Sunday, December 24, 2006

Don't Think, Just Do


I can't find a more appropriate description of Principal Suit's treatment of the teachers in my school.

Big Businesses Stink

I was on the phone before with a friend who is head of the obstetrics department of a major hospital in Houston. She told me her hospital is being taken over by a bigger one and she thinks that is a good thing. She won't lose her job and neither will any of the nurses that work for her, but some of the top administrators are getting walking papers. I guess these people mean nothing to her. She is happby because the hospital will have goals to meet and more ways to deal with people that don't meet them. For example, she is now able to write up anyone who is sick on or around a holiday. She says she knows who really needs the time off and who doesn't, but does she really know what is going on in any body's private life? The nurses in her unit are required to do more and more every day to meet these goals. There are no excuses for not meeting them. I tried to explain to her that the school system is doing the same thing to us and most of us have just about had it. Most of us work to the best of our abilities, but there is a limit. There is no incentive to work outside of our paid work hours (although every teacher I know does this). Her employees are entitled to a floating "spiritual day." Her opinion is that only the religious should take it. Often she is forced to give up time off and others in the same situation should do the same thing. I'm sure many of us will be called down if we take Jan 2 off, even though we are entitled to 10 sick days a year (with no doctor's note required).

Something must be done to stop these big corporations from taking over everything. They are whipping us so hard that there is no flesh left on our backs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Principal Suit's Worthless Solution

In September Principal Suit decided that Math A should no longer be given in four terms. Everyone could pass it in three terms. I think this is because one of the things the school was sited for was not having enough kids in Math B. My AP told him this was not a good idea, but did he listen? NO! Now that he has had a chance to review second marking period grades and has seen that most of the math classes with these kids have less than 35% passing (some barely have 20% passing) he wants us to go back to four terms. The new directive to Math $1 teachers is to stop teaching the new stuff and go back and teach over all the stuff that the kids didn't get the first time around. What Principal Suit fails to realize that most of these kids still won't get it. The ones that are too stupid to learn it will never get it. Kind of like, if you spoke to me in Chinese, only spoke the words really, really slow, I still wouldn't know what you were talking about. The other ones are just too unmotivated. Since they didn't do the work the first time around, what makes anyone think they will do it now? And if they do get it, are they going to be passed based on three weeks worth of work. Are we then sending the message that it is okay to do nothing for four months because in the fifth month you will learn all you need to pass the course? And how about the poor kids who actually did the right thing? That twenty percent that should now be able to finish Math A in three terms and go on to take Math B? They are now being penalized and made to repeat work that they mastered. Even the kids that will pass will pay a price in the end. They might be able to learn the stuff that comes in the beginning of the term. After all, most of that stuff is stuff they have been doing since middle school. But, when they get to the hard topics, at the end of the semester, they end up failing again. Since Principal Suit insists that all classes be annualized, these poor kids are going to be in Math&A once again in Septemberor they will go to summer school, where breathing is the only requirement for passing and be passed through with no background or preparation to pass math&C This is a no win situation for everyone.


Yesterday Principal Suit made a big deal about a holiday collation he was holding in his office from 12:00 until 3:00. He really wanted people to come. He said, "don't worry about lunch, there will be food." I usually avoid him and those things at all costs, but a good friend who I haven't seen for a while wanted me to go with her, so I agreed. Upon entering the office we saw his conference table covered with paper plates and one little slice of crumb cake. There was coffee on the side. My friend was pissed off. She didn't bring lunch because she thought she was getting fed. He had said earlier in the term that he was going to share his bonus with us, we all assumed he would be at least feeding us. My friend did hear him whisper to his assistant principal buddy "come back later, I have cold cuts for the people I like."

