Education is only part of the solution

I took college classes to get another endorsement of my teaching credential in 2001-2004. I then left the country and when I was ready to resume classes a couple of years later, found that tuition had doubled. Unfortunately, I had resigned from my public school job and ended up earning half the amount in the second half of the decade that I had in the first half. I’m not sure how we’ll manage to pay for  our own kids’ tuition a few years from now.

So today on Facebook I was sent a link stating:

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling on special educators to take personal responsibility for the success of their students after graduation.

I also received a post from my Facebook friend President Obama with a Youtube link of his appearance with Jeb Bush discussing education. I didn’t watch the entire video-but I don’t think he talked about cutting tuition costs in half or making student loans available at the same rate that the Fed offers to Banksters.

I received a third link to a Paul Krugmann column that points out that jobs for college grads are disappearing just like the less glamourous manufacturing jobs that have steadily gone offshore during the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush years. Krugmann writes:

But there are things education can’t do. In particular, the notion that putting more kids through college can restore the middle-class society we used to have is wishful thinking. It’s no longer true that having a college degree guarantees that you’ll get a good job, and it’s becoming less true with each passing decade.

So if we want a society of broadly shared prosperity, education isn’t the answer — we’ll have to go about building that society directly. We need to restore the bargaining power that labor has lost over the last 30 years, so that ordinary workers as well as superstars have the power to bargain for good wages. We need to guarantee the essentials, above all health care, to every citizen.

What we can’t do is get where we need to go just by giving workers college degrees, which may be no more than tickets to jobs that don’t exist or don’t pay middle-class wages.




March 8, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.


As a teacher, I’m not qualified to make any sort of diagnosis, but I vainly think I can spot autism after spending a little time with a child. Last December I subbed in a class of 2 year olds and had an enjoyable, stress free time. I subbed a day and a half in the same room last week and was very stressed. A few new students were added that all seemed deveopmentally delayed. Two especially were disruptive. One little guy turned out to be hyperlexic and read dozens of words and numbers, and also spoke in sing song sentences. Another boy hardly spoke at all, except for a few barely recognizable “no”s and “ok”s. This second child enjoyed knocking things over. Both boys tended to ignore their peers except when trying to take  desired toys away from them. Both enjoyed playing with water, including toilet water.  Both were emotionally volatile, rocked, and made little sounds to themselves.

I raised my concerns with their teacher, but she told me their parents were “in denial.” The conventional wisdom seems to be that autism is best addressed at an early age when the symptoms emerge, so I felt like I should say something to the parents, but sadly, it’s none of my business.

February 20, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What Are You Wearing

I’ve been subbing as an aide most of this week with 2-5 year olds. During circle time one teacher sang about each child’s clothes. She paused when it was a boisterous 4 year old’s turn, who was dressed in socks with a skull and cross bones and a striped punk rock shirt. The class then learned that the scrawled letter A in a circle on the back of the shirt is a symbol for anarchy.

February 18, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

It’s funny because it’s true…

My kids are no longer addicted to TV. Our small digital TV only receives a few channels, and those often freeze if you shift weight.  The computer and Nintendo DS have taken the place of the once allmighty television and video cassettes. Take away the Nintendo in the middle of a game and they will weep and wail.
Uncensored – Louis C.K. – This Is Nothing
Jokes Joke of the Day Funny Jokes

February 13, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Bigger isn’t always Better

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah schools that met federal testing goals last year tended to have lower class sizes than those that didn’t, according to a state Office of Education analysis released Friday.

February 6, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Sub Doodies

I subbed at a childcare center twice this week. One little guy demanded to go to the bathroom. After a few minutes I checked on him and saw a mound of toilet paper sticking out of the toilet like an iceberg. The little boy was distressed  and glaring at the toilet bowl. He saw me and moaned “I can’t find my poop!”

February 2, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Riffing on the Unemployment Blues

I subbed a couple of times this week. On the first day, a teacher told me that he just found out that he had been “riffed,” but he had also been invited to re-apply for his job the next school year. I asked him about his plans, and he said he’d like to go back to selling tires. I found out later that several other teachers and paras were in the same situation. I ended up subbing for that teacher two days later. At the end of the day, a colleague from another program came looking for him, having heard the school wide gossip. She wanted to buy him a drink and commiserate. I mentioned that I thought the teacher had tenure and should be one of the last to go. His colleague said, “If they want to get rid of you, they’ll get rid of you.”

Tenure is no longer the gurantee that it used to be. In Chicago, over 800 tenured teachers were laid off last year. Many ended up as substitute teachers. With the rise of charter and private schools at will employment may soon be the norm.

In an era where teachers are expected to have students who are all above average on standardized tests, I’m guessing that education won’t be a life-long occupation for many.  Like  joining the peace corp or enlisting in the army,  teaching will be a cause for people in their twenties  to respond to before they settle down and raise  a family or need a job that requires only 9 hours or less of their workday.

January 21, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

I hate Homework

I helped daughter #2 with her fifth grade science fair project last month. She received a C minus.  The report had to be written in APA style and have 12 sources. The whole thing was riculous. The students were given over 24 pages of instructions and guidelines- an exmple of “rigorous teaching.”  The science fair manual for fifth grade was the same used by high school students in the district. I’m reminded of an old Piaget quote, where he said that when Americans heard about his theory of developmental stages, they would always ask how they could speed it up.

Daughter #1 is also in fifth grade at a slightly less ambitious school. She had to answer questions for a study guide on Old Yeller last week. She asked to use my laptop, then googled “old yeller study guide” and found the answer key to the very same questions online.

January 16, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Battered Fish Tale

Today I subbed in a Montessori Pre-K class. A little boy asked if he could feed the class’s fish. I wasn’t sure and said I didn’t want to overfeed them. He then told me how one of the fish had been sick but was now better. The sick fish had stayed on the bottom of the tank for days after it had been attacked by the other fish, which then canibalistically  ate the top fin off of it’s tank-mate. Ah, the wonders of nature!

January 12, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Back to subbing

I didn’t have to sub in December, since I ended up with a temporary job at the North Pole.

January 3, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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