Monday, May 23, 2011

Random Thoughts

Boy oh boy just when we think we have problems, all we have to do is see the news to learn other people have it worse than we do. Poor Arnold Schwartzenegger, and he thought being governor was tough, wait until the divorce attorneys' get done with him. Of course, now other women are coming out of the woodwork, how dare he cheat on his mistress.

Haley got voted off Idol. This next comment may sound sexist because it is, but I don't think girls should sing Led Zeppelin songs (I don't think guys should sing Carol King songs either). Then she sang Rhianna by Fleetwood Mac, which is my next favorite group. I also love Stevie Nick's music and Haley if you're going to sing Stevie's songs you must dress in black, not gray. For those two reasons I was glad to see her go, narrow minded? Certainly, and I readily admit it. Interesting that both finalists are country based. I was actually pulling for James Durbin.

Please NBA put us out of misery, get the playoffs over with. I'm sure at the slow pace they are doing the conference finals and then the Finals we will be able to shoot off fireworks and then watch the game.

Sad to hear about the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, we used to live about 40 minutes from Joplin and I really liked it for a small city (pop. around 50,000). To think that 75% of received damage is unbelievable. Our blessings to all the people in southwest Missouri effected by this terrible storm. Did you know Joplin is about the same size as Muskogee, Oklahoma? That comment will mean nothing to anyone except my daughters.

Go out and have a great week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Superintendent Fun

Monday I had the treat of going back into the classroom and being the teacher. I'm a P.E. major and also taught health prior to going into administration. But this was in FACS, which is completely out of my element, we cooked breakfast fritattas which I learned at the KC Culinary Institute during a cooking lesson given to me as a birthday gift.

I began my preparation by cooking one myself to show the students what they will look like when finished, the class that was in there was primarily boys and when I took the bacon out of the oven they were like a bunch of crazed dogs. I quickly found that my biggest challenge would be to keep the guys away from the bacon, until they got out of class. They asked what I was doing and having the natural curiosity of kids was great. I did share a little of the finished product with a couple of teachers and the high school secretaries.

When the girls came in for class I had their cooking stations set up with the proper ingredients and briefly explained what we were making and what steps should be taken first, then let 'em go. They weren't hesitant to dive in and get going, I have said this before, but when my daughter came and demonstrated cake decorating, they were very eager and she never once had to ask for a volunteer. I knew they would have questions as we moved through the process, and that's the part I enjoyed the most. Going from group to group, answering questions and interacting with the kids really made my day.

Sometimes as a superintendent, with the financial crunch we all face or the adult issues you have to handle on a daily basis, your mind gets away from what's important in school, the kids. Plus, why we think we have to provide them the answers before hand takes the fun out of instructing, in my opinion. Give them enough information to get started and then let their inquisitive minds take over. By the way I will gladly provide the recipe if anyone wants it and their fritattas turned out to be excellent, plus it gave great joy to this old dog.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Hate To, But

As we have spent the year introducing new things to our staff, in the hopes of them seeing their advantages and using them. We have delegated all of our professional development to some form of technology integration. I realize this may take time and we have won over a few and that is encouraging. Now comes the but part, I honestly don't understand why more haven't come on board with our efforts.

So I guess we have drawn the line in the sand so to speak. Last Wednesday we had a late start day and announced to the staff that next year, we would be a google apps school so they have no choice except to learn how to use them. We also told them that we would be using edmodo as a way to communicate with kids. I hate force feeding people but I hate even worse that some feel direct instruction (lecturing) is the most effective way to teach kids and they actually learn best using that strategy. Why don't we just show a powerpoint and read it to them, when all of us know when we go to a workshop and the presenter does that we turn them off in a matter of seconds, as well we should.

Our hopes are obviously that our naysayers will see all the advantages and tools available to them and will look for ways to improve instruction. If not I guess they need to know that we are not backing off, so open wide we are about to cram more in.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Random Thoughts

Our spring sports have quite the successful season. Our boys and girls track teams both won the conference championships yesterday, we think its the first time in school history that has happened. Our golf team won the conference tournament by 107 strokes!! I would say we ran the score up on them, but in golf I think you say you ran the score down, but not sure on that.

Trouble again at Columbus, Ohio. This time its that over 50 players have gotten cars for apparently below the sticker price. Nothing like piling on Ohio State, now there is no way that I think they are the only place that players get vehicles, shall we say for a discount, but when it rains it poors. I think we are going to use Winning With Integrity by Jim Tressel as our text book for a character ed class.

