BigDork

BigDork's Random Thread of Randomness

2,690 posts in this topic

Not sure if it will help you in your decision Lancer, but I saw this quote about Mad Max:

 

'Makes Fast and Furious 7 look like Downton Abbey'

 

I'm not expecting too much of a cerebral workout, but it sounds like it could be a blast!

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Ya, not much of a brain movie at all.

 

But, look at the cars / trucks / cycles. The art that went into these machines is amazing. There really is a ton of details on them. Here in the US at least, there are a ton of car construction shows on all the time. Even if you are just remotely interested, like I am, you pick up an eye for the details - and these vehicles have A LOT. Also, the costumes and makeup are really amazing. Some of the gimmicks in the movie, like the flaming electric guitar taking place of the trumpeter in the cavalry... just off enough to make you laugh, but also seriously cool.

 

Lots of other details, such as the guns, vision enhancement (not just binoculars) and so forth.

 

Seriously good staging & props.

 

The acting is also well done. Not great, but eh, Mad Max after all.

 

Just don't expect much of a story.

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I might watch it someday, if something better isn't on. Like for instance, Bassmaster. Now that guy can Fish!

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With the Mad Max franchise, I'm still trying to figure out how the petroleum refining industry and distribution chain remained intact when the rest of civilization collapsed.

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I'm so jealous! Enjoy the trip Dar!

 

Which lake do you go to?

 

Its Higley Flow State Park, and its on the Raquette river.

 

Here's a pic of my dog chillin' in the breeze:

Stella.jpg

 

I do a lot of hiking when I camp. This time I followed a stream thru the woods and down to where it emptied into Stump Bay:

Cedar creek outlet.jpg

 

I also tried to go upstream to find out where the stream began (I'm pretty sure its spring-fed), however after hiking about ten minutes thru a humid mosquito infested bog I encountered some pretty nasty obstacles:

hike interupted.jpg

 

I decided at that point to give up the hike and try again after bug season.

 

I thought I'd gotten a nice tan after all that hiking, but it was just the grime from slogging thru the underbrush:

tanline.jpg

 

Almost got to enjoy a picture perfect sunset:

georgeous sunset in the making 2.jpg

 

Unfortunately a cloudburst came thru right after this, and it remained overcast the rest of the evening.

 

Here's a pic of my campsite from across the Higley Flow:

E93 from rope swing.jpg

 

All in all a pretty good start to camping season! :b:

 

D

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Yep... super jealous.

 

For years when I was a kid and teen we'd go to Lake Harris and the state camp ground there. I really miss those trips. The Adirondacks are such an awesome place.

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So, at the end of last school year, I changed jobs. Went to a new school. My contract at that time wasn't renewed, along with about 10 other folks. Surprised most of us at that time. We had out waited the old principal until he was fired, and most of us poured our hearts and souls into the place even without support from Admin. Being let go through contract renewal just sucked.

 

I still had a lot of friends at the old school, though, and kept in touch.

 

Today, with about 2 weeks of school left, the teachers at my old school got notices about contract renewals for next year. Of the 38 teachers, 25+ were not renewed.

 

I am just so thankful that I didn't have to go through that year of hell.

 

And that old school... if they didn't shoot themselves in the foot last year when they let me go, they sure as hell shot themselves this year. Some of their best teachers are gone.

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politics more likely.

 

Won't make the news, but there is only 1 white person left employed there. Everybody else is black. Of the 25 not hired back, 23 were white, 2 black.

 

It isn't a racism thing, though, like it might sound. It is a cultural thing. The people who are left were all in a frat / sorority together (from what I hear). Different schools, but that shared culture. It is fairly common in urban settings I am finding. The decision maker is the new principal this year, not the superintendent, which is how this came about.