And he wonders why I don't like him?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blind Date - Olde English Sketch Comedy

It takes a math teacher to find and appreciate this one!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Super Clubs

We are all set to go on our annual winter vacation. We are going to Jamaica. We like Jamaica so much that we booked this trip almost a year ago, just when we got back from last year's vacation. In fact, we liked the trip so much that we booked the same hotel. Imagine our surprise when, looking at the website last night we found out that the hotel was undergoing major renovations that would not be finished until the middle of January. When spending big $$$$$ for a vacation, no one wants to be around construction. Calling the hotel got us no where so we called our wonderful travel agent. Carl quickly assured us that it was probably almost done, and we shouldn't worry. After all, he hadn't been told there was a problem, so there couldn't possibly be one. Well, today we found out that the resort is closed, has been closed for three months and will not open again until the middle of January. When were we going to be told this? WHEN WE ARRIVED IN MONTEGO BAY? Super Clubs said they would try to get us into another one of their resorts. This was not acceptable. Runaway Bay, where we stay is nice. Some of their other clubs are not! Good old Carl came through for us. He got his agency to pick up the difference in cost and we are now going to Sandals in Ocho Rios. A happy ending, we hope for us, but how about all those other vacationers? And if I wasn't an Internet junkie we might not have known and been in the same position as everyone else.

Super Clubs--I know you probably will never read this but I want everyone to know how you treat your customers. I will not vacation at one of your hotels ever again and I will tell as many people as possible to find somewhere else to play.

A Memo From My Supervisor

My AP is the king of memo writers. Putting teachers down seems to be his new motto.

Here is an excerpt from his last note to us:

Some classes have less than 35% of the students passing. We are here to help students learn. We must try different ways to get our points across. It is not right that we depend on a few of us to teach the "bottom students" because others are ineffective. It is unacceptable that some classes have less than 20% of the students passing. I would agree that those students do not know how to learn. They might have attendance issues. Knowing all that, what are you going to do to help them learn?

Although I am not currently teaching any of the classes he is talking about I take offense at his tone. Once again, it is the teacher's fault if the kids are not passing. It is the teacher's fault if they are not coming to school. It is the teacher's fault that these kids don't do homework, don't stop talking in class and don't do any work at all. I've been teaching for a long time and haven't figured out yet what to do with some of these kids. It's time to face the fact that there are kids out there that cannot learn, no matter what we do. And if the administrators really think that something can be done to help them, maybe they should come up with solutions.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kid Smarts

The holiday show was today. A bunch of my calculus kids missed class to be in the show. They came running in afterwards, all upset, asking if they could come to the period 4 class to make up the work they missed. I was proud of them. It's good to know that some of the kids in the school are smarter than the administration.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

No Wonder They Fail

I took Thursday off. I was sick. I never take a sick day but this time I knew I had to see a doctor. I felt bad about taking the day off because my M&C's were going to take a test on Friday. I had given them a practice sheet on Wednesday but Thursday was the day we were going to go over it. Well, I got two frantic e-mails from kids in the class, worried because they needed some help with some of the problems. Friday I got greeted by kids begging me to postpone the test until Monday. I figured, what the heck. What difference does one more day make? Maybe they will actually listen and do better this time. Boy, was I wrong. More than half of them had no clue where the sheet was and only a handful of the ones that had the sheet had actually looked at any of the problems. When I went over it, a few still talked non-stop and did not pay any attention. I don't get it. I always liked math in school, but it didn't come easy to me. I think that is why I majored in math. It was a subject that I respected because of how difficult it was. I wish I had had teachers that took the time to make up practice sheets and really explain what was going on. Some of these kids are just too dumb to understand, no matter how slow I go, but that is not the case for most of them. If they would put the effort of working and paying attention into the effort they take to goof off, they would be a lot more successful.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This Might Help End Discipline Problems

Nev. Politician: Let Teachers Carry Guns

Dec 14, 10:12 PM (ET)

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada state senator and also-ran in this year's Republican primary for governor says the Legislature should consider letting teachers carry guns in classrooms to stem a rise in school violence.

"I would expect enough teachers would be interested so it would serve as a deterrent," said Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas. He said he's preparing a bill to introduce when state lawmakers convene in February.

While Beers said teachers would have to undergo firearm safety training, Las Vegas-area school officials said that allowing more weapons on campus would make schools less safe.

