Tag Archives: angry rants

Being Bankrupt

I am swiftly turning into a detestable human being.  I have admitted already on this blog that I have not only known nudists in my lifetime, but I have recently visited a nudist park and become one… for a few hours.   Today I am admitting to being a bankrupt individual.  I am taking steps to declare a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

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As with nudism, bankruptcy is really probably not what you think it is.  It is embarrassing and stressful to be bankrupt, at least if you are not Donald Trump and able to gleefully rob workers and creditors and investors by manipulating bankruptcy laws.  But it is not immoral.  In fact, with my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I will end up paying back everything I owe to credit card companies and especially Bank of America whose lawsuit caused this bankruptcy.  It will just be a managed pay-off with no further interest charges, managed by a court-appointed executor over the next five years.  It will drop the bottom out of my credit rating initially, but may actually bounce it back up better than it was because my debt-to-income ratio will be dramatically improved.  I will not lose my house or my car.  I simply will have no more credit cards.  That can’t be all bad, can it?

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So, filing for a bankruptcy of this type has done a good job of teaching me where I fit in modern society and how the idea that you need to pay back what you owe to those you owe it to applies more to me than it does to rich folks.  I will let you in on a big secret.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, even remotely defined as rich.  I haven’t really been poor before now, either.  But I am sinking into that swamp quickly, and the crocodiles smell blood in the water.  It is expensive to become poor.  You have to pay a lawyer to help you get rid of all your money.  You have to plead with them to allow you to continue to buy food and, with luck, necessary medication.  But as long as you continue to hemorrhage money into their money-sucking vampire fangs of profit-making, the rich ones who own everything and control everything and make all the laws will allow you to continue to live… unless it becomes more profitable for them in the short term to let you die.

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Now that I have driven over the bankruptcy cliff, I will probably try to enjoy the view and the exhilarating rush of air on the way down.  Maybe I will do it naked.  I could go back to the nudist park for the Labor Day weekend.  I would save on clothing budgets.  And when I get to the bottom of the cliff, there is a possibility that I will bounce back up.  After all, if I don’t the bankers and the lawyers won’t be able to get any more of my money.

 

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, commentary, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, humor, pessimism, Pirates

Getting Schooled on Testing

Florida Parents Sue Over State Testing

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The war has started.  The first shots have been fired in Florida by an irate group of parents in seven different school districts.  Their children were a part of the growing wave of “test-day opt-outs” that are occurring in every State that uses a high-stakes State test to determine students’ fitness for being promoted to the next grade, consideration for accelerated programs, and evaluating teachers for competence, ability, and possible execution.  State tests have developed such power over our learning lives that students and teachers obsess about them to the point of making themselves ill with stress.

The districts being sued have all decided that since the students who opted out did not take the tests, they have therefore not passed the tests, and have no right to be promoted to the next grade level.  So, a whole lot of sweet, pig-tailed little honors students that avoided super-stressful testing are now weeping over the prospects of still being in the third grade as their BFF’s now advance to fourth grade.  180+ days of instruction with a teacher does not apparently count at all towards advancement.  State tests are sacred.

You can tell by Florida Governor Skeletor Scott’s evil grin that he is quite satisfied with how State tests are working out.  After all, State tests provide aggregate data that public schools are failing in Florida.  Emperor Perry and the Crowned Prince Gregg Abbott of Texas have used them for the same purposes in the State where I spent my career teaching.  Low performing schools are taken over and run by a State agency.  Funds are cut to public schools.  Art and band and music programs are dropped in favor of remedial teaching and repetitive basic courses.  More money is given to private schools, magnet schools, and charter schools whose test scores prove they are more worthy of spending it (especially since the wealthier kids with fewer handicaps from their background are the ones going there, while kids from lower-income groups, minorities, special-needs students, and English language learners are generally kept out).

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And, of course, State tests can weed out the teachers that the State deems incompetent, unworthy, and, well… goofy because those teachers who don’t mindlessly engage in test preparation, don’t have students who score well on tests.  The State can use this means to get rid of teachers who are too innovative, popular among their students, creative, engaging and nice.  It can promote teachers who have “good discipline” because students constantly fill out test-preparation worksheets mindlessly in their classes all day.

