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All posts for the month July, 2015

When Public Schools Fail The Students And The Parents

Published July 24, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

The man-child struggles with school. He has since middle school (or junior high as it was called in my day). He often does the work, but does not turn it in. He is smart cookie, no learning disabilities we know of. He can do the work, for the most part, but just doesn’t unless he kinda sorta is made to. So we kinda sorta make him.

He is close to failing high school, so he needed to attend summer school to make up failed classes and get a jump on his senior year. But summer school, and the school system are both setting him up to fail. He is working at it. He is trying. But he will be hard pressed to succeed. Sure, he has options – 5th year senior (why would you do that to yourself?), take the GED (it costs $152.00 in our state), not graduate and work (at some crappy ass job because he does not have a diploma) or join the military (who may not take him without said diploma or GED).

Here is what happened.

We knew he was not doing well. His teachers were e-mailed during the school year for a progress report. One replied. Only one. The parent view portal the school has set up is wonderful – if the teachers keep it current. They do not. Right off the bat, as parents, we are misinformed regarding his progress.

We went to the school not long after school was out to find out about summer session, and to see if he could even manage to graduate with his class. We were told we had to talk to the counselor – who was already gone for the summer. We did luck out this time. He happened to be there that day to finish up a few things. Otherwise, we would have known nothing about what was needed, or if the man-child could, indeed, make graduation. Why are the counselors leaving as soon as school is out? There a lot of kids who need summer school. How can parents decide what they need of only the counselors can go over the school records with them? Like, duh.

Looking the classes that had been taken, red flags began to pop. He had taken classes twice. Passed the first time, failed the second. In essence, wasted his time in a class he had already passed. Why wasn’t this caught? All of this had to be entered into the school computer, so why didn’t the computer flag this? This kid wasted a lot of time in classes he should never have been in. Why the heck was this never caught by the computer, or his counselor? Egads! parents can’t babysit everyone!

So now the poor kiddo has to take two English classes in summer session. English 2 and English 3. We paid the fees and got him enrolled. He had to sign the student agreement the first day of class.

Okay. But there is a catch – or three.

We were never given any information about the summer session. Nothing about buses, meals, start times, end times – nothing. We had to ring the office to find all of that out. Plus, the students have only 4 weeks, at 4 days a week, 4 hours a day to complete their courses. That is insane. A full 8 month course crammed into 16 hours a week. And as if that were not insane enough, the teacher said they could only come TWO days a week because so many students enrolled. All the course work is done on computers. There is no real teaching going on.

The first day of summer session, we drove the man-child to school, found out where we needed to wait and hung around until the teacher showed up. The teacher was also left in the dark. The teacher had no clue how things were to work. He had to go find out answers to simple questions. He is the one that told us the bus was running and light meals would be provided. But he is also the one who made the decision to have the kids come only two days a week. He never checked to see who had more than one course. He never made sure the man-child was doing English 2 before English 3. So the man-child did English 3 before the pre-req of 2. Before you say it, teachers are there to provide guidance. Parents can not be everywhere.

We also recently found out the reason he split the class. It was because the computer system would let only X amount of kids sign on and work. Are you freaking kidding me? This means any kid who needs more time, or more help, is simply S.O.L.. We had to go to the school to find what the heck was going on, and explain that the man-child had TWO courses to finish and needed to come everyday. And golly gee, we got an okay because some of the other kids had dropped out or finished their course. Never once did the teachers offer more time to the remaining students. WTF??!?? This sets up any kid with more than one course, or problems learning, or struggling with the course to fail. Plain and simply fail. And the teacher knew the man-child was struggling.

And yes, he can work in the portal at home, but only until there is a test. Then he has to take the test at the school. And yes, he has been working every day until the system locks him out.

The man-child has 4 days to finish all of his courses. 4 days, 16 hours of in school time. He knows. He is trying. He is working to get it done.

But it is long shot. We are here to help him, if we can. We keep him on track. But there is only so much we can do to help him. Fingers are crossed. Toes are crossed. Pleadings have been sent out into the universe.

And to top this off, we learned today that bus will not run next week. Yeah. Today.

Way to go School. Way. To. Go.

It’s Not About A Flag. It’s About History

Published July 11, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

I try to stay away from political stuff with this blog. This is meant to be for fun, to blow off steam and for more light-hearted subjects.

But now the situation with the Confederate flag is spinning out of control. People have gone into correctness overdrive and taking things too far. Our history is in trouble. It is being re-written by a knee-jerk reaction and political correctness taken to a colossal level of stupidity.

