Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pissed Off

No more will I come in on weekends or stay late to tutor regents kids.

No more will I stay late or come in early to help mark regents exams.

I am considering giving up my hall tutoring and my e-mail availability to my students.

All these things have gotten me pissed on for the last time.

In case you haven't guessed, I am really pissed off.


The decision to withhold trust has been validated.

This David Could Not Slay Goliath

It is Sunday morning and although the war is still raging I see the writing on the wall, I know how it will end. I won't publish this until the white flag is raised, but I want it on record, at least for myself that I saw into the future although I am not a psychic.

The war has not been fought on even ground. One side has much more power than the other. Although I have many allies most are too timid to do or say anything. They would rather make their comments, voice their displeasure at their own beatings in private. They are too afraid to fight. The major force could have made a difference but, as expected, stayed loyal to its peers.

I must be honest here and express a certain amount of gratitude to the major force. It did not have to get involved. Without its help, I would have been wiped out with the enemies first bullet. With it, I was strong and able to put up a fight. And, while I am defeated for now, the victor did not obtain its victory without a cost and for this I thank the major force. I am confident that my efforts have helped future generations. I am confident that the enemy will not be as arrogant and dictatorial in the future (at least not with me.) Others need to learn to do battle. We must ban together to weaken this tyrant.

So, even though I have some ill feelings toward the major force at the moment, I know as time passes, I will be able to reflect on this war, without so much emotion, and really appreciate the help it gave me. As I was relaying war stories to a friend yesterday, depressed that I could not win, sure that the major force was just humoring me, he stopped me in my tracks and said:

No, you are wrong. The major force does not get involved in these incidents for everyone and for no reason. The major force would have just let you be slayed in battle if you were not important. You are a force to be reckoned with, you are respected and appreciated. You are the victor in this battle.

Whether he is right or wrong, I do not know. I know his confidence in me strengthened my almost no existent self confidence. I know I will recover from this defeat and rise up again if the situation presents itself.

FOOTNOTE: I am wrong. The enemy prevailed, totally supported by the major force. I just got the gloating e-mail. I go down in defeat. I am sorry for the ones I could not help. I hope they know I did all I could for them.

Beast Of Burden

Today is September 30 and three new students were added to my geometry class, the class that was only formed September 25. By the way, school reopened on September 9th, in case anyone out there has forgotten. Some of the students had been in different geometry classes but not all. As we are completing the logic unit, some are seeing these topics for the first time. All of this is due to poor programming and no open seats in geometry classes.

Now comes the hard part, what to do about the missing knowledge. Packemin is so big that no viable tutoring program is available. Oh, once C-6 assignments start, I will say "go to tutoring in the library" but I know that is a farce. The teachers are there to answer questions,. They do not have the time to teach topics. Even my hall tutoring won't help most of these kids because they are free while I am teaching.

Who is accountable for catching them up? Who is accountable for their regents grades? Is it the Principal or Mr. AP? Is it Bloomberg or Klein as their policies caused the overcrowding caused situation Or, is it the classroom teacher? We all know whose back this will fall on.

Aren't there any brilliant educational scientists out there willing to solve this problem?


Some people need to grow a pair and learn how to use them. I know I did.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey Mr. Education Mayor

Did you change your campaign because of things that you might be reading on blogs?

I said it here first. Maybe you ought to take the advice you have been given on this and other blogs.

Gee, I hope I didn't inadvertantly help your campaign.

The Constitution At Work

The President is not the only one who uses this.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dear President Obama,

Dear President Obama,

So, you want kids to spend more time in school? You want an end to summer vacations and longer days? You want American schools to catch up to their European and Asian counterparts? Do you have any clue as to what is wrong with public schools in America?

Your plans, while well meaning, will do no more good than sticking a thumb in a leaky dam would do to stop a leak. If you really want to fix schools, start by asking teachers what really needs to be done. Contrary to popular opinion, not all teachers are overpaid under worked civil servants, retired on the job. Most of us love kids and love what we are doing. I personally would be financially better off being retired and there are many like me around.

