Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Khaffiyeh Test

As you may have been lucky enough not to notice, some people were horrified by this picture of Rachel Ray, wearing what was interpreted by many as a khaffiyeh around her neck.

In an ad for Dunkin' Donuts, an organization I had not previously thought of as either political or with strong Middle Eastern ties.

Anyway, DD has pulled the ad, and now the usual suspects are throwing mud at each other.

I've blogged before about the ongoing khaffiyeh-as-fashion-item wars, and I remain committed to my basic stance that the best use for a khaffiyeh is its original purpose--keeping the sun off the head of male Arab persons of a traditional kind of persuasion. British troops in the Middle East, I understand, use them as well. For as long as I can remember, I've also seen khaffiyehs (what is the correct plural, BTW?) used as fashion scarves by older women in the Bay Area who wear them as a political statement. Such ladies also usually have bright handbags woven by Guatemalan indigenous weavers, and interesting earrings.

Much to my amusement, at demonstrations some years back, I began to notice young Palestinian men wearing khaffiyehs in the lady-hippie style, worn over the shoulders and loosely tied. I interpreted this as a compromise between wanting to wear a traditional item of clothing, but not being willing to actually put one on your head, which would make you look like your grandfather.

Then the fashion wave struck, and now I can buy a scratchy white scarf with a vaguely khaffiyeh-like pattern at the local Marshalls for seven bucks. (If I wanted to, for some reason.) For more details, and funny pictures, check out this chronology at the funniest Arab blog I know of. ("1926. Kufiya and Valentino reunited for The Son of the Sheik. Still no sound.")

Some comments on the Rachel Ray picture:

1. I do acknowledge that the scarf in question clearly derives from the vaguely-khaffiyeh scarf trend. The white-and-black pattern and fringes are clearly chic because of the sheik association. What can one do?

2. It's not, in fact, a khaffiyeh. My ideal test for whether something is a khaffiyeh is whether a middle-aged man from a small town outside Amman could walk around wearing one and not get weird looks, however that would exempt these odd purple and turquoise 'peace scarves' and the like, which clearly are supposed to be khaffiyehs, even if they're not. Rachel's however, seems to have a paisley design, which to my mind simply makes it a fashion scarf with fringes.

3. Do we really have nothing better to do?

4. Of course not. In the process of reading everything I can about this non-scandal, I have discovered the khaffiyeh yisraelit, modeled fetchingly to your right. The website informs us that:

"There are many versions of the Keffiyeh and it has been worn throughout the Middle East for thousands of years. The Keffiyeh Israelit is a version that celebrates Jewish Middle Eastern culture connecting their ancient ethnic origins in the Middle East to their modern day connection with Israel."

Oy. Va. Voy. I read this, and my mind boggles, I mean it just boggles like a bowl of Jell-O. It might be the answer to a question I asked once before on this blog: what is the equivalent Zionist fashion statement to the ethnic appropriation and cross-dressing represented by non-Arab college girls wearing khaffiyehs wrapped around their faces at anti-Israel demonstrations? It might be this.


Friday, May 30, 2008

On a roll this morning...(long)

I took today off, because I have a job interview in SF this afternoon, and because I'm just too wrecked after this week to do another day. Busy now getting the old school out of my system.

Tamara writes:

Is there somewhere on your site that explains the start up that you're in? In
general I believe in small schools and new ways of approaching education. I'm
part of a brand new school next year and am quite excited.

In general, I have to say that I think small schools are not at all a bad idea. (Since I am no longer in the start-up, I guess I should change the header for the blog).

George C. Moonbat's charter describes a small high school based on authentic communication, and respect for the individual child. Kids are divided into homerooms where they stay with one homeroom teacher for four years, and have a regular place to check in. We have classes on study skills, and every year each child takes a class in which they create and carry out a community service project. As students progress, they are given more autonomy, and allowed to design their own course of study. Students spend increasing amounts of time in a study-hall like environment, where they may work or engage in other community-based activities at their discretion.

Doesn't that sound SUPER? (I don't mean to be sarcastic. It does sound super, and it was this that led me to the now-regretted moment, weeks before my wedding, unemployed and out of my mind, when I turned to Jeckle, and told him that for a project like this, I would work my tuchis off.

