EBD:  The Kiss of Death for a Child in Georgia

As an educator, I am always behind the times when it comes to my kids’ education.  I mean, I am in charge of 1800 of them, so when I get home, assisting with homework and, you know, talking to the little people about school, is a bit exhausting. I want to talk about other stuff, like being quizzed on football team names, or being trounced in a game of Uno by children in the single digit age range. What with dinner to be made,  baths to be taken, and all that, it’s kind of hard to keep up with what’s shaking in education from a parent’s perspective.

Flash forward (backward?) to an old article I recently read about The Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports ( GNETS), the alternative placement for little people who don’t make the cut in the traditional educational setting.  These are children who, for whatever reason, are missing out on some sort of behavioral more that the rest of the world of six year olds understand.  The majority of GNETS students are 3-10 years old.  Three years old! Who can be afraid of a kid who just recently got out of diapers?  The teachers.  The principal.  The school.  The county.  The state. Apparenlty, a squatty little kid who still has baby fat is a force not to be reckoned with.

So what does the school do?  The school slaps an Emotionally and Behaviorally Disordered (EBD) label on him and paperworks the kid right on out of traditional school,  shoving them into a setting that is frightening at best, and terrifying at worst.   Many of these children, predominantly Black and predominantly Male, are warehoused into a building or the hall of a building where they are restrained, secluded, and academically neglected.  Parents are pressured into believing that the school actually cares about the child and wants to help.  The nice lady at the eligibility team meeting states that “The Team” only wants what is best for the child.  So the school brings in a Behavioral Specialist, who makes more than the average teacher but does none of the leg work.  The “specialist” gives the teachers ten days of “specific data” to collect and waltzes off to the next meeting.

The teachers at this time can follow the data collection with 20 other little people in the room, or can, you know, do their best, and if Johnny pisses them off, they can fabricate the information fudge a little here or there to  make it look like Johnny truly is a menace to society ensure that Johnny gets the “help” he needs.   After all, there are 20 other cherubic little ones in the class, and some of them can’t read, so they really need help. Why waste time on a six year old who is bound for prison anyway? And the Behavioral Specialist?  S/he doesn’t check the fidelity of the data; doesn’t question the findings.   GNETS’ primary criteria for eligibility?  EBD.

Georgia, in all of its glory, is fighting vehemently to keep GNETS.  Georgia is throwing down the States Rights card so that Georgia can warehouse its students who have behavioral difficulties.  Georgia is going straight 1930s and throwing these children into the Millennial version of an institution.  “Don’t know how to handle them?  Put ‘em in GNETS! That’ll show those parents who don’t know how to raise them!”‘

So the parents, many of whom may not have the education to know what’s up, trust the school to do what is best for Johnny.  Two weeks after the EBD label and an IEP, Johnny is in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS).  Johnny is now, truly headed for prison because the school threw him away.  The school and the school system tossed him aside because he is difficult; he’s too challenging; he’s too angry; they don’t know what to do with him.

The school took a little boy, who once thought school was the best place ever, and placed him in a setting where the teachers are beaten down, worn out, and overworked.  They put him in a place where there is a 90% chance that he will never, ever, see a traditional classroom, participate in school sports, or be able to sit in circle time.

Here in Georgia, schools and school systems refuse to educate the teachers in the area of behavior.  What with all the impetus to raise test scores, and raise graduation rates (another smoke and mirrors for another time), locks some of the brightest students into a hellhole and throws away the key.  Besides, having too many conduct referrals affects CCRPI, now, doesn’t it?  Can’t have that on our school record.  Better to just get rid of the little buggers.

So what alternative do the parents have?  Many are unable to afford private school.  Some may not be able to home school due to financial restraints or because they are single parents.  So Johnny has to stay in an educational vacuum until he either drops out or gets schooled in prison.

