Monday, May 31, 2010
BFF means "best friends forever."
This Friday I'm going to see Mitt Romney and John McCain at a campaign event in Mesa. I'm pretty excited about it. But I'm really only going to see Mitt Romney. When John McCain gets on stage, I'll close my eyes. Ha ha ha. I've never seen either of them before in real life. They're like celebrities!
It should be cool.
And I hereby vow that no matter how slick and magnetic Mitt Romney is, and no matter how much he tells me to vote for John McCain, I'll still be voting for JD Hayworth.
JD is clearly the better and more conservative candidate. Here's why.
I'm disapointed in Mitt Romney for endorsing and campaigning for John McCain. But right now I think that Mitt is just playing the political game as smart as he can so he can become President in 2013.
Like, you know how Obama acted moderate while he was campaigning, and then when he got to be the President, he truned out to be a communist?
Well, maybe Romney is doing the same thing. Maybe Romney is making everybody think that he's a moderate, but then when he gets into the White House he's going to be ultra-conservative. That's what I'm hoping for.
And it's heartbreaking sometimes, but politics really is about compromise. As much as I would like Michelle Bachmann or Senator Jim Demint to become President, that's not going to happen. Mitt Romney has a great chance of beating Obama in 2012, and I hope he does.
Why am I still awake? It's been too long since I've written a poem.
For part one of Prodigal Spending in Our Public Schools, click here. In that previous post, I started a list of wasteful spending that I saw first hand in our public schools.
So far, there’s
1] Textbook misallocation of funds
2] Impeccable landscaping.
3] Excessive Technology.
And now the list continues…
4] The attendance lady.
The school I taught at was similar to most other schools in that it had an attendance lady- a lady who compiled all the attendance records and made phone calls home to parents of absent students and other stuff. (Well, she oversaw the machine that automatically made phone calls home to the parents of absent students.) But I think this position could be cut.
Maybe teachers could take attendance, and then not report the attendance to anybody. The only reason there’s an attendance lady is because schools have to report attendance to the government for funding purposes. But if we were back in the one-room school-house days, we wouldn’t have to do that, and I think we could cut the attendance lady position altogether, or at least merge that position with the receptionist position.
(For an interesting book on how education has moved from being controlled locally to being controlled federally, see Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education, by Larry P. Arnn, the President of Hillsdale College. It’s a fascinating book.)
5] Ordering Art Supplies from Expensive Places
The art teacher, who we’ll call Ms. Y., told me about her dilemma with ordering supplies. She only has a limited amount of money to spend, and she sometimes spends her own personal money. The school district has contracts to buy stuff from certain companies, and so Ms. Y. could only order supplies from certain companies. She couldn’t shop around for the best deals. If I remember right, one of the companies that the school had to order from was based in Canada, and so the shipping was really expensive. Later in the year, the school district told her that she could start ordering from a different art-supply company that was based in a neighboring city, rather than a company based in a foreign country. On top of the savings in shipping, the prices of all the supplies from this new company were usually 25 % – 50 % cheaper! I’m glad the district finally switched to the cheaper company. But still, for all that time before they switched, the district had been wasting money buying expensive supplies and paying expensive shipping costs.
6] The locksmith
Did we really need a full-time locksmith? Maybe. He was in charge of making sure all the locks and keys in the school district worked. Or maybe we could have outsourced that position, or maybe we could have had the custodians do the locksmith job.
7] HeadStart and Early Head Start
I picked up a promotional flier for this government program in the front office. I have transcribed it for you here:
J. O. Combs Preschool Head Start and Early Head Start
Head Start is a preschool program for low income families or children with documented disabilities. We provide classroom and home base options for 3 and 4 year olds. Children experience academic and social-emotional experiences which will help them transistion into kindergarten. Early Head Start is a home base program for infants and toddlers birth to 3 and pregnant teens and women.
We do not provide transportation.
The following information is required:
Proof of income – Income Tax return, check stubs, award letters. TANF, SSI Disability, Foster Care, JOBS, DES Child Care, or Homelessness
Proof of child’s age – Birth certificate, guardianship papers, AHCCCS
Proof of updated immunizations.
On the back of that flier they have all that information written in Spanish.
So here’s the waste I see in the Head Start and Early Head Start Program: The whole thing. I think all tax funded pre-kindgergarten programs should be cancelled in perpetuity throughout the nation.
8] Information Technology Fix-It People
With example of wasteful spending # 3, excessive technology, comes example of wasteful spending # 8: people to fix the excessive technology. I think each campus in the school district where I worked had 1 or 2 computer fix-it people employed by the district. Maybe we could get rid of a lot of the technology and get rid of a lot of the technology fix-it people. Because the important question is, does all that technology really improve education? The jury’s still out on that one. For more information on technology in schools and such, see the writings of Neil Postman, especially Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology.
9] The Drama Fee Drama
OK gang, this story should make you mad. It still makes me mad when I think about the corruption and injustice deep at the heart of this story.
The story starts like this: In an attempt to make more money, the school district where I used to work came up with the brilliant idea of charging fees for elective classes. They decided to make every student pay ten bucks to take drama.
I, the drama teacher, didn’t find out about this until about halfway through the third quarter. I found out that I had $550 to spend on drama class supplies, such as costumes, sets, scripts, and so on. Well, seeing as how I didn’t have any good textbooks for my classes, I wanted to order either some drama textbooks or some collections of scenes and monologues from Amazon.com, where you can get some really good deals. But the secretary informed me that Amazon.com was off limits. I found some books I wanted at Dover Publications, but Dover was also off-limits, per the district's rules. Remember how in list item # 5, the art teacher could only order from certain companies? Well, it was like that for me, too. I had to get my order pre-approved with the district.
So time went on, and I decided that I would just spend the money on big sheets of colorful paper and paint, which I would use for the plays that I put on. I would order from the same companies that the art teacher used, so I knew that the purchases would be approved.
Time went on, and the art teacher and I, and some art students, helped build and paint the sets. We used up a lot of paint and paper and stuff. I told the art teacher that her art supplies would be replenished with the $550 that I had from my drama fee fund.
Well, when the art teacher and I tried to order the supplies, the powers that be told us, “Actually, that money has been re-allocated to the bookstore.”
Yeah, you read that right!
Without even telling me, that 550 bucks was whisked away to fund another department! But the money wasn’t even spent on another class. It was spent on the bookstore, which is like a little side project of the librarian. I don’t know what the bookstore is, exactly, but it involves asking for book donations from home, and it involves selling books to students, and it involves releasing some students from class sometimes so they can help with the bookstore.
But whatever "the bookstore" is, it's certainly not the place that drama fee funds ought to be going! I wonder how the librarian is going to use those drama fee funds. Maybe she’s buying books at wholesale rates and then jacking up the prices and selling them to students. Ha ha ha. If that’s her plans, I hope she gives me a cut of the profit.
Ha ha ha.
I laugh to prevent myself from clenching my fist and releasing my Wolverine claws.
There are so many things wrong with that story. Here’s a few:
One- the parents of my drama students paid the fee under the impression that it was a mandatory fee. (Of course, for poor families, you could talk to the principal and he could waive the fee.)
Two- the parents paid the fee under the impression that the fee was important, and that the money would be going towards something worthwhile. Maybe some of the parents thought the money would be going to something so awesome that their taxes wouldn’t cover it. “Wow,” the parents must have thought, “the electives at this middle school must be extra awesome, if they need extra money, on top of money from taxes, to make them so fantastic!”
Three- the parents paid the fee under the impression that the money would be spent on drama, not on the bookstore.
Four- I, the drama teacher, didn’t even know I had this pool of money available to me until late in the school year. Of course, I did miss a few meetings, and maybe I should have taken the initiative to find out about the money, but it seemed like all I ever heard about money from the administration was, “the budget is tight this year. Watch the number of copies you make. Paper is money, you know.”
Five- the art teacher never got reimbursed for all that paint and paper we used.
Six- The money never really felt like it was mine to begin with. I barely found out that I had it, and then I couldn’t spend it how I wanted to, and then I couldn’t spend it at all because it was embezzled by the librarian!
This is the kind of shenanigan that happens in government.
OK, those are most of the examples of prodigal spending in our public schools that I have seen from firsthand experience. But I have a lot of other commentary on other ways that public schools waste money. And I have a lot of anecdotal evidence about how other school districts have been wasting money. And I plan to write about those things soon.
But for now I bid you farewell.
Say hello to your new Precinct Committeeman!
