Archive for Education

More Unintended Consequences, or Sucks To Be Me!

You know, I’m simultaneously amused and appalled by rules that are written by clueless people that have never been in our situation (i.e., classrooms with behaviorally and/or mentally-challenged children).

The state restrictions are fairly reasonable and we can live with them. The county folks then go completely nuts in their interpretation and get much more restrictive to the point that, if we follow their guidelines to the letter, we’d be immediately fired. If we don’t follow their guidelines, of course, we could be immediately fired. So, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Especially since they say orally that the written restrictions are a guideline and we should use our own judgment, which is bureaucratese for “If the parent sues because you went contrary to our written guidelines, you will be unemployed AND have to defend against an expensive lawsuit and perhaps prison time. Sucks to be you!” If a child is injured because we followed the guidelines to the letter, then “But obviously this was a judgment call, and you were supposed to exhibit good judgment! Therefore, you are unemployed and will face an expensive lawsuit. Sucks to be you!”


Every kind of restraint* that we employ has to have several copies of documentation about the incident sent out to all sorts of bureaucrats on the local, state and Federal level, as well as to parents documenting the incident(s). Long, long forms. If there are several incidents in a day, well, there goes the day (and the evening). You think the school/administration isn’t going to penalize a teacher (with a lot of demon-infested children dumped in the class) that has to do a lot of restraints to keep them from murdering each other? If the teacher decides to ignore the behavior so that he/she isn’t in form hell with administration, parents and lawyers scrutinizing the paperwork for possible violations and lawsuits, there goes learning for the rest of the class. Then it is basically a daycare center for large, LARGE children. Of course, if learning gains do not take place, they’ll be (wait for it!) fired. If the teacher doesn’t restrain a violent student and another student is harmed, he/she will be fired and no doubt will face a juicy lawsuit.

The teachers are divided on what to do. The ones without a lot of time invested into the field are looking into career changes; the ones with lots of time in that are getting close to retirement are basically saying “I’m too old for this shit, I’m gonna let the police handle it”.

Letting the police handle it is probably the best option, but it sure is going to piss off the parents.

And lest you think that I’m kidding, there actually are parents that pick their child up from daycare or a babysitter, then take their children home, take their clothing off, and photograph the child for any unexplained marks. Kids run and play. We just don’t know where every mark came from, since we don’t strip ’em down and photograph them at any time of day. We don’t KNOW what the kid was doing at the daycare center.

*A “restraint” can be as complicated as a person with specialized training holding an extremely violent child who has been hurling computers and desks gently and securely against a well-padded mat on the floor with the assistance of two other certified and trained people, to a simple thing like catching a child’s hands that are in the process of striking another child and removing him/her from the scene, to using one’s hands on one child to release another child from an overenthusiastic hug that is choking him/her. They all have to be painstakingly reported. In the past, we’d only report the first incident. Things like the second and third incident happen multiple times per day.

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“The Worst President In My Lifetime”

Be sure and watch Howard Davidowitz tell it like he sees it.

Then follow up with “A Gigantic Ponzi Scheme: Lies and Fraud”. It is a massive indictment of the government regulators who have done nothing to regulate and everything to assist the looting of institutions. Their new “financial regulations” do nothing of the kind.

More Davidowitz! My favorite saying on there is “Everything the government runs is broke; we’re putting in more government to run things!”

Thanks to The Market Ticker Forum for bringing this to our attention.

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The School Year is Quickly Coming to an End

Lots of work at home and school still remaining, plus SwampMan is getting his cast tomorrow that he’ll be wearing for the next 4 to 6 weeks. There probably won’t be a lot of blogging done for the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’m warily keeping an eye on the Korean situation, the Israel/Iran situation, the European banking situation, and the hurricane season situation. Any one of those situations is, IMO, enough to crash the world markets. Damnit, I wish I had more time to put into gardening, but livestock is what I do best.

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Oh! Okay!

I was in a room outside the bathrooms that separated our classroom from the next in order to read a quiet story to my lil’ Down’s syndrome charge and review his sight words when a person started talking over the intercom.

He quickly jumped behind me and then pulled me down beside him on the mat.

“Ghost!” he mouthed into my ear, barely audible, and pulled me closer. If that ghost was going to be combative, by golly, she would have trouble flying away with both of us.