 

So, the average income for a student at this school would put most of them in upper low to lower mid income. The kids get braces if they need them, but it really hurts the family money to do so. College is contingent upon scholarships or lots of student loans. But, very few of the kids wonder where their next meal will be from - if they even will get one. Yet, the gov't mandated testing is bad. Like, real bad. Like average ACT score of 17 or so (21 is generally considered minimum for college ready). So, blame must be assigned for all the poor performance - and it can never be the students fault, or their parents. Thus, it is either admins (which is why the principal last year was fired) or the teachers (which is why they are redoing most of them this year).

 

Funny thing is, though, that lots of studies have show that 10-20% of what a kid does in school (academic wise) is based off their teachers, 10-20% off admin (and their policies - like dress code, etc.) and the remaining 60-80% is parents, and how parents support the kids.

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Given all of that, GK, how do you suppose that achievement could be improved for those kids? Your area seems to have a more acute version of this problem, but the story you tell could be told in nearly any public school system in the country in one form or another.

 

If the parents are the primary impact on their child's performance (and we see that where I worked as a teacher through the extremely persistent "achievement gap"), how do you help those kids overcome that - from a system-wide perspective?

 

(I ask, because, franky, I'm getting more involved in education policy locally via politics and this is an ever-present question that bothers me greatly... mostly because I don't know a good answer to it. I just know, absolutely and for certain, that the current system is failing these kids - even in a school system with utterly obscene amounts of money to throw around)

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Public charter. Run as like a private, but only state provided monies used (cannot charge tuition). There are also a lot of rules for things like how you can kick a kid out of school that are the same as public.

 

Arn, you asked for it. Book coming shortly.

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There are so many fingers in the pot that it is a sticky issue. The first thing you need to do is really define what the purpose of school is. Nobody will ever 100% agree, but the top contenders are typically as follows:

 

• Babysitting. My experience is that the really really poor, and the really really wealthy, have this idea in common. These are people that have so much going on in their lives; whether the struggle to survive or to amass more money/power; that they really don’t have time for their kids’ lives. That certainly doesn’t imply that they don’t care – they very definitely do – they just cannot spend the time; thus they expect the schools to do so.

 

• Make kids a better citizen. This was the original idea of school, at least here in the US. Being a better citizen means not just being patriotic, but being a better human being. Reading, writing, arithmetic, problem solving, etc. are all skills that also work with helping to give people a moral compass as to what is right and wrong; standing up for ones beliefs; making choices about proper conduct and behavior; having principles and doing ones best to live up to them. I personally fall into this school, so understand where I am biased.

 

• Educate kids. This is the traditional teach them to read, write, etc. that most of us associate with school. This really evolved from the better citizen part back around WW2 time, because folks a) were in major transitions due to the great depression b) don’t like being preached to outside of church (and often even within church for that matter) and c) government demands for greater and greater accountability on behalf of schools – meaning that those areas that can have metrics assigned to them became higher priorities over those without easy or good metrics. There are many major events that pushed education more and more into this frame; the most commonly referenced is the “no child left behind” set of laws. If you ask ‘random’ someone what is the purpose of school, this is the answer you are most likely to get.

 

• Socialize kids. This idea has a variety of meanings; depending on where the school is located, to the teachers, admin, students, parents and community around it. Urban schools are very different than suburban, which both are very different than rural. Economic factors are also major issues. A poor neighborhood often is looking to have kids meet other kids so that they can find peers and learn to socialize and find future spouses, where an affluent area might be looking more for meeting people that will be able to ‘exchange favors’ in the future. Yes, I am the first to admit that I am oversimplifying this idea; but you should be able to get the idea though just thinking about all your social connections and how they work. It also includes the idea that people have to learn to interact with other people, and the best way to do that is to toss them into a group of other people that are also working on the same skill set and hope that they as a group (with some school guidance) can get them there. The ideas behind how I categorize this subset of reasons for school are why you will, in those dark, back rooms without cameras, social media and radical idealists that would vote again for prohibition; you may hear a teacher make a half joke about why there should be laws permitting people to become parents. Most people expect families to teach their kids about proper behavior; and woe befall the teacher who dares tell a parent that they are failing as a parent in their parental duties; but the majority of parents (based off all the kids I have seen over the past 4+ years) don’t do this and leave it for the schools to do. There are benefits that a school has over a family/neighborhood for doing this – a large population of peers for students to interact with is the obvious one; but it takes a lot of time and effort away from other matters – and there is really no major funding other than sports & band (which are often early victims of budget cuts).

