September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2017

9/11 tribute Mamacita says: I’m guessing that many most bloggers will be posting tributes today, and telling the blogosphere ‘where we were’ when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Here is mine. This is actually the fifteenth time I’ve posted this on 9/11, so if it seems familiar, you’re not crazy. Well, not on this issue, anyway.

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The morning began like any other; we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, and sat back down to watch Channel One News, which had been taped at 3:00 that morning in the school library, thanks to the timer. But Channel One News didn’t come on.

Channel One News, a news program aimed at teens, did not come on that day.

Instead, the secretary’s voice, over the intercom, told the teachers to “please check your email immediately.” We did. And we found out what had happened.

I scrolled down the monitor and read the end of the message. The superintendent had ordered all teachers to be absolutely mum all day about the tragedy. We were not to answer any questions from students, and we were especially not to offer any information to them.

The day went by in a blur. Many parents drove to the school, took their kids out, and brought them home. Between classes, frightened groups of students gathered in front of their lockers and whispered, gossiped, and cried, and begged us for information. By that time, the superintendent’s order had been seconded by the principals, and we were unable to give these terrified kids any information. In the computer labs, the MSN screens told the 8th graders the truth, but they, too, were instructed NOT to talk about it to the other students. Right, like THAT happened. The story was being repeated by 8th graders, and it was being told we’re-all-going-to-die style.

At noon, many of the students were picked up by parents and taken home or out for lunch. Those few who returned had a big tale to tell. The problem was, the tale was being told by children, and few if any of the facts were straight. The atmosphere in the building got more and more strained. We are only a few miles away from an immensely large Navy base, where ammunition and bombs are made, and we’ve always known it was a prime target, which means, of course, that we are, too. Many of my children’s parents worked there. The base was locked down and those parents did not come home that night.

frightened children

Administrative stupidity did this.

Reasonable questions were answered with silence, or the statement: “You’ll find out when you get home.”  This, to children who weren’t even sure they still had a home to get to.  A rumor mill can be a horrible thing.

This, added to all the rumors and gossip spread by children, turned my little sixth graders into terrified toddlers.

As teachers, we were furious and disgusted with the superintendent’s edict. We wanted to call all the students into the gym and calmly tell them the truth in words and ways that would be age-appropriate. We wanted to hug them and assure them that it was far away and they were safe. We asked for permission to do this, and it was denied. Our orders were ‘silence.’ We hadn’t been allowed to hug them for years, of course, but there are times and places when hugs ARE appropriate. No matter, the superintendent stood firm: no information whatsoever.  Other administrators in other school systems were doing it right – calling assemblies and explaining calmly to their terrified children exactly what had happened, and assuring the children that they were safe

Not our administrators.  “Tell them NOTHING” was their edict, and we had to follow it or face the consequences, and the consequences for insubordination in this school system are devastating.

The day went by, more slowly than ever a day before. The students grew more and more pale and frightened. We asked again, and again he stood firm that no information whatsoever was to be given out.

By the end of the day, the children were as brittle as Jolly Rancher Watermelon Stix.

Jolly Rancher Watermelon Stix. Brittle as a traumatized child.

Jolly Rancher Watermelon Stix. Brittle as a traumatized child.

A few minutes before the bell rang to send them home, a little girl raised her hand and in a trembling voice that I will never forget, asked me a question. “Please, is it true that our parents are dead and our houses are burned down?”

That was it. I gathered my students close and in a calm voice explained to them exactly what had happened. I told them their parents were alive and safe, and that they all still had homes to go to.

The relief was incredible. I could feel it cascading all through the room.

I was, of course, written up for insubordination the next day, but I didn’t care. My phone had rung off the hook that night with parents thanking me for being honest with their children. That was far more important than a piece of paper that said I’d defied a stupid inappropriate order meted out by a man who belonged in the office of a used car lot, not in a position of power over children’s lives.

I'm the superintendent and I am stupid. Very, very stupid.

I’m the superintendent and I am stupid. Very, very stupid.

The next day at school, in my room, we listened to some of the music that had been ‘specially made about the tragedy. I still have those cd’s and I’ve shared them with many people over the past few years. It is true that kids cried again, but it was good to cry. It was an appropriate time to cry. We didn’t do spelling or grammar that day. There are times when the “business as usual” mindset simply is not appropriate.

