Friday, September 30, 2005

A little something for my "fans!"

Howdy all! (however many of you there happens to be!)

Not much going on, but I'm feeling compelled to blog anyway, so this is going to be a disjointed series of thoughts and observations, rather than a cohesive essay.

  • I've started my admin credential/ masters in school admin program at Azusa Pacific University, and I'm working my tail off. It's a very cool program- cohort groups, really applicable material being taught- but it's very new. Actually, this is the first cohort group they're putting through. It's neat being part of the founding group, especially since we're modifiying the program as we go through it. The university is being very responsive and flexible. So far I'm impressed!
  • John Roberts is our new Chief Justice. I don't know how I feel about that. I'm an optomist, so I want to believe he'll be, as the job title implies, just. While I'm not a great fan of President Bush, and there are some things in his background that make me a little nervous, I'm going, for now, to trust in the process itself. The Founding Fathers gave justices lifetime appointments so they would be (relatively) free of political intereference. Indeed, there are justices who have moved from right to left, or at least towards the center, as their term progressed, so there is still hope. Now, about that other vacancy on the Court....
  • Back to School night was last night. Good turnout, parents seemed satisfied with what I had to say. No requests for schedule changes out of my class today as far as I know. I guess after 9 years I'm getting the hang of it.
  • We had to do some master schedule adjustment this week because of higher-than-expected student numbers. This is a good reason, but still very disruptive. I lost 2 of my 7th grade world history sections and picked up 8th grade U.S. history. I like the U.S. content better, but really like my 7th grade students. I'm sure I'll like the 8th graders, too, but I'm used to the others. Oh, well.
  • Any of the CA folks reading going to the Social Studies Leadership conference in Marina Del Rey next month? It's put on by Houghton-Mifflin (obviously to help sell the new book series), but the agenda looks very cool.
  • It's Friday afternoon, and happy hour beckons with it's sudsy siren's song! (How's that for alliteration? And I'm a History teacher!)
Take care.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Check this out at The Onion. It's satire, so don't take it seriously, but I think it's hilarious!

Monday, September 26, 2005

A little politics, but I promise it won't last too long!

Ok, I know the title of the blog is Classroom Biz, but sometimes we just have to go beyond our insular little world and deal with other issues. This is one of those times.

This is an editorial from the Sunday Los Angeles Times. When the story about President Bush allowing firms to pay less than the prevailing wage in Louisiana, I commented on what the outcome would likely be... more profits in the hands of large construction companies. Here's another side effect of the decision:

La Nueva Orleans

  • Latino immigrants, many of them here illegally, will rebuild the Gulf Coast -- and stay there.

  • By Gregory Rodriguez, Gregory Rodriguez is a contributing editor to The Times and Irvine Senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

    NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many of them undocumented, will. And when they're done, they're going to stay, making New Orleans look like Los Angeles. It's the federal government that will have made the transformation possible, further exposing the hollowness of the immigration debate.

    President Bush has promised that Washington will pick up the greater part of the cost for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." To that end, he suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act that would have required government contractors to pay prevailing wages in Louisiana and devastated parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. And the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers who cannot document their citizenship. The idea is to benefit Americans who may have lost everything in the hurricane, but the main effect will be to let contractors hire illegal immigrants. (Read the rest of the editorial here; registration may be required.)
    I have nothing against immigration. I have a huge problem with the exploitation of workers- of any nationality or immigrant status- for the profits of industry. And this article in today's New York Times brings to mind a related issue: who's approving these contracts, and who's choosing the contractors? The potential for abuse and corruption is gigantic, and it makes me sick. Over 1000 people dead, mostly poor, and/or elderly, and/or black, and the loudest sound to be heard in the South right now is ringing cash registers.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Sanity: It's overrated!

    Have you ever had a day where you feel like you are slowly sliding into complete insanity, and the kids are egging on to slide faster?

    I had a day like that today.

    It was a lot of fun!

    I get to teach 2 sections of honors World History for our 7th graders. These are bright kids, a mix of above-average to “Whoa! That kid is SMART!” It’s nice that, for the most part, they pick up on what I’m trying to teach them quickly; it makes it possible for me to go into a lot more depth than I can with a standard class. But the part I like best is that they get my jokes, and actually enjoy my sense of humor.

    Today was just plain wacky, though. I had several of them collapsing into giggles with little more than a raised eyebrow, which would make me laugh, which set them off fresh, which would then spread to the rest of the class. I’m amazed we got through anything on my lesson plan for today at all, but that’s ok. These kids will get the material, they’ll do fine on the CST next year and will do their part to help us make our API. What they did today was even more important: they reaffirmed that school is an ok place to be, that learning can be fun. And they learned, in addition to the origins of the word “plumbing” (plumbum=Latin for lead), that they have an adult in their lives that cares enough to play with them, even though they think they’re too old to play anymore.

