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Ask three blind people to tell you what an elephant looks like…

July 13, 2010

…and they will give you three completely different answers.

One will say that the elephant is serpentine and flexible, after feeling the animal’s trunk. After feeling one of the animal’s legs, another blind person will say that an elephant is much like a tree trunk, thick, rough to the touch, cylindrical and oriented vertically. The final one, after feeling the animal’s torso will say that it is tall and large.

Why three different answers? Well, the obvious answer is that they’re blind. They each have a different part of the animal, and aren’t able to comprehend its entire shape and thus the reason for the different answers.

The metaphor is quite apropos when one reads a recent post on the National Journal’s Experts in Education blog. It asks the following question:

What do you think should define an effective teacher or principal? Will these definitions lead to systems with better educators?

The sticking point is that of the six experts that responded to the post, only one has K-12 experience mentioned in the bios they posted on the site.

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Jay Matthews makes me smh…

July 13, 2010

I remember being a student, and when we’d have a substitute teacher more often than not we’d have some kind of audio-visual part of our lesson(s). It was either one of those filmstrip things (the ones that had an accompanying cassette tape that went “BEEP” when you had to advance the filmstrip), and actual movie projector, or a newfangled VCR. I remember when the subs could load, unload and de-bug the filmstrip and movie projector with their eyes closed, asleep. Yet they could not figure out how to work the stinkin’ VCR. I promised myself then if I ever became a teacher I’d know how to work the VCR in my classroom (or other relevant technologies).

So, the reason for that long introduction was because of the acronym in the post title. For the unitiated, smh= Shake my head. Just found that out the other day, and boy did I feel stupid not knowing. Rarely do I show my age, but then I did. So now that I know how to work the proverbial VCR, on to complain about Jay and the WaPo…

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Day 1 at the RA. Ahh, elections…

July 3, 2010

Well folks, we’re about an hour away from the kickoff of the 2010 NEA RA. Survived my state caucus meeting and spoke out against NBI #2.

What I’d forgotted about was the organized politicallness (is that a word) of the RA. All the candidates coming in and out for speeches. The word “fight” a lot. Since being in NOLA, I really haven’t heard the term “GPO-WEP” yet. I guess there are a few more things ahead of that bit of legislation in the eyes of NEA.

Of course we have the CCC (Campaign Cheering Committee) at the entrances to the RA. Your usual incumbents, but there are quite a few candidates running for the few Executive Committe seats up for reelection.

What’s interesting is the two folks who are running out of Oakland. The word “militant” doesn’t really describe them; I think they would kick the ass of anyone who was militant. As you may remember, Oakland did a one-day walkout/strike recently that was an amazing success in terms of membership participation. I don’t support job actions that violate contracts that are currently in effect; things like walk-outs, sick-outs and the like. If you’re going to play the game, play it by the mutually agreed-upon rules. Once your contract expires, anything is fair game.

Another thing that I’ve heard about those two is that they filed at the last minute. Incumbents on the EC file well in advance, and campaign for the maximum duration possible. Filing at the last minute tends to upset state officers and leaders because they see it as underhanded or cowardly. I personally don’t care; as long as they sign on the dotted line and do everything they’re supposed to, they’re following the process too.

I don’t think either of them have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but I do appreciate their participation in the democratic process; it’s what makes NEA great. I did read their campaign literature, and I don’t agree with much, or any of it at all. But they did lay it all out there, so I appreciate their transparency, just don’t agree with their views. They will play the spoiler role and make it a closer race for the other candidates, so it could be interesting. There was an EC candidate last year that lost by less than 100 votes, which is a very tight race in an electorate that is close to 10,000.

Jobs bill, less of a Race, more dissent?

July 2, 2010

Everyone’s happy about the jobs bill’s passage out of the House. At least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting over here. Interesting that Congress took $500 million out of RttT funds to help fund it. I thought Duncan’s reaction was pretty spoiled. I mean, he was sitting on billions and billions of dollars that he didn’t give out; perhaps he was trying to get people to race harder in the second round. And yet he complained (sounded kind of whiny to me) that Congress took from his fund to fund their fund.

I really could care less that Congress did that. I wonder how that will be portrayed in Dennis’ speech tomorrow. That’s another thing too, people (NEA staffers) are kind of repeating the mantra “Wait till you hear Dennis’ speech….” like there’s some kind of earth-shattering end-all-be-all rally the troops cry for NEA contained within it. That being said, I think there probably is. But Dennis is not Reg Weaver (not that it’s a bad thing) and his delivery is different. More cerebral than emotional as compared to Reg.

Oh well, tomorrow’s another day.

Speaking as an individual in favor of Constitutional Amendment #1….

July 1, 2010

As always, there are a number of items to be voted on at this year’s RA. There are 6 standing rules, 6 consititutional amendments and 4 bylaw amendments to be approved or denied by RA delegates.

I’d like to take a minute or two of your time to speak in favor of Constitutional Amendment #1.

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NEA RA gonna be long and angry this year…

June 30, 2010

In just a few days the NEA RA will begin; delegates from all over the country are arriving in rain-soaked New Orleans to begin the process of unpacking and excercising their parlimentary procedural muscles.

I’ve been here a few days already at one of the many preconferences. I have to say, this is going to to one angry RA. Perhaps the angriest I’ve ever been too. I think this is my fifth RA, they tend to blur together into one big long parlimentary procedural motion.

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Newbie teacher allowed to spew nonsense in the Washington Post

June 20, 2010

Note: The following appeared recently in the Washington Post. I’ve responded to it. Excerpts from the article are in bold, my responses are in italics.

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