“It’s not a ghost, it’s like a class telephone”, I attempted to explain.

He glared at me and hissed “GHOST!” Luckily he doesn’t know the word “dumbass”, or I’m sure that would have been used as well. It was certainly implied.

“It isn’t a bad ghost, it’s a very nice lady ghost that lives in our classroom”, I explained.

“Oh! Okay!” And that was the end of that. We went back to our Dr. Seuss book and finished our sight words.

I wonder if all the time that he has been in school, he has been worried about ghosts in the classroom? It was certainly a logical choice to make regarding disembodied voices that seem to be originating from the ceiling.

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Parents File Lawsuit Against State of Florida Schools

From First Coast News:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — State educators have been slapped with a lawsuit from parents, and even students. The lawsuit claims Florida public school are not properly educating children, something lawmakers and educators disagree with.

The right to an education is something Eunice Barnum of Jacksonville believes is being denied to many youngsters in her community and across the state.

“There are children who cannot read, even though they are in elementary school,” said Barnum, who is the guardian for two children attending school on the Northside.

Barnum and the children are named in the lawsuit filed against the Florida State Board of Education.

The lawsuit claims too many children are failing crucial tests and dropping out. It also points to disparities in education between Caucasians, Hispanics, and African Americans.

“I live it everyday. I help people. I see the evidence of when you do not educate them and they have to hang on street corners and cannot get employed,” said Barnum.

Senator Stephen Wise chairs the Education Committee and said students are getting a fair education. He believes the lawsuit will do more harm than good.

“We are to going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit by the State of Florida, which could go into dollars for young people,” said Wise.

Florida Education Commissioner Eric Smith is also named in the lawsuit.

He said, “It’s unfortunate that this lawsuit diminishes the significant progress that has been made by our children over the last decade and simply ignores the performance of a state that is clearly outpacing the nation. Our African-American and Hispanic students have experienced unprecedented academic improvements and have significantly narrowed the achievement gap in Florida, our graduation rate has steadily improved, and state and national assessments all show tremendous progress. I believe Florida’s education system has achieved incredible results that clearly speak for themselves and are not represented in this complaint.”

However, Barnum stands firm, and said something has to change the state’s public schools.

“Year after year, generation after generation, the failure among African American students finally gets
addressed,” said Barnum.

Unh huh. Personal responsibility, helping children with their homework, and making sure that they are sent to school ready to learn has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Contrary to this woman’s expectation, there are not separate lesson plans for the black and white kids. The black and white kids go to the same schools and are taught the same subjects, but somehow it is the fault of the school when black students do not achieve or learn to read. Guess what? The children that achieve have parents that believe in education and are actively involved in the educational process.

If the person initiating the lawsuit is the “guardian” for two kids attending school on the northside, where are the parents of those children? The heart of the matter here has always been parental responsibility. You cannot tell me that the elderly woman who initiated the lawsuit and evidently expects the children to sit there passively and have knowledge pumped into their head without helping the children or overseeing their homework is a good substitute for a functional family.

Instead of blaming the schools, maybe she ought to take a good look at herself and her family, and at her neighbors. That is where the problem lies. Personal responsibility. If your children are not learning to read, then you step in and teach them. If your children are having problems with math, then you help them. I taught my 4-year-old son to read with Dr. Seuss books.

People such as this woman apparently believe white kids (or Asian kids, or kids of any nationality that achieve) get special grades just for showing up. Homework and industry has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Lady, it doesn’t matter WHAT schools those children you reference as standing about on street corners are in. Until those children are in a culture where doing homework is valued over standing on street corners, the results will be the same.

On the day this news story broke, I saw a black man with his son in the grocery store. The young man was dressed in a school uniform, neatly pressed. Daddy was questioning him about his history test. “I got an ‘A’, daddy!” he said.

“Unh huh. I know how you studied for that test and you were lucky. You can’t expect that luck to last. Luck comes to people that work hard for it, and nothing but trouble comes to people that are lazy.”

That is a young man that won’t be standing around on a street corner waiting for a job to fall off a truck and hit him.

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Texas Special Ed Teacher Stabbed to Death by Troubled Student

TYLER – Todd Henry’s phone call was chilling, Mitch Shamburger would later recall. His friend had an instinct for trouble.

