Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas To All

Here's a few classic moments from my favorite Christmas movie.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Big-Hearted Corporate Policy We Can All Look Forward To

Say you're injured in a crash that is not your fault. Luckily, you have health insurance provided in part through your employer, and although you're permanently injured you're fortunate enough to receive a settlement from the other driver's insurance company that will pay for your longterm care.

Unfortunately for you, your employer's deal with the health insurance provider allows them to sue you to recover the cost of your medical care after the insurance, and the so called "conservative" federal judges, who are just as pro-corporation as the rest of the Republicans, have backed them up with rulings allowing them to do so.

Think it couldn't happen to you? Well, it happened to this woman, courtesy of everyone's favorite mega-discounter.
A collision with a tractor-trailer seven years ago left 52-year-old Deborah Shank permanently brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. Her husband, Jim, and three sons found a small source of solace: a $700,000 accident settlement from the trucking company involved.

After legal fees and other expenses, the remaining $417,000 was put in a special trust. It was to be used for Deborah Shank's care.

Instead, all of it is now slated to go to Deborah's former employer, Wal-Mart Stores.

Two years ago, the retail giant's health plan sued the Shanks for the $470,000 it had spent on her medical care. A federal judge ruled last year in Wal-Mart's favor, backed by an appeals-court decision in August. Now, Deborah's family has to rely on Medicaid and her Social Security payments to keep up her round-the-clock care.

To add a little salt to your wounds, you'll also be responsible for all legal fees incurred getting the settlement.

It's a wonderful world. Remember, this is also the country where Bush's Supreme Court ruled cities can seize your property for the sole purpose of turning it over to some corporations.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

For My Frozen Colleagues To The North

Ice storms seem to have taken control of some parts of the country, even reaching into Oklahoma just north of us and home to Ms. Cornelius of A Shrewdness of Apes. Here in Texas its been hot, some days reaching 80 degrees.

So here's a little song and video for all you frozen Yankees.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thanks For The Memories, And The Toxic Poisons In Our Children's Toy

A big Xmas thank you to all those corporations with hearts of gold. Turns out they've been flooding the US with toys containing dangerous levels of lead and other toxic chemicals. In a recent study:

Only 20 percent of the toys and other products had no trace of lead or harmful chemicals, according to the results being released Wednesday by the Michigan-based Ecology Center along with the national Center for Health, Environment and Justice and groups in eight other states.

For more information you can visit the The Consumer Action Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys.

Looks like many of these companies are interested in being "green", just not in the right way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My 50, 000th Visitor

Sometime today I officially passed the 50, 000 visitor mark, according to my sitemeter stats. This may not be a big number for some of the big name sites, but I feel like it is significant.

Checking back through my visits I found my 50, 000 visitor was from all places, the offical Government of Ireland website.

Hmmm, I wondered if a government was monitoring my site. I just didn't think it was the government of Ireland.

Oh well, to my 50, 000th and all of my other visitors, thanks for stopping in and please leave a comment or two to let me know who you are.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Absolutely Awesome Quote

I don't know who to credit it to but here it is:

"It's a shame stupidity isn't painful"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've been reading the book Bushwhacked by the late Molly Ivins in which she chronicles the corruption in the Bush Administration. As a teacher her chapters on NCLB were especially interesting but I disagree with her take on how the law came to pass.

Ted Kennedy is portrayed as being duped by Bush, that all he wanted to do is help America's poor children get a good education. I say that's all BS.

Ted Kennedy is a rich and privileged. If he ever set foot in a public school it was for a photo op. By helping draft NCLB he was simply looking out for his other rich and privileged friends.

The rich and the privileged, the politically connected, look out for each other. None of them really give a damn about America's children when there's money for them and their friends to be made.

One need only read an account of Teddy's flight from Chappaquidik, like this one from Leo Damore, to see what an uncaring, spoiled jackass Ted Kennedy is. Of course, you also have to question the intelligence of the people who keep re-electing him.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pearson and ETS Lobbyist Is Dissing Texas Schools . . .Now For The REST of The Story

ETS and Pearson lobbyist Sandy Kress has been getting alot of press regarding his sham study of Texas schools, claiming they are not preparing Texas students for college. Of course, I have to wonder why anyone would care what Sandy Kress has to say, especially when he's bad mouthing the public schools, since he helped turn them into what they are.

From his official ETS bio:

He has served on two statewide committees to recommend improvements to Texas public education. His practice focuses on public law and policy at the state and national levels.
Appointed in 1998 by Governor George W. Bush, Mr. Kress serves on the Education Commission of the States. He has also served as counsel to the Governor's Business Council and Texans for Education, and as a member of the Texas Business & Education Coalition and the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board, which will spend more than $1.5 billion over the next 10 years to bring technology to Texas schools.

Mr. Kress was appointed by Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock to the Educational Economic Policy Center. He was later asked to chair the Center's Accountability Committee. This committee produced the public school accountability system that was later adopted into Texas state law and recognized as one of the most advanced accountability systems in the nation. Mr. Kress was also appointed by Lieutenant Governor Bullock to serve on the Interim Committee to study the Texas Education Agency.

As a Texas parent and educator, I sure feel better that the man who has helped run the public schools into the ground is now coming out and saying they're no good.

Of course one of the Dallas Morning News' lazy reporters couldn't bother to do a little checking up on Mr. Kress before writing this story, giving Kress plenty of free press to bad mouth the schools without ever mentioning he's been doing his best to mess them up.

By the way, the lazy reporter's email is tstutz@dallasnews.com. I hope you'll take some time to drop him an email and tell him what you think about his story.

And if you want to read more about Sandy Kress, the man who crafted NCLB, there's this Texas Observer piece. Here's a lovely tidbit to show you just what a great guy he is:
However, black school board members saw accountability as an attempt to undermine the city’s 1974 desegregation order, which allotted extra money and resources to Dallas’s historically neglected black schools. Kress did torpedo several key components of the desegregation order, heading efforts that slashed more than $15 million from bond proposals for a magnet school in a mostly black part of town. He also sought to limit the money spent on “learning centers” meant to reverse the city’s busing policy by bringing black students back into their own neighborhoods. As board president, Kress brought a hardball style of politics to what had been a sleepy municipal body; black board members accused him of meeting in secret with favored board members and manipulating the board’s committee system to dilute the minority vote. Secretly taped conversations alleged to be between Kress and fellow board member and political ally Dan Peavy supported the accusations. Peavy used racial slurs when describing plans to curb the influence of black board members. Kress’s identity on the tapes was never confirmed, but soon after they came to light in 1995, he announced he would not run for another term as board president.

Now, doesn't that sound like just the kind of person we should be listening to?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Welcome to Hickville

The small city I live in does not have any fancy restaurants, but it does have a hotel that bills itself as "historic" and a bit upscale, what with its jazz on the patio on the weekends, expensive rooms and such.