First let me begin by talking about overcrowding in the public schools. There is a school in my neighborhood that was built to hold 1800 but now has almost 5000 kids attending daily. Our first class begins at 7:15 and ends almost at 7:00 PM. Some have lunch at 9:00 AM. There are teachers and kids who never see each other. It is impossible to ever confer with teachers teaching the same subject. Teachers who want to meet with students and offer them extra help sit on dirty floors in hallways.Your own children are getting a wonderful education in a fancy private school and you think public schools will be able to emulate this situation by making the time in school longer. Well, think again.

Second, class size in a public schools are too big. If you really care about quality education, you can begin by mandating smaller class sizes. Individualized learning is impossible in the schools now. Extending the school day and keeping class size so large will do nothing to improve education. Time spent in an educational environment might be longer but no education will take place.

Third, you've got to give up this idea that testing means anything. The tests being administered today have been so dumbed down that passing means almost nothing. So much time is being spent on test preparation that real learning is sitting on a back burner. More important, teachers are more worried about statistics than anything else. When possible, they are actually dumping kids from bright classes and putting them into lower level classes so their statistics will be good. This is happening before merit pay and before teacher tenure is being based on test scores.

Fourth, admit,though politically incorrect, that not everyone is capable of learning everything. Not everyone is college material or even interested in attending college. People have different things to contribute to society and can do so without that piece of paper. In fact forcing education on those that do not want it turns them off to school and life in general.

If you really want to improve education in America, make some real improvements in education. Your band aids are to going to solve the problem.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let's Hope

This is plain wrong. I hope our education mayor doesn't read it and get any ideas.

Oh wait, we don't have these programs in NYC so there is nothing to worry about.

Sorry To Disappoint

Cooking is a distraction from the war. I don't know why I let these things get to me. They really have no major effect on my life and in truth, if this is the worst thing I ever have to worry about, I am in great shape.

No details of the war will ever be posted on either blog, no matter what the outcome may be.


The prince and the princess wander in the door, straight out of school and end up with the best programs in the building. They get to teach the trig, the pre-calc and all the other classes experienced, good teachers are told they are not good enough to teach anymore.

When I was a young teacher, I saw the older, more experienced teachers getting the best programs. I resented it but new my time would come eventually. Rank still has its privileges, but the ordering of the ranks have changed.

Is it any wonder that there is resentment among teachers? Is there any wonder the old don't want to help the young?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Both sides have retreated for the weekend and as a result, war reporting will have to wait until Tuesday to resume.

So, loaded up on Mucinex and nasal spray, I hit the railroad to meet my daughter in Manhattan (she took the $1 bus in for the holiday) and we took a tour of the historic interior of the Plaza Hotel. Unfortunately, most of my pictures didn't come out because I accidentally hit a manual button on the camera and didn't realize why the pictures were so bad until hours later.

I usually take the subway, but its been a trying week so I took advantage of the weekend City Fare (only $1.25 more than the subway)

We found this great public bathroom on 35th and Broadway, right in the middle of the pedestrian plaza. I couldn't believe how clean it was.

Blue skies--and I love construction vehicles.

And my crappy Plaza pictures. I won't pay for the tour again (it was worth the $10 it cost) but I will go and retrace my steps with my camera next time I am in the area.

I Have A New Best Friend

Apologies to those now relegated down the list.

Perfect Tag

Not In Kansas Anymore

Growing up in a dictatorship, rather than a democracy, you believe that once an individual is in charge, that person can make all the rules and everyone in the land must obey unconditionally. Back talk and free thinking is not permissible and punishable by death. The dictator's word is supreme and no one should dare to disobey or question.

Growing up in a dictatorship and then moving to a democracy can be a problem for a person who grows up and gets a managerial job. Here we have rights and freedom of speech and thought. Here instead of saying "yes" we can say "why" and fight for the right to say "no."

The dictator is not in his own country anymore. If he is to survive, he better get with the program and learn how to work with people and talk to people. He has to learn to stop making threats and giving orders the citizens of the US have the right not to follow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Reason For My Crankiness

Not the only reason, but a big part.

I have a cold and am developing an ear infection.

I am extra ornery when I don't feel good.

Fruits Of My Labor

And I finally got the class in a decent room. No more suffering in here for them. I hope Ms. Can't Teach Some Courses enjoys the fruits of my labor.

I'm back to being trailer trash one period a day.