As you know, dear faithful readers, I’ve been trying to get more politically active, and I’ve been trying to make America more conservative. Well, some of my tea-party friends told me about becoming a Precinct Committeeman for the Republican Party.
So I did it!
I got together 15 signatures from my Republican neighbors, and I got some official paperwork notarized, and I turned the official paperwork into the Pinal County Elections Office in Florence.
Now it looks like I just have to wait around until November 2nd, when I, Telemoonfa, will magically transform from an ordinary citizen to a Precinct Committeeman for the Republican Party in Arizona, in Legislative District 23, in Voting Precinct 88!
See, the secret tea-party plan is to get a whole bunch of tea-party activists to become Precinct Committeemen in the Republican Party. We tea-party activists will infiltrate the Republican party little by little… and then we’ll take it over!
And when we tea-party activists take over the Republican party, we’ll guide the party to power, and we’ll take over the government! And then when we take over the government, we’ll be fair and just and righteous and transparent and everything wonderful like that!
So what do Precinct Committeemen do, exactly?
Um, that’s not really important. What’s important here is that I’m going to be one!
Um… well, I really don’t know much about the position… it’s a volunteer position… I guess I’ll find out what Precinct Committeemen do when I become one. Ha ha ha. It’s kind of like the recent health care bill- we have to pass it to find out what’s in it. That’s how legislation works. Ha ha ha. That’s what Nancy Pelosi said, remember that?
Elect me to be a Precinct Committeeman, and then you'll find out what kind of politician I'll be!
Ha ha ha.
Oh, and one of the cool things about becoming a Precinct Committeeman is that I don't really have to campaign. About half of the slots in the Republican Party in the USA are open. The positions just go unfulfilled. So most of the times what ends up happening is if you run, you get the office.
I’ll tell you more about what a Precinct Committeeman does later, if you and I are interested in having such a conversation.
Here are some emails my mentor teacher and I wrote to each other on Thursday, December 10th, 2009. They are interesting to me because they are a real life snapshot of some of my struggles with classroom management. They give you an insider's look at some of the stresses of being a new teacher these days.
Geez... there were so many times when I wished that corporal punishment was still an option for teachers. I hear there are some schools in Texas going back to the paddle. There are some good arguments for it. Go to this website for some of those arguments.
And Ms. C., if you are reading this, and it bothers you, let me know and I'll remove it.
From: Ms. C
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 1:06 PM
Subject: RE: meeting Telemoonfa
Well, this semester is almost over. You can say no to the bathroom passes on people who abuse it. For next semester, if you see a student abuses that privilege, you can say as soon as they come back to class, “Don’t ask me to go to the restroom again. It took you ___ minutes to get back.” You can note it, and if they have a health concern, you can always check with the nurse and she can tell you. You don’t have to let them go, even if they say they have to go right then and there. They have 5 minutes to go between classes. You can also tell them to hold on for a few minutes. Usually, they’ll forget. I’d like to visit your 2nd hour, but I have to make some requests. I’ll see what I can do.
Keep writing me.
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 11:32 AM
To: Ms. C.
Subject: RE: meeting Telemoonfa
About your classroom, I appreciated the way the students came in and got right to work before the bell even rang. That is not happening in my class right now. In my class, a few students get to work right away, but most of them don’t, and I have to say, “Start the bellwork, get working. Why don’t I see any paper out? You! Start your bellwork!” and then still there are quite a few students who just don’t do it.
I liked the way you used the timer on the smartboard, too, to transition from activities, and the way you walked around the room and checked off homework. And you looked like you were organized. I think next semester I’ll have a corner where they have to sit and copy the core philosophies…
I’m really looking forward to next semester and getting a fresh start.
I tried doing this rhythmic clapping thing to get their attention, a procedure, you know, while we’re doing activities where they talk and such. But they don’t clap, and they keep talking, and I get frustrated.
I’m also having issues with students going to the bathroom. A lot of them all say that they need to go right away, and I let them go, because they have available slots on their character cards… but they hang out for too long in the bathroom.
I told them no more note-passing was allowed, though, so that stopped, for now, and that’s good.
From: Ms. C.
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 8:29 AM
Subject: RE: meeting Telemoonfa
How about we email back and forth. We can also meet Mondays or Wednesdays.
So what did you think of the observation last week? It would be nice if you observed others too. If you want to do this, I can set it up, just let me know.
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2009 7:54 AM
To: Ms. C.
Subject: meeting Telemoonfa
I can’t remember what we said about meeting… I have duty this morning at 8:25
The schools tried to make a good teacher out of me. They really tried.
And I must confess that the people in charge of helping first year teachers were nice, good and helpful. And all the help I could ever want was available to me: Books, websites, training sessions, mentor teachers, a dedicated principal and a caring dean of students. But near the end of the school year I wanted to tell all those helpful, caring people, “Stop trying to help me so much. You’re wasting your time. I’m never going to be a teacher again, so don’t bother trying to make me a better one.”
Well, I was going through some of my files, and I found this email I wrote a few months back to my mentor teacher, who I will call Ms. C. I don’t think I ever sent this email, and I don't think the email is finished. It has some neat ideas in it, but mostly it’s whiny and full of excuses for why I couldn’t hack it as a teacher.
It is published here for you to satisfy your nosiness, and to satisfy some weird urge I have to show you personal things maybe I shouldn’t show you. Maybe I’m putting it on Telemoonfa Time to get a mystic connectivity with real people via cyberspace.
Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Here’s another email from your mentee.
I went to a BEST meeting on classroom management last night. It was nice. And I watched some Harry Wong stuff on You-Tube. And I got a really good night’s sleep, which is rare because I have an infant in the house, and last night and this morning I felt great about the teaching profession. I was optimistic.
And now after my two periods today, I’m less optimistic. But I’m still sort of optimistic!
I’ve got my classes to stop passing notes, but that disruptive behavior has just been replaced by other disruptive behaviors. It’s talking, talking, talking, blurting out, blurting out, blurting out, and I keep threatening to go back to the really strict “one warning and you get sent to Mr. G.’s office” but I never do because they get quiet for a minute or two, and then I just try to continue with the lesson.
And I’m such a sucker for letting them go to the bathroom! This might sound crazy, but it’s sooooooo hard for me to tell students when they can and can’t use the restroom. And even if I know they’re lying, how can I say to a child who is wiggling his or her seat, no you may not use the restroom? Sympathy overcomes me, and I let them go, even though I know that they’re just messing around in there, because there are 5 or 6 students gone. It’s hard to explain… My head wants to say no but my heart wants to say yes.
I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles in my personality and the way I interact with people in order to become a better teacher. I still have a long way to go, if this is going to be my profession. Like I told you, in my previous jobs and activities, I’ve never been in the position where I have to tell people what to do. Well, I directed a play in high school and in college, but the people I was working with were all on board with me- they were more mature and respectful, and they wanted to be involved with what I was doing.
Now I find myself in a job that requires me to tell people – often immature and often disrespectful people- what to do. And I’m expected to get them to do what I tell them to do. And I know that being in charge of others is second nature to some people, but for a guy like me, it’s not so easy.
It’s so hard for me to see myself as someone who is capable and smart enough to be in the position to tell people what to do. For example, if I am lecturing or explaining instructions to the class and I notice someone reading a novel, I think, “Well, reading that novel is probably just as important as what I have to say.” Or if they’re talking, sometimes I really think, “Well, my lesson’s not that great anyway, and in the long run, will it really matter that they goofed off during a middle school drama class?”
And even though I’ve put a stop to note-passing, I’m still wrestling with the morality of stopping note-passing in my mind. Is it right to forbid students to pass notes? My hesitation to enforce the no note-passing rule stems from my desire to not infringe upon other’s personal property. I want to give them freedom, you know? Freedom of private property and freedom of the mind… I want to respect the students as smart individuals, who know best how to spend their time. And if they think it’s best to spend their time not doing their class work, who am I to tell them, “Yes, the bellwork is important.”
And now I think that teaching is much like controlling students minds! We are subjecting these little people to stuff that they don’t want to hear.
When I was in college studying to become a teacher, I read a lot of Alfie Kohn. I used to like Kohn a lot, and I wanted to run my classrooms in a very loose, unstructured way, kind of like a college seminar course. I wanted to let students roam free and discover knowledge on their own, and I would be a facilitator… I would be like a helpful librarian, leading students in the right direction. Or I would be like the Rat in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my students would be the turtles… but now I think Kohn is lame in a lot of ways. I guess I ought to ditch Alfie Kohn and lean more towards Harry Wong.