Several weeks ago I won dinner for 4 at this hotel's Friday night seafood buffet, so my wife and I and our friends cleaned up, dressed fairly nicely and off to dinner we went. As soon as we got there we realized we needn't have bothered, we're living in Hickville.

Seated at the first table when you walk in was a guy wearing bib overalls and a dirty white t-shirt. I know he had a dirty white t-shirt on because he had one strap of the overalls undone and hanging down, exposing the dirty shirt underneath. He was also missing a good portion of his teeth, but you'd never have known it from the way he was cramming crab legs into his mouth.

Other patrons of the dining room included: a mechanic in his filthy working uniform, a guy wearing a plain white t-shirt (at least it wasn't a wife beater) and a sea of camouflage, short pants, flip-flops and baseball caps.

All this in a supposedly upscale cafe in a nice hotel. There was also a college football team staying in the hotel, but these young men were well behaved. Their fans were another matter. On the way out we ran across one fan carrying a bottle of Jack Daniel's and a glass. He was attempting to pour some into the glass but all he was accomplishing was spilling it all over.

Welcome to Hickville, population: me

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jon Stewart Explains Why the "Compassionate Conservative" Had to Veto Healthcare For Poor Children

I've wondered for several days how to adequately mock Bush and the Republicans for denying health care for American children. Fortunately, Jon Stewart has done a much better job than I could have done.

And remember, health problems are no excuse for not passing your federally mandated tests!

Via YouTube and Susan O'Hanian

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It's Been Quiet . . .Too Quiet

I'm always nervous when things get a little too quiet, especially when kids are involved.

Since I don't have anything eventful to write about, here is a list of funny bumper stickers I stumbled across on the internet, with some comments from me:

THAT'S OK, I WASN'T USING MY CIVIL LIBERTIES ANYWAY. (Is anyone in the media concerned that Bush has a private army, financed by the taxpayers, running around in Iraq?)

1/20/09: END OF AN ERROR.






POVERTY, HEALTH CARE & HOMELESSNESS ARE MORAL ISSUES (healthcare for 8 million more children is too expensive but $3 billion a week for the war isn't?)






Saturday, September 29, 2007

5 Bloggers I'd Like To Meet

Like others, I have my favorites of the bloggers that I like to read, some on a daily basis or as often as they update their blog. Here are the bloggers I'd like to meet in person and sit down to discuss education issues:

1.Mr. Teacher - I laugh when I read his site, I laughed when I read his book, and I laugh at his shameless self promotion of his book. Right now he's shamelessly promoting his you tube videos.

2. NYC Educator - although his site is largely about NYC issues, he has a way of pointing out absurdities that I wish I could copy. One thing about NYC Educator, he calls 'em like he sees them.

3. Ms. Corneilius - a keen eye and a sharp with, not to mention her weekly Monday movie challenges. Lately I have no idea what movies she's talking about so I may have to knock her down a notch.

4. Joanne Jacobs - Joanne Jacobs was blogging long before it was cool to blog. She has often been called the queen mother of all education bloggers. Although I don't often agree with her (and most of the people who comment there), Joanne is always civil in her disagreements.

5. EdWonk - the driving force behind the weekly Carnival of Education, currently in its 8th billionth week. Ed is so respected nearly every education blogger links back to him. He also has a sharp eye for pointing out absurdities not just in our schools, but in our society as well.

I tag anyone who wants to add their favorites here or at their own sites.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Teddy Bear War

I'm very fortunate to live less than a block away from my best friend. His house sits on the corner of a street that intersects mine, and I can actually yell to him in his backyard from my front yard. Being so close to a good friend can lead to some weird happenings.

About 3 weeks ago I found a nasty, smelly dog chew toy in the shape of a teddy bear stuck on the trailer hitch of my truck. I knocked it off knowing that my buddy had placed it there. What I didn't know was that after he came over later that night, he placed it back and wedged it in so tightly that it stayed put. I didn't discover it until after I come home from work the next day, which means the teddy bear was stuck to the back of my truck for the 50 mile round trip to work, and the 10 mile round trip to the racquet club.

Of course you know that meant war, so I HAD to zip tie it to the front grill of his truck. Several days later, when I got to work, I found it hanging from my rear bumper by fishing line. Since then we've taken turns sticking it somewhere on each other's trucks. One day at the racquet club I found it zip tied to one of the rims on my truck, having once again made the round trip to work.

Last week I stepped it up a notch, I duct taped it to his antenna. I had originally planned to use an entire roll of duct tape, but that stuff sure makes a racket at 11 o'clock at night on an empty street. I also added a 2nd chewtoy, and rigged it so it would fall down from his bumper the first time he braked and hang behind him without dragging the ground. It was his turn to spend the day driving around with a chewtoy hanging from his truck.

Which means it was perfectly logical for me to drop $7 at Radio Shack for some super strong magnets, which I have placed inside the teddy bear and stuck to the bumper of his truck, sneaking over like a thief in the night ( or a NINJA!).

Sometimes you just have to make your own fun.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Goodbye To An Old Friend

Yesterday I received the sad news that an old friend had died. For those of us who knew him the manner in which he died is incredibly hard to believe.

Stinger Wallace was a larger than life character. I met him through a local model airplane club where, besides being the club's instructor, he was also know as one of the top "hot dog" pilots in the country. I imagine there are hundreds of r/c pilots in East Texas who learned the difficult task of flying and landing a model airplane under his tutelage.

There are other memories I have of him. In 1994 my wife and I lost everything in an apartment fire. Stinger used his connections as a police officer to find us at the home of a friend and made sure we were not in need of anything.

One thing you could count on, every model airplane event you went to someone would have a good Stinger Wallace story. Once outside of Crockett, Tx Stinger confronted a woman who had stolen a cell phone, we could actually here it ringing in her purse as the owner called it. Stinger got the woman to turn the phone over, and then we all watched in amazement as she cuts across grass fields and streets to leave the scene, leaving her husband and one of his friends behind. Another time he sent us all diving for cover as he tried to actually fly a model airplane with his feet at the controls. When the dust (and the wreckage) cleared we all had a good laugh; only Stinger would try such a thing. I often used to say to him, "Only you, Stinger, would try and (fill in the details, there was ALWAYS something).

When I first moved to Texas I spent many a night in Stinger's shop, talking planes and working on planes. The local r/c club was an instant group of friends for a newcomer, with Stinger as the older brother everyone looked up to.

I'm struggling with the decision to attend a memorial service for him. After all the events that transpired in 2005 I have struggled with depression and anger, and I just don't know if I'm ready to hear the sad details of how he came to pass. Perhaps one day old friends from the flying club will gather to talk of Stinger and tell all the old stories again.

I will strive to remember him for how he lived and not how he died. I hope he is free of whatever demons were haunting him.