Back in the day, I was an educator who vociferously defended the rights of many.  Now I’m a mom who needs for Georgia to assist the rights of a few who need attention.   Georgia has made great strides in the area of  including those who sturggle academically, yet it just can’t get its act together to help those who stuggle behaviorally.  Like the little ones who can’t read, there are little ones who can’t sit in a seat for hours, or who may get upset when they don’t understand something, or who may pay too much attention to what the teacher is saying and become anxious because they internalize more than others.  Or maybe, just maybe, the school gave up on them in kindergarten, and they know it.  Why not act like a tool?  No one cares any way.

It is imperative that the folks at the Dome look to these kids and help them just as much as the cherubic ones who may not do well academically.  No child deserves to be thrown away.  They’re children. They deserve more than a one way ticket to GNETS simply because they are behaviorally challenged.

Amendment One: Fail

I am tickled pink that Amendment One got a big, fat, red F. It failed, failed, I say! I’m sad the others passed, but that’s not the point of this piece.
This amendment crossed party lines in its proponents and its opponents.

The proponents appeared a bit paternalistic in their approach: “We know what is best for the poor black and brown children in Georgia, and their schools, their teachers, and their community members are simply sitting around on their asses, doing nothing but eating bon bons on taxpayer time.” Dealio even had the gall to go into a majority minority community and tell those folks in East Point that his was that of the great white hope, and if the OSD became reality, kids could graduate from high school, and then they could go to technical schools. He didn’t mention university, mind you.

The opponents seemed to be a bit more anarchist in their approach to defeat the amendment: “Get the government out of my school. I don’t trust you folks to pick your noses without making them bleed, let alone to educate my kid.” I could be wrong, but that was the vibe I got…

My take is a little different: We have this nebulous CCRPI metric, which changes every year. Last year, Schools can get points for graduation rates, test scores, teacher and parent surveys (Nice! Poke a mama bear, and that survey goes down the crapper). Fulton County has advisers set up to help the schools earn more points based on the ever changing scale. Advisers! It’s all a number game, folks. And it seems that the scale is changing so that more schools are failing…struggling…sorry Richard Woods (nice change in rhetoric after the fact, though).  So more schools got on the watch list as this amendment became more viable to the Opportunity School District. In fact, the amount of schools who were determined failing skyrocketed in 2016. One Hundred and forty two schools were added to the list of 2015’s 81. Almost a 200% increase in failing schools. DANG! Coincidence? Maybe. Probably not, though.

It was a grab for money and for power, and it failed, as it should have. I think the voters got this one right (I voted Libertarian, so I am exempt from any blame for TP in the WH).

Education: A 21st Century Crucible

witchuntAt the turn of the 17th Century, there was a witch hunt.  Men and women, mostly women, were rounded up and were made to prove that they were not what others accused them of.  Lots of tests, or crucibles, if you will, were put into place to see if someone was actually a witch, and all the sorceress had to do was to admit it, and she could spend the rest of her life as a devil worshipper.  A whisper from a child, a look from a neighbor, or an absence from a meeting became grounds for inquiry or tests.  To be convicted as a witch meant you lost your life.  To admit it and bear the stigma of devil worshipper meant that you lost everything but your life. Anyone who associated with that “witch” became suspect, so everyone stayed away.  A whisper could change everything…

In the 1950s, the McCarthy Trials were the witch hunt and the political upheaval of the time. Men and women, mostly men, were taken to the court of McCarthy and put on trial.  A whisper from a child, a look from a neighbor, or an absence from a meeting, and the Communist label becomes truth. mccarthy The McCarthy Trials were akin to the Salem Witch Trials.  One could deny it or admit it, but either way, the accused lost everything but his life.  Anyone who associated with that “communist” became suspect, so everyone stayed away.  A whisper could change everything…

The crucible is a vessel that is able to withstand violent chemical reactions, or a test or trial.  Education has become a crucible on many levels, but the one that has become the most used today is the test, the trial:  one where a student lays claim that a teacher said something, or did something, or wrote something.  There is an investigation, and even if the teacher is proven innocent, it is game…over.  A whisper from a child, and an educator’s career has effectively ended.   Even if he keeps his job, how will he be able to do his job with the stigma of being…a Witch? A Communist? An Activist? A Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, Republican-Democrat-Libertarian, Gay-Straight-Bi, Man-Woman-Mom-Dad-vegetarian-pescatarian-unapologetic carnivore…fill in the blank.