A bear of a man, Henry had worked in prisons and now taught kids with behavioral issues at John Tyler High School. He was seldom rattled. Yet Shamburger, a Smith County justice of the peace, could hear the worry in his friend’s voice.

Henry described a student in his special-education class with a menacing vibe. The student was a “Katrina kid” – shorthand for New Orleans transplants blown into Tyler by Hurricane Katrina.

“This kid – he’s got serious problems,” Henry told Shamburger. “If somebody doesn’t do something, soon, this kid is going to kill somebody.”

The JP recalls advising his friend to document his concerns and alert his bosses. Henry said he already had.

Days later, on the morning of Sept. 23, Todd Henry, who was 50, lay bleeding to death in classroom A23 of John Tyler High. In the hallway outside, a wraith of a boy named Byron was hustled away to face charges of stabbing his teacher in the heart with a butcher knife. A Texas Education Agency spokesman says it is the first teacher slaying in a Texas classroom that anyone in the agency can recall.

Smith County prosecutors are considering whether to ask to try the 16-year-old as an adult. He’s being held as a juvenile, so his court files are sealed. The Dallas Morning News is not using Byron’s family name because the newspaper generally does not publish names of juvenile defendants.

Troubling descent

Records and information from Byron’s family and others familiar with him, from public sources and from people close to the ongoing murder investigation, offer a portrait of a long spiral into mental illness and violence. Byron’s lawyer and others say the case spotlights deficiencies in how Texas handles its most disturbed and violent juvenile offenders.

Byron’s mother says her youngest son was first diagnosed with problems in kindergarten. By 12, she says, Byron had been in mental hospitals in Texas and Louisiana. At 14, he was in a Smith County juvenile lockup and then in a Texas juvenile prison for stabbing his sister with a steak knife.

TYC often held him in isolation and at one point sent him to a state mental hospital. He was diagnosed schizophrenic and psychotic and transferred to the state’s most acute mental health facility for juvenile offenders. Last July, the agency declared Byron too disturbed for reform school. TYC sent Byron home to his mother without parole or treatment plans, according to records the family released to The News.

In mid-August, Byron was arrested again for marijuana possession and Tyler police tried to return him to jail. He was released to his mother because Smith County’s juvenile detention center refused to take him back, according to a police report.

Even Byron’s mother says he shouldn’t have been in Henry’s classroom. He sees and hears things other people don’t, she says, and he needs help. Henry was a caring teacher, she says, and Byron regrets “what all he did. He said, ‘Mom, just tell everybody that I’m sorry.’ ”

If you will read the complete story, you will see that the boy was deemed too disturbed for reform school, a place that can handle violent offenders a lot better than the public school system. The youth correction center refused to take him back when he was rearrested because he was too violent. His mother tried to get help through a mental health center, to no avail. Then he was sent to public school to a teacher that could get no information on his past record, but who feared that this was a very dangerous kid. One day he walked up to his teacher, who was speaking to another student, pulled out a concealed knife, and stabbed him in the heart in a completely unprovoked attack.

*sigh* A training class I attended last week pointed out that if a disturbed child pulls out a knife or gun, we try to get the other kids to safety and do not try to disarm the child. (I work with the same type of children, albeit smaller; this information was for the junior high and high school teachers.) The children will be happy, happy children who will suddenly head butt, bite, kick, strangle, hit with fists or with a chair or desk, and otherwise commit mayhem upon anybody that happens to be near them, whether adults or other students. Sometimes they will calmly traverse a room in order to engage in an unprovoked attack. Personnel in the room always have to be alert and on guard because dropping that situational awareness for just a few seconds will get themselves or others hurt. Since nobody can be on high alert all the time, we all have scars. Unfortunately, we don’t get combat pay. As you might expect, there’s a pretty big turnover in personnel.

We are going to have to return to placing very dangerous, disburbed individuals in mental hospitals for life for their own and public safety. Putting this very disturbed kid on trial as an adult with a possible death row appointment because the system put him into a place that he shouldn’t have been in to begin with doesn’t seem like a good solution to me. Putting the teacher in harm’s way like that was also completely wrong, and I hope his wife is able to sue the crap out of the state of Texas for killing her husband because that is exactly what they did. That student tried to kill his own sister. He was a walking bomb waiting to detonate.

Perhaps special education teachers should be given a stipend to buy body armor. It would have saved this teacher’s life.