I wish administrators would realize that kids are a lot tougher than we might think. Kids are also a lot more sensitive that we might realize. It’s an odd combination, and we as educators must try our best to bring the two ends of the emotional spectrum together and help these kids learn to deal with horrible happenings and still manage to get through the day as well as possible.

9/11 tribute torch

We will always overcome.

Ignoring an issue will not help. Morbidly focusing on an issue will not help. Our children are not stupid, and to treat them as such is not something that builds trust. Our children deserve answers to their questions.

How can we expect our children to learn to find a happy medium if we don’t show them, ourselves, when opportunities arise?

I’m still so very sorry, children, that I was forced to participate in that dreadful conspiracy of silence when just a few spoken words might have eased your minds.

September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2017. God bless us, every one.

Your Ancestors Were Immigrants; Live Up To Them!

Mamacita says: Oh please, society, let us learn from the past, just a little bit?  Because those in charge of those in charge of the education of our children are doing it all wrong.  Real education has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with honor.  Your immigrant ancestors understood this.  Why don’t you?

“Francie thought it was the most beautiful church in Brooklyn. It was made of old gray stone and had twin spires that rose cleanly into the sky, high above the tallest tenements. Inside, the high vaulted ceilings, narrow deepset stained-glass windows and elaborately carved altars made it a miniature cathedral.”

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943) p 390.

This is Most Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn. Betty Smith used it in her novel and had her heroine, Francie Nolan, in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, love to look at it, and love knowing that her grandfather had carved the altar as part of his tithe. He had no money, so he donated his considerable talent. Francie’s grandfather was a horrible abusive man, but he honored his commitment to God.

Francie’s grandmother and all but two of her daughters were illiterate, but revered literacy. The grandmother did not at first understand that education was free to all in America, so her two older daughters didn’t go to school. Her two younger daughters, however, were sent to school and kept there as long as possible, until family circumstances required them to go to work. Such was life, back then. Formal education was honored above most other things, but it was also one of the first things to go when times got harder.

Two of my favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, and Everything But Money, by Sam Levinson. They are a great deal alike in that they are both about immigrant parents, the value of education, the great love of learning that is the source of pride to secure parents, and the sacrifices that good parents make so their children can have better lives.

Our immigrant ancestors came to this country pretty much knowing that there was no chance of them, personally, fulfilling very many of their own dreams and aspirations: all of their hopes and dreams and aspirations were for their children.

Our immigrant ancestors didn’t really move to this country for themselves; they were adults, and the time was long past for them to develop and use their talents in any official or professional capacity, especially in a new land that had customs and language that were both unfamiliar in every possible way . There were exceptions, of course, but the truth is, most of our immigrant ancestors put their own hopes and dreams and ambitions on the back burner so they could concentrate on the hopes and dreams and ambitions they held for their children.

Tenement houses were filled with mothers, grandmothers, maiden aunts, and shirttail relatives, singing in the kitchen that their children might some day sing in Carnegie Hall. Factories and stores were filled with fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and more shirttail relatives, singing at the assembly lines and behind the counters and down in the mines that their children might some day sing in synogogues and cathedrals. People with artistic talent displayed their art with beautiful pies, cakes that were a picture, carved altars in the church, rich embroidery on simple pillow slips, and tailoring that was a work of art. Ancestors who, today, might have organized businesses and found success on the stock market used their skills to make something out of nothing, that their children might have something to make something more out of when it was their turn.

Their children were being educated, and that was enough. Our ancestors looked ahead to the future; they had no time or energy or money to do much for themselves. It was all for the children, and for the future.

Parents too weary from sweatshops and never-ending domestic drudgery didn’t have much time to “play” any more. These parents loved their children far too much to stop and indulge themselves; every nap meant pennies not earned. Parents were there for discipline and meals and clothing and love that was demonstrated by the laying aside of their own desires to focus entirely on the future of their children. NOW was never as important as TOMORROW. This forced their children to be inventive, creative, organized, resourceful, problem-solving, appreciative of things that today’s kids throw away, and hungry enough every night to eat whatever Mother put on the table. A child who asked for something else would have been laughed at.

