Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ramblings about Failing School..... Part XI

At my school, we are told WE are failing. We are far into "program improvement", which of course, has no requirements for the students or their families to make the least bit of effort to take advantage of the many extra, expensive services being offered to low scoring test takers we are habitually sent by our feeder schools.

Question: Is it less expensive to retain a student at a lower level rather than socially promote them to a place where they will academically fail (because of poor math and reading ability), and offer said failing student many expensive after-school programs ?

Mrs. Polski3 subs at a local elementary school. She often says they have "great" snacks for teachers during breaks. The teachers at this school have a regular celebration of staff birthdays. As many of them as can get into the lounge eat together at lunch. They seem to work together. This sure isn't my school. Oh, this elementary school is one of the top grade schools in our county. On the other hand, at my school, we had inservice day yesterday. I asked several people about getting a group together for lunch. No one was interested. Several said they were going to their classrooms to work on grades. ( Note: Our semester grades were due and we are never granted "school" time to deal with them. IF fact, if you look at our calendar, you would see that anytime grades were due, there would be mandatory meetings for teachers to attend.) On "regular" days, our school has two lunches, which we'll just call "first lunch" and "second lunch". For first lunch, no one eats in our tiny teachers lounge. They eat in their classrooms or a few, "cluster" with others of their same ethnicity. On "second lunch", the tiny lounge is usually full; all eight or nine chairs crammed around two old folding tables are full. Both microwaves are used. I don't know where the other ten or so teachers are. Classified staff NEVER eat with the teachers in the lounge. Many of them eat at the table in the workroom (which seats seven). The workroom also has a microwave oven and a refrigerator, in addition to two duplo and one small photocopy machines.

I recently attended the National Council for Social Studies National Convention. I made up copies of many of the "neat" things I got and ideas I encountered there, and handed them out to the other social studies teachers at my school. Not one of them told me thanks or that they appreciated the materials or effort to get it to them.

Failing School v. Top School. Wonder why in part, we are a failing school. Are there other middle schools/junior high schools similar to mine ? No respect for the teachers, poor facilities for teacher use, lack of cooperation, teachers not talking to each other.....????

Thanks for putting up with this rambling. Comments are hoped for.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Watcha Gonna Do ?

SCENE 1: a middle school classroom

Teacher asks a student a question, such as "do you have your assignment?" Student response is: a) the blank look b) a silent shrug of the shoulders c) a verbal "I don't know" or d) a disinterested roll of the eyes along with silence or an utterance of annoyance. Teacher tells student that they can turn in the assignment the next day and if they need help or have any questions about it, please come in for a minute after school. Teacher adds, that most of the time, students with a question who come in after school to ask their question or get help are there for mere minutes.

SCENE 2: Same classroom, the following day, the same class period.

Teacher asks student for missing assignment. Student response is: a) the blank look b) a silent shrug of the shoulders c) a verbal "I don't know" or d) a disinterested roll of the eyes along with silence or an utterance of annoyance.

Whatcha Gonna Do ?

SCENE: Classroom, teacher dialing phone numbers in fruitless effort to contact a parent of student in class who is having a) academic issues, b) discipline issues or c) both academic and discipline issues. The phone number is either a) no longer in service b) not available at this time c) just ringing and ringing and ringing, d) "the person you are trying to call no longer is employed here" or e) there is no one here by that name.

When the office staff is queried about the lack of successful phone contact numbers, they usually say a) ok, b) Yeah, we can't get in contact with that parent either, or c) "Well THOSE are the numbers the parent gave us on the emergency contact card !"

Whatcha Gonna Do ?

My son received a nice Dickies brand jacket for Christmas. It is a flannel cloth plaid with a hood. He wore it to school for the first time last week. When he came home, he let us know that he couldn't wear that jacket anymore. Several people at his school asked him, apparently in shock and surprise, if he was in "X-Y-Z" local gang ! My son was wearing gang colors to school ! Maybe we can return the jacket. And get him another one that apparently isn't being used as a gang identifier. Such a society we live in.....acck!

Thanks for reading my blog! Comments are hoped for and welcome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snippets of Middle School Life, Part CMXXIIIIV

I was in the school office during my prep period waiting for a secretary to get off the phone so I could ask about the attendance of one of my students who seems to be forgetting school has resumed since the Christmas holiday. Anyhow, after getting off the phone after a series of "humms" "ok's" and a final, "I'll try to get someone over there", she looked up at me and said, "Just a minute Mr. Polski."
She then got on one of the school walkie-talkies trying to find a custodian to go over to Teacher W's classroom to clean up some "doggie poop" that some student tracked into Teacher W's classroom.

I arrived at school the other day to find an angry parent in the office heatedly discussing something with one of our front office secretaries. From what I hear in entering and exiting the office, was that he was upset with one of the after school sports coaches. His complaint was that coaches should speak English, not talk to the team in Spanish and expect Spanish-comprehending students to translate what was said into English for the non-Spanish comprehending students on the team. The secretary he was engaging in this diatribe is a veteran of many administrators and a parent cannot tell her something she hasn't heard before. She just calmly listened to him and tried to tell him that she personally did not disagree with him, but SHE was not the person he needed to talk to about this issue. As often is the case, there did not seem to be any available administrator. Personally, I agree with him; any adult working around children should be able to clearly and quickly be able to communicate
with those children.
I found out later this is the same parent who, when I attempted to keep his child after school to make up missing work, threatened me with physical violence several times while I tried to talk to him on the phone Later, he showed up at school and ranted at the principal and demanded his child be removed from Mr. Polski's class due to my unreasonable learning expectations and "unreasonable" demands. I just wonder how much patience and endurance this man's child has with living with such a man.....

So, what happens at YOUR school ? Share it with us.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hurting the Kids some More

As I have often groused about to anyone who would listen, California's elected politicians spend way too much money. Some important things that need financing are not financed by our State Legislators; no, they turn to the voters to pass expensive state propositions that cost us millions of dollars year after year. So now, our Governor is talking tough. He says we need to stop spending more than we have. I agree with this. But, I don't agree with some of where he proposes to cut.

In an article about Governor S's proposed spending cuts, "The governor wants to take more than $1 billion from before- and after-school programs for low-scoring students, career and technical classes and the small-class-size program. He also wants to spend $358 million less on special education." This is wrong. This proposed cut takes from the kids. Why the heck are they not talking about taking from places like State Department of Education and County Offices of Education ? Cut from the bureaucracy ! As minor of an amount of money in the state scheme of things as it is, does the Governor really need to spend $150k annually for an Education Advisor when he has a duly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction to advise and inform him on educational issues? For a change, cut the bureaucracy, not the teachers and programs for the kids !

So, as usual, it will be the children of California to suffer due to the gross neglect and self-serving behaviors of our state government officials.

Thanks for reading my blog ! I welcome your comments.