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Friday, October 31, 2008

Come in Early?

What do you say to a teacher who asks you to come in and sub a "half day" (ie: half pay) for her class but wants you to come in earlier than the half day assignment time because she's afraid she'll miss her vacation flight out?

"After all it's only an extra 15 mins..."

I'm thinking, What balls! At the pay rate subs get, you expect me to take a 50% cut in pay for the day AND work illegally without being paid because "after all it's only an extra 15mins".

But rather than suggest something rude, I told her that the district dictates the times and pay rate rules. I, instead, suggested that she might want to take the whole day off so she wouldn't have to worry about her flight.

She has decided to get one of her cohorts at the school cover her class for 15-20 minutes before I get there.

While I DO sometimes arrive at school 10-20 minutes early, I'll will be there exactly on time for this one.

Nov, 6 Update:

She called back and decided to take the whole day off after all.
That's more like it...

UNiversal Health Care - Aussi Style

Since we have a little election coming up where universal health is an issue and a campaign promise, I found this story interesting from the who decides what "universal" means category...

Excerpts From:
Australia: No residency for boy with Down syndrome
From TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Writer

SYDNEY, Australia – A German doctor hoping to gain permanent residency in Australia said Friday he will fight an immigration department decision denying his application because his son has Down syndrome.

Bernhard Moeller came to Australia with his family two years ago to help fill a doctor shortage in a rural area of Victoria state.

...His temporary work visa is valid until 2010, but his application for permanent residency was rejected this week.

...A medical officer of the Commonwealth assessed that his son's existing medical condition was likely to result in a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community.

..."This is not discrimination. A disability in itself is not grounds for failing the health requirement — it is a question of the cost implications to the community," the statement said.

...The immigration department said it appreciates Moeller's contribution to the community but said it must follow the relevant laws in considering residency applications.

..."If we did not have a health requirement, the costs to the community and health system would not be sustainable," the statement said.

...David Tolleson, executive director of the Atlanta-based National Down Syndrome Congress, said he was disappointed by the decision.

"What is the cost implication to the community of a doctor shortage?" Tolleson asked. "I assume the son had the same costs for the last two years and they were happy to have the family and use the dad as a doctor."

(bolding mine)

So here we have another real world example of government run UN-iversal health care:
Health care must be prioritized, rationed or denied according to the cost/benefit goals of a central government.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When Will it End?

I posted this before, but figured it's even more apropos during this election with all the negative campaign ads.

Now I hear that candidate "O" has bought 30mins of advertisement time on ALL the major networks. He even got the start time of World Series game #6 pushed back to convince us how bad the other guy is.

"...Fox, interested in airing a half-hour commercial from Obama from 8 to 8:30 on Oct. 29, asked Major League Baseball to push back the first pitch from about 8:20 to 8:35 p.m.

Baseball agreed to the change. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Fox would receive about $1 million for Obama's "buy"; the Democratic candidate for president will air his ad on CBS and NBC at the same time.

I'm just glad we have TIVO for this election. We're still catching up with the missed episodes of "Mad Men" while we were on vacation earlier this month.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Classroom Money...

A majority of the classrooms I substitute use some form of "classroom bucks" or "tickets" as rewards to participate, behave, do work or punishments for missing assignments, disruptions, etc.

Originally implemented in the lower grades as a lesson for adding and subtracting, the novelty and effectiveness starts wearing thin approaching 5th and 6th grades.

Of course it's all over if you get a "Stanely" in class.

(...I sometimes use "worthless coins" for exceptional performance or insightful comments but I emphasize the word "worthless" while handing them out.)

Proposition 8

California's Proposition 8 is causing all sorts of controversy here in California.

...BUT, surprisingly, both national candidates agree on this one

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why aren't we hearing this in the media?

...because there is no such thing as "unbiased" media anymore.

By Orson Scott Card a Democrat and a newspaper columnist

Found in the World Tribune via The Rhinoceros Times of Greensboro North Carolina

An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:

...I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

...This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

...It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people.

...The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups.

...But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.

...They end up worse off than before.

...This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

...I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

...Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

...These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

...Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!


When it comes to reliable sources, let's ask for facts and form opinions with B.S. detectors set on maximum stun.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I seem to be stuck at the same school this year. Yesterday was no exception.

I know it’s a much more interesting to read about the trials, tribulations, ordeals and hardships of substitute teaching but to be fair and balanced, I want to say that it isn’t always a disaster.

The teacher is new to the school this year and this was my first assignment for her. The room I walked into was probably the tidiest room I’ve seen in quite a while.

The teacher’s desk had the books stacked and pages marked for what I’d need. The two page lesson plan was neatly word processed without any ambiguity as to what she wanted.

Student desks had no residual leftover mess from the day before and books stacked neatly in every desk

All the signs all pointed to a “good class”.

Despite the fact that there were a few jugheads I recognized from the previous year that would never be candidates for student of the month club, the day went well. The classroom was organized on a corporate structure with jobs assigned for everyone. Everyone actually DID know what to do…and did it!