He took me at my word. Now I have no tuchis, (not that I ever had much, I was always flat-butted), and I'm unemployed again in a matter of weeks.

What went wrong? Honestly, a lot of things, some of which I can blame Heckle and Jeckle for, and some of which just fall under "acts of God".

We didn't get the student body we were planning on. Or at least not the one I envisioned. I was envisioning a multi-cultural cast of characters, bright but not necessarily cut out for a big high school, funky but willing to engage with new, innovative ways of learning.

We got kids whose parents were willing to try anything. We got kids who were supposed to go to special education schools with classroom assistants who do take-downs and restraint, but their parents tried us instead. (OK, just a couple of those, but you know? It changes the tenor of a classroom.) We got kids who'd failed everything for years and didn't care. We got tough girls from North Richmond who didn't like my tone of voice when I said 'please sit down'. We got kids who slept all day in every class. We got druggies. We got bipolar. We got every learning disability under the sun--and many of them were not diagnosed.

Most of all, we got kids who expected the teacher to make learning 'fun', and if it wasn't fun, wouldn't work. Academics, by definition, were not fun. (I missed my remedial reading class, years back, who would work like crazy if I promised we could watch "The Color Purple" on Friday.) We got kids who didn't listen to anything anyone said--I mean literally, they would sit in class and ignore you. Not intending to be rude, just why listen while some chick talked about literature? And they didn't want to talk in class about anything academic. I had two kids, first semester, who would argue with each other about literature. The day Aviva and Yochanan went at it about whether Of Mice and Men was racist, it was a beautiful thing--but the other kids told them to shut up, because it didn't matter, and they should stop arguing and wasting time.

They didn't have the academic skills, for the most part, for me to teach at grade level, let alone at the high, independence-fostering level the administration wanted. Behavior was AWFUL. The all-school meetings we'd envisioned were chaos, because no one could get the kids to sit down and SHUT UP so their elected representatives could talk to them.

So, the emotionally close homerooms were hard to create, and the grades were rock bottom, and the portfolio-driven student-run parent meetings didn't happen, and the teachers were quitting.

Also we had no janitors, but that was another problem.

Now, we had partly modeled ourselves on another alternative high school in the Bay Area, which emphasizes 'freedom to fail'--that the student is free to decide not to attend class, not to take advantage of opportunities, and not to succeed academically before they are ready to take that step. I think we admired this in theory, however in practice...

We went to the opposite extreme. We hired tutors for after school tutoring. We called parents, first every time a homework assignment wasn't turned in, then every week. Grades were online, constantly checked and rechecked. Make-up work became a way of life. It turned very sour.

They started too soon, I think. The charter passed in June or July, and they managed to open the doors by the end of August. I think another year, and some substantive planning would have saved a lot of broken hearts.

Also, I think they should have hired better to begin with. X and Y were poor choices, chosen more for being able to talk the politically correct talk than for being useful to a start-up school. Maybe I was a poor choice as well, but at least I stuck the whole damn thing out, soup to nuts.

Acccchhh. I'm getting in the shower now.

Funny you should ask that...

In the comments to my previous post, WBS asks the highly relevent question, "Is there a lot of turn over there (Moonbat High), in general?)

;) Funny you should ask that, WBS--I started to respond in the comment thread, but decided this needed its own post.

We started the year with a team of four full-time teachers. Me, Jeckle, X and Y. Five weeks into the year, X left. Told our students that she was the only teacher who'd ever cared about them, and vanished, citing the need to be at home for her own kids.

At the beginning of November, Jeckle, the ed director, had a small nervous breakdown from the stress, and was forced to stop teaching for the rest of the semester. He is back now, however, and firing me.

Then Y developed intense personality conflicts with Heckle and Jeckle and left, right before Christmas, after a screaming fight with H&J.

While Jeckle was out, we had another math teacher for a while, let's call him Z. Z was suspected of saying inappropriate things to the kids, and was pushed out after the semester break when Jeckle pulled himself from his deathbed to come back to the classroom.