 

• To get into a better life. In many cases, parents in particular don’t care if their kids are good or bad (as long as they don’t get into trouble that is) or if they learn anything (see the number of law students who cannot read or do basic arithmetic without taking off their socks to count above 10). What they care about is the high school degree; the scholarship money (more so for poor families who might see the end of the road if they don’t get any, but everybody like free money no matter what economic level they are at); the ACT / SAT scores; honors GPA and the collage acceptance letters. For example, President Obama would not likely be president now if he didn’t make his connections at his private k-12 Hawaii school (forget its name), Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Universities. Sure, he learned to read, write and do some basic math along the way, but he was there to socialize first and foremost. And, it led to him having a better life than his parents had, who had better lives than their parents, and hopefully his daughters will have better lives than he is having. As a teachers, I see a lot of parents in this category – they care less if little Suzy can read, just want her to get that good grade / test score / etc. so she can move onto the next level. And, let’s be honest, the numbers just don’t lie. The higher your education, the more money you make (on average) and the better your life. Who doesn’t want their kids to have a better life than they did?

 

Schools today to all of these things, along with more. How you prioritize them is usually dictated by the most common denominator – money. Don’t be shocked and appalled if you base a schools funding directly off test scores (such as the SAT) and then have scandals involving it (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Public_Schools_cheating_scandal ).

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Next, let me give you three pitfalls that are great distractors, and that really do impact how schools work, but are things that you really cannot even begin to touch.

 

• Attitude about being in School. Let’s face it, when you are a kid you don’t want to go to school except to hang out with your friends. School is WORK, and who wants to work? When you are going through all those other things at the same time like discovering that girls really don’t have cooties… well you get the problem. Just like every generation thinks that it is the first to discover things like sex, being a rebel, and so on; it all happens in the school environment because that is where people aged 12-23 are at!

 

• Generational differences. You cannot really change what is going on around the generations in the world around them (well, you can, but you cannot hold it static is what I mean). Back when I was born, the space race was winding down, along with Vietnam. One of my earliest memories was of watching TV where a helicopter was landing on an aircraft carrier with lots of guys walking around with rifles wearing funny green cloths. I grew up with the idea that people had just made it to the moon, and I lived with great expectation about how our new spaceship – the shuttle – was going to be wonderful and amazing – and the great disappointments that it had when it never panned out. Freshman in high school today were born in 2000 and 2001. The idea of 19 something is just odd to them – ancient history. They were born in a society that everybody has computers, and if you didn’t have a cell phone when you were in the 2nd grade, there must be something seriously wrong with you and/or your family. Space is old news. Nothing exciting about it, it is little more than government pork. Learning to spell is silly, because the computer will fix it for you (if you remember to turn it on that is). Attention spans are shorter – because there is more going on! Your grandparents complained about your parents, who complained about you, and so forth. The industrial revolution in action. The military is just a career path not to protect us, but to provide a job opportunity for lower achieving (academically, not intelligently, because everybody is the same intelligence, just better at somethings than others) individuals who can work hard, and then have society pay for all their needs for the rest of their life (college tuition, free medical from VA, etc.). A good generational issue is that 30 years ago, cell phones didn’t really commonly exist among teenagers. 15 years ago, they were common enough to not draw too much attention, but they were used to call people and thus were a new issue, but not a major one in schools. Today, cell phones are very rarely used to call people. They are used first and foremost for texting each other – Snapchat is HUGE. Secondly for taking selfies – hard to find a school bathroom, particularly the ladies rooms, where there are no signs that say “do you really want to take a selfie next to a toilet?” Third for playing games. Trivia Crack anybody? Forth for taking video – there is always a time when someone isn’t at their best – and kids love taking video of it!