Doesn't hardly seem like the NBA playoffs without the Lakers and Celtics. I now have a great excuse not to watch them, I am a long time Celtic fan which means I'm obligated by law to hate the Lakers. When your favorite team isn't playing at least you can pull for whoever is playing their rival, now both are gone. Oh well only a month of basketball left, where'd the season go.

I love how the oil companies haven't dropped the price of gas, even though the price of oil took a drop. The reason as explained on the news, we paid a high price for the oil so the price has to remain up. Funny when you were using oil that you had paid a low price for the price spiked immediately. I can't believe no one ask them that question.

Hope everyone's school year ends on a positive note.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Continue to Ask "Why"

I attended a conference this past Thursday and Friday at Roaring River, Missouri sponsored by Pittsburg State University and our local service center, Greenbush. It was very good to visit with administrators that have more experience than I, and to visit with people in higher ed about educational reform.

One of the speakers was Andy Tompkins, the current chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. Dr. Tompkins was the former Commissioner of Education for our state department of education. This really gives us involved with K-12 education an ear with the Board of Regents, which has been long overdue. Dr. Tompkins wants to get K-12 educators to work with the Board of Regents in regard to what is best for students prior to them leaving high school, a step in the right direction in my opinion.

One of the things we kept asking was why we do some of the things we do in education. After you left your highest level of school, when have you written anything that resembles a research paper? So why do we have students write them? To prepare them for college, same question, why do colleges have them write these types of papers? Why are we looking at four years of math, when we know some of our students will not be successful in advanced math classes? Especially when you don't need that many hours of math in college, unless you are a math major.
We found the "why" questions kept going on and on, it was very good dialogue.

Why have public high schools been relegated to college prep anyway. With the economy and rising cost of college maybe we should look at other avenues for our students. I know this is about educational reform, but why do our schools look like they did when I was in high school? We need to keep asking why and until someone can give us an answer other than "we've always done it that way", we won't settle for the status quo.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

Probably a bad day to write since most of the reading today will be about Osama Bin Laden, all I can say is bring our kids home or at least station them around facilities that we feel may be subject to terror attacks. At any rate get them out of Iraq and Afganistan. I'm thinking this just won the 2012 election for President Obama, can anyone see his approval rating soaring.

Here it is the first of May and I had frost on my windshield this morning and is supposed to have frost again tomorrow, come on global warming. Also the KC Royals are above .500 the first of May been a while since that's happened, let's go Blue, keep it up.

I'm sure the pro sports teams have the seasonal thing figured out. The NBA and NHL playoffs will last until June probably and they are winter sports. The Boys of Summer will conclude in November and they are the summer sport. Does anyone else, other than me, feel the regular seasons are to long?

The NFL is again locked out after two days of the judge's ruling. The owners are driving this in my opinion, plus when was the last time they won in court. For that matter when was the last time you heard an owner selling the team because they were losing money. Maybe we should lock the owners out and let the teams go ahead with their business and put the money made from the teams into the players pension fund.

Another thing I'm not sure I understand. When you talk to government officials about big businesses sharing the tax burden the first thing they say is if we do they may pull out and that will effect the job market. Good point. Then why are we getting the cuts we are in education and having to lay off or let people go. Why aren't jobs in the education field just as important as jobs in the private sector?

Go out and make it a great week. Remember this is teacher appreciation week do something special for them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Going to Have Fun

Last week I wrote about our teachers experimenting with things at the latter part of the year, with the God forbidden Assessment tests completed. The last thing I want to occur in our schools is beginning test prep for next year. Make learning and teaching fun, motivate students so they are looking forward to getting back to school, and teachers are looking forward to getting back to use the new things they experimented with.

It then dawned on me, why can't I have fun also. This fun stuff shouldn't be limited to our teachers and students. Administrators should also try new things, and find new ways to connect with the kids. I have found mine.

A couple of months ago I wrote about my daughter in culinary school assisting our FACS teacher in cake decorating. As I watched her I was amazed at how attentive the freshmen girls were in what Makenzie was teaching them. In fact they decorated the cake that was served at this year's prom.

For the last couple of years my family has given me cooking lessons at the KC Culinary Institute for my birthday. I have thoroughly enjoyed these and even learned some things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not becoming Chef Greg and the Food Network has yet to contact me, but I enjoy it.