But the numbers are there to prove the State is right about education.  Test data exists in black and white.  How can anyone argue that numbers don’t tell us which kids are stupid and which kids are acceptable?  How can I argue it?

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Well, it helps to be able to understand the endlessly boring hours of test analysis that teachers are subjected to by school administrators panicking about how poorly they are soon to do on the high-stakes test.  I happen to be smart enough to hear and understand how the tests measure what they measure, and what they actually mean.  For example, the reading portion of the State test emphasizes certain skills over other skills.  Inference, the ability to draw conclusions from the evidence given in the text and determine what is true by logic, is given more weight in the scoring than simpler abilities like factual recall or simple spelling ability.  Scores are not a matter of the percent of questions the student answer correctly.  They are based on which skills and sub-skills the student shows mastery (80% or higher success).  A student can get 80% of all questions correct and still fail the test.  And for some students with learning difficulties, developmental delays, or English-as-a-second-language difficulties, those more valued portions of the test are still beyond their current level of functioning.  I have worked for schools that received commendations for their tests scores.  I led a middle school writing program that topped expectations on writing scores through middle school and high school. I have also worked at schools who were punished for low test scores, and worked for good principals who lost their jobs because the scores were beyond their control.

I pray that the judge in Florida will support the parents and censure both the heartless school districts and the State testing program of Florida itself.  Darth Vader’s education system should not be winning.  We need to go back to the source and learn from Jedi Master Kenobi…. or even Yoda again.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, education, humor, marching band, Paffooney, pessimism, rants, teaching, Texas

Nasty Surprises

My computer is having brain farts and conniptions for no apparent reason.Skye lodge

It was my intention to write about a painting project today and how it is progressing.  I worked on the acrylic version of this ink and colored pencil drawing made from a a photograph from the 1800’s.  I was going to tell you how I worked on it with my daughter.  She was painting her clay doodads and I was working on the picture, sharing paint and painting secrets.  I made a little bit of progress, but am certainly not done.  Here is the current progress I made.

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But suddenly my connection is threatened with WordPress and the computer won’t even let me edit pictures on the computer’s paint program.  It insists there could be a breach and someone is trying to steal my account information, but it also suggests that the security settings may be misaligned.  Guess which one I think it is.  It made me so mad I almost chucked the computer out the window.  That would’ve been a mistake I could not afford to make.  So I settled down and tried my best to work around things… the way everything goes daily when you are old and have six incurable diseases.  I will get back to work soon, but for now… well, my computer needs to solve its mental illness issues before I can continue pursuing mine.

 

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, rants, Uncategorized

Doing the Devil’s Dance

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We live in world that is profoundly unkind to non-conformity, weirdness, or even basic differences.  How do you explain to a child that his school doesn’t want him there any more because his uniqueness is too much of a bother, a pain to deal with, an issue too complicated for a school administrator to get their little gray minds around?  I can’t tell you the details of what we are going through right now.   Too many privacy and legal issues get in the way of complete candor.  But Texas school systems do not handle issues of exceptionality well.   They are designed to crush originality and individual differences and grind out a workforce that will be compliant, that won’t complain when they are underpaid or mistreated, that will all be alike in many important ways.  They would also like to turn out students who vote Republican, but it is all right if they turn out to be the type of citizen who won’t or can’t vote.  Your life can be turned upside down over minor infractions.  It is a law that Texas students must be in attendance over 90% of the time.  If not, they are going to hound you, fine you, take you to court and even jail you.  Because students must all fit into the same mold.  No square pegs allowed.  They do make exceptions for health problems… but only the right kind of health problems.  Stomach cancer. okay, panic disorder, not okay…  There are laws in place to protect those of us with special handicaps… but this is the de-regulation State.  The city of West, Texas blew up in a fireball because too many regulations means lower profit margins.  Of course, they don’t hesitate to apply regulations against me and mine.  That is another matter (and the profits flow the opposite direction, offender to State).

So, what will I do now?  I will do the best I can.  I complained about it here to the best of my ability.  The child even remarked that one day he will be wiser and more experienced than others because he went through this.  There are other means of education, even if I have to do it all myself.  And I can take the frustrations and turn them into future funny fables that will ring true, because they are.

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Filed under autobiography, Paffooney