This is NOT ‘accidentally on purpose’ – this is absolutely on purpose.

In the last six months, many aspects of my life have gone through ‘change’. My address (a whole new state), my back office for tutoring, my weight. While those items have changed, my very real beliefs and sense of equity have not changed one bit – they just become stronger in conviction.

I know exactly why I left teaching in the classroom and now, 10 years later, when many more teachers have ‘left’ (fled and not replaced), I realize I was just a bit ahead of the curve. It is a challenge to find anyone these days who wishes to become a teacher due to the insanity of getting the credential and the further insanity of making through the first two years- never mind possibly getting through the first five years  and making it work for them, when they are seasoned and can be great.

As education went to  further extremes of the business model (charter schools, for profit secondary ed, small schools within a school, TFA and so forth, supplementary educational services) approach to education, those in charge continued to intentionally overlook and then ignore the most obvious problems arising from a ridiculous system. It is not that anyone has  forgotten or overlooked what we do in schools, it is most often the people in charge selectively choose to ignore, not address or lower the level of the problem until they  are called out.

Teachers are not by nature a dumb lot so one would have to guess administration, school boards and other community members seem to have a hand in the manipulations of kids getting an education. And this is why teachers become frustrated. We know. We know administrators and businesses (all the non-profit charter schools are BUSINESSES) intentionally on purpose have to overlook things so they meet the bottom line, present some sort of numbers to the people interested in their concept and hope to goodness no one catches them. A perfect example is how charter schools are able to skirt ADA rules for special ed students. You would be amazed at the stories, pack of lies and so forth surrounding this aspect of education.

When an article such as the one written by Jeff Guo at Storyline hits my reading, it is impossible to put down. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/22/these-kids-were-geniuses-they-were-just-too-poor-for-anyone-to-discover-them/?tid=sm_fb   It is the embodiment of all the things I know are going on and have never had the ‘evidence’ to prove as we don’t talk about this stuff in polite company. It is too unseemly to discuss all the ways we betray students in this country.

What Mr. Guo wrote about is the basis of work looked at by Malcolm Gladwell, Shankar Vedantam, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  It is the not so ‘hidden’ mess right in front of our eyes if we would just pay attention.  What is shocking is the fact this information is in no way hidden at all and that is the largest disgrace.

The result was an atlas of inequality.

We blame money as the cause for ignoring the gifted and talented students within a school district. It is not money. It is will. We know these students are out there and it is our job to find them. We have to do a better job. Instead, we do the opposite of what is best practices.

We give minority students and/or students of poverty the worst teachers, the new teachers, the teachers we can not figure out how to help. We give these same students Supplementary Education Services (SES), which is polite terminology for whatever half-rate tutors we can find after some ‘business’ takes a percentage off the top for hooking us up (trust me – I know the system and have seen it as a teacher, as a tutor and having been approached to work for these organizations). We created state tests which were so low in caliber, when the common core came out, most notably the standard for the economically advantaged kids, we flipped out to see the low scores. Reality met head on with the games we played to try to fool ourselves.

We put the socioeconomically disadvantaged students in charter schools which do not (the statistics prove it out repeatedly) which do not do anything more or better than a good, well run public school.  We do everything in our power to disenfranchise this group of students including evaluating them at the same time, at the same rate for gifted and talented programs.

Is it really any wonder at all education is in a shambles?

What can YOU do?

_________________________________________________________________________________________

As a parent, you can use the SES money towards a better tutor for your  student.    http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/choice/help/ses/description.html  

Districts must make available to parents a list of State-approved supplemental educational services providers in the area and must let parents choose the provider that will best meet the educational needs of the child.

 The school districts do what is cheapest, NOT best. Find an independent tutor to work with a small group of students. They can be paid by SES funds. Trust me, the threshold to be a tutor for supplemental education services is low. You can find tutors willing to work with students for less than their ‘listed’ costs on a website such as https://www.avidbrain.com/

-Stay away from the sites which promise you tons of tutors as you will find it is a numbers game and the sites with the ‘most’ tutors are not the sites with the BEST tutors. There is a difference.  Sites with the most tutors need to prove to investors they have a business model. 20% of the tutors on the site do 98% of the work. The other tutors are window dressing……I’ve been there. I was the 20%.

-Tutors are generally independent contractors.