No complaints here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Yesterday’s 4th grade class was a great group of kids. For their earned free time, they played games like chess and checkers while others played the piano.

What a difference a school year makes. All three 4th grade classes last year were a pain in the ass. I know, because I subbed all of them at least once. This year the same kids, at the 5th grade level, are driving the teachers batty. Needless to say, I try to avoid 5th grade assignments at this particular school.

Every teacher (and substitute teacher) has had or will have a “bad” class if you stick with it long enough. But what about an entire grade level?

I haven’t been subbing long (this is my 5th year), yet this is the second school (different districts) where I’ve experienced the entire “difficult grade level” experience.

Interestingly enough they were 4th graders both times I experienced it but the principal at the previous school said it was that way since her particular group of kids entered Kindergarten. Attempts at breaking up the “core troublemakers” had largely failed. There were just too many of them.

Now I know that not EVERY kid in a “bad” class is a jughead, but I wonder just what the critical ratio of jugheads to “good kids” determines the overall “character” of a class?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Checking in at the school this morning, I was met at the door by the school principal.

Prince: You’re subbing for Ms 6th-grade Teacher this week right?
Me: Uh, yep.

Prince: Did anything unusual happen yesterday in class with “Tony?” (…not his real name)
Me: Not that I can recall. He’s been one of the better behaved kids in class.

Prince: Well, he never made it home last night. His grandma called the police and they are here on the off chance that he’ll show up at school this morning.

Me: The last time I saw him was out the door at dismissal time yesterday.
Prince: Ok, thanks.

Well, it turns out that Tony did arrive at school today to find the principal, two police detectives and his grandma waiting for him. I heard bits and pieces of the story throughout the day, from Tony, kids and other teachers who were questioned by the police and school officials.

He didn’t join the class until just before lunch and then only for about an hour before being called back to the school office for the rest of the day.

It seems that Tony, for some undisclosed reason, didn’t want to go home yesterday and instead went to several different friends’ houses before spending the night at the local park in a culvert drain…according to Tony.

His clothes looked too clean to have been sleeping on the ground all night. I suspect that he spent the night at a friends’ house and didn’t want to “narc” out his buddy. As to why he didn’t want to go home, this kid isn’t talking.

I just hope I don’t see this kid featured on some late night news show some day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Science Camp…

It’s that time of year again when all the 5th graders at this school are set to go off to Science Camp next week. Ten kids to a cabin for a whole week of fun and hopefully some learning about the environmental science of nature.

The writing assignment for today’s class of 6th graders was to: “Write a letter to a 5th grader about your Science Camp Experience”

Seemed like a pretty straight forward assignment. No additional explanation needed right? Not so with these less than motivated 6th graders. This is the laziest bunch of kids I’ve run into in quite a while and I’ve still got two more days with this bunch.

Whine: “I don’t know any 5th graders!”
Reply: Then address it to: “Dear 5th Grader going to camp”

Whine: “I don’t remember anything about science camp!
Reply: Try and remember or ask your friends what they remember.

Whine: “I don’t get it!”
Reply: (…eye rolling look)

Whine: “Do we hafta?” and “Why do WE hafta do it?”
Reply: Yes and because your teacher said so!

Whine: “How many sentences does it have to be?”
Reply: If you want me to set a minimum limit then I’m going to say fifty! Do you WANT me to set a minimum limit? Na, I didn’t think so.

Whine: “How many paragraphs do we gotta do?”
(See previous reply)

Whine: “What do we write about?”
Reply: Write about what you did, what you liked, what you didn’t like, did anything unusual happen, did you go hiking, swimming, sing songs around a camp fire. Stuff like that!

Whine: “I didn’t go to camp last year. Do I still hafta write a letter?”
Reply: Yes! Either ask someone else what they remember or write about how it was to miss going to camp.

Now that I had pretty much covered all “How little can we get away with” questions, most were grudgingly complying with the exception of one wise ass boy.

WA-boy: “You said we could write about anything that happened at camp?”
Reply: Yep…

: Well one kid in our cabin was sitting on his bed and playing with himself…
Reply: STOP!

(Everyone stopped)

WA-boy: But it’s TRUE. Just ask…
Reply: Nope, I don’t need to ask! Let’s just keep it to “camp” activities, ok?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Out Sick?

Not really. I'm playing hooky. Well, not exactly hooky.

We're currently in Long Island after a week in Boston. Fantastic trip visiting friends and relatives. It really was a hard choice. Teaching sixth grade history or experiencing history by touring Paul Revere's house, Old State House, Bunker Hill, walking the freedom trail (in two parts as we couldn't do it in one day) and sampling the "real" Boston Cream Pies.

We arrived by train in NY yesterday. We walked half of central park and Times Square before the legs gave out.

Now it's time to explore the "long island" the rest of this week and then...

...back to 6th grade Monday morning