All that to say this. I talked to our FACS teacher and I'm going to prepare my favorite egg casserole for the freshman girls, but during their class they will serve as my sous chefs as we prepare a casserole. I am really looking forward to May 16th I'm going to have a blast.

So move over students and teachers the administrators are joining in on the fun, and this superintendent is leading the way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Random Thoughts

I sure wish William and Kate would hurry up and get married, I'm already sick of the coverage and the event hasn't even occurred yet. Through no fault of their own I'm sure they wish it would go away, also. Our press has gone nuts over this event, anyway, I wish them the best.

I wonder if Jim Tressel, head football coach at Ohio State University, has thought about renaming his book, Winning with Integrity? How about Winning with Ineligible Players and Trying to Cover It Up? I think they a real mess in Columbus, but I will be surprised if they fire him, however, I'm sure the NCAA investigators are licking their chops. One would assume you should let your boss know of possible infractions before emailing, texting, and visiting with FBI guys as well as others about the incident, above all don't lie to the NCAA.

Is the price of gasoline going up in your area? Okay I know the answer to that, but it amazes me how the oil companies are quick to point out they don't set the price, my question is who does? Does Apple not set the price of their products? Then they want our sympathy because its not their fault there is unrest in the Middle East, as they record profits. How about this OPEC everytime the price of oil goes up per barrel the price of wheat goes up to match it. Since the USA, Russia, and China are the largest producers of wheat we can boost our economy and help out the farmers.

Is the Donald going to throw is hat in the ring for President, I hope so. How much entertainment will that provide. It also amazes me how the news people say he has no experience in politics, and that's a bad thing? Look where career politicians have gotten us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Do We Do Now?

We are winding down on taking the Kansas State Assessments, we are like so many other schools as this is a stressful time for teachers, administrators, and especially the students. Even though it shouldn't be, it still is, because those not in the education actually think these tests mean something. However, this post is not about standardized testing and my feelings in regard to them, there are plenty of posts out there that will reflect that.

When I coached football I really enjoyed coaching spring football, and the reason was experimentation. As we put together the things we learned from winter clinics and other changes we thought needed to be made, the spring was the time to look at these new things, to see what worked, what didn't, and what might work by tweeking it a little bit. I also made our coaches work at a different position area to gain an understanding of that position, and increase their knowledge of our program and schemes.

After our teachers take a collective sigh of relief that the tests are over, the infamous question abounds, "What do we do now." We still have a month of learning and the year is not over, just because testing is, its time to put on more steam. We will encourage our staff to experiment, maybe they were afraid to try something new earlier in the year because of "test prep." Now is the time to try a new methodology, a new piece of technology, start a class blog, have the students collaborate if they haven't done so on a project, incorporate more or different critical thinking skills, a different type of differentiation, the list can go on and on. The point is step out of your comfort zone, you may find something that you like and works better with the students. Some things will work, some won't, and some will need tweeking to work properly, but take a chance. It will improve our instruction for next fall, and that's what its all about, a continuous learning cycle.

With the things that are now available, I find everyday I learn something new in the education world, and now I wish and hope our staff will do the same.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

Boy I'm sure happy our government spent 7 years and $55 million to get an obstruction of justice vs. Barry Bonds. Maybe we should hire better attorneys to try cases or just quit bringing charges as the government. Good gosh OJ had the glove why couldn't they have gotten a hat from early in his career and had him try it on. Then ask the tough question, how many people's head grows a size or two in their adulthood? Wonder why that happened?

The government did not shut down last weekend Oh Boy Oh Boy. Both sides claiming victory, isn't that just like politicians they don't know when there is a winner and a loser. They are the winners and the American people are the losers. Nice that they would continue to be paid and our troops wouldn't, makes sense to me. Wonder how those politicians could look them in the eye and say "we are sending you to a war to protect our oil interests and by the way we aren't going to pay you, but we will still draw our paychecks." Now to work on next years budget, let the games begin.

As I have stated before I don't fly and don't intend to start anytime soon. I do like afternoon naps so does make me a candidate to be an Air Traffic Controller. I wonder if they realize they have people's lives in their hands. Comforting to know that the guy in the tower may be rocked back in his chair, feet up on the desk, drool rolling down his face. Maybe they should look at putting people on day or night shift, so they can regulate their sleep instead of shifting them back and forth, just a thought.