And anyone who associates with that teacher becomes suspect, too, so everyone stays away.  A whisper could change everything…

When a child accuses a teacher of something “unspeakable”, no matter what it may be, the teacher is in the crucible for the rest of his or her life, whether it is true or not true; whether the teacher is guilty or innocent. A whisper from a child, and a career is over.

A whisper…

Teachers? WE BLAME YOU!

Dear Teachers,

At the end of Teacher Appreciation week, I have three words for you:

Y’all all suck.  Schools?  Your suckage is beyond the pale.  School Systems?  You are the suck, suck, suckiest of all the sucks in the sucky education system in Georgia. The GADOE  and GOSA have done an exemplary job here with the state mandated testing, and the only reason that it didn’t go down well was YOUR FAULT!  WE BLAME YOU!

Disregard the fact that McGraw Hill is hiring folks without any educational background to grade the tests that are so masterfully put together.  If your kids don’t make the cut because a marketing major is assessing your students’ tests,  WE BLAME YOU!

Overlook the pesky detail of some elementary schools starting at 7:30 am.  Should you have an technical emergency, you will have to wait until the IT department in Central Time Zone gets to work at 9:00 am Georgia time.  If there’s a problem with the kids not testing in the mandated window of time, WE BLAME YOU!

Discount the entire day that McGraw Hill shut down its platform for “maintenance” and that it was shut down two days before high school testing began.  If you can’t come to work on a Sunday and make sure your plan to overcome our incompetence ensure the best testing experience ever, WE BLAME YOU!

Never mind that the entire testing platform is stupid challenging; you should be able to figure out, cut, and sort thousands of 2”x3” pieces of paper for online testing, not lose them, and make sure that kids don’t mistake this “secure item” for a place to spit out their gum.  The state wanted to save ink and paper! Printing four tickets to a page and leaving a half page blank is not your concern. The state and the millions of dollars spent on the fools/cronies  trusted government officials creating the tests know what is best;  however, if you lose one of those pieces of paper, or if a child does mistake that tiny piece of paper for his or her gum, you had better go through the trash and find it; otherwise, WE BLAME YOU!

Forget the fact that the Algebra and Geometry tests are 170 minutes long (not including instructions, passing out and taking back materials), and a student with accommodations can take up to 5.6 hours for these tests and that the school day is seven hours long.  WE BLAME YOU!

Fail to note when the computer systems went down;  you should have had an even better plan, an even better solution to overcome the state mandates handed down to you.  Even though the testing platform went down for an hour or so here and there, teachers and schools are expected to test within the window that the state provides, and if the child with the 5.6 hour test is unable to do so because the platform goes down, WE BLAME YOU!

When Johnny is sitting at a test for those 5+ hours and doesn’t get to even go to lunch, but must have it delivered to him because his leaving the test site is against policy?  Well, you better make sure he eats, but quickly, because he has to take the test in the days provided by the state. It doesn’t matter that Johnny has another test the next day that could take the same amount of time.  And if Johnny doesn’t do well after testing for those 5+ hours, you have done a poor job of overcoming the achievement gap. WE BLAME YOU!

Schools:  Your planning around all that could and did go wrong with testing was too little, too late, and could never make up for all of the testing company’s idiocy strategy and the state’s mishaps flawless implementation of said idiocy strategy.  WE BLAME YOU, TOO!


Governor Deal, The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), and the GADOE.


Parents:  We blame you for nothing…ever. We think that your ability to play ostrich with understand high stakes testing is great!  We like it that you are calling the schools and blaming them for our their incompetence.


Legislators, we blame you for nothing, either.  Really, voting on having three hour tests for third graders under the misplaced assumption that longer=more difficult?  It’s fabulous.  Really it is!  It’s the teachers’ faults that the kids are struggling with the tests.  It has nothing to do with the short testing window, the long tests, or the incompetent brilliant testing company.


Richard Woods, we blame you for nothing, either; you’re off in the great blue skies of Georgia doing…something.