In a way it sounds like I have a loss of faith in the American public school system, (not necessarily American, but other countries too.) In a way it sounds like I have lost faith (or never had faith) with the idea that these kids ought to be in school and sitting still and reading and writing. (I love figures like Abraham Lincoln, who was largely self-taught.) And indeed when I was in high school, I had a bad attitude about school. With the exception of my English, art, and drama classes, I hated school. I loved college, though, because there was so much freedom there, and I did extraordinarily well in college. In fact, I typically had one of the highest grades in my teacher preparation courses. I’m not saying that to brag (OK, maybe I am a little bit) but I’m saying that to point out that, judging from my current teaching performance, even college was an inadequate gauge in preparing me to be a good teacher.
I recently watched a documentary on Thomas Jefferson, and when he founded the University of Virginia, he intended it to be a place where there were no grades, diplomas, etc., but that students came when they wanted to come and left when they felt like they had a good education… Thomas Jefferson is a man after my own heart. I only wish I was a man of his discipline and courage.
I’ve always had a difficult time getting behind products and selling them. I actually tried selling alarm systems door to door. That was supposed to last a summer, but it only lasted a week and a half. I have no brand loyalty. I see no need to get excited about something, and sometimes I am not excited about education, and if I am not excited about education, and the students are not excited about education, then my class becomes a zoo, and I become a zookeeper who lets the animals go free and eat the spectators.
Its hard for me to take freedom away from students.
I’ve done customer service before, and the rule there is just be nice to everybody and give them what they want. I let myself be disrespected when I worked in customer service, and now I’m letting myself be disrespected by my students. I let them criticize the way I teach.
It seems like every choice I make, there are always complainers. If I say, “It’s due tomorrow,” students call out, “That’s too soon!” Or if I say, “It’s due the day after tomorrow,” students call out “that’s too far away, this assignment will take me like, two seconds.” And instead of asserting that I’m the teacher and I know when an assignment should be due, I just say, not-sarcastically, “Really? Um,.. yeah I suppose adjusting the due date is not that big of a deal, when do you think the assignment should be due?”
They say, “How come you let so-and-so sit wherever they want but you won’t let me sit here?”
And I say, “I don’t notice anyone out of their seat.”
And they say, “Look around Mr. Bird.”
So, I’ve never been a good salesperson, and I’ve also never been a parent. When I was chatting with your husband about classroom management, he mentioned to me that one reason he thought he was pretty successful with classroom management was that he has two teenage daughters, so he’s used to interacting with that age group, and he’s comfortable guiding them around, leading them in the correct, or approximately correct, life.
Anyway, the point is that in both of my classes I have several students who disrespect me and I let them do it because… I don’t know why.
This has been a long email, and rambling, but these things are pressing on my mind, and I needed to let them out.
Have you ever wondered why so many teachers are liberal? And I’m not only talking about college professors, but I’m also talking about K-12 teachers. What is it about the teaching profession that turns people into leftists? Or maybe the question should be, what is it about the teaching profession that attracts leftists?
Well, I have a little bit of experience teaching and being taught, and now I have some ideas about how to answer those questions.
Let me preface, though, that so many teachers have hearts of gold. They're really swell people. Most of them just want to make the world a better place, like Adolf Hitler did. Ha ha ha.
Seriously, I have a great respect for the job that teachers do. It’s a hard job.
Without further ado, here's my list of explanations to the questions I started out with:
16 Reasons Why Teachers are Liberal
1] Most teachers are members of a public workers union. Unions had a place back in the day, and a lot of unions still do good jobs, but these days a lot of unions mess stuff up. The salary and pensions of Boston police officers, for example, are much too high. And who knows, maybe if it weren’t for the United Auto Workers demanding too much pay and perks for their workers, GM and the other automobile companies would have kept doing good business. Then maybe George W. Bush and his associates wouldn’t have bailed out Detroit back in 2008.
For more on the thuggish way the UAW does business, read this article.
Anyway, I know that not all unions are as corrupt as the UAW, but I think it’s safe to say that more union stuff = more communist stuff.
2] Teachers get paid by the government. So it makes sense that teachers typically support higher taxes and bigger government.
3] Teachers think that they know what’s best for people. Teachers only wish that they could clone themselves, and be every student’s parent. Liberals in the government feel the same way. Listen to the arguments in favor of Universal Pre-School and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Liberals and teachers would prefer that trained professionals from the government would raise the nation’s children.
Teachers think they know how to raise kids better than parents do. I was in a few parent teacher conferences, and a few IEP (individual education plans) meetings, and sometimes in thsoe meetings I could just feel the condescending attitude coming from some of the teachers and administrators in the room.
In one of the IEP meetings, I remember a boy's father, a grown man- he was a soldier- and this salt-of-the-earth man was scared to talk to all of us professional-looking teachers and administrators. He kept his head lowered. He kept his arms folded.
This man had triumphed on the battlefield. He had backed up eighteen-wheelers to a thousand truck docks, he had built a house from start to finish, and yet in this meeting he acted like a little boy who was in trouble.
Instead of putting him at ease, all the teachers remained professional. I wanted to reach out to him, and talk with him like an honest man talks to another honest man. But I was a new teacher, and I remained silent. The teachers, the special education coordinator, and the school psychologist were all there, gathered around the table. They were all there to tell that great American father that his son was stupid, and that his son needed remedial classes made especially for stupid kids.
4] For almost 8 hours a day, for every day of the school year, teachers and the school environment provide recreation, education, meals, health care, security, pseudo-moral instruction, and pseudo-love to the students. Thus, the teachers gradually come to view themselves as benevolent providers. They gradually come to view themselves as indispensable. Teachers may even view the parents, especially the “bad” parents, as roadblocks to children’s education. Teachers seem to think that if only the school day and the school year could be lengthened, then the students would be better off.
5] Teachers, like liberals, are prideful. I don’t blame teachers for becoming prideful. Most people would become prideful if they had a captive audience who was forced into submission all the time. And most people would soon become prideful if they were always the ones with the right answer.
6] Teachers never talk about religion.
7] Teachers are never politically incorrect.
8] Teachers have bleeding hearts.
9] Teachers dress up and go to conferences, and rub elbows with other teachers. And at these conferences, they all tell each other how great they all are. They all remind each other how great it is to be a teacher, and how much good they are doing for the world, and how the world would just fall apart if it weren’t for teachers.
10] Public school teachers, for some reason, want their students to attend public K-12 schools, and public Universities, and then they want their students to get a job in the public sector. Teachers interact frequently with firefighters and cops, who are also great people, for the most part. But let it not be forgotten that teachers, firefighters and cops are all beholden to the government.
11] Teachers get in the newspaper all the time. Have you ever noticed that every time a kid gets a ribbon for being a good student, they get a write-up in the local paper? What’s up with that? Aren’t there more important things going on than little Johnny’s science project? And I think it’s pretty clear that more positive newspaper exposure leads to more liberalism. Think about it. Liberals also get in the paper all the time. The liberal reporters write about how great their liberal friends are.
12] Teachers are bombarded with environmental propaganda. They breathe in environmental propaganda, and they breathe out environmental propaganda.
13] Teachers are bombarded with multiculturalism. They breathe in the multiculturalism surrounding them, and they breathe out multiculturalism.
14] Teachers really believe in peaceful resolution. They always discourage fistfights. All that peaceful resolution talk seeps into their brains, until they think that war is never the answer, and that the world’s problems can be solved by education, and namby-pamby self-esteem boosting activities.
15] Teachers, or at least public school administrators, know that they receive more funding if they have more students on the free of reduced lunch program. So they do the best they can to sign kids up for that. Also, they receive more funding if they have more students, regardless of their citizenship status. So, teachers generally favor open borders. Read this article about the Ajo Unified School District’s nifty way of making a few more bucks- they bussed in kids from Mexico everyday.
16] Teachers go to liberal Universities and take lots of liberal classes in liberal colleges of education from liberal college professors.
Well, I can’t think of any other reasons. Can you come up with any other explanations as to why teachers are typically liberal?
Friday, May 28, 2010
I'm so glad that Jeff Smith is running for Congress in Congressional District 6 in Arizona. I hope he wins.
Jeff Smith has a hard fight ahead of him. Jeff Flake, the incumbent, has been there for a while, and Jeff Flake seems like such a great guy. Flake grew up on a farm or a ranch in Snowflake, he's LDS, and he's been known to wear cowboy hats. Those 3 things pretty much guarantee him a whole lotta votes in this part of the forest.