Have a great week.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Random Thoughts

Now that the NCAA basketball tourney is over and college fans are holding their breathe to see if their local stars are going to the NBA or not. I loved listening to Charles Barkley during the tourney, he said he didn't see a freshman this year that was ready for the next level. I've always thought the one and done was perhaps the stupidest rule I have ever heard of. If a kid is good enough out of high school to play let him go to the NBA. They can in baseball, tennis, and golf why is basketball so special. If a kid wants to go to work after high school do we say "no you must attend college or a vocational school for one year then we can hire you, and by the way we could care less how well you do in your classes, you just have to attend."

I am not a flyer, I won't do it the reason-I'm a coward, its scares me. I wonder if Southwest's new advertising slogan will be No Baggage Fee but the Roof May Come Off. I'm guessing they should have checked the cracks in the top prior to it being skinned back at 36,000 feet. Now ask again why I won't fly.

Glenn Beck fired by Fox? What's up with that? Ratings were good and I thought that's all that mattered to the networks. I watch Fox News please don't dislike me for that, never been much of a Beck fan, though. Just surprised me I'm doubting if any of the other main stream media networks will pick him up.

TransOcean sent out a letter to their employees that last year was their best year for safety. Should we again show them the video of their oil rig in the Gulf blowing up and 11 people died. Glad I don't work for them if last year was their banner year for safety. Maybe they can help BP look for the missing laptop, sounds much safer to me.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm Excited

I put in a proposal to be a presenter at a tech conference, June 3, at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. I received an email on Tuesday that my proposal had been selected. The hair on the back of my neck stood up with excitement about this opportunity.

I know I won't be the most knowledgeable speaker there and that is fine. But I am one that didn't send an email until 2002, when our oldest daughter moved away to college. I figured I might as well learn how to email so I could stay in touch with her, without calling or using snail mail. I have even made the statement that why get started with all this tech stuff since what we're using now will be outdated in six months. Even though that may be true it now excites me to see what is available in six months.

Then our high school went 1:1 and that was my learning revolution, how cool it was for teachers and students to learn from each other, leveling the playing field for all students, and opening up to the wealth of information that exists out there. Then my next learning revolution was being introduced to twitter via @gcouros and now I have really blossomed as a tech learner and am eager to share my transformation as well as some of the tools I use as well as our school.

I have spoken before at conferences but they were coaching clinics and I was talking about football, something I have the utmost confidence in my knowledge. I am in the catching up phase here, and at my age, I think that is a benefit to show even an old dog can learn new tricks, but keeping up with all the people on twitter keeps me young and enthusiastic.

The initial plan is to talk on symbaloo, google docs, prezi, zunal, and edmodo. I know that is a lot to cram into an hour, but there is a method to my madness. I figure if I talk the entire time no one can ask me questions at the end to see what I really don't know. I just hope I'm not last on the itinerary since I am well aware that the only thing going through educators minds at that time of day is when am I going to get home. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Random Thoughts

The news has been full of interesting items and just can't wait any longer or my intellectual thoughts will be to long for anyone to read.

Drove home Monday morning from my mother's house and on Kansas City sports talk radio many of the University of Kansas fans were wanting Coach Bill Self fired for choking in the NCAA tournament. Let's see his record the past two years has been 68-6, 7 consecutive conference titles, 1 national championship. I didn't see him miss a shot as they went 3 for 21 from the 3-point line, 15 for 28 from the free throw line, and his man didn't score a point but the rest of the team failed to guard in the first half. Ok KU fire him and see how long it is before he has another job, I'm guessing minutes. Good Luck to the Final four teams.

I see a cobra escaped from his container in the New York City zoo. Zoo officials feel that the snake is still confined in the reptile house, however, and the zoo is safe. That may well be true but I wouldn't be taking that chance. My advice is if you had a field trip scheduled to the zoo, cancel it, if anyone can find a lost cobra it would be a child.

Libya has been front and center in the news. Our elected officials act like their leader has just become a tyrant, news flash its been that way for decades. Why can't a politician just say we went into Iraq and are helping the rebel forces in Libya because of oil. I don't see us going into any other country with a dictator that doesn't have oil. A question I have though does the leader of Libya spell his last name with a Q or a K. I'm not nearly smart enough to run a country but I can spell my last name and it begins with a G.

How's this for convenience BP has lost its laptop that contained 13,000 names and information for the people that were to get paid from the oil spill. Are you kidding me I have owned a laptop for over 8 years and have yet to lose it. Now just come out and say it we have no intention of paying you people a dime. We will bog you down in paperwork and pester you with having to refile your information in hopes that you will give up. You have had months to figure out how to avoid payment and the best you can come up with is we lost the laptop?