Goodbye old friend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Life's Little Disappointments

Today I discovered that the gorgeous woman who exercises next to me in yoga class, who always smiles and tells me hello, who can do seemingly impossible poses with as much ease as the instructor . . .has hairy underarms.

I'm so disillusioned.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mike in Texas To Speak Before House Education Committee?

Ok, so its unlikely to happen, but after reading some of the reviews of Rep. Miller's revisions to the law at Schools Matter I decided to follow Dr. Horn's urging and email Rep. Miller.

In my email I offered my services as a veteran teacher and volunteered to come to Washington on Sept. 10 to discuss my opinion on NCLB and the proposed revisions.

I wonder what kind of odds the Vegas oddsmakers would give me on that actually happening?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

When Did CNN Turn to Crap?

I used to watch CNN and regularly read their webpage CNN.com and it was a good source of news. But lately it has all turned to celebrity garbage and Springer type news. Here are a few of the choice tidbits they've been posting lately:

Camp for those who see dead people

"Anchorwoman" pulled after one episode

Lohan gets 1 day jail, 10 in community service

Nicole Richie spends 82 minutes in jail (she must have had a better lawyer than Paris)

Put away the suit and heels

Banning boxers and thongs (next they'll go after muffin tops and whaletails).

Nowhere to be found on their website is any investigative journalism, while MSN has been running an investigative piece on the shoddy treatment of Iraq corruption whistle blowers.

CNN also dropped their education section, which was no big loss as they generally recycled PR releases from the big corporations and think-tanks to make them look like news.

I think I may be switching to a new news source.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Carnival Addenda - The Lost Children Addition

We had several people whose submissions didn't get posted due to problems with blogcarnival, so for those who were left out allow me to present "The Lost Children' addition to the 131st carnival. Of course, I'll need a new subtitle.

People Who Were Inadvertently Left Out of the 131st Edition of the Carnival (Or Sirs Not Appearing In The Carnival)

Are you smarter than a 5th, 4th, um 3rd 3rd - 6th grader? Let's Play Math has a link to some Math problems you can try to solve that are on grade level, although he does mention having to use Algebra on a 6th grade problem. Geez, I didn't nearly fail algebra until I was in 9th grade!

What do you think of the term "charter schools"? JD2718 wonders if they can rightfully be described as public schools, and some of his commenters point out that many charters get to play by special rules the public schools are held to. Is it just a matter of semantics, or is there more to this story?

When should high school begin and where should middle/elementary school end? Friends of Dave discusses school districts trying different strategies; some schools are moving their 6th - 8th grades to elementary campuses, and some are moving them to high school campuses.

How could I have missed frequent carnival contributor Mathew K. Tabor? His omitted submission is entitled 3 Doses of Reality for British Education.

Let the tales of these lost children be told far and wide throughout the blogosphere!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The 131st Carnival of Education

This is my last week of freedom before I have to return to two weeks of inservice training. Yes I said TWO WEEKS. I plan on drowning my sorrows with some good Absolute Vodka and reading some of the excellent entries for this week's carnival.

My Daily Reads

Fans of the Fox TV show 24 will LOVE Mr Teacher's idea for a 24 hour school day. Putting his engineering talents to good use he has figured out many ways school districts could save money by using his idea, not to mention astronomy can be added in for those difficult midnight to 4A.M. hours.

Joanne Jacobs has rightfully been described as the Queen Mother of all education bloggers, and her website has been one of my daily reads for over 3 years now. Joanne discusses research related to learning styles in her entry for this week's carnival.

Raising graduation rates is like herding cats, or so says Ms. Cornelius over at A Shrewdness of Apes. In this week's submission she examines the unintended consequences of NCLB and what may happen as the push for improved high school graduation rates intensifies. Do we want more graduates, or are we willing to accept fewer graduates of a more rigorous and well-rounded curriculum?

Ever encounter a situation where you were totally at a lost as to what to do?It's Not All Test Scores, submitted by NYC Educator, discusses a situation that occurred when he was a first year teacher. By the way, I once had a comb similar to the one you described. Of course, I also used to have hair. After reading his blog for a couple of years now I bet he doesn't have too many of those situations anymore.

Is This How To Build A Better NCLB? ask The Education Wonks. I followed much of what Rep. Miller has said about NCLB lately, and I'm stumped as to what his position actually is. Maybe someone from his home state can enlighten me.

Bloggers Who Obviously Don't Read My Blog, Or They Wouldn't Use Such Big Words, Especially During The Summer

The Red Pencil examines education blogs and discusses a system for rating them. So does this submission from Dangerously Irrelevant. I would have looked myself up but all the colors on Dangerously Irrelevant's chart were giving me a headache. Or could it be I'm just pouting because I wasn't listed in their Top 30?

I knew I was in trouble when I read this title, Po Moyemu--In My Opinion: Albemarle's Home Instruction Policy Manual Update and the Term Educational Progress Discussed. Silvia is a stay-at-home (or really more out-and-about) mom who homeschools her children, volunteers for a statewide homeschool organization, and has some other interests to talk about besides.

According to Hube over at The Colossus of Rhodey, the NEA is also confused about SCOTUS decision regarding race & schooling. Hube didn't use a lot of big words himself, but he seems to understand what they mean.

Bloggers I've Taken An Instant Disliking To, Because They're Probably Funnier Than I Am

TheSexy Secularist! doesn't include a photo of the author, so I took the liberty of supplying one (Hint: I have a Joely Fisher crush). Besides being sexy he's also A Very Sore Loser.

A blog that's new to me, It's Not All Flowers and Sausages, discusses The Great Cockroach Chase that occurred in her classroom. I've never seen a cockroach chase but I have been to cockroach races. I think most people were there just to see a cockroach crash.

Around The Blogs

How many times have you heard the phrase "If it wasn't written down somewhere it didn't happen"? Scott Elias discusses why its important to not only write things down but to do it while you're thinking about it.

What if you could write a 10 step plan for your district? Carnival virgin no more Carey has created a Top Ten List of goals for her district in the upcoming school year.

Speaking of Top Ten lists, how about a Ten Things to Know About the Kids from Scenes From The Battleground? I was both a #1 and a #3 on the bad side list, as when I was in 4th grade I would often steal people's crayons, break them apart and throw them at people when the teacher wasn't looking. If you're out there reading this, Mrs. Pickett, I am truly sorry (and BTW, it was Duane who threw the garbage can down the stairs not me. Admittedly, I did suggest it).

Math Helps You Do Well In Science? As my sister would say, who'da thunk it? Kim's Play Place wonders why someone actually spent money studying this.

Apparently the admissions office at the Chicago Graduate School of Business is suffering from Powerpoint Poisioning, so if you're thinking of applying you might want to practice by taking The Four Slide Sales Pitch challenge from Dan over at dy/dan.

Are you planning with your end in mind or your mind in your end. Yes, I know it brings a naughty image to mind but blame Andy over at HorseSense and Nonsense. He's the one who said it!

