Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's Important in the Autumn issue of the WORD Newsletter?

It's been raining newsletters around my house recently; the newest from the Washington Organization for Reading Development came to my school early last week. Things of note:

*The WORD Conference is coming to Spokane October 12th and 13th. I'll be there with my 1st grade team; I hope to see you there!

*Wayne Callender is going to be one of the featured presenters. He did a great workshop on RTI at the OSPI Summer Institute in 2006, and if that's a topic you're working on you couldn't ask for a better resource.

*Ann Teberg of Whitworth is the president of WORD this year. I had a class from her when she was teaching at Eastern; she's a neat person to listen to, too.

*The WORD Easy Grant Program is, well, an easy grant for $50. You can find the application form here.

*On the practical level, Joy Brooke of Lake Washington writes on how to make buddy reading work effectively in the classroom, Barbara Ward of WSU Tri-Cities shares strategies for classroom conversations, and Pat Mainella has a nice, concise writeup of what went on in the last legislative session.

*Finally, EWU's own Marilyn Carpenter shares some highlights of what's new in children's literature. Dr. Carpenter is a gem of a person; listening to her talk about reading and kid's books is a great way to spend your time.

Great job, WORD!

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What's Important in the Fall/Winter Issue of Curriculum in Context?

The Washington Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development does a great job with their semi-annual magazine on education issues here in Washington State. Journal editors Joan Kingrey and Kevin Foster should be commended for the great work they do.

This issue of Curriculum in Context is centered on educating the whole child, which is a push that the national ASCD took up last year. Executive Director Gene Carter leads off the issue with an overview of the ASCD initiative, then passes off to Joan Schmidt of the National School Boards Association for her take on the importance of the arts and PE. She has an especially interesting look at studies showing a correlation between learning the piano and success in mathematics.

The "That's a Mouthful!" award goes to Pauline Sameshima of WSU for this:
Karrow and Kentel argue that to prepare a future generation of teachers and their students we must teach them how to live healthily, spiritually, ethically, and sustainably. To do that they suggest that teacher candidates must have a more ontologically and ecologically attuned educative experience. The authors suggest that "such an attuned educative experience would have teacher candidates beoming more aware of the foundations of consciousness, its effet upon their thining and general way of being, and the relationship of their being with place."
I've been reading and thinking about the Sokal Affair in recent days; writing like this always reminds me of it.

Towards the end there's an article from Janel Keating of the White River School District and Robert Eaker of many, many conferences and books on how to implement professional learning communities. It's nothing you haven't hear before, but if your school or district is just beginning the journey it might be a nice article to pass around and get conversation started.

Finally, the WSASCD conference is coming up November 1st through 3rd. Big names scheduled to be there include Harvey Alvy (who I have class with this Tuesday!), Jan Hasbrouck of the Washington Reading Initiative and frequent talks for Read Naturally, and Alison Olzendam, who talks on the ideas behind Powerful Teaching and Learning and is one of those rare people who know where the hell Rochester is.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Supporting New Teachers

I accept that I'm a month late with this, but the September 2007 issue of Scholastic's District Administration magazine has an interesting article on induction and mentorship programs for new teachers. The neatest feature of the article is the extensive list of web resources that they've put together relating to new teachers and their struggles; there's something there for everyone. You can get a direct link to the article here.

Sadly, I don't think that the new teachers in my school get nearly the support they should. We have a mentor on the district payroll, but she's responsible for five different schools and maybe comes in once every two weeks. They also make the new teachers participate in a book study on Professional Learning Communities, which is a night a week that they have to give up when they really should be given the permission to focus on their classrooms.

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How to Appear Smart

1) Use phrases like "As Stanley Fish would say...." or "Echoing Louis Menand...".

2) Tell everyone that you're working on your newest exegesis.

3) Graduate from Eastern Washington University.

4) In any discussion of a controversial public figure, pause once, look off into the distance, and say "If only he had his own Maxwell Perkins...."

5) Collect Cheever, then Uncollect Cheever.

6) In the face of lunacy, yell "What this school needs is an Alan Sokal!"

7) Read I Thought a Think.

Hope this helps.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What if it DOESN'T make a difference?

While blogsurfing I came across Fordham Fellows: The Blog, the collective effort of a group of young up-and-comers working with the Fordham Foundation on education issues. It's also hosting one of the most thoughtful posts that I've seen in some time, Can We Really Be the Change?, where the author uses some brutal honesty in describing what she's sees as being wrong with the schools today, and why it might be beyond our ability to do anything about it.

