Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Term Vs. Four Term

A mom just asked me the difference between four term algebra and two term algebra.  I began my answer the text book way, explaining how four term class is for weaker students, students who scored 1 or 2 on eighth grade assessments.  But then, I thought and added to my response.

From my experience, kids in a four term class do not get the same sort of math education as kids in the two semester sequence.  The majority of the students are weak and the material is watered down. Teaching to the bottom ignores students at the top and their chances of advancing are negligible.   Many students have emotional problems and discipline is not what it should be so there is lots of wasted time.  Most students in a four term sequence never end up with a good enough foundation to go on in math and successfully complete geometry and trigonometry.  (Don't jump on me, I know there are exceptions, I've taught those kids but they are few and far between.)

As someone who has been in the situation, I would prefer my child end up in a two term class if college is in future plans.  I would try to get him as much extra help as possible.  I would gladly accept a lower grade as I know my child has ended up learning the curriculum.  I have seen too many students dropped from two term to four term classes because they struggled in the beginning.  Everyone worries more about statistics than education and the four term classes have become dumping grounds.  I would want my child to strive to do the best possible in a difficult class rather than be the best in a situation that will not help him succeed at all.

(Portugal photos updated on Facebook.)

Algebra Is Important

I was going to post on this topic, but two young people I know well said it better than I ever could.  This is copied from their Facebook pages.

If an adult could only read at a 3rd grade level, society declares this to be a problem and that person has problems. But somehow if is considered acceptable, even good, to only be able to do basic math.

This is the WORST thing I have ever read. If someone suggested not forcing students to take English people would shout that it is beyond absurd. With people like this no wonder America is falling further and further behind!

Why not get rid of everything hard?  Politicians would love stupider Americans, more people to vote for them without having a clue as to what they are voting for.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beautiful Dance Moves

Thanks to ChiTown Girl

Makes Me Want To Scream

She Sees Just Fine

Her co-worker tells her she looks like she was dressed by a blind person.  I don't agree.  The girl has a style all her own.  She is an individual.  She has a mind of her own.  She doesn't fit into any mold.  She has always been like this.  She is special and outstanding.  She's been like this forever.  She'll never change and that is a good thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Portugal Pictures

Starting going through my pictures.  If you are interested, they are posted on Facebook.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This Man


One of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been on.  This was near our hotel in Albuferia.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Today. Just waiting for airport pick up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No Scruples A Must For This Job

No one can figure out how this individual manages to keep the job he has.

He has no education in the field and very limited experience.

He has no people skills.  He constantly barks at the people who work for him.

He has no scruples.  He lies and cheats and does whatever it takes to get ahead

Maybe that is why he keeps the job.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Perfect Travel Companion

On the bus to Albuferia. Traveling with my daughter is great. She taught herself enough Portugese to get around and her ability to speak fluent Spanish is very helpful. No money was wasted on the education of this girl!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cheater Profit

The AP bragged about the regents results and praised the teacher up the kazoo.

She pretended not to see the teacher in the room helping the students with the exam.

She encouraged markers to give the extra 5 points that got the kids over.

She ignored the cheating that made her look good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Alls Well That Ends Well

Flight got off almost 4 hours late so we missed early Lisbon connection. Luckily we were smart enough to realize this in Newark so we booked on later flight and called ahead to change time car was picking us up. The hotel is beautiful. The city is great. Only a minor mishap when we blew power with converter. (hotel lent us a compressor for our electronics.). Got lost and had two guys help us out. I am still in heaven over the pick up try. This hasn't happened to me in years. Only 30 minutes free Internet. Forgive typos. More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flight delayed

TWO FREAKIN' hours. At least we are in this lounge. The beer snacks and coke makes waiting easier. Of course we will probably miss our connection to Portugal. Nothing we can do about that but this really sucks.


I am sitting in the United Club (free passes with credit card). Boy, talk about the difference between this and the regular way I travel. The hairs are so soft. Free Internet is available. The bar is free and their are snacks! I am going to take pictures but won't be able to post until I get home. Because of my back, I am traveling light--I-pad only.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High Line

I never get tired of it or tired of taking pictures from it.