We lost first Bilhah, and then Zilpah, who both taught dance, first semester, but they were part-timers. Bilhah just couldn't deal with the kids--to be fair, who could (they were nightmares in dance class)--and I don't remember what happened to Zilpah, she just sort of wandered away.

We had an art teacher and a drama teacher--let's call them A and B--first semester. A went to grad school in New York at the semester, and B, a good friend of Y's, decided to pursue other interests.

Yehoshua, good buddy of Shmuel the Drummer did student government for a while, but his girlfriend moved back East, and he followed her, plus he got a sort of cool job there.

(Is everyone following this? There will a quiz Monday.)

Gittel, who began the year teaching a sort of middos-for-girls class a few hours a week, was begged to take over X's classes, and did so. She performed a full-time teacher's job for part-time salary for the rest of the year, while H&J bashed her performance at every turn. She is now leaving, to start up a sand candle shop. She recently spent the night of her son's thirteenth birthday at a staff meeting that ran from seven to ten at night. (I was there too, but at least my kid was not becoming a bar mitzvah over frozen pizza.)

Relaxed Dude, the one who took over half my students so no child would fail, is not returning. Rumor has it that the phrase 'Gestapo tactics' was used when he was asked why. (To be fair, this is the man who had his supervisors read his diary.)

Assuming that EVERYONE that I do not know for sure to be leaving is coming back, that makes:

Jeckle (math) (1 year at Moonbat)
Dr. Kalonymos (art and student government) (1 semester at Moonbat)
Sra. Abulafia (Spanish) (1 semester, part time)
Ms. da Costa (dance and drama) (1 semester)
Tante M. (science) (all year, but only twice a week for one class at the end of the day, she has a full-time job elsewhere, and may not want to bother next year)
Yehuda the Special Ed Dude (special ed) (all year part time, and maybe full time next year)
Shmuel the Drummer (middos for boys) (all year, part time)
Hulda the Gym Lady (study hall and PE) (one semester)

Yeah, that sounds like a solid core of staff to begin Year 2 with. Oh. My. Word.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've Been Fired By Moonbats

OK, they just said they didn't want me to come back next year. But my God. I've been sacked by people who...oh Lord, are they in trouble next year. Can you say 'lack of institutional memory', boys and girls? I knew you could!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Can't Do Better Than This...

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation,under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Another shooting

Another shooting of a Sudanese refugee by Egyptian police on the Egypt/Israel border. They also arrested a woman with a nine-year-old kid, also trying to cross.

Twelve have been killed so far this year, trying to get into Israel.

Not a nice world out there.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

OK, a slightly odd thing

I was tidying up in the classroom yesterday, and I happened to pick up a copy of the Webster's New World Dictionary. It fell open to "Pakistan" and "pajamas", and I vaguely wondered if a person doing the dictionary equivalent of bible-cracking would think this meant that they should go sell pajamas in Pakistan.

Then, on a whim, I opened the dictionary at random and put my finger down on the page.

The word was 'heder'.

Interesting, huh?

My eggs are ticking. No, not a Lysol bomb.

Well. I got issues again. What do I do with this?

Basically, the rightniks are loving this, because it demonstrates that Alice Walker--a 'feminist icon' (okay, I cannot deny this, she really is a feminist icon), has now been exposed as a really lousy mother by her daughter. (Anyone who read the kid's first book might have noticed this.)

I have a ton of issues with both Alice and Rebecca Walker, as it happens, and this is not helping any of them. This passage, though:

Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: ‘I’d like a child. If it happens, it happens.’ I tell them: ‘Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.’ As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

I'm turning thirty-five this summer, and I plan to be pregnant by the time I'm thirty-six, baruch Hashem an' the crick don't rise. Since I hit about twenty-eight, I have been hearing ceaseless warnings about my dwindling egg supply. And I have had a simple answer for all these people: if, by the time I have enough money and financial stability and a partner, and all the stuff I need to raise a child in today's fairly non-child-friendly world, I do not have the biological capacity, you know what I will do? I will ADOPT. It works great. I see all these forty-something women with law doctorates and little girls from China, and they look tired, but not at all bereft.

