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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Contagious Inclusion …

G5-Day 3

The health aide was manning the front desk this morning, so I had the opportunity to find out more about my ringworm kid situation.

Me: What’s the deal with the boy with ringworm?

I was hoping that he was told not to return to school until he had it cleared up and under control. The answer I received was a bit cryptic.

HealthLady: “He’s an inclusion student”, she intoned as if that summed up the situation.

Me: I looked up “ringworm” and it said it was pretty contagious especially in close quarter classroom settings.

HealthLady: Inclusion students can’t be excluded from the classroom for any reason.

Me: But he’s contagious!

HealthLady: That doesn’t matter. He can’t be excluded.

Me: So what can I do if he shows up today?

HealthLady: Well, if he comes to school and the infected area isn’t covered, send him over and I’ll put a Band-Aid over it to cover it up.

The circular logic here is stupefying. The implied reasoning would dictate that “normal” students with contagious stuff COULD be sent home but “special” students are protected by a blanket waiver even if it means the “black plague” for the rest of us.

As my luck would have it, the kid did show for school this morning.

I asked if he had been to the doctor yesterday after school (probably a violation of his civil rights for me to even ask). He did see a doctor and was given some medicated cream to use.

I asked him if he used the cream this morning (another questionable rights violation, I’m sure) and he said the doctor put some on yesterday but he didn’t use it this morning before coming to school.

I also saw that the “ring” was still visible and uncovered on his inner bicep, so I sent him off to see the “HealthLady” for the promised miracle Band-Aid.

This can’t be right, can it?

The teacher, I'm subbing for emailed and asked if I would be interested in taking his class next week .

I think I’m pushing my luck just finishing out the week tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ringworm Worries! …

G5-Day 2
Only a few of items of note:
It’s damn HOT! Yesterday, today and predictions for the rest of the week are the same. Temperatures are pushing the three digit levels.
Since the math lesson today is “rounding” up and down, it’s safe to say that all this week we’re always rounding up to 100F. At times today, we didn’t even have to do any rounding at all.
Ever see those fools without cars standing at the crosswalk continuously hitting the crosswalk button in the belief that the more you push it, the quicker it will go green?
Well, the A/C controls in all the classrooms in this district are much the same way. The temperature on classroom push button thermostat bottoms out at 70F. This didn’t stop me from giving it a couple of jabs each time I happened to pass by. Even with the A/C running continuously, I don’t think it ever reached its target temperature.
To make matters worse, one of the Special Ed kids in class displayed an alarmingly large sized mark the size of a silver dollar on his arm that looked like ringworm. His classroom aide trundled him off to the health office to hopefully to have him sent home, but it was not to be. The aide returned with student in tow and informed me that the health aide said it did indeed look like ringworm but not to worry saying: “It’s not contagious”.
Asked if anyone else in his family had similar marks, the kid said his brother and cousins all have them.
Almost every source of information I found on the net says something quite the opposite.
“…Who is at risk for Ringworm?
Anyone can get Ringworm. Scalp Ringworm often strikes young children; outbreaks have been recognized in schools, day-care centers, and infant nurseries. School athletes are at risk for scalp Ringworm, Ringworm of the body, and foot Ringworm; there have been outbreaks among high school wrestling teams. Children with young pets are at increased risk for Ringworm of the body.
I think I’ll have a little chat with the health aide if this kid shows up in class tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happy New Year! …


The first day of the new school year (2007-2008) started yesterday.

It has been my experience, all three years of it, that the first week of school isn’t very busy for subs. In fact, I don’t think I every subbed during the first week since I started subbing.

This year is different.

I already have subbing assignments for the rest of the week in the same class. The 5th grade teacher’s wife is delivering their baby boy today and paternity leave means the kids get a sub for the duration.

The kids were pretty good. No major dust ups. And I already knew more than half the class as 4th graders.

We’ll see if I have the same opinion by Friday afternoon

P.S. I'm also celebrating the arrival of this blog’s first ever Google advertising income check for $102.70!!! What do you know? Advertising DOES pay.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lack of Maps...

