Monday, June 30, 2014

Jury Duty Experience

The summons had me calling in daily, after 5 PM, starting June 20, which meant my life was on hold all week.  I had to cancel appointments as I wouldn't know until the last minute if they could be kept.  Every day, when I called, I breathed a sigh of relief as my number was not called.  But, I knew when I hung up on Tuesday Thursday would be my day to report.  I was thankful to be assigned to civil court as criminal proceedings scare the crap out of me.  Besides, I don't think I am capable of deciding a life changing fate for anyone.

The recording told me to report at 9.  Being conscientious I got there at 8:50 and saw a line a half block long.  I waited and it got longer.  I sat until there was no more line and entered at 9:20.  The court  officer glared at us as if we were the prisoners and gave instructions in a very stern, no nonsense voice.  She entertained no questions.  While this was quite intimidating, I saw her point after a few minutes.  People are just plain dumb.

The first thing she said was if anyone was accompanying a juror, they should come forward. A woman got up with a baby.  At least ten people, all alone, got up to talk to her.  After finding out they were potential jurors and alone, she had them sit.  She said again, no questions yet but one man would not sit and kept going up to talk to her.  They collected juror summonses and then had people with problems line up.  Some were real but I am sure many were made up.  The number who claimed to not speak English was amazing.

After all this we sat.  Some people were called.  A 100 year old judge came in to address us.  He was kind of F status, retired but still working, collecting a pension and a hefty paycheck.  He emphasized how important we were and how we were respected but respect seemed to be lacking from many of those working there.  He said we hadn't lived until we were part of a jury.  This is one part of life I don't mind not living.  We didn't know how long we would be there.  It could be until 5, but not likely as most judges do not like working full days. (It didn't matter what we liked.)   We could be spending one day or two weeks.  But respectfully treatment of jurors is utmost.  (I do get they don't know but it is still discerning not to know.)

The wait in the jury room was long.  They did show Mrs. Doubtfire on television, there are computers, books, magazines and wifi and the chairs aren't too bad.  Still, not the way most of us would choose to spend the day.  At noon they switched to World Cup game which was an improvement.  My nap was interrupted when it was announced the US team would move on.

Lunch was from 1 to2.  At 2:30 they let people called but not picked this morning go home. It would have been nice if they let them go an hour and a half earlier. They only called one jury all day.  I'm no expert, but there has got to be a better way.  At 3:30 they sent us all home and told us we were finished with jury duty for at least 4 years.  Again, I could not believe how many people asked the court officer if they had to show up the next day.

I thought about blowing this day off.  I was sick and know I could have gotten a doctor's note.  I'm glad I didn't.  One day, no panel, was more than enough for me.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bless My Healthcare

When my back and leg started hurting several weeks ago, I knew, from experience I needed to see the pain doctor right away and I knew he would probably be sending me for an epidural shot.  I got the two medications I needed, one cost $5.15 and the other $1.80.

I am grateful every day for the health coverage that allowed me to get exactly what I needed immediately.  I can't imagine not having the ability to get the help I needed, the help that has me now on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Passive Resistance

A former Principal wanted us all to dress like it was 1950.  He spent the good part of a faculty conference telling us not to wear thongs, what today is called flip flops.  I remember watching some young teachers cringe as he talked about thongs as their definition was different from his.

Anyway, Mr. Former Principal and I did not see eye to eye on anything.  I spent the warm months in my flip flops, even bought the above pair in his honor

Things were different then.  Now I think I would be "toeing" the line in more conservative shoes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Dogs Have A Party

The little dogs had it with the yappy, nasty chihuahua.  They were going to party and they wanted no part of her.  They planned it in private and kept it a secret.

The party was a huge success.  Everyone laughed and had fun.  No eye bulging, barking, moody dogs around.  And that is the way it should be.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Retirement Henry, You Earned It

Apology before you read:  Henry never hated the kids.  It was the system that ruined them and made his life so hard.  Some of his rants mislead me.  He was a great teacher who always put kids first.