Some basic stats here: the birthrate in the U.S. in 1910 was just over 30 per 1000 of population. We have never returned to that high. The birthrate dropped steadily, hitting a low of 18.7 in 1935. I'm guessing the Depression, plus increased availability of birth control contributes to that low. Then we climb, taking off as we hit the 50s. The Baby Boom peaked in 1957, with 25.3 births per 1000 pop.--still well below the 1910 rate. Following 1957, we begin to drop, falling below 15 per 1000 in the early 70s, then rising through the 80s and early 90s. (Brief question--are we seeing the results here not so much of feminism but the fluctuations of the American economy?) In 2002 we drop to our lowest point, 13.9 per 1000, (possibly 9/11 combined with a tanking economy, there) but then hold steady at 14ish. We're currently in the middle of a Boomlet, hitting our highest point since 1961.

Patently, as Andrew Greeley would say, feminism has NOT betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness, although it may have betrayed us into small families.

Oddly, this reminds me of an article I saw in, I think, People Magazine some time ago, about how being too thin makes it likelier you won't get pregnant. (This was when Nicole Richie was expecting.) They ran picture after picture of frankly anorexic starlets--unfortunately, the women they picked had all actually managed to have children. Thereby sort of undercutting the point of the article. Some of them were past forty and under 120 pounds. The human body does tend to reproduce, given a chance.

Look, Rebecca, I realize this may be hard for you to understand, but I haven't put off having children because I was deluded by your mother's so-so novels. I put off having children because I wanted to be sure I could feed them, and would be a good strong mother for them. This isn't about 'having a career', although I'm down with that, it's about putting oatmeal on the table, and buying board books, and knowing how to raise them well.

This is also not the first time in history women have done this. After the potato famine in Ireland, marriage ages rose sharply. After generations of kids marrying at sixteen, and having as many children as God sent, men and women who survived the Hunger chose to wait until their thirties, have fewer children, and a better chance of raising them. In Victorian England, many people similarly waited--not because of scarcity, but because they idealized marriage, and did not take it lightly. In Elizabethan England, girls waited until well into their twenties, often later--and this was in an age with a much shorter average lifespan--working for wages, and waiting until they could afford to set up house. Feminism never told us that we could defy biology--but it also told us that we didn't have to accept a 1950s definition of what biology meant.

And I don't think I want to take patronizing advice from a woman who, in her memoir, whinged about how she was oppressed by going to private high school, and then Yale. God, all that identity politics victim-of-the-week is SOOOO 1994. This Mills girl is grabbing the goodies feminism gave her and going on the road with them. See ya at Mommy and Me!

The Kids Have The Bomb

And to think I was worrying about North Korea and Iran!

For the past couple of weeks we have been consumed with worry about the sprouting gang-affiliation tensions developing at George C. Moonbat, and as a result of our worries about tribal squabbling, we entirely missed the sinister activities taking place below the radar.

The wake-up call happened on Tuesday, when a small chemical-reaction bomb made with Lysol toilet cleaner, a plastic bottle, and some aluminum foil detonated out back of one of the freestanding classrooms. It made a splendid noise--the teacher in the classroom thought something had fallen from a truck on the freeway that runs by us--and someone else thought it was gunfire. I missed the whole thing, having left early.

Apparently, the administration did not figure out what was going on until the next day, when:

a. Giora's mother told Jeckle, our ed director, that Giora had made her pull into a Rite Aid that morning, to get some toilet bowl cleaner, which he said he needed for a 'science experiment'. Since Giora does not take a science class, his mother found this odd, and mentioned it to Jeckle.

b. Heckle has a long talk with Giora in which she plays very dumb, and explains that she's thrilled to hear that he's bringing supplies for a science project--why doesn't she keep the toilet bowl cleaner in the office until Tante M., the science teacher, comes on Thursday to help them? She gets the cleaner, albeit minus some that Giora apparently managed to siphon off.

c. At lunchtime, Giora and some of his cronies were seen to be huddling around the far southwestern corner of the school, an area that is usually reserved by a small group of girls not connected to Giora and friends.

d. Jeckle, when he went to investigate, was told nervously by Gershom that 'Uhhhh, you shouldn't be standing there, Jeckle."