Bring Back the D!

D -
Ah, memories!

Wow!  Lookee here inside of this blog.  It’s been a while…I’ve been testing.

While I was testing, emails were flying around about credit recovery, summer school, virtual credit recovery for students who were failing a class or who failed a class, and these kids need to graduate (not that I was checking my email during testing; that’s wrong, wrong, I say).

“Our College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCCRPI-the nebulous CCRPI) score needs it!  Our school needs it!  These kids need it!  Our graduation rate depends on it! We’re all doomed if we don’t get these kids help!”

All this hysteria got me to thinkin’ bout things.  It got to thinkin’ bout how much money schools spend on repeat and recovery classes.  Then I got to thinkin’ bout how many kids need them.  THEN I got to thinkin’ bout who these kids were.

A while back during the great rush to be Georgia School Superintendent, one of the seventeen hundred candidates in the clown car for the GOP nomination had this idea to lower the passing cut score for classes…I forget which one it was, as there were a lot of clowns in that car.  To pass a class in Georgia, a child has to earn a 70%.  I thought it was stupid when they made that law in the nineties, but I think a lot of things are stupid, so I rolled with it.  I’m sure the thought process was that Georgia was raising expectations.  I guess the folks down at the DOE didn’t think through the repercussions, but they never do, really.


Because I’m like a rabid pit bull when I “get to thinkin’ about things”, I ran some data to see how many of these kids at my school failed classes, what classes they failed, and with what grade they failed.

Ninety four percent (94%) of the students who failed did so with a 62 or greater.  Ninety four! All of those kids were placed in some kind of recovery class or some kind of online computer class if they are seniors; the underclassmen are given summer school, for free.  This takes time, it takes energy, it takes teachers, and it takes the cost of computer education software. All that equals money, lots of money, money that could be used for instruction.

Now before you get all uppity and edusnotty, saying that we are lowering the standards in our schools, I suggest you go back to the second and third paragraphs of this little here post.  We are spending millions on kids to take a short test to pass a class that they failed with an, oh, I don’t know, 68%? And  what’s wrong with not being exemplary in everything?  I sucked at math, but I muddled along with my D, graduated, and became the stellar blogger you see here. My life was not ruined with my D in Algebra II.  And for those who care, Calculus was not offered to the likes of me in the eighties, but in today’s educational world, all students  are expected to take it.

And before you continue with your high falutin’ standards, I suggest you look to our brand new Georgia Owned and Georgia Grown Tests, where the real scores were so bad, we lowered the cut scores, which we swore we would never do.  Then look to our neighbor states to the west and south who have higher grad rates than Georgia (Alabama and Florida), and they pass kids with a 65.  And while we are on it, why can’t we have a grade that all but states, “He’s a nice kid and a bright kid, but should never consider math as a career?”  Why can’t a 65 be good enough?  A 65% is good enough in all states that have graduation rates higher than ours. Iowa and Vermont, the  top two highest grad rates in the country, have a 60% pass rate (I was thinkin’ bout that, so I looked it up).

So!  All five of you who read this, I’m hoping maybe one of you is in with the cool kids at the capitol and can pass along The Mensa’s thoughts:  If Georgia really wants to raise graduation rates and save money all at the same time, bring back the D.

And get rid of all these tests for these youngins.  My AMEX shopping bill is directly proportional to how many I proctor…KIDDING…maybe.

Young Harold Hills in Education

Think men....thinkI’ve been in the education biz for 23 years.  Now that I have officially called myself out for being really old, I have a point to make.  What is UP with districts hiring educational experts who have little to no classroom experience?  We got a bunch of Harold Hills coming into school districts with really nothing more than pretty talk, big ideas, and “The Think System”.

Doctors put in a bajillion hours of field experience, and lawyers work like dogs and tote partners’ brief cases for three to five years before they get a good case.  Business men and CEOs, accountants and others really do pay their dues before they are afforded the corner office with a window.  Even the McDonalds worker has to run the cash register and empty trash before s/he goes into middle management.