If you're searching for a better way to teach the history of Berlin than why not try discussing the Ampelmännchen? He has his own website and you can buy his gadgets all over Berlin.

Dr. Jan's Blog is one of those blogs I need to start reading daily. In her submission for this week's carnival Dr. Jan discusses TeacherTube and Wikis and how they can be used to make history meaningful.

ATR is a term most teacher's outside of New York won't recognize, Norm over at Education Notes Online pokes fun at the Bloomberg/Klein administration and offers a little big of humor for those poor unfortunates who have been labeled ATR.

California Teacher Dude (I can't resist doing that) Guy offers up some tips for developing readers with stamina. As with so many activities, the key to getting better is practice, practice, practice.

I've written before about being stuck in several kinds of interview hell, but Mrs. Bluebird is stuck in vocabulary hell. She's also on an unbelievably short deadline to the first day of school, according to her ticker.

Speaking of going back to school early, Clix of Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable has already had that dreaded first day of school, with several 4 time repeat offenders to make things interesting. Warning: Angst to Follow. Bummer Dude!

Has your school cut back on many of the things it used to supply for you? Matt refers to this as the School Supply Tax and wonders why parents should have to pay for such basic items as hand sanitizer.

Do black, navy or khaki pants or skirts and a solid-color shirt with a collar oppress the freedom of expression of students, when they are a required school uniform? The Colossus of Rhodey has found some parents who feel it is.

Lack of support from administration is often cited as a reason for teachers to leave the profession, IB A Math Teacher discusses a NY Times Story regarding the changing student grades by administrators.

I fear for Mamcita's safety. She has written that it upsets her to see her students so anxious over their final exams, after all its just a piece of paper. If she's not careful one of those "reform" groups is going to put a dead horse head in her bed for messing with their profits.

Steven of REALITY ON A STICK has some thought provoking comments on education and the sense of community. Luckily for me he didn't use to many big words so I was able to follow his essay.

Once again Alvaro is nagging encouraging us to Exercise Your Brain! . NOW GET THOSE LAZY PARIETAL LOBES OFF THE COUCH AND LEARN SOMETHING! He also points out how spending 5 hours a day on the couch watching TV is not good for your mind or your body.

Christina has The Low-Down on Federal Student Loans. Her website was having some problems as I'm writing this so here is the description she wrote for her submission.
Federal loans are a great option when your other financial aid doesn't cover the total cost to attend school. If you're like most students you often find yourself at least a couple thousand short. So instead of picking up another part-time job consider taking out a federal loan.

Hopefully her site will be up and running again shortly.

Bloggers with the word "Right" in the their title

Rightwing Prof has a little ditty about Jack and Diane a story about a "presenter" at an academic conference he attended. According to the professor, "The story is true, the names have been changed to protect the stupid".

Darren of Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher wonders if NEA Members Are Homophobes. As a Texas teacher, where we can neither strike nor collective bargain and the powers of unions are greatly diminished, I sometimes have difficulties in understanding the ins and outs of powerful unions. Darren does a much better job of explaining it than I can.

Check Out My Homey

In many families, bedtime becomes a special place where parents and children enjoy reading a book together. Not surprisingly the effects of such interactions are felt throughout the child's life. Life Without School writes about reading with her children in My Autodidacts and Me: Book Learning.

Thanks to all who submitted. Next week's carnival will be hosted by Lennie of Education Matters. Entries should be submitted no later than 10 P.M. EST to Lennie(at)EducationMatters(dot)US or you can use this handy form.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Best Lies Money Can Buy

Remember a couple of months ago when the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation teamed up to form a $60 million public relations campaign? What that money is being spent on is now coming out.

First there was the "study" by ETS that claimed the majority of Americans are in favor of NCLB. Here is the "question" they used to get those results:
“The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state. Based on this statement and anything else you may have heard, would you say that you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the No Child Left Behind Act?”

For a great in-depth analysis see Schools Matter.

Now comes a new "study" from the Hoover Institution gleefully claiming they got the same results. No big surprise, they used basically the same question:
As you may know, the No Child Left Behind Act requires states to set standards in math and reading and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met. This year, Congress is deciding whether to renew the No Child Left Behind Act. What do you think Congress should do?

For a good laugh, here's the "alternate" version:
As you may know, federal legislation requires states to set standards in math and reading and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met. This year, Congress is deciding whether to renew this federal legislation. What do you think Congress should do?

I would like to propose a new question for the next study. What kind of results do you think they'd get with this one:
"As you know, the No Child Left Behind Act represents the largest federal intrusion onto states' rights in the history of the United state, is most likely unconstituional, allows the federal govt. to mandate 100% of what is being taught in schools while only picking up 7% of the cost, and is opposed by over 80% of current and former educators, do you think Congress should renew this federal legislation?

I haven't tweaked any of the "experts" over at Joanne Jacobs in awhile. I think I'll go drop this question on them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Countdown Is On

As of tomorrow I'll have only 2 weeks left to my summer vacation. I've got lots of goofing off to do, plus I'll be hosting the carnival again soon. Oh summer, there were so many things I wanted to do but didn't.

I wanted to go see the Meteor Crator outside of Flagstaff, AZ. It would be about a 1200 drive so I would LOVE to fly out there, spend a day or so, and fly back. I could get plenty of pictures I could use in my classroom.

I haven't read much this summer. Last summer it seems like I spent the entire time reading, this year it feels like I've done nothing but home improvement projects. So far we've remodeled our bedroom and bathroom. We also built a pad to place the hottub on, as well as installed 2 bi-fold doors in the place of regular doors in our house, one to our bathroom and one to the laundry room.

Next up will be a deck around the hottub, as well 2 more outdoor speakers, these 2 closer to the hottub.

But before then I have some serious goofing off to do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The 129th Edition of the Carnival of Education

I've received what seems like a TON of entries for this week's carnival, and I'm going to do my best to use all of them for this week's carnival, so here goes.

My Daily Reads

When he's not shamelessly promoting his book, Learn Me Good (available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Lulu), Mr. Teacher is the walking epitome of studliness at his school. At least that's how new (to me) blogger Fractions speak louder than nerds views male teachers. Funny, the women at my school must have missed that directive. As an added bonus Mr. Teacher links to other male teachers who blog. You can also take his >YouTube Challenge, (is that Styx's Too Much Time On My Hands I hear in the background?). A winner will be drawn from the names of those who comment on his videos (*cough, Mike in Texas, cough*)and will receive a free Learn Me Good t-shirt.

If you like to speed AND you're a resident of the state of Virginia, be careful out there. According to the EdWonks Virginia governor Tim Kaine wants to put massive fines on speeders, at least those who are from Virginia. If you have an out of state license you pay a more modest fine.

Once again NYC Educator takes on the KIPPers with his comments on the drill and kill methods to meet minimum standards they employ. On a side note, wouldn't it be great if we could pick and choose our students and demand they spend extra time in school?