Second bomb. This one did not go off. I'm not sure if this was because they had limited cleaner or what. Suspensions, in-school supervision, etc.

I love the smell of hydrocloric acid in the middle of the afternoon. Smells like--a school on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The U.N. Is Doing What?

When this popped up on Little Green Footballs, I thought they might be kidding. I still think Reuters might be kidding. But here it is, folks, the visit of the special rapporteur. Mission: figure out American racism in three weeks. Lots of luck, rapporteur.

GENEVA (Reuters) - A special U.N. human rights investigator will visit the United States this month to probe racism, an issue that has forced its way into the race to secure the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Uh, that's not the only place racism has forced itself in the United States...and possibly the least important.

The United Nations said Doudou Diene would meet federal and local officials, as well as lawmakers and judicial authorities during the May 19-June 6 visit. "The special rapporteur will...gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," a U.N. statement said on Friday.

OK, so basically, this man is going to travel around the country for three weeks, and talk to federal and local officials about what? Whether they feel that people are more likely to vote for or against Obama because he's black? Examples they've seen of racism in their day to day lives? Help. I do not get this.

His three-week visit, at U.S. government invitation, will cover eight cities -- Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

First, what does the U.S. government expect to get out of this? Second, can I be the rapporteur instead of Mr. Diene? I'd LOVE to visit DC, New York, Chicago, etc., and I would keep my eyes wide open for examples of racism and meet with all the local officials anyone wanted me to.

Race has become a central issue in the U.S. election cycle because Sen. Barack Obama, the frontrunner in the battle for the Democratic nomination battle, stands to become the country's first African American president. His campaign has increased turnout among black voters but has also turned off some white voters in a country with a history of slavery and racial segregation.

Ummm. OK. This requires investigation how? I think you just said it all.

Diene, a Senegalese lawyer who has served in the independent post since 2002, will report his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year. However, the United Nations has almost no clout when it comes to U.S. domestic affairs and is widely perceived by many as interfering. The United States is not among the 47 member states of the Geneva-based forum, but has observer status.

OK. So this guy from an organization the U.S. doesn't pay much mind to, has been invited to come and see how we're doing with racism out here. I hate to seem irrelevant, but doesn't this guy have some genocides to worry about, or something?

In a report last year he said Islamophobia had grown worldwide since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States, carried out by al-Qaeda militants.

This Mr. Diene--he sees what the lesser mind might miss!

The article goes on to list some things the U.N. already wants us to do--death penalty moratorium, things like that. I hope that Mr. Diene enjoys his trip--he is headed to several cities with very fine cultural opportunities, and nice restaurants, although of course, he should see San Francisco before he goes home.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Zen and the Art of Employee Management

One of my colleagues, who will not be returning to George C. Moonbat next year, had a conversation with our mutual bosses. Apparently they returned incessantly to the topic of her not making her phone calls.

It has been decreed that those of us who have homerooms must call ALL homeroom parents, EVERY week, to update them on their kids' progress. This has then led to an obsession with how I and Gittel haven't done our calls. This is more important than anything, anything at all.

I am full time, which is one thing, but Gittel is part-time, and is only being paid for twenty-five hours a week, no bennies, which, given that she teaches three sections, plus a homeroom, is not very much time to also make calls. Plus, they keep her late for meetings, want her to come in on weekends to lesson plan--you get the picture.

So, Gittel pointed that out, and Heckle and Jeckle pointed out that they had said at the beginning of the year that people would be working extra unpaid hours. Gittel said that she was aware of that, but that the time constraints did make it difficult to accomplish all the dreck they had added on, and that was piling up and making it hard for her to do other things.

"Did they show any sign that they understood that?" I asked, hearing about this conversation, and Gittel shook her head.

So Heckle and Jeckle then returned to a topic that has interested them for some time, the idea that, since she is not doing 'the job' (the job being defined as any damn thing H & J decide they want to have happen), they should dock her pay.

Gittel said that that was fine, but if they docked her pay, she should really insist that they pay for the unpaid hours she'd worked.