Adults gave each other blessings that relied on the behavior of the children. “May your children bring you happiness,” “May your children make you proud,” “May your find joy in your children,” etc. Children who misbehaved in school or in public or right there in the house brought shame to their parents and disgrace to the family name. His siblings recoiled from a misbehaving kid, and his mother cried. Families used “shame” to help shape a character that knew what it meant and therefore stayed as far away from it as possible.

Adults have changed. A large percentage of adults put their own desires and urges and feelings and wants before the needs and wants of their children. Kids today don’t care if they bring shame and disgrace to their parents. It’s never their fault anyway; it’s that heartless teacher who doesn’t understand Buddy or Muffy and doesn’t appreciate the cute way he stomps his foot when he’s mad or the adorable way she twists and chews her hair when she’s deciding who to invite to her latest party. Adults get home from work far earlier (usually) than their great-grandparents did, yet adults today are too tired to go to PTA meetings or choir concerts or spelling bees, things their ancestors viewed with such honor (they were not available to peasants in the old country) that they wept and trembled with emotion as they bathed and put on their best clothing in order to show respect to the school and the teacher, and to watch their children represent the family in a scholarly event. (Surprisingly, many adults are not too tired to go to an athletic event.)

Many immigrants came here in the first place so their children could take advantage of the free public education. Illiterate parents pointed with pride to the row of schoolbooks on the kitchen shelf, and boasted that their children could READ THEM! They weren’t worried about new ideas; they encouraged the learning of new things. They did not worry that the new ideas would usurp the old ideas; they just honored all learning and assumed their kids were wise enough to blend the old and the new together and come out with a new “new.” Sam Levinson writes most eloquently and beautifully about his father’s pride in his many sons’ books and accomplishments, even those the old man knew nothing about and knew he never would.

A poorly behaved child brought great sadness and shame to his parents; usually, the sight of his father and mother’s grief, brought on by the child’s poor choices, was enough to straighten the kid out. If not, our ancestors weren’t afraid to use other means to demonstrate to a child that certain behaviors brought certain consequences. Shockingly, this didn’t result in a child quivering with sadness and with no ego or esteem left in his system; it usually resulted in a child who knew better than to try THAT again, by golly.

Modern parents are often so worried about causing their children emotional pain that they ignore or neglect all kinds of opportunities to demonstrate to their children that nice people are a lot more welcome in society than people who feel they have a right to do their own thing regardless of where they are or what the mean old rules might be. A child who is taught in no uncertain terms that one sits quietly at the table, be it at home or elsewhere, eats whatever might be on his plate – or at least tries to eat it – without complaining, and who knows, because he was taught, that one does not get up from the table without permission, and that “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” really are magic words. . . well, let us be euphemistic, even though I loathe euphemisms, and just say that nice people of all ages are more welcome and appreciated than are people whose manners and whose tolerance for poor manners need some adjustment. Think of the mall. Think of restaurants.

Our ancestors would be appalled at some of the attitudes and behaviors of their descendants. I know I am.

In many households, the kids are running the show, and the parental helicopter is hovering even over universities and workplaces, lest some “right” is denied and a kid’s self esteem is dealt a blow, deserved or not.

Self esteem.  You really don’t want to get me started.

P.S. Self esteem must be EARNED. It’s not a given. Nobody has a RIGHT to it. We’re not born with it. It can’t be presented as a gift. And kids know the difference even if some adults don’t. We have to deserve it. Otherwise, it’s all just a big joke, and the joke’s on the adults.

P.P.S.  I guess I got started on it.

Donald Trump and the Kaiser

Mamacita says:  Some people still believe the Kaiser was even more evil than Hitler, and some people believe that Donald Trump is more evil than the Kaiser.  Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Rilla of Ingleside” takes place during World War I. I learned more about that war by reading this book than I ever learned in school.. Those of you who loved “Anne of Green Gables” do know that there are several books in that series, and that Montgomery takes Anne clear up to old age, don’t you? Well, you know now. Go to the library this instant!

The youngest of Anne and Gilbert’s seven children, Rilla grows into maturity during World War One.

In this book, Anne and Gilbert watch helplessly as their sons join the military and leave Canada to fight in Europe. The Kaiser is completely villified by all the adults throughout the book, of couse, because how could he NOT be, but it is this statement by an innocent little child that really got to me.