(In case you haven't guessed, I am really pissed. My CL says I don't have a grevience so I just have to suck it up. Hopefully things work out and I will be able to put the plan in place.)

The War Rages On

The first strike hit the enemy by surprise and the injuries were numerous. Unfortunately, the attack was not strong enough and a retreat was necessary. So, the battle was lost but the troops are strong and the enemy needs to recoup fast.

I might end up losing this war, but I am going down kicking and screaming all the way and taking as many with me as possible.

Another Attack

My small army of one has to keep trying.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hey Mr. Education Mayor

Demanding Accountability

"Students, teachers and principals are now held accountable for progress"

The above is quoted from the latest environmental polluter the Education Mayor just sent out.

Where is your accountability? Tomorrow is September 25, school started on September 9 and there are kids in my school just being put in a geometry class because there was no room in any classes before. Are you accountable for the two and a half weeks of instruction they missed? Or, will I be accountable when the regents rolls around in June?

Words Of Advice

Words of advice to new teachers: Don't do your job too well. If you do, you will be dumped upon your entire career.

The incompetents will earn the same salaries and reap the benefits of your work while enjoying the life of Riley.

The Battle Begins

(Warning--this post is written out of anger--grammar and phrasing leave much to be desired.)

Take a program that works.

Take the teacher that is working really hard to make it work and remove her from that class.

Take a teacher that is not competent enough to teach every subject and put her in the program that works and watch it fail.

The result:

1. An unhappy teacher who is considering handing in her walking papers even though that will make the powers that be happy. Her happiness and well being at the moment override the feelings of contempt she has for them.

2. Ruin the class:
Kids that were going to be pushed ahead will no longer have this option as the new teacher will not do the extra work. Watch more and more kids (especially our minority students) fail.


The new program arrived in an e-mail this evening. If I hadn't opened it, I would not have known about the change until I walked in tomorrow. Educationally sound? I think not! Do I know anything about the class? What they've learned so far? NO! Educationally sound--I think not!

The Warrior

I might not win, but much blood will be shed during the battle. Rest assured, it will not be mine.

Is It Really Possible?

That so many kids were programmed wrong?

That so many were put in lower level classes one of the higher classes had to be killed?

Can one little assessment test show this?

Are the guidance counselors really this incompetent?

Or, is everyone dumping to insure their stats will be good in June?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Cleaning

What do you do when you fear your value as a teacher depends entirely on your statistics? You simply arrange to transfer the students who might mess up your stats to another class? Not easy to do, you say? Depending upon what you are teaching, it might be easier than you think.

Packemin HS offers its ninth graders the chance to take integrated algebra in 4 terms or in two terms. I haven't quite figured out how the guidance counselors determine who goes where as my four term kids have eighth grade assessments ranging from 1 to 4, with 3 as a mode. I'm not sure anyone knows So, to help the process, we gave assessment tests. On top of this, we gave class tests, submitted the data and presto, the kids were moved around. Ten of my four termers left to go into the two term course and I know I am inheriting many of the two termers tomorrow.

I really don't get the entire process. Kids who got in the high seventies on my first test were moved into the fast track. A girl from the two term asked to take the test today and she scored a 92.

While I don't know much about the eight grade assessments, I know that they create a uniform standard, a standard that is accepted though out the state. The assessment test we gave showed nothing. Some kids had calculators, but many did not (and the scores showed it.) My first test might have been easier or harder than someone else's exam. No comparisons were made.

I'm happy the brighter kids were moved. I would have done it differently, but they should be in the better class. Unfortunately, they were not consulted and hit with the change when they walked in the building. It is really the other kids I am more concerned with. Kids coming form middle school are just adjusting to a new building and a new way of doing things. Their first exams might not be indicative of how they will do in the class yet, because of the fear of being labeled a poor teacher due to statistics, these kids are being dumped and they will never be able to get through four years of real math.

So here I am doing what I do best, bitching about the system. I am really lucky to have the four term group because I am sure if I had the two termers I would have kept them all, statistics be dammed. I refused to dump my geometry kids last year and my stats took a beating. My teaching value has been devalued because of this (as I am reminded at every departmental conference.) I don't care. If my work load ever lightens, I am going to look up the five or six kids I had to drop and see what happened to them. I talk to one of them all the time and he has yet to pass a math class. More teachers would be willing to keep them if they weren't so worried about the stats.