 

• Mental health concerns. More and more kids are coming into schools that cannot handle the increased variety of things going on around them, and are having troubles because of it. ADHD, Ritalin, Social Anxiety and a host of other issues are more and more common today than they were in the past. Some of this is because we as a society choose to classify and label these issues (where in the past we didn’t have as clear an understanding of the issues as we do today) but some is because there just is more and more going on in the world around us that people have access to. There are large numbers of very smart people working in these fields today. Developmental psychology is to a large extent the basis of most education programs (although, surprisingly, very little of developmental psych ideas are passed directly onto the future teachers – more just the practical aspects of it). As society continues to provide more choices (I don’t like the phrase “speed up”, because I don’t think it is very accurate) and opportunities, expect more and more issues as people (and kids are people even if at times that is questionable) adapt and learn to cope.

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Reading with interest - thanks and, indeed, keep going.

 

A few thoughts off of the top of my head, having briefly been a high school physics teacher about a decade ago now:

 

* "To get a better life" I can certainly concur with as a driving motivator for an incredibly large number of parents, especially in the highly affluent school system where I worked (and am now engaged in politics). Many of the parents here are either federal bureaucrats, private contractors that work on government contracts, attorneys who work for or sue the government, etc. The poorer parents are the ones who work in the service and maintenance parts of government or contracting (everything from customer service to janitorial work to retail work in the community). It's INSANELY expensive for ALL of them to live here, though... most home values are in the $400k-$1.5m range (single families median is around $600k-$700k, whereas townhome/condo median is around $350k-$400k). If you're poorer and are making the sacrifice to live here, there's typically a damn good reason for it - and the "very high quality schools" is one of the drivers. These parents, regardless of socio-economic status, I've found are often vastly more focused on grades and measures of achievement than on actual achievement.

 

* The mental health issues are also rather noticeable, though I'd imagine that's only gotten worse in the decade since I was regularly in a classroom. I couldn't possibly untangle how much of that growth is from increases in diagnosis/recognition or from actual increases in problems (for all the reasons you state), but it certainly seemed greater when I was teaching in 2003-2007 than when I attended a school in the same system in the 1980s-1998. As for why the problems are increasing, I have to wonder at potential causes for that from a societal perspective. I think you might be on to something with the rapidly accelerating bombardment of information, choices, etc. But I also wonder if ultimately a good deal of it could be attributable to family issues - single parent households and divorce, in particular.

 

My own perspective, though, is that from a practical standpoint, I don't think we're in a position to do a whole lot about the root causes of a number of these problems - we're stuck with them (whether technological innovation or family problems). Which leaves us asking how we can help these kids overcome them - assuming that is possible. That's where I'm unfortunately finding few answers.

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OK, now, let’s look at the problems facing education. Do a google search for just that and you will come up with LOTS of them; most vary based off the perspective of what you think schools are for. Thus, the first part of my writing saying that you really need to define what the goal is. You will also get a lot of political based articles saying “we have X, Y & Z as problems in schools” but that don’t actually define the problem, just repeat the title that the author has seen before and that they hope will trigger the sound bites they and their agenda wants.

 

• Teachers (my favorite, as I am one)! I am paid for 30 hours a week. I typically work 45-55 hours a week. I also spend about $3,000 a year out of my own pocket to make stuff happen – which is close to 8% of my salary. I have been a teacher going onto 4 years now. I came into teaching on a rather off normal track, working close to 20 years as an engineer and project manager before doing a career change, and one that was on an accelerated and non-typical track. Thus, take what I feel (and this is my observations, not any sort of scientific study) with appropriate caution.

