out of the meeting feeling no different than I did when I went in. I'm of the opinion that for a school of 2000 students, we are very fortunate to not have very many problems. Unfortunately, the idiot local newspaper enjoys finding controversy in everything the school district does, and paints the high school as a target.

-I'm officially anti-Albertsons. While in the store last night, I had an experience with the self check-out that left me with plenty of vile poison towards the sub-par grocery establishment. I was having a major problem with getting the whole system to work because my wife had removed one of the bags and started walking to the car. Because I removed one of the bags, the system was telling me "Please replace the bag to the bagging area", and not letting me pay. I'm standing there with $20 in my hand, and the self check-out supervisor is just standing, looking at me with some stupid, bored look on his face. In need of serious assistance I stated, "You see that I need some help here!". He shrugged his shoulders and told me to wait, taking his sweet ass time to get the system going. Angry and embarrassed because of the line behind me, I vowed never to set foot in that fucking store again.

-"Gandhi is from India? I thought he was that little green, stretchy guy."
"No, that's Gumby."
"Oh. Well, same difference."

You can't make it up.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spoilers Ahead!

I'm pro-television.

I'm not one of those wacky people that say "Turn off the T.V.!", I'm one of those people that watches the shows and discusses the goings-on with students. Seriously, everything in moderation, even television. But right now, television is back to being really damn good. Out of all the shows I watch, the slowest is Gilmore Girls, which has started to become a tad bit predictable. After Paris went on her Marxist rant earlier this season, the show just hasn't been as creative as it could be. However, Gilmore Girls is still good television.

It's just that these are better:



If you haven't picked up Battlestar Galactica yet, then you have simply missed the best television show on the air! The previews and the buzz around the two-part season finale are excellent! Tomorrow night is part one, following by an extended part two next week! It looks like seriously dramatic television with a new, habitable planet being found, and Number Six looking for serious consequences from events in the last episode. Listen, go rent Season One, then rent the first half of Season Two, and by the time you are done, the second part of Season Two will be ready. What the hell are you waiting for?????



Ok, Lost is much more conspiracy style "X-Files" than we first thought, that much has now been established. The question is whether it is a government thing, a corporate thing, or maybe even a 'time' thing. The episode this week made some things much clearer in terms of the storyline, which had to be done because you can't go on just leaving everything unanswered (see Twin Peaks and X-Files). Still, there are a lot of questions out there, and thankfully, most of them surround the stranded passengers.



I always look forward to the "Teams must now........" every Tuesday evening. After a disastrous "Family Edition" of The Amazing Race, its back to the original style, with 11 teams of two people trying to race around the world for a $1 million prize. The good chemistry is also back. A pair of 50-something women who act like spoiled little brats are only the top of the list, joined by a pair typical Bay Area 'Bezerkleyites', a couple of drop out frat boys, the Sweet Valley High twins, and a boyfriend/girlfriend couple that has to be right out of Revenge of the Nerds. Some might call the show a guilty pleasure. Well, call me guilty.



One of the greatest mistakes that has ever been made in television was the inability of Rob Lowe and NBC to come to an agreement over the West Wing. When Sam Seaborn exited for Orange County, the show took a big step back. Well, guess who will return for the last two episodes of the series! That's right!

Rob Lowe (and many of the old crew) will return to the show in the last days of one of the best shows on television. Honestly, the show was very good this season, almost good enough to save. But if NBC wants to do some serious justice, create the Sam Seaborn spin-off regarding his campaign, election to, and working in, Congress. It seems only fitting.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up that remote!

Abuse of Power

As a Government/Economics teacher, I take great pride in doing my best to be as non-partisan as possible about what I teach. I give both sides of an argument and let the students make informed decisions. In my mind, I have plenty of forums to discuss my political views. This blog is one of them. I also talk politics with my colleagues, all of which are college educated and informed about the events of the world. However, my classroom is not my soapbox.
Colorado teacher Jay Bennish seems to have other plans for his Social Science classes. Apparently this guy has been going Amy Goodman on his classes, as reported by the Denver Post:

In the 20-minute recording, made on an MP3 player, teacher Jay Bennish described capitalism as a system "at odds with human rights." He also said there were "eerie similarities" between what Bush said during his Jan. 28 State of the Union address and "things that Adolf Hitler used to say."

The United States was "probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth," Bennish also said on the tape.


The recording was created by a student who felt that Bennish was going over the line.

Ya think? You can listen to the 20 minute lecture at KOA 850's website, if you can stomach the fact that he is making this speech to teenagers. Notice the end, where he has the balls to say that he isn't really giving an opinion, just a different view of events.

Even if we were to ignore the fact that he abused his position as an educator to throw his politics in people's faces, he should be fired by his department for not know what the hell he is talking about. Here's a short list for those that can't stand to listen to the snivelling little weasel:

"Capitalism is a system that is at odds with humanity, caring and compassion."
-Except that capitalism has provided more opportunity and democratic freedoms than any other system in human history. People that are not seeking wants and needs don't get violent, hence the idea that free trade is a deterrent to war. Does that mean that everyone's wants and needs are satisfied in capitalism? Of course not. The system is far from perfect, but it is the best their is at current.

"In our economic system, profit is the main motive."
-Wrong, self-interest is the main motive, and yes, their is a difference. Remember, nobody is demanding that you buy anything. You make the voluntary exchange to acquire the goods and services you want, to meet your self-interest. All the other person is doing is meeting your need at a price that you agree on. Want to pay less for gas? Stop buying it. Don't think that you will make a difference? You're right, because most people are still willing to accept the benefit of the current gas prices. Profit makes people start a business, but your demand is what drives the system.

"The United States is the single most violent country in the world."
-Please. Explain that to all those that flee real oppression to emigrate to the U.S.

"Bush said in his speech that America was blessed by God to dominate the world."
-I'm guessing that he was talking about the State of the Union, and I don't remember anything like this. In fact, U.S. presidents have been very gracious in making sure they mention important allies and world powers in speeches to appease global interests.

"Sounds like something Adolf Hitler would say, our way is right and everyone else is backwards".
-No, actually Hitler would say "Let's create a plan that will exterminate the Muslims of the world. Let's begin by killing all American-Muslims." Then he would arrest Bennish and put a gun to his head, killing him dead. Hmmmmmm, doesn't look like the U.S. government is anything like Nazi Germany to me. What an idiot. And he's saying this to kids.

"I think America and Mexico will go to war again."
-You think so? I think the U.S. and Canada personally. Coors has never been the same since Molson bought them out, and damn I'm bitter. Besides the obvious military consequences of that dumb ass statement, the economic analogy of a Mexican invasion of the U.S. is basically every Mexican putting a gun in their own mouths. It's like saying the U.S. should invade China. Uh, sure. And what part of "global economy" don't you understand?

There's plenty more about Cuba, the CIA, ancient Israel, and a whole lot regarding the horrors of the Bush administration.

I think that you get the point. This idiotic has already developed his political paradigm on the world. His job is to help the kids develop theirs, not to push an agenda.

Carnival Time

The Education Carnival is up at Education Wonks!