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Friday, September 17, 2021
Monday, September 06, 2021
A Knoxville kindergarten teacher wrote this disturbing letter on conditions at her school. She shared it with the Board of Education and state legislators from her area.
I know we have met before, but I am ——————, and I teach kindergarten at —————-. I have taught here for 7 years, and I love everything about this community. But right now I am literally wishing someone had a reason to fire me or I had a reason to quit. It is not the mask issue, it is not contact tracing, it is the fact that there are literally massive attendance problems - and I am talking teachers because there are no subs in KCS.At the board meeting, many were saying the absences aren't that bad and teachers can handle it. I can assure you - this is not true. I currently have a class of 20 five year olds, where 17 of them speak a different language at home, and 6 of those speak zero English at all. I say this because staff absences that are not covered by subs make a difference to these kids. They NEED their ESL hour. Before today, for two days one of our ESL teachers was out sick with no sub. We also have our kindergarten TA out sick with no sub. Our ONLY principal (no vice principal) is out the whole week as one of her family members is dying - no sub there either. Both of our custodians are out sick - we have one sub, who bless him, is trying but cannot do it alone understandably. A day ago, even worse, on top of that we had a first grade teacher and special areas teacher out with no sub. With so many out and no coverage the result is this... -I have cried everyday on my way to work and back home because I am in so much distress. -I missed half of plan time covering and figuring out a plan for special areas class for a TA to implement. -For 3 days, I had a 10-15 minute lunch because there was not enough staff to cover lunch duty. -Yesterday, I bled through my clothes because I was unable to get someone in my room to cover a bathroom break on time. -Our ELA coach and pre-k coach that are shared with other schools are now here (after I called one begging and crying to her to ask permission to help us) trying to be the principal and fill all positions with no subs. -My classroom has not been vacuumed or swept or mopped in 3 days. The floors today were covered with food from previous days (and we already have mice and roaches here), moldy milk/rust black goo liquid stuff all over the floor from trashcans that aren't able to be taken out. Milk bucket filled with 2 day old smelly milk sitting in the hall still. - VERY unhealthy and nasty conditions -During instruction today, I had to get the custodial mop and mop my floors and hope kids didn't slip because they were that disgusting. Other teachers borrowed the vacuum to clean their floors. The ONE sub custodian did everything he could, but it is not reasonable to give one man that expectation. -I wore a LITERAL adult diaper to school today in case I couldn't get coverage in time for the bathroom because I didn't want to bleed through clothes again. -Our angel of a school secretary is doing everything she can to fill needs, aka mop up spills in classrooms, change kids who had accidents, help with behavior students, find staff to help when no one responds on the walkie. -Dismissal at the end of the day started late because we did not have enough staff to hold and open car doors for kids while also watching them in the school. -Having NO time to learn and teach the new Benchmark series (which btw is making us teach parts of speech to 5 year olds and wants us to read articles instead of actual picture books), assess all of my kids on aimsweb (which btw is making 20 five year olds with no english take a whole group 15 question multiple choice test - took an hour), complete my 3 page required TIGER reflection/learn the new evaluation system, video every child's letters and sounds for the annual required and new kindergarten portfolio, make a canvas page (which apparently we need and have time to make), make a seating chart for my room and cafeteria, write a DCS report and call for a child in my class, contact every parent to get them to return their chromebook agreement, oh and just actually teach my kids and love them. So all in all, I know this sounds like me venting and being annoying. But, to be honest, this is me sticking up for my kids. Because me being a custodian, a lunch monitor during my lunch, a specials teacher, and everything else, means my kids don't get a teacher that can be there for them and actually teach. It is not right. I don't care why they say they choose to do it, but KCS needs to take a week off and either find subs, let people get better, or make a plan because THIS, no teachers or subs (let alone students), is NOT OKAY. Or at the very least, they can send board members to help fill these positions, provide teacher bathroom breaks, and help at dismissal. I hope you get this email - I know you are probably flooded with them. And I know there is nothing you personally can do on your own - but just knowing there is SOMEONE on the board who cares and is willing to listen and not DENY what is happening in schools helps me feel a little better. Because the last email I sent to the superintendent (which was short, sweet, and kind - asking if there was a plan because teachers can't be successful right now) was replied to by A higher up with a generated response and a call out for me to talk to my principal who she then CC'd on the email (I am assuming to make me feel like I would get in trouble, and that my principal should keep me in line - none of which is true and my principal is out with her dying loved one). Anyways, thank you for caring. And you were right - I was literally teacher of the year at my school last year, and even I can't/don't want to do this anymore. Something needs to happen or change FAST. And not that you would - but please do not CC my principal, she is busy with her family emergency and deserves that time. And please, keep my name anonymous if you share this email/my frustrations with anyone. I don't want to get in trouble, and I don't want anyone else to get in trouble because of me.”