 

o Teacher Prep (getting that education degree). I feel that teacher prep is solid on making sure that teachers are good (not great, else they would be doing it instead of teaching about it) on their subjects. English teachers are good at reading and writing. Math teachers are good at math, both theoretical as well as practical. Social studies teachers are good at history. Science teachers are good in their subjects. I am a good earth science teacher. If I was great, I would get a job measuring volcanoes or reporting the weather, not teaching kids the basics of those topics. Well, maybe I would, who knows. I am also a really good engineer (not great – I know too many great engineers to classify myself as one) and a good project manager. What teachers are OK at, and are not given a lot of info and practical advice on, is things like classroom management, cross curricular subjects, and ‘normal’ child development ideas. We get some, but these topics are so large that I don’t know any teacher that feels like they were given enough. What teachers are bad at, and what they have almost no training for, are things like office politics, how to deal with parents, what to do in emergency situations such as students fighting each other (or the teachers) and even basics such as what are the rules, laws and regulations involved in the field that they are going into? How does a school actually work? Who make what decisions, under what circumstances? Teachers love their subject matter – thus that is what they teach, right – but often have no idea about any of these other issues. You can only fit so much into a 4 year degree after all, and have to expect people to learn to learn outside of the classroom. But, that doesn’t happen. It did for me when I got my engineering degree, as I was required to mentor under a licensed professional before I had the chance to get my own license, and at a pay that was livable upon, and with time commitments that were reasonable.

 

o Teacher compensation. Even non teachers know what a joke it is to be paid as much as a teacher is. A good thing so many people go into the profession despite (or in spite) of it. What is interesting about the money is that compared to the time spent, it really is quite horrible. I have a 10th grader this year that his job is he rides around 2-3 nights a week in a pickup truck with his uncle picking up scrap metal. He gets paid in cash. He also takes home about 10-20% more each month than I do after I pay all my taxes (and yes, social security is a tax – it is money to the government that I have no choice but to pay). This kid works about 12 hours a week. I work close to 50. Teachers are expected to get higher education degrees as well. A teacher that isn’t working towards a master’s degree or a PhD if they already have the masters, or who isn’t working towards some sort of special certification or license… well, they must not be interested in their profession and making themselves better educators. All of these things require time and money. And, before you get into “well, you get summers off” think again. Where and when do you think all that extra education and stuff come in? Heck, most states even have a continuing ed requirement on their licensing – imagine if your state required you to take and pass a driver’s ed class every year where you had to spend 60+ hours just to keep your driver’s license? There are other issues relating to compensation, such as vacation days (and the substitute teachers associated with them), retirement plans (pensions are out for obvious reasons) and annual contracts that remove most notions of job security even if the school is unionized… well, there is a lot going on here and let’s just leave it at that.

 

o Teacher retention. About 50% of teachers quit the profession within 4 years. Yep, you just spent 4 years getting your degree. Lots of extra time and effort to get licensed, and in less than the amount of time you spent getting it, you quit. Well, at least 50% of us do. Crazy, isn’t it? Now, let’s merge that number with the number of retiring teachers each year. There are about 3 million teachers in the US. About 20% of them, or half a million, quit or retire each and every year. Over $2 billion are spent each year on recruiting and making new teachers each year. Universities rejoice – as all those teachers that got their PhD’s now have a readymade racket to exploit – making new teachers. Most of the studies I have seen are not really scientifically done (or, at least, done well), but that doesn’t stop politicians/lobbyists from using them and publishing them to promote their own agenda. Surprisingly, though, the results show that the #1 reason isn’t teacher compensation for the quitters (retirees I think we can all understand), even if that is a very close #2. Nope, number one is usually teacher support from peers and administrators. There is a current movement to address this issue, but it isn’t that great because there is a large economic incentive (i.e. Universities and their Teacher Education departments) to not mess with the way things are. Ya, a bit cynical on my part, I admit, but a trend that to me at least appears rather obvious I am afraid. The people being asked to fix the problems are the experts, who are the PhD’s who work for Universities, are also the ones that benefit from the problems…. Good luck, we’ll need it!