-If you go with an SES ‘provider’, some business is making money and the tutor is maybe getting $12-20/hr.  Since an SES tutor has a low threshold to meet to become a tutor, you are not getting your monies worth, you are getting what is cheapest for your school district.

-If you go with an independent tutor, the tutor makes the money they are worth, stick with the job and know what they are doing.

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Personal Best (to quote Dr. Atul Gawande from his piece in The New Yorker)- Part I of II

Part I of a II Part Blog

Gawande, Atul,  Personal Best, The New Yorker  3 October 2011  p. 44, 46-50, 51-52

I love reading pieces written by Dr. Atul Gawande  as it gives me insight into how doctors/surgeons think.  Understanding a different perspective allows one to ask better questions about their own health care and in my case, also helps me view science in a different way.  What I did not expect, but was pleased to read, was the Malcolm Gladwellian/Freakonomics spin out in this piece about coaching.

Having caught up on many episodes of Bones, Grey’s Anatomy and some bits of CSI, it never occurred to me to think that a doctor/surgeon might wish to be coached to improve their practice/craft.  This is not because I believe doctors/surgeons to be arrogant, rather it has to do with the fact that  they are perfectionists in the extreme and it seemed to me they are constantly trying to be more modern, better, thoughtful, creative.  Doctors and surgeons are as much artist as they are scientist. They perform magic and keep people ALIVE. Who knew they might wish feedback and assistance on minutiae details of their craft?

In the opening paragraphs of the article I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, this is how I think…..and many of my teaching friends and colleagues.” I never thought teachers would come up in the article and was pleasantly surprised when teachers were discussed and most especially how we were discussed.   Apparently education is indeed a life-long process and being coached can be a matter of choice as opposed to a matter of punishment.

Examples (I took out the word doctor/surgeon and intentionally left it blank so you could see how these thoughts could also be by a teacher):

“….my performance in the ___________ has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it is a good thing-I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.”

“During the first two or three years in __________, your skills seem to improve almost daily.  It is not about __________, you have that down halfway through ___________.  As one of my professors once explained, doing _________ is no more physically difficult than writing in cursive.   _________mastery is about familiarity and judgement.  You learn the problems that can occur during _________ or with a particular __________, and you learn how to either prevent or respond to those problems.”

“Say you’ve got a _______ who needs __________ for _________……………..Even before you start, you need to make some judgements…………. You have to decide which ____________ to use or whether to abandon the ____________approach and do _________ the traditional way………..Then you’d have to decide whether you need additional ___________ or maybe it’s time to enlist _________.”

“Over time, you learn how to head off problems, and, when you can’t, you arrive at solutions with less fumbling and more assurance……….I’ve come to know most of the _______that could arise, and have worked out solutions.  For the others, I’ve gained confidence in my ability to handle a wide range of situations, and to improvise when necessary.”

“As I went along, I compared my _______against national data, and I began beating the ___________.”

and so on…….

Dr. Gawande discusses his perceived ranking for a bit, acknowledging he desires change and improvement and that possibly this is age in career.

and then this:

“____________(and I use this sparingly as I have no data to support this, but wanted to demonstrate similarities of profession) is, at least , a relatively late-peaking career. It’s not like mathematics or baseball or pop music, where your best work is often behind you by the time you’re thirty. Jobs that involve the complexities of people or nature seem to take the longest to master: the average age at which S. & P. 500  chief executive officers are hired is fifty-two, and the age of maximum productivity for geologists, one study estimated, is around fifty-four.  _________( I use this again sparingly as I have no data to support this, but wanted to demonstrate similarities of profession) apparently fall somewhere between the extremes, requiring both physical stamina and the judgement that comes with experience. “

Dr, Gawande goes on to explore other times he has hit a plateau in life (tennis) and begins to digress into why professional athletes and singers have coaches, but what about the ‘rest of us’?  He discusses many various interactions relating to athletics and singing/professional musicians and states this:

“The coaching model is different from the traditional conception of pedagogy, where there’s a presumption that, after a certain point, the student no longer needs instruction. You graduate. You’re done.  You can go on the rest of the way yourself.”

He continues on with observations as to why Olympic level athletes and  concert-calibre musicians use coaches. The coaches are the external ears and eyes which ‘review’ the performance and offer feedback. Simple, or so it seems.  And the big question:

“What about regular professionals, who just want to do what they do as well as they can?”