Definitely worth checking out.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Education Week Embraces Scientology?

There's a rather startling ad in the September 19th issue of Education Week on page 19, basically a broadside against psychiatric drugs and the whole practice of psychiatry in general. I didn't think much of it until I was reading David Hoff's blog off of the Education Week website and saw an odd, odd banner ad linking psychiatry and drug addiction with a strong "Your Children Could Be Next!" vibe to it.

That seemed awfully out there for EdWeek, "American Education's Newspaper of Record," and the attack on psychiatry was also strikingly reminiscent of a recent moment from the pop culture zeitgeist:

So I went looking for information about the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, the group that sponsored the ads, and it looks like they're a branch of Scientology.

I've no beef with the Scientologists--they're welcome to their beliefs. What I do have to question is Education Week taking their money for print and on-line ads calling psychiatry "An industry of death" that wants to get kids hooked on drugs. Is this really the kind of content Education Week wants to stand behind?

UPDATE: I used to have a link to the banner ad in question, but it's since been moved. I'll have to see if I can find it again.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

And speaking of Russo.....

....can't we all just get along?

That said, if Edublogger feuds get hits, I'll start one of my own. I'm looking at YOU, 5/17. I'll meet you in Ellensburg to either kick ass or chew bubblegum, and you should know--I don't like bubblegum!

Barring that, we could talk about Brian Baird, who I often confuse with B. Brian Blair of seminal WWF tag team The Killer Bees.

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And speaking of Shanker....

Alex Russo of Education Week wrote a neat piece for the Huffington Post on Al's lingering impact in education today and how it can be felt in the current reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind act. It's a thoughtful consideration that should ring true with anyone who follows the union movement today.

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The more things change....

I'm reading the biography of Al Shanker, and in chapter 3 there's a section that's on-point for one of the great education debates of today. This is from the time after Shanker attended the march on Washington and saw Dr. King's speech:
While King's speech highlighted Southern racism as particularly overt, there was plenty of evidence of discrimination in the North as well, and New York City was no exception. In the early 1960s, there were three basic racial disparities in New York City public schools. There were very few minority teachers (fewer than 10 percent of teachers were black or Hispanic in a city school system whose minority student population was approaching 50 percent), there was considerable de facto segregation in the schools, and students in heavily poor and minority schools tended to get the least experienced teachers.

The UFT had proposals on all three fronts. The 1963 contract pushed for greater recruitment of black teachers in the South, to boost the overall number of minority teachers. And to address both the integration of white students and experienced teachers into ghetto schools, the UFT proposed an "Effective Schools" program (later renamed More Effective Schools), which would provide reduced class size and extra services in a small number of selected schools. The union argued this program would provide a realistic way of attracting experienced teachers (while avoiding forced transfer of teachers) and middle-class white children (while avoiding compulsory busing). Because the UFT members would never go along with forced teacher transfers, Shanker said "we felt an obligation to come up with a plan of our own."

And here we are 40 years later, still having the same conversation. It could it be argued, perhaps, that the problem can't be solved, or that the right solution hasn't come along yet. Or you could argue that there isn't really a problem here at all, and that personal choice has it's downside. One of the advantages of being in my small district is that we don't have these conversations, but in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York it's important.

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Why I Love Pearls Before Swine

Also inspired by the September 12th Education Week, wherein there's a picture of a Mr. Lloyd Thacker of the Education Conservancy wearing a jacket and tie, standing in a doorway, with the stem of his glasses tucked thoughtfully in his mouth, steel-eye gaze focused on you, the reader. You know, the kind of moment that never really happens.

And I'm not encouraging people to beat Mr. Thacker with a cucumber. I'm just saying that a good mug shot gets the point across equally well.

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The EduWonk Rub

Courtesy of Statcounter, my hit count for this past week:

September 15th: 22
September 16th: 44
September 17th: 31
September 18th: 53
September 19th: 120
September 20th: 65
September 21st: 61
September 22nd: 28

What happened on the 19th, pray tell? I forgot to enter into the Carnival of Education this week, so I was quite surprised to see that number.

Then I looked at my recent came from activity, and found out that Eduwonk had linked to an earlier post I'd done on my ambivalence towards Brad Jupp. It was a neat thing to see my place in his list of Education Blogs, but a post is, well, awesome!