Some real cool artists created teh High Line Zoo in their little yard.

56 and Growing

The summer school math class that had 52 kids now has a roster of 56, with 48 showing up.  The AP in charge thought nothing of adding a few more kids to the group.  I kind of see her point.  Once the class hit 40 it would be hard to teach anyway, so what is a kid or 16 more.

These are the neediest kids in the building, kids that have attention problems and no ability to sit quietly and learn.  They need lots of individual help and they need to be in an environment that will encourage learning, not an environment full of distractions.

The teacher will be told to differentiate.  She will be told to call homes.  She will be held accountable for their failure.  She is in a no win situation.  I wish she didn't need the job and could walk away.  I am going to buy a lotto ticket and, if I win, I am writing her a check for the balance of her summer school money on the condition she leaves.  No one should work under these conditions.  No kids should be expected to attend classes like this.

Hey Mr. Education Mayor, if you can't see anything wrong with this scenario you need mental help!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Long Beach Fair

I got to celebrate my ability to walk again at Long Beach Arts and Crafts Fair.  NOthing beats a walk on the boardwalk on a beautiful day.  A few more pictures here, on Facebook.

Summer School

It is so hard to concentrate on anything during this heat wave. I am a responsible adult and have to force myself out of the air conditioning.   I am sitting in front of the television, air conditioner on high, thinking about those poor kids in summer school, particularly about my friend's class of  52 students.   Summer school classes have no cap.   These kids either are extremely limited (an average fifth grader could pass this course), did absolutely nothing, or did not attend class during the year. I wonder if anyone has any expectations of their learning now. Maybe they are lucky enough to have an air conditioned classroom, maybe not. And, without a home cooling system, studying will be non existent.  It doesn't exist under the best conditions.

 I recently read an op Ed piece in Newsday calling for year round school. I can't see what it would accomplish. It is just too damn hot to sit and concentrate. Bloomberg, who needs a room air conditioner installed in his car sees no need to supply kids with the same. Summer is time for recharging. Kids will not miss anything by being away from school for two months.   It might even do them some good.

Monday, July 16, 2012

For Daddy

How to Stop Chihuahuas Barking

Show your chihuahua who the alpha leader is.  Spray water in her face.  Let her know you are the boss.  You can send her whimpering into her corner.   Read more here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Purple Princess

I haven't been to a Sweet 16 party since I was 16.  Back then, they were home parties or at a local neighborhood deli.  One friend had a party in a fancy Chinese place on Broadway, but she was the exception.

A friend invited us to his daughter's party and we went, mostly because we adore the young lady and are very fond of her parents but also out of curiosity, wondering what a party like this could possibly be like.

The birthday girl was amazing.  She choreographed the entrance of her entourage and it was beautiful.  Each teen perfected his or her individual steps and couples moved as one.  We could have been watching Dancing with the Stars as these talented dancers made their way into the room.

After the entrance, the birthday girl sat upon a throne and a handsome young man brought in a pair of silver shoes on a pillow.  Her mother placed a crown on her head while her father removed her sandals and replaced them with these Cinderella slippers.  Her dress, custom made in Columbia, had hundreds of pieces of silk that danced with her as she dance.  After the grand entrance, she changed into an equally beautiful dress, more comfortable to party hardy in.

The hall was beautiful, the food and music good, but the one thing that made this party so special was the birthday girl.  This personable young woman greeted and spent time with every guest and took time away from her friends to dance with every one of them. 

I got to know this girl, tutoring her from the algebra res.  I did this as a favor for her dad.  Next year I hope to help her through trig, not for her dad, but for the chance to spend time with her.

Another friend asked what was such a big deal about turning 16 that made a big party necessary.  For this girl it was a celebration of her becoming a responsible, mature young adult.  I thank her and her family for letting me be part of her day.  It is an event I will remember fondly forever.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

No Help Available

The boy who did not pass the regents wanted to retake it in August. The first day of summer school he sought out people he thought would help him. Two were deep in conversation, probably discussing the best place to get a drink and did not even acknowledge his existence. Another looked at the young man and exclaimed "You don't know anything. Mrs. Fish, your ninth grade teachers is awful and you never learned any algebra."   The boy left.   His future is uncertain. He has no clue as to whether he can take the test or not. No one wanted to be bothered. You see, the boy has an IEP and the administrators only want him to disappear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Saving Money

A friend told me that the post office has a moving packet with a 10% Lowe's coupon.  She said she gets one every time she needs to make a major purchase.  This sounded good so I headed to the post office to save money on a new ceiling fan.