Aretha Franklin was sure right when she sang about Respect in the 70's.

While things are not perfect (and will never be perfect), working with an administration that actually respects what teachers have to say, and listens to them speak, makes for an almost pleasant environment. (In case you are wondering, there are still admins in my school that do not give or receive respect, so not everything has changed.) I am actually being able to try to do some of the things that I feel confident might work.

Now, don't get me wrong, just because I am respected and I give respect, doesn't mean I trust. Admins are on the opposite side of the desk and there is always danger in the air.

Those big brown bears in the zoo, the ones that look so soft and cuddly, are not behind the barriers for no reason. And, as cute as he looked, I stayed far away when I photographed the above black one in lake Louise this summer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Why does my house look like this every night?

I must be doing something wrong.


Educational philosophy changes more often than some people change their underwear.

I hate to be the one to say this Ms.Eyre, but changing schools won't help.

While you are young, you have to go with the flow. When you are as old as I am, you can do what is right for the kids and not worry about consequences.

Good luck to all the young teachers out there.

Algebra Student

She can't add 6 to 3 and come up with 9, even if she is adding on her fingers and I will be accountable for her failure to learn algebra. She is a freshman in high school.

What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, September 21, 2009


I started this blog to vent my feelings and frustrations about conditions and other things at work and things in the political arena that impact directly or indirectly on my life. That, my friends, is its only purpose. It does not have the power to do anything to help the ATRs, get rid of Bloomberg or Klein or do anything else. As much as I wish it were true, Bloomberg does not fear any of my negative mayor posts. So, please, do not give it any more power than it deserves. I certainly don't give it any power. No one of importance takes any of my thoughts seriously!

Department Meeting

Synopsis here (the post is short and to the point)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Data Doo Doo

I still don't have the hang of all this data stuff.

My ME 41 class seems pretty bright. I checked ARIS and most scored 3's on eighth grade assessments. Why they are in a four term class is beyond me. Mr. AP wanted us to give assessment tests. Unfortunately, when he mailed it out, I only got 10 out of the 20 questions so that was all I gave them to do. But, all except two kids got 7 or more correct so they obviously have not only seen the material before, they understand it pretty well. (I didn't need ARIS or the assessment test to tell me that.) I'm giving them their first test on Tuesday and Mr. AP wants to wait to see how they do before he makes any changes.

Guidance counselors have the same access to ARIS I have. Most of these kids took some sort of placement test before starting Packemin. Yet, they are obviously severely misprogrammed. And, what are we going to do, play with the data until it comes out the way we want it to? Will the school really reprogram 25 kids to make sure they are in the right class? And how about the special ed kids in this group? Many of them also scored well.

All this data stuff belongs here.

Find Another Career

The teacher ranted and raved at the child in front of the entire class.

"If you need tutoring this early in the term, you don't belong in this class."
The crestfallen kid turned away, walked to the back of the room and sat down.

Some teachers should not be teaching.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hey Mr. Education Mayor

What happened to your promise to get rid of all the school trailers? Where is your accountability? I don't recall, were there trailers classes when Thompson was president of the Board of Education?

It's been a while since I wrote this story, but teaching is still taking place out here.


During her junior year a high achieving student signs up for three advanced placement courses, in addition to the honor sections she has in every other subject and is a member of the JROTC. She is studying for SATs and agonizing over college applications. She realizes during the first week of her senior year that she is overwhelmed, and that she cannot cope with all the work. She wants to drop one of her AP courses but is told "Tough, you asked for it, now you keep it." The girl is crying all the time.

Question: Should she be allowed to drop or must she live with this program until June? Should she be allowed to change her mind?

I just read an IKEA ad that promised you could try a mattress for 60 days and then return it if it wasn't right for you. Should kids have rights similar to this?

Magic Word

The teacher walked into the AP's office and said "I need to talk to you." The AP answered "I'm busy, not now" and then pointed to the door. As the exit was being made, the teacher turned around and said "I have one word to say, GRIEVANCE" and then left.

All of a sudden the AP was not busy. All work was stopped, the teacher was followed and the conversation was held.