Somehow, though, someone decided that school and district leaders don’t really need that.  Someone decided that theory was enough; that The Think System is really going to work in closing the achievement gap.  That’s all it is, too: theory not steeped in practice because no one sticks around long enough to actually make the plan or the practice work. But that is the trend.  Spend, oh, I don’t know, three years in the classroom, and you are qualified to run a school.  And after you run that school for, oh I don’t know, three years, you are then qualified to run a school district, and not even a small one.

Fulton County Schools is doing just that, hiring a superintendent from Oregon with three years classroom experience…in one school and at one grade level.  This guy, Dr. Jeff Rose, is taking the helm at the second largest school district in the state of Georgia with three years classroom experience.  And he’s been hired to close the achievement gap with those three years of experience…in one school and at one grade level. I wonder what Alvin Wilbanks, the patriarch of Georgia Superintendents, thinks about this.

I haven’t asked Dr. Wilbanks, but I’m wary.  No, I’m reticent.  When I was coming up, the principal’s job was something that was awarded teachers who did their time, were excellent in content and pedagogy, and who were steeped in the community.  That’s where the best teachers, who did their time, went to die.  They had the experience in the classroom to understand that teaching is hard, and kids are different.  They had the experience in the schools to know that some parents are just more difficult than others, and the experience to know that some teachers can be straightened out with a stern conference, not a letter of direction.  They knew that central office was only for those who retired and were wooed back from retirement into the fold.  They had the experience to see education for what it is, warts and all.

Nowadays, counties are hiring these young pups who have little to no classroom experience and the same degree pedigree that I have, except my degrees came from real live universities (they didn’t have online education back in the day…and the Broad Institute for Superintendents is sketchy…sketchy I say!).

How are these youngins going to know the ropes or deal with the real life things that happen in school?  How can anyone without boots on the ground, nights in trenches, late practices, rehearsals, mock trials, rivalry games, or open houses know what it’s like in education?  They don’t. They think they do.  They have the theory, the think system.  They come in, make grandiose promises, and then high tail it out of town for the next Professor Hill to come in with a new plan, some new system, with little experience, and with no plans to stick around.

And the achievement gap remains.  And the kids still suffer from grown folk Harold Hills and hubris.

Teach Your Children Well


Last week, my boy child brought home a flier in his very boy backpack (i.e.: smelly, unorganized, with snacks from before Christmas in there) about bullying and a school-wide effort to stop it.  After smoothing the flier out and flicking jelly off of it, we sat down at dinner to discuss what bullying. We talked about using our kind words and gentle hands and feet; we discussed that everyone is different and special…yes, even his sister.

The next morning I heard a voice from the television that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  I wasn’t sure if it was Sponge Bob or The Donald, as both have the same effect on me.  So I go to the source, and it’s a news piece depicting some pretty heavy vitriol from The Donald.  The television went off immediately.

After some bickering about being allowed to watch the news on weekdays, I had to explain that it wasn’t appropriate viewing for said weekday.   A pair of big brown eyes looked at me, and a precious little mouth said, “Is Donald Trump going to get in trouble?  I got sent to Mrs. Winters’ office for not using my kind words.  She fussed at me forever! What’S HE gonna get?”

Parenting moment number 875,000 that’s not in books:  How to explain the horrid behavior of an adult who wants to lead the free world but doesn’t use his kind words?  I told my boy that Mr. Trump may not get into trouble like kids do, but that his words would come back to haunt him. “How will that happen?”  I had no idea.  “I’ll get back to you on this, okay?”

The more I thought about my boy’s questions and the actions of the men who want to be the Grand Old Party nominee, the less sage advice I had.  All I could think of was that these men are ruining our kids! And I was party to it by allowing them to watch the news.

We preach being kind, but these guys are bashing each other.

We have no tolerance for violence in our schools, but the news is filming adults hitting each other over politics.

We ask that our kids be kind, but they see adults hurling insults at each other like the neighborhood boys in a pissing match.

I never, in all of my life, would have thought that having my children watch political newscasts would turn into a moral lesson on being kind. I understand music videos, violent movies, and all the other stuff that we shield our kids from, but a political debate???