My friend Henry retired.  He has written over and over again how much he hates the kids and hates teaching but I always knew that was not true.  Today, on Facebook, he posted a beautiful note from a student, a difficult girl who was always being punished, never talked too.  Henry took the time, on his last day, to get to know her and to try to figure out a way to get through to him.

The school system took Herny's heart for teaching and ripped it out of his chest.  I feel so sad when I think of all the students who will miss out because this man is no longer in the classroom.  I feel awful when I think of all the needy students being placed in the hands of inexperienced teachers.

Henry is not the only teacher the system ripped from the students of New York.  APs, threatened by teachers older and smarter than them are pushing them out all the time.  Melanie will never again be able to help the lowest functioning special education students learn to read and Barbara will never again touch the hearts of the non diploma bound students that were in her care.  Elaine will no longer spend weekends tutoring her math students for free and Debbie will no longer spend hours helping out with college essays.

Tenure is what kept these caring teachers in the classroom.  Miserable, incompetent APs couldn't get rid of them by rating them poorly so they drove them to retirement with horrible, disgusting attitudes.  It takes at least 3 years to learn the trade and become a good teacher.  It takes longer than that to become a master teacher.  It takes a lot less time for know nothing administrators to get great teachers out of the classroom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Is Inclusion An Illusion?

“Is inclusion an illusion?”

by Jared Krybus

I was born in
Toronto. I’m 29 and have two younger siblings: Jordan, 26,
and Karla, 22. My parents, Manny and Marlene, adopted me at
birth. They’re the only parents I’ve known and I’m so
fortunate that they have treated me like their own. They
instilled in me a “never give up” attitude and told me
not to let moments define who I am.

I live in a condo by
myself. I work as a teacher’s assistant at Zareinu
Educational Centre and as a program assistant at DANI. I pay
all my own expenses. I play goalie on a hockey team. I’m
into hip hop and like to freestyle rap. And I love cooking,
especially pasta with chicken.

I’ve been told that
I have something called Global Delay, but I don’t really
know what it means. All I know is that I have a delay with
processing, fine motor issues and a speech impediment. I
stammer, and when I get really stuck my mouth starts to tick
or my hand goes up. I’ve had lots of awkward situations
where people thought I was drunk, and that hurts.

I grew up in
Thornhill and went to Vaughan Secondary School. I was in
what they call an Intensive Program, where my classmates and
I would integrate with the other kids for subjects like gym
and art. Kids would make fun of me in the playground and ask
me why I spoke funny, so I became a great storyteller
because I really didn’t know what to tell them.

I can never be
myself. People always interrupt me and correct me and
don’t allow me to follow through. It takes me longer to
process things than other people, but I was taught that
it’s better to take your time and focus on what you’re
doing and put your heart and love into it. But everyone is
in a hurry. They don’t take the time to hear me out.
I’ll be talking and they’re trying to figure out what
I’m saying, and they’ll say the word before I have a
chance to say it. I don’t know what their intentions are -
maybe nothing, maybe ignorance - but they don’t have time
so they think it’ll be faster if they try to figure it out
themselves. I’m used to it by now, but it still annoys me.

I love working with
people with challenges. I already advocate for myself, so
I’d like to become a spokesperson who advocates for others
like me, to help them find jobs, to prove to society that
everyone is capable. I would love to change the perception
that people with special needs are insufficient. We have to
try to include them in society ... even though they should
already be considered part of society.

Everyone is human.
Everyone has issues. People forget that every child is
human. Instead of calling them “a special needs child”
they should be calling them “a child with special needs”
or “a child with Down syndrome.” Put the human features
first and the challenges second.

People are under the
illusion that they’re not special needs. Everybody creates
their own normal. I play hockey every week and that’s
normal for me. I’ve had a stutter all my life so that’s
normal to me. It doesn’t make me who I am but it’s part
of me.