"The more people who have guns, the more likely it is that there will be a shootout," said Clark County school Superintendent Walt Rulffes. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he was aware of no studies supporting Beers' argument that schools would be safer if teachers carried guns.

School trustee Sheila Moulton said teachers might need more training to identify and deal with potentially violent students. But she rejected the idea of arming teachers.

"That is not the solution," Moulton said. "I'm not for putting guns in the classroom even when teachers are trained on how to use them."

Clark County school police carry weapons, and district high schools typically have two officers on campus during school hours. Some large middle schools also have armed police officers. The district is the fifth-largest in the nation, with more than 300,000 students at 325 campuses.

Beers cited reports of more than a dozen guns confiscated at Clark County school students so far this year, and several recent instances of gun violence on and off Las Vegas-area campuses.

"We have banned guns in schools in Nevada and most of the rest of the nation for the last 20 years," Beers said. "Part of the problem is a small percentage of the population is brought up without a knowledge of and respect for guns."

The Show Must Go On and On and On and.........

Principal Suit thinks that some things are much more important than education. For instance, the holiday show. In our 250% capacity school, it takes six times for all the kids to see it. And of course, the show runs over an hour so two classes are cut short three times this week. If a class is being taught during the show period, and it is not that classes day to see it, that class is extended to over an hour. Teacher must plan for it and prepare extra work. Teaching bell to bell is important, but only if it does not interfere with the show. Of course kids in the performance are going to miss three class' each this week, but what does it matter? There are some things just more important than education!

On another note, Principal Suit has violated our contract by extending the period 10 class 10 minutes beyond normal ending time, causing teachers on a 3 - 10 period to work a longer day. I know our exec board met with him today. I hope they had some luck in getting him to change this time schedule.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My AP told a teacher today to "Raise her expectations" when he happened to walk by her classroom and saw a boy with a hat on. The class was full of kids taking the class for the umpteenth time. They were quietly working on an exam and doing quite well. The exam was not easy, her expectations were high and the kids were meeting them. This comment, from the guy who last year complained that when we used words like reciprocal and inverse in the class we were expecting too much out of our students.

These AP's ought to get their priorities straightened out. Not noticing a kid in a hat has nothing to do with expectations.

Because Teachers Don't Get Paid Enough

Teacher in Crack Over Butt Art

Dec 12, 10:58 PM (ET)


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - To hear the students tell it, Stephen Murmer is a fun, popular art teacher who is always quick to crack a joke. But there is another side to Murmer. A side that has agitated school officials and resulted in his suspension. A side that focuses, almost entirely, on the crack in his backside.

Outside of class and under an alter ego, the self-proclaimed "butt-printing artist" creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas. His cheeky creations sell for hundreds of dollars.

This has not gone over well with Chesterfield County school officials, who placed Murmer on administrative leave from his job at Monacan High School.

Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after he was suspended on Friday, ACLU legal director Rebecca Glenberg said. He told Glenberg that administrators had suspended him with pay for five days because of his work as a butt-print painter and that he also could face unpaid suspension pending an investigation.

Murmer has been instructed by the school administration not to speak with the media, Glenberg said. He did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow confirmed that a Monacan art teacher had been placed on administrative leave but declined to provide additional details because it is a personnel issue.

"In the school system, personnel regulations state that teachers are expected to set an example for students through their personal conduct," Marlow said. "Additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that schools must teach by example and that teachers, like parents, are role models."

Murmer went to great lengths to keep his work life separate from his activities as an artist, said ACLU executive director Kent Willis. As a butt-printing artist, he goes by the name "Stan Murmur," and appears in disguise in photographs and videos promoting his art.

"As a public employee, he has constitutional rights, and he certainly has the right to engage in private legal activities protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution," Willis said.

A nearly naked Murmer expressed concern about remaining incognito during a 2003 appearance on the now-canceled cable television talk show, "Unscrewed With Martin Sargent." In a clip from the show, available on, Murmer dons a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head, a black thong - and nothing else.