“Do you know, Mrs. Blythe”­ Bruce dropped to a “whispery” tone, edging a little nearer to Anne, ­”what I would like to do to the Kaiser if I could?”

“What would you like to do, laddie?”

“Norman Reese said in school to-day that he would like to tie the Kaiser to a tree and set cross dogs to worrying him,” said Bruce gravely. “And Emily Flagg said she would like to put him in a cage and poke sharp things into him. And they all said things like that. But Mrs. Blythe”­ Bruce took a little square paw out of his pocket and put it earnestly on Anne’s knee. ­”I would like to turn the Kaiser into a good man, ­a very good man, ­all at once if I could. That is what I would do. Don’t you think, Mrs. Blythe, that would be the very worstest punishment of all?”

“Bless the child,” said Susan, “how do you make out that would be any kind of a punishment for that wicked fiend?”

“Don’t you see,” said Bruce, looking levelly at Susan, out of his blackly blue eyes, “if he was turned into a good man he would understand how dreadful the things he has done are, and he would feel so terrible about it that he would be more unhappy and miserable than he could ever be in any other way. He would feel just awful­ and he would go on feeling like that forever. Yes,”­ Bruce clenched his hands and nodded his head emphatically, “yes, I would make the Kaiser a good man­, that is what I would do­; it would serve him ‘zackly right.”

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It’s too bad we can’t do this with Donald Trump.

The Glass Castle: Opinion. Just An Opinion.

Mamacita says: I read “The Glass Castle” several years ago, and I can fully appreciate the excellent writing; the author is really good. That she survived her childhood in one piece, physically and mentally, is a miracle. There are interviews with these people on YouTube that are also good; I recommended them to my students that one year we were required to teach the novel. However, I loathed the parents in this autobiography so deeply and thoroughly that there is not enough money in the mint to pay me to see the film version. Just thinking about those parents makes my blood pressure rise. They were despicable. They were repulsive. They were unforgivably selfish, childish, ignorant, needy, and grasping. I could not deal with seeing them brought to life on the screen. There was nothing positive about them.

The innocence of our children is too precious to profit by. . . .

The film version is coming out this summer, but I won’t be going. I can’t go. I understand that film is art, and there are all kinds of art. I love art. I just don’t want to re-experience the author’s parents. Actually, it’s more like I can’t re-experience her parents.

All those years in the public schools, experiencing all kinds of children with all kinds of parents. . . . some of those parents were as horrific if not more so than the parents in this autobiography. I loathed these people then. I loathe them now. Sure, even horrific people are still people, and maybe they’re horrific because they have severe mental issues of some kind, but the fact remains that how a person treats children says a lot more about them than they prefer the world to know. No matter what kind of childhood someone might have had, there is never an excuse for mistreating a child. Never, ever. Ever.

I am on the side of the children. So, no, I won’t be seeing the new movie. “The Glass Castle” is a work of art. It’s well-written, and no doubt well-acted. I’m sure the author found writing it all out quite cathartic. But I can’t watch it. I love children too much to pay money to watch dysfunctional people torture, starve, and otherwise misuse innocent children.

You go. I hope you enjoy it. But I won’t be going. I have to deal with people like this on a daily basis. Most of the time, I am helpless. These people always seem to have more rights than do their innocent victims.

There are never enough resources for everyone. Children should be at the head of the line. Those who abuse them, no matter what the reason, belong at the back of the line.

I Don’t Shop Downtown Any More. . . .

Mamacita says:  I love to shop downtown in almost any small city; the stores are unique and delightful and it’s fun to walk around the square and buy from actual people instead of conglomerates and the parking is so convenient – right by the front door, in many cases – unless there are parking meters, in which case I don’t shop there at all.

This is the direct opposite of a "welcome" sign.

I hate to penalize a local merchant for a bad marketing decision made by others, but my budget is super limited, my knees are super bad, a parking garage is super inconvenient and usually too far from the actual shops for even a minimally handicapped person, and somehow, even though I know it’s not the merchants who thought up the idea of discouraging people like me from handing over my money to their shops, the very idea of a town board deciding to charge me to patronize its businesses infuriates me to the point that I just won’t do it. Besides, I seldom carry cash or change, and I don’t shop often enough to warrant buying a pass.