Which flag is are we banning? You do know there are several Confederate flags, don’t you. No? Maybe you ought to go do some research.

confederate-battle-flags

Yes, I do know the flag in question is the Southern Cross, or Battle Jack. I agree with removing the Battle Jack from government buildings. But that’s where it needs to stop. Digging up Confederate soldiers and removing Confederate monuments is going too far. There was a Federal act in 1958 recognizing Confederate soldiers as war veterans. Yeah, a FEDERAL act. These soldiers fought for what they believed in, and it was not all about slavery. Go read a book or five before you whinge about it being all about slavery.

And now Wal Mart is refusing to allow class rings that were ordered with the Southern Cross on them to be picked up. Who the hell are you, Wal Mart, to hold an order that is paid for? There is also a rumour that a Wal Mart asked customers wearing shirts with the Southern Cross on them to leave their store. Are you freakin’ kidding me? When did Wal Mart become this nation’s political and social conscience?

Banning a part of our history is wrong. Wrong ,wrong, wrong. I am not from the south, and I still strongly believe this is wrong. People are trying to re-write and remove part of our history because someone who has thin skin and hollered ‘I am offended!’ as loudly as possible. Someone who didn’t fight in the Civil War. Someone who never a slave. Someone who never read history.

Shut up. War tells you who is left. Not who is right.

The Civil War was a sad part of our history. Slavery was a sad part of our history. But we can not remove that history, no matter how much we’d like to. Banning a flag, digging up bodies, and removing monuments are insults to the men and women who gave their lives in that war.

The next little movement is banning the Fleur-dis-lis flags in Louisiana. Those who are hollering about it say it has to do with slavery. I suppose it never occurred to them that Louisiana was largely FRENCH way back then.

I suppose next we will have remove all the railroads. After all, the Chinese who built most of them were horribly abused and en-slaved.

Why I still Adore Tom Lehrer

Published July 3, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

TomLehrer2_billboard2

When I was about 10 years old, my friend up the street found her mother’s copy of ‘Songs By Tom Lehrer’. Back in 1969, this meant it was large, round and made of black vinyl. We immediately put it on her turntable (your know, those little fold up ones all us kids had) and laughed until the last song was over. Her mom then handed us ‘More Songs by Tom Lehrer’. We were in heaven.

I loved them so much, her mom gave the albums to me. Later I added ‘An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer’, and ‘That Was The Year That Was’. All on those big, bulky, black vinyl albums. I read the covers. I sang alone. I almost wore them out playing them. I finally understood some of the references when I hit high school. I even managed to secure a copy of the book ‘Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer (with not enough drawings). I still have that book all these years later.

And I learned things.

I learned that pianos have 88 keys.

I can name most of the elements. Okay, I have to sing them to a slightly recognizable tune, but I know them.

I notice words that change with simply adding a silent ‘e’ to the end of them.

I was made aware the enunciation is as important as PROnunciation. After all, saying it correctly means nothing if one can’t understand it.

I have a strong dislike for mathematics, yet I can solve one problem in base eight. ‘Cause base eight is just base ten, really. If you’re missing two fingers.

Mr. Lehrer made me appreciate clever lyrics. I still love songs that are clever. Nothing is more tedious than a ‘song’ that is two lines hollered over and over an almost catchy tune. He also drives home the fact that now we are all oversensitive to, well, everything. He discarded any form of political correctness, cared not if anyone was offended by his satire. His humour was (and still is) often a bit over some heads (the rest of you can look it up when you get home). And he left that way with no explanation. After all, if you have to explain it, it is no longer funny.

Tom Lehrer led me to Dr. Demento, who played some Mr. Lehrer’s songs on his radio show. Sunday nights were Dr. Demento nights. I’d listen to the novelty songs and the banter with Captain Chaos and Jungle Judy. Dr. Demento also introduced us to Weird Al. I don’t know if Weird Al ever listened to Tom Lehrer, but he often has the same way with clever lyrics and enunciates very well.

For years I didn’t know what Tom Lehrer looked like. He did not have photos on his albums. Well, none where you could actually see what he looked like. There are loads of photos in the little book that comes with the boxed CD set ‘The Remains of Tom Lehrer’, but I had been listening to him for decades before that came on the market. Now Tom Lehrer can be found on You Tube. After decades of listening, I finally got to see him play and sing.

Now I own what I believe to be all of Tom Lehrer’s recorded works on CD’s. He has his own playlist on my ipod.  After 46 years of listening, I am not tired of him. I still listen often. I still introduce people to his music. If you have a sense of humour, and are not easily offended, go check him out.

I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do.