The Science Goddess is getting a PhD and preparing for her upcoming role as an instructional coach. This week she looks at research into teaching and learning. I'm not much for charts and graphs but anyone who refers to herself as a goddess is OK in my book.

If you like movie trivia be sure to check out the Movie Madness every Monday over at A Shrewdness of Apes

Around The Blogs

The Repairman presents A Hidden Third Factor That Influences Math Scores? posted at RepairKit. In this post he examines factors that may influence Math scores as well as solutions to these problems.

When it comes to Math, what's more important Thinking or Knowing asks Kim over at Kim's Play Place.

Frequent Carnival contributor IB a Math Teacher Student-Teachers With Disabilities over at 3σ → Left examines the case of a student teacher with disabilities, in this case depression and social anxiety. Should this person be allowed to work with students when her professor feels she one of the most negative people he's ever encountered?

New blogger In 2 The Trenches is excited about the new school year, and has a bunch of links to Google Apps that teachers can use. Be nice to her, she's a carnival virgin.

Matthew K. Tabor is seeking teacher opinions on this essay from a teaching applicant. There will be two followups for this post.

I'm always a sucker for any presenter who brings snacks, so Stephanie over at LeaderTalk suggests you Feed Your Teachers. She also offers of a list of positive traits for leaders to have. If you bring cinnamon rolls to my school I'll be yours forever, Stephanie.

Somehow I missed this great post, also about leadership, by Scott over at Dangerously Irrelevant. Scott invited bloggers and readers to write about effective school technology leadership.

Jose Vilson remembers When ... school was a little different. I have to ask, does that make him craaaaazy? Possibly!

Another blog new to me is Washington Teacher and judging by the picture on his blog, Washington must be a beautiful state. His submission is about a class action lawsuit against alleged NEA retirement kickbacks

Ryan over at I Thought a Think blogs about the snazzy new NCTM newsletter, and apparently has a Man crush on Skip Fennell. Is it

Tim has been reading up on John Dewey who felt that education should be about the here and now, and not a preparation for something (like standardized tests).

Cheating should not be allowed in any form writes Darren of Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher. Darren examines the cheating scandal involving an Oakland charter school known for placing large numbers of students in college.

Chanman is taking the sans-union plunge as he resigns from the California Teacher's Association. Those of us who teach in Texas are often perplexed by powerful teacher's unions (you know those ones Rod Paige compares to terrorist organizations) as here in Texas teachers' unions have no power whatsoever in regards to salaries, working conditions or teacher assignments.

A good story can capture the attention of students, and History Is Elementary loves to tell this story about Washington crossing the Delaware, and NO! I won't tell you how it ends.

As a teacher who has researched the No Child Left Behind law and its supporters, I'm not a big fan of the Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and neither is Norm of Education Notes Online.

Are we doing kids a favor when we praise them, wonders Mr. Pullen. The results of a study he read may surprise you.

I've written numerous times about how I feel administrators ignore the opinions and ideas of teachers, and The Tempered Radical agrees with me. His submission for this weeks carnival is entitled Draconian and Dysfunctional. . .

Teachers are among the most trusted Professions writes Charles over at Trusted Advisor. Nurse and doctors are also high on the list.

Money management should be a family affair and who would know that more than the Millionaire Mommy Next Door. Her entry suggests ways to involve your children in the money management process.

Life can be tough teaching in UK secondary schools writes Scenes From The Battleground. He has a nice guide to his blog with a quick links to past posts.

Donna (a.k.a. Ms Whatsit) wants to know what you're doing to prepare for the first day of school. The first day? I'm still working on suppressing memories of last year!

Those little monsters should learn to appreciate what they have, says Alvaro over at Brain Fitness Blog. Actually his post is called Mental Training for Gratitude and Altruism, but you get the point.

The arts are being left behind says Riley Central, and one test score should not be used to judge an entire year's success. Amen, Riley, amen.

Connie is one talented cutie and even manages to win over grumpy Brit Simon Cowell. See for yourself!

Don't you just hate being ordered around by some teeth sucking bacon hunting desk jockey? Mimi is ready to take a cart full of math supplies and shove it up that jerk's . . .well, you get the picture.

Get an admissions blog already Yale! demands Sam Jackson, or else Mimi is going to take that huge stack of admission papers and shove it up your . . . maybe I'm the one who should switch to decaff.

Get a Job! Peter demands of himself over at A School to Call Home. I was nice and left out "you bum!" since I've been doing my best to form an ass-shaped impression in my chair all summer.

Check Out the Homies

Everybody's always talking about Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! and her post defining Who am I?. I bet she never gets tired of that joke. I also bet she wishes she could just reach out through the internet and slap the living . . .once again, you get the picture.

Need a great idea for some Social Studies projects? How about 25 of them courtesy of Annette at Homeschooling Journey?

Why not learn a foreign language along with your child? asks Sylvia over at Po Moyemu--In My Opinion.

Teacher Certification and Testing is on Janine's mind at Why Homeschool.

Thanks to all who contributed. Next week's carnival will be hosted by Dr. Homeslice. Submissions should be sent to drhomeslice(at)hotmail(dot)com no later than 9 P.M. EST on Tuesday, July 31st, or you can use this handy submission form.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Carnival Entries Are Due

Once again I am hosting the Carnival of Education. Please submit all entries to me at mikea3_98@yahoo.com by 10 P.M. CST

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Seen on TV

I thought television had hit a new low with the Discovery Channels Stunt Junkies, where the "part scientist, part daredevil" and the show's host seemed to lack the ability to form coherent thoughts or complete sentences without using the word Dude!, but yesterday, as my daughter was flipping through the channels, I saw something even more stupid.

She happened to stop on a show called Bridezillas on the WE TV network. One bridezilla actually forced her sister, who had the gall to get pregnant and be due around the date of her wedding when she was supposed to be baking 38 cakes (one for each table) and the wedding cake, to have her baby induced 2 weeks in advance.

Does the word "No!" ever occur to these idiots? And what about the future husbands, who stand their with stupid blank expressions on their faces? I long for the day when we'll be able to reach into the TV, grab these people, and slap them around some and tell them, "For God's sake get a pair of balls!"

In a few years some poor teacher will be raked over the coals for the test score's of these idiots' children, who obviously have no chance in life.

If you'll excuse me there's another pot of coffee with my name on it brewing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How Much Brain Power Should This Take?

I'm currently in San Antonio, helping my sister-in-law and brother-in-law move to a new home. Amazingly enough, in this day and age, the house they were moving into did not have smoke detectors, so it was off to Wal-Mart for new ones. SIL decided to spend a little extra and get the "premium" detectors, from the company who claims their detectors will be the "First" to "Alert" you if you catch my drift.