I guess those lovely downtown squares lined with local stores and meters that require money just for the privilege of parking aren’t meant for the likes of me any more. And I miss them. You people who can afford to spend a few hours parked downtown for a fee can have my spot. I’ll shop locally in towns that appreciate people who patronize their local stores and wouldn’t dream of making people pay just to park near the door. I can see fining people for leaving a vehicle in a prime spot for more than two hours, but for people like me, who shop for an hour or so at a time? Not happening.

I’ve accepted the fact that this town’s downtown square isn’t interested in customers like me, and doesn’t give two hoots in a hot place about people like me. Fair enough. I’ll shop elsewhere.

Item: My home town has no parking meters. They used to, which is why I got out of the habit of shopping on the square there, but they don’t now and haven’t for years so maybe it’s time to do some local shopping again. I work 20 or so miles away, though, and the downtown up there has beautiful, fascinating shops that really interest me, and I would love to patronize some of those lovely stores downtown, but there are those dreadful meters, so no.

Yes, yes, I know I talk about how much I hate parking meters every few months, and people try to apply logic to the town’s decision and try to explain to me the reasons, but I’m not buying it. Those reasons truly do not apply to me. Nope, I don’t buy it. Just as I’m not buying any merchandise or food at their downtown, either.

It’s obvious that towns like this do not miss my business and are, in fact, not even interested in my business, so there we are: impass.

I have to drive through the downtown square to get to work, and I used to love that – the square is always beautifully decorated. In summer, window boxes of climbing petunias are breathtaking and I can even smell their fragrance as I wait for the stoplight whilst not pulling over to shop. At holiday time, the square is aglow with twinkling lights. The beauty and magnetism of this downtown square makes me hate the meters even more. I would love to be welcomed at these stores, but I’m not.

So, I keep on driving until I’m at work, and after work I stop at Kohl’s where customers are welcomed and the parking is free. Given a real choice, I’d prefer to give my money to a local business, but the local business’ location takes most of it before I can even walk through a door to a store.

I bet it wasn’t the merchants who decided the downtown should have parking meters. Most shops – the savvy ones, anyway – almost always have a website, and truth be told, that’s how I do most of my shopping these days. No store is too small; all businesses need a website so crabby people like me can shop at midnight in pajamas.

But I really miss walking around a busy downtown square, stopping in at various shops and making small purchases. I miss the local restaurants; their food is always far superior to chain restaurants.

This used to be my favorite downtown restaurant, but I don't go there any more.

This used to be my favorite downtown restaurant, but I don’t go there any more.

But ten dollars to feed the meter to insure I’ll have enough time to limp around to a few stores before limping back to feed the meter again?

It’s just not in my budget. But then, isn’t attracting people richer than I am the whole purpose of parking meters? I mean, someone like me, making small purchases, isn’t going to make a store rich.

But if I like your store, I’ll come back and bring my rich friends. As things stand, I won’t even come to your store the first time, and my rich friends won’t ever know you exist.

So install your parking meters. I’m sure all the college-town doctors and lawyers and hipsters don’t feel the burn, and they’ve got plenty of money to spend.

I don’t. What little I have, I wish I could spend in your store, but someone’s decision has rendered that impossible.

Mamacita Says: Rant, Rant, Rant. Rant.

Mamacita says:  Rant, rant, rant.

This essay has been posted on many an education blog, for the past several years, and it’s just as relevant today as it was yesterday.

John Taylor,  retired  superintendent of Lancaster County School District in South Carolina, has nailed it.  I wish every school board in the States had to hear it read by a parent at the start of every board meeting.

==

Absolutely the Best Dentist!

Open wide!

Open wide!

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don’t forget check-ups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I’ve got all my teeth, so when I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he’d heard about the new state program. I knew he’d think it was great.

“Did you hear about the new state program to measure the effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?” I said.

“No,” he said. He didn’t seem too thrilled. “How will they do that?”

“It’s quite simple,” I said. “They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist’s rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. That way, parents will know which are the best dentists. “It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better,” I said. “Poor dentists who don’t improve could lose their licenses to practice in South Carolina.”