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Communication Disorder Fixes

My former daughter in law called me Friday evening, fuming. She babysits a little kindergarten boy before and after school whose speech is difficult to understand, but he can speak. He also has difficulty with hand control and cannot master the normal kindergarten skills of forming legible letters, numbers, coloring, or cutting with scissors. He is the youngest child in the family.

His mother is a divorced mother of three who works long hours to support the family. She has no idea about how to help the child speak more clearly. She barely has time to get home, fix dinner, and attend to evening chores.

FDIL was unhappy because the school solution to child’s difficulty speaking was that he should learn sign language.

“WHY DON’T THEY JUST TEACH HIM CHINESE? It would probably be more useful because BILLIONS of people speak Chinese. Unfortunately, none of them live here. So I’ll pick him up after school and ask him about his homework, and he’ll sign to me? How will I know what he’s saying? I don’t sign and neither does his family! Whatever happened to helping children learn to make sounds correctly like they did when I was in school?”

I feel her pain. I’m supposed to be teaching sign language to my little communication-impaired charges even though I am not adept in sign language. I’ve never been to a sign language class. Oh, sure, I know my letters but have to think about them (they do not come automatically). I know a few signs for things like play, stand up, sit down, look at me, I love you, bathroom, various food items, some animals, some colors, and some family members. I’m gradually trying to add words as I remember to look them up (and can remember them).

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Market Ticker Had One Great Address To the Schoolchildren of America!

My Fellow Americans.

Today you heard from our President, Barack Obama. Some of your parents voted for him, and most of the rest of the country voted for his opponent, John McCain.

What you heard from President Obama today was a plea for you to pay attention in school and finish your education.

What you did not hear from President Obama today was that your government, together with your school, has refused to provide you with the knowledge necessary for you to understand what has happened to this nation and its economy over the last 30 years.

This is not an accident.

In math class you are taught “the power function”, which you think of as squares, cubes, and similar. It is written as 4^2, or, expanded, as 4 x 4.

But what you’re not taught is how this applies to finance, even though every household and every American has their own financial challenges, and every person in America should understand how finance works.

Neither Republican or Democrat wants you to see this graph. This is how much each American, from 1970 to today, is in debt because of our government’s policies:

2009’s “fiscal year” (that is, the year for accounting purposes) doesn’t close until the end of this month. But as of today, this graph is correct (and will only get worse in the next three weeks.)

Let me be clear: In the last two years your mother, father, school teacher, grandma and grandpa have stuck each and every American with $10,000 in personal debt, and since 2000 the amount of debt you have had forced upon you has doubled.

This debt was forced upon you not because of the need to defend this country from a foreign invader such as occurred on December 7th 1941 or because of the War on Terrorism, but rather because a bunch of greedy men and women on Wall Street and Washington DC, both Democrat and Republican, lied, cheated and stole money from ordinary Americans for more than a decade.

You have undoubtedly been taught that stealing is wrong, and indeed, that if you steal you can go to jail. But you need to understand that the law applies only to “little people” like you. If you work on Wall Street, own a fancy suit and private airplane, and steal millions and millions of dollars from people worldwide, instead of going to jail you will be rewarded with a huge bonus and be able to buy a really big boat, while the cost of your stealing will be forced on the children – and unborn – throughout America.

That’s you, by the way.

You need to understand that this is not a “Democrat” or “Republican” thing. Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans in Washington DC know about this and both are equally responsible for letting it happen. Both Democrats and Republicans voted for a law called “TARP” and allowed The Federal Reserve to take actions over the last two years that were responsible for you having to pay that extra $10,000. They voted for this law even though ordinary Americans just like you told them not to vote for it – in fact, for every person who called their offices or sent an email to tell them to vote “yes”, 100 people called, faxed or emailed and told them to vote “no”.

They voted “Yes” anyway and as a result you must pay that $10,000 in the future, whether you want to or not, so that those who robbed, cheated and stole can have their yacht and your parents can lose their house to foreclosure.

President Bush signed that law and President Obama refused to step in and stop it when he became President. President Bush is a Republican and President Obama is a Democrat. Do not be deceived – both major political parties are equally responsible for this outrage – and for forcing you to pay.

The worst part of the graph above is that this is not all of the debt you must pay. In fact your “share” of the debt is five times what’s shown on that graph.

That’s right my fellow Americans – you are in debt for more than $200,000 – each and every one of you, including every school child in America.