Public workers unions have really been under attack from politicians. Let's see that is mostly police, fireman, and teachers. They usually don't have the power to strike and now several states are removing their collective bargaining rights. Doesn't sound like much of a union to me. I almost wish those legislatures would get mugged, house catch on fire, and home school their kids, and see how quickly they get assistance.

I was going to say something about the Wal-Mart lawsuit but my brain is worn out as well as my fingers, but go plantiffs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Refreshing Change

This past week we had our spring break and we did our usual work around the house and my mom's house at the start of the week. My sister and I had to make the decision about a month ago to put our mom in a nursing home in our hometown. Tough decision.

My wife worked over the weekend so I headed back to mom's house to spend time with her and do some things around the house. I wish I could have gone to EdcampOmaha but being with mom is more important and I'll catch up on the information I missed.

My mom doesn't have the internet at her house and neither does my sister, and you know what I found out? You can live without it. Don't get me wrong I thoroughly enjoy checking my blogs, being on twitter, and all the other advantages the internet gives, but I survived without it. My Blackberry kept me as connected as I wanted to be and that wasn't much. My best friend from high school was home and we had several great conversations and of course solved all the world's problems. Our oldest daughter had some time off and spent a few days with us, our youngest daughter had break the week earlier, and it was great to spend time with both of them even if it was separate weeks. My sister and I visited about important issues and took care of some business we needed to. It was a refreshing change not to be connected and to reestablish relationships with people that are important in our lives.

Of course the first thing I did when I got home was to see what I missed out on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Get Off Our Backs

I have never written to a politician before this year. In the last two weeks I have written my state representative and state senator five times. I probably should have saved some of these for my blog since I writing from my heart about education.

I am sick and tired of politicians thinking they know more about education than professional educators. Just because someone attended school does not make them qualified to run a school or tell teachers how to instruct children. I've had surgery but I don't pretend to be a surgeon.

In my opinion the state legislature in Kansas has gotten out of control, they lost a lawsuit several years ago in regard to school funding and now it seems they have a vendetta against public education. I realize if the money is not there we will have to take cuts like every other state agency, but to do away with our check and balance system of government is just wrong and in my opinion unconstitutional.

Stay out of the classroom, stay out of administration, and just once think about the effect your decisions are having on kids. In other words get off our backs and let us do our jobs, that is what we are trained for and go back and figure out how to get reelected, that's what you do best.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Random Thoughts

I know I know I'm writing my Random Thoughts early this week but when things hit me if I don't respond I'll forget them. You're right that has to do with age.

March is certainly an exciting time of year. Spring football is getting ready to start or has already started at some schools. Is there another sporting event going on in March? Okay the tournaments are exciting. I really enjoy the Mid-Major tournaments, those kids play so hard to get their one chance at going to the NCAA tourney. Unlike the major conferences where you pretty much know what teams will get in, just their seed is in question, no matter how they do in their conference tournament.

Speaking of seedings I'm sure I understand this process. All the so called experts are out with who the #1 seeds will be. Most of those predictions has Duke with #1 seed and they are not even the 1 seed in their conference. How does that work? I have never understood basketball, of course when your body resembles a basketball (if I were an inch shorter I'd be perfectly round) its not an advantage in the sport. Oh well good luck to all the 68 teams, hope its exciting.

The Big 12 released its all conference team and Marcus Morris of the University of Kansas was selected Player of the Year. I know the coaches know way more about this than I but two players were unanimous picks on the all conference team and Morris wasn't one of them, so why wasn't one of those guys Player of the Year?

Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that Coach Tressel only gets a two game suspension when it comes out that he knew about the players violation. In case you didn't remember the kids got a 5 game suspension. I wonder if they had sold those goods at a family yard sale if they would have gotten in trouble? Just doesn't make sense to me.

Also why do we spend so much time trying to differentiate instruction (which is best for kids) and the tests we take are still standardized.

In Kansas we are to be teaching the new federal Core Standards but taking our state assessments
over the Kansas standards. I realize we shouldn't be teaching to the tests, however, does this make any sense at all? Thats like covering Chapter 10 and the test will be over Chapter 15, see what happens when you have politicians making educational decisions.

Have a great week and weekend.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Business is Our Business

I first fell in love with educational technology when I was a principal of a high school that took on the 1:1 initiative. This is coming from a guy that didn't send an email until 2002 when my daughter moved away to college. You are right I was forced to in order to stay in touch with her. I also found that we had to force staff members to use the technology, but it was so cool to see the kids teaching our teachers what the computers would do.