At this point, it seems clear and reasonable why Dr. Gawande would seek out a coach for himself. What comes next is the meat of the matter. The article shifts to discussions with Jim Knight, director of the Kansas Coaching Project at the University of Kansas.  I find a bit of fault with one sentence in  the article which research confirms that the big factor in determining how much students learn is not class size or the extent of standardized testing but the quality of the teachers as this negates the all important parent, as if they do not matter.  However, the rest resonates and makes complete sense.

“Policymakers have pushed mostly carrot-and-stick remedies: firing underperforming teachers, giving merit pay to high performers, penalizing schools with poor student test scores.  People like Jim Knight think we should push coaching.”

Information from Jim Knight goes on to demonstrate some small studies of teacher coaching and what Mr. Knight has himself experienced  while teaching writing to students at a community college in Toronto, Canada.  Ultimately this experience helped him complete his PhD and begin a coaching program for schools in Topeka.  While Mr. Knight states encouraging data exists, he notes that not all coaches are effective.  Dr. Gawande then asks Mr. Knight to show what makes for a good coach.

In the example Dr. Gawande views, the coaching is focused on new teachers (generally all new teachers are required to have two years of coaching to clear their credential – this program has different names in each state), however it is open to any teacher who would like it.  Dr. Gawande notes,

“Not everyone has.  Researchers from the University of Virginia found that many teachers see no need for coaching.  Others hate the idea of being observed in the classroom, or fear that using a coach makes them look incompetent, or are convinced, despite assurances, that the coaches are reporting their evaluations to the principal. And some are skeptical that the school’s particular coaches would be of any use.”

One pairing is found – coach Diane Harding and mentee Jennie Critzer.   These two people seem a good fit although there is no mention of whether or not Ms. Critzer has tenure. Tenure can allow a teacher the sense that coaching is, just that, coaching while lack of tenure can indeed make coaching appear targeted to ‘nail’ the teacher instead of being supportive.  Ms. Crizter is observed teaching algebra and then there is the debrief. In this instance, the coaches let the teacher choose the direction for coaching as the teacher generally knows better what their own difficulties/shortcomings may be.

The discussion of the coaching session is well done. Of note, Dr. Gawande states what good coaches do:

“Good coaches know how to break down performance into its critical individual components. In sports, coaches focus on mechanics, conditioning, and strategy, and have ways to break each of those down in turn.” 

  in addition, elite performers are addressed

“Elite performers, researchers say, must engage in “deliberate practice”-sustained, mindful efforts to develop the full range of abilities that success requires.  You have to work at what you’re not good at. In theory, people can do this themselves. But most people do not know where to start or how to proceed.  Expertise, as the formula goes, requires going from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence.”

Humans are resistant to expose their soft underbellies to criticism so coaches have to work around natural defense mechanisms.  Generally, coaches engage in conversation with their mentee and through this interaction, are able to address various points.  Typical questions are “What worked?” and progress to “What did you notice?”  and “How could you change it?”  In the course of this conversation, a person learns how to be more self-reflective. 

Mr. Knight indicates that good coaches have some specific qualities: they speak with credibility, make a personal connection and focus little on themselves……they listen more than they talk (I am guessing like a good psychologist). In addition, good coaches parcel out their communications carefully as they have some discomforting information which is to be conveyed but can be done respectfully.

Dr. Gawande speaks with Ms. Critzer to ask how she likes coaching. It appeals to her. She states the following,

“I’d exhausted everything I knew to improve.”  

 She stated she had begun to feel burned out and isolated. Coaching helped lessen the stress level.

These various ‘exercises’ convince Dr. Gawande to find his own surgical coach, and this person happens to be Dr. Robert Osteen.  In the next paragraphs, Dr. Gawande lays out exactly what coaching was like for him – the good, bad and ugly.  It seems that Dr. Osteen is an outstanding coach and over time the two of them work out a way to communicate so Dr. Gawande feels he can improve.  It can not be easy as we all carry a small amount of ego in us, yet what and how Dr. Osteen talks makes it clear he is ONLY ABOUT improving this surgeon and the patients experience.