Because our government is lying about how much everyone owes. See, our government has promised everyone free medical care and free retirement money. But our government doesn’t have the money to pay for that, since every penny that the government has must come from either borrowing or taxing, and the government isn’t forced to follow the law when it comes to honest accounting – that is, honest math.

When you cheat on your math test in school you get an “F”.

But when the government cheats on its math they get re-elected, because our schools refuse to teach students just like you how math applies to finance, and as a result 95% of Americans don’t understand that they’re being screwed to the tune of $200,000 each.

That’s because the schools are run by the government, and for that reason the government controls what you learn – and what you don’t.

Our debt is supposedly $11 trillion dollars. But the money the government must have in the future to pay for those free benefits, Social Security and Medicare, doesn’t exist. The former Comptroller of the Currency of America (that’s a fancy word for the chief guy who keeps track of the books), David Walker, has said that the real debt is more than $53 trillion dollars, or almost five times what you see in the graph above.

Why was this allowed to happen?

It really is quite simple:

They’re big, and you’re small. They’re right, and you’re wrong.

Just because they said so.

While you were out playing in the back yards and playgrounds of America both Democrats and Republicans were making promises they could not keep. Instead of raising taxes right now for whatever they wanted to promise they instead decided to send you the bill, and your parents went along with it.

So when you come home from school this afternoon say “Thanks” to your Mom, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma for selling you into slavery.

For obligating you to pay for the stealing that has gone on for nearly ten years on Wall Street and in Washington DC.

For allowing those very same lies to cost your family (or that of someone you know and love) their house, their job, and their future.

And finally, make sure you thank your Teachers and Principal for not teaching you the math you need to be able to understand what is really going on with your government, so you don’t get mad enough to put a stop to it – or demand that your parents do so.

After all, they’re right and you’re wrong.

They’re big and you’re small.

They, including your school teachers, principals and school boards, won’t teach you about how math applies to all of this, because if they did, they couldn’t lie to you any more and you might revolt (quite literally) – either now or later.

So sit back and enjoy your childhood; your time to become a slave, when you leave school and start having to pay that $200,000 by having it taken from you in the form of taxes will be here soon enough.

Wall Street and the politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, thank you for quietly accepting your role as a slave to pay for their yachts, along with the lies, cheating and stealing that have been going on literally every day for more than ten years.

Now sit down at your desk, shut up and behave while your teachers show you only what the government wants you to know.

Wall Street and Washington DC are relying on you, our nation’s youth, refusing to demand the truth.

They’re sure you won’t disappoint them.

See the Market Ticker for the chart (what, you want me to do everything?)

I’m paying for my insurance. I resent the hell out of having government officials that know better talk about “free” health care. No, it will not be free. We will be paying our ass off for it. But we will be getting an inferior product that will take forever to receive and have to go through surly, uncaring employees, just like everything “provided” by the government that we pay more for than we would through private enterprise.

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And You Think Your Job Sucks?

When I got the call from the school system for a temporary 1-year job, I was strongly inclined to decline. Did I say strongly? Perhaps that word is not emphatic enough. I dearly wanted to scream “Oh, HELL, NO!” and slam the phone down, but SwampMan had strongly counseled me that he was not at all happy about my decision to go into business with my ex-daughter-in-law doing children’s rooms. He had a point in that in the middle of a bad recession/beginning of a depression like this, there are not many people thinking about paying for people to decorate their children’s rooms, so just get over it.

So, I didn’t follow my first inclination of slamming down the telephone and running and hiding under the bed so they couldn’t come find me. I called SwampMan (big mistake) and told him about the job offer and my reservations about it.


“This is going to be a *very* bad job. Any time the ratio of staff to students is less than 1:10, that is a bad, bad sign. Here, the ratio is damn near 1:1.”

“Quit whining and take it. They’re in what, 4th or 5th grade? How bad could THAT be? Besides, what other paying jobs are available?”

How bad could it be? Maybe he was right. Maybe they were all little angels that just needed 1:1 staffing because…..umm……well, I couldn’t think of a good reason. I already knew from last year’s foray into kindergarten that children are highly protected but the staff is on their own. And there will be hell to pay if any of the little darlings that are attacking tooth and nail sustain a bruise while they make spirited attempts to break somebody’s finger. If there is an effective technique to ensure compliance, we can’t use it. If the children are out of control, then it is our fault and we did something wrong, and we better search our conscience for what it was.