I'm guessing she wasn't in the top 10% (50%??) of her H.S. graduation class?
Probably it was the pressure of being hit with a random question on network TV.

The question:
Recent polls show that 1/5 of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this?

Any one of the following would have been a better choice:
  1. I don't know.
  2. That can't be true.
  3. It must be due to lack of education in the subject of geography.

Miss Teen USA on the subject of maps:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How To Lure Substitute Teachers...

From USA Today: Schools Lure Substitute Teachers

...Richmond Heights School District near St. Louis, where subs get a free movie pass after 15 days of work, a $20 book store gift certificate after 20 days and a $100 bonus after 50 days. That's on top of a daily rate of $80 to $147, depending on experience.

...So, what do most substitutes want? Respect from teachers and principals and the sense they're appreciated, Smith said.

...Marcus Wolfe, 34, of Gurnee, Ill., has been a substitute teacher in six northern Illinois districts and worked about 165 of the school year's 180 days last year. He said the best incentive is a sub-friendly environment, including substitute handbooks, an expectation that teachers will provide lesson plans for subs and frequent interaction with administration and other faculty.

...Subs go through orientation, with lectures on successful classroom management, lesson plans and discipline, a "substitute appreciation week" and a competition for "guest teacher of the year."

..."I had one lady write to me she's been substituting for 15 years, and she said, 'This is the first time any official has thanked me for doing it,"' said program specialist Michael Ballard.

...Still, most principals don't have the resources to do too much hand-holding with subs, Erbach said. "It's unfortunate that we aren't able to do it on a more frequent basis. Day-to-day operations often supersede everything else," Erbach said.

Interesting principal comment: Saying "Thank You" is considered "hand-holding"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Teacher Bribes...

Should teachers be bribed to show up for work?

There is a Texas school district that is contemplating bribes to have teachers not use their sick days when they aren't sick.

School superintendent of a Texas school district, Dr. Larry Lewis, notes that highly qualified teachers have a high absentee rate on Monday and Fridays. He wants to reduce the teacher absentee rate and save the district money buy not paying for substitutes to cover those absent teachers.

Dr. Lewis is calling this program the equivalent of an "incentive or merit pay" system to motivate teachers to not to slack off during the school year.

Dr. Lewis notes that teachers receive 10 sick days per year and cost the district $65-$80/day to replace them with highly qualified substitutes.

His bribe plan:

  • "Teachers who miss less than two days can win a $30,000 Cadillac CTS"
  • "Other employees can win a 7-day cruise for two"
  • "School with the fewest staff days off, wins $50 Wal-Mart gift cards"

Now, I always thought that "incentive or merit pay" was for something above and beyond the usual requirements of the job. Showing up for work when you aren't sick would seem to be "expected" wouldn't it?

If the goal here is to save the money being shelled out to substitutes (10 days/teacher/year), how about a cost savings incentive plan?

Let the teachers "roll over" unused days into the next year? Better yet, allow the teachers to "cash out" unused sick days at 1/2 substitute pay rate.

The district saves 1/2 the money it would have shelled out for "guest teachers" and every healthy teacher gets a yearly bonus.

But at the indicated (high end) substitute rate of $80/day, that would only mean a measly, maximum bonus of $400/year. Clearly too small to be much of an incentive.

Problem solved: Increase the daily sub rate to $100-150/day!
(I bet that Texas substitutes haven't had a rate increase in the last five years).

(...Thanks to Darren of Right on the Left Coast for the find!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Devil Didn't Make Him Do It...

It was Asperger's!

For the whole story, click-> From the Fox Dallas-Fort Worth News:

"...a former substitute teacher for the Plano School District was on trial Wednesday accused of sexual performance of a child and sexual assault of a child.

His lawyer, John Hardin, said Pearce admitted to taking sexually explicit photos of the 15-year-old girl while working as a substitute teacher at Willams High School.

"Clearly the pictures were taken, but the act of sexual contact we adamantly deny ," Hardin said.