I talked with a lot of my LDS co-workers the other day about Jeff Flake and Jeff Smith. None of them had heard of Jeff Smith. I was happy to inform them about Jeff Smith’s existence, of course.
(By the way, I actually get a little upset when people haven’t heard of candidates, or of the tea party movement. The tea party movement is so important. Why aren’t people a little more informed? Sometimes I think it’s no wonder our government has become bloated and tyrannical- the common people aren't paying attention.)
Well, the response I got from my co-workers about Jeff Flake was, “Oh yeah, Flake, he's a great guy. He’s one of us, and he’s our… what do you call ‘em? You know, the local political person… uh, Representative. Yeah, Jeff Flake’s great. I think my uncle played basketball with him a few times. And I’m pretty sure my brother’s mother-in-law used to visit teach his grandmother. So he’s got my vote."
That’s the general impression people have about Jeff Flake. They recognize his name, they’re comfortable with him, and golly, Jeff Flake is practically their cousin, neighbor and home teacher all rolled into one handsome and charming Representative!
So I think one of the main things Jeff Smith supporters need to do is explain why Jeff Flake needs to go.
But I'm worried that Jeff Smith is too nice of a guy to really attack Jeff Flake. After all, Smith’s never been a politician before, and politics is a slimy business.
Well, if Jeff Smith is too nice of a guy to sling some mud, then I’ll do it for him:
Here are some headlines I’m working on:
Flake: Closeted Homosexual? Barney Frank gets frank on his “bromantical” fling with AZ Congressman!
Flake Hugs a Cactus: Jeff’s Soft Spot for Spotted Owls
Ensnared by Booby Traps: Jeff Flake’s Porn Problem
Flake Dines with the Undocumented! Felipe and Juan tell all!
Flake Finds Allah: AZ Rep Undergoes Self-Islamification!
Shhhh... Do you hear that sound? Do you hear it? That’s the sound of Jeff Smith’s numbers going up!
Jeff Smith for U.S. Congress!
P.S. I could have sworn I saw some signs for Jeff Smith on the corner of Ironwood and Ocotillo, in San Tan Valley, or maybe the corner of Ironwood and Combs. Then all of a sudden they were gone. Did Jeff Flake’s henchmen steal Jeff Smith’s signs?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Worksheets, worksheets, worksheets. Oh how I love worksheets. You just give them out to students, they busy themselves, and then you get to stare out the window and pretend you're not at school.
After class is over, you collect the worksheets and see if the students answered the questions well enough to get some points for it.
Too bad worksheets don't go over very well if your students are monsters.
Maybe I should say, too bad worksheets don't go over very well if you're an awful teacher who can't discipline adolescents.
Anyway, I created and assigned these worksheets. They were generally associated with other stuff, you know- a reading assignment, a video. I realize it may seem funny to have these on Telemoonfa Time without context, without them being part of a larger unit, and without seeing the readings or videos these worksheets were based on.
Ha ha ha. I realize the funniness.
Introduction to World Drama Worksheet - Pages 1 and 2
Instructions: Read pages 1 and 2 in our World Drama book. Then, answer the following questions. (Check for understanding questions can be clearly found in the book. Extension questions ask you for your own educated ideas and opinions.)
Check For Understanding Questions
1] Where did the first plays we know about in Western literature start?
2] What is the definition of “drama” given in the book?
3] In both the East and the West, how did the first dramas probably start?
4] What is a character?
5] Why do you think almost all cultures have done drama?
6] Why do people tell each other stories?
7] Why do you think drama and religion have gone together in the past? Why do you think that drama began in religious ritual?
8] Why do playwrights write about non-human characters (like animals) that kind of act like humans? Why don’t they write about very realistic non-human characters?
Check for Understanding
9] Define the following terms. If the book doesn’t give a clear definition, then describe the term or give an example of the term.
11] Who is the protagonist in the play you are in? (There may be more than one) Remember, the protagonist is the good guy, or the main character, in a play. The protagonist usually changes his attitude or learns something new about himself or the world.
12] Who is the antagonist in the play you are in? (There may not be a character who is clearly the antagonist, but there is always something that the protagonist is struggling against, like ignorance or boredom or nature or society.)
13] Why do you think so many stories follow this storyline format found on page 2?
14]Do you think a play would be very good if there was no conflict in it? Why or why not?
15] Do you like plays with happy endings or sad endings better?
Directions: As we watch “Those Fabulous Folks on Mount Olympus” circle the letter of the correct answer.
1] Which statement about Greek and Roman gods is true?
A] They were all perfect and they never fought with each other.
B] They were weak.
C] They were all animals.
D] They were like humans- they fought, got jealous, fell in love, etc.
2] Greeks believed that
A] The Earth was a flat disc and Mount Olympus was the Center of the Universe
B] The Earth was round
C] The Universe was expanding
D] They lived on an outer edge of the Milky Way galaxy
3] What are the names in parenthesis? For example: Cronus and Rhea (Saturn and Ops)
A] Greek nicknames
B] Completely different gods
C] The names the Romans gave to the Greek gods
D] The children of Cronus and Rhea
4] What did Cronus do whenever his wife Rhea had a baby?
A] Wrapped it in a blanket
B] Gave it a present
C] Ate it
D] Trained it to be a soldier
5] Draw a line matching each god to his domain
Poseidon Upper regions (above the ground)
6] The Greeks worshipped Zeus as
A] The father of the gods and men
B] Sister of Athena
C] Nephew of the gods
D] Father of the Irish
7] Poseidon, the god of the seas, usually carried
A] A trident- a three-pronged fishing spear
B] A flashlight
C] A cell phone
D] A staff
A] Presided over trial and punishment of the wicked departed spirits
B] Collected stamps
C] Gave advice to living people
D] Traded with humans
9] Demeter was the god of
A] Architecture and buildings
C] Agriculture and ordered society: health, birth, marriage
10] Athena was born
A] When a stork brought her to mount Olympus
B] When a cabbage patch suddenly sprouted her
C] When she mysteriously crawled out of a cave
D] When Zeus had a headache so he had his head split open with an axe, and then Athena came
out of Zeus’s head.
11] Ares (Mars) was the god of
12] Apollo used a
A] bow and arrow
13] Hermes (Mercury) was the god of
D] The sky
14] Dionysus (Bacchus) was the god of
B] Wine and fertility
15] Hercules was
A] Very athletic
B] Spent all his time reading books
C] Spent all of his time in church
D] humble and quiet
The Storytelling Tradition worksheet
Directions: Read pages 44 -47. Answer the following questions in thoughtful, complete sentences.
1] According to the folklorist Stith Thompson, why do people like listening to stories?
2] What kind of acting techniques do storytellers use?
3] What came first, the art of speaking dramatically or the art or writing?
4] What two epic poems did Homer write down?
5] How do you think the arrival of print media, such as books and newspapers, has affected the oral tradition of a culture?
6] What is a griot?
7] How did a griot make a living?
8] What were some of the important things a griot did for his culture?
9] Do you think it would be hard to be a griot? What are some of the challenges that a griot would most likely face?
10] How is the audience supposed to act while a griot tells a story?
11] Why has the tradition of the griot nearly died out by the middle of the 20th century?
The Still Alarm worksheet
Directions: Answer the questions. Use complete sentences. The numbers in parenthesis after the questions will help you know what page number the answer is on.
Doing this assignment will help you understand how to read a script, and will help you learn some drama vocabulary. Here are some vocabulary words to help you understand the questions:
Playwright: A person who writes plays.
Setting: Where and when a play takes place.
Characters: The people in a play. Characters are not the actors; rather, characters are the people who the actors pretend to be.
Stage directions: Words that indicate action, usually in italics and/or in parenthesis. Stage directions are not spoken when the play is performed.
Dialogue: The lines a character says.
1] What is the title of the play? (173)
2] Who is the playwright (author) of the play? (173)
3] Name one other play that George Kaufman has helped to write. (in the middle of 172)
4] What is the setting of “The Still Alarm”? (near the top of 173)
5] The playwright, George S. Kaufman, gives advice on how the actors are supposed to perform the play. What advice does he give? (near the top of 173)
6] Who are the five characters in the play? One of them does not have any lines. (skim the whole play)
7] What is Bob going to build? (near the top of 174)
8] What important message does the Bellboy have for Bob and Ed? (middle of 174)
9] Why can’t Bob and Ed just jump out the window to escape the fire? (bottom of 175)
10] What is the first fireman carrying when he enters? (bottom of 176)
11] What is the second fireman carrying when he enters? (bottom of 176)
12] How does the play end? (top of page 179)
13] Copy down one stage direction that Bob is supposed to do. (any page. Example: remembering something)
14] Copy down one stage direction that Ed is supposed to do. (any page. Example: enters.)