The wind down becomes this: Dr. Gawande enjoys having a coach yet it is awkward to explain to other surgeons he is training and a patient he is going to operate on. It is clear that good coaches can foster effective innovation and judgement, not merely replication of technique based on what Dr. Gawande states……the sadness lies in the reality that these coaches may not be so easy to cultivate.

And so, as a population we have to overcome the fear of coaching and truly determine what it is to be used for in professional development – for doctors, teachers, anyone who is desirous of self-improvement.

“For society, too, there are uncomfortable difficulties: we may not be ready to accept-or pay for- a cadre of people who identify the flaws in the professionals upon whom we rely, and yet hold in confidence wha they see. Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.  Yet the allegiance of coaches is to the people they work with; their success depends on it.   And the existence of a coach requires an acknowledgement that even expert practitioners have significant room for improvement.  Are we ready to confront this fact when we’re in their care?”

If we accept coaching, we have to accept a lack of perfection and room for improvement. There is a difference between self-improvement based on ones free will and desire to improve and the application of coaching as a remedy to what may not even be a problem, just a plateau.

The final  two paragraphs above leads into the second part of this blog as I explore ‘grading teachers’ with the use of student test scores.

When will I use Algebra?

Over the course of my teaching and learning career (I am correctly classified as a lifetime learner!), I have significantly enjoyed the question regarding when/how will I ever use Algebra.  Of course the question is rhetorical as no one will ever ask you about a co-efficient in the parking lot or the process of distribution…..instead, life  ( or at least a life filled with self efficacy) will expect you to be able to use these concepts at various times.

I write this blog as a career changer (pharmacy tech), health care for all advocate (just got zapped with $10K from Anthem/Blue Cross and I am HEALTHY – the bill is just to ‘prove’ my health) and America watching elected people debate a debt ceiling (the news has actually had to explain the issue to American Citizens), all issues which use Algebra and other math to think through with some degree of clarity.

To start, I will explain self efficacy. First off self has to do with the person you see in the mirror as opposed to other people you see with your eyes.

People with a high self-efficacy are generally of the opinion that they are in control of their own lives; that their own actions and decisions shape their lives.                  Albert Bandura as quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy

Self efficacy is an idea put forth by psychologists which assumes you wish to learn (know) information about the issues which impact your life and the choices/decisions you make which impact your life.  This  means knowledge is indeed power – knowledge allows you to transform your own life by understanding information and making better decisions (or at minimum, making decisions you feel confident about).  So, Algebra is a manner of thinking logically and an approach to understand various numerical processes.

Algebra allows you to understand (and start to ask better questions) regarding the medication doses and timing of doses you take when you are ill. There is actually a methodology to why antibiotics are given at certain scheduled times in specific amounts. There is also a reasoning as to the intervals of chemotherapy for cancer.  These doses and intervals are based on research performed by scientists and doctors who passionately believe in promoting health. The doses and intervals can be altered for the right reason……….which means if the patient has the ability to think about doses and intervals related to side effects (nausea as an example), doctors will often work with them to maintain their health and get through the side effects.  Not all cancer patients choose to have chemotherapy. Yes, amazingly, chemotherapy is a choice and a very personal one. It is an issue of quality of life and length of life – both of which can be better approximated and understood via math.

Another example of Algebra and health has to do with the choice of eating well (healthy) and having reasonable amounts of exercise or taking a medicine to, for example, reduce cholesterol. It is known within medicine that after a patient takes five to seven medicines simultaneously, the various effects can and often are counter productive to ‘maintaining health’ and ‘sustaining life’.  This relationship is because each medicine we take has various effects on one or more body systems.  This is WHY your pharmacist always wants to know all of what you are taking, even if it is prescribed by various different doctors.

The above paragraph relates to health care for all. Most of the money spent on health care is not for disease states which can be cured, but most  which can be brought into a state of remission- OR conversely, avoided in the first place from leading a healthy life.  Aside from antibiotics, there are very few ‘cures’ out there.

