The Best Song About America! Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!  What is your favorite hit about America, the USA?  There are a lot, so I had to narrow it down.  I didn’t include the staples like “Star-Spangled Banner” and “America, The Beautiful”.  These are originals!  Have an awesome day, no matter what you are doing.  And be safe!  Despite various issues we may have with our country, we still live in the best country in the world.  We have freedoms we take for granted.  Sometimes those freedoms are increasingly taken from us but the beauty of America is that we have the mechanisms in place to change things back or  move forward with new change.  God bless America!

 

 

 

 

The Leap

Today is Leap Day.  Every four years, except for a millennium, Earth adds an extra day to its calendar.  Apparently, it takes 365.25 days for Earth to revolve around the sun.  To make up for that .25, we get an extra day every four years.  It is also Superman’s birthday.  I remember four years ago, when my son attended a Delaware charter school, a classmate of his had a birthday on Leap Day.  He was turning two that year since he only had two birthdays.  The things kids believe!

My first Leap Year was 1972.  I was two, so I don’t remember anything.  In 1976, I was in Kindergarten in Syracuse, New York with Mr. McKinney.  I wanted to be a detective when I was older.  1980 brought us the Lake Placid Winter Olympics when the USA beat Russia.  I didn’t watch the final game because I was salivating over my Wacky Pack stickers.  I wanted to be a doctor when I was older.  In 1984, I was most likely not doing what I was supposed to be doing: homework, studying, chores.  What can I say, I was a rebellious young teenager!  My dreams of becoming a doctor went up in smoke when I saw an elderly man have a heart attack in Stop & Shop one day.  1988 was my Senior year of high school.  It was a good year, but also full of angst wondering what the future was going to hold.  I was going to major in business.  In 1992, I was in my final year at community college looking forward to transferring to Cabrini College in the fall.  I was going to finish college by 1994 with  an English/Communications degree.  In 1996, I had just moved to Sweden.  Literally.  I had sold most of my comic book collection and lived in a small town outside of Stockholm called Tullinge.  I didn’t work the first couple months I lived there.  There was no leap year in 2000 because it was a millennium year, but I was working at Chase Mortgage doing loss mitigation work.  2004’s Leap Day was definitely full of curiosity.  My wife was due with our son in a month and I couldn’t wait to see him!  Still at Chase.  In 2008, I was unemployed on Leap Day.  Luckily, it didn’t last long.  2012, the last Leap Day before this one, I was working two jobs and rarely had time for anything outside of work.  I was at my current job and also working as a paraprofessional at Campus Community School.  Which brings us to 2016 and today.

My point behind all of this, nobody knows for sure what they want to do with their life.  Some do, those who have exceptional drive and motivation.  Not everyone has that.  But our Governor and the Delaware DOE seem to think every child should know what they are going to do when they are “career ready”.  If not, the test scores will determine that and they will make sure you are put on a fast track to that career.  It isn’t right.  People need the freedom to stretch their own wings and figure things out for themselves.

 

 

The Lockdown In Middletown: This Story Is For The Birds

Yesterday, NBC Philadelphia reported the strange news of a runaway emu that caused a “soft” lockdown of Spring Meadow Early Childhood Center in Middletown.  I took it upon myself to expand on the story to find out what this new and latest threat to Delaware education actually is.  Luckily, it is not a Rodel spawned creation or something seeping out of the Townshend Buiilding which houses the Delaware Department of Education.  According to the San Diego Zoo, an emu is:

Tall and majestic, the emu belongs to a group of flightless running birds known as ratites, the most primitive of the modern bird families. The ratite family includes the kiwi, ostrich, cassowary, and rhea, all birds found only in the Southern Hemisphere. The emu is the second-largest living bird in the world (the ostrich is the largest). Adult female emus are larger and heavier than the males.

How does a flightless running bird found primarily in Australia wind up in Middletown, Delaware?  Turns out it escaped from its owner and police and animal control officers have been looking for the emu for months.  I had a rare chance to talk to the emu, and it told me it resented being in captivity.  It has been actively seeking Delaware students because the emu feels they are in the same boat.

I opted out of being tied to one place.  Like the students in Delaware who are tied to one test, I sought freedom from an oppressive regime.  In essence, I opted out and I think all kids in Delaware should as well.  I tried to talk to my previous owner about honoring my rights, but he vetoed my suggestion.  I am seeking to have my friends overturn that decision.

When I asked the emu to please consider not causing any more problems, it simply ran away again shouting “Opt Out Now!”.  I have a feeling it will be back again.

It’s Optoutpalooza! Student Walk-outs, Computer Opt Outs, & Teacher Protests

“Today’s fiasco once again demonstrates that Florida testing policy is being driven by politicians and ideologues, not educators.”

“We Are Not A Test Score.”

“We honestly believe that The State of New Jersey, by forcing us to administer this time-devouring test, is engaged in behavior destructive to the educational well being of our students.”

While the Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t start in Delaware for another eight days, many states started the Pearson created PARCC test today.  But it looks like many students and teachers didn’t take part.  Diane Ravitch must have had a field day with her blog today.  Every article was about huge problems with this test.  Another blog, based out of Florida called Scathing Purple Musings had plenty to say about it as well!

In New Mexico, hundreds of students just walked out of the tests!  The biggest walkout occurred at Albuquerque High School.  Students had signs indicating “We Are Not A Test Score” and “Common Core Fails”.  All told, twelve high schools in the state had walkouts.  Another student in the Santa Fe School District got suspended for telling students they can opt out of the test.  Diane Ravitch put the student on her blog honor roll!

In Florida, it looks like the computer system was sick of standardized testing as anywhere from 8 to 12 school districts were unable to log into the system.  While this wasn’t the PARCC, it was the first day of the Florida Standards Assessment.  Leon County has told the state they won’t try to give it anymore until the state DOE can confirm it won’t happen again.

Illinois had bad news today.  The Superintendent of the Chicago School District had announced she was only giving the PARCC to 10% of students.  She caved on this today which I’m sure shocked the other 90% of the students.

But the biggest news came out of Newark, New Jersey.  Teachers at one of the most successful schools in the state, Science Park High School, wrote a very long letter protesting the PARCC test, calling it “Thirty days of destruction.”  But in the rest of the state, thousands of students walked out and opted out.  30% of the students refused the test in one district alone.  That should be an interesting conversation with the state DOE!

Speaking of the DOE, I wonder how many will show up tomorrow night at the Delaware PTA sponsored parent opt out town hall event?

All of these articles can be read at http://dianeravitch.net/ and https://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/