I still enjoy investigating what is out there and there are just two criteria I use 1) it has to be very user friendly and 2) it has to be free.

As much as I like the new innovations and talking about educational reform I know we are in the people business and schools always will be and no matter what innovations come along, we are about people. Whether its dealing with parents, our support staff, the state department, or the most important commodity we have the kids. When I see them every morning come into our school I forget about twitter, edmodo, or what I've read that morning on my favorite blogs. Lest we never forget what business is our business-just keep this in my mind: Elementary teachers just love their students, secondary teachers just love their discipline, and college professors just love themselves. Have a great week.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Random Thoughts

Well I finally have some things to write about as the world of education is again in the news front lines. The Daily Show has had some good takes on what is going on with the public sector, specifically teachers, its good to have someone to laugh at and Jon Stewart is doing us a great job, plus he is so funny. We thought Waiting on Superman was negative, holy smokes what the national media, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan (and he's supposed to be on our side), and the rest of the education experts, are doing to us makes that movie look like it supports public education.

Ok you big boys in Washington D.C. don't threaten a government shutdown unless you're willing to go all the way with it. Doesn't that cry-if I don't get my way I'll take my ball and go home-go ahead and leave. Thats the only way Congress will not hurt the American public is to not meet. What is this about we will only shutdown the non-essential services, hello, if their non-essential why do we have them. I say shut it all down: send the postal workers home, the mint workers, guards at federal prisons, border patrol, homeland security, the whole kit and kaboodle. Instead you want someone to protect the clowns in DC as if we can't function without them.

Charlie Sheen is cracking me up. Okay I've watched all the psychological experts talk about Mr. Sheen and granted would I want him to babysit my children, no, but to say he has deep mental problems I don't agree with. I probably shouldn't admit this but I went to college with about a couple dozen guys that were just like him they were called party animals. Charlie is reliving his college days, is he being responsible, no, is he hurting the other members of his show that are now out of work, yes, is he a role model, hope not. I have a cure take the camera and mike's away and he will not seem so sensational.

Its a shame what happened to BYU's basketball team, but good for the student for being a stand-up kid, good for the university by sticking to their code. I hope he can rejoin the team next year, I think both sides handled themselves with class, instead of two letters short of class which commonly happens in todays world of college athletics.

Good to be back.

Monday, February 28, 2011

We Need to Watch

The problem in Wisconsin has garnered national attention for several weeks now and the outcome of it has me concerned in regard to how people will view educators and education in our country. Its not like we are getting the most positive publicity anyway and I'm afraid this will only hurt our cause.

Like him or not Mr. Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin and I'm sure he didn't keep his view on due process or collective bargaining a secret, one just doesn't unleash those views on the public and hope they fly. So you are stuck with him this is a bad way to negotiate, and even worse to have your elected officials flee the state because they don't want to vote on the budget, come on. What about the people who voted for them, where is their representation. I will be the first to admit had he not passed tax breaks for big business, then said what a financial mess they are in he may have a slightly easier time.

Trust me teacher unions are not the problem with education in America. Since the world points to Finland as a country that is on top of the education world, and 76% of their teachers are in the union I think we must look a little deeper. How about putting someone in charge of the nation's schools that has no public school experience and only understands numbers and the bottom line. As I have told several of my peers, I've yet to see a hog farmer weigh a pig daily to fatten it up, and the notion we can test our way to excellence is ridiculous. Judging teachers by their test scores is equally ridiculous, what other profession comes under this type of magnifying glass?

I do truly hate to see these things happen because the students of Wisconsin are suffering through no fault of their own. However, with every state facing the same financial woes we need to watch what happens closely. I have always shunned away from being politically active, but when I see politicians know more about education than educators, health care than doctors, and war than military leaders, their intelligence is unlimited. We need to watch what happens in Wisconsin I'm afraid two wrongs won't make a right.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Now I Get It

Yesterday my youngest daughter, Makenzie, taught our 9th grade FACS class the art of cake decorating. Makenzie is a student at a culinary school with her prime focus on pastry. Our FACS teacher was one day discussing they were going to start on baking and would like to do cake decorating, but had little expertise in the area. I gave her Makenzie's email, they made connections and Makenzie had some time off before she starts her internship, so things worked out well.

