A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Reality Check

In my inbox, I found this message:

Daniel, America's cancer...

Why don't you show this to your principal? Why are these facts not taught, especially to special ed kids and their families who are often see themselves most victimized by the economic system? Obviously, an attractive "solution" should also be taught so that they can learn and promote positive systemic solutions to cure the cancer. Dad --

Norman G. Kurland, J.D. President
Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ) P.O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016
(O) 703-243-5155, (F) 703-243-5935
(E) thirdway@cesj.org (Web) http://www.cesj.org
"Own or be owned."
I spent a few days of my Spring Break pruning my holly bushes, which had pushed against the eaves and over the house. Some critter had gotten into our soffit. The pest control person recommended to my wife that we cut the holly "to the nub." The cuttings filled up the back of my pickup truck to about 3 feet over the roof when all was done.

Another of my priorities was to do my taxes and review my finances -- I have been agonizing over the debt I owe, including credit cards, a student loan, car loan, etc. Truly, I was agonizing, rather than getting down to the business of listing everything I owe, and looking at refinancing options. Because of the way I jumped into my midlife adventure, I had spooked my wife, and she had therefore resisted allowing me to use the equity in our home to help me finance my career change. As a result, for years I have been playing a dangerous financial shell game.

In putting everything down on paper, I was able to sell my self first, then my wife Karen on the idea of using the substantial equity in our home to allow me to me to pay off all my debts over a 20 year period, I should have run the numbers a long time ago, because had I done so I would have avoided a great deal of worry. I always have known, that if I drop dead, which is a valid concern my wife expressed after I presented my plan tonight , my life insurance policy should cover the debts. "Pay yourself first" is an old adage, which is what I essentially did in taking care of my honey do list and finances first, rather than doing any of my work for school.

I have an IEP at 8am tomorrow morning, which I have not written. I need some sleep. Will get up early and bang it out. It will be a tough one since the student was found to have a low IQ (71), assuming the test was valid, which is not necessarily always the case, and qualifies for services because of an Emotional Disability. Since the child turns in so little work in math completed independently, it has been difficult to get an accurate picture of what he is capable of doing. Truly, I don't trust the IQ score, and feel like a lot of others that my little friend can do more than what he has been doing.

I am about to enter both a marathon and a sprint, which is how it will be until the state testing is over. Based on what I am seeing, I have reason to be concerned that I am depending on such a difficult, and low performing group for my professional survival. I don't want to stick my wife with a mountain of debt! I understand the pressure that the Atlanta teachers were under to show rising tests scores, but all I can be is real. I am going to do everything I can and place my trust in Dr. P, my colleagues, my students, my parents, and myself. Two of my closest co-workers, Mr. McDuff, and Mr. Lee, are always commenting that, instead of always trying to save the world, I need to save myself. Truly, my co-workers have no idea!

I might show this video to my students, but I was hoping to find something a little lighter, more humorous, like the stuck on the escalator video I showed them after attending the Rick Wormeli conference. which Dr. P invited me to attend. That was both an honor, and a surprise, because I had not considered myself to be a leader. Bottom line: grades need to be based on student demonstrations of proficiency with standards, not on mathematical averages. Wormeli advocates "disagreggation" of grades. Report cards should reflect achievement or non-achievement of benchmark standards. It turns out, many of my practices, which Mr. Lee had been uncomfortable with, such as my unlimited retake policy, was aligned with what Wormeli suggests is "best practice."

Many of my students are failing. They came to me failing. Some are making it. Some are not. We can all do more, work a little smarter. My friend Sue has retired from teaching and is now a major contributor to the BATs (Baddass Teachers). Sue has made it her mission to expose Pearson's monopoly over educational testing, and to expose the damage that is being done to the teaching profession, to the Liberal Arts curriculum, and to students by a misguided overemphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). It's hard not to keep my head in the sand, and ignore what my dad is saying, what Sue is saying, and what Wormeli is saying, considering how much time and effort it takes to work with individual students, one-at-a-time. However, the fact is, major stuff is happening, and all I have been doing is haiku ...

Accotink creek flows
as if quart-tipped feathers fly,
not mountain-bikers.

My best stories and character sketches end up in IEP's ... Got to sleep. Got to get up. Got to do the IEP.