And yes, I am easily amused and take a lot of pleasure in the most meaningless things. What of it?

Thanks, Mr. R!

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Jack Jennings: Intention vs. Reality

There's a neat article in the September 12th edition of Education Week on the practice of having substitute teachers fill-in when postings go unfilled; towards the end it gets into the overall issue of substitute teacher quality. Jack Jennings is president of the Center on Education Policy, an advocacy group based in Washington, DC, and he has an interesting quote:
"There should be at least an investigation of this issue as a problem," he said. "We need to look at how many substitute teachers there are, how long they stay in schools, and are they on the way to fulfilling requirements for certification."
It's one of those things. Here in Washington you have to be a certificated teacher in order to substitute, but to sub as a parapro you basically need to have a pulse and no felony convictions. In other places a high school diploma is all you need to be a teacher sub, and that's the problem that I think Mr. Jennings is speaking to here.

The question is, what do you do?

Consider, for example, your average urban district that starts with substitutes in many classrooms. Should they start with the sub teacher, and thus lower class size, or with every child in contact with a credentialed teacher, thereby driving class size up?

The article also gets into the problem of getting highly qualified substitutes in rural districts. Consider a place like Republic, or Washougal--small towns far away from any major population center. If they have a need for a physics teacher, should they have the class taught by the biology teacher who doesn't meet the HQ requirements, or by a substitute with no science background, or not offer the class at all?

I'm with Mr. Jennings in that there is a problem here, one that we're only in the nascent stages of dealing with, but is there a workable, equitable solution possible?

UPDATE: The Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University is a great resource for anyone interested in the issue.


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What's Important in the September Issue of the Washington Science Teachers Journal?

Not much, if you're not going to the fall conference.

The WSTA is our professional organization for science teachers here in the Evergreen State, and they usually do a pretty good job with their quarterly journal, but this most recent issue is underwhelming. There's 20-something pages about the upcoming conference, and nothing else.

Nothing about the results of the science WASL.
Nothing from the universities.
Nothing from teachers, sharing their experiences in the classroom.
Nothing on LASER, FOSS.....nothing.

I'll give them credit for being on the ball with their conference brochure--I had to email WORD directly to get any information at all about their upcoming conference in Spokane--but it's hard to sell people on the value of belonging to their state organization when I put the magazine in the staff room and there isn't content there that teachers can sink their teeth into.

I hope the next issue steps things up.

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The Joy of Back to School

Writer Frankie Gamber has a sweet reminiscence in the most recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education about the joy of a college campus in the autumn. I was in Cheney the other day to get new tires, and there's still a pull to the college town when you see the leaves changing and remember the halcyon days of 15 credit class loads and dinners at Baldy's.

Someday, I'd love to return to academe. There's just something about it.

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The EFF Blog: Off to a Good Start

As a good union guy I know that I should reflexively scoff at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and all that they do, but their new blog Liberty Live has done some nice education reporting since it began last month. I don't agree with many of their conclusions, but they are a voice that deserves to be heard, because they represent quite an awful lot of Washington State citizens.

Everyone needs a loyal opposition, after all.


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Friday, September 21, 2007

What's important from the Fall WAETAG newsletter?

WAETAG, the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted, sent out their fall newsletter this week. There's quite a bit of content for a 10-page spread:

  • The organization is soliciting nominations for their annual Leadership Award. If you know someone "who has positively touched the lives of gifted and talented students or educators in your area", it'd be a superior honor.

  • The regional representatives write columns to share what's going on in their areas, and in her column the southwest area director brings up the idea of having regional meetings to spread the word about gifted education and try to recruit new members into WAETAG.

    I'll speak to the first goal specifically. As a union guy I believe in the power of local people to make a difference, and if educators who cared about gifted education could get together at the local level to push their local legislators and promote TAG programs, I think there'd be an awful lot of power to that. A day in Olympia is a great start, but imagine if that was followed up with a visit in Spokane, a question at the town meeting in Yakima, and a letter to the editor in Richland?

  • Barb Sailors has stepped down as president after taking over on an interim basis last year. The world would be a far better place if we had more Barbs; she's a remarkable woman, and to know her is to be impressed by her.

  • The program for the fall conference looks great. Any chance to see Margo Long speak is one you should take, and the other guest speakers have excellent credentials as well. You can find more information about the fall conference, in Richland beginning October 18th, here.

