Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A new song: WHO LOST CHINA?

Considering the US treatment of tiny Communist Cuba, what can it mean that Nixon went to China?
Considering the US claims that the old USSR and today's Russia are out to take over the world, why did we not and do we not worry about China's world influence and huge military?
I think it was all done to provide cheap labor to "American" corporations and to provide a huge new market for those corporation's goods.
But, a side effect is simply this: Politically the US grows more totalitarian every day, more like China every day. Did you notice that China cracked down on the Hong Kong protestors on the same day that the feds declined to prosecute US police violence and then cracked down hard on the protestors?
Economically, China grows richer every day using State-supported capitalism (fascism)  as the US does. They pour money directly into things; we do it by tax breaks and military incursions.
Our government betrayed us. THEY "lost China." Republicans led the fight; Democrats joined in, the same old pattern of Democratic Party betrayal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hang that jury, vote for that mouse.

Regarding the murder of Michael Brown President Obama refers to the rule of law, a nation of laws and so on. Recently I read the Rolling Stone article about Attorney General Eric Holder's choice not to prosecute our nation's most criminal bankers. They paid a fine.
It also seems clear that the CIA, with the acceptance of the White House, will steamroll the very people who have been legally set up to oversee them - the US Senate. On and on go the lies and not enough citizens are enraged enough to demand change and see it through. I remember when, over the issue of gun control, the President said 'make me do it,' or some similar words. I think that if enough people had demanded change we would have gotten some, but we think all we need to do is vote for change every four years and it will be done. Or we thought that six years ago when we elected Obama.
I just read a few remarks from Howard Dean the former leader of the Democratic National Committee. His 50 state strategy for Democrats laid the groundwork for Obama's remarkable campaigns. The result was good for Democrats and bad for America, because as Dean admits, the Dems did not have state and local strategies for state and local governments. "All politics are local" goes the old adage, but the Dems focused too much only on winning the Presidency. As a result even Obamacare is on it's way out because of one stupid line in the law and the USA's willingness to kowtow to the royalty that is the Supreme Court. That stupid line counted on the states to set up exchanges which clearly they had no obligation to do.

We need to look at jury duty in a new light. It is our willingness to be so dutiful and a fear of falling into lawlessness that motivates the concerned citizen, yet so many prosecutors and police have no willingness to be dutiful. Our country is top-down lawless. It's time to use our own judgement. Be that 12th juror who refuses to change his/her vote. If you err, err on the side of your mind and heart not on the side of corrupted "justice." Be that change you which to see.
Deny the Presidency to the Democratic Party. Worrisome? The Republicans might lead us to hell tomorrow? Big deal because the new deal is that the Democrats will lead us to hell in a week.
These two things are within our grasp easily. If you are called for jury duty and put on that jury then do the right thing for justice, knowing that we are most certainly a nation governed by men, not laws, so be that wo/man. Most of us want change, but do not want to take it to the streets. Now that we know change is not going to come from today's Democratic Party, I say the true vote for change is the vote that punishes the Democratic Party. Mickey Mouse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our definition of a "good teacher" from the LaLa Land that is American education.

The expectations of the federal government and many parents regarding teachers: a good teacher is one who will always sacrifice her personal life to put in more than 40 hours a week,
a good teacher never rises up to challenge authority,
a good teacher will spend his own money to by supplies that in any other industry would be the companies' responsibilities to provide,
a good teacher will go into debt to the tune of 2 or 3 years pay to have the privilege of making less money than any professional class in the US,
a good teacher never loses her temper in any situation,
a good teacher can fix the social ills impinging upon the student - they can overcome poverty and ignorant parents to bring any child up to the same level of education as comfortably- situated kids who grew up hearing the language of love, acceptance, and college-level vocabulary,
a good teacher will attend training sessions even if she knows more about teaching than all those assholes who leave the classroom to ride the gravy train of federal and state one-size-fits-all mandates,
a good teacher stops fights even at the risk of his own life,
a good teacher will teach from a script, if told, engaging students in a call-and-response litany worthy of Nazi Germany,
a good teacher will not join a real union (the American Federation of Teachers),
a good teacher, frankly will not join an "organization" either (the NEA),
a good teacher will bully children into saying the Pledge of allegiance,
a good teacher will glorify the history of the US to the point of teaching the lies of the Tea Party,
a good teacher puckers up and plants a big kiss squarely on the asshole of every person who has more power in her district - counsellors, Ass. Principals (oops, Asst.), Principals, Superintendents and all their lackeys, and custodians.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bad school administrators, from counsellors on up, are NOT being identified.