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
The respected education law professor, Derek Black, tweeted yesterday, "I can’t fathom how any rational person could find masks offensive enough to act violently toward schools." I find myself in complete agreement with Professor Black. The problem is that the violence by mask refusers is as far from rationality as any person, rational or otherwise, might ever imagine.
I am talking about what I find when looking underneath all the "rational" explanations of anti-mask madness. They range from a desire to "own the libs," to a desire to bring down Biden poll numbers by keeping the pandemic alive, to a belief among white supremacists in superior genetic protections against disease, to all the other "rational" reasons cataloged in a pretty good recent article in The Atlantic about the mask resistor's close relative, the vaccine resistor.
There is something credible about all these rational explanations, but they all fall short when taking measure of the violent madness of the enraged spittle spouters at the local school board meeting threatening death to anyone trying to protect his child from a deathly disease, or the purple-faced frothing airline assailants who totally lose their shit when gently reminded to put on their masks before they put on their seatbelts, which they knew were required when they bought their tickets and when they boarded the plane. [Sidebar rhetorical question: Were these "free my face" fanatics ever resistant to the seatbelt rule on airlines or the child restraint requirements in cars??]
The world's most unconsciously transparent and malignantly-narcissistic combo of psychopath/sociopath is the key to uncovering the pathology of mask resistance, which I exists almost exclusively among the stubborn dregs of the T---- Cult.
Now I am not a psychologist, but it doesn't take one to see at any of the political wrestlemania rallies the poisonous narcotic that T---- injects into the crowds who have stood in line all day with sleeves rolled up and arms extended for their fix.
Over the past decade, T---- has emboldened, enabled, allowed, and cajoled his throngs, pushing them to rip away the social masks previously imposed on racists and racist institutions between 1954 and 2016--that period from Brown v. Board to the election of the only U. S. President in history be referred to openly by his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, as a "fucking moron."
Leading by example, T----- has urged his confederates to remove their hoods, rip off their masks, and, essentially, malign, disparage, and disregard all the court decisions, civil rights statutes, human rights laws, social justice prerogatives, and ethical boundaries that bind together civil, democratic societies.
Remember when T---- returned to the White House from his bout with Covid, juiced up on Regeneron and steroids? The first thing he did was huff and puff his way to the second floor balcony, rip away his mask, and assume the best Mussolini pose he could muster. Having been empowered by him to let their racism run wild, the balcony show was the expression of a metaphor that every one of his followers understood at a pre-conscious level. He was back, and he would not be muzzled by anything, even the threat of death. They should follow suit and, of course, they did. They are.
So what will it take to mask or remask, as the case may be, racist fatalism of the MAGA cult members who T---- has liberated from the confines of common decency and democratic values? I certainly can't say, but I do believe it will take more than just rational arguments or humane entreaties from people whose blind respect for everyone includes even those who respect no one. Not even themselves.
Wednesday, August 04, 2021
In 2016, America's largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), became such a toxic brand under so much scrutiny that it changed its name to CoreCivic. Maybe the new branding meant that we were supposed to forget that CCA was even a "corporation" in the "corrections" business, i.e., a private prison outfit. Maybe we were supposed to assume CoreCivic had a public mission that was so central to its identity that "core" and "civic" could not even be divided into two words.
Never mind that CoreCivic would remain the same brutal CCA private prison system based on understaffing, overworking, humiliating punishments, unsafe practices, accounting manipulations, and little to no public oversight for the billions of public dollars that CoreCivic collects each year.
This week America's largest corporate charter school chain, KIPP, is trying out the same strategy as a way to shift attention away from its corrupt and racist total compliance corporate model based on understaffing, overworking, humiliating punishments, unsafe practices, accounting manipulations, and little or no public oversight for the billions of public dollars that KIPP collects each year.