It is amazing what one little word can do.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Biggest Losers

Everyone is playing games. The DOE has initiated a hiring freeze on new teachers until all the ATRs are placed. The Principal's don't want the ATRs and are not hiring them.

The ATRs are losing as they cannot work at the profession they love.

But, the kids are the biggest losers. Monday will be the ninth day of the 2008 -2009 school year and there are kids who have not had a teacher yet.

Is there anyone out there that cares?



Thursday, September 17, 2009


Our school had a visit today from one of the district UFT reps. Speaking for my ATR buddies, I voice objections to today's hiring hall and the abysmal way these teachers are being treated.

His response:

The UFT fought hard for the hiring halls. The teachers only have to stay until the end of their school day.

By the way, the two ATRs in our building were on their way to the hiring hall when Mr. Unity Sucks came a calling. He couldn't understand why they weren't around as he had been in the building for an hour before I saw him. It never occurred to him that they were teaching.

Hey Mr. Education Mayor

Guess what subject I am teaching in this room?

If you guessed art, you can't pass go, you can't collect $200 and you might have to go directly to jail.

The correct answer is MATH!!!! Math to a group of main stream and special education students mixed.

Notice the chalk board in the front--that is the only one in the room.

Notice the seats that are not facing the board.

Notice the social setting for this class.

Testing will be fun--oh wait, they will all do well and that is what you want anyway so what does it matter if they actually learn anything.

I've been teaching a long time and I don't remember these type of classroom conditions when Thompson was in charge.

Exactly, what did you say you did with the $350 million you saved? You certainly did not spend it on the kids who must sit in this classroom daily.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Aid The Bulimic's Quest

Bloomberg's latest environment killer compares his record in education to that of Bill Thompson's.

Reading scores might be up under Bloomberg but in order for the data to be valid, apples have to be compared to apples, not oranges. The tests and scoring are so radically different now that it is impossible to use the statistics to justify anything.

School crime might be statistically down but how many incidences are still going unreported?

The dropout rate is down now because Bill Thompson's regime did not use credit recovery and seat time as a way to graduate students. Also, a regents diploma involved more than getting 34% of an exam correct.

Bloomberg might have cut $350 million from bureaucracy but he is not putting the money into the schools, no matter what he says. He spent $80 billion on ARIS, is paying almost 2000 ATRs to be glorified subs, class size is as big as ever and services to students are being cut every year. His cronies at McGraw Hill are still getting their big contracts, and the Brits are still coming to rate our schools. He might have saved $350 million but there is no mention of what he spent.

I'm not defending Thompson's record. As president of the Board of Education, he too left a lot to be desired but Bloomberg's mailings are a downright misuse of the data. Anyone believing them will also be willing to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Enough is enough. I wanted to barf when read this mailing. I personally have seen the deterioration of education in NYC during the eight years he has been in office. Thompson won the nomination and he won my vote and I hope, the votes of the majority of New Yorkers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


If a film crew was on hand to witness my algebra classes filling out book receipts, the world would have witnessed something totally unreal, something so unbelievable that no one would believe could actually be happening.

Let me begin by saying that my algebra classes are ninth graders, in the first term of a four term sequence. When I looked at ARIS, I saw that most of them had 3's on their eighth grade assessments in both math and English. So, I while I am not talking about little Einsteins, I am talking about kids who are, according to the state of NY, up to grade level.

Book time has always meant passing receipts back and having the kids fill them out. Everything is clearly labeled and I have never had a group, even a special education group, need special instructions (except for including their OSIS number and phone number). That is, until today.

Here are some of the things I heard:

"Ms, what do I put here?" (the line said last name)

"Ms, what is the title of the book?" (the book was sitting on the desk next to them)

"Ms, where is the number? (inside, on the spot that says number)

"Ms, what is pupil's signature?, Oh, I'm the pupil."

"Ms, do I have to take the book home?"

This process, which should have taken 5 minutes took 20 minutes and when I collected the receipts, I still had to hand some back for corrections.

All this happened 6th period and I was sure it was a fluke. The kids could not be that clueless over such a mindless activity. I was sure that is until I walked into my 9th period and the same episode repeated itself with one additional comment.

"Ms, this is so hard. I can't do it. I need help."

I'm going to need help to get through the semester. Chaz, you were right. I still like the kids but the honeymoon is ending.