This week I listened on NPR to a glowing account of a "new" teaching method. The story presented this teacher as one who embraced the "Common Core." Gee, I'd like some Brownie points for having used this technique in my classes (I retired in 2008). I hate it that so many teachers who had classroom skills way ahead of imposed "changes" are not credited with being good teachers. In my short 17-year career I saw teachers whose skills and subject knowledge were superb and I saw teachers who couldn't have passed the Freshman Composition class I took at Amarillo College (Amarillo, Texas). I once went to the teacher, the head of the math teachers in my school, for some help in understanding a graph in my social studies book. She hadn't a clue. As I left, the head custodian came up and said, "I kept sweeping outside her classroom listening to you too. Let me see the graph." She then proceeded to explain it to me.
I saw nothing in my 17 years that changed the opinion I formed within the first year I taught - the main problems with American education all point to lousy, lazy administrators. I NEVER received a thorough teacher evaluation, except from fellow teachers in Career Ladder. I never heard of a teacher fired for incompetence even though I must say that the overall competence I saw in action was a distant second to the Amarillo radio where I worked for 5 years - KGNC. The entire staff of that station (in the eighties) was smarter, more efficient, and better managed than any other place I worked in my life.
During my teaching years I saw things involving misuse of funds and mismanagement that appalled me. I discussed these things with teachers I met from many parts of the US and they always nodded and said, "Oh, yes. These things happen in my school and district, too."
Only once for about three years did we have a counsellor who had all student schedules ready for teacher use before the student's first day. We would often give pre-tests to students, as ordered, and then lost these students as schedules were finalized. The counsellor/s would not change the pre-test information. At the end of the year I was accountable for the progress or lack thereof even though I did not teach those students!
If a teacher smiled, jollied the administration along, and never raised a fuss no matter how outrageous a situation, they were a good teacher. If a teacher complained, they were not a good teacher. If a teacher in good favor incorporated ideas from the latest inservice training, they were praised. If a teacher was in bad favor with the administrators, no one noticed that their students were learning.
A teacher who was a former lawyer sued the district for not following requirements of English As A Second Language students, and in my district a huge percentage were in that category. The district lawyer fought that battle to a standstill with her superior skills. It took years because the teacher was correct. He lost on technicalities. Who paid her? You did, American taxpayer, because my district was funded by federal dollars. This woman was paid her hourly rate while she drove to board meetings, too - a 3 hour drive each way! You paid for that.
When the state changed curriculum around I went from teaching American history to World history. The school provided NO textbooks. I wrangled some old high school books, way above my 8th graders reading level. We used the graphics mostly.
When the district ended the practice of providing materials through the warehouse we bought our own. I hated it when they took my chalkboard away and I had to buy those expensive dry erase markers instead of chalk.
After several years of 2-hour blocks for "language arts" and after a loss of a couple of teachers (not to be replaced), the district permitted the principal to change back to 1 hour of language arts. Test scores dropped. These lower test scores were cited as one reason the middle school was failing and the district came within a hair's breadth of dissolving the school and putting kindergarten through 8th grade all together in three locations. I asked, "How will you handle sports?" Oh, each school will have it's own team. I responded, "We only had 12 eligible football players by the end of this season. You won't be able to field a team." Idiots. In my district, hell anywhere in the US, students and parents would come out in force if the kids couldn't compete in sports.
Once I pestered the state auditors until they provided me with the information I knew was true based upon statements from retired and nearly-retired districts. The district, almost every year, failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into our Social Security. They deducted it all right, and then, of course they spent that money.
I sat at a board meeting where money was being allotted to tear down old buildings. One board member asked about a particular old, stand-alone gymnasium which was still much-used. "Oh, we're not tearing that down yet." They just wanted the money allotted to use for God-knows-what.
I could go on, believe me. But my point is that we are following a ridiculous pathway with education. We are federalizing what is Constitutionally a state matter. States were already failing to oversee schools adequately and now they are following federal laws and mandates that have NOTHING in them to reform the problems. The problems are called Superintendents, Financial Officers, Principals (thank God many schools still have good ones, no thanks to the federal reforms), auditors, and the concept of federal mandates.
There is a reason why Republicans and many others want to focus on teachers as the bad seeds of education - all they want is to provide their corporate friends with a non-unionized, kiss-ass workforce for the next growth industry - privatized education.