I, of course, had to go down to the class to observe as Makenzie had expressed her nervousness the night before over teaching the class. She also remembered what 9th grade girls are like and how attentive they can/cannot be. When I was a high school principal I used to joke with the freshmen that I wouldn't talk with them much during their freshman year, I would wait until the next year when they became real people.

I was shocked to see how attentive those eight girls were on what Makenzie was showing them and how comfortable Makenzie got in her role as teacher. Mrs. Howard sat at the back of the room running the video and taking notes on Makenzie's instruction. When Makenzie would demonstrate then ask for someone to try the technique, the girls jumped at the chance, never once was it come one someone give it a shot, their enthusiasm to try something new, and in some cases difficult, amazed me.

They will now have a cake decorating competition in which they will skype with Makenzie for tips and she will judge the final products, and this will be tough on her as she will really connected with those girls.

Okay now I get it:
I understand passion-saw it first hand in the instruction and the students
What we do in school goes way beyond core curriculum
The use of technology to aid in instruction
Connections with students is the most vital thing we do in school

The last thing Makenzie made her old man proud.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Don't Know Why

I received some distressing news last Friday, a classmate of my youngest daughter committed suicide. He was in the service and got married not to long ago. This really got to me more than I ever imagined it would. I was his High School Principal, and always felt that I had a good relationship with him and his family.

Our oldest daughter tutored this young man's little sister when she was in elementary school. His mother was very active in our school's Booster Club. His father served as our golf coach for a couple of years. They are good people and he was a good kid, in fact as happy go lucky as he was he would have about the last person I would figure to do this.

I just can't imagine what a 21 year old would figure is so hopeless that suicide would be the answer. It just proves what so many are saying on twitter to connect and build relationships with the kids we are in charge of educating. If one of us can have an impact on a student where they will talk to us prior to taking such a desperate act then we have accomplished our mission and its so much more important than test scores, technology, or any other thing we deem important in the education world.

He will be missed, I am so sorry for his family and I hope by writing about it will help me get over this tragedy. It is not meant for me to know why, I only hope any further actions like this can be avoided by us.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

I have finally had some more Random Thoughts while watching the local new coverage of the Blizzard of 2011. I don't take weather issues lightly but come on we do have some sense about us and some of things we are advised to do made me laugh.

We were informed when the little bit of ice we had started that it could cause power outages and thankfully that hasn't happened yet, at least to us. The Kansas City station we were watching reminded us that if a power line is down not to touch it. Really? Is this something you have to tell us? I can imagine the conversation as driving in a blizzard, oh wait dear there is a downed power line let me get out and move it so we can drive on, sure would hate to drive over it.

We were also informed by one station not to call in if we encounter slick or snow packed roads. We are in a blizzard, my guess is all roads are slick and snow packed, but thanks for the advice.

As the Oak Park Mall was closing at around noon a car drives up to the reporter and tell her they thought it would be a good day for shopping. Well you definitely beat the crowds but if you have to get out to shop in a blizzard your problems are bigger than crowd beating.

I hope everyone is safe during this crisis and maybe we will get to have school again sometime. As many days as we have missed we will probably have to go past Memorial Day, which is taboo for many. I also can't wait for the words of wisdom that awaits us, since the storm has moved out of our area.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is Suitable Good Enough

In these days of economic hardship, at least in the state of Kansas, school funding is really taking a hit from the state legislature. I suppose this is normal and we should take a cut if the money is not there. However, the buzz out of Topeka is what is a suitable education and what does it cost? The term suitable is what really bothers me.

Does our governor want to be a suitable governor? Does our representative and senator want to be suitable? Does anyone tell their child we want them to aspire to be suitable? I think not. What ever happened to good and/or great?

If you have a parent that moves into an area and is deciding between two school districts, district A says we will provide the best education we possibly can and district B says we will provide a suitable education which would you choose? I know which district I want my child in.

I do not believe that money is the only measure of a quality education, I think quality classroom teachers are, but the term "suitable education" really goes up my backside. I can assure you this we will do whatever we can for the kids in our district, and suitable will not be good enough for me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is This Why We Test?

We have had a good couple of years at Pleasanton on our state assessments, in fact we have had the highest scores we have ever had. We all have walked around with our chests out and being very proud of our accomplishments, including myself. Now for the reality.

Our 4th grade teachers have started their classes blogging and it has been fun and reflective plus they love doing it. Whenever possible I respond to each student. One of our teachers asked the question of how the students felt about the upcoming state assessments. Their responses nearly floored me.