I am where I am not
in spite of my limitations but because of them. For example,
I’ve developed problem-solving skills: if I can’t get a
word out then I say an easier word. It has taught me to go
with the flow and to take chances and not be afraid of the
outcome. People are usually awkward around me because they
don’t know what I’m going to say or how intelligent
I’m going to be. But I can keep up a conversation with
anyone about politics or sports or whatever. I may not have
higher education but that’s doesn’t mean that I’m not
educated or I don’t have my views or opinions.

People don’t want
to see people like me get hurt. They don’t want to see me
struggle. But struggling is good. It lets you know how to
handle things, to problem-solve. You’ve got to learn how
to deal with your struggles yourself rather than have other
people smooth it over for you.

If I could offer
advice to people I’d say this: have no expectations
whatsoever, have no preconceived notions. Don’t judge.
Saying, “He can’t do it” is dismissive. There’s a
reason for everything! A child might not be able to
communicate by mouth, but give him an iPad or another
communication device and he can tell you everything.

I’ve learned so
much from Zareinu’s children. They’ve taught me to smile
every day. That when you think you can’t do something,
that’s when you show people that you can. And that when
you least expect it, that’s when greatness happens.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chicago Blogging Buddy

I just came back from a long weekend in Chicago and met a blogging friend.  I got to put a face and a voice to a woman I have been friends with for years.  It is always great when I get to be up front and personal with  one of these people I have only known online for years

The "wonderful" teaching conditions in Chicago my friend left the system and is now working as the director of a private school for the grand rate of $14 an hour.  She leaves her home at 7 in the morning and arrives home at 7 in the evening.  Although her paycheck provides her with a luxurious life style, she moonlights nights in a bar and weekends in a department store.  (The department store pays more than her teaching job.)  She will probably have to go back to the public system, but dreads this.  In the past, she had to moonlight to pay an aide to help out in her kindergarten class of 43.

Everyone thinks teachers have great incomes.  My friend worked three jobs to put her son through school because she knew he would not survive in the public system.  What a crime!

I am so grateful for all the wonderful friends I have made and met through blogging, bloggers in New York, in other parts of the country and even Canada.  My world has been enriched by these individuals and I am so thankful the Internet has given me this wonderful opportunity.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Today is my first Father's Day without my dad.  It feels strange not to be making that early morning trip to the Bronx to take him out for his favorite meals.  We only went to the diner near his house and he only ordered a short stack of French toast but he insisted on reading the menu every single time and asking me if they served what he wanted.

It has been 9 months since he died, but my fingers still itch to call every night at 6 and first thing every morning.  I miss the strong, confident man he once was, the father who could and did everything and I also miss the needy, dependent man he became. He was my dad and I loved him so much, as much as he loved me.

There are no words to describe the impact a father (or mother) has on a child.  Most children think of their father as being the best father and I know my dad was one of them.  He was always around when I needed him, from the time I was a little girl until the age I was when he got sick.  I knew he was gone when he stopped telling me to call him when I got home or when he stopped telling me to stay home whenever the weather was bad.

I miss the crazy phone calls consisting of weather reports and what he ate (which was always the same thing.)  I miss preparing his favorite meal-meatballs.  I miss him but I am happy he is spending this Father's day with my mom, the love of his life.  He had no quality of life at the end.  I pray there is quality in death.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Plan

The little dogs had enough.  They got together and planned.  They were going to stop the Chihuahua from hurting them ever again.  This time they had evidence and knew they could win.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dilbert Says It Again

This is the way today's incompetent, inexperienced, insecure administrators treat teachers who are more experienced, more secure and more knowledgeable.  They beat them down.

The APs who got the job, heaven only knows how, is threatened by teachers who not only know more than them, but are better teachers than they are use this technique all the time. An AP who could not pass a licensing exam without help and who got an administration degree with borrowed papers is incapable of anything but ruling by abuse.

Such is the system in too many of the schools I am familiar with.