"I'm certainly proud of the ass painting," Murmer said in response to questions about his disguise. "I do have a real job where I do have real clients and I don't think they'd be too understanding if I was also the guy who painted with my ass."

That video has made the rounds at Monacan High, where the mere mention of Murmer's name was enough to elicit grins from students Tuesday. Most appeared to be firmly behind their teacher, describing his suspension as "stupid,""ignorant" and "kinda retarded."

"Everyone has been talking about it," senior Heather Thompson said with a laugh as she and other students streamed out of school.

Thompson, who worked with Murmer in the school's art club, said many students have known about his paintings for a few years, but the YouTube clip recently got everyone buzzing. She and other students described Murmer as a funny, likable and popular teacher. There is little support among the student body for his suspension, she said.

"It was simply him expressing himself and his art, and it had nothing to do with school - he wasn't advertising," she said.

This is not the first time Murmer has faced potential problems because of his extracurricular activities. Three years ago, he contacted the ACLU after he was told school administrators were unhappy about his paintings, Willis said. The issue eventually blew over with no suspension issued, Willis said. It was unclear why administrators decided to take action now.

Owning a piece of Murmer's art doesn't come cheap. On his Web site, his creations run upward of $900. His most popular piece, "Tulip Butts," goes for $600.

So how does one become a butt-printing artist? On his Web site, Murmur said his journey began a few years ago when he was told to find an organic item to use as a stamp for a class painting assignment. He decided to use his posterior. His final product was a hit with the class and a butt painter was born.

He was, however, the only student not asked to hold up his organic stamp.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Its that time of the year again. Party time! It's a shame that school spirit is so low almost no one wants to attend. Principal Suit was in the teacher's cafeteria today pushing the party. It's sad that the only people that attend are the people that want to suck up to him. One teacher, with a really cushy job had said five minutes before he made his entrance "I don't think I am going to go to the party this year." When he asked her point blank if he would see her there, she answered "Of course you will." So she will be there along with a few others that she can convince to come and lots of young teachers that are afraid to say no. As for me, I am going out with friends, to nearby bar that has at least 60 beers on tap and am going to have my own celebration.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pound of Flesh

Now if a kid is late to class three times, they want us to contact the parent and send the kid to the dean's office with an official letter stating the date we contacted the parent. Before we send the kid, they want us to call the office.

We have to go in the hall between classes, have a do now on the board when the kids walk in, collect and return homeworks and teach bell to bell. I wish they would just take the pound of flesh and leave us alone.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dr. Suit has a Hissy Fit

Dr. Suit has his panties in a knot again. It's 10:06:03 and Dr. Suit is holding an IEP conference and all the participants are there except for Mr. T, the math teacher. Dr. Suit is furious. He goes to Mr. T's supervisor and says "Mr. T is not here. He is 3 seconds late. I saw him outside smoking a cigarette again. I am Dr. Suit. I must get this meeting over with on time. How else will I be able to take care of my private practice on school time and show up on time for my golf game? Supervisor, you must discipline him severely." Now Supervisor knows Mr. T well. Supervisor knows that Mr. T is very conscientious and responsible and would never go outside and smoke when he is needed inside. Supervisor asks Mr. T why he is late and tells him what Dr. Suit said he was doing. Mr. T explains that he was coming from a classroom on the other side of the building. He forgot to put on his running shoes that morning so he had to walk instead of run to the meeting. Supervisor says "I will take care of Dr. Suit. I do not want him harrassing the best teacher in my department."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Somewhat of a Handle

I had a conversation today with an AP (she caught me by surprise in the hallway). She is actually one of the better ones, has somewhat of a handle on reality. Notice, I use the word somewhat. I once again started telling her that the C-6 assignments left no time during the day for calling homes or writing letters and then reminded her that the C-6 assignment comes from within the school and the schools could change the assignments to give us some flexibility. She promptly told me that when that system was tried last year, some teachers took advantage and did nothing. I promptly told her that the same teachers were still doing nothing. She answered "We know that." When I asked her then why we couldn't go back to the flexibility and let the teachers work in a professional manner, she couldn't answer.