 

o Time commitments. As a teacher, you spend 7-8 hours in the building “with kids”. That means teaching, watching the lunch room, being the hall monitor, etc. That means that all the Professional Development that is required is done on breaks. All the everyday tasks such as grading assignments, providing student feedback and creating lesion plans is done on your time. Also, to really help build the bonds you need with your students, you need to do things like chaperone dances, go to sporting events, sponsor a club, attend school plays, etc.

 

o Mixed Expectations and Respect. Everybody is an expert on education. After all, almost everybody gets their high school diploma, meaning they spend 13 years (K-12) in school being an expert. You will often come across people that say “your job is so hard” than tell you a story about them or their kids that basically says “teachers are incompetent”. You also have to wear a lot of hats as a teacher: educator, coach, career advisor, parent, friend, etc. It gets exhausting, but rewarding, all at the same time.

 

o Emotional Commitment. As I heard one person say, “Teaching isn’t a desk job. You put yourself out there. You mix with your students each and every day. You spend your emotions on students like a farmer spends fertilizer and water on their crops.” It’s true. Your life will revolve around your students. Students develop a sense of ownership over their teachers just as much as teachers develop a sense of ownership over “their kids”. Student will be shocked and surprised to see you outside the classroom acting as a normal human. Parents come up to me all the time at places like grocery stores. Yet, the students haven’t usually developed the ability to really recognize the bonds – and treat you like crap. Part of normal human development, as they turn from children into adults – but it hurts all the same. Many a night I have woken up stressed out about this or that. I go through more emotional ups and downs in a year of teaching than I did in the past 3 years trying to adopt my daughter.

 

o Teaching resources. Google has done wonders in making resources available to teachers – but also to students who will spend 5 hours trying to cheat their way out of an assignment rather than 15 minutes actually doing it. But, think about this – pretend you have to go out, kill the cow, slaughter it, grind up the meat, make patties, and then cook them and serve them to your hamburger customers. That is really what a teacher is asked to do with all the assignments. Also, they are asked to make sure that the burgers are specifically tailored to be interesting each and every day, done to each student’s specific dietary needs and tastes, and you are now starting to get the idea. Add in the fact that your hamburger shop may or may not have enough tables and chairs, silverware, napkins, or catsup, let alone the hamburger buns, cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and spices to put on the meet as it cooks…. Now you are getting real close. Oh, did I mention that you had to breed the cow, raise it, feed it, and take care of it until it is time to slaughter? And clean up all the mess once it is over and do this same thing 6+ times a day, often for some kids 2-3 times and in such a way that it is new and interesting to them each and every time? Now you have a good sense of what a teacher has to do with lesson plans and activities that include each student’s needs and desires. The newer you are as a teacher, the harder it is also, as you haven’t had experience yet with what does and doesn’t work, where to find things, and how to get things done. Google can help you find things, but there are often so many things, none of which are 100% what you are looking for so that you have to find one that is close than modify it to meet your needs… all on your own time.

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Enough about teachers. Let’s spend some time on other problems with schools and education:

 

• Education Standards. Most states use a set of standards called the Common Core. They are a set of standards that are hard for students to master. There are a lot of pro’s and con’s out there about these standards. Pros: Common national continuity, high expectations, room to tailor towards specific state’s needs, evidence based practices, essential skill sets & skill based, and big picture oriented. Cons: College geared, uses averages instead of offering opportunities for high achievement, forced by the government (states required to adopt standards or get no money), cannot be tailored for all the diverse populations, and is tailored by and for those who have funding and are already ahead of the learning curve. These are the highlights as I understand them at least. Science is special, as they are in the process of being adopted now in Michigan, but without any funding to cover any specific changes needed at the school and district levels. Math and English were done a while ago, and social studies is in the process of being written now. Many charter and private schools also choose to ignore these standards (it is one of the major reasons these types of schools exist) and to create their own set of standards.