Now for years we've had smoke detectors in our home that have a battery installation that is extremely simple. Snap the batter into the metal clips designed especially for 9 volt batteries, and make sure you use the clip in the back to hold it in place. A child could do it in 5 seconds. But in the business world, you know those people who think they know more about education than us teachers, if you're not changing you're not moving forward, and a battery clip that works but is an old design simply won't do. The new "First" to "Alert" you smoke detectors have a new swinging out battery compartment along the outer edge.

The only problem is, 9 volt batteries are rectangular, the smoke detector, and it's swing out battery compartment, have a rounded edge. We could not get the batteries installed without a major struggle.

I managed to get one in, after about 10 minutes of struggling and actually banging it on a countertop, at which point SIL decided she would just return them. Later we examined the brain power in the room trying to get these batteries installed.

Collectively we had: A BS in Education, an M_Ed in Education, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and a Medical Doctor. Lest you think we were not prepared to deal with a mechanical device, there was also a BS in Biomedical Engineering.

I don't mean to brag, but I think its safe to say we had an above average amount of brain power in the room, and still couldn't figure out this supposedly new and better battery compartment.

So much for progress

Saturday, July 07, 2007

At This Rate, I'm Going To Have To Change My Nickname to "Eyewitness"

For the 2nd time this week I have witnessed an accident on Highway 59 in East Texas. Earlier this week, on a stretch loaded with businesses, a car trying to turn to go south pulled out in front of a northbound pickup. The driver of the car tried to take off, but seeing as how his rear axle was snapped he didn't get too far.

This afternoon, just south of Moscow, Texas, I saw an 18 wheeler log truck take a turn and roll over. Even from half a mile away it was spectacular.

Luckily, no one was hurt in either accident. Why don't people just slow down a little when the roads are wet?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer Goal: Get A Hottub . . .Done

Thanks to EBay I have achieved ONE of my summer goals, to get a hottub. I got a great deal and thanks to my McGyver buddy, it is up and running. We built a concrete pad and added the extra wiring, and when I say "we" I mean mostly him. We also had fun driving around an enormous forklift we used to move the hottub around, well, except for that hour and a half we spent digging it out of the mud where it sank in my backyard because of all the rain we've been having.

In addition, the bathroom remodeling is done, just in time for my wife to come up with other summer projects.

All I need now is for Mr. Teacher to bring over some of his Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders friends and I'm all set.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Now For Something Funny

I wasn't familiar with Kevin Pollack until I came across this video on 100 Farmers and YouTube. I'll definitely have to look for more of his stuff.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Possible Future Head of TEA Violated Policy

An internal investigation at the Texas Education Agency has found the agency didn't follow policy, and that contracts were awarded to associates of top officials.

No big surprise here. Robert Scott, assistant TEA commissioner and possibly future head of TEA, has been described as a Perry loyalist (ass-kisser, sycophant). The article mentions two contracts he negotiated personally with a contractor.
In one case, a woman who received two $100,000 contracts for agency work told investigators that she negotiated the terms directly with TEA's deputy commissioner, Robert Scott, rather than the education service center administering the project.

The report also said that a consultant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recommended hiring specific people, including his ex-wife, for grant contracts.

For years I considered myself a Republican, but in the last few I have changed that view. It's amazing how arrogant they are when they are in power, believing they are above the law, whether they are state or federal officials.

Different versions of this story can be found here and here, or the report itself can be found here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Carnival of Education, The RoadTrip Edition

In honor of The Education Wonks, who are on the road to their summer home, allow me to present The Road Trip Edition of the Carnival of Education.

My Daily Reads

Did you learn ANYTHING this year? Well, the Science Goddess did and she's reflecting on them as she transitions to summer vacation.

Where else would you find a post titled Diplomas and Gorditas except at Learn Me Good? How long will it be before one of us is working at Wal-Mart High or Chik-Fil-A Elementary? If you like the blog then you'll definitely like The Book.

And speaking of McDonalds, would any of us enjoy being referred to as a McTeacher? Could those 10 hour school days at KIPP schools really be about teaching kids to blindly accept authority and long hours? Next week's host NYC Educator takes on the KIPPers.

Talk about your meltdowns, how about a principal using his office to buy crack cocaine? The Ed Wonks have labeled him the wanker of the day.

It seems like every week there is a new study released about education. Over at 3σ Left they examine a study they believe will be ignored.

Higher Education

How would you like to go to college for free? Campus Grotto has the lowdown on affordable colleges, and if you search the list carefully you'll find the one that's free for state residents.

But what if there are gaps in your college admission application? Mathew K. Tabor is the man you want to talk to then.

Campus Crime is a big topic these days, but what about crimes that are not so spectacularly horrible as the Virginia Tech shootings? Why Homeschool looks at a university that tried to cover up a murder in order to protect its image.

Inside The Blogs

Have you heard of Isaac Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics? At Scenes From The Battlefield they've finished work on The Second Law of Behaviour Management. NOW I'm all curious as to what the first law was.

Are you already dreading thinking about next year? Frumteacher is and he has a list of resolutions for the 2007-2008 school year.

If you're a Science teacher in the state of Georgia you might want to check out the EIC Conference. It has a great deal of ideas for teaching in the great outdoors, as well as the story of a group of children who managed to get their state legislature to pass their bill.

Ever wondered how to tie Chemistry and Literature together? The ChemJerk has a list of summer reading in chemistry.

Another group of words I never thought I'd see together in the same sentence are physics or social justice. Is the PC mindset infiltrating even the hard science fields of education?

Teachers fear standardized tests as simplistic assessments of performance, which are then used as indicators of school success. Sound familiar? Not only is it happening in the U.S. but in Denmark also, where The Tempered Radical weighs in with observations about a trip to observe education in Denmark. I also wrote about a school in Denmark where students strip for the best seats at lunchtime.

California Teacher Dude Guy is currently searching for a teaching position, and his submission is entitled Thirteen Random Reasons Why Your School Should Hire CaliforniaTeacherGuy, making him 30% better than anyone with a Top Ten list.

I'd never heard of the term digital native until I received this entry from Life Without School. Even more interesting is the term Digital Immigrant, which is probably the category I fall in. I meet some of the qualifications, but I'd never figured out the R2D2 could shove bad guys off the walkways in Star Wars Lego.

I love finding a good deal, and The Digerati Life has come up with a list of Cheap Ways To Learn And Feed Your Brain.

Did You Know is an awesome look at facts regarding education and employment. Be sure to follow their link to Did You Know 2.0 and view the presentation.

I've heard it said that kindergarten is the new first grade, and the Scholar's Notebook agrees. Their submission to the carnival is called The manufactured crisis in kindergarten readiness and, you won't believe this, a company that sells materials to school districts is helping to spread the alarm.

I was hoping someone would tackle the ETS survey results about NCLB and Horse Sense and Nonsense has done it in this post. If case you're wondering here is how the "question" was presented to the respondents:

“The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state. Based on this statement and anything else you may have heard, would you say that you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the NCLB Act?”