And so the conversation ended.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


This attractive critter is a chachalaca. Specifically, this one is called a 'plain' chachalaca. I don't know what a fancy chachalaca would look like. Is that a chachalaca that drives cars instead of buggies, and wears colors and clothes with buttons? Or is that merely an 'English' chachalaca?

Anyway, the chachalaca lives on the U.S. Mexico border, and I only discovered its existence through a Newsweek article about fence-building on the Texas border. Apparently there's a poor soul in Brownsville TX who owns a birdwatching lodge which is about to be cut off from the chachalacas.

I had never heard of a chachalaca before that. I had to look them up.

Hot, hot, hot!

There is an old tale of a Southern preacher who looks out one late summer Sunday at his congregation, as they sit sweating and fanning themselves, and says "Brothers and sisters, I know what you're thinking as you sit in church today--you're thinking that it's hotter than hell. Well, let me tell you. It ain't."

That must have been a day like today. We're having a heat wave in California. It's hot. I am drinking iced Wissotsky mango tea, and waiting until the stove no longer feels like the oven is on before I turn the oven on.

The kids were pretty torpid today, except for the part at lunch where they started throwing water at each other. I was in my classroom, overseeing a detention, when about six girls who didn't have detention came running in and asked if they could stay. "They're throwing water out there," Chana explained in agitation. "And we're black!"

It took me a second to make the connection. All six had straightened hair. Water + straightened hair = well, not good things. I allowed them to hide out in my classroom to preserve their crowning glory from going haywire. They watched out the window as their classmates waged warfare with drink bottles. "I wish I was Mexican, just until it gets cooler," Sheva commented sadly, smoothing her ponytail.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Job Is Weird (very long, and with feeling)

OK. Brief run-down for the week:

First, I should explain that my two bosses, both of whom I rather like, or did like, are sometimes not the most tightly wrapped of individuals, sometimes. I should explain that they have a tendency to make and implement decisions FAST. And I should explain that they have FEELINGS.

I should explain that I am currently expected to call the parents of the twenty kids in my homeroom once a week, no matter what. I am also expected to have the week's homework up on the computer by Sunday night. I am also expected to grade all papers within a week, and put them into the computer grading program.

I should also explain that they, not too long ago, mentioned to me that they were considering withholding people's paychecks if they did not update all the above stuff. This is illegal, so I am not TOO worried about it, but the fact that they tossed the idea around gives me major misgivings about how thoroughly plugged into reality Heckle and Jeckle are.

OK. Now that we have that clear, I should explain that on Tuesday night I stayed at school until eight-thirty for a board meeting. The next day I was expected to be back at the school by eight-thirty, partly to prepare for a standardized test I was administering, and partly because Jeckle told me that he wanted to talk to me and my TA, Relaxed Dude, in the AM before class.

So I show up, check the standardized etc., and then Relaxed Dude and I are escorted to my classroom by Heckle and Jeckle, and I do mean escorted.

My classroom, not to put too fine a point on it, is messy. I have a lot of paper stacked on and around my desk, the books on the shelves have been pawed through by kids looking for stuff to read, and are messy, and the kids ran out at the end of the day without picking up their random pieces of paper, or pushing their chairs in. I just bailed on it, figuring to clean up in the AM.

Jeckle turns to me and Relaxed Dude, and says in a tone of great authority and ominous displeasure, "Who is responsible for the condition of this classroom?"

Things just got better from that point on. I and Relaxed Dude were upbraided over the messy classroom, and how the kids would not take their work seriously in such an environment. I, natch, start to get weepy, which is my classic response to this pair. I inquire, as calmly as I can, why they could not just have said "Clean up", rather than staging this confrontation. This got me a lecture on how as a professional, this is my problem, not theirs, and I cannot expect them to etc., etc.

At this point I am starting, despite the teariness, to do a slow burn. This turns into a fast burn when it emerges that Heckle has gone into my filing cabinet, and found a stack of ungraded papers from September. She has extrapolated from this that I may not be grading ANY papers, or looking at them, and may not be returning any work to the kids.