    I really do like my job.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Couldn't have said it better myself!

    Here's another gem I picked up over at Endless Faculty Meeting. I'm thinking about handing it out at parent-teacher conferences. :)

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Bush lifts wage rules for Katrina

    This is a wonderful development... if you are a major contracting firm in the southern United States. Think there will be any difference in the rates these firms charge for their work? No way! The only difference will be that their profits will be much larger because they'll be able to shortchange their employees. How many of these companies are Bush campaign contributors? Why make it even easier for people to profit from the disaster?
    And this man gets TWO Supreme Court appointments!
    Bush lifts wage rules for Katrina
    President signs executive order allowing contractors to pay below prevailing wage in affected areas.
    September 11, 2005: 11:59 AM EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

    In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. (Read the rest of the article here)

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Ok so far!

    I'm hesitant to say this aloud, but this year is going very smoothly. I don't take all the credit for that: this year's kids are different than last year's, more focused, more willing to listen, if not necessairly more gifted academically. Maybe it's the different schedule- a later start time, prep in the morning instead of after a long day. Maybe it's by virtue of my experience and recognition of the things I needed to change after last year.

    I don't know why it's working, but it is, and I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    So long ago...

    Tomorrow this young man starts Kindergarten. (No, this is not a recent picture! He's much taller now, and the cheeks aren't quite as chubby!)

    I think I'm ready for this. His readiness I'm not worried about, of course. It's mine.

    He's been in preschool for the last 2 years, so it's not a huge transition for him, but it's big for his parents. This is REAL SCHOOL we're talking about, after all. Report cards, lunch lines, playground interactions, all kind of things he has dealt with before, but within the sheltered environment of small classes and ever-present teachers/classroom aides. Now he'll be going it "alone."

    My baby is growing up! Alright, I'm starting to sound like his mom now. I've got to get a grip on myself, here. :)

    I know he's going to be fine. I trust his school, I know the program he's in will be great for him. He loves learning, is smart and curious, and generally follows directions... all important for school success. And I know that his mom and I will be fine, too.

    At least, until his little brother starts school in 3 years!

    Update: His first day of school was great: he likes his teacher, he's made some friends. Of course, there was nothing to be nervous about, but what kind of parent would I be if I wasn't just a little nervous about something like this?

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Bad times, good people

    (Thanks to The Endless Faculty Meeting for the link to this article)
    I said this after 9/11, I said it after the tsunami in December, and I'll say it again: times of crisis bring out the best in some, the worst in others. People open their hearts and wallets for the victims of disaster in New York, Indonesia, and Louisiana, providing the support needed to help survivors remain survivors, both physically and emotionally. Others descend into a Lord of the Flies/Mad Max style of post-Apocalypse chaos. The very worst begin to salivate at the opportunities to profit from the destruction and heartache. Fraud artists. Price gougers. Looters. I hope that all of them burn for eternity. If there is justice in the universe, they will.
    Mamacita over at Schiess Weekly says:
    ...All my life, people have teased me about my bleeding heart. Believe me, my heart is bleeding all over the place over this tragedy.

    Not for the thieves, though. For the decent people who are being devastated twice: once by Katrina and again by their fellow man.

    No, my heart is not bleeding for the thieves.

    The thieves are scum.
    I can't help but agree.

    This situation will show us that people are stubborn and resilient: New Orleans will be rebuilt, life will go on. One hopes that lessons will be learned, and this particular tragedy will not be repeated. Mardi Gras 2006 will be a sight to behold!

    I admire the human spirit, our willingness to go on with life, to grieve and to live on, to thumb our noses at adversity and tragedy time and again.
    I am disgusted by the willingness of others to take advantage of tragedy, to use dispair, destruction, death to their own selfish ends.
    I hope the good in us wins out more often than the bad.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    One down, 179 to go!

    Acutally, today went pretty well. The only real snag I hit was that I forgot to hand out the lunch cards to first period, so some kids may have had trouble getting their lunches as quickly as they should. Mea Culpa. And of course my throat is sore from saying the same intro/welcome blather 6 times.
    I think I'm going to like these classes. I had some last year that I had trouble saying that about, so this is a very nice change. There were several kids in each group who seemed like they really wanted to be here, and the others were at least willing to let me do my thing without interruption.
    I can work with that.
    Our new schedule is interesting... conference/prep period before the kids arrive, lunch after 3rd, then 3 and done. Dismissal is 1:15 later than it was last year, so that will take some adjustment, but I think it will be fine. I actually love the later start... time to settle into the day instead of jumping into it (or falling into it, depending on the morning!)