I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

28 April 2012

Superintendent Garcia:

When you use the inter-district email to explain to your certificated staff why you absolutely must lay them off and you haven't got any reserves - really, you even searched the couches in the lobby - your certificated staff finds it rather offensive.

Also, you need to decide if you have or have not already budgeted in the $6 million Rainy Day dollars you anticipate from the City, since at least twice you or your functionaries have said that the $6 million was taken into account already, allowing fewer layoff notices to be sent.  It's a little confusing when you keep changing your mind about that, although the weasel words in your email give a lot of leeway.

Given that you take no more furlough days than your certificated teaching staff and have done nothing personally to offer even token support toward the massive budget cuts you visit upon your schools, there is no good reason to believe what you say.

My recommendation?  Go hobnob with the Governor and other Superintendents some more - at least they understand all the terrible pressure the little people want to exert on you.

Us little people will remain leery, angry, and ready to vote to authorize a strike.

Best,

E. Rat

26 April 2012

A brief reminder:

California's last major revision of the state content standards for K-12 went hand-in-hand with class size reduction.  Back in the days of social/emotional Kindergarten, class sizes were far higher.

Those in the District ready, willing, and able to demand increased class sizes need to ask themselves how they anticipate teachers meeting standards predicated on smaller classes.  Taking a look at the latest standard adoption - the Common Core standards - should be cause for reflection, too.

Other things schools had in the days of larger classes: school nurses, paraeducators, robust supply budgets...

I understand that our new Superintendent will be taking a much-reduced annual pay than our previous one.  It's good to see that his salary reflects at least some of our financial realities.  But "sharing the pain" of bad state revenues by increasing class sizes and adding ever more furlough days is not equitable or realistic - unless we've decided we really don't care what students learn.

22 April 2012

Respite

Last week was hectic, what with the egg-scrounging, the opportunity and need to seriously question a District bigwig face-to-face, site politics, the general antics of overheated five year olds in Spring, and primary responsibility for pulling off the biggest community service/carnival-like event in our school's history.

So on Friday I cleaned the land snail terrarium, made sure the incubator's resevoir was filled, and took myself off to happy hour.

Monday is a District-wide PD day, which schools had planned themselves until being notified that SFUSD's Special Education plans and programs were found...mmm, wanting by auditors, requiring some immediate amelioration via staff training.

I am not sure what this training entails other than a survey, but if it's anything like previous training from student services, Special Education, etc., we will be hearing how we teachers have been doing the District wrong by failing to implement everything they tell us to.  The fact that they neither fund nor explain their mandates is, of course, the fault of front-line educators: if we were better teachers, we would simply intuit the District's needs.


I still have no idea what causes Central Office folk to become so quickly convinced that their teachers are incompetent fools who live only to make the wise, gentle, kind sages at the District Office look bad to outside auditors, but they do.  One would think that explanation by dedicated frontliners about the impossibility of putting certain District mandates into practice would have an effect, but recent experience tells me that they actually just interrupt said educators to talk about how when they were sadly still at school sites, they made it happen so why can't we?  That test score data and the ongoing audit failure suggests that these memories are perhaps rose-colored has no effect.

On the other hand, there are few things as awesome as the upper-level administrator who has realized that appealing to the on-site administration for help corralling an assertive staff into silence will not provide any assistance.  We have the on-site people trained.

Anyway, after Monday my Resident is soloing for two weeks: it will be assessment, prep for next year, and copying for me.  Something of a break, you see?

19 April 2012

Egg Match.

This evening I went back to school and set eight white silkie eggs in the incubator for a hatch date of 9 May.

Tomorrow what may be the biggest event ever in the history of my school goes down and I am the co-chief organizer.

This may be more excitement than I can handle.

16 April 2012

At our last grade level meeting, I told our IRF that I wanted to move towards having Writers' Workshop but that re-reading all the books on it wasn't enough.  I think it can be hard in Kindergarten to balance student-centered writing with rigorous expectations, and the manuals weren't enough for me to feel comfortable with the balance.

So it was very exciting to get the news today that I got a scholarship to go to Teachers' College and attend the Institute for Writing this summer!

And of course, since this all goes down in New York: it's time to scrimp to make some fabulous new purchases for my wardrobe.

15 April 2012

Eggs by Mail.

Haunting the office on all recess and lunch breaks did not cause my eggs to appear.

Plus side, the incubator is all warmed and ready to go.  Still, if I don't set eggs this week we're not attempting hatching magic this year, so I'm off to hunt down more eggs.  (I decided against buying eggs at the Farmers' Market because I don't want bantams and I had a child birthday party to attend.)

11 April 2012

Oviparosity.

I spent forty-five minutes giving the incubator a good (including bleach: internet beats manufacturer directions, I think) cleaning, an hour deciding the automatic turner didn't work and clicking my way to "confirm" to buy a new one with overnight shipping before realizing I'd plugged it in to the dud outlet, and making a large, threatening "Do Not Touch" sign for the incubator.

I'm expecting the eggs today.

06 April 2012

Lazy Whatever.

Yesterday, I took my class on an active, outdoor field trip requiring a bus ride before going to the doctor to discover what was making my shoulder so painful.

Today, I get to take the x-rays they ordered to the orthopedic surgeon to determine just what vile treatment is necessary for said shoulder.

I'm guessing that in the event that Mike Bloomberg, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and the rest of the deformer gang may need rotator cuff surgery, they take the day off to harp about lazy teachers from their beds.

Just saying.

03 April 2012

Come the Silkies

...in egg, by mail, for setting next week.

We'll maintain the snails through the whole set/hatch experience at least...and keep the whole incubating rather quiet, so that a failed hatch is not the end of the world.

02 April 2012

Pension Problems

The argument that teachers just have it too good with their pensions bothers me.  It's pretty simple: pensions allow workers a chance at a sustainable retirement after years of service.  If you're against that, what are you for?  Unreliable 401(K)s that may or may not be there when you need them?  Social Security, for which teachers are ineligible and which can't support a retiree anyway?  Or just having the peons work until they die?

In all the debate about pensions and public workers, there's little discussion of how pension funds have gotten into trouble.  Regular underfunding - not by those who will receive benefits, but by their employers - is one.  Bad returns and big fees are another.  It's interesting that the anti-pension forces are the same ones making pension funds shrink.