The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) has become now KIPP: Public Schools. Obviously, we should forget that KIPP America's largest corporate charter chain. Instead, we should be reminded that KIPP: Public Schools's claim of "public" status should justify the continuation draining of tens of billions of public dollars each year, even if KIPP governance, organizational model, daily operations, and guiding philosophy all remains under the iron-fisted control of KIPP's corporate management.
In order to shift the attention away from what critics have found to be the paternalist demands by KIPP's colonialist urban school occupiers, KIPP has also changed its long-standing submission-demanding motto, "Work Hard, Be Nice," which was dropped last year. The new motto,"Together, A Future Without Limits," seeks to shift attention away from the fact that KIPP teachers and students continue to be blamed (as they always have) for their own failures to meet expectations and goals passed down to them from KIPP's home office.
If you are skeptical of this new window dressing for KIPP's 270 cultural sterilization centers, you should be. Nothing on the ground has changed. Nothing has even changed in KIPP's rationale and protocols. And no doubt students at KIPP will continue to know KIPP as the "Kids in Prison Program."
The information below is taken from KIPP's new and improved website:
2.1 Expectations Excellent teaching means that the teacher...
A. Consistently communicates: 1) This is important; 2) You can do it with hard work; 3) I will not give up on you; and 4) We will help each other. (KEY MESSAGES)
B. Insists that students take risks, make and learn from mistakes, and admit confusion. (GROWTH MINDSET)
C. Lets students know exactly what academic and character excellence looks like for the year, the unit, and the lesson and demands it. (WARM & DEMANDING)
D. Provides real-time and specific affirming and adjusting feedback about academics and character to students. (THE SPOTLIGHT)
A. Treats their classroom goals and investment of kids and families like a garden. (TEND IT CONSTANTLY)
B. Designs the physical space to make it inviting, purposeful, and a reflection of the students in the room. (THEIR HAPPY PLACE)
C. Ensures kids can explain the why, big and small, for every action, activity, and artifact. (THE WHY OF THE WAY) D
D. Makes sure that goals, big and small, matter to kids and their families
E. Creates a classroom where kids are proud to be and you can tell. F. Provides students with opportunities to make choices and to influence the classroom culture.
2.3 Routines and systems
A. Designs efficient behavioral and academic systems. (WELL-OILED MACHINE)
B. Models and practices systems until they are mastered. (100%)
C. Tweaks systems when they are not working.
D. Maintains a clean and organized classroom space. (CLEANER THAN WE FOUND IT)
E. Anticipates challenges that individual students may have with some routines and systems and makes adjustments.
2.4 Management and discipline
A. Implements a classroom behavior management plan with the goal of 100% of the students meeting 100% of the expectations 100% of the time. (100%)
B. Notices what is happening in the classroom and adjusts accordingly. (WITH-IT-NESS)
C. Considers and addresses the root causes of student disruption or inattention.
D. Reacts with speed and decisiveness when behavior does not meet expectations. (WARM & DEMANDING/100%)
E. Administers consequences that logically connect to the behavior and the child. (LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES)
F. Uses a calm, firm, and convincing tone when addressing inappropriate behavior. (WARM & DEMANDING)
G. Uses a variety of techniques to capture and maintain mutual respect and attention from students (i.e. – narrate the positive, correct, assertive body language, proximity, etc... see SAPHIER’S ATTENTION CONTINUUM and LEMOV’S TAXONOMY)
H. Provides specific, observable, concrete, and sequential directions and expects students to follow them. (SOCS/100%)I.Reconnects positively with students after administering a consequence.
A. Exudes a love of teaching and learning through facial expressions, tone, and actions. (LOVE OF THE GAME)
B. Nurtures curiosity and a love of learning.
C. Smiles and laughs regularly, and brings humor and zest to the work of teaching and learning.
D. Celebrates individual and group efforts and successes when students meet and exceed expectations.
E. Creates opportunities in the day for students to smile, laugh, and be expressive.
Monday, August 02, 2021
Friday, July 23, 2021
Gov. Code § 56845.9(a) "This article shall not be construed to… [a]bridge any right granted to a parent under state or federal law, including, but not limited to, the procedural safeguards established pursuant to Section 1415 of Title 20 of the Unites States Code."As for Veronica Coates seemingly seething resentment towards attorneys working hard to help children with disabilities obtain their rights, she should consider the fact that if schools would merely follow the law, there'd be no need to file for Due Process.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Students should follow their interests and take advantage of their talents. (Letter in Malibu Times, July 15, 2021)
Published in the Malibu Times, July.15,
Arnold York points out how unusual it is for a terrific hitter like Shonei Ohtani to also be an outstanding pitcher (Publisher’s Corner, July 8). It is interesting that baseball neither demands nor expects this kind of diverse ability. In fact, baseball encourages early specialization.