Hardin said Pearce took the pictures because he has Asperger's Syndrome, which affects his social behavior.


I don't really care what this guy's real problem is, he doesn't belong around kids. Starting with this case, I predict a slew of "Asperger defense" strategies in future court cases.

DallasNews UPDATE!!
...A Collin County jury late Tuesday sentenced a former substitute teacher in Plano and Richardson schools to 15 years in prison for taking nude photographs of a 15-year-old student.

...Mr. Pearce – grandson of the late Richardson ISD Superintendent J.J. Pearce, after whom a high school is named – showed no reaction as the sentence was read.

...Mr. Pearce's mother, Linda Pearce, cried throughout her testimony on her son's behalf Tuesday.

"He needs help, and I should have given it to him," she said.

Mr. Pearce's defense attorney argued during the trial that his client had Asperger's syndrome, an autism disorder that affected his ability to read social cues. But Mr. Allen said that Mr. Pearce was an irresponsible teacher who endangered his students.


Evidentially, the jury didn't buy this guys lame defense.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Memorable Escapes...

Another blog (The Man Fan Club) that I read occasionally posed a question:
Why does it always seem like we remember the bad things that happen to us?

His close call with a city civil servant on patrol can be read here: Thankful Moments

I have to admit that he might have a point. Most of the recollections I have encountering officers of the law on the road haven't been the happy kind, but there WAS that one memorable escape...

It was many years ago on a Sunday morning when the national speed limit was still 55mph to "save gas". I was cruising in the center lane on the 101 toward San Francisco without paying attention to the speed.

It was an unusually rare moment in that I was the only car on a nearly empty freeway. Because it was sunny, no traffic in front or on either side, I hadn't been checking the rear view in a while.

When I finally did, I was startled to find a guy tailgating me. Not just some guy but one of those city civil servants on patrol.

Instantly, I check my speed (10mph over. S--T!) and felt my mood instantly sink.

Just as the cop hit the red & blues to pull me over, a nut job in a bright yellow convertible PASSES us both doing 70+ in the left hand lane.

How do you ignore a cop with lights flashing IN FRONT of you?

While I deserved the ticket, He/She deserved one more and there was only one cop on the scene to hand them out.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dear Slightly Less Valued Substitute…

The substitute teacher information packet arrived Friday afternoon from one of the school districts I used to work for.

Dear Valued Substitute…

Welcome to the 2007-2008 school year. Substitutes provide a valuable service to the district; one which is essential to the successful operation of our educational programs.

We could not continue our excellent instructional programs without your willingness to substitute in the absence of our regular employees.

We are still actively recruiting substitutes for our district. If you know of someone who is interested… blah, blah, blah….

Once again, welcome to the district for the 2007-2008 school year. We look forward to your participation…”

The only essential piece of information packet info I’m interested in this school year is: daily pay rate that is buried under “general information” toward the end of the “Substitute Teacher Handbook”

Because this district’s previous daily rate was slightly less than a neighboring district, I didn’t work for them very much last year. Instead, I opted to work in the neighboring district for obvious reasons.

It seems that other substitutes were doing the same, because half way through last year this district sent out a notice that they were increasing the daily rate to exactly match their neighbor district.

I guess it didn’t work because the information packet for this coming school year rescinded that increase back to the original rate.

Dear Slightly Less Valued Substitute…

Welcome to the 2007-2008 school year. Substitutes provide an approximate 4% less valued service to our district; one which is, evidentially, less essential to the successful operation of our educational programs this year.

We found that we COULD continue our excellent instructional programs with your willingness to take a 4% cut in pay to substitute in the absence of our regular, more valuable, employees.

Because we cut your daily pay rate back by 4%, we are saving money but are still actively recruiting clueless substitutes for our district. If you know of someone who doesn’t mind working cheap… blah, blah, blah….

Once again, welcome to the district for the 2007-2008 school year. We look forward to your continued participation…”

I guarantee there will be at least ONE substitute less this year.