Friday, June 06, 2014

A Wish

Think everyone can think of a few people to wish this on.  Nice and uncomfortable but no lasting harm.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

I Have A Life, Thank You For Worrying About Me

A commenter on Thank You Wimps wrote some rather unpleasant names which I deleted and posted that I needed to get a life, which I also deleted because I dared to say negative things about teachers who voted for the contract.

Well dear commentator, Mr. or Ms. Unity Hack, I have a great life thanks to the union of the past.  When I began my career the UFT was actually a union by the teachers and for the teachers.  When contract terms were unacceptable, we went on strike.  Don't tell me times were different then.  Things cost less but we earned much less.  We were single wage earners with families, mortgages, college loans, etc., but we did what we had to do and our union backed us up.  When we went back to work we paid dearly (two days for every day out) but it was worth it.  Conditions and salaries were better for all.  Happier teachers made better teachers.  People wanted careers in education.

No, I don't need to get a life.  I travel, I go to the theater, I eat in nice restaurants.  I do pretty much whatever I please. The UFT of the past helped make this possible.   And, I will continue to write what I want when I want on this blog.  Mr. or Ms. Unity Hack, you probably don't want members reading this and worry they might become disillusioned with you and you will lose the nice life you have made on our backs, doing nothing to help us.  The sad part is that most teachers have no idea what is going on around them and that is what keeps creeps like you in power.

Keep writing in those nasty comments.  I will just keep hitting the delete button on my keyboard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Thank You Wimps

I want to thank all the sheep teachers who followed the party line and voted YES for a contract that fills my pockets and does nothing to harm me.

You listened to the UNITY people who bullied you into voting yes, scaring you, telling you this is the best contract you will get.  You were so afraid to go to the end of the negotiating line you took the first thing offered.   Don't whine when you suddenly find yourself a teacher without a school, an ATR and end up with two Principals who don't like you and then on the unemployment line.  A teacher once told me she had no fear of ever becoming an ATR as her Principal loved her.  Well, her "lover" retired and the new leadership academy Principal was not so enamored.  She is now awaiting a hearing to determine if she can keep her job or not.

I'll be spending the next few weeks thinking about how I will spend my money.  I retired in 2011 so I get 4% and then another 4% compounded, plus my pension is recalculated and I get retro money on that and of course my base pension will increase too.  I guess you don't mind letting the city hold your money for another 6 years or so and you don't mind being forced to stay at a job you would like to leave.  And definitely don't cry if you don't last the wait to collect and you get nothing.

I always found most of the teachers I worked with to be wimps.  They bitched and complained but when it came to standing up, they never did.  They waited for someone else to speak and offered no support if that person fell down.

I feel for those who had the sense to vote no.  There are not enough teachers with backbone.

I had everything to gain with this contract, nothing to lose and I urged every teacher to vote no.  I don't want extra dollars that come at the expense of others.  You have all voted.  I will spend my windfall thinking of you.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Real Losers

I have a friend who is a fantastic teacher.  He is bright, worked hard and cares for his students.  Unfortunately his Principal did not like him.  Long story short, he ended up being sent to a rubber room where he spent 5 months and then, without even being told what he was being charged with, all charges were dropped and he became an ATR.

Friend has worked in various schools.  In each, he strived to do his best.  He cared about the kids.  But a big red R was branded on his forehead and no matter how many kids he reached he was never good enough for the administration of the schools where he worked.

Friend is disillusioned and is retiring this year.  He's taken enough abuse to last multiple lifetimes and he has had enough.  He's still being abused by his Principal but he's Teflon now and has told the evil bastard to bring on the "U".  The newbies in the school have been told to stay away from him.  The only people in the school talking to him are custodians, school guards and cafeteria workers, the ones the Principal cannot control.  It doesn't bother him since these are the real people, the ones he connects to.

The school system is losing an experienced, caring educator, one who has made a difference and would be continuing to make a difference if the system permitted.  His school administration and the city are winning as they are getting rid of another senior teacher.   He is winning because he will be able to collect a nice pension for the rest of his life.  The kids are losing but no one really cares about them.  Schools are a business and kids don't show profits.