All of them need to be sent to Mrs. Winters’ office for a stern talking to because they are breaking all the rules that we teach our children in school and in life. We have moved from the POTUS being a position of class and deportment to being a position of thug, to a classless schoolyard brawl, to a debate on the size of one’s penis.

Children hear this, and they see this.  How can any of these Republican Candidates even take themselves seriously if a six year old thinks they are a bunch of bullies who need to be sent to the principal? So I called Mrs. Winters; maybe she can help get these boys in line.


Ah, March!  The trees are blooming, the grasses are greening, the azaleas are getting ready to pop, and the dogwoods are budding. There is nothing more beautiful to me than spring in Georgia. But now I have little people, and with the pretty stuff comes the really ugly stuff.  Testing Season (n):  that time of year when all learning stops, when kids have to be quiet all the time, when the “drill and kill” begins, and when students, teachers, and parents shed many tears and gnash many teeth.

There has been so much demand for teacher accountability and teacher blood, really, that our legislators have literally thrown the baby out with the bathwater when it comes all these tests and what they do do to our students and their love of learning.  Does testing make teachers accountable?  Maybe. I believe it shames them more than makes them accountable.  Does it do anything to instill the love of learning in our kids?  Not. At. All. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it makes them hate school.

I believe that on any given day, teachers are doing the best that they can with the materials they are given (students are materials in this, too…blah blah blah; they are).  There are some children who wake up on the morning of test day, pencils sharpened, with visions of sitting for hours on end so they can click some buttons on a test that has not been proven reliable; I haven’t met any of these fine children yet, and I doubt I will.  They may exist…somewhere.

But, what happens if a normal child wakes up and feels badly?  What happens if the alarm goes off late, and the whole house is in chaos just to catch the bus?  What if the milk went bad, the dog is sick, the grandparent is sick, or, god forbid, the parent is sick? What if the goldfish, Sushi, died?  All of these things affect how a child performs on a test, which, in turn, affects how the teacher is evaluated.  And this doesn’t include the apathetic testers like the ones borne to me.

Some personal experience as to how a child can skew ruin a lovely teacher’s test average:  See, the girl child is what educators call “average”.  YES!  MY KID IS AVERAGE.  She’s in the 50th percentile in just about everything when she takes her tests seriously.  When she doesn’t, she pops down between the 2nd percentile and the fourteenth percentile (meaning that pretty much everyone in the free world is doing better than my kid is).  And her poor teacher, who I believe to be one of the best teachers I’ve encountered, is going to be punished because my changeling child may or may not take the test seriously.  There aren’t any repercussions for my kid, either.  Summer school?  Excellent!  Free day care!  That may prove to her that she should try harder next time, but as the wind blows, so does her apathy, and she may decide this summer that she’s not interested in trying then, either.

Who gets punished? The teacher! The student should be punished, really, with those nasty natural consequences, but the state of Georgia won’t punish the kids; they just want to punish the teachers. “The parents vote,” they say (I think they forgot about that little piece of voting in the 90s when Roy Barnes was all but tarred and feathered, but I digress).

While we ponder on testing variables, unreliability, and apathetic fifth graders, we could also bring up the fact that America spends 1.7 BILLION DOLLARS on testing.  That is a boat load of a lot of zeros.  In fact, if we took all that accountability blood money and divided it by all of the states, we would have 34 Million in Georgia’s coffers.  So there’s all this money tied up in testing, and for what?  So that my kid can decide whether to take the test seriously or not?  So that we can put a Scarlet F on teacher certificates and publicly shame them?

I’d just as soon take some Claritin and go outside…with my little people…and let them play the way little people should play.

In Defense of Common Educational Standards (Common Core, if you will)

Common Core Cartoon

It will probably come as a bit of a surprise that the libertarian leaning (little L, please) Mensa Dropout is writing on the strengths of common educational standards. Here’s the thing with standards:  they are just standards.  Standards are different than curriculum, and curriculum is different than instruction.

Common Core Standards, or here in Georgia, Georgia Standards of Excellence (same stuff; different name, and we paid lots of money for that different name) are just that: standards.