Remission is the state of absence of disease activity in patients known to have incurable chronic illnesshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remission_(medicine)#Remission

A person with knowledge is able to make a better decision regarding how they are medically treated (or not in the case of DNR’s) and in what circumstances, conditions they desire to live.  Some people actually believe having mental capacity is reason to avoid medications which may diminish their thinking capacity even if it means they have to give up something else in their life.   These concepts are called choices and can be made by people with an understanding of how their choices will affect their lives.  Doctors and pharmacists take an oath to do no harm – they do not take an oath on how you choose to live your life when you are in a disease state.  A great doctor and/or pharmacist will explain options to you and let you make the decision about YOU (unless you are unconscious in the ER and then they do everything humanly possible to keep you alive).   All of the various options and choices actually have percentages or estimates of success and knowing Algebra allows you to interpret what these numbers mean when you are told.

Most interesting of all is that which is well known in medicine – it is by far cheaper and cost effective to PREVENT the problem than to treat it after it happens. This is akin to why one warms up before exercising.  This gets right back to health care for all. It is more cost effective for  one to live a healthy life from the get go than to have to deal with obesity, diabetes, etc. when one does not eat and exercise.   Again,  a modest amount of Algebra is necessary to understand calories (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and how to make better food choices to promote ones own health.

If all of the above has not already provided some ideas as to why Algebra is important, let me add the debt ceiling debate.  We as the American populace voted in our congressional representatives. We as voters created a divided congress as the house and senate are configured in numbers by who(m) is voted into the position.  The numbers alone of Democrats and Republicans demonstrate an imbalance so it is no wonder the debt ceiling caused a great debate. As the populous, it is up to us to vote in more mid-range politicians to cut down on the level of disparity between extremes.  Not only is this Algebra, it is basic statistics.  We got the government we deserve by voting them in – for good or for ill. Many may think math plays a too subtle role in what I stated in this paragraph, they just have not read enough by Malcolm Gladwell.

If the above is not enough to convince you that getting a good dosing of Algebra by Grade 8 is beyond important, just think about what you know (or don’t know) about debt and why we even have a debt ceiling.

Or this:    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/12/BAT71KMA37.DTL

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How EDD in California manifests the ‘Peter Principle’ effectively

Going along with a previous blog post on job searches, I decided to add to the madness by sharing the unemployment side of the dilemma and a way to look at the Malcolm Gladwellian  statistics of interpreting unemployment – of which  is really the same as using a Magic 8 Ball.

Unless you have read David Foster Wallace‘s book Infinite Jest, particularly where the stone mason needs to explain to his insurance company the incident with the bricks which led up to his injuries,  you don’t have the sense of humor nor the stomach necessary to appreciate EDD in its current state.

I returned from Kenya on the 22 of December 2009.  In a very brief period of time I was able to access my computer, update my resume and LinkedIn Profile and begin applying for jobs.

Initially I had high hopes as who wouldn’t want some one who recently worked abroad, has a graduate degree, did Peace Corps, has an impressive array of work experience and volunteering. It seemed reasonable anyone would want to hire a competent, enthusiastic about life, educated person.  I have been keeping up the positive attitude as I know it will get me further then actually sharing the sadness and demoraliztion I feel both over being unemployed and the craziness of the job market.  This is me, quoting myself from a previous post.

EDD has determined that I can not collect unemployment for the following convoluted explanation:  Since I gave professional notice to the TEACHER SUBSTITUTE SERVICE (I am not putting in the company name to protect them from embarrassment of how ridiculous they are!) about taking a job in Kenya, taking the job and then returning, I can not collect. In fact, because I was professional and asked if there would be summer work, and they said no, schools close 15 June 2009 and I calculated in my head that schools do not open before 5 August 2009 when I was leaving for Kenya I decided to be professional and write a letter of resignation (not knowing being professional would later be a horrible problem).  Since I ‘resigned’ for good and valid and professional reasons, this resets some clock with EDD which means that I had to earn $1500 from June 1, 2009 to June 12, 2009 (simply not possible unless I had a real job paying more than $120/day and worked 7 days a week). So, not only am I not entitled to unemployment, the money I received, while continuing to look FOR ANY JOB is considered an overpayment – i.e. it would have been preferred by EDD that I lie and never do a resignation.  I want to blame my parents for NOT teaching me how to be deceitful but it just seems so wrong.

