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.