  • Finally, I'll plug the organization. For $35 a year in dues you get a pretty good newsletter, excellent contacts, you're supporting gifted education in Washington State, and you've got the inside track to the yearly conference. If I was rating the state professional organizations that everyone should belong to, WAETAG would be right near the top of the list. You can get more information at the link above.

Tell them Ryan sent you. Won't mean much, but maybe I can get a free coffee out of the deal at the next Destination: Imagination tourney.


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

On Teaching in College

In the most recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education there's a neat article from James Lang highlighting a self-published book from Joe Ben Hoyle of the University of Richmond. Sharing the tips and techniques that he's used successfully at the college level, I think it could also be useful for those hardy souls who teach in the upper grades. You can get it for free off of his website at the link above.

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A Bad Day

Yesterday we met with a developmental pediatrician in Spokane to have her take a look at Kailey, the Cute Deaf Baby. Honestly, the wife and I thought it was going to be just one of those things you have to do--everything seems like it's been going fine, we're really happy with how the PT has been going, we've got speech therapy lined up to begin soon, life is good.

We left the appointment devastated.

Dr. V has a sterling reputation and she's one of the name doctors in a town that doesn't have many. She came in and gave CDB a basic physical, then she lays it on us, "Her muscles are underdeveloped-she's hypotonic."

Oh. But what does that mean?

"Well, in a third of cases they outgrow it and you'd never know. In a third of cases they're always like this, which pretty much rules them out of athletics. In a third of cases, it gets worse."


But what does that mean?

"I also think she has some facial abnormalities, especially there in the bridge of her nose. There's a syndrome that encompasses deafness and facial symptoms called DiGeorge's. I'm going to go ahead and order an MRI so we can see what her brain function is doing, and we might want to consider an EKG just so we have a baseline in case there's heart problems in the future."


When you're in the middle of a tidal wave you don't pause to wonder where the water is coming from, you paddle like hell and try to keep your head up. That's what it felt like sitting in this doctor's office hearing all these things about your child.

Afterwards Mrs. and I went through the stages of grief. She worked in depression and denial; I focused on anger. Rage, really. Who the *uck was this lady to look at my daughter for 5 minutes and make these sweeping proclamations about who she is and what she could be? Sure, I want to know WHY she's deaf, but please don't put my wife and I through a God-damned fishing trip just for the hell of it.

She also recommended that we pursue getting services from the Spokane Guild School, a great organization set up to help profoundly disabled kids. I'm having a hard time with that one, too, for some of the most horrible, petty reasons. The Guild School is for kids who have big, big problems. Autism, Downs, and worse--the kinds of illnesses where your life is measured in months instead of years. A small comfort we had with her deafness was the thought that, hey, things could be worse. This appointment was a first step down that road, to worse.

Mrs. held it together OK in the Doctor's office, but when we took Kailey to her next appointment, with the teacher of deaf kids, she broke down hard. I was doing pretty good until then, but seeing her like that got to me. Kailey's teacher is exceptional and gave us a lot of pointers about where to go next, and it was good for my bride to have someone more rational than I to talk to.

We came to acceptance in the evening. Maybe the doctor is a quack, maybe not, but let's have the testing done to see. Let's look into getting a second opinion. Let's talk with the Guild School, because anything that we can do for our daughter we will do.

It's hard to think about going back to teaching tomorrow when every ounce of my being says I need to be here, but life goes on. Things may have stopped temporarily in the Grant household, but the world goes on around us and we'll need to go on with it. I've decided that everything will be OK, because it's easier to go along believing that than it is the alternative.

If those of you out there with a spiritual system would send a prayer up with Kailey's name on it, I'd be grateful.

Parenting is a new adventure every day.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

I am confused by Brad Jupp

In addition to reading Tough Liberal, the excellent biography of famed New York teacher's union leaderAl Shanker, I'm also working on the decidedly longer-titled Pay for Performance Teacher Compensation: An Inside View of Denver's ProComp Plan.

ProComp rather fascinates me. It's a performance pay plan that the teacher's union developed in concurrence with their local school board, approved by the rank and file, and financed by a vote of the people of Denver. It's easy to write off--spend a few minutes over at NYC Educator's place to see what the educators of the big apple have agreed to in recent contracts--but never before have we seen all those factors come together into some form of agreement. Brad Jupp has emerged as the union face of ProComp, and he's one of the three listed authors of the book above.