According to the TSS people I chose to take a job which would pay less or be more inconsistent….in other words, since TSS could not offer substitute teaching jobs from 15 June 2009 until Labor Day 2009, it would have been better to lie, stay on unemployment until I left for Kenya. So, I sent a copy of the contract to EDD as I actually believe in being honest and not making up stories.  In addition, TSS apparently has a touch of the Nostradamus going on because they knew, before I  or anyone in the known universe did, that the job I signed a two year contract for (and actually was willing to stay 3-5 years at) was going to end in five months.  Of course, the Nostradamus was AFTER I returned – they did not have the insight to share with me before I left the country. In other words, TSS does not want to pay out any unemployment so they decided to try mysticism on the EDD.

Furthermore, I was so honest to the EDD, I went so far as to tell EDD my forwarding address and filled out the papers and mailed them out to let them know my power of attorney – my father in Des Moines, IA.  Go figure how that thickness of paper trail escaped EDD for a long time and in December 2009, they managed to find me and mail me paperwork that I had been ‘overpaid’ at some point in the past to the tune of $550, which they could provide no documentation for.  Now, to make matters worse (I know you are not laughing yet), EDD decided that retroactively I owe them $1330 because of the latent Nostradamus effect from TSS which indicates I gave them professional notice of ending my employment by 15 June 2009 (which gets back to the point that there would be no summer employment).   In otherwords, TSS is claiming they knew when I gave my professional notice in June 2009 that it would not work out.  I sure wish they had shared this premonition with me.

So, I have again appealed to EDD to re-evaluate the whole situation using real facts and actual documents (I was not even able to get half time work out of TSS as the work did not exist) including the paperwork they show which indicates my work hours when I was collecting unemployment.

I hate to sound so logical about what I am stating except for the fact all of this is on a computer system and anyone who chose to do the labor could find all the said paperwork, put it in order and realize that at no point was I trying to game the system or lie.

Oh, by the way, The Peter Principle is as follows:

The Peter Principle book has attained such renown that The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “The theory that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent.” … “In a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence,” or, as Dr. Peters Principal explained more simply, “The cream rises until it sours.”

All this being said, is it any wonder that at the height of unemployment in California, levels not seen since the 1930’s, TSS had to run ads on Craigslist for subs?  It would seem that TSS practicing predictive  (after the fact!) mysticism and EDD not being able to follow a paper trail a mile long and inches thick qualifies for exemplification of  The Peter Principle by any stretch.

Update:  Some tax dollars were used so I could go to an administrative law judge on appeal. The administrative law judge stated I acted the way a reasonable person would act and I was awarded my unemployment and do not owed EDD anything. There is a 20 day wait though as the other side can file an appeal.

Further update: In August 2010 I took a job with a business (for profit – owned by an individual and is an LLP, African American female to boot) to provide ‘after school services’ at public schools on the government dime – some one ‘knows how’ to do grant writing, in other words.  Although I suspected there were issues with the company based on a number of small problems such as calendaring training with more than 48 hours notice, I took the job in hopes I could offer up something to this fledgling business which was trying to grow. 

 Within two weeks I realized the owner of the company had power/control issues beyond normal and appropriate, had hired some employees well below the minimum qualifications to do the job well and could not manage to sort out things such as what to do in an earthquake or fire emergency after school so I began to seriously question the wisdom of staying with this job and the potential train wreck ahead as I actually have a teaching credential.

As I was internally debating the merits and cons of the job (I was far too embarrased to admit to family and friends I was working for such a sham), things reached a point at which I was not willing to jeopardize my teaching credential (in fact, any logical being would have seen through).  I was asked to make cupcakes with students using eggs – prepare the batter on a Friday and refrigerate until possibly Wednesday when there would be time to bake said batter for an ‘experiment’ on how baking powder is a leavening agent. Never mind that baking powder has a ‘window of opportunity’ once activated (and it is not even 12 hours) nor the fact that I had no knowledge of the refrigerator being adequately sanitized after having set vacant all summer nor the fact that we had just gone through a crazy salmonella scare in CA…..this is what I was TOLD to do and ‘the chain of command’ had spoken (part of this chain was a recent college grad from Cal Berkeley with a BS in Biology).  

I resigned. I did not contact unemployment as I had figured I had not earned enough in six weeks to obtain unemployment.  The owner of the company contacted unemployment to state what  a lying, deceitful person I was filing for unemployment (you see the problem here). Unemployment contacted me – which in the State of CA is unheard of – unemployment tracking some one down to give away money??? 