“That’s terrible,” he said.

“What? That’s not a good attitude,” I said. “Don’t you think we should try to improve children’s dental health in this state?”

“Sure I do,” he said, “but that’s not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry.”

“Why not?” I said. “It makes perfect sense to me.”

“Well, it’s so obvious,” he said. “Don’t you see that dentists don’t all work with the same clientele. So much depends on things we can’t control. For example,” he said, “I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don’t bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don’t get to do much preventive work.

“Also,” he said, “many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay.”.

“To top it all off,” he added, “so many of my clients have well water, which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?”

“It sounds like you’re making excuses,” I said. I couldn’t believe my dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job.

“I am not!” he said. “My best patients are as good as anyone’s. My work is as good as anyone’s, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most.”

“Don’t get touchy,” I said.

“Touchy?” he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth.

“Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. My more educated patients who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I’ll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?”

“I think you are overreacting,” I said. ” `Complaining, excuse making and stonewalling won’t improve dental health’ … I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC,” I noted.

“What’s the DOC?” he asked.

“It’s the Dental Oversight Committee,” I said, “a group made up of mostly laypersons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved.”

“Spare me,” he said. “I can’t believe this. Reasonable people won’t buy it,” he said hopefully.

The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, “How else would you measure

good dentistry?”

“Come watch me work,” he said. “Observe my processes.”

“That’s too complicated and time consuming,” I said. “Cavities are the bottom line, and you can’t argue with the bottom line. It’s an absolute measure.”

“That’s what I’m afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can’t be happening,” he said despairingly.

“Now, now,” I said, “Don’t despair. The state will help you some.”

“How?” he said.

“If you’re rated poorly, they’ll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out,” I said brightly.

“You mean,” he said, “they’ll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help.”

“There you go again,” I said. “You aren’t acting professionally at all.”

“You don’t get it,” he said. “Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score on a test of children’s progress without regard to influences outside the school: the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools.”

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. “I’m going to write my representatives and senator,” he said. “I’ll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point.”

He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.

==

Parents, please don’t fall for this; start attending board meetings; become active in the PTA; volunteer in your child’s school.  Be nosy; you’re a tax-payer and the school is obligated to answer legitimate questions.  If they tell you “. . . on average. . . .” tell them that you are not concerned about the “average;” you want to know specifically how many children are in your child’s third-grade classroom.  My daughter’s third-grade classroom – in one  of the country schools associated with a huge school system – had 37 children in it, while the town schools averaged 18.  One of the town schools had three third-grade classrooms, each with 12 students!  but “on average” everything looked great.  Demand specifics, NOT averages.  Class sizes are not secret, so if the school refuses to give you specifics, thank them and tell them you’ll call the newspaper office and ask them.  Schools, and in particular schools that are doing sneaky, shady things, fear publicity, so make sure you give them some.

No Child Left Behind is an insidious mistake that will not benefit anything or anyone.  It’s especially horrific for our gifted children.

If you understood how absurd the analogy of the dentist is, then you will understand how outrageously ridiculous NCLB is.

Our children deserve much better than to be regulated and knocked around by legislators, most of whom haven’t seen the inside of a public school classroom since the early 1960’s.  I am particularly offended by people who make policy for public schools while sending their own children to private schools.

As long as parents don’t darken the schoolhouse doors, though, the administration will do as they darn well please with our kids, and what they darn well please is to spend the least amount of money, put as many children in each classroom as possible, treat the teachers like scheisse, cater to the lowest common denominator, and listen only to those parents who make their voices heard.  And heaven help the teacher who tries to do anything to help the students that isn’t mandated; he/she will end up in the Rubber Room.

Stand up, parents.  Don’t put up with this idiocy.  Our brightest students are spending most of their school day sitting idly, waiting for the others to catch up.  The rest of their time is spent drilling and cramming for standardized tests.  Call your child’s school today, and ask about art, and music, and recess, and gifted programs, and inclusion policies.  Every child is a special child, and No Child Left Behind simply means No Child Advancing Forward.

P.S.  If you know who the dentist in the picture is, well, you’re just COOL and that’s all there is to it.

People say, You must have been the class clown. And I say, No, I wasn’t. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him.  — Dr. Pearl, Waiting for Guffman