Children, especially children that have cognitive problems, are very quick to learn that they can run wild and act like fools and kick and hit and spit and bite and the teachers cannot do anything about it.

I was, therefore, not terribly surprised on the first day when I was slapped, pinched hard twice, had a toy shovel of sand thrown in my face on the playground, and turned around just in time to catch a chair that was aimed at my head, thrown by a little cherub in time out who had no earthly reason to throw it at me except I was in her line of sight and had my head turned away.

I told SwampMan that I was going to be in the ER before the week was out because ALL the children bit, hit, scratched, and threw heavy objects with intent to harm. When they are not trying to harm each other, they try to hurt us and, in fact, we are the preferential targets because they know that their classmates will kick, hit, scratch, bite and throw chairs BACK. We cannot. He did not believe it.

The second day, I was standing beside a student when his crayons were flung violently across the room. When I reflexively looked over to see if anybody had been hurt by flying crayons, Cujo the crayon thrower latched onto my arm and bit the crap out of it, removing a chunk of skin and some flesh, grinding in his rabbit sharp teeth and powerful jaws in order to do the most damage. I waited until he finished, then I spun him around and pinned his arms behind his back to keep from getting pummeled and bitten further and waited out the kicking over of desks, shelves, anything within reach of his feet, and the backwards head butting that ensued. After the brief period of insane rage had passed, he was back to normal. I went to the office for wound dressing so I wouldn’t bleed all over the classroom.

Later that day, I was back in the office for another wound dressing for a more severe bite. This one necessitated a trip to an ER clinic after work where I was asked the breed of the dog that bit me.

The next day was fairly uneventful with just routine scratching, pinching and kicking incidents for me. Another woman was head butted in the face and cut the inside of her lips on her teeth. There was not a lot of learning going on, but no major mayhem, either (which erupts when the kids are pressed to do anything) for which I was happy. I *say* no major mayhem; the woman with the cut lip was definitely injured but no teeth were knocked loose which, in our class, was considered a good day.

On Friday, the day started out with another rage incident in which I prevented “my” student from maiming another much smaller student, a girl, who had apparently touched her foot against his under the table. The first I knew that anything was amiss was when his milk was thrown violently across the room and I had a heavy metal chair thrown at my head (ha, missed!) and again savagely bitten up and down my arm (this time I had padding on my arms because they were still oozing and swollen from the last bites). He managed to bite through in one spot near my wrist drawing quite a bit of blood that soaked through the padding, kicked, and, when I had him stretched out with his arms behind his back so that he could no longer reach me with teeth, fists, or feet, sustained repeated head butts to the chest. (Shopping note: I need to buy *very* heavily padded bras instead of the athletic variety. I have bruises y’all wouldn’t believe! You know everybody’s going to be talkin’ ’bout how I done went and got a boob job if I suddenly turn up in a double D size and how the schools must be paying their employees waaaay too much. The reality is that I can barely afford livestock feed, gas, and groceries on my salary.) SwampMan tells me I’m working for the insurance. I told him I wouldn’t need the insurance if I weren’t working!

I will count any day as successful now when I don’t have to report to the ER. Another woman in class had the misfortune to be working with one student when another tapped her for attention. When she turned, she was headbutted in the nose and had to be driven to the emergency clinic for a possible broken nose.

Why are the kids so frustrated? Well, they have severe communication problems. (They either can’t talk at all, babble things that make no sense, or only have the capacity for 1 or 2 word sentences, the vocabularly of an 18-month-old child.) When they want something and we don’t understand what it is, they attack. When they are mad at another kid, they attack. If their mom packed something in their lunch they didn’t want, they attack. Often we don’t know why for there are no antecendents for this behavior that we know of and for every incident, we have to painstakingly go back and try to find why. (As you may have guessed, there is a LOT of paperwork.) Maybe they have a tummy ache. We just don’t know. These are children that are happy and smiling one instant and biting the crap out of somebody (me) the next.