15] Copy down one line of the Bellboy’s dialogue. (174-175)
16] Copy down one line of First Fireman’s dialogue. (176-179)
The Proposal Worksheet
Directions: Answer the questions, using complete sentences. Use The Proposal script to look for the answers.
1] Who is the playwright?
2] Where is the setting of the play?
3] How many characters are there in the play? What are their names?
4] How are Stepan Stepanovich Chubukov and Natalya Stepanova related?
5] What happens in the beginning of the play?
6] Why has Lomov come to visit Chubukov and Natalya?
7] Name at least two physical problems or ailments that Lomov complains about.
8] Name at least two reasons why Lomov feels that he should marry Natalya. (bottom of right hand column, page 192)
9] What do Natalya and Lomov start arguing about on page 193?
10] Why does Natalya want Chubukov to bring back Lomov on page 196?
11] After Lomov comes back, who apologizes for arguing? (bottom of left hand column, page
12] What do Natalya and Lomov start arguing about on page 197?
13] What happens at the end of the play?
14] What do the arguments between Lomov and Natalya tell you about what they think is important? What do Lomov and Natalya really care about?
15] Do you think Lomov and Natalya will have a happy marriage? Why or why not?
16] Imagine that Lomov and Natalya have been married for one year. Where are they now? What are they doing with their lives?
The Lottery Worksheet
Directions: Answer the questions, using complete sentences.
1] What is the setting of the Lottery?
2] What does the stage look like in the beginning of the play?
3] Name at least 5 characters in the play.
4] Copy down one stage direction that Martin has.
5] Copy down one line of dialogue that Hutchison has.
6] What are Tommy and Dickie doing at the beginning of the play?
7] What are some of the things that Martin and Delacroix talk about on page 102?
8] What are some of the things that Mrs. Dunbar and Mrs. Watson talk about on page 103?
10] Why is Tessie late to the Lottery? (page 111)
11] What are some of Old Man Warner’s complaints about the way that the Lottery is currently
being run? (109, other pages)
12] What does the person who “wins” the Lottery get?
13] What did you think the lottery was at the beginning of the play? How do you react to the ending?
14] Joe says, “The Lottery has got to be taken serious. People get set in a way of doin’ things and you can’t change ‘em. It’s human nature.” Do you agree with Joe’s statement? Why or why not?
15] The men and the women in the play do different jobs at home and in the community. What are some of those different things that the men and the women do?
16] Why do you think the town does the lottery every year?
17] Why do you think many cultures in the past have done human sacrifice?
18] Are there traditions in your family or community that you wish would stop? If so, what are they?
19] If you could make up a new tradition that everybody followed, what would it be?
20] What do you think is the moral, or the main point, of “The Lottery”?
Directions: Now that we have finished watching Spartacus, answer these questions about the movie.
1] Did you like the movie? Why or why not?
2] If you could change something about the movie, what would you change?
3]Who was your favorite character? Why?
4] Who was your least favorite character? Why?
5] Who is the protagonist?
6] How does Spartacus change during the movie? What do you think Spartacus learns about
himself or the world?
7] Who is the antagonist?
8] How does Crassus change during the movie? What do you think Crassus learns about himself or the world?
9] Why did so many captured slaves stand up and say, “I’m Spartacus!”
10] Crassus says that he not only wants to kill Spartacus, but he wants to kill the legend of Spartacus. What do you think that means?
11] If there were a Spartacus 2, what would happen in it?
12]What are some examples of conflict in the movie?
13] Could Spartacus be an inspirational story? What could it inspire people to do or believe in?
14] The movie version of Spartacus is not completely historically accurate. What parts of the movie do you think the screenwriter (the person who wrote the script for the movie) made up or changed?
15] There are rarely characters that are 100% good or 100% evil. Can you think of any good qualities that Crassus has? What are they? Can you think of any bad qualities that Spartacus has? What are they?
16] How were the lives of the slaves and the lives of the Roman Senators and military generals different?
17] Today most everybody thinks that watching gladiators kill each other for sport is wrong. But the thrill of watching violence remains with us. How is watching a violent movie different than watching gladiators fight to the death? How is watching a boxing match different than watching gladiators fight?
18] Why do you think people like watching violence?
19] Do you think Spartacus and his slave army should have kept fighting against the Roman Empire, even if they knew the chances of winning were slim?
21] How is Spartacus different than many movies made today?
22] Could the Spartacus story be made into a play? What changes would need to be made to adapt Spartacus from the screen to the stage?
Directions: Read pages 296 to 298 on your handout. Answer these questions.
1] What are the three main traditional types of theatre in Japan?
2] What is the name of Japanese puppet theatre?
3] How did Kabuki theatre start? When did Kabuki theatre start?
4]How is the Kabuki stage different than the stage in our cafeteria?
5] What is a hanamichi?
6] What is a samisen?
7] What is a kimono?
8] Describe the makeup and costumes that are used in Kabuki theatre.
9] In kabuki makeup, what do red lines mean, and what does the color blue mean?
10] How is Kabuki theatre different from theatre that you are used to?
Directions, read pages 299 – 305 and answer the questions. It is important to remember that you are not reading the whole play. You are only reading the first scene in “The Zen Substitute” by Okamura Shiko.
11] What are the names of the two main characters in the scene?
12] Lord Ukyo tells his wife that he is going to spend the whole night in meditation. But what does he really want to do?
13] What does Lord Ukyo want his servant to do?
14] The Kabuki chorus is like a narrator in a play, who talks directly to the audience. But a Kabuki chorus is very different from a narrator because the Kabuki chorus has several members, and they sing everything. What does the chorus sing about on pages 300-301?
14] Why is Tarokaja afraid of Lady Tamanoi?
15] How does Lord Ukyo finally convince Tarokaja to act like he’s meditating all night?
16] How is the stage assistant supposed to act when he comes on stage to bring props to the actors? (See the left sidebar on page 302.)
17] How do the actors interact with the stage assistant?
17] What does Tarokaja ask Lord Ukyo to do on the top of page 304?
18] Is this a tragedy or a comedy? What makes you think so?
19] Summarize this scene from “The Zen Substitute.”
20] What do you think will happen in the play next? (Remember, you read only the first scene of “The Zen Substitute.”)
21] Did you like the play? How did the play make you feel? What parts were interesting? Write at least 3 complete sentences.
A Mad Tea Party Worksheet
This worksheet will help you use the vocabulary words we have learned. It will also help you think about how to design costumes and sets. To “design” means “come up with plans for.” This worksheet might also get you excited to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie, coming to theatres everywhere on March 5th. (Tim Burton is paying me to market his film in this drama class. J/k lol :)
Directions: Answer the questions in thoughtful, complete sentences. Refer to A Mad Tea Party, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, dramatized by Mara Rockliff, found on pages 113 to 120 in our book, Famous Stories for Performance. Not all the answers will be in the script. Use your imagination to come up with the answers.
1] Who are the four characters?
2] Briefly describe all four characters. What do they look like? What do they act like?
3] What is the setting?
4] Copy down one line of Alice’s dialogue.
5] Copy down one stage direction for the Hatter.
6] What does the March Hare do with his watch on page 115?
7] What song does the Hatter sing on page 117?
8] The Hatter and the Dormouse and the March Hare all talk about crazy things and do crazy things. What are some of the crazy things they say and do?
9] On pages 118-120, the Dormouse tells a story to the guests at the tea party. What is the Dormouse’s story about?
10] Summarize the play in at least 5 complete sentences.
11] What is Alice’s objective, or goal, in the play?
12] What do you think the Mad Hatter’s objective is?
13] Draw a picture of the Hatter’s costume. (Remember, the costumes can come from information in the script, but if the scritp doesn’t tell you exactly what the costume looks like, then you can make it up from your imagination.)
14] Make a list of the things the Hatter would wear.
15] Draw a picture of the Dormouse’s costume.
16] Make a list of the things the Hatter would wear.
17] Draw a picture of Alice’s costume.
18] Make a list of the things that Alice would wear.
19] Draw a picture of the March Hare’s costume.
20] Make a list of the things the March Hare would wear.
21] Imagine you are in charge of designing the set for this play. Draw a picture of the set on the
back of this paper.
22] What props would you need to put this play on? Read through the script and list as many as props as you can find. (Example: watch, tea cups, etc.)