And yet, I've got this mistrust of Brad Jupp that I can't quite explain. He appears to be a visionary union leader, perhaps even in the mold of Shanker, but he also doesn't work for the union any more--he took a job at the central office for Denver Public Schools in 2005. This, after the Progressive Policy Institute named him their Innovator of the Year in 2004, based mainly on that much ballyhooed vision.

But let's think about vision. Can we really applaud Jupp's, when he saw fit to get out of ProComp and go for the administrative money instead? What does that say about his vision, if anything?

Last year EduWonk played a punk card on the UFT when they implied that Jupp couldn't be trusted to present the teacher's voice during the Aspen Institute meetings on No Child Left Behind, but I can't say that I disagree with the point. It's rather like making a jump from theism to atheism; do you carry any of the old beliefs with you, or does the label define you?

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The Pros and Cons of Coaching

My district landed one of the grants from OSPI to pay for a math coach for the middle school and high school. I haven't heard much yet, but it's still early in the year. It'll be interesting to see how things go.

To that end, the Harvard Education Letter has a thought-provoking and provocatively-titled article this month, "Is Coaching the Best Use of Resources?", where Elizabeth City looks at the experience two high schools had. One principal embraced coaching, one didn't, but it didn't seem to really matter either way what the felt--scores stayed where they were. Her conclusion is that the schools weren't ready for coaching, and that's an important thought to take going into the implementation of any coaching project: if the staff isn't ready, then the result is pre-determined. It's a variation on the old Buddhist proverb, "When the student is ready, the master will appear."

That said, I give a nod to all the first-year coaches statewide who are trying to make a difference in their schools, particularly those in the Reading First schools. The bottom line is success for the kids; may your journey be fruitful.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

So you had a bad day....

Kailey is getting 5 teeth all at the same time. The end result is that she is one cranky baby who can't sleep through the night. Two nights ago she "went to bed" at 11:00, was up at 1:30, 3:30, and 4:30. My wife works at the family dairy farm, so she gets up at 1:00 a.m. to go handle the morning milking. As a result, it falls on daddy.

So I spent all yesterday groggy and expecting to have a bad day. 30 minutes into the day one of my little boys calls me over and says, "Mr. Grant, there's poop on the floor!"

"Poop on the floor? Honey, there isn't poop on the fl....oh. There's poop on the floor."

A dainty little dime-sized nugget, with some more sitting on the chair that my little sped girl uses. As best we can tell she overflowed her diaper and, well, made some room the best she could.

That was the morning. In the afternoon one of my little girls, quite the drama queen, tells me she's tired. Unsympathetic, I send her back to her seat. A few minutes later she comes up bawling because she's sad because she doesn't know but boo-hoo I'm very sad and I want to yell at you about it, teacher. I don't do drama, so into the hallway she went. A few minutes later she comes in....


....all over my shoes.

Then again, by the front door.

Then again, all over the wall on the way to the office.

Then again, in the office. I swear to God, she had to have puked her body weight.

So we started crappy and ended barfy, but I was so damned tired I didn't care. I think the Lord likes to send one of these days along every now and again to remind me of just how good the other days are.

Overall, it's an immature class this year, the kind I haven't had in quite a few years. Even the specialists are making comments. I think the Kindergarten teachers tried to protect the people who were new to first grade, which is fine, but when there's only one teacher who isn't new to the can see where that would go.

(As I post this, I notice that I've already used the "poop" tag before. Try that link--it's a good story!)

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It's Drinking Time!

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The trial of Priscilla D. Slade, who was fired last year as Texas Southern University’s president, is in full swing. Ms. Slade, who led the financially troubled university from 1999 to 2006, is accused of misspending more than $500,000 in university money on personal expenses during her tenure.

The highlights, as alleged by prosecutors and reported by the Houston Chronicle, include:

$40,000 for a 25-place china set from Neiman Marcus.

$100,000 for a total bar tab at Scott Gertner’s Skybar & Grille, which calls itself a “sexy penthouse nightclub” on its Web site.
If she's acquitted, she should consider Dartmouth for her next posting.


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Now that's unionism!

Just for fun, go to YouTube and do a search for "CTU Contract Meeting." It looks like an interesting experience in contract-ratifying. Here's a sample:

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

First two days of school report

So far, so good. I had a kid stick his nametag to his ass and go, "Mr. Grant, I NAMED MY BUTT!", but other than that it's been pretty uneventful.

