Thursday, December 16, 2010

On RTTT

This statement was prepared for a gathering of Delaware State Education Association members at a meeting to further discuss the group's role in ongoing talks over the Federal Race to the Top Funds awarded to Delaware several months back. I was unable to make this statement, as there was no general time for them. So, I'm sharing my prepared comments (as scribed twice on Dover Downs stationary) here:

__________________________

Where was the skepticism?

Being a rabid political observer and participant for the past decade, I've learned to take with a great deal of skepticism any federal program or bill whose title sounds too good to be true. The Clean Air Act. The Clear Skies Act. The PATRIOT Act. These are bills with innocuous sounding names that reveal their true intent within the fine print.

Now, we have a new, $4+ billion-dollar program administered by US Department of Education and funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- and no doubt funded in part with help from our friends in the Far East. The program, Race to the Top, is an amorphous ball of The Unknown that originally saw wide support from many in the educational community as a means to infuse much-needed cash into an ever-cash-strapped system.

However, in initially assisting Delaware DoE, has DSEA unwittingly helped open Pandora's box? Meaning, have we, as educators, ceded our local control and authority over our classrooms in exchange for more Federal regulation and some temporary cash?

In effect, we're accepting the long-term loss of our educational autonomy for a quick infusion of funds for which we don't have a full view of how they will be spent. Does this $700 million fund an entirely new arm of Delaware DoE -- with the watchful eye of Federal DoE, of course? Does this money fund more classroom teachers to help bring down class sizes? Do we see more paraeducators in our rooms? Better yet, do we have better-paid paras and educational-support personnel (ESP) in our schools, many of whom make so little they qualify for public assistance?
Why were these pertinent, crucial, and specific details not hammered out by DoE and provided to all stakeholders in a concise and transparent manner before we signed on to this behemoth?

OK, so we've got this money. We don't know how it's going to be spent, but we've got it. Is anyone discussing sustainability? These funds are wiped out after four years. The potential Trojan horse of regulations with the cash doesn't go away. What happens to class sizes after four years? What happens to that potential increase in valuable support staff after four years? Do we wait and hope for another funding bill from Feds in this caustic legislative environment? Doe we entrust our state in its ability to balance its budget with enough of a buffer to make up for this eventual loss in funds? These questions serve as mere rhetoric, but as a classroom teacher, I don't deal in the rhetorical with my fifth graders unless I'm teaching a lesson on argument and logic.

To conclude, I must ask: What are we getting out of this deal aside from more Federal regulations and bureaucratic red tape in exchange for a real quick hit?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TSA Bullshit

Those of you who follow Mike on Facebook have probably seen his post about TSA and their bullshit, saying a man may be fined $10,000 for leaving the secure area of an airport because he refused to be essentially molested by the security officers.  Check out the the news article he posted about: http://www.signonsandiego.com 


So at first the man refused to venture into the full body scanner... and things went downhill from there.  I agree with the man that it is a total invasion of privacy, but it is also of great health risk.  Check out this PDF file that my friend Jim posted on his Facebook via NPR... http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf


There are REAL concerns with these ridiculous machines.  The invasion of privacy bothers me, but the fact that these machines can potentially give us cancer and mutate a man's sperm... makes me even more positive that they should NOT be in use.


Thoughts?

UPDATE:
Check out this blog post from a woman who was sexually assaulted by the TSA... So sad that this kind of thing is allowed to happen... check out the last few lines of her post to see the part that REALLY hit me... click here

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Liveblogging the returns

I'm at the Doubletree Hotel in Wilmington at the Democratic Party's "Victory" gathering. Though the Dems may celebrate victory locally, my guess is they'll be drinking heavily after getting the macro shot.

8:01pm: Just one minute after polls close, CNN calls race for Democrat Chris Coons.



8:08pm: Watching returns while jamming to French-goddess Mylene Farmer makes me happy. Who wants to HEAR the talking heads anyhow?

8:11pm: CNN calls Delaware's lone House seat for Democrat John Carney. Delaware may be the only state tonight where the Dems will be partying -- albeit with a sobering effect.

8:21pm: Gov. Jack Markell has arrived, clearly feeling good that he locked up Delaware and kept the state looking Blue.




8:30pm: Dem. Party Chairman John Daniello must retire. His speech has the flow of a eulogy.

8:38pm: Next concern: Dems wondering what they may have lost in the state House and Senate.

8:53pm: Is Delaware breaking the nation's trend and going even BLUER? Looking at preliminary returns and Dems are up in Treasurer and Auditor races. Could very statewide elected be a Dem come January?

9:07pm: Gov. Markell just introduced Sen. Ted Kaufman. Gonna miss that guy.




9:30pm: AG Beau Biden has arrived!


-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm a bit concerned...

...about other people and their cleanliness.  I've worked at the same place since November 2004, and I've seen many people come and go. Whether it be employees, clients, what have you, there seems to be a trend... People don't wash their damn hands.  Picture it. You go into the bathroom. You see some stalls are occupied, so you go down a few to an empty one. As you're closing your door to handle your business, you hear a toilet flush. You hear another stall door open. You hear someone walking. The next sound you hear is a faucet turning on, right? Wrong. Bathroom door opens... disgusting, unsanitary person leaves the bathroom, while leaving their germs all over the door handle.


These are grown adults! Are they allowing their children to use the bathroom and not wash their hands afterwards? I *almost* miss SARS and Swine Flu. At least people remembered to wash their hands more often during those health threats.

It isn't just women. I've asked a few men I work with if this is a rare or regular occurrence in their bathrooms as well.  They confirmed that the same behavior is being practiced in men's rooms.  I actually find this worse, seeing as when men use the bathroom they are physically touching their bodies.  Then they touch the door handle and leave their germs all over it.

I have even witnessed people walk out of a stall and out of the bathroom without washing their hands, as I am standing at the sink washing mine.  Is there a polite way to remind someone to wash their damn hands??

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Momentary Loss of Focus


Right around the end of the day today, a student said, "Mr. Matthews, you didn't seem too focused today!" My reply: "Well, could I borrow your glasses?" She happily obliged and snapped this picture as evidence. I concurred with her assessment that my focus wasn't the best. I blamed the dreary skies!