23] How is this version different than the other versions of Alice in Wonderland you have seen and read?
24] What did you like about the play?
25] What did you dislike about the play?
Introduction to World Drama Worksheet – Pages 3 - 5
Instructions: Read pages 3, 4, and 5 in our World Drama book. Then, answer the following questions. (Check for understanding questions can be clearly found in the book. Extension questions as you for your own educated ideas and opinions.)
Check for Understanding – page 3
1] What are the two main types of drama?
2] What two old Greek tragedies are included in our anthology, World Drama?
3] What could be an example of a “tragic flaw in character” in a protagonist in a tragedy?
4] Name at least 3 differences between comedies and tragedies.
Extension – page 3
4]Why do you think people like to see comedies?
5] Why do you think people like to see tragedies, if they know it’s going to make them sad?
6] Would you rather see a tragedy or a comedy? Why?
Check for Understanding – page 4
7] Are all plays either a tragedy or a comedy?
8] What does a “farce” involve?
9] What is a “realistic drama” like? What play is an example of a realistic drama?
10] What is “social protest”?
Extension – page 4
11] The book says that writers “experiment all the time with the basic forms of drama.” Why do you think that playwrights don’t always stick to the same play format?
12] Do you think plays or movies can have a big impact on the world? What kind of changes can plays or movies bring about?
13] Do you think plays or movies can change people’s opinions about things? Tell of a time when watching a movie or seeing a play has changed your opinion about something or helped you to learn something new, or has helped you to look at the world differently.
Check for understanding – page 5
14] What playwright wrote the lines “Sit and see/ Minding true things by what their mockeries be.”?
15] Who are some of the “people who help to bring the play to life”?
Extension – page 5
16] What is the power of the theatre?
17] Why do you think that people still like to see plays, even though we have movies now?
Are you bored? Do you want to learn drama stuff? Then just do these drama assignments!
See, I just finished teaching drama, and I'll never teach again for the rest of my life, so I have all these assignments, and if you want to read them, or do them... then you can
Write your own scene
For the next few days, while we continue to rehearse our plays, we will be doing some creative writing. We already wrote our own original monologues. Now we’ll write scenes. To write a good scene, you need to imagine two characters, a setting, and a conflict. Use your imagination to answer the following questions.
Create character 1
3 adjectives describing the character:
Describe the unique way he or she talks:
Describe the unique way he or she moves:
Objective: (a.k.a. goal, a.k.a. motivation)
Create character 2
3 adjectives describing the character:
Describe the unique way he or she talks:
Describe the unique way he or she moves:
Create the Setting
What does the setting…
What props or set pieces are there?
Create the Conflict
What is the conflict?
Now that you have created 2 unique characters, a setting, and a conflict, start writing your scene on a separate piece of paper.
Requirements. Your scene needs to…
1] Have a title.
2] Have at least two stage directions in parenthesis.
3] Be at least one page long. Get at least 3/4 down the page. If you write big, get to the other side of the page.
At the top of your paper, put this information:
Playwright Name: (That’s you!)
Title of Scene:
Here is a model of what your scene should look like:
Playwright: Mr. Telemoonfa
Title: Balloons for Sale
Characters: Martha, Tom
Setting: a county fair
TOM: (holding a bunch of helium-filled balloons) Balloons for sale! Get your balloons here! Balloons! Balloons! (Martha enters) Hey little girl. Hey! Would you like to buy a balloon?
MARTHA: I don’t think so.
TOM: I got pink ones.
If you can’t think of any good ideas for your scene, use one of these situations:
Two friends are starting to hang out with different groups of people. One of the friends feels betrayed.
A teenager is applying for his or her first job.
A teenager is explaining to his or her parent what happened last night.
Best friends are separating because one of them is moving to another state.
A father is teaching his son how to play chess and talking about life.
You will do a rough draft and a final draft for this assignment. Put “rough draft” or “final draft” at the top of your papers so I know which draft it is.
This worksheet and your rough draft is due at the beginning of the period on Monday, April 12th. 25 points. Your final draft is due by the end of the period on Wednesday, April 14th. 25 points.
Write your own monologue
For the next few days, while we continue to rehearse our plays, we will be doing some creative writing. First, we will be writing our own original monologues. To write a good monologue, you need to imagine a character, a setting, and a conflict. Use your imagination to answer the following questions.
1] Create a character.
What is your character’s name?
What is your character’s age?
Is your character male or female?
What are your character’s likes and dislikes?
What is unique about the way your character talks? For example, does your character say, “like” a lot? Does your character ask a lot of questions, or make a lot of jokes, or use big words and long sentences?
Use 3 adjectives to describe your character.
How is your character feeling during the monologue?
What is unique about your character?
2] Create a setting.
Where does your monologue happen?
When does your monologue happen?
What does the setting look like?
What does the setting sound like?
What does the setting smell, feel, and taste like?
Are there any props or set pieces in this monologue? If so, what are they?
3] Create a conflict.
What is your character struggling against?
What does your character want?
What is preventing your character from getting what he or she wants?Now that you have
created a unique character, setting, and conflict, start writing your monologue on a separate piece of paper.
Requirements. Your monologue needs to…
1] Have a title.
2] Have at least two stage directions in parenthesis.
3] Be at least one page long. Get at least 3/4 down the page. If you write big, get to the other side of the page.
4] Be in first person. (First person means using the pronoun “I”)
At the top of your paper, put this information:
Playwright Name: (That’s you!)
Title of monologue:
Other advice: Your character may talk to the audience directly, or to an inanimate object, such as a teddy bear, or talk to another character that is offstage or unresponsive. Or your character could be talking on the phone. Or your character could be just thinking out loud. Remember to write your monologue in a way that doesn’t waste any words. That means don’t just keep repeating the same stuff over and over. If you can cut out some words or whole sentences and the monologue still makes sense and sounds good, then cut that stuff out. If you don’t need it, get rid of it!
If you can’t think of any good ideas for your monologue, use one of these situations:
o You’re a young married adult who has just become a parent.
o Your best friend has done something dishonest and doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
o You confront someone with irrefutable evidence that he or she has wronged you.
o You tell someone how much you appreciate his or her help with something.
o You try to explain to a parent or guardian why you need to use the car on Saturday night.
You will do a rough draft and a final draft for this assignment. Put “rough draft” or “final draft” at the top of your papers so I know which draft it is.
This worksheet and your rough draft is due by the end of the period on Tuesday, 6th. 25 points.
Your final draft is due by the end of the period on Thursday, April 8th. 25 points.
Write Your Own Fable!
Instructions: For this assignment, you will write your own fable, and then read it dramatically to the class. You will be turning in your written copy of your fable after you read it to the class. Your fable must have the following five elements:
1. Title (for example, The mischievous pig)
· 2. Talking animals (for example, a cat and a dog)
· 3. Setting (for example, a vacant lot)
· 4. Events (for example, a dog encounters a cat who has a piece of meat)
· 5. Moral (for example, pick on animals your own size)
You may use one of the following morals, or come up with your own:
Pride leads to a fall. The early bird catches the worm. Haste makes waste.
A stitch in time saves nine. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Honesty is the best policy. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Look before you leap.
Rubric: You get 10 points if your fable has talking animals, a setting, and events. You get 10 points if your fable has a moral. You get 10 points for the quality of your reading to the class. 30 points possible.
The Frog Singer
Once there was a frog who loved to ribbit all day long. He would just sit on a lily pad and be noisy all day, sometimes trumpeting loud ribbits, RIBBIT RIBBIT RIBBIT and sometimes breathing out softer ribbits, ribbit ribbit ribbit. But by the time the sun went down, the frog’s voice was quite worn out, so he stopped his ribbiting. Some of the other frogs nearby said to him, “Keep up your beautiful music. We want to forget about the sorrows of our animal lives. Never mind that the sun has gone down.” But other frogs said, “Thank goodness the night has come and that old frog has stopped his bothersome noise-making. Now we can get some sleep.”
Moral: A song that is melodious to one is raucous to another.
Fables are due on Monday, May 17th. They will be read to the class on that day.
By the way, my original fable, "The Frog Singer" has a secret message for my drama classes. My secret message is, "some of you love drama, and some of you hate drama. Some of you build up, and some of you destroy. Some of you are full of light, and some of you are full of darkness."
