Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blogging 101

Every since I discovered blogging (has it really been more than 4 years!) I've been wanting to teach a blogging class. I dabbled with it last Spring - it turned out to be more of a dress rehearsal and I'm trying again this school year.

Still tweaking it - I'll get it right one of these days. It's a work in progress but it's a delightful work in progress. Roughly 20 kids and I spend 2 hours once a week learning, writing, getting frustrated, being perplexed and giggling. They are learning, I'm learning and the results are really quite amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Turmoil After the Storm

It's been 3 + weeks (is it only 3 weeks???) and Houston is trying to get back to normal. That's Houston, it will take Galveston years to get back to normal.

Almost everyone in Houston has power again and the traffic lights work. The streets are piled head high with stacks of branches, tree trunks and assorted destroyed flora. It's depressing to say the least.

The folks who have been hard hardest are as always, "the little people". I'm one of the lucky ones, I Iwas off work for 7 days but still collected a paycheck. Some businesses were closed for as long as 2 weeks and many of them couldn't or didn't pay their employees. People who make minimum wage, the day laborers who stand on the street corner and the bus boys in the kitchen couldn't work and didn't get paid. Those folks, who live pay check to pay check are really, really hurting.

Texas is offering up extra food stamps but the food stamp allowance is paltry at best and it doesn't go far.

One of the apartment complexes in my school's attendance zone had the roof ripped off. I took one of the students home last week and suddenly found myself in an alternate universe. The tenants don't have money to rent a motel room or to move. Furniture was piled up under the "covered parking" and ruined possessions were piled around in heaps and stacks. The place still doesn't have power and the roof was made of blue FEMA tarps. Pieces of the ex roof littered the court yard. The complex has an absentee owner who, as long as he gets his rent money does not appear to be in any hurry to get the repairs up and going. Texas Laws favor the landlord totally. Amazingly the tenants must pay their rent, even though their apartments are barely livable.

That just seems downright wrong. This is American isn't it?

Is There Something in the Water?

We’ve always had some students who were “different”. But there were just a few. The past couple of years it’s been an explosion. Where are they coming from? I don’t think it’s because of better diagnosis – the kids we’ve enrolled are not “slightly disturbed” – they are very, very disturbed.

We students who take serious anti psychotic drugs, students who have violent rages & students who are schizophrenic. We have more and more children who are autistic. Some are diagnosed and some aren’t , but after a number of years in the profession any seasoned teacher can spot the “look” across a crowded room.

Perhaps it’s because I’m at a low SES school but I still find it amazing that a child can reach age 5 or 6 without a parent realizing something isn’t “quite right”. Maybe they don’t note the milestones in the baby book as obsessively as a helicopter parent does or perhaps they are just in deep, deep denial .

Once the paperwork process starts some fight it tooth and nail and others ignore all communication from the school and don’t show up at the STAT and ARD meetings. Papers sent home get lost and are never signed – and without those signatures the schools hands are tied.

Then the parent and child up and moves and the process starts all over again. And again and again and again. It’s not uncommon for a child to reach the 5th grade without a diagnosis. And you can’t start treatment without a diagnosis. That results in 6th graders who can’t read above a first grade level and have no social skills what so ever.

Who gets blamed for that ? Why the schools of course.

No, it’s not the fault of the school. I really do think there is something in the water.