Lowe's didn't have anything we liked so we headed over to Home Depot and found exactly what we were looking for.  I casually asked the cashier if this store accepted coupons from Lowe's.  He answered yes.  It was only $10 but I am glad that $10 is in my pocket instead of the store's.

Hope this information helps all you shoppers out there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quote Of The Day

 From a former colleague's e-mail:
    ....I used to treat Harvey as he treated me....fairly...he was always kind to me I have to say BUT NO more....I see him for what he really is a FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Put More Trust In Middle School Grades

I read, with interest, the story on Gotham about the Principal of Truman HS who gives diagnostic tests to incoming students because she doesn't trust middle school Grades.  Packemin does the same thing and, from experience, I don't think this is the answer either.

Many incoming middle school students don't take those placement exams seriously.  I had a group of boys one year who decided to see how many letter patterns they could make with the choices.  They found this far more interesting than the math questions they were supposed to be answering.  All the boys were bright, their middle grade scores were high, yet they ended up in a low level class based on this exam.  I've had other students forced to repeat classes they did well in because they diagnostic exam came on an "off" day for them.  Many were angry at being placed back and never reached their full potential before graduating.  I once found a brilliant girl in a low level class due to this placement exam and managed, behind my AP's back to get her out.  By the time this young woman graduated, she completed AP calculus and is now doing very well at Sophie Davis Medical School. 

Jose Vilson, one of my favorite bloggers is a middle school math teacher has written about some of his top students not doing well in high school due to the high school education.  There are plenty of good middle school teachers, like Jose, who do a great job of preparing students and their grades should not be ignored.

There might be inflation of middle school grades but I don't believe a high school, or any school for that matter has the right to discount the education students got there   I also don't believe a student's education path should be set by one placement exam.

Packemin worries about statistics, as all schools do.  They don't want to risk putting kids in classes they might fail.  Truman, like Packemin, might be doing more harm than good.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Hard To Choose

So many flavors, it is hard to choose.  They don't mix so you just have to buy multiple cups.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Postponed Reward

Joe began his teaching career the same year I began mine. Unfortunately, a budget crisis in thec70's got him laid off. Fortunately, he found another career and never looked back. This new career came with a big paycheck and lots of perks. Joe traveled quite a bit and built up an amazing amount of points that allowed him and his family to take fabulous trips all over the world. Joe bought new cars constantly, had multiple homes an in essence, lived the good life.

Joe is now in the time of life when not working is inviting. He would love to retire but his career did not come with a pension plan and continued health benefits. He doesn't see a way to retire and keep living the life he likes to live.

Joe resents my pension and believes I am getting a check each month that I don't deserve. Joe forgets the cars, homes and vacations I never took. He forgets the expensive colleges his children attended. He only sees his present situation.

Joe could have returned to teaching. He didn't because he wanted a job that paid well. He got that and more.

I never begrudged him his life and has no right to begrudge mine. I worked hard for every penny I am getting now. No one is giving me anything I did not earn.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Proud Mommy

 (proud of my photo shop ability to get rid of his address here)
 crown molding in dining room
 deck and view


My soon to be 30 year old son just became a home owner.   I write this with a lot of pride, partly because he is able to put down a sizable amount and is able to pay a mortgage at his young age. He knew exactly what he wanted and went out and got it. 

It is a great house, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, full finished basement, and a deck.  It is semi attached in a nice neighborhood with a good school district.  Not big enough to get lost in while he is living alone but big enough for him, a wife and a couple of kids.  (Okay, I'm dreaming here, but it is allowed.)

Monday, July 02, 2012


You son has a girlfriend you think of as a daughter. Your daughter's boyfriend is a son to you. You have a connection with both sets of parents and know immediately that you will all be good friends for life.