 

• Technology. It is great, but it is also the most common distraction in the classroom. You can interact with kids like never before. Back when I was in HS, we occasionally had a movie. It was on 8mm film, and you had to set it up, and do all sorts of things with the projector. Then, along came VHS & DVD after I was out of school, along with streaming video. Now that I am back in, DVD is old, but good. Streaming is where most things come from, and it needs good solid internet. These clips can help students visualize, which leads to engagement, which leads to learning. But they can also be pitfalls because the goals of the producers are not often the same as the goals of the learning you want to have happen. Also, there is so much tech out there that it causes issues. Cell phones are the number one problem. Parents call their kids all the time – they basically demand 24/7 access to their kids. But, when they call in the middle of a lesion, they are disrupting the entire class. Get a classroom of 20 kids, and you will typically get 2-3 interruptions per hour. More if it is the class right before lunch break! Kids also use their cell phones for a lot more than text messages (they don’t actually use the phone part – I remember one student who told me that she has had a cell phone for going on 10 years now – and never once used the phone part of it, just the text messaging). Phones are used for video chats, texting, playing games, taking photos and videos, you name it, and chances are it is used for it. Yet most children don’t have the mental ability yet (they are growing still) to use their phones in a polite, respectful and appropriate manner. Social media falls under this area, but I will talk more about that aspect later on when I talk bullying. Another issue with cell phones is that they all try to connect to the internet, reducing the broadband available for actual school purposes.

 

• Testing. Not talking about teacher generated tests, but state mandated tests and high stake tests like the ACT / SAT. There is too much info out there about all of these tests, so I don’t want to get into it. The two big issues are a) they are being used for things that they were never intended on being used for, such as school evaluations; and b) that there are way too many of them out there. I work a lot with our 11th grade class – we lost a total of 13 days of class time this year due to state mandated testing. Of that, only 2 days – those for the ACT test, actually mean anything to the students. The rest is just do this, do that, and the school gets a number associated with it. But, these kids have no reason to even try to take the tests let alone put forth any effort into them. So far, I have tried to stay on topic and keep this part to just a listing of the problems, but there is one solution that I think works well with this specific problem – although it isn’t popular as it puts a lot of stress on students. If you want to really see some change, get rid of all these tests and give a new system of grade level tests. You want to pass the 3rd grade – go to a testing center (not the school, but perhaps a neighboring school) and pass the 3rd grade test. Welcome to the 4th grade. Having schools administer their own tests creates that conflict of interest that led to the recent Atlanta scandals. It won’t be cheap, and there are some very good and solid reasons that exceptions to this rule should exist. But, if you get rid of the ACT / SAT / MEEP / M-Step and host of other state mandated exams, and turn it into something that is “normal” so the kids don’t get stressed out, but that it is still meaningful to them…. Well, easy solution to a messy, complicated, problem.

 

• School Leadership / Administration. Note, that you get a separate license that requires a separate degree to be a school administrator. Just like teachers get one license, councilors get another, social workers another, and so forth. School leadership specifically deals with the principals, deans, and surprisingly the receptionists that deal with the front office (and thus are the public face of the school). These are the people who make the decisions in the school, and set about the school climate. If they choose to not go after kids selling dope in the bathrooms (something that I saw in a previous job), then the kids think that it is fine and normal to have to deal with dope when they go to the bathroom, whether they want to use it or just use the facilities. The problems with leadership is that they often have very different goals than all the other stakeholders (teachers, parents, students, superintendents, management companies, and the community at large). They are also very much overworked and pulled in many different directions at the same time.

