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?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's Missing......

I was walking tonight, hand in hand with the lovely Mrs. Polski3, and thinking. I was thinking about my lesson plans this week. And recalling what I used to teach.

As you teachers out there know, NCLB with its testing mandates, has led those of us in the classroom to more rigid, less flexible mode of teaching. Standards must be taught. We are told to learn and chant the mantra, "DDDDOOOOOMMMMM IF it is not in the standards, Don't teach it" OOOOHHHHMMMM." Meet with your departments, go over the standards. Here is a standards guide with each standard rated by importance on the State Test. The standards rated A are most important. Du Wilst gecover dieses Standards!!!!! B rated standards ist nichts so important. If it is a C rating, forget it. Don't teach that standard.

There is no real rhyme or reason for some standards being rated A or B or C.....hey, if it is in the standard, shouldn't it be taught? For example, in looking at the ratings in Grade 7 World History, we find rated A is a bit about geography of northern Africa. A lower rating goes for the geography of Europe. Forget the geography of China. Or the Americas.

That aside, there is so much more missing.....book reports, country reports, Illustrated Geography Vocabulary Dictionaries, current events activities, building models, playing games, in class, group projects, and anything related to doing research in the library.....It seems that there was so much more that I used to do with my students prior to the push for covering all the "A and B" rated standards. I guess it means survey, not teaching anything in depth. Like so much of society and those things that fleeting impact our students lives, be shallow. Rush through the standards, be sure to cover all the A and B rated standards. Because those must be the ones the kids will be tested on. Fun? We are in school to learn the A and B rated standards, not to have F U N !!!!

I know this is kind of a ramble. I hope you get the gist of what I am trying to say. I hope you can comment. OH, other than such depressing thought, it was nice to walk with my wife, hold hands and talk about stuff.

Thanks for reading my blog !
And it has taken

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Corrupt Union Leadership ?

In the just concluded elections, there were several seats up for grabs on our local high school board. One candidate was a teacher from the local elementary school district. The high school teachers association endorsed him. BUT, they did not contact the elementary school associations who have many, many members living within the high school district, asking for their support for this candidate. Nor did this candidate even ask teachers in his own district to support him at the ballot box. OR, perhaps I just didn't get the message. Maybe he did ask for support, but the local leaders failed to communicate with their membership. Maybe the high school teachers association leaders failed to ask any of the other locals for their support.

This candidate is also a negotiator for the local elementary school district. His position is appointed. The teachers of the local elementary school association have no say in who negotiates on their behalf. Leadership NEVER asks for our opinion, ideas or suggestions. And if we question their actions at a rare general meeting, we are told, "Trust your negotiators", or "You teachers at (school name) are always causing trouble," or their favorite one, "We already decided."

Yet, these union leaders spend beaucoup dues money attending "Leadership" conferences in Monterrey, California, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and sometimes, in Hawaii. You'd think "COMMUNICATIONS WITH MEMBERS" would be something to learn about at these expensive conferences. Maybe I expect too much from these local leaders.

Yes, I know I could become an agency fee payer. Yes I know I could run for a local leadership position. But, sadly, I also know that their election process is corrupt. I have, several times, observed "ballot counts." I have seen every ballot from a school marked with the same write-in candidate; every ballot with the same name, written in the same manner using the same writing instrument. In the last election, the chosen leadership candidate did not get enough votes to clearly win the election, so the leadership junta declared the election invalid and it was held again, this time with the proper candidate winning the election. They refuse to provide safe, tamper-proof ballot boxes or an organized system of voting. Yes, we have by-laws. They only follow the by-laws they want to follow. The local uniserve dick is in league with them, going so far as to help them change the by-laws to make it harder for members to hold leaders accountable or have secure, non-corrupt elections. CTA leadership made it very clear that they don't give a shit about any of this because several members contacted them and never even received a reply from CTA.

IS this a small slice of what America has become ?

Monday, November 03, 2008


I am not going to suggest to you how you should vote tomorrow. Nor am I going to say anything here about how I might be voting tomorrow. All I am going to say, is JUST GO VOTE. Enjoy that time of going to your neighborhood polling place, signing in, getting your ballots, going to the little wobbly booth, marking your choices, turning in your ballots and proudly wearing your little "I VOTED" sticker. You know, some folks out there on other parts of this planet do not get to do such things. Relish this opportunity. Regardless of the outcome, you can still proudly say, "I participated, I voted."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Memorial Service

Someone I have known for quite a few years recently died. Mr. P was ready to go; he was very ill with cancer, his bad leg bothered and pained him most of the time and he dearly missed his wife of over 50 years. At his memorial service today, his nephew encouraged us to remember our encounters with him, not to morn his passing, but to celebrate his life. And, to share it with someone. So, I am sharing it with you, my readers.

I am not good at writing about stuff like this. Lots of thoughts and memories of my brief associations with Mr.P and his family are rattling around in my head, but anyhow, here goes.

This man, Mr. P., was a teacher. I was never in his classroom, but I was a student of his. He was principal of the elementary school I attended. We thought it was kinda cool, that he only had one leg. He'd lost a leg in a motorcycle accident and, in the silver lining of losing his leg, met his wife, one of his nurses. Anyhow, during his tenure at Lesser Known Spanish Explorer Elem. School, when I was in grades 2-3-4, we knew what was allowed and what was not allowed at Mr. P's school. He was what I guess you could call an old fashion disciplinarian. I do not ever recall getting sent to his office for anything while he was principal. He'd talk to you like the father that he also was, and if you needed something else to reinforce the lesson, he provided a swat or two. And everyone knew this. It was like having your Dad running the school. He set the boundaries and expectations for behavior and that is what the vast majority of us followed. We learned there were boundaries, behavioral expectations and consequences for going over the line. When I entered Grade 5, we had a new principal, a new principal with, shall we say, newer ideas for dealing with misbehaving children. And we misbehaved. The principal saw me on a regular basis for one thing or another. My name was known by the school secretary. But the lectures, if you want to call them that, and punishments she dealt out were not much to motivate us to not stay out of mischief. Oh, a swat from Mr. P., no one wanted that. But write a note home to a parent about why you were sent to the office? No big deal.

I learned another lesson from Mr. P a few years later. Starting my senior year of high school, I got a job at a local coffee shop. Mr. P often came in for coffee during the afternoon after his administrative school day ended. Sometimes he came in with a fellow principal, but more often than not, he came in with Mrs. P. They almost always sat at the counter, she had hot tea and he had coffee. I learned about iced coffee from him. Oh, but I also learned that it is nice for a married couple to see each other sometime during the day, quietly talk or just sit quietly and share companionship while having an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.

He also told me, after I'd become an adult ( outta college and starting my teaching career), that it was ok to call him by his first name. You teachers out there know that this can be awkward at first, calling an adult who was one of your teachers or administrators by their first name. But Mr.P, like most of them, TOLD me to call them by their first name.

Another lesson I learned was to be involved. Mr. P. was involved in several service clubs and with his church. He and Mrs. P rarely missed church, sang in the choir and were one of those backbones of any church who quietly, without fuss or accolades often took care of things that needed doing.

We all need role models in our lives. Mr. P was a role model for me. I am thankful that Mr. P and so many others care enough about me and the others around them to be such role models. Where would we be without them ?

The P's believed in heaven. I am sure they are now up there, spending more time with each other. RIP Mr. P.