Now, as aforementioned, I have all my grades online, so this woman KNOWS I am grading work. Also, given the grief I am getting (and the endless extra work) because a third of the class is failing my class, wouldn't I be giving everyone a nice B if I were just throwing all their work out? Sure I would. Come to think of it, that is not a bad idea. /sarc/

So I pull out my nice filing cube full of alphabetized files with the kids' names that the kids can get their goddamned corrected work out of any time they are so inclined, and demonstrate how it works. They seem mildly mollified, but are still terribly. Terribly. concerned about the room. I offer to clean up the effing room. I make the mistake of explaining that I have been getting real mixed messages from day one about what use I am to put Relaxed Dude to. Not the first time I have said this.

Big mistake. I am treated to a shouted lecture about taking responsibility. H & J depart, and I kick the wall for a bit, and also learn from Relaxed Dude that apparently H & J also read his personal notebook, and had 'questions' about some things he'd written about the school.

I clean up the room. It takes fifteen minutes. It looks much nicer when I am done.

I go through the rest of the day so mad that I can hardly breathe. And then, at the end of a staff meeting that ends at six-thirty, we have 'open space for appreciations', and Jeckle turns to me and appreciates Balabusta, because he had to say some 'tough things' to me this morning, and he hopes I understand that's because he really believes in me.

My face must have been a picture.

Anyway, the next day H & J and I are supposed to sit down and talk about next year, so I prepare carefully for this. Around the appointed time, Jeckle walks into my room, and says approvingly that it 'looks much better', and proposes that we delay the meeting until next week.


So, yesterday, Jeckle shows up again, and this time he and Heckle have a new idea. They've decided, con mi permision, to take all the kids who are failing out of my English class, and have them do a more level-appropriate English class for the last five weeks of school with Relaxed Dude. I suggest a few possible book ideas for this class. Relaxed Dude, however, wants to teach Siddhartha.

These are kids who complained that The Giver was too hard and boring. I have NO #((*&#ing clue what will happen when they try Hermann Hesse. But Jeckle likes the idea. I concede, feeling as though a. I have no legs to stand on and b. do I really care? Maybe they'll like Siddhartha. Maybe they'll all become bodhisattvas. Do I know?

I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.

Berkeley--Nothing Can Prepare You

As some of you may be aware, local anti-war groups have turned their sights on the Berkeley Marine Corps Recruiting Center over the last few months. Zombie has covered a bit of it.

Now comes the day when Code Pink shows up dressed as witches with a cauldron full of roses to cast spells for peace. This is not at all surprising, if you know Berkeley.

Here's what made me laugh, though. Per this same article:

Members of the pro-troops group Move Forward America came armed with packages of salt, which they spread around the recruiting station to keep the Marines safe from spells.

Now THAT'S Berkeley. Not just anti-war magic-implementers casting spells, but pro-Marine magic-implementers creating a protective barrier for the recruiting center.

G-d bless the U.S.A., and the PRB.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New Hobbies

In my mid-thirties, I am suddenly being hit with a wild interest in perfume. I have LIKED perfume for a long time, but in a more low-key sort of way. Now I'm reading blogs with stuff about top notes and sillage, and stuff like that. I'm ordering decants. I'm thinking about learning to make perfume.

It's very cool.

What A Week

1. We had STAR testing all week.

2. But only in the morning. In the afternoons we were teaching classes as usual.

3. Also, a different homeroom was in charge of cooking breakfast for the school each morning, and the staff did it on one day. I did not feel happy about coming in to school early two days running to cook food for kids who should be eating their dang breakfast at home.

4. I have a cold.

5. It's my own fault, by the way. I said, aloud, in front of all the listening ears, "I've been teaching for four years. My immune system laughs at anything short of Marburg."

6. I suppose I was lucky. It could have been Marburg.

7. I slept for sixteen hours night before last. It's supposed to be a blessing to sleep on Shabbos, right? Do you get extra credit for marathons?

8. My students don't know how to use apostrophes.

9. I hate staff meetings.

10. And a kid set fire to a piece of paper in my classroom this week. This is a new one on me. I've had knives, vomit, stink bombs, blood, oh, all kinds of stuff, but fire is new. I sent the kid to the office, after much, "WHY? It's out now. OK, I won't do it again. But WHY do I have to go to the office?"