 

• School Climate. This is directly impacted by all the members of the school, but mostly by the school leadership. Setting clear objectives that all the stakeholders buy into, and support, is key, and is often the biggest failure point. At a previous job, the kids were selling dope of various types in the bathrooms. The kids were using their phones to text each other. The school had several policies in place, however, that let the kids to this. First, you cannot stop a kid that ‘has to go’. The kid was obviously lying about it, but the teacher got in trouble anyways because they held them in the room, the kid called mom, who called the principal, who went to the room and told the teacher they were wrong in front of all the students (ya, poor leadership at its best). Then, we were told to issue passes to all the kids, but the admin refused to actually follow their own guidelines. Third, when pills were found in the bathroom, the admin refused to call the police and refused to believe that it was a student’s (who was seen dropping them) but instead must have been the teachers because obviously they had something against that student from day one. I can go on, but it is systematic failures like this that are widespread, particularly in urban areas. It also applies to things not as serious as selling drugs – like litter on the hallway floors; cheating on school work; sports taking priority over academics; eating food in classrooms. A lot of this is simple, though. Schools should have clearly posted rules, with clearly posted consequences for breaking the rules, and people with the balls to follow up and make sure that things are followed. People are too scared to be the bad guy, nowadays, and that is leading to school climates where anything can go. I say this much more in urban areas where people are particularly scared of hearing even the idea of racism, which is such a hot trigger word that people really are scared to stand up for what is right because the consequences are just too big, and the lack of support too common.

 

• One of the bigger issues is the idea of bullying. There have always been bullies, and they likely always will be as well. The simple act is one that can help a person define what is right and wrong, help them acquire resolve, and help them grow into a better person. The difference is when it crosses the line and instead of helping to build up people, it tears them down. Social media has completely changed it, however, and people are coming to grips with all the changes. It is no longer confined to just a school, neighborhood, or wherever. It is now everywhere you are. There is no escapes. If you experienced it at school, you left school and you escaped it for the day and had some relief. Not anymore. Schools are coming to recognize this new reality, but how much can schools really impact it? What is the parent’s responsibility? 2 years ago I had a hysterical mother verbally assault me because her daughter was being made fun of for taking selfie photos of herself in the bathroom, and the snap chat messages (which get deleted after they are read – so no real evidence) were sent to her phone while she was sitting in my room, by another student in another room. Hmm, how to list out all the failures: girls playing with phones in school – violation of the school tech policy; taking selfies in the bathroom (ewww) and also against school policy. I could go on and on; but this isn’t a unique example.

 

• Health and Safety. This area also includes things like school lunches. The costs of a school lunch is $2.68 per school lunch. However, those lunches were small (for a 17 year old boy, really small) and rather icky. Sure, taste buds change as you age, but not that much….. This is somewhat of a hot topic button at the Federal level, as the USDA spends a lot of money for Federal reimbursements. It is, mostly, just another headache for school administrators to have to deal with though. If you want to find out more, there was a good PDF document put out by Michigan State University a little while ago that explains how money gets spent. http://foodsystems.msu.edu/uploads/files/cost-of-school-lunch.pdf I work at a school right now that doesn’t have a lunch program – we have an open campus so kids can go out and buy a lunch if they like, and a good number of kids just brown bag it. It also includes other things such as safety drills; and particularly for inner city schools where they try to make a show of being “proactive” against gangs and school violence, things like security guards and metal detectors at the entrances.

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Really wasn't on my bucket list, but I got to have my first ever root canal yesterday.

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I've had one. It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd heard. Just like a big filling. :dunno:

 

Coincentally, JJ's headed to the dentist today. Years ago, she fell and badly chipped a tooth. We're having it repair...just before she begins her university studies next week.

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I've had one. It wasn't nearly as bad as I'd heard. Just like a big filling. :dunno:.

 

Yeah, that's pretty much what mine was. The reason I had the root canal was because the tooth had broken the week before. The dentist tested what was left and verified the root was dead, and in order to build the tooth back up they needed to go the route of the root canal.

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Kids school is having a "report writing day", so #1 headed off to his cousins for a sleepover, #3 will be with the missus, and #2 is super excited as I'll be taking him into my work in the city for the day. :)

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