Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Procrastinator

This School of Blogger has an exam coming up on Wednesday! With blue books and everything! And instead of studying I am procrastinating.

How did I get into this pickle, you may ask?

I decided to teach social studies in Minnesota. Since moving here I have discovered I'm hardly the only one who has run into this problem. While most states will grant you a teaching license if you have been certified in another state, Minnesota does not have reciprocity with any other state. In addition, they are notorious for making it difficult for out of state teachers to get certified.

So when I applied for my license here, they told me I did not have enough undergraduate social studies credits to qualify. I have to take three intro-level history courses and one middle school pedagogy course.

I was pretty pissed at first but what cannot be cured must be endured. When life gives you lemons, etc etc. So I'm taking an American Indian Studies course right now and liking it pretty well.

Conversations with students part 1

One conversation with a student yesterday:
"I'm angry at Obama."


"Because he lied."

What do you mean?

"He said he was going to start bringing home the troops. But in a few weeks Brian* has to go back to Iraq for another year in a half."

*Brian is an ex-boyfriend who came back from his first tour with post-traumatic stress disorder. He couldn't do anything but sit in front of a TV and play video games night and day. But that didn't stop the U.S. government from sending him back to the front lines again - and again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Diversity training update

First of all I keep thinking of the episode on the Office where they have to go through diversity training because of Michael's blunders. That and Stephen Colbert. Particularly when my coworkers say "I just don't SEE color!" (Skip to minute 5:00 - basically word for word what I hear.)

So the cultural competency educator came back yesterday and had us go through actual scenarios from our school. One of the scenarios we went through was the chili pepper incident. (Second update here.) The Spanish teacher brought out the actual poster in question (with the chili pepper wearing the sombrero and mustache, saying "Ole!"). And, to my great vindication, the trainer confirmed that this is not a poster that we should have hanging up if our mission is to create an environment of respect for all cultures.

By the end of the morning, however, I still don't think that all of my coworkers agreed. Why should they, when half the staff and the students watch and love the incredibly offensive comedy of Jeff Dunham, which includes this exact same stereotype? If it's okay for a comedian to perform it and Comedy Central to air it, why wouldn't it be okay for staff and students to hang similar pictures in their work spaces?

The cultural competency educator was good, but she wasn't going to change people's deeply held beliefs about what "should" and "shouldn't" be offensive. That's frustrating to me because it means some people think it's okay to do things that could be hurtful to kids. And that means we're right back where we started before we spent $1000 on the training.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Be advised: I stalk your grocery lists

I don't know about you but I love reading other people's discarded grocery lists. One from today:

Smart Bud Light (I didn't know there was such a thing?)
Beef gravy
Turkey gravy (these people love gravy!)
Bread 7 gr.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Don't get too comfortable

From the Star-Trib: Minnesota charter schools are in for a change

This is change I can believe in.

I can definitely see the difference from working with charters in NYC and working with charters here - going from a state with only a handful of charter authorizers to one with dozens, and little oversight of the overseers. Our school barely gets any oversight at all - which is why we're in the fix we are in right now. The article mentioned "shoddy fiscal management and conflicts of interest in school governance" ... I wondered if they were talking about us!

Some good changes:

  • In Minnesota, changing the rules about sponsors is a key point. A 2008 legislative auditor's report said the state should increase the authority of charter school sponsors and require the state to approve them.

  • Two state proposals deal with religion, Anderson said. One would bar a house of worship from sponsoring a charter school (none does now). Another would require charter schools to follow a state law that currently applies to district schools, which allows students to attend limited religious instruction but only if it's off campus.