Tag Archives: politics

I just can’t help it

Maximum Out-of-Pocket Premium Payments Under PPACA
Maximum Out-of-Pocket Premium Payments Under PPACA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a highly political person.

It isn’t that I don’t care. I do.

The reason I don’t like to talk about politics is this: Arguing about politics makes little difference to anything. Arguing does, however, raise everyone’s blood pressure and that isn’t good if you are of a certain age. No one wins. Politics is all about winning.

So I just can’t help myself about this business at hand.

Here’s the thing about this “Affordable” Care Act. The computer’s website doesn’t work. It doesn’t. We all have October until March to sign up and already the entire month of October is a wash out because NO ONE can sign up.

Think about this number: $600,000,000. Six Hundred Million dollars! That is what has already been spent on making this website work. Our money, yours and mine, that is gone, done, flushed.

(Wasn’t there some money go missing from Iraq when we were looking for Saddam? I believe it was less than $600,000,000. So Obama trumped Bush on spending losses here. Does that mean he won?)

The experts have spent weeks and weeks looking for the problem. They haven’t found it.

Here is my take on this: The website will never work for OBAMA-CARE as it stands today. Why? Because computers are logical. They work on logic. They run on logic.

Apparently OBAMA-CARE does not compute.

My prediction is that somehow this massive failure will be the fault of the Republicans.

Perhaps we should all just eat more fiber.

 

The Truth About Public Education in America

Dutch schoolmaster and children, 1662
Dutch schoolmaster and children, 1662 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When milk is mixed at the processing plant it is called homogenization. The mixing process is so thorough there is no separation of fat from the liquid. The cream no longer rises.

This process is similar to what happened in the public school system when my oldest child began kindergarten twenty-five years ago and this scheme continues to this day. Where there used to be “levels” between classrooms of children, meaning there were the high achievers/high intelligence children in a classroom, the average children in a classroom, and the lower/slower learners. The year my son started, they did away with this. The idea being that the lower/slower children left school with low self-esteem.

The result of this experiment was that there were no “upper-level” classes and “lower-level” classes any longer. However, if the child were to be tested and passed as “gifted and talented” there were classes available for that child.

In theory children mixed together encourage the low-ability children to catch up to the high-ability children. The teacher was to teach to the higher level children and the low-level children would simply work harder. They would learn to be equals.

A fine example of the “liberal” thinking of the board of education. Humanism at its finest.

As you might guess it didn’t and doesn’t work like that.

You can’t throw enough money at children to make them into something they can not be.

The teacher never was able to teach to the highest because the low-ability children were left so far behind that they were in a constant fog of inability. So here is what actually happened: teachers spent 10 minutes of classroom time in the mornings teaching a new concept in language (grammar, reading, writing) and ten minutes in the afternoon teaching a new concept in mathematics, science, or social studies. Then the teacher would give a pile of work to the smart-quick-able children to keep them busy. At that time the teacher would spend the rest of any time she/he had available to take the lower-level children aside and either test them (for ESL [English Second Language] and/or to place them into “pull-outs” involving remedial teachers) or to re-teach them in any concepts that the other children had completed. This would take up about fifty percent of the teacher’s time in both the mornings and in the afternoons. That is in fact if there were no extra outside-of-the-classroom activities such as a program in the cafetorium about diversity, being nice, or saving our planet. This also excludes the arts, PE, music, and library programs. (I wholly support the arts, music, PE, and the library programs and believe if these were deleted the children would suffer grievously.)

The homogenized classroom is full. This usually means between 23 and 25 kids in a classroom in grades k thru 3rd and in 4th and 5th grade there may be 30 kids in a classroom. I’ve seen a classroom of 22 fourth-grade kids split up and the teacher reassigned to a different school. This is to justify the numbers and the monies allowed per teacher and classroom per campus. I will explain how I know this first hand in another blog.

The average child can read and write by the second grade. In  a classroom of 25 children there will average ten children who are far ahead of everyone else in ability and there will be ten children who are far below the other children’s ability. That leaves about five children who get it and are able to keep up with the upper ability kids. The children who are ahead are loaded down with busy work. While the teacher is re-teaching the other children, they must work on that busy work. By the second grade most of these kids have figured out that what they have been given is busy work. These smarties are likely to race ahead, finish everything and then proceed to disrupt the entire classroom. They are bored. Bored children are not well-behaved children. At this point they are not able to figure out on their own that there are other things to accomplish, other books to explore, other concepts to delve into. They are simply bored. This can carry on into middle school and high school. My experience has been that if a bright child in high school who is bored and who is not involved in sports will experiment with drugs, just saying.

This homogenization of children might have seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, we certainly don’t want any children with low self-esteem(!). But the problem is that the process only created more specialization teachers to be trained for pulling out the low-ability children, and do you not think these children KNOW that they are not the same as the other children. Of course they do. They may not be able to do the math or the language arts but they sure as heck know that they can’t keep up. And what about the self-esteem of the brighter children who now must get fussed at for bothering the rest of the class because they are finished with their busy work?

Don’t you just love that your children are the guinea pigs being used for all sorts of educational experiments?

After my children went through one of the country’s top-rated school districts (and the most culturally diverse) the only thing standing between them and a good college education was their lack of education and the ability of their mom and dad to write a check.

I will write more about gifted and talented and the special needs children in public education at a later date.

 

 

 

About Language

Madeleine L'Engle
Madeleine L’Engle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Madeleine L’Engle wrote in Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art, that “We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles – we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than ‘the way things are’.”

My stints as long-term English high school substitute would last a semester at a time. I had been doing this since my own children began high school. When my youngest child graduated, and I was contemplating my return the following fall, and the other English department teachers were begging me please, I realized I couldn’t. I had to say enough was enough.

I had a hundred and fifty-six students. The majority were great. But my last class of the day got to me. Too many times the police would come for one or two and take them out in handcuffs, because they had been reported abusing drugs on campus or worse. I called them my “Welcome Back Kotter” class and they didn’t know what I was talking about. (Look it up!)

What struck me the most, I think, was their lack of language. These students grew up in affluent neighborhoods, had all they needed, never went hungry but when anger got the best of them they couldn’t come up with better adjectives than the over-used oldies everyone knows. These unacceptable words punctuated their every other sentence. It’s all they had for adjectives.

I even gave them lists of alternatives.

I handed my students tools on how to memorize grammar rules or spelling rules in order to get by with a wider range of vocabulary, but so many still couldn’t define the difference between an adverb or an adjective. I have to admit I didn’t like grammar in school either. So my attempts at making it fun fell short. Very few showed serious interest, which is normal for high-school kids. School being the waste of space between getting up and partying.

That was six years ago. Recently I saw one of the boys who was one of those removed from school. He delivered my pizza. He didn’t recognize me, and I didn’t set him straight. He was probably too high in class to be able to remember what I looked like.

I see signs in shops all over town with incorrect spelling and incorrect usage of apostrophes.

Men haircuts

We have best wing and shrimps

The English language is a morphing language. It changes. It grows. It is alive. Since educating the care-less teens is like pushing a barrow of bricks uphill. My hope is that we can better educate the adults who make signs to strive to be better. Because at least they are trying. I fully support Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson in the quest to change America’s typos. (The Great Typo Hunt) Good for them. While not quite walking on water, they are making waves.