Youngsters generally know what position they will be best at, and coaches usually accept this. This is true of all sports: Some of us still remember how remarkable it was when over 40 years ago Magic Johnson filled in at center when Kareem-Abdul Jabbar could not play.
Athletes are clearly better off if they discover early on what they are good at and specialize. Coaches know this: No coach would require all baseball players to be competent at more than one position. We don’t ask good shortstops to be good catchers as well.
School doesn’t understand this. It insures failure and frustration when it requires that all students meet demanding standards in all subjects, which insures that students are not given the time and freedom to follow their interests and take advantage of their talents. Students and society are the losers.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Last update July 21, 2021
"Critical race theory is a practice. It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it," said Kimberlé Crenshaw, a founding critical race theorist and a law professor who teaches at UCLA and Columbia University. --CNN
If you don't like the definition supplied by one of the founders of CRT, then maybe you should ask State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-TN), who says that he knows what critical race theory because he was taught all about it in law school. According to Kelsey, critical race theory "teaches that American democracy is a lie. It teaches that the rule of law does not exist and is instead a series of power struggles among racial groups."
Not to be outdone in the Republican race for the dumbest, anti-factual definition, Governor Ricketts (NE) said this in response to a caller asking for a definition of critical race theory:
So, the critical race theory — and I can’t think of the author right off the top of my head who wrote about this — really had a theory that, at the high level, is one that really starts creating those divisions between us about defining who we are based on race and that sort of thing and really not about how to bring us together as Americans rather than — and dividing us and also having a lot of very socialist-type ideas about how that would be implemented in our state.
Kelsey's lies and Ricketts' pathetic word salad would be amusing if it weren't for the fact that the goal of white supremacists has much less to do with critical race theory than it does to 1) censoring the factual presentation of history in schools and the media, and 2) using intimidation to force teachers, school boards, and administrators into self-censoring with regards to the teaching of fact-based history and the discussion of race and racism in the classroom.
It is critical for teachers and their unions to continue rejecting the kind of propagandized and sanitized versions of history that neo-confederate politicians and their billionaire fascist funders prefer to offer school children and college students.
As noted in Part 1, the slavery empire in the United States was built one law at time. Many of those laws were written and passed in Virginia (see Pt. 1 for important laws from the 1600s).
Beginning in 1705, however, the Virginia Assembly passed and the Governor approved the Virginia Slave Codes, which set forth an unambiguous legal justification for slavery. Hoping to avoid potential revolts that might accrue from alliances between poor whites and black slaves, the Slave Codes may be seen as an attempt to assuage oppressed whites by providing, if nothing else, a legal foundation for white supremacy and black inferiority.
Were the ancestors of today's bedraggled trailer park Tories those impoverished whites whose loyalty was bought by elites in 1705 with the legal promise and protections of white privilege??
By 1705, British settlers had lived in Virginia for almost 100 years. In the initial years of settlement, indentured servitude was widespread, African slavery was relatively uncommon, and race relations between blacks and whites were ambiguous, though not entirely equal. In the second half of the seventeenth century, however, the Chesapeake colonies transitioned to an economy dominated increasingly by slave labor. Virginia’s slave population grew from 150 in 1640, to nearly 3,000 in 1680, and by 1700 to13,000—one sixth of the colony’s population. This transition occurred because: (1) the supply of indentured servants in Virginia dropped as England offered more economic opportunities for its poor; 2) England established more colonies in North America, which diverted some immigrants away from Virginia; and (3) wealthy Virginia planters feared an alliance of poor whites and black slaves. White-black coalitions were an ever-present threat to the planters—Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 had made that clear.
As the slave population increased, so did the legal controls on slaves’ behavior and power, culminating in the extensive law of 1705. The Virginia Slave code mandated an inferior racial and legal status for blacks while simultaneously elevating opportunities for poor whites. Passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses, these laws denied blacks the traditional rights of Englishmen, including freedom of association, assembly, bearing arms, expression, and mobility, as well as protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The laws forbade non-whites from holding ecclesiastical, civil, or military office regardless of their status. Interestingly, the slave code also reinforced a tradition already prevalent in Virginia in which the children born of slave mothers would also be slaves. In effect, this made slavery . . . permanent and absolved white male planters from any punishment for the sexual exploitation of their female slaves. In numerous ways, this was a clear effort by whites in Virginia to consolidate power and perpetuate the institution of slavery.