Somewhat of a handle I guess is a start. You've first got to see the problem before you can fix it. Now we've got to push for a real handle on reality.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grade Correlations

I checked my grades for marking period II today, made sure they were all correct. I wasn't too busy so I checked my percentage pass. My 8th period M&C class had a passing rate of only 33% while my 9th period had a passing rate of 75%. I do the same things in both classes. My 8th period has lots of truants. My 9th period has almost perfect attendance every day. I know this is a big part of it. There is no way for kids in period 9 to get the exams and answers from the earlier class. I'm sure Principal Suit will find some fault with these grades. I don't care. I just wish he could come up with a way to help the failing kids.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Fairy Tale

"Too many kids are failing your tests. They are too hard."
"Too many kids are passing your tests. They are too easy."

The poor teacher is so confused, too easy, too hard. She feels like Goldilocks looking for the porridge that will be just right. The only problem is that this is not a fairy tale and there is no happy ending. No matter what the poor teacher does, it is never just right. Instead of finding the comfortable bed, she is once again threatened with a U rating.

Comments from an Administrator

"Every teacher should be in the halls between classes".

"If a student is late once, call the parent."

"If a student is absent twice, call the parent."

"If a student is not doing homework, call the parent."

"If a student fails, you are a failure.

"I want another performance bonus. YOU MEASLY TEACHERS BETTER DO MORE SO I CAN GET ANOTHER ONE THIS YEAR. Stop taking lunch breaks. Stop going home until 7:00 PM. Start coming in at 6:00 AM. You may no longer use the bathroom on school time. If I don't get another bonus, you will get a U rating and be on the unemployment line."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Extra Credit

Why do kids ask for extra credit when they haven't even done the bare minimum of work that has been given to them? It never fails. The marking period ends and they all of a sudden wake up and want to do extra work to pass. I'll never convince them that extra credit for them means more work for me and I'm not willing to do it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Principal Suit's Bonus

Our chapter chairman mentioned the principal's performance bonus in his last newsletter. Needless to say, our Principal Suit did not like this. He quickly defended the bonus in his weekly announcement papers claiming the bonus is something that was negotiated into his last contract and the UFT is against performance bonuses. What he doesn't mention is that he would not have gotten this without the hard work of the faculty. What he doesn't seem to realize is that his constant harrassment of us to do more than we are already doing is not going to work. Slavery is outlawed in this country and I refuse to do any extra work that will bring him another bonus.

I am against performance bonuses for teachers. One of the reasons is that I don't think teacher's performance can accurately be measured. There are too many outside factors involved. Another reason is the prejudicial factor. Principal Suit does not like me. He's already suggested that I transfer (which, I told him, is not going to happen). A parent nominated me for a Heart Award, no money, just an honor. He told her I was not the kind of teacher he was looking for--they should think about giving it to someone else. If I can't even get an honorary award, what chance would I ever have for getting a bonus?

Thursday's Exam

I gave my M&C class a test on Thursday. I really tried to make it easy, so more of them could pass. And I did the unthinkable--I gave them a review sheet a few days before with almost identical questions on it. If my AP knew, he would not be happy. I'm smarter than he is, though. I call the sheet practice, not review and I hide the real questions in with lots of other ones.

Some of the kids are good. They see through my tricks and manage to do quite well. Other kids have been beamed up to space somewhere and have been sent back to earth without some of their gray matter. For example, I gave them a question on combinations. I gave this one on the practice sheet nC2 = nC4 and the same problem with the 2 and 4 changed on the real test and at least 25% of the class got it wrong. I probably went over it 10 times before the exam and told them to beware. The also could not put these into their calculator and get the correct answer, even though I made sure to tell them they would have to do this on the exam. I did 1000!/999! on the board and on the test asked them 2000!/1999! and they couldn't do it. I know some of the stuff is hard, I try to teach the hard stuff, but put enough easy stuff on my exams so that everyone can pass. If only they would put the effort into studying that they put into goofing off, miracles could occur.