Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Ram and the Fleur-de-lis

I admit to being a little bit cynical nowadays. It comes with having taught school so many years and with being as old as I am, although some people turn into sweet little old ladies rather than getting more cynical about the sorry state of mankind. I, however, have been disillusioned so many times. I should know better.

I wait each day in the parent pick-up (PPU) line for my daughter, the twelve-year-old. If a parent is too late, the line will stretch endlessly ahead, her vehicle might even be in the street rather than the school’s carefully designed driveway, and the child will be nearly the last one called (trauma). If a parent is too early, she is doomed to sit there for 45 minutes, studying the brave parents who zoom up to the door, leap athletically out of the car, and go on in the office to DEMAND the child from these education bureaucrats, and bustle back to get in the car and ZOOM away. I, so far, have been too lacking in bustle to zip in and demand my daughter’s presence at 3:05 with only a few minutes left before the bell. I am bored entirely out of my mind, though. I have closely examined everything there is to observe about the front of the school. I usually bring a book, but I have dozed off twice while waiting. This napping is hazardous and leads to other parents having to peer in the window to discover me sleeping while serving my time in the parent pick-up line—a somewhat embarrassing situation. I have tried in vain to find something interesting to look at in the dreary school environment. The boys who are somehow privileged to come out and bring down the flag? (The same boys every day? And are there no flag girls?) Once, I brought our dog Melvin with me to relieve the dullness. He went off into his Melvin Crazyland and barked his fool head off at everyone walking up and down the sidewalk, guarding me with all his twenty-five pounds of beagle-chihuahua (Cheagle?) fierceness. Well, at least I wasn’t asleep that day.

Anyway, I have looked at all the cars in the line at one time or another, looking at the back and reading the letters on the license tags. Sometimes they actually spell something! So one day I was behind a neat little pickup truck, and I noticed that it had the cutest taillights! “That looks like a fleur-de-lis!” I thought happily. “How cute! Maybe there will be a whole bunch of new designs for taillights. Like hearts, or unicorns, or butterflies, or daisies, or your initials, one on each side! Hmmm!”

See, it’s a good idea, right? Maybe I should patent it. Anyway, a couple of weeks later my husband was with me in the parent pick-up line, and I pointed out these “cute” taillights. He said, “That’s a ram, not a flower. It’s a Dodge taillight cover. That’s a Dodge ram.” What? I was very distressed, because now, when I look at the lights, I can’t help but see the ram instead of the fleur-de-lis. Dog gone it. Stuff like this is enough to make anyone cynical, I swear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

About Republican Governors and Such...

Quotes of the Day:

Brian Schweitzer
Monday, Feb. 23, 2009

Open quoteIt's a little late for Republican governors to get high-minded about accepting federal dollars. Close quote

  • Montana Governor and a Democrat, criticizing Republican governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi for rejecting incentives to expand unemployment insurance

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quotation from George Eliot

"It is never too late to become what you might have been."

--George Eliot

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good Advice from a 9-Year-Old

Quotes of the Day (

How To Talk To Girls by Alec Greven

“I say, Life is hard, move on. If you can't get over it, it's ruined.

  • the 9-year-old author of How to Talk to Girls, on being dumped. The young love guru offers romantic advice in his New York Times best-selling book

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Truth about Grade Inflation

As usual, the Ruraltown News was eager to plaster a negative article about the public schools on the front page this week. “Grade inflation” at Ruraltown High School “appears to be a problem, according to a recently released state report.” This study was done by Christopher Clark of the Department of Economics and Finance at Georgia College and State University. Mr. Clark compared End-of-Course Test (EOCT) scores with students’ final grades in the class. Quite a few students who failed the EOCT for a given class passed that class; a few who failed the EOCT even made an A or a B.

Most educators know that a standardized test gives evidence of what a student knows at a particular moment in time. While useful, the scores should not be given too much credence. Who knows what factors may be causing a particular student to score as he or she does? Maybe the student did not get enough sleep, breakfast, affection, or Mountain Dew. (Mountain Dew is the addictive elixir of life for high school students who are capable of smuggling a gallon jug of it into class under an armpit.) Maybe the student copied someone’s EOCT answers, and that person had a different version of the test. Believe me, any of these is possible.

Mr. Clark seems blissfully unaware of the variables that may affect standardized test results. He also apparently has no clue that the state mandated that the EOCT can only count as 15 percent of the student’s final grade. Now, I never taught math, but I am aware that 85 percent is, well, larger than 15 percent. The 85 percent is usually a cumulative average of the student’s grades from the 18 weeks of classroom attendance in a semester. The instructors from the State Department of Education who indoctrinated teachers in the art of “unpacking” the Georgia Standards for Language Arts placed great emphasis on the idea that a variety of assessments should be used to evaluate a student’s learning. There was a definite lack of emphasis on multiple-choice testing, such as the questions on the EOCT. Instead, the 85 percent block of the grade should come mainly from projects, presentations, written assignments, and research. The idea is that the student’s real understanding of the material is better evaluated by these assessments. (“Unpacking” suggests that the new standards are weighty or, perhaps, heavily loaded. Believe me, they are.)

No grade “inflation” occurred. Hopefully, assessments done during the 18 weeks of the class are a more accurate reflection of the student’s real understanding than a standardized test taken reluctantly during one spring morning. Mr. Clark doesn’t know some basic math: 85% >15%. Maybe some ego inflation occurred when a researcher was overeager to discover negative information about the public schools, and when a newspaper writer was eager to report negative information in a front-page story with cute little graphs. Maybe Mr. Clark should find another focus for Georgia State’s Department of Economics and Finance: I hear Sonny Perdue could use some help balancing the budget.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Great Quote

"Hell is full of musical amateurs."
-- George Bernard Shaw

(George must have attended a middle school band concert or two!)

Some Different Hearts

I copied this design from the internet last year when I was making a bookmark for Diana! I liked the black frame.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Giant Snake!

A vertebra of a Anaconda dwarfed by a vertebra of the giant boid snake, Titanoboa Cerrejonensis.

(Wednesday, Feb. 04, 2009)

Quote of the Day from Time


“It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately.”

  • a snake expert, after fossils from northeastern Colombia revealed the biggest snake ever discovered: 42 to 45 feet long, reaching more than 2,500 pounds

Well, I have watched too many terrible snake movies on Sci Fi! This gave me vivid images for my bad dreams. Ewwwwwwww.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

About retirement...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward."
-- Spanish Proverb

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bumper Stickers

My daughter has driven two cars in the past year or so. Both have some very revealing bumper stickers. What do you think of them?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

To Achieve True Inner Peace

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to
finish what I start. So far I've finished two bags of M&M's and
a chocolate cake. I feel better already."

-- Dave Barry