Tuesday, February 27, 2007

4th and 10

....do we go for a first down or do we punt the student? If it's the week before the TAKS test (The Texas high stakes test, which the Shrub has now unleashed on the rest of the country) you punt. Actually we didn't punt, two other schools did. Parts of the district I'm in have very high mobility. An apartment complex offers a $99 move-in and there is a mass migration from one school to another. Three months later another counters with a $100 move in and there is another migration.

The day before the TAKS test two new families enrolled. Both came from within our district. The TAKS rules are such that if a student is not enrolled at your school on the day the test is given then his / her scores don't factor into your schools overall scores. They also don't factor into the school he/ she enrolls, these scores go into a general district "pot". There are many, many parts and sub parts to this rule and other rules if the student changes districts - the IRS are a brief novella when it comes to the TAKS test rules.

However, if a student is one that will pass the test and pass it well the school will move heaven and earth to keep that student in their seat come TAKS test day. The students are pre-tested and benchmark tested till they bubble in circles in their sleep so the school has a good idea of who will pass and who won't. It's to the benefit of the child too - imagine being 8 years old and having to cope with a major test and a new school all on the same day. A conscientious parent will work with the school to ensure their child has a good test taking experience (if there is such a thing) and won't move their children till after TAKS test day.

So, when the two families arrived we knew it wasn't going to be pretty. There was no need to look in the PR folder, talk to the parents or glance at the report cards. The students were not going to be a credit to their former school. In fact, their former school , once the withdrawal papers were drawn up most likely found it difficult to contain their Happy Dance till the doors closed behind them.

And we were right. One is reading 2 years below grade level, the other has yet to make it through the day without ear screeching tantrums and angry outbursts.

At least their scores won't count against us either!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

So long, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Goodbye

My sister is saying Good bye to the Navy after 24 years of service and the entire family converged on Virginia Beach for the occasion.

The Navy does do these things up right. Despite it being very, very , very cold (and where those hot flashes when I needed them) and despite the ceremony being held on board The USS Theodore Roosevelt in an area with no heat it was very moving and enjoyable

During one part of the ceremony an officer recited from memory a piece of prose entitled "Old Glory" while the sailors passed a folded flag from hand to hand and saluted each other in slow motion. My sister said this Passing of the Flag Ceremony is traditional and it brought tears to every one's eyes (even mine!).

I've never had much to do with the military - since I'm not one to keep my mouth shut about anything

I 'd be a total failure at "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a Naval Shipyard surrounded by Sailors and other members of the Armed Forces. They were all so very, very young and were overwhelmingly people of color. Our all volunteer military is one place where the minorities are the majority. They all looked so serious and purposeful and were uniformly polite (I felt very old by the time the affair was over).

But they still looked much to young to be toting a lethal looking firearm that in some cases was almost bigger than they were. I hope for their sakes and the sakes of their Mothers, wives and families that they never have to use them. Given our present administrations policies I fear this is a wish that won't be granted.

Hey Paris!

I'm in Virginia Beach for my sister's Naval Retirement & staying at a Hilton. Normally Hilton's are good hotels, in a dependable though slightly frumpy sort of way.

This hotel has a an excellent location and it's clean enough and the staff is uniformly pleasant. But all sorts of little things keep going wrong. Nothing major, just little pin pricks of annoyance that scream "management isn't on top of things".

The breakfast buffet (which is not complimentary and on the pricey side) features pasteurized eggs out a carton and sweet breads that are not fresh baked, or even frozen baked. They all taste slightly stale and slightly Sam's Club. The coffee is downright nasty. The fresh fruit is heavy on the melon, which is cheap and given the uniform sizes of each cube is pre-cut and comes from a bag and not a fresh from the market melon.

Rooms aren't cleaned till after 4pm. Bathroom doors lock unexpectedly (and stay locked) and heater doesn't always work. The hot wate is in short supply. The key card keeps de-progaming itself. We've had to troop downstairs so often that we now check at the desk to be sure it's working before getting on the elevator.

Please Paris, stop partying long enough to chat with your Dad and the other powers that be. If you don't folks will stop staying in your family's hotels.
And if that happens there won't be as much
money in your trust fund as there once was and your new best friend Brittany will drop you like a hot potato.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

13 Thoughts

Why do the weather people start frothing at the mouth when it just might rain/ freeze/ or comes a hurricane? It might freeze in Dallas (300 miles to the north) and the local weather folks are giving the impression that a blizzard with 2 feet of snow is imminent.

What earthly purpose does a Hummer serve in a large urban area where it never (despite the actions of the weather people) snows? It eats gas and dollars and screams “Conspicuous Consumption”.

Why do the “Ban the Harry Potter” folks not only want to keep their children from reading Harry Potter, they also want to prevent everyone else’s children from doing so too? Who appointed them as parents for the world at large?

How can people take
Pat Robertson seriously? God speaks only to him? From Moses to Pat Robertson is quite a comedown. I would assume God has better taste in friends and spokespeople.

Laura Bush is an educator and a librarian by education. In fact, she actually taught for a couple of years. You would think she try to talk some sense into her husband about
No Child Left Behind.

I am so out of touch. I picked up a copy of People while waiting in the grocery line and I had no clue who the People that People is talking about are. The only thing I know about Brittney Spears is that she does not care to wear underwear.

Speaking of – no amount of money appears to keep some women from sinking to their trailer trash roots. Take away her cash and she’d be your standard “married young, no college, barely finished high school, 2 kids in 2 years, twice divorced, future alcoholic floozy. With a mullet.

The latest trend in home d├ęcor appears to be “Home Theaters”. From the ads I gather you have one with 6 flat screen TVs on the wall and recliners with cup holders and pull out / fold out trays. If the furniture came with an optional catheter there would be no reason for a couch potato to ever arise again.

Why, when the line at the post office is out the door do some people decide to dither over what kind of stamp to buy. I can understand wanting “Love” stamps for wedding invitations but other than that who cares. Do they really think the envelope opening machines are going to notice?

ED – based on the number of ads one would think every male in America suffered from this problem. The fact that the birth rate isn’t falling leads to think it isn’t true but someone sure is buying a lot of this stuff.

And why do men get ED ads and women ads for Depends? Why isn’t it the other way around?

You need a license to operate a car but not to parent a child. Both, if you used or raised incorrectly can reek all sorts of heart rending havoc. So why do you need one for a car but none for a child?

Scouting for books is so much fun. Packing them isn’t. Life is not fair.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rain + Football

It's raining in Miami.
Superbowl tickets are selling for $2,000.00.

Only in America would normally sane people pay $2,000.00 to sit in the rain.