Education has a three part thing going: simply put, education is how we teach what we teach to get to what we want our kids to know or do.

Standards are what we want our kids to know and do at a certain level in their education.

Curriculum is what we teach to reach those standards.

Instruction is how we teach the curriculum to get to the standards.

Below is an example from Common Core 5th Grade (I would like to point out that GSE has the exact same standard on page 33…just sayin’):

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

There’s our Standard:  Students will be able to identify figurative language.  There is a writing component to it where we can up the ante and have students create a piece with figurative language in it.

How DARE we teach kids about metaphors and similes!

So the Curriculum is what venue we use to teach this:  definitions, flash cards, examples, short snippets from speeches, poems, stories, etc., or for the more traditional worksheet kinda person, well, a worksheet.

Can we use The Bible to read and identify figurative language?  Sure!  Can we use an excerpt from Mein Kempf?  Absolutely!  Or we could go middle of the road, and teach a little poem like “Sleep”, which is by a white female writer who was born in Victorian England, in case anyone wants to accuse me of communist brainwashing with my choice of poem.

Instruction is how we teach it:  small groups, giving more complex or less complex poems or speeches to students depending on their reading level or language acquisition.  Listening to the poem, reading the poem, guided reading and response to identify metaphors and similes…sorry; went total educational wonk right there.

Why is there so much antipathy for Common Standards?  I’m not sure. The only argument against standards that I hear is really an argument against the curriculum, not the standards.  It’s important that we understand the difference between the two.  My main argument for standards is our society is pretty transient, and kids move a lot more than they did when I was a kid. Nowadays, younguns may change schools four or five times in their lives.  Is there a reason why the child should be punished because the parents move a lot?  Shouldn’t we all be teaching close to the same standard around or about the same time so that if Transient Johnny does move in his fifth grade year from Kansas to California, he won’t be totally lost or, even worse, completely bored?

The fight over Common Core appears to me to be a fight between grown folks, and it’s the little ones who are caught in the middle and who are punished.   It’s like having divorced parents fighting over what is best simply because they want to be in charge…and the kids always, always lose.

Keep the standards; change the curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of the local community. Put the kids first because they are the ones who will be choosing our healthcare and old folks’ homes.




And Then They Came for Me: Thoughts on House Bill 757

I believe in freedom of speech.  I believe it is the First Amendment for a reason.  I believe that people can and should be able to speak their minds, even if I find them to be assholes.  My definition of assholedom is different than others, and I consider “In Your Face” people to be the ultimate assholes. I am NOT politically correct, nor do I aspire to be; the two little people in my world will be handed over to my best friend and his husband if my spouse and I get hit by the same bus/train/car/white supremacist (it’s in our will); I go to church regularly, and I believe that being a Christian means loving everyone, including assholes; I believe that businesses should be able to serve or not serve anyone they want to serve or not serve based on anything that those businesses feel are against their moral compass. I’m just a walking dichotomy, and proud to be one, although many find my dichotomies tedious.

All of that said, I am against House Bill 757, The Religious Freedom Bill that is floating around in Georgia. My friend, Daniel, says that it would be fine if it were an “Economic Freedom Bill” because then everyone would be on the same footing (an equal opportunity discrimination bill, if you will).  My spouse says that money is green, and although Chik-fil-A is against the marriage of same sex couples, he is pretty sure that they won’t deny two women holding hands a biscuit if their money is green. I believe that people should and will choose to boycott specific places based on their convictions (even if the biscuit is THAT good).

But we get into some murky water with all the what-ifs and suppose-thats.  I’m not interested in our government in my bedroom or in my bible.  I’m not sure that I want the government to be in my life at all, really, and I fear that this bill, if taken to the extreme (and there are always extremists) could turn into a discrimination legislation the likes of which we witnessed with the Jim Crow Laws here not too long ago, the likes of which we witnessed in Germany, the likes of which we see in other countries today.

If Georgians want to continue to grow this state economically, then I think our legislators need to rethink this bill because we never know when they will come for me or you…

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

                                                                                                                  ~Martin Niemoller