I have to be constantly on my guard because the child I’m assigned to is, in my estimation, quite capable of severely injuring one of the students or other adults in one of his rages. I guesstimate his weight at @ 150 lbs., and it is quite difficult to get him under control without causing him pain or leaving bruises. When he comes back to his senses, he cries when he sees my bleeding wounds, says “bite” pointing to my wound(s), and hangs his head, tears streaming down his face, and then kisses the booboo, hugs me, and asks “better?” anxiously. Of course I hug him and reassure him that I am just fine now and that the kiss fixed me right up but if he feels mad, he needs to go off by himself or tell me “mad” or show me “mad face” instead of biting.

I’m considering getting leather or metal wrist guards and kevlar carving gloves because he’s avoiding the padding now and trying to take out the fingers and wrists.

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Ribault, Raines, and Jackson High Schools Could Be Closed if No Improvements Made, Along with Lakeshore K-8


Together, they have earned 18 F grades based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores since the standardized exam was first given 11 years ago.

North Shore K-8 saw its only B five years ago.

Andrew Jackson High has never seen a B.

And Ribault and Raines High schools have never seen anything higher than a D.

The four Duval County schools are on the state’s critical “intervene” list, which requires them to improve or face changes that could, within four years, include closing.

The task is clear, the stakes are high and the urgency is palpable. But instead of a sense of dread about what could happen, there is excitement about the possibilities.

“It’s we’re either in or we’re out,” said Jackson earth space science teacher Danny Pasicolan, a first-year teacher who is also a 2000 Jackson graduate.

Pasicolan said teachers, many who were at the school when he attended, are 100 percent committed. And they refuse to see their school close.

“We’re not going to let them take this from us,” he said.

Teachers in other schools have similar feelings.

“There isn’t a teacher in this facility that doesn’t know the sense of urgency,” said North Shore math coach Janet Bosnick. “I can’t imagine how we couldn’t improve.”

The schools must improve their FCAT scores to at least a C within four years to get off the intervene list. Plus, at least one student subgroup (such as black, white or economically disadvantaged) must show proficiency in reading under federal adequate yearly progress mandates. And the same subgroup or another one must show proficiency in math.

If schools don’t show improvement this year, the district must choose one of four options — more personnel and leadership changes, switching to a charter school, being taken over by a management company, or closing.

If the necessary improvements aren’t met in subsequent years, the district chooses a different option until they are exhausted within four years.

Duval County Public Schools, working with the Florida Department of Education, has already made changes at all four schools. Three have new principals, and all transferred some teachers based on their students’ gains and are putting the finishing touches on new programs.

Changes enacted

At Raines, all students participating in extracurricular activities will have to attend twice-a-month Saturday study sessions for the ACT and SAT. Ribault and Andrew Jackson already had Saturday classes; Jackson is expanding the number of its sessions and requiring students to take an after-school study session before they can participate in any extracurricular activity.

North Shore’s teachers will work in the after-school Team Up program and focus their attention on helping students with core subjects, new principal Tarsha Mitchell said.

Many teachers took training during the summer, came back to school early and are planning tutoring sessions for their students.

At all of the schools, teachers of core subjects will work with each other and with smaller groups of students. And they’ll rely more heavily on tracking data to determine how students are doing in classes. They’re trying to build relationship so students feel comfortable reaching out for help, and also so teachers can more quickly identify the students who need help, said Iranetta Wright, principal at Jackson for a second year.

The support and encouragement are particularly visible around Raines and Ribault, the schools that have struggled longest among the four.

The NAACP is sponsoring a community forum for the two schools to help engage parents on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at Greater Macedonia Baptist Church on Edgewood Avenue. Elnora Atkins, chair of the local NAACP’s education committee, said the increased energy and attention around the two schools are because of the high stakes.

“We don’t want the high schools in our community to be closed,” Atkins said.

Read the rest for more information about what the schools are trying in an attempt to turn around but….is the problem in the schools or in the attitudes toward education in the community? Will closing the schools down and shipping the students to other schools in other neighborhoods help the children?

Personally, I think the education system went off track when it started pushing college for everyone, whether or not they are equipped with the intellect and/or personality that would be suited for a college degree. Racking up tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of educational loans or public financing for a degree that ultimately turns out to be worthless in the job market isn’t in the best interests of anybody, IMO.

If students could see a high school diploma having actual value in the workplace, and if high schools taught skills for use in the workplace so that high school graduates could go into the job force for actual jobs that pay more than what high school dropouts make, then we might see a difference in attitude.

Actual jobs. Now that’s another problem.

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