My team was almost completely changed this year. There were 4 first grade teachers last year. 2 of them moved up to 2nd grade, the other is doing a K/1 combo this year, and so that leaves me in the driver's seat with three good people who have never taught first grade before.

It's a different world down here in the primary grades. Last year the three newbies were in 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade respectively, and (ha!) they actually thought they'd try to do some worksheets and assessing on the first day of school. That's when I shared my first day schedule, which is roughly an hour of recess, and hour of eating, and 4 hours of talking about what we do and how we do it.

"You don't do any real teaching on the first day?" one asked me, with visible shock.

"Well, it's not academic teaching, per se," I replied, "But it's the teaching that you have to do to get through the school year. Please trust me on this if you trust me on nothing else--every second that you spend now on teaching rules and procedures will pay off in hours of instructional time that you don't lose to behavior as the year goes on."

They're also discovering that first graders don't exactly transition the way that big kids do. In 5th grade, for example, it's theoretically possible to come in from recess, put on your PE shoes, and get to the gym in a 3 to 5 minute time period.

In first grade, that's a good thirty minutes. Oh yes. Once, in a drunken moment of weakness, I told God that I would rather the parents taught their kids to tie their shoes than read with them, and I'll still admit that there are days when I have to grit my teeth really, really hard, because when the Knotless Horde descends you have a better appreciation for how those 300 Spartans felt facing the Persian empire.

"TEACHER! I can't tie my shoes."
(sigh) "OK, honey, come here...."
"Teacher, I can't tie my shoes either!"
"Wait your turn, please."
"Teacher, I can't find my shoes!"
"Stop. Just, stop. First, it's Mr. Grant. Second, your shoes are over there by Bobby's desk where you left them. Third, have Suzie tie your shoes, because she knows how and I don't want to. Meh."

(The meh is very important. It may not be found in Webster's, but a simple meh can communicate more than you'd think)

The good fight continues, now until June.


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Saturday, September 01, 2007

And Lo, the WASL Scores Were Released

I drove back from Olympia yesterday, which was extremely fortuitous timing because it gave me a chance to pick up quite a few of the daily newspaper between Seattle and Spokane. The headlines are telling:

Most Seniors Pass WASL; Concern Over Lower Levels from the Seattle Times
Math is WASL's Big Stumbling Block from The Olympian
Good WASL, If You Don't Count Math sez the Seattle PI
WASL Math Trips Up Students, offers the Tacoma News Tribune

Clearly the headline, then, is the math scores, but we could have seen that coming because of all that went on during the legislative session. Dr. Bergeson talked about it quite a bit during her press conference, and one suspects that all that is going on with math is also the raison d'etre for all the work that the State Board of Education has put in to revisiting the math requirements (pdf).

(as an aside, Terry, dear--make sure your presentation on the screen matches what you're trying to say to the reporters. That was kind of embarrassing that you would have so many glitches in what is arguably your most important speech every year)

Also of interest to many would be the list of failing schools and districts, with thanks to Jim over at Washington Teachers for getting on the story early. I'm glad to not be on either list, and I give all the best to those who are.

Here we go again!

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My Shiny New Internet Connection

I live in a rural area. There's no cable, so you have to have a dish, and there's also no way of getting traditional high speed internet, which was driving me nuts.

Verizon to the rescue. I'd seen the commercials for their wireless broadband and thought it'd be worth a shot. It's expensive--$60 a month--but when you have no other choice it looks a lot more attractive. And so far, in the week that I've had it, it's worked great--files download in a snap, I can get around to the blogs a lot easier, and I can finally check my school email from home. Sweetness!

What do you have for internet where you live?


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On the Teacher Strike in Bethel

Well, the worst case scenario happened: teachers in the Bethel School District over by Tacoma went on strike this week, cancelling the first two days of school. A mediation session is scheduled for this weekend; hopefully the issue can get resolved quickly and fairly.

There's plenty of reaction on the internet. The first Tacoma News-Tribune story above has better than 100 comments; the WEA position is here and the Bethel EA also has their own web page; SVC Alumnus has the contrary viewpoint; and there's also thoughts from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation here. The News Tribune also referenced chatter on MySpace, but I couldn't find any when I took a quick look.

Striking is the nuclear option that can haunt a district for decades afterwards. It's also the ultimate in risk-reward metrics; you're putting it all on the line, but will it be worth it?

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