I read "The Frog Singer" out loud to my classes in a dramatic way as I was explaining the assingment. I wonder if any of them thought I was sending them a secret message, like Jesus did when he told parables.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I'm trying to get involved in local politics a little more, and I'm trying to figure out how local politics works. Turns out that everybody lives in a legislative district as well as a congressional district. For example, I live in legislative district 23 and congressional district 6, in Arizona.
I've known about my Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain my Representative Jeff Flake for a long time. But I had no idea who my uh... gosh I don't even know the term, you know... the state representative, who serves in the Arizona state House of Representatives, not the U.S. House of Representatives. I guess the term is "legislator", even though the U.S. Senators and Representatives are all sort of called legislators also...
Well, turns out my state Senator is Rebecca Rios. I don't know very much about her, but I think I'd like to vote her out of office. Here's why:
1] She's a Democrat.
2] She majored in social work at college, and those people, um... well, come on, social workers, you know, they tend to lean to the left.
3] She's divorced. She says she loves focusing on children's issues, and families, but her own family is out of order. (I know, I know, Ronald Reagan was divorced, too. And I know I'm being slimy by bringing up her personal life, but hey, this is just one reason among many reasons, OK? Gosh, back off a little bit. I know that sometimes divorce is the best solution to a really horrible marriage, and blah blah blah. But I don't know about you, but I like politicians like Mitt Romney and Rand Paul and Jeff Smith who have been married to the same woman for a long time. A long marriage shows commitment, traditional values, etc.)
4] From what I can tell, she's never had a long-term job in the private sector. I think she's worked for government agencies and non-profits for her whole life. I want politicians who have run businesses. Right after college she became a politician. Her Dad was one, too.
5] She's pro-choice.
6] When asked, "Who is your favorite historical figure?" She answered, "I'm going to go modern and say Barack Obama" Um, I think that's reason enough to want to kick her out of office, don't you?
That's enough for now.
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Rand Paul won the Kentucky Republican Primary election this week, by a landslide, and he's going to win the general election in November! He's going to win because Kentucky is a conservative state, and his Democratic opponent in the general election is really liberal. So I think Rand Paul has got his race already won. Of course he's still gotta work for it a little bit, though.
I can tell that Rand Paul is a good man. He's honest, he's smart... he's just wonderful. He's just what the country needs. I trust him more that I trust other politicians.
Does Ron Paul have any other sons that can run for other public offices?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
In Washington D.C., it costs $28,170 per student per year in a public school. If parents were given that money and told to use it to educate their children, i.e. given a school voucher, then the parent could send their kid to Georgetown Prep or some other fancy-schmancy private rich-kids school where the education is fabulous and all the graduates go to Harvard or Yale and etc.
In Arizona, according to Adam Schaeffer at the Cato Institute, the real cost of public education ranges from $9,000 to $13,000, even though school districts usually give out numbers like $6,000 or $7,000 per pupil per year.
In Arizona, charter schools can provide the same quality of education for about $2,000 - $3,000 per pupil per year. (I wish I had a reliable source for this… I’m pretty sure I heard it on the radio… I don’t feel like finding a reliable source now… can you find one?)
Why does that happen? Why do private schools do such a better job for less money?
And in public schools, where is the waste occurring?
I’ve worked in public school for a year now, and so I’ve seen some of the waste firsthand. Here's a list of some of the wasteful things I've seen. A lot of the items on my list will seem trivial, but still, every penny counts.
1] Textbook misallocation of funds
I got a class set of some textbooks sent down from the high school drama class for my middle school drama class- about 35 hardback really nice play anthologies. The high school drama teacher said she never used them because they were too advanced, and because she just preferred not to teach out of them. Well, they got sent to me, and I didn’t use them very much either, because, again, the plays were way too advanced. They had plays by Sophocles and Shakespeare, and my middle school students struggle with “Hop on Pop” and “Go Dog, Go.” J/k lol ... I’m exaggerating but you know what I mean.
The play textbooks/anthologies, by the way, also had a play by the communist Bertolt Brecht, and then there were some godless absurdist plays about how life is meaningless so we might as well surrender to any good-looking dictator that comes along, and then there was some play from Africa about how evil European colonialization is, and about how everything would have been better in Africa if the white folks hadn’t come to town and killed/ enslaved everyone and converted them to Christianity… The best play in there was The Proposal by Anton Chekov, but even though I like that play, I can’t help but think that it’s making fun of land-owning bourgeois, and traditional marriage. I think The Proposal is basically saying, “Look how stupid these property owning pigs are- they are incapable of love, and they will never experience the spontaneous emergence of class consciousness because they’re so lost in their bourgeois-ness.” Maybe I’m taking it too far. Maybe The Proposal is just a funny silly play. Long story short, the liberal bias in those textbooks was very biasy and ala-swiffert.
And back to my point, the high school drama teacher said that she wasn’t in charge of ordering the textbooks, some other bureaucrat from the district was. So, I’d say at least $500 were spent on those textbooks, and yet they sat in the closet collecting dust for years.
That begs the question: how many other textbooks are sitting unused in school district warehouses?
Another wasteful textbook issue happened at the high school where I taught for a quarter last fall before I resigned in shame. In all the English classes, we checked out a whole bunch of textbooks to students at the beginning of the year. 2 textbooks for each student. One textbook was focused on the writing process and the other was more of a literature anthology. The students were supposed to get a copy of each textbook so they could keep them at home and bring them to school on the days their English teachers asked them to. Well, the chair of the English department, and a lot of the other English teachers, including me, thought that the literature textbook was too advanced for at-home reading. They thought it would be better to have the students read that advanced stuff in class with the help of their teachers and their peers. Instead of needing a copy for each student, we just needed a class set for each English classroom. So, we had all the students bring back their textbooks from home and check them back in.
That change cut the number of needed textbooks down probably by about 70 %. So instead of needing 1,000 literature textbooks, the district really only needed to purchase 300. Hmmm… I bet buying 300 literature textbooks would have been a lot cheaper than buying 1,000.
Now, it’s possible that the High School could have returned the barely-used literature textbooks and got a full or partial refund, thus saving the district and the taxpayers money, but I doubt it. I bet those extra textbooks are sitting on the shelves, collecting dust, just like my drama textbooks are. Oh, except there is the “textbook administrator,” a full-time school employee whose job duties include dusting off the textbooks, between her computer solitaire games. And I guess that’s another textbook issue that I saw- did the High School really need both a librarian and a textbook administrator?
Maybe. Hey, I don’t want to negatively criticize the public school system too much. I’ve never run a school before- I know it would be hard. And in fact I want to say that the textbook coordinator lady is a great lady. Really great! I see her at church. And that’s how it goes with most government workers that I know- firefighters, cops, folks down at the Post Office, folks who work at the National Parks, and even the folks at the DMV/ MVD… generally speaking, they’re good people, really good, neighborly people, but they’re trapped in the inefficient bowels of a bloated government!
And it seems to me that a quick fix to the wasteful spending on textbooks would be to let the teachers pick out and buy their own textbooks. They are the ones in the classroom; they know what kind of textbooks and supplies they need. (Of course, the other side of the argument is that teachers already have so much to do- maybe they shouldn’t be worried with ordering textbooks and supplies.)
But remember that Milton Friedman said, “There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40 % of our national income.”
The textbook administrator, or whoever’s in charge of ordering the textbooks, is spending somebody else’s money (the tax-payers') on somebody else (the teachers and the students who she only vaguely knows).
Of course, maybe giving teacher free reign on ordering textbooks and class supplies wouldn't work. I know if the district gave me the money and let me loose, I wouldn’t buy books or dry-erase markers. I’d buy myself a motorcycle, a handgun, a few Bob Dylan albums, and a whole bunch of hamburgers. Ha ha ha.)
2] Impeccable landscaping.
It seemed like every week there were landscaping crews trimming the trees, poisoning the weeds and raking the gravel. I think they baby the trees so much here that their roots are shallow- just about all those trees toppled over during a big storm recently.
Hmm… that sounds like a metaphor for something…
3] Excessive Technology.
There are Smartboards in every classroom, and even a few tucked away in hallways that don’t get used. Smartboards are big expensive futuristic touch-screen chalkboards. And they have a big price tag. And Smartboards are sprouting across public school campuses across our nation.
If you think that’s bad, the high school down the street bought laptops for every single one of their students. Of course, they say they save money because they’ve virtually gone paperless, but, uh… I haven’t worked the math, but buying a laptop for every student still sounds way more expensive than just buying paper and textbooks and chalkboards and erasers…
Hey readers, I have to level with you… at this point of the night I am very tired, and I have many more things I’d like to tell you about, but I have to go to bed, so I’ll see you later and I’ll resume my list of wasteful things that I’ve seen firsthand some other time. Until then, stay faithful to the cause of liberty.