I never read so much fear, anxiety, and apprehension in kids. I made a group response and told them that they would be adequately prepared, and to just do the best they can and who cares anyway. They are our kids, we love them and their success or failure has nothing to do with test scores. I just couldn't believe that the two words "state assessment" would strike such a response in 4th graders. By the way the teacher puts no pressure on these kids, and echoed my sentiments in a group response.

Is our goal to strike fear in these kids, I don't think so. It almost broke my heart when I read their answers, and made me question "is this why we test?" No kid should feel that type of pressure, especially in the 4th grade. So you can chalk me up as one who is now opposed to this ridiculous practice in name of educational excellence.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

Well it seems there hasn't been much to write about, but thought I'd better get back in the habit or I would keep putting it off until I would eventually quit and I don't want to do that. If you noticed I have changed the look of my blog, actually my youngest daughter did it. She said my previous one looked boring, I said good reason for that it reflected my personality.

The bowl games are over, maybe thats the reason for my writing funk, I'm depressed. Some great games, some not so great, and some average. When you have two 6-6 teams how can you expect anything but average? Are there to many bowls, yes, do schools mind taking the money, no, so I guess we're saddled with the 30 some we have.

The 3 year players have been declaring for the NFL or returning to school. Cam Newton is going NFL so he and his father can now take money legally. Look out Auburn the NCAA is fixin' to invade you. Some of the athletes returning to school really surprised me, but I loved college I know it was all I could do to cram 4 years of college into 6.

Cover up the politicians are back to work, and I'm sure that will make our lives better since they care for us so much.

Pray for the people in Arizona.

The real reason I'm writing is to see if I remember my bitly address or if I have to look it up before I post on twitter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It Shouldn't be Like This

I am like many administrators, in that blogging is new for me and I do enjoy having a chance to share, vent, and evaluate some of my thoughts in regard to education. I have tried to write twice a week, once covering an educational topic and once writing Random Thoughts, which is my stab at satirical humor.

While being out on Christmas break I kept thinking what am I going write in my educational blog when we come back, and I was drawing a blank. I found myself growing anxious on what I was going to write, as if many read it anyway (there I go with satire again). It shouldn't be that way, and its not going to be for me anymore.

When topics come up then I will write about them, I definitely am not going to pressure myself into writing something just for the sake of writing. Perhaps I'm not as creative as the next blogger, but I didn't start doing this for the next blogger, I did for me and when I have something to share, for you. I know this I'm not going to spend another second on becoming anxious on what to blog about.

When I finally realized this I relaxed I may write once, twice, or however many times the urge strikes and I feel I have something to add. I will continue Random Thoughts weekly and really enjoy writing it, and now I will enjoy writing the other blogs equally as much. I think I'll have to name that column, as soon as I can come up with one.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Random Thoughts

Several items as we get prepared to resume the school year next week, I had a good Christmas break and trust each of you did also.

The commercials during bowl month intrigue me, especially the ones about the two schools playing and what they look like and stand for. When are they going to show the real school, such as frat guys throwing up in bushes and students sleeping in and missing class. I'm guessing that won't happen.

The Ohio State president's comments on Boise State and TCU being in the hunt for BCS games stating they didn't deserve a shot since their conferences are not strong. My guess is Boise and TCU will play Ohio St. at any time, so jump on them big boy. Do you think the commercial for Ohio State would feature students selling things to get a discount on a tatoo?

Which brings us to another NCAA contradiction, student-athletes cannot receive any kind of entitlement form anyone, however, they all receive a gift bag from their respective bowl reps. The bigger the bowl the bigger the gift bag, mind explaining that?

Congrats to the UConn women's basketball team 90 in a row is a major accomplishment and truly unbelievable feat. They did not replace UCLA in my opinion, one is the men's record and one is the women's record, they are separate. If they weren't we would play one tournament and not two, that said it doesn't diminish what they did at all.

The California flooding was horrendous and very well covered by the news. Wait until spring and you will see a repeat in the midwest somewhere, hope it receives the same coverage.

New Years resolutions are an interesting item and who ever came up with this tradition anyway? They are basically the same for most people and will last a short time, then we go back to our previous behavior. That just human nature. I quit doing them because I don't like lying to myself. Well that answers the question of where they came from, if lying is involved I'm sure the US Congress invented them.

Ok the media is all over the Big 10 because of yesterday's games. I'm betting the Iowa and Illinois fans don't care, both beat Big 12 schools, and I know I don't care as long as the Sooners won of which they did to get the BCS Monkey off their back. It will be a good year.