Be it enacted, by the governor, council, and burgesses, of this present general assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same,
- That all servants brought into this country without indenture, if the said servants be Christians and of Christian parentage, and above nineteen years of age, shall serve but five years; and if under nineteen years of age, ‘till they shall become twenty-four years of age, and no longer. . . .
- That all servants imported and brought into this country by sea or land, who were not Christians in their native country, (except Turks and Moors in amity with her majesty, and others that can make due proof of their being free in England, or any other Christian country, before they were shipped, in order to transportation hither) shall be accounted and be slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to Christianity afterwards. . . .
- That all masters and owners of servants shall find and provide for their servants wholesome and competent diet, clothing, and lodging, by the discretion of the county court; and shall not, at any time, give immoderate correction [excessive punishment]; neither shall at any time whip a Christian white servant naked without an order from a justice of the peace. . . .
- That all servants (not being slaves,) whether imported or become servants of their own accord here, or bound by any court or church-wardens, shall have their complaints received by a justice of the peace, who, if he find cause, shall bind the master over to answer the complaint at court. . .
- That no negros, mulattos, or Indians, although Christians, or Jews, Moors, Mahometans [Muslims], or other infidels shall at any time purchase any Christian servant, nor any other, except of their own complexion or such as are declared slaves by this act. . . .
- That there shall be paid and allowed to every imported servant, not having yearly wages, at the time of service ended, by the master or owner of such servant, viz: To every male servant, ten bushels of Indian corn, thirty shillings in money, or the value thereof in goods, and one well fixed musket or fuzee, of the value of twenty shillings, at least: and to every woman servant, fifteen bushels of Indian corn and forty shillings in money, or the value thereof in goods . . . .
- That in all cases of penal laws, whereby persons free are punishable by fine, servants shall be punished by whipping, after the rate of twenty lashes for every five hundred pounds of tobacco, or fifty shillings current money, unless the servant so culpable can and will procure some person or persons to pay the fine; in which case, the said servant shall be adjudged to serve such benefactor after the time by indenture, custom, or order of court, to his or her then present master or owner, shall be expired. . . .
- That whatsoever English or other white man or woman, being free, shall intermarry with a negro or mulatto man or woman, bond or free, shall by judgment of the county court be committed to prison and there remain during the space of six months, without bail or main prize; and shall forfeit and pay ten pounds current money of Virginia, to the use of the parish. .
- And if any slave resist his master or owner or other person, by his or her order, correcting such slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction, it shall not be accounted felony; but the master, owner, and every such other person so giving correction shall be free and acquit of all punishment and accusation for the same, as if such accident had never happened; And also, if any negro, mulatto, or Indian, bond or free, shall at any time lift his or her hand in opposition against any Christian, not being negro, mulatto, or Indian, he or she so offending shall, for every such offence proved by the oath of the party, receive on his or her bare back thirty lashes, well laid on; cognizable by a justice of the peace for that county wherein such offense shall be committed. . . .
- That no slave go armed with gun, sword, club, staff, or other weapon, nor go from off the plantation and seat of land where such slave shall be appointed to live, without a certificate of leave in writing for so doing from his or her master, mistress, or overseer: And if any slave shall be found offending herein, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to apprehend and deliver such slave to the next constable or head-borough, who is hereby enjoined and required, without further order or warrant, to give such slave twenty lashes on his or her bare back, well laid on, and so send him or her home. . .
- That baptism of slaves does not exempt them from bondage; and that all children shall be bond or free, according to the condition of their mothers, and the particular directions of this act.
- Source: http://www.historianstevecampbell.com/uploads/4/4/6/5/44657359/virginia_slave_code_1705.pdf
Inspired by Virginia Slave Codes, Massachusetts passed its own version of a law to prohibit both marriage and fornication between whites and blacks. Notice that Massachusetts lawmakers eliminated the ban on fornication in 1786, thus protecting white officials from the threat of arrest. At the same time, MA legislators extended the ban on marriage to include Indians.