P.S. I hope my post tonight conveys not a rash of bitterness, but a common-sense look at the misallocation of funds in our public schools and an honest look at why Arizona citizens should have voted no on Proposition 100.
Today was a special election on Proposition 100, which increases the Arizona sales tax by 1 % for 3 years. After 3 years, the sales tax is supposed to automatically repeal itself. We'll see in 3 years if it actually does. I have my doubts.
My wife and I woke up early so we could go vote no on it.
As I write this, not all precincts have released their results yet, but it looks pretty clear that Proposition 100 passed.
And the disheartening thing is that it passed by a landslide!
I thought there was a conservative revival going on! I thought that the people were finally seeing how wasteful and bloated the government is! I thought people were finally understanding that higher taxes and bigger government is ala-swiffert alawhutiest woopert stooper alawhut! Plus swiffern!
I think the Prop 100 passed because it wasn't publicized enough. Special elections never get as much voter turnout as elections on November 4th. A lot of people just didn't hear about the thing, and um... the people who did hear about it mostly heard about it at school board meetings or public-sector union meetings... from those types of people, you know.
Plus Governer Jan Brewer endorsed it, so that helped. And all the public sector unions were behind, and those groups are very powerful. And the Yes on Prop 100 crowd were a lot more organized and had a lot more money. I heard dozens of "yes on 100" commercials on the radio, but I didn't hear one "no on 100" commercial. Also, I saw a lot more "Yes" signs than "No" signs.
Have you ever noticed that whenever they (and by "they" I mean government people and liberals) want to increase taxes, they always go after the police officers, the fire-fighters, and the schools? That's a slimy emotional appeal... but it seems to work.
But proposition 100 passing isn't the worst thing in the world. I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
(Well technically, I could be sleeping now, so I guess I am losing sleep over it. I've been working 12 hour days for the last 2 and 1/2 weeks, so I'm kind of tired and I don't get to blog as much as I used to. Maybe 12 and 1/2 hours isn't a big deal to some of you hard working folks out there, but to me it is a big deal. If you add commute time, it's like 14 hours a day. Whine whine whine. Why don't I don't get to sponge off of the government and read poetry and be in plays at college anymore! When is it going to be my turn to relax and have government people take care of me? I've been working soooo hard for like, almost 3 weeks now! Ha ha ha.)
But still, um... Proposition 100... I'm mad about it.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
All you young people out there who are thinking about going to college, here’s a little advice.
Major in something useful like business or engineering or dentistry.
Before graduation, chop wood, fetch water. After graduation, chop wood, fetch water.
Oh, and another thing- Don’t join the Muslim Student Association, or you might turn out like the fine lady featured in this video:
This is prophecy being fulfilled.
1 Nephi 19:14 And because they [the Jews] turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel, they shall wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations.
I hope Jesus gets back soon.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I was supporting Chuck Devore for US Senator from California, because I agree with his policies and he's really really conservative and stuff, but that is until I saw this video!
This video is the best political attack ad I've ever seen, and the best part about it is that it's actually real! It really really played on Carly Fiorina's web site for a while!
There's a demon sheep in it!
I've watched it like 10 times, and it cracks me up soooooooooooooooo much!
So if Carly Fiorina can make a video this good, well, then, she deserves that Senate seat!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
OK, here are some of my more serious reasons for why I want everyone to vote no on proposition 100, the proposed AZ sales tax increase.
My biggest reason is based on my deeply held guiding principle that more government in our fallen world is usually bad. Higher taxes = more government power = more unwise government spending = less prosperity for the commoners.
The emotional, whiny appeals coming from prop 100 supporters are annoying. “If you vote no on prop 100, you’re taking little Billy’s school-issued saxophone away! How can you be so cruel?” My response is, I’m not cruel, and my tea-party friends aren’t cruel, either. I don’t like to brag about these things, but proportionally speaking, I give more to charity than Barack Obama does. And I’m a friendly, compassionate person, but I don’t agree with higher taxes.
Your grocery bill will go up. And the cost of everything you buy in Arizona will go up.
Except for the stuff you buy on the black market. And you know there’s a local currency movement that's partially motivated by avoiding taxes, and there’s lots of people who work under the table to avoid taxes- but those things are not the solution to the problem, they're illegal. But hey I worked under the table for 3 weeks once when I was a plumber’s helper, and I didn't report it on my taxes. I know some waiters/ servers like to get cash tips rather than credit card tips because they don't report cash tips on their taxes. But I digress.
I got laid off, I’m mad at my drama students, and I’m bitter about teaching… so I’m going to have a little bit of a smirk when I fill in that “No” bubble. Ha ha ha.
Throwing money at public schools does not improve them. When you look at cost-per-pupil statistics, you’ll find that private schools do a better and less expensive job of educating children than public schools do.
Here's the proof:
That article has a great graph that shows what each state spends per pupil
After the article, a commenter wrote:
“Note Utah, dead last, and yet, a state that graduates many more from high school than most, and attracts a lot of international high tech firms because of the well educated, bi and tri lingual work force. Say what you will about the Mormons, but that’s proof positive that their community knows how to take care of the basics without overspending”
But the numbers on that graph in the article isn’t really accurate. Here’s a great article and video that explains how much public education really costs per pupil:
If the Arizona state government has to cut funding from welfare or unemployment or entitlements, or state employee pensions or whatever because prop 100 fails, I say that’s great. Let people who are down on their luck rely on themselves, their families and friends, their churches, private charity organizations, etc. Force the government to figure out how to cut spending and balance their budget without raising taxes.
Greece is showing us what happens to countries that are too dependent on the government- they go bankrupt and they riot and they kill bankers.
If voting no on prop 100 causes public schools to fail… so be it. I’m still going to vote no on prop 100. Maybe if public schools fail even more, that might actually drive parents and concerned citizens to create better charter schools, private schools, religious schools, or home-schools.
Vote no on prop 100!
About 2 months ago, if you had asked me how I was going to vote on Proposition 100, I would have told you that I was going to vote yes. (Prop 100 is going to increase the Arizona sales tax by 1% for a few years. The extra funding from the increased tax is supposed to go to law enforcement and schools.) 2 months ago I was a teacher, possibly kind of sort of planning on being a teacher forever. And I’ve seen first hand how it would be nice to have smaller class sizes and better salaries for Arizona teachers. And about 2 months ago I had a conversation with a police officer friend of mine who told me about how badly Arizonans needed to pass prop 100 or else some of his police officer buddies might get laid off.
But then I went to a Tea Party on April 15th, and there was a guy there with a sign that said, “Vote No on Prop 100.” He came up to me and read my sign, and made a nice comment about it. (That’s how a lot of conversations start at tea parties, by the way. You read each other’s signs. It’s great fun.)
And then I said, “I’m not so sure I agree with your sign.”
And then he screamed, “Then you’re a Nazi!” and then he started punching me!
Just kidding ha ha ha. Tea partiers are peaceful, remember?
What really happened is he said, “You’re not sure about prop 100? Oh, well, that’s OK.” And then he moved along. He was hardly the violent/racist/bigoted type the media portrays the tea-partiers to be.
Anywho… that brief encounter got me thinking about Proposition 100, and I read a little bit about it… and I got laid off from teaching… and I really didn’t really like teaching anyway… and I witnessed a lot of waste going on in public schools… and I gradually changed my mind and so now I proclaim to the world:
Vote no on Proposition 100!
The official voting day is May 18th, but you can vote now if you mail in an early ballot.
Maybe I’ll give you more of my reasons for voting no on prop 100 later – I do have a lot of good ones - but for now I’ll just add more stupid propaganda to the world using flashy fonts and colors and slogans
Vote no on Prop 100!
It’s for the future!
Vote no on Prop 100!
It’s for the children!
Vote No on Prop 100
Vote No on Prop 100
It’s for America!
Give Patriotism a Helping Hand
Vote No on Prop 100
I endorse Chuck Devore. He's a conservative Republican running for US Senator against Barbara Boxer in California. But first Chuck has to get through the Republican primaries.
I was confused as to why Sarah Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina. Hmmm... Sarah Palin endorsed John McCain over JD Hayworth and now she's endorsing Carly Fiorina over Chuck Devore. What's up with that, Sarah Palin? Why are you turning more liberal?
Vote Chuck Devore! (if you live in California. If you live somewhere else, then find the best conservative candidate and support him or her.)