I submitted 11 pages of e-mails, including the one where the business owner even offered to recommend me to another job she knew about (which pretty much flies in the face of me being lying and deceitful unless she likes to align herself with those types of people).  EDD stated I had the right to unemployment. I filled out the paperwork and began to collect.  You can imagine my shock when EDD then sent me another letter stating the same person who contacted EDD was now in disagreement and wants an administrative hearing about me collecting unemployment.  Reminder: I never applied in the first place, she made the contact.

So, I am waiting for the appropriate paperwork from the administrative courts yet again to go sit through another hearing about employer logic. 

If this is not a total waste of tax payer money and no one can see the issue, it exemplifies why CA is a disaster. Furthermore, it makes me wonder what one has to do to tell a lie – the truth is far to ugly.

CSI: Education in America

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html?em

It seems each generation gets a bit closer to identifying and capitalizing on the  magic of the educational process and I am eternally thankful.  I believe I speak for all teachers worldwide in stating that if some one could identify specifically the magic needed to be the best teacher in any classroom, we would all use it, no questions asked. It is not for a lack of desire to be a better teacher, rather, there are no direct and linear one answer fits all situations and  works.

My generation (which obviously tells you my age) was raised on Fred Jones and his Tools for Teaching as well as Harry K. Wong and his The First Days of School.  From doing a quick scan of Amazon.com, there are many, many books designed to help teachers become ‘better’ at their craft. I am thankful so many professionals want to share their insights. Sadly, I do not see how year over year test scores (the current leading indicator of success in America) have improved in spite of all these people sharing their hard earned wisdom.

While I wish Mr. Lemov well and am sure he has best intentions, I can’t help but note that nothing in the article Elizabeth Green wrote (noted above) talks about PARENTS and parenting.  If indeed a proper autopsy was done, it would find that when children are parented and come to school with age appropriate literacy and behavior, learning does occur. 

Parenting includes prenatal and post natal nutrition, medical care as necessary, access to a library and parents who brought children into the world willfully, spending time with them each day to help them develop.  Parenting includes sacrifices of many things for the joy of parenting. Parenting is not about abdicating a child to the teacher for babysitting services when a teacher is for teaching, anymore than you would not drop a child off at a doctors office for day care.

If, as Mr. Lemov states, teachers can be improved upon and taught how to be better by micromanaging every detail/step/motion and content can equally be dispersed, this does not explain why education is not  in such dire straights in India, Korea, China, most of Europe – essentially any place which is not America.  Reasonably speaking,  education seems to be occuring quite favorably in other places and surely no one has put nearly as much effort into analyzing how to make bot teachers.  To my knowledge, Malcolm Gladwell has not addressed the dissociation of education from parenting although he did a piece on selecting a football player for two situations-NFL and universities and came up with some analogies which are fitting to this situation.   Me thinks we are not using the evidence properly as the focus has been on how to pretty much kill off any joy in teaching and has been for many years. Teachers stand to be the accused without counsel, without a jury of their peers, without actual evidence which can be corroborated.

If indeed,  skill sets are teachable/learnable, why have we not figured out how to stop having surgeons with major malpractice law suits……..we have gotten close as now the body part where the operation is to be performed is labeled and some one inventories what goes in and out of the body (scalpels, sponges) during surgery but still malpractice continues.  Why on earth could we not have ‘stopped’ the Wall Street meltdown as math is very easy to follow – you can not have multiple outcomes, there is indeed only one right answer and yet Wall Street went to the wall and slid to the gutter.  Isn’t it reasonable that with all the training we give police we should not have to read one more time about some one being shot accidentally (sometimes accidentally on purpose…).  Since teaching is as much an artful practice, it can not be run through a microscope nor assayed like DNA.

Surely it would be more cost effective if each and every child was given $500 in a future college bank account bearing interest if they came to school with basic literacy in kindergarten and another $500 for getting through algebra in Gr 7 ($250 for Gr 8 passing and $100 for Gr 9) and maybe $100 here and there for some other landmarks.  If they never went to college, the money is returned to the government. It is a reasonable investment for the future and it sets the precedent of teaching parents how to save for the future (another skill set Americans are sorely lacking in). 

By finding immense fault with  teacher’s practices and not putting any focus on what else is at the crime scene seems to delimit the art of investigation.