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by: teacherken

Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:34:28 AM EST

It is a Saturday morning.  By yesterday afternoon I was so exhausted I left school without some of what I need to plan, albeit only for Thursday and Friday for my AP classes.  When I got home I was too tired to sleep -  the conflict between desperately needing sleep and being unable to fall asleep.  So I began to reflect, a process that continued subconsciously when I finally slept, and during the two times I awoke during that almost ten hour before I awoke a short time ago.

Reflection can be a deliberate process, a slowing down, stepping back, examination of things about oneself, around oneself.  My training as a teacher has always included that as an essential element.  It can also be something else - a not fully rational process, something operating almost in the background while one is in the midst of doing other things, but which arises and insists on full attention when one ceases the activities which have kept in in the background.  

I find I now want my reflection to be deliberate.  For that to happen, I write.  So it is this morning.  Hence this diary.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1934 words in story)

If we are going to have national standards in education

by: teacherken

Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 06:11:42 AM EST

then something that should be included, for teachers and administrators, as well as students, are these words:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.

They were written by Robert Jackson, as part of the opinion of the Court, in the 1943 (note the date) case of WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL. v. BARNETTE ET AL., 319 U.S. 624.   And recent events in a school in the DC suburb makes it clear why everyone should know about this case.

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 1941 words in story)

... thinking of the young people . . .

by: teacherken

Tue Feb 16, 2010 at 16:33:59 PM EST

I sit in my living room on a day when I expected to see my students for the first time after a ten-day absence due to weather.  Not to be - yesterday evening we were informed that students were not coming to school today, although all staff are required to be there on a two-hour delay - in a sense this is a make-up day for last Friday, which was to be a professional day for teachers.  Yet the lateness of the decision will cause major problems in our school, because today was to be the makeup day for our science fair - originally schedule for last Wednesday - and I now wonder about our ability to get anything close to the normal compliment of outside judges our fair normally draws, an important part of the experience for a school that has within the past decade had the national winner.

I worry about my students, for the loss of continuity in their education.  And with time to reflect, I also worry on their behalf for the loss of continuity in our governance.  Only weather is less of an excuse for the Congress and Administration..  And the damage it done to the future of those students - who are the future of this nation - is potentially far greater than one school year with excessive disruptions due to weather.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 2535 words in story)

This is personal

by: teacherken

Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 11:22:21 AM EST

KathyinBlacksburg asked that I cross-post this.  It was written specifically for Daily Kos, and some of it is specifically related to that website/community

I teach government.  I have periodically wrestled with whether I could continue to do so.  I have come close to walking away from it, because I what I saw worried me sufficiently that I wondered what point there was -  signing statements, Military Commissions Act, abandoning Geneva as "quaint"  "enhanced interrogation methods,"  extending executive privilege to energy executive coming to the White House to craft policy could have their identities kept undisclosed, Scalia flying on a private plane across the nation to go hunting with Cheney while the last issue was pending before SCOTUS, ...   was there still a meaningful constitution and political system about which to teach my students?    Meanwhile, educational policy distorting the very process of school itself, depriving those most in need of real teaching and learning of the opportunity to do much beyond prep for low level tests.

Each time I hav wrestled with these issues.   Each time I decided to keep teaching -  "for now" - in the belief I could make a difference, and that the nation would come to its senses.

Now, once again, I no longer know what I will do.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 2212 words in story)

An open letter to President Obama on schools, education and teaching

by: teacherken

Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 16:11:49 PM EST

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you as a National Board Certified Social Studies Teacher who voted for you as President even despite my concerns about your approach to educational policy.  You were not my first choice, precisely because I, like many educators I know, was concerned both about your approach to some educational issues and some of the people advising you.  Nevertheless, we all enthusiastically supported your candidacy, in many cases before you clinched the nomination.

I will not speak for anyone except myself.  Others are also writing open letters, as you can see at this website.  

My focus will be on this -  that the educational policy being promulgated by your administration is being created both without meaningful input from teachers and in contradiction with what much of the available research has to inform us.  Of greater importance, it misses the mark on what really matters - what is best for our children.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 2132 words in story)

Columbine after 10 years - a teacher reflects

by: teacherken

Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 09:19:38 AM EDT

cross-posted from Daily Kos

April 20, 1999.  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. 12 students and teacher David Sanders, who bled to death while the police secured the perimeter.  A nation shocked at another mass shooting at a school.  But not shocked enough to change the gun culture that shortly less than 8 years later saw the even larger death toll at Virginia Tech.

I am in a school system which has seen its fair share of violence. One middle school at which I taught had two gun incidents in the same year.  At the Christmas party my first year at my current school, my wife asked the two police officers with duty for the school why they had to carry their guns and in unison they both said "We have to, the kids have them" although most will leave them locked in their cars.  The attempt to ban guns at schools by Federal statute was overturned by SCOTUS in the Lopez case.  And since Virginia Tech we have seen people arguing that students on college campuses should be allowed to carry concealed, or at least the faculty.  Does that mean 18 year old students and teachers should also be carrying?

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1408 words in story)
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