I was lucky enough to grow up with a football field sized neutral ground in front of my house and a neighborhood full of kids to play with. When was the last time you saw a large group of kids playing outside in your neighborhood?, wonders Mrs. Bluebird. The only kids who play outside in my neighborhood have a basketball goal up in the driveway, and wait till after sundown when it's cooler.

Some people seem to know a lotta big fancy words. Silvia has some thoughts on a large vocabulary.

Privatization Issues

Privatization is a big issue among the "reform" crowd, but what about the privatization of non-instructional services? wonders Mr. Pullen.

Going to the Mat weighs in with the story of a group of parents who want to start an all girl charter school.

Next Week's Carnival

Next week's carnival will be hosted at NYC Educator. Please submit all entries to nyceducator[at]gmail[dot]com no later than 6 P.M. EST, or you can use this handy form.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Please Send Your Carnival Entries

To me, Mike in Texas, via mikea3_98@yahoo.cm by Tuesday, 10 P.M. CST.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Do Teachers Make?

I know most teachers have probably already read these words, but I thought it was interesting to hear and see the person say them. His name is Taylor Mall. The video comes courtesy of Youtube and Teach42.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm The Redneck King of The Neighborhood

"We're" currently remodeling our bathroom, and when I say "we" I mean "me" of course. Oh it's not like my wife doesn't have important parts, from changing her mind about colors to criticizing my work, but painting and flooring are just not her thing.

Because I will be redoing the floor, the toilet has had to come out and currently resides on our back patio, making me the redneck king of the neighborhood.

Anytime I see a neighbor outside I'm tempted to go outside with a book and take a seat, maybe install a toilet paper holder.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hit The Beach With The Science Goddess And The Carnival of Education

This week's edition of the Carnival of Education is a
Back To The Beach special with posts from some of my favorite bloggers, including Mr. Teachers, The Education Wonks and Ms. Corneilus, along with a host of other fine entries.

Next week's carnival will be hosted by yours truly. Please send submission to me, mikea3_98@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sometimes I Just Don't Know What To Say About A Story

This is one of those times:
Students' stage strip for teachers

Teachers have refused to stop an annual striptease by pupils despite a video of an onstage lesbian love romp ending up on YouTube.

But officials at the school in Denmark are fighting to hold onto the annual event.

A spokesman said: 'The girls' teachers vote as the best get the best places on the tables in the canteen.'

Erik Olesen, head teacher at Silkeborg said everyone, including the school governors, had known about the contest and described it as 'harmless fun'.

But news of the striptease got out when some of the girls this year stripped naked and began to touch each other's breasts - then started rubbing baby oil over each other's bodies.

Two girls put on a lesbian show to cheering classmates and teachers

The whole incident was filmed by four other students on their mobile phones who then posted it on the internet. It has since been removed from YouTube.

The girls were only stopped from going further by teachers.

Headmaster Olesen said: 'I think they forgot what they were doing and where they were. But my concern now is not to punish anyone, but protect the girls who are now all over the internet.

'As for the students who recorded the contest, they didn't realize they had done anything illegal and I have had a long talk with them.'

But he added that he had no plans to scrap the striptease competition at the school. 'I am sure nothing like this will happen again,' he said.

'And anyway, the girls who did this didn't win the competition because their performance was over the top.'

Film of the girls stripping off in front of teachers and pupils sparked outrage among education chiefs who now want it banned.

I haven't checked any of the far-right anti-public school religious reform sites but isn't Denmark one of those countries they always mention as having better schools than us?

The whole story can be found here but be warned, some of the links from this site contain adult natured materials.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Somewhere There Are Baytown Teachers Being Held Accountable For This Kid's Test Scores

I've been closely following the story of the 4 kids killed in the Baytown crash and the story has become interesting, to say the least.

First of all, the driver survived and his actions are being dismissed by his mother. She has supposedly said her son, Bobby Davis, was just trying to get one of the girls home and that's why he was driving so fast. Incidentally, one of those killed was her son and Bobby's younger brother.

Apparently then, Mom knew little Bobby was driving without a license and driving a stolen vehicle at 3:30 in the morning. After seeing Mom's myspace page I think I can see why Bobby is the way he is, especially after reading this note he left for his MOTHER:
holy fucking shit i just tried one of those ringtone sites advertised on myspace and they really do work...i got some crystal clear ringtones for my phone instantly. i am talking about some cadillac shit here! you just gotta see for yourself, just copy and paste this site in your browser:

I would have rung my child's neck for leaving his mother a message like that, and his mother would have too.

Bobby wasn't exactly hanging around with a group of future brain surgeons if you examine some of the comments left on his myspace page:
bobby oh shit when i seen that shit on the news i could not believe what i was seein fool but dang hang in there yo im here for you if you need to talk playa but you shouldnt be sad cuz we all know hes in a better place so dont look foward or back look up stay cool

bobby omg this is so freakin crazy like i heard about the wreck and i was like damn like it was bad and that i felt bad for the people and their families in the wreck and then i found out that you were in it and that austin had died and so did loral and her cousin and your girlfriend and like i almost started cryin cuz like i actually knew people that were in the wreck and like i know that i don't know you that well but we did hang out a couple times and when we hung out we had a whole lot of fun like that day at dayton ole times day when it was me you melissa and elmo hangin out and we all rode rides and stuff and thank god you came so i had someone to ride with i'm so glad that i got to hang out with you that night and it sucks that this had to happen i'm so freakin sorry and i hope that you get threw this we don't need any more loses i hope so bad that you pull threw this and don't blame yourself for what happened i'm prayin for you and your family and everyone

Somewhere some teachers were probably raked over the coals, or in Bush's words, had their feet held to the fire, over this idiot's test scores.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Out of Baytown, near Houston , comes this tragic story of 4 teenagers killed at an unlit railroad crossing. A terrible tragedy for sure, but as I read into the story I found something highly disturbing.
The victims died instantly early Thursday when the stolen SUV they were in slammed into a parked train.

It happened at a crossing at Archer Road and Fleming around 3:30 a.m

The 4 teenagers killed in this horrible accident were 14, 14, 13 and 12. Three of them were females.

What in the world were two 14 year old girls and one 12 year old girl doing out at 3:30 in the morning riding around in a stolen SUV??? Where were the parents of these children? One of them had snuck out, but what about the other 3?

The community, and in particular some of the parents of those killed, are blaming the railroad company for having an unlit railroad crossing, but the fact of the matter is, these kids were out when they shouldn't have been, doing things they shouldn't have been doing.

What a stupid, senseless tragedy. I for one would favor the death penalty for the driver, if he survives.

Do We Rely Too Much On Technology?

Yesterday some friends traveled to Schlitterbahn to meet us. Early in the morning I called my friend to coordinate our arrival times, as we had already purchased discount tickets for them. My friend informed me they were in Hearne, Texas, which is about 20 miles NORTH of the route we usually take. When I asked him why he went that way his answer was it was the route Yahoo maps indicated.

Now my friend is no dummy. He has a college degree and was a Wal-Mart manager for 15 years. Somehow the idea of consulting a map or an atlas never occurred to him, and he went a long way out of his way. The same thing happened to a brother of mine, when he visited after evacuating for Hurricane Katrina.

Upon arriving home, and after following my instructions on a better route back, my friend informed me my way had cut 60 miles off the trip.

Who says computers always know better?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blogging With An Empty Wallet

I'm currently blogging from Austin,Tx, where the Sheration Hotel apparently has designs on taking every last bit of money we have.

My wife is here for a conference, and my daughter and I have tagged along. So far I've been shocked to discover:

1. I have to pay an extra $10 a day for internet access.

2. We have to pay 12 bucks a day plus taxes to park in the hotel's parking garage.

3. The bottled water in my room costs $5 a dollar.

I know some of you will be quick to point out I'm just a rube from East Texas, but a couple of weeks ago when we were here for my son's graduation we had free parking, free breakfast and free internet, just at a different hotel.

My wife chose the Sheraton because it is where her conference is being held. I would have gladly dropped her off and stayed somewhere else.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Texas Charters Are The Biggest TAKS Cheats

From the "things you won't see posted on reform websites" comes this story and this story. Texas schools have taken a beating in the press, with many newspapers calling for investigations of TAKS cheating. However, an in-depth study found that most of the cheating goes on at Texas charter schools.

Advocates of charters often claim market forces will drive the bad ones out, but in one of the stories I found these tidbits:
TEA has spent much of the last decade pursuing sanctions or other actions against Gulf Shores and its parent organization, Gulf Shores Academy. The charter system has a history of financial and academic problems, including a roughly $8 million debt to the state for over-reporting student attendance. State officials have, for several years, been trying to shut down the school.

Alphonso Crutch's has also long been among the state's most troubled charter schools, with state officials having tried – and failed – to shut it down several years ago.

So much for state oversite and market forces. I look forward to sharing these newspapers stories at several of the "reform" websites.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why Is It?

I often watch the"Commodities and Markets" section of CNN and monitor the price of gasoline futures. Given that I may a 50 mile round trip to work everyday it directly effects my wallet.

What I'm wondering is, how come if the price of futures goes up 10 cents a gallon the price of gas at the pump immediately goes up, but if the price goes down it takes days for there to be a decrease?

Just curious.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Last night we traveled to the Theater Under the Stars and saw the Broadway production of Spamalot!. For those of you who are not familiar with the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail I would highly suggest watching the movie first. If you are a fan, you will find the play absolutely hilarious!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On The First Day of My Summer Vacation, I Woke Up . . .

Today is my first official day of summer vacation. I have absolutely nothing planned to do today, except maybe try out my new racquetball racket ($23.99 at Academy, thank you very much).

My wife seems to have other plans. She would like me to:

1. Paint the bedroom (what's wrong with 13 year old paint??)

2. Build a garden around the east and north side of our house.

3. Put new flooring in a bathroom, strip the old wallpaper off, and paint.

In other news, my son has landed a job with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Sometime this week I will have to rent a U-Haul trailer and bring him his stuff. That should be a busy day, with it being a 5 hour drive one way, and if I know my son his apartment will be messy within 5 minutes of him moving in.

In addition, I've been bidding on hot tubs on EBay. I'm thinking a nice covered deck around it and a sign that says "NO KIDS ALLOWED"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

He Are A Graduate

My blogging has been light lately. Last week I spent 3 days in Austin, Tx attending my son's graduation and helping him move some of his stuff back.

I've written before about the disgusting state of his apartment and I wish I could say he was shamed into being less of a slob, but as you can see from the picture he hasn't.

Maybe he'll grow out of it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Just A Scary Thought to Start Your Week

Ten years ago, the parents of the kids we teach today, were going crazy for the Macarena.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If You're Not Disgusted You're Not Paying Attention

From the files of "I only thought I'd seen everything" comes this almost unbelievable story via CNN about a mother who was offering her 7 year old daughter up for sex, actually advertising it on the Internet. Fortunately for the child the buyer was an undercover police officer, although the police suspect she may have been victimized before. Not only was the mother selling her own child, she had planned on taking pictures of the molesting and sell then on the Internet. Unbelievable!

Somewhere in Michigan is a 3rd grade teacher who will be held accountable for this child when she doesn't pass her high stakes test mandated by the federal government. Several years ago we had a 4th grader who witnessed the murder/suicide of his parents, but by golly he still had to take the state tests.

I'm disgusted on many levels.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Raid Covered Cookies

Let's see if I can stump Michael with this one.
When I buy cookies I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won't be tempted to dig them out of the garbage and eat them. Be careful, though, because Raid really doesn't taste that bad.

And I'm outtttttttaaaaa here!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Lunch

Like most of my fellow "Special Populations" teachers, I now eat my lunch in my room. It's a decision I had been contemplating for awhile, as I've previously mentioned here I was getting tired of listening to the various teacher cliques discuss their party/dinner/get-together plans. The final straw for me was when a teacher, whom I considered a friend, screamed at me during lunch over a comment I had made regarding her MySpace page. Now, I'll be the first to admit I have the habit of sticking my foot in my mouth, but in this case I'm certain she misunderstood what I was trying to say. One of her good friends asked me about it and I explained what I meant, and she informed me that, yes, the other teacher had misunderstood what I was saying.

Since this incident, about 4 weeks ago, I have taken to eating lunch in my room. I have rediscovered the joy of reading at lunchtime and yesterday I just finished reading Stephen King's Bag of Bones. I HIGHLY recommend it. All I can say is, if I had a house with a basement or cellar I would now be afraid to go down in it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I Owe, I Owe . . .And Monday's Quote

Well its back to work for me. Kudos to Michael, who has been getting every quote right. Is he reading the same book as me?
The thing that impresses me most about American is the way parents obey their children.

Its off to work I go.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Now Back to Work

I've had a good Spring Break. I worked on a swing for my back porch, visited relatives in Louisiana, ate far too much, and in a fit of insanity, my buddy and I laid down 3200 pounds of cement to expand the cement base under my porch out back.

My wife, who until recently was totally uninterested, is now planning where the various relaxation devices will go. So far we will be putting a swing, 2 hammock chairs (get them on Ebay, trust me), 2 rocking chairs and an occasional 2 person hammock. Yesterday I borrowed my neighbors fire pit to burn the 40 empty cement bags and it turned into a good time. We all sat around the fire, and occasionally someone would run and find something else to throw into it to burn and to refill our drinks. My wife and I were born city dwellers, so we never experienced the joy of an open fire on a cool spring night. My friend's mother in law has promised to